The iPhone 4 has a pretty good camera, so you can get some nice shots. But you’ve got to admit, it can be a bit slippery to hold while you’re taking a picture. It’s also too narrow to sit on its own, so you can’t set it on the table to steady the camera, and there’s no tripod mount on the phone, either. The Gymbl Pro Grip and Tripod from YOUBIQ promises to solve these problems. YOUBIQ sent a Gymbl Pro to The Gadgeteer so we could give it a closer look.
The Gymbl Pro system consist of a black plastic, hard-shell case for the iPhone, a tripod stand / camera grip, and a stand-alone adapter for a full-sized tripod. There’s also a small instruction booklet.
The plastic case slides onto the top and bottom of the iPhone and snaps together. The fit is snug and secure. The inside back of the case has a rubbery strip along the middle back to protect the glass. The case is 4.6″ long X 0.43″ thick X just over 2.5″ wide and weighs 0.9 oz on my digital kitchen scale. It adds noticeable width to the phone. I also found the case was almost impossible to remove from the iPhone. I truly was afraid I would break my phone because of the force it took to pull the phone out.
All the controls are exposed and accessible. The thickness of the case means the buttons are a bit harder to reach than I’m used to, but they were operational. The opening for the headphone jack is large enough that most headphones should be useable. The top and bottom microphones are both exposed, as are the speaker and the docking connector. The case didn’t interfere with music or making phone calls, and I could charge my iPhone with the charging cable. It’s thick enough that it might not work with charging docks.
The top photo shows the attachment point for the Gymbl tripod.
You can see that the case wraps around onto the front screen. This keeps the glass lifted off the table if you put your phone facedown. The back has an opening for the iPhone 4′s camera and flash. It didn’t cause any flash glare when taking photos. You can see that the side of the case (opposite the volume buttons) bulges out. The top bulge accommodates the mounting arm; the bottom bulge is apparently for symmetry. The neck in the middle makes it easier to hold the phone. (Details of this side can be seen in a previous picture.) The case isn’t uncomfortable in the hand, but it’s extra width will take come getting used to. I would have preferred they forget the bottom bulge so the case is smaller in hand.
The tabletop tripod has three legs, as you’d expect. The wide leg is made of black plastic. The other two legs are made of anodized aluminum. All three legs have rubber feet. The top of the tripod is made of plastic and has two hinges. The mounting arm is shown extended in the above photos. It pivots around as shown, or you can turn it so it lays along the surface of the head. The iPhone can be attached with the mounting arm in either position.
Because the camera can be set down at constant distance and height, YOUBIQ says that the Gymbl Pro is ideal for taking photos that can be stitched together for panoramic photos. All you have to do is snap a photo, turn the head a bit, snap another, and repeat until you’ve photographed the entire object.
In the above picture, the mounting arm has been turned so it lays along the head. The iPhone can be adjusted into many orientations, including horizontal and portrait. I did find that the tripod will tip over when the iPhone is in some positions. Because it can be “tippy”, I’d recommend using the volume control on a pair of microphone-equipped headphones to trigger the shutter, if you have the iPhone extended into a less-stable orientation.
You can fold the tripod flat and use it as a camera grip. This works especially well while taking video.
There’s also a separate adapter for your regular tripod or monopod. The plastic gear is threaded to screw onto to the screw mount used by most tripods. Unfortunately, my Monfrotto tripod doesn’t use the screw attachment; it has a quick-release plate, so I couldn’t try it with the Gymbl Tripod Adapter.
If you don’t mind leaving the plastic case on your iPhone 4 or 4S at all times, you’ll find it will probably protect against scratches to the back and sides of the phone. If you intend to use the case only when you want to use the tripod, you’ll find it difficult to remove. The Gymbl Pro tripod/grip is small enough to throw in your bag, even a smaller purse, to have handy for when you need it. The tripod does stabilize your camera when taking videos or photos in dimmer light. You’ll find it also makes a nice camera grip when you’re carrying the camera around while snapping pictures or taking video.