Just like many other product lines that cater to smartphone users, the clamp arena is saturated with clones and cheaply made accessories. So when well-known photo accessory company Manfrotto enters with their own original, $50 premium take on the smartphone clamp, should we expect nothing less than greatness?
The Manfrotto TwistGrip clamp is constructed from aluminum with grippy rubber padding covering the areas that come in contact with mounted smartphones. The “twist” in TwistGrip comes from the fact that the two clamping pieces on top and bottom can rotate, allowing for the clamp to fold flat for a slimmer traveling profile. The topside clamp features an integrated cold shoe mount for connecting microphones or small video lights, while the bottom has a 1/4"-20 threaded hole for attaching to any standard tripod head.
The maximum opening appears to be right about 3.5 inches, which should cover most smartphones. I use a naked iPhone 8 Plus and there’s room for a decently bulky case to fit in there too if I had one. The TwistGrip has a locking knob to secure the smartphone in place, however there is no spring mechanism built in to the clamps for tension so extra care is needed when the lock is not tightened, like during phone removal.
One of the more glaring omissions in the TwistGrip is lack of vertical shooting capabilities; there is not a second 1/4"-20 hole on the long side. Unless remedied by the tripod’s head, only horizontal orientation of a smartphone is possible while mounted on something. The one way vertical shooting is possible is by placing the TwistGrip at the bottom of the smartphone and then placing it directly on a flat surface. The clamp has sufficient weight and a flat bottom to allow it to hold phones up horizontally on flat surfaces as well.
Manfrotto also sells two add-on accessories for the TwistGrip, including a $39.99 HandGrip handle and a $29.88 BaseGrip accessory bar which ups the total cold shoe mount count to three. Going all out on this kit, the total cost would be nearly $120. Surprisingly after all that, users still won’t have vertical video. If the aim is video for mobile-based social media like Instagram, IGTV, or Snapchat, this might not be the best gear for the job.
What I Liked
- The materials and weight of it feels premium and should be longer lasting than the plastic alternatives.
- Integrated cold shoe mount. It’s why I bought this in the first place.
- Twist flat design fits into my accessories toolbag and small pockets.
- Can stand up a phone on flat surface vertically and horizontally. Emergency lifesaver when the thought of carrying any tripod feels like to much bulk but then you find yourself in a situation where you wish you brought it.
What I Didn’t Like
- Priced a lot higher than most smartphone clamps.
- Extra attention needed while mounting and extracting phone as there’s no steady tension with springs.
- No vertical orientation while mounted on a tripod.
Overall, the Manfrotto TwistGrip is a little pricey for a product that doesn’t deliver it all. I don’t regret my purchase, however, as it feels very solid and I have that added trust my expensive phone and cold shoe-mounted accessories won’t be damaged from questionable build quality.
The TwistGrip is priced at $49.88 and available now.