How to mount a phone webcam: which mount is best

Updated
Cover image for: How to mount a phone webcam: which mount is best

So, you're thinking about using your phone or tablet as a webcam. You've probably got a cable. We hope you've got Camo. And maybe you need a mount or a stand. I bought just about every type of stand on the market, and even tried constructing some makeshift ones from things I had around the house. In this guide, I'm going to run through which ones might work for you, and why.

If you don’t have time to look through these options in detail, just get this one:

What makes a good phone webcam mount?

Before starting to look into the various phone mounts, I had a think about what I was really looking for. In order of importance, a good mount should:

  • Have good stability. You need to be able to type, click, and use your computer as you normally would on calls without your phone jiggling around or even falling out of its mount.
  • Make you look good. Step one here is to use Camo, which lets you use the incredible camera built into the phone as your webcam. In terms of your mount, you want it to be positioned near your computer screen. It’s disconcerting to talk to someone who doesn’t seem to be looking at you. You also want to be able to get your mount so that it’s roughly parallel to your face; too low and everyone else on the call will be gazing up your nostrils; too high and it will be pointed at your body.
  • Make it easy for you to mount and remove your phone. Unless you're using a dedicated phone with Camo, you’ll also want to use your phone for other purposes, so being able to set it up and take it down easily is important.
  • Not result in anything too permanent. You might not want to keep a magnetic disk stuck to your smartphone, or a bulky car mount stuck on your iMac.
  • Be compact. When you’re not using your phone as a webcam, you probably don’t want a hulking great piece of plastic cluttering up your desktop.
  • Not look like a hideous eyesore. Bonus points if it looks nice.

Want to look better on your video calls? We’ve put together an article full of tips to help you look your best on your webcam here.

With this criteria in mind, let's take a look at the various types of mounts you can use to turn an iPhone into a webcam.

Tripods

Product tested: EVERESTA 42 Inch 360 flexible Smartphone Tripod UK £19.54, similar US product $25.49

Using a tripod behind a 16 inch MacBook Pro.
Using a tripod behind a 16 inch MacBook Pro.

A tripod was one of the first stands I decided to test. They’ve got great variability; you can adjust the height, and easily move a tripod around to different computers if you’ve got a laptop and a desktop, or different areas if you take calls in different places throughout the day. If you’re working from cafes, for instance, a tripod is a good option, because it’s quick and easy to set up: all you need is a flat surface. You can also move your tripod independent of your computer to make sure you’re well lit on your webcam even if your computer isn’t facing the light.

On the subject of light, you can purchase tripods that come with built in ring lights if your desk is not already well lit, but I’ve found that these are generally low-quality tripods attached to low-quality light rings, so you might be better off getting a regular, stable tripod and using a standard lamp, the flash from your phone (which you can control using Camo), or simply the natural light from a window (or the sun, if you’re outside), to improve light levels.

With that said, tripods are generally quite big and bulky. If desk space is tight, you might not be able to sacrifice the space for a tripod. In addition, while you can move your tripod to be in the best light, it’s a little trickier to get it close to your display than when using some other mounts, which can give the impression that you’re looking off to the side on your calls. Most tripods use a grip claw, which, depending on the strength of the grip, can be fiddly when putting your phone in or removing it.

You can use a tripod to the side of your computer if you don’t have space behind it. It’s more obvious that the camera is off to the side on the iMac than the Macbook
You can use a tripod to the side of your computer if you don’t have space behind it. It’s more obvious that the camera is off to the side on the iMac than the Macbook

Tripods will work well for people who only want one mount, but who switch around to different computers and laptops or different workspaces often. At around $25 for a good tripod, they’re not the cheapest option, but they’re not too expensive, either.

Flexible arms

Product tested: Jumkeet Gooseneck Phone Holder, UK $18.99

A flexible arm has aspects of both a tripod and a car mount. You can attach it to your screen, your desk or any other object that can be clamped (such as a monitor stand or plant pot). It takes up no desk space, unlike a tripod, and can keep your desk clutter-free if attached behind your laptop or monitor. Flexible arms also offer a little more flexibility than a screen mount, as you can move the arm up and down, side to side to find the perfect position. You can even bend the arm round a corner if you need to.

Here’s this flexible arm being used with a 16-inch Macbook Pro and an iMac. When used with a laptop, you can get a better angle than the built-in webcam, which is always going to be under your face, rather than parallel to it.
Here’s this flexible arm being used with a 16-inch Macbook Pro and an iMac. When used with a laptop, you can get a better angle than the built-in webcam, which is always going to be under your face, rather than parallel to it.

Flexible arms generally attach using two claws, so there are no permanent stickers, and I found the grip claws of the flexible arm I tested to be easier to take my phone in and out of than the desktop mounts and car mounts.

The flexible arm was very stable: the picture didn’t judder as I typed, and it was also pretty affordable. For me, this was by far the best mount to use for all laptops, and if you don’t want to use a magnetic sticker, it was the best option for desktops, too. The only requirement for these flexible arms is that you have something to clamp the arm to, so if you have a built-in desk, this type of mount might not work for you. You can see how I clamped the arm to the side of a desk when using it with a laptop, above. Here’s how I attached it to a couple of desktop computers:

I attached the mount to a computer stand on the left, and directly to the back of a monitor on the right.
I attached the mount to a computer stand on the left, and directly to the back of a monitor on the right.

Suction cups

Product tested: MPOW Dashboard Car Phone Mount, UK £8.99, similar US product $10.99

These just won’t work, unless you stick them to a nearby window, or to the screen of your computer (no, really, don’t do this). Beware that some listings on Amazon imply they’ll stick to other surfaces. They won’t!

Suction cup mounts might work for your car, but they’re not going to work on your computer
Suction cup mounts might work for your car, but they’re not going to work on your computer

Sticker mounts

Product tested: FLOVEME Magnetic Car Mount US $13.99, UK £12.16

Using a sticker/magnet mount with the telephoto lens of the iPhone XS Max
Using a sticker/magnet mount with the telephoto lens of the iPhone XS Max

Any mount that attaches directly to your monitor will let you get your phone webcam close to where the built in webcam is, providing a good angle for your calls. The main variable with these types of mounts is how they attach to your computer and your phone. Of the direct mounts I tried, the best option for desktop users was the sticker/magnet mount pictured above. You stick it to the back of your computer and can add the magnet to the back of a cheap phone case to quickly attach and remove your phone for calls. (Keep reading to see why you don’t want to stick it directly to your phone.)

These are much less bulky than tripods, but they’re probably not suitable for laptops if you’re planning to move around, as the mount should remain attached to your computer and they’ll prevent your laptop from fitting in a case. You can try unsticking and resticking your mount each time you use your webcam, but this will reduce the stickiness and risk your iPhone and mount falling off and getting damaged.

Magnetic & MagSafe mounts

Products tested:

  • Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe, UK £29.95, US $29.99
  • AUOTO Universal Side Mount Magnetic Bracket Clip, UK £11.99, similar US product $15.99
  • IMstick All-Purpose Phone Mount, UK £20, US $25.25

Magnets, how do they work? However they do, they make it really easy to attach and remove your iPhone from its webcam mount. Some mounts were so simple they consisted of two magnets; one for the back of your iPhone, the other for the back of your monitor or laptop. You just stick your iPhone to your computer, and grab it off when your call ends. And while the Belkin mount reviewed here does not attach to a laptop with magnets, it uses Apple's MagSafe functionality to make attaching your iPhone quick and easy. A drawback for all of these, however, is that their angle is restricted to the angle of your screen.

Useful only for iPhone and MacBook users, Belkin’s MagSafe mount debuted alongside the release of macOS Ventura’s Continuity Camera feature. While there is of course plenty to say about how Continuity stacks up against Camo, I've also been looking forward to putting this mount through its paces to see how it compares to the other solutions explored in this guide. One thing that already puts it ahead of the other mounts in this category is not having to attach magnets like silver leeches to my laptop.

As expected, the Belkin connected firmly to the circular MagSafe zone in the middle of both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max that I used for this test. I liked that it could easily be oriented in either landscape or portrait orientations, though changing from one to the other required removing the setup from the laptop screen and either twisting the mount firmly or removing entirely to reorient it. Rotating the phone while it was mounted - as the video on the Belkin site shows - could not be replicated without knocking the whole arrangement from its perch. And though the MagSafe connection is strong, it doesn’t snap to any particular axis. Sometimes when it looked like the mount was attached exactly parallel to the orientation of the phone, I found when mounting it on the screen that it was off kilter, and had to readjust. Not a huge deal, apart from the illusory Belkin visuals.

Placing the mount on top of the screen is fairly straightforward, with a small plastic foot that folds out and hooks onto the top of your laptop. I tested the mount on both a 14-inch MacBook Pro and a 13-inch MacBook Air, and found - unsurprisingly - that it fit more snugly on the thicker frame of the Pro. That said, it did not feel especially precarious on the narrower Air.

On both laptops, it was simple to line up the camera lens with the centre of the screen, a big advantage over the side-mounting solutions for maintaining a good eyeline. Still, since it works only on MacBooks, it would be impossible for all but the shortest users to avoid capturing video from an unattractive low angle (this was slightly better when the phone is mounted in portrait, since the camera lens was higher).

 Having the mounted phone placed below you may be fine for informal video conversations, but for professional purposes I would recommend that you place the laptop on some books or a box to raise the phone lens to eye level.
Having the mounted phone placed below you may be fine for informal video conversations, but for professional purposes I would recommend that you place the laptop on some books or a box to raise the phone lens to eye level.

Raising your laptop as shown above is also about practicality - it keeps the screen of your laptop as close to vertical as possible, something I found to be fairly important when using all of the mounts in this category. As you’d expect from hanging something as substantial as an iPhone to the top or side of your MacBook screen, the centre of gravity shifts quite dramatically as the screen moves away from perpendicular.

In the spirit of science, I attempted to measure the precise angles at which the screens of both laptops began to collapse backward with either of the two iPhones mounted. Using a goniometer, I found that for the combination of MacBook Pro/iPhone 13 Max, the widest angle at which it remained steady for me was about 113°. With the iPhone 13, that expanded just a bit to 119°.

Knowing these angles has two upshots. First, if you tend to work with your laptop literally in your lap, with the screen leaning back fairly far (unflattering angle be damned), the mount and phone combination will yank the screen all the way back, with the laptop possibly headed for the floor. Second, even when working with your laptop situated firmly on a desk in front of you, it is important to remember the physics at play. Twice in one morning I pulled the screen slightly forward to reach something behind the laptop, only to have it slam loudly shut like a bear trap, with my phone (mount firmly attached) rocketed into my lap. No harm done to the laptop, though I don’t like the idea of subjecting it to such violence on a regular basis.

In conclusion, I appreciated the convenient size and quality build of the Belkin mount, and if I conducted mostly informal video calls on my MacBook, I could see myself just keeping it attached to my iPhone for easy transport and quick deployment (the integrated ring/kickstand is also a nice touch, though it doesn’t really factor into how I carry and use my phone on a daily basis). But what keeps this mount from being a solid recommend across the board is the fact that it required extra care to keep my laptop from slamming open or shut, as well as its specificity to iPhones (and only the later MagSafe generations) and MacBooks. Just as Camo works across platforms and devices, our ideal mount would be useful for both desktops and laptops, and both new and older iPhones and Android devices.

The other mounts in this category also score points for ease of use and compactness, but they leave little room for variability - once you’ve stuck the magnets in place, that’s where you need to keep your webcam. And though these magnets held pretty well, there was a very small amount of wobbling when typing on a laptop (realistically, no more that you’d get when using the built-in webcam). Like the Belkin, they're best used with the screen as close to vertical as possible; however, for these you'll also need to keep magnets stuck to your phone (or phone case) and computer. If this idea fills you with horror then you’ll want to look for a different type of attachment.

If you’re going to stick anything on your laptop, a magnet will be less bulky than a car mount, but be aware that they might be difficult to remove.
If you’re going to stick anything on your laptop, a magnet will be less bulky than a car mount, but be aware that they might be difficult to remove.

I stuck the magnet to a silicone case for my iPhone, rather than directly to the phone or to a leather case (because stickers will probably damage the leather, and I didn’t want to risk marking my phone), and here’s what happened when I removed the magnet:

Good thing I didn’t stick it directly to my phone! I removed this eventually with a little bit of oil, but it wasn’t fun.
Good thing I didn’t stick it directly to my phone! I removed this eventually with a little bit of oil, but it wasn’t fun.

I managed to get this magnetic holder working with an iMac. One big drawback to this mount was that it wasn’t possible to attach the iPhone backwards, so you can only use the selfie camera with this holder. You also can’t adjust the angle of the iPhone when using this mount, so the picture is slightly off to one side.

I had to use the Selfie camera rather than attach it backwards (the left shows the attachment you want) so the quality of the picture was reduced.
I had to use the Selfie camera rather than attach it backwards (the left shows the attachment you want) so the quality of the picture was reduced.

The second magnetic mount I tried was much more flexible. The IMstick phone mount was made up of one magnet attached to a wire, and a metal disk to stick to the back of your phone.

You have to stick down at least one magnet for this to work, either on your phone or your computer, but the other can be held in place by the wire. You can see how I attached the mount to my computer using the wire, below.

It’s a little hard to see in the picture on the left, but I attached the mount to my computer by looping the wires over the front and around the back.
It’s a little hard to see in the picture on the left, but I attached the mount to my computer by looping the wires over the front and around the back.

This is a pretty good option if you want flexibility, or you have a tricky mounting situation. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and while it’s a little fiddly to set the mount up, once you’ve done so it’s easy to take your phone in and out of.

I did feel like my phone was secure, but I noticed it wobble a little more than the mount that used both a stickers and a magnet, so I preferred the FLOVEME mount to this one, though if you want to move your webcam around a bit, you might prefer this one.

Slotted holders

Product tested: YUYITEK Mobile Phone Holder, UK £14.99, US $14.99

These let you rest your phone in place, rather than holding it securely. As such, they’re easy to get your phone in and out of, but they will wobble when you type. I found it was more difficult to get a good angle when using this slotted holder than with any other mount, as the phone couldn’t be adjusted as easily with these mounts, and would often fall into a different position, anyway.

Using this slotted holder with the phone in landscape and portrait. It takes a bit of maneuvering to get the phone at the right angle, and you risk jogging it out of the holder as soon as you start typing.
Using this slotted holder with the phone in landscape and portrait. It takes a bit of maneuvering to get the phone at the right angle, and you risk jogging it out of the holder as soon as you start typing.

The slotted holder attaches to the computer with a very sturdy clip. I was able to attach this to my iMac, but given the curved back of the computer, leaving it there for a long period of time might cause it to ping off unexpectedly. I didn’t even want to try using this clip with my laptop, as the clip attachment is so tight that it felt like it could damage the screen.

I didn’t try this slotted holder on my laptop, as I felt the clip could cause damage to the screen. Reviewers of this product seemed to have the opposite problem.
I didn’t try this slotted holder on my laptop, as I felt the clip could cause damage to the screen. Reviewers of this product seemed to have the opposite problem.

Gimbals

Product tested: Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, UK £89.00, US $99.00

I tried out this gimbal with a 16 inch Macbook Pro and an iMac.
I tried out this gimbal with a 16 inch Macbook Pro and an iMac.

I tried using a gimbal as a webcam, but it was a pretty impractical choice. The height of the gimbal isn’t adjustable, so you’ll either end up with your camera too high, or too low for your screen (as the image above shows, this works a little better with a laptop than a desktop, but neither is ideal). Yes, your gimbal will keep your phone stabilised while it’s being held, but, provided you're not moving your webcam around while you're talking, there really isn’t any benefit to this feature for webcam purposes. Additionally, the gimbal I used periodically turned itself off, causing the phone to drop down, and inserting an iPhone XS Max into the gimbal kept triggering SOS calls. You’d also need to keep your gimbal charged in advance of your calls.

If you’ve already got a gimbal, and you’re adamant that you don’t want yet another tech accessory, then by all means give it a try, but you might want to start with a casual call, rather than an important meeting.

iPhone Docks and Smart Keyboards

Products tested:

  • Apple lightning dock US $49.00, UK, £49.00
  • Apple Smart Keyboard Folio UK £179.00, US $179.00

If you’ve got a docking station for your iPhone you could use that, or you can use an iPad if you have a case that functions as a stand. Neither will give you a very good angle, but both work. You’ll also need to use the selfie camera for both of these options, unless you find a way to raise your device to head level.

Both of these options might work a little better on a laptop, but there’s no getting around the unflattering angle.
Both of these options might work a little better on a laptop, but there’s no getting around the unflattering angle.

Makeshift / DIY

What if you need a webcam stand now and you haven’t got any of the above? We did a little experimenting and found that the perhaps the best makeshift stand can be cobbled together with a stack of books and a coffee cup/cardboard box:

I made this stand in about 3 minutes by cutting a slot in the top of a coffee cup. You could also use a small cardboard box.
I made this stand in about 3 minutes by cutting a slot in the top of a coffee cup. You could also use a small cardboard box.

It’s bulky, it doesn’t look great, and your phone might wobble around a bit if you’re doing a lot of typing, but it’s a quick and easy solution to start using your phone as a webcam today.

Got a better makeshift stand? Found a better mount? Let us know in the comments below.

How can we help?

Our support team are here to help!

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM GMT. The time is currently 2:10 AM GMT.

We aim to reply to all messages within one working day.

Our awesome support team

Comments (17)

Its not an amazon find, and its often out of stock - but for 24.99 canadian this mount/ring light combo from Ikea is pretty solid - ive been using it for a while, and the ring and arm use 1/4" - 20 threads, so in theory you could use them with a ton of photography clamps etc.

https://www.ikea.com/ca/en/p/lanespelare-ring-light-with-phone-holder-30514357/

Hello,

Just as this article does, I was also looking to find the "best" way to mount a phone on a laptop or monitor. I guess the difference is that I was not willing to buy and try all the mounts available out there :). Nonetheless, thanks for the great, in-depth review.

All that said, I thought I would develop one myself, starting with a few requirements. It has to work in any setting: primarily on laptops and monitors but also on standup tables and workbenches, in the car, on a server rack, on a wall and other furniture. It must be usable with any type of phone, whether in a case or without one. It must have exactly zero tightening knobs or levers. It must be cool - for some reason (I am guessing the reason is cost) all mounts I've seen are monochromatic or in a gray scale at best. Anyone with enough patience and some minimum engineering skills :) should be able to make one at home using common materials. The design must be easy to update and the changes easily implemented.

The result is a 3D-printed phone mounting system. If you're curious to see, I placed some pictures on my web site: https://rail-mounted.com/.

There's a contact page on that site if you want to let me know your thoughts.

Thanks, gabriel

Great article and a lot of helpful suggestions, just none of them worked for me.

I ended up using some velcro locking strips I had around the house.

I was able to cut a strip in half and mount my iPhone SE (1st gen) on top of my monitor. This is a clean look and no wobble. Also, low cost.

Thank you so much for this article. Buying anything is such a hassle for me, and this is exactly the sort of homework I do before getting anything. Appreciate it!

An expensive alternative but one worth considering if you want to add a mic and you are using an M1 based Apple computer is the Sennheiser MKE 200 Mobile Kit

Another vote for Mountie. Been using for over a year with my iPhone 11 then 12 and never had any issue with it pulling my Macbook screen down. I usually mount it to the top so that the camera is directly above the Facetime camera. Fantastic.

This is seriously one of the most thoughtful articles I have seen any brand/company post. This is exactly what I was looking for. Having just paid for lifetime premium, I was looking for a more permanent solution to attach a spare phone to my LG 5k display. I ended up choosing the FLOVEME Sticker mount, as it was perfect for my use case.

In general, I am blown away at the attention to detail and app quality, both on iOS and MacOS, with Camo. I am excited for more amazing development from this team on this product. I hope more and more people support your team. Great work

Hi - have you checked out the Mountie or Mountie+ by Ten One Design?

I've had my eye on them for a while now, and having just signed up for Camo today also treated myself to a Mountie. Will let you know how well it works once it arrives in a few weeks.

Thank you, please do! We're wary of devices like Mountie that clip to the screen. As we noted in the article, these pulled our laptop screen down or pulled the laptop over, and they put the device to one side of the screen, rather than just above the eyeline. That said, if you have one of the smaller phones and one of the larger laptops, it'd probably be fine. Just don't damage that screen!!!

I've been using a selfie-stick velcro-strapped to my monitor stand (LG 5K) It's a little wobbly when adjusting, but it's height-adjustable and I can flip the phone around easily.

I don't usually comment on articles, but this one was so well written and really helped me, thank you so much!

Hey cool -- I was messing around with my own setup for videos/blogging and was thinking there has to be other ways to use my old iPhone as a webcam.

Currently using a desk mount - but intrigued by what you put on the monitor mounts and mechanical arms.

THXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hey, our pleasure. 👍

Really helpful article. Thank you so much!

Thank you! 👍

This article rules -- super great stuff!

Thank you! 🙂

Brilliant article - put me, I hope, on the right track!

An incredibly well-researched and resourceful article. Thank you for saving us hours of time from being drowned in endless “recommendations” and marketing websites

Great article, but an important note about your TL;DR recommended flex arm. The clip that hold your phone is pretty shallow and if you have a case of any substance at all on your phone, you'll struggle to keep it in there. Mine is relatively minimal, but thick enough that if I jiggle my desk a bit, my phone will sometimes come shooting out of it. Taking my case on and off negates a lot of the convenience of the spring-loaded clip in the first place.

Studio Neat's Glif is a bit pricey, but impossible to beat for quality and function and works with any case you could imagine: https://www.studioneat.com/products/glif

I took apart a $5 gooseneck lamp and glued a 1/4" tripod thread to make a Gif-based mount I'm pretty pleased with overall. FWIW.

Thank you! Great tip. 🙂

Another webcam mount: https://www.amazon.com/AboveTEK-Aluminum-Folding-Display-Reception/dp/B074PFVVBH

Thank you!


Can we improve this article?

We love hearing from users: why not drop us an email, leave a comment, or tweet @reincubate?

© 2008 - 2022 Reincubate Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered in England and Wales #5189175, VAT GB151788978. Reincubate® and Camo® are registered trademarks. Privacy policy & terms. Built with in London.