The Case for Selfie Sticks, and Other Phone Accessory Tales

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Images: Mpow
Images: Mpow

I don’t understand what the big deal is with selfie sticks. Why do people hate them so much? How is using a stick to get more than just your face in your picture worse than not using a stick?

If you’re the type of person to relentlessly take selfies, that is the thing to be annoyed with, not the fact that someone uses a stick to do it. What if they want to get more people in the picture, and more than half their face? What if they’re trying to get the background in as well? What if they don’t want to ask a stranger (or one isn’t available) to take a photo of them in front of the Eiffel Tower?

I posit the argument that there is a solid place in our society for selfie sticks.

Also, you need to think outside the box here. With the stick’s phone holder being adjustable to many different angles, you can hold it above your head for a photo of something you can’t see because you’re too short. Or use it to see what’s on a shelf you can’t reach. Or take photos around a corner. Or under a car. Or in a tree. Or above a crowd of heads. Seriously. As someone who is only 5’5″ (not short, but not tall by any means), I wonder where this kind of device has been my whole life.

Mpow iSnap Y Bluetooth Self-portrait Monopod

So needless to say, before just recently, I had zero experience with selfie sticks. I got to try out the Mpow iSnap Y Bluetooth Self-portrait Monopod (AKA selfie stick) and was very pleased. Not only is it built extremely well, but we keep coming up with new ways to use it. The iSnap Y is now on our permanent list of things to take with us when we travel.

What’s the iSnap Y like? It’s a Bluetooth device with the easiest pairing process I’ve ever seen, no password necessary. It quickly charges up in 30-90 minutes with the included USB charging cable and then has a working time of up to 20 hours. The handle is very grippy, feels nice, with texture for easy holding. There is a handy dandy wrist strap that will cinch down over your wrist (though if you drop a telescoped selfie stick, no guarantees on what happens to your phone). It telescopes out 32 inches, or you can leave it shorter, and folds up to a tidy 7 1/2 inches. It can accommodate phones of various sizes, including those with a width of 2.2 inches to 3.3 inches, from an iPhone 4 up to a Samsung Note 4. It handled both my iPhone 5s and Rory’s iPhone 6 Plus. It won’t work with Windows phones or Blackberries, sorry, but it works with newer Android, iPhone (back to iPhone 4), and iPod Touch. The part that holds the phone is very adjustable with a spring-loaded clamp. It also can rotate around, almost 360 degrees. In addition to taking photos with the iSnap Y, it will do videos as well.

I’m a selfie stick newbie. I’m not one to take a lot of photos of myself. But I do like having photos from trips and of my family together. So, perhaps I’m not your typical selfie stick user, but it’s such a useful tool for even those of us who don’t indulge in chronicling their facial features.

For even more interesting shots, pair the selfie stick with the lenses, below. Get even closer to hard-to-reach flowers with the macro lens (if you have a very steady hand), or hold it above your head with the wide-angle or fisheye lens to take a group photo from above. “I’m on top of the world!”

Mpow MLens V1

I am a sometimes amateur photographer. It is one of the many hobbies that I rotate among. So finding cool lenses that I can use with my phone (which fits in my pocket, unlike my DSLR) has been on my list for a while. But I hadn’t seen any that had a good attachment method. I didn’t want anything permanent, that glued on, or something that relied on elastic. Dry rot is a big thing in Arizona. So the clip-like mechanism of the lenses in the Mpow MLens V1 set appealed to me.

This set of lenses comes in a three pack including a macro lens (20x), a wide angle lens (0.36x), and a fisheye lens (180 degrees). They come in a handy-but-not-terribly-sturdy plastic box that I now have to hold closed with a rubber band. There is also a box-sized lens cleaner in the package as well.

All three lenses come with lens caps and are labeled which lens they are on the clip handles and the sides of the lenses. The lenses don’t come with any instructions, but they really don’t need any. In terms of use, they are super easy. Literally take off the lens cap, clip, and shoot. How well they shoot is another matter. I had mixed results. I have a case on my phone which means the clipped on lenses stood out a bit from the camera lens. With two of the three lenses, this made the photos worse. With one, it made the photos better.

I started playing with the macro lens. You pretty much have to touch it to what you’re photographing for the photo to be anything resembling clear. But then you get a really interesting photo. Photos with the case were a little wonky. Without the case, they were much clearer. But my phone’s screen gets more messed up each time I take off the case, so I won’t be taking it off very often.

The fisheye lens also made slightly blurry photos with the case, but were clear without the case. The wide angle lens was the opposite. It was a little blurry without a case, but the photos looked great with the case, despite the blackness in the corners.

Here are some photos taken with the Mpow accessories.

Of these two products, I think the selfie stick is more useful for us, but the lenses allow for some interesting photography projects. Depending on your phone case usage and your needs, check either or both of these products out. I have really been enjoying playing with them, and will jealously guard my new selfie stick from here on out.

Both the Mpow iSnap Y Bluetooth Self-portrait Monopod and the Mpow MLens V1 are very affordable add-ons to your phone photo-taking endeavors (less than $20 each), and both easily fit into your bag or your large-ish pocket. Creativity is key: Try them out on a trip this summer!

Edited to add: If you pair the selfie stick with one phone and then try to pair a different but nearby phone, the stick may inadvertently cause the first phone to randomly take photos and you might think you’re crazy, but you just need to turn off Bluetooth or unpair the first phone. I may or may not have experienced this phenomenon.

Note: I received samples for review purposes.