On principle, I generally pass up most of the plastic iOS accessories I run across at trade shows: They're usually uninspiring, and the few exciting ideas tend to be shoddily-made. At last week's Macworld/iWorld, though, I came across an exception: the the Pocket Tripod. It's an impeccably-machined plastic contraption the size of a business card that cleverly tilts, swivels, and pivots to turn into a sturdy, secure cradle for your iPhone.
The Pocket Tripod starts as a flat piece of plastic about a millimeter thick, with some odd cutouts along the edges. Twist that card 180 degrees and flip the sides up, however, and you instantly create a tiny portrait-orientation iPhone stand.
Twist it 45 degrees and pull its center apart, and you have instead a landscape stand. In landscape, the stand is slightly flimsier than in portrait orientation, due to the separation of the pieces, but it still holds your iPhone well.
Now, portrait and landscape orientations are all well and good, but it was the stand's tilt control that impressed me the most: The resistance when moving the stand back and forth was almost as good as a conventional tripod — not only securely holding the phone in place upon release, but at all manner of strange angles, too.
Fidgeter that I am, I spent most of the weekend twisting, flipping, and snapping the Pocket Tripod in and out of place, with no seeming degradation in either the tilt control or the stand's other moving pieces. It's way sturdier than its plastic appearance suggests, and Pocket Tripod's lifetime warranty guarantees you a replacement if those parts ever do wear down.
Currently, the tripod only fits the iPhone 5s, but the company has plans to manufacture adjustment pieces that will accommodate phone widths up to 12.5mm.
I really have only one complaint about the stand: it's not quite high enough to let me plug in my iPhone while in portrait orientation. But that's a minor quibble, since I doubt I'll be using the tripod on my desk. Out on the road, however — at a café, a friend's, or what have you — it seems like the perfect companion.
The price — $26 — is higher than I'd normally consider paying for a plastic accessory, but its quality and lifetime warranty more than compensate.
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