Belkin's MagSafe Continuity Camera Mount is an easy webcam upgrade

Belkin’s MagSafe Continuity Camera Mount is an easy webcam upgrade

The Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe for Mac Laptops has a bad name, but it’s a very good accessory. It lets you attach your iPhone to your laptop to take advantage of macOS Ventura and iOS 16’s Continuity Camera feature, which turns your phone into a webcam that absolutely crushes almost anything built into MacBooks these days. And if that was all it did, I’d still be happy with it – but its design and functionality are what really make it worth considering, even though there’s already a flood of other accessories out there to do the same job.

Using the mount to turn your phone into a webcam is easy: snap it in magnetically, flip out the Belkin-logoed foot, and place it on top of your computer. Then you just select your iPhone as the camera in whatever video chat app you’re using. It’s a pretty simple mechanism that works well, and since the mount is circular, you can mount the phone in either portrait or landscape mode.

a:hover]:text-black [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black text-gray-63″>Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

However, its versatile shape means there isn’t an extra stabilizing magnet at the bottom like some other MagSafe accessories have. This is unlikely to cause a strength problem; my iPhone 12 Mini never slipped out of the Belkin mount or anything else, even when I tested it without a case, and none of my colleagues who used the mount with larger phones experienced any issues. However, it does mean that you may need to spend a second rotating the mount a tiny bit to make sure your video isn’t slightly warped.

Where the mount really excels is its 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 thing feels very smooth and solid, like a stone that has been polished by moving water. It’s also covered in some kind of sticky rubber that feels great and is very subtle. 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 the Continuity camera to be useful, you need to make sure you have a mount with you at all times. The Belkin is nice enough that I want to keep it on my phone, which means I won’t forget it when I leave the house.

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a:hover]:text-black [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black text-gray-63″>Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

I don’t think this mount and continuous camera will revolutionize my occasional FaceTimes or Discord calls with friends and family for one simple reason: when I actually have my laptop on my lap, I put my phone on top of the lid does it very tippy, even with my mini phone. When I used it with my legs crossed, my laptop would easily fall over and my phone would be across the room if I didn’t catch it. Even with my arm on the palm rest, the slightest bump is enough for the phone’s weight to pull my 13-inch MacBook Pro’s screen back to its maximum open position, which usually results in a very unflattering angle (and perhaps an uncomfortable amount of force on my display?).

A gif of an iPhone attached to a laptop with Belkin accessories and the laptop falls over.

a:hover]:text-black [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black text-gray-63″>Gif by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

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

Gif of a MacBook Pro display leaning back under the weight of a connected iPhone.

a:hover]:text-black [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black text-gray-63″>Gif by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

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

However, if you mostly work from a desk with a monitor, it might be worth waiting for the desktop version, which Belkin says will let you tilt your phone and reframe the shot. That version is “coming soon,” according to Belkin’s press release, though it doesn’t mention whether it will include some kind of power supply that’s more elegant than just connecting the phone with a Lightning cable. This kind of feature wouldn’t make sense in a portable version, but it would probably be a nice addition for those who are in meetings all day.

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