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Belkin’s MagSafe Continuity Camera mount is a simple webcam upgrade

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Belkin’s iPhone Mount with MagSafe for Mac Notebooks has a bad name, but is a very good accessory. This allows you to clip your iPhone to your laptop so you can take advantage of the Continuity Camera feature of macOS Ventura and iOS 16, which turns your phone into a webcam that crushes pretty much everything built into MacBooks these days. And if that was all I’d still be happy with it – but the design and features really make it worth considering, even if there are already a plethora of other accessories intended to do the same job.

Using the mount to turn your phone into a webcam is simple: you snap it in place magnetically, flip out a base with the Belkin logo on it, and rest it on your computer. Then you just choose your iPhone as the camera in whatever video chat app you use. It’s a fairly simple mechanism that works well, and because the mount is round, you can mount your phone in portrait or landscape mode.

Portrait mode isn’t great with the current version of Continuity Camera, but I’ll leave those impressions for a more in-depth look at the software.
Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

However, its versatile shape means it doesn’t have that extra stabilizing magnet on the bottom like some other MagSafe accessories have. That probably won’t cause a power problem; my iPhone 12 Mini never slipped off the Belkin holder or anything, even when I tested it without a case, and none of my colleagues who have used the holder with larger phones noticed any problems. But it does mean that you might have to spend a second rotating the mount just a little bit to make sure your video doesn’t get a little skewed.

Where the mount really shines is the build quality and the bonus stand/grip ring (unfortunately the stand can’t really be used if you want to put your phone’s camera on a table instead of your computer; it’s just not in the right place ). The whole feels very smooth and solid, like a stone polished by moving water. It’s also covered in some sort of grippy rubber, which feels great and is very unobtrusive. When I use it with my phone on, the low-profile dome fits almost perfectly in my palm and I barely notice it’s there. If you really want Continuity Camera to be useful, make sure you always have a mount with you. The Belkin is so nice I want to keep it on my phone which means I won’t forget it when I leave the house.

1/2

The stand is useful for watching videos, but not for recording them. It folds neatly into the holder when not in use.
Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

That said, I don’t think this mount and continuity camera will revolutionize my casual FaceTimes or Discord conversations with friends and family for one simple reason: When my laptop is actually on my lap, I place a phone on top. the lid makes it terribly tippy, even with my mini phone. When I used it with my legs crossed, my laptop would easily tip over and send my phone flying across the room if I didn’t catch it. Even with my arm resting on the palm rest, the weight of the phone requires the slightest bump to pull the screen of my 13-inch MacBook Pro back to its maximum open position, usually resulting in a very unflattering angle (and maybe an uneasy amount of force on my screen?).

Gif of the iPhone mounting on a laptop with the Belkin accessory and the laptop falling over.

Be careful when using this accessory with your laptop on your lap.
Gif by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

To be clear, this probably won’t be a problem on a desk unless you’re using the tiny 12-inch MacBook. One of my colleagues said that his MacBook Air was perfectly stable when sat on a table with an iPhone 13 attached, and the same was true of another colleague who used the mount with a Pro Max and 16-inch MacBook Pro. But it does mean I’ll probably only use this accessory for more formal video calls where I’m sitting at a desk or counter rather than the much more frequent ones I do from the couch. That’s not Belkin’s fault; it’s just physics, and really, I don’t think my mom or sister will mind seeing me in blurry 720p (or, at least I haven’t gotten any complaints in recent years).

Venom of a MacBook Pro screen leaning back under the weight of the attached iPhone.

No, it’s not the power of my gaze pushing the laptop down. Anyway, points to the Belkin mount to hold my iPhone through the bump.
Gif by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

Even with this limitation, I still feel the Belkin mount is worth its $29.95 price tag for anyone who cares about how they look on video, has an iPhone, and plans to upgrade to macOS Ventura if it comes out on Monday (and who doesn’t want the hassle of setting up a dedicated camera/tripod/lamp).

However, if you usually work from a desk with a monitor, it might be worth waiting for the desktop version, which Belkin says lets you tilt your phone to reframe the shot. That version is coming “soon”, according to Press release from Belkin, although it doesn’t say whether it will have some sort of power supply more elegant than just plugging your phone into a Lightning cable. Such a feature wouldn’t make sense on the portable version, but it would probably be a nice addition for those meeting all day.

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