As the cameras inside smartphones have gotten more and more capable, companies have started devoting more effort to developing accessories designed specifically for the photography capabilities of smartphones. There’s no shortage of options, and in your search for the best, you might also come across some of the more unusual options.
To save you the hassle of finding more obscure accessories — or just downright wacky ones — we’ve assembled this helpful list of the craziest smartphone accessories money can buy.
Why use a periscope-esque device to shoot mobile photos? For starters, it’ll totally go with your Captain Nemo beanie. The HTC Re is waterproof up to 10 feet (30 feet with included rubber case) and enables quicker snapshots. The Re captures 16-megapixel images or 1080p videos with the touch of its one button. The Re camera hasn’t been updated for a while, and we doubt HTC will be making any more — so snap it up now while you still can.
Read our full HTC RE review
Chest Mount for iPhone ($55)
The action camera is pretty much GoPro’s domain, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you want to use your iPhone to achieve the same POV function. Film your epic lines with this iPhone chest mount from HitCase, which frees your hands from having to hold the phone so that, you know, you can concentrate on not wiping out.
iOgrapher Filmmaking Case ($50-60)
Steady your iPhone footage with the iOgrapher case. Made from polycarbonate, the biographer case has mounts galore to attach add-on lenses, lighting, and audio gear. We think it looks a little like a childproof tablet case or your 7th grade soccer trophy, but it’s far more practical and less expensive than other iPhone camera accessories. It also has a standard tripod mount and offers enough space to attach a converter lens from iOgrapher.
The Cliquefie is an attempt at perfecting the selfie stick – and it may have succeeded. Described as “chic, lightweight, and ultra-portable,” Cliquefie’s makers seem to be targeting the female demographic (never mind that a photo of the Cliquefie in a pink purse resembles a feminine hygiene product). But compared to bulky selfie sticks you buy at the drugstore, the Cliquefie is stylish. There are several ingenious features of note here: It has a detachable Bluetooth remote, an inconspicuous phone mount, and a retractable tripod, for example. A Mini version ($30) is available for smaller bags, like said purse, but lacks the removable remote. We still think selfie sticks are annoying for most situations, but at least the Cliquefie can be quickly stashed away when the museum guard steps into the room. It comes in a variety of colors.
Like a handful of other products on this list, the Mega Tiny Anti-Gravity Phone Case was brought to life with the help of Kickstarter. As its name suggests, this case lets you mount your phone to almost any surface imaginable using a nano-suction surface on the rear of the case.
Mega Tiny, the company behind the project, claims the case is “perfect for hands-free use and selfies.” Just stick it to a wall, mirror, or a window and you’ll have an extra free hand to throw up whatever sign you’re feeling that day. It’s available for all versions of the iPhone going back to the iPhone 5.
Most third-party lens add-ons won’t work with the dual camera setup on the latest iPhones, but the Shiftcam isn’t your everyday camera accessory. This case offers six additional add-on lenses that can be used interchangeably by sliding them in front of the lenses. Sure, the case is a bit bulky and isn’t too aesthetically appealing, but who cares? You have a 6-in-1 camera case to use! Shiftcam for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR are currently available for pre-order.
Miggo Pictar Pro ($120)
Smartphones may be our everyday cameras, but let’s face it, they aren’t comfortable to hold and can be unwieldy to use – at least for photography. The Pictar Pro, currently being funded via Kickstarter, brings familiar camera controls and even a viewfinder to the latest iPhones, through a mix of physical controls and a companion app. The neat trick with the Pictar is that it communicates wirelessly with the phone through sound – clicks that are inaudible to the human ear – so it doesn’t need a physical connection, nor does it draw power from the phone (it uses its own battery).
Lensbaby Creative Mobile Kit ($100)
Add-on lenses for phones are a dime a dozen. Lensbaby’s Creative Mobile Kit is anything but ordinary, however — and that’s to be expected from a company that makes nothing but creative lenses. Whereas most lenses are about clarity, the Creative Mobile Kit is all about putting fun effects on photos. Using it takes some getting used to, but once you figure out what works, you can give basic photos some artistic flair. Unfortunately, the Lensbaby Creative Mobile Kit hasn’t been updated, so it will only work with iPhone 5 and 6 devices.