Selfie Stick Buyer’s Guide
There are a large number of choices for selfie sticks and monopods. It seems as if every day selfie sticks are popping up for sale in new places. They are in camera stores, card stores, major chains such as Harmon’s Discount Drug Stores, and even in clothing stores such as Nordstrom’s and Urban Outfitters.
With so many choices, it can be difficult to distinguish between good selfie sticks and lower quality versions with less features. I have noticed that many of the higher-end stores and major chains do not carry the best selfie sticks.
Even though all selfie sticks and monopods hold your phone and enable you to take pictures and video from a distance, not all selfie sticks are alike. There are important differences among them which will have a direct impact on your enjoyment of your selfie stick.
The purpose of this buyer’s guide is to explain the key features to expect in a selfie stick and to list the best selfie sticks on the market to help you figure out which one is best for your needs.
Key Selfie Stick Features
Holder for Phone
The part of the selfie stick that holds your phone might sound like a simple device but there are several types of holders, including:
- Holders with Two Sides: These type of holders look like a clamp with two sides that is loaded by a spring that secures your phone by the top and bottom. Two sided holders are the easiest to put your phone in and take out of, which helps take that quick picture. The top quality selfie sticks have very secure holders with two sides that work well but cheaper versions do not work as well and have a cheap mechanism.
- Holders with Three or Four Sides: These types of holders cover the phone on top, bottom and one side or both sides. These are generally more secure than the two sided holder. For security of not dropping your phone, however, you give up a little convenience. It is a bit more difficult to get your phone into a holder with three or four sides and they are more prone to breaking.
The shutter button enables you to remotely take a picture with your phone. Original selfie sticks just came with a holder and an expandable shaft without a built-in shutter button.
Unless you have a shutter button, you would have to set the automatic timer on your phone and then wait until the phone took the picture. These types of selfie sticks are still available but they are commonly sold with a separate remote shutter button that connects to your phone by bluetooth.
You should note that even though many selfie sticks hold regular digital cameras, including those made by Canon, Panasonic, Sony, and GoPro, the shutter button on the selfie stick will not work with them unless the cameras have built-in bluetooth or a place to plug in the cable. With regular cameras, you will most likely have to use the self-timer to take pictures with your monopod.
Below are the types of shutter buttons on selfie sticks:
- Shutter buttons built into handle that connect by a cable: These types of selfie sticks have a cable that you plug into the headphone jack of your cell phone. They are really good because they are truly plug-n-play. Simply plug in, open your camera app, and you can start taking pictures. Also, there is no need to charge a battery since you are connecting the selfie stick directly by a cable as opposed to wirelessly through bluetooth.
The cable shutter button selfie sticks, however, don’t work on all phones. They work on iPhones, including the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and 5S, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. They also work on many, but not all Android phones, including Samsung, LG and Sony. Another thing to be aware of is that since the headphone jack on iPhones and Android phones are also the microphone jack, when you record video, there will be a picture but no sound.
- Shutter buttons built into handle that connect by Bluetooth: These types of selfie sticks have a button built into the handle that connect wirelessly by Bluetooth to your phone. The first thing you need to do is to sync your selfie stick to your phone in the same way that you sync all Bluetooth devices.
Bluetooth selfie sticks are great because they work with all phones that have Bluetooth technology, which is pretty much every smartphone. Since it has Bluetooth, you will need to charge the battery in the selfie stick with a cable that comes with the selfie stick. Also, the Bluetooth connection may be lost at times which could slow down how quickly you take a picture.
- Separate bluetooth shutter buttons: If you buy a selfie stick without a built in shutter button, you will want to purchase a separate remote shutter button. These shutter buttons sync with your phone by Bluetooth. One benefit of a remote shutter button is that you can place your phone on a tripod and take a picture from a distance without using your timer. On the downside, you will be forced to carry around another device and they are small so they are easy to lose.
Expandable / Portable
One of the key benefits of a selfie stick is that it is expandable so you can carry it around with you and expand it when you want to take that special picture. Selfie sticks come in different sizes. Newer selfie sticks, such as the Flexion Ultra Compact Quicksnap Pro (full review here), are being made more compact so they are easier to carry with you but also expand so you can take a group shot.
Click here for a selfie stick that is expandable but compact.
In addition to being expandable, you can also adjust the holder on the selfie stick so you can take pictures at different angles. Changing the angle comes in handy so you can properly line up your picture and also so that you can take video or pictures when you are behind other people at an event.
There are two general types of mechanisms to change the angle:
- Self locking angle mechanism: Some selfie sticks are made with a mechanism that adjusts at a wide variety of angles and locks into place automatically. These are the easiest to use and let you quickly adjust the angle.
- Knob based angle mechanism: Many selfie sticks, including some found in even the higher end stores, have a knob based system for changing the angle. Thus, you will need to loosen the tension with the knob to adjust the angle and then tighten the knob to lock your phone into place. Knob based systems can be more secure. You can tighten the angle and they may last longer because there is less risk that the mechanism will be stripped. The knob based mechanism, however, could be more cumbersome to use than the automatic system. It often requires you to use two hands and slows down the process of using your selfie stick.
Smartphones usually come with two cameras. The back camera is what you use to take high quality pictures. You look through the screen on your phone to line up a picture. The front camera is made to be used for Facetime, Skype, or other types of video conferencing.
With selfie sticks, you are taking pictures of yourself. If you want to use the back camera, you will not be able to line up your shot through the screen, because the lens is facing you. The screen is on the front of the camera. You are then forced to take pictures with the lower resolution front camera. Some selfie sticks come with a mirror that faces you. You can then line up your shot in the mirror and take pictures with your back camera. A mirror is great if you want to take the highest quality pictures possible with your cellphone.
Click here for a selfie stick with a mirror.
Conclusion and Recommendations
As you have probably figured out by now, there is not one type of selfie stick that is best for everyone. There are pros and cons to many of the key selfie stick features. You need to pick the features that mean the most to you.
The Best All Around Selfie Stick
The selfie sticks that earned the highest Best Selfie Stick ratings are The Flexion Ultra Compact Quicksnap Pro (read review here) and the Mpow iSnap X Monopod (read review here). The Flexion and Mpow selfie sticks appear to be almost identical except for branding.
They are second generation selfie sticks that have a high quality holder with two sides. They connect to your phone with a Bluetooth shutter button. They have a knob angle adjustment system that works seamlessly and won’t slow you down. These monopods also fold down to a very compact size so they are extremely portable. If you are in the market for the best selfie stick, these are the models to buy.
Flexion Selfie Stick:
Mpow iSnap X Selfie Stick:
Click here to view top selling selfie sticks