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

Belkin's MagSafe Continuity Camera Mount is a simple webcam upgrade
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Belkins iPhone holder with MagSafe for Mac notebooks has a bad reputation but is a very good accessory. With it you can connect your iPhone to your laptop to use macOS Ventura and iOS 16 Walkthrough camera feature., which turns your phone into a webcam that destroys pretty much everything built into MacBooks these days. And if that were all, I’d still be happy with it – but its design and features make it really worth considering even if it’s already there a flurry of other accessories should do the same job.

Using the mount to turn your phone into a webcam is easy: you magnetically snap into place, flip out a small stand with the Belkin logo on it, and place it on your computer. Then just select your iPhone as the camera in the video chat app you are using. It’s a fairly simple mechanism that works well, and since the mount is circular, you can mount your phone in either portrait or landscape orientation.

Photo of an iPhone mounted vertically at the top of a laptop screen.

Portrait mode isn’t actually that great with the current version of the pass-through camera, but I’ll leave these impressions to take a deeper look at the software.
Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

However, its versatile shape means there’s no additional stabilizing magnet on the bottom Some other MagSafe accessories have. That probably won’t cause a power problem; My iPhone 12 Mini never slipped off Belkin’s mount or anything, even when I tested it without a case, and none of my colleagues who have used the mount with larger phones noticed any issues. But it does mean you might have to spend a second twisting the mount a bit to make sure your video doesn’t end up slightly crooked.

Where the mount really shines is in its build quality and the added kickstand/grip ring (unfortunately the kickstand can’t really be used if you want to rest your phone’s camera on a table instead of on your computer; it’s just not in the right place). The whole feels very smooth and solid, like a stone polished by running water. It’s also covered in some sort of grippy rubber that feels great and is very unobtrusive. When I’m using it with the phone on, the flat dome fits my palm pretty snugly and I hardly even notice it’s there. If you really want the pass-through camera to be useful, you need to make sure you always have a mount with you. The Belkin is so cute 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. It folds neatly into the holder when not in use.
Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

That being said, I don’t think this mount and pass-through camera will revolutionize my casual FaceTimes or Discord calls with friends and family for one simple reason: when my laptop is actually on my lap, I put a phone on top of it, and the lid does it very tippy, even with my mini phone. Using it cross-legged made my laptop fall over easily and threw my phone across the room if I didn’t catch it. Even with my arm on the palm rest, the phone’s weight is just enough to pull my 13-inch MacBook Pro’s screen back to its maximum open position, which usually results in a very awkward angle (and perhaps an awkward one amount of force on my display?).

Gif of the iPhone being attached to a laptop with the Belkin accessory and the laptop falling over.

Be careful when using this accessory with your laptop on your lap.
Gif of 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 sitting on a table with an iPhone 13 attached to it, and the same was true of another colleague using the mount with a Pro Max and a 16-inch MacBook Pro . But it does mean I’ll likely only use this accessory for more formal video calls where I’m at a desk or counter, rather than the much more frequent ones that I do from the couch. That’s not Belkin’s fault; It’s just physics, and really, I don’t think my mum or sister will mind seeing me in blurry 720p (or at least I haven’t had any complaints in the last few years).

Gif of a MacBook Pro display leaning back under the weight of the iPhone attached to it.

But it’s not the power of my gaze that’s pulling the laptop down. But hey, point to the Belkin mount to hold my iPhone through the bump.
Gif of Mitchell Clark / The Verge

Despite 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, have an iPhone, and are planning to upgrade to macOS Ventura if it comes out on Monday (and who don’t want the hassle setting up your own camera/tripod/light).

However, if you mainly 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. This version is coming “soon”. Belkin press release, although there’s no mention of whether it has some form of power delivery that’s more elegant than just connecting the phone with a Lightning cable. This sort of feature wouldn’t make sense on the portable version, but it would probably be a nice addition for those who are in meetings all day.

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