Friday, December 26, 2014

Selfie Stick Comparison (Looq, Polaroid & iStabilizer - 5 Models Tested)

Looq Mini, Looq Be Selfie, Looq Super Selfie, Polaroid PLMONBT, iStabilizer Monopod
Looq Mini, Looq Be Selfie, Looq Super Selfie, Polaroid PLMONBT, iStabilizer Monopod

If you’ve been to Asia over the past year there’s no mistake that the hottest gadget on the market right now is the infamous selfie stick. You literally can’t go anywhere without seeing people whipping these things out and taking photos of themselves or group photos with their loved ones.

At first I rolled my eyes at the sight of these gadgets, but I quickly warmed up to them after seeing how much fun my wife and son were having taking photos together. Before long we found ourselves jumping into shots with our friends and using these things just about as often as everyone else around us during a November trip to Korea and Japan.


My son and friends enjoying a group selfie shot
Click to see a full selection of Selfie Sticks ($29.95 & up)

Yes, there are cheap knockoffs from China that when they work seem to do a good job. However, I prefer to buy products from reputable brands without having any fear that they might damage my phone (and if they do, I have someone to go after). As a result, I limited the scope of my review to devices that were in-stock and sold by B&H as of December 2014.

Sizes Extended and Retracted


Selfie Sticks Extended - 40", 24" and 5.9" respectively

While the sticks tested could go up to 40”, I found that to be an unwieldy length. More often I found 18 – 20” to be a comfortable length for a two to three person group shot with the camera on the LCD side of the phone (i.e., the Selfie / FaceTime camera).


Selfie Sticks Retracted - 6.5", 11” & 10” minimum (with attached heads shown above removed)

All of the devices supported removable heads which helped make them much more compact, but with the heads attached was how we typically used them. This added a few extra inches and a lot more bulk. This meant that an average small purse could only hold the smaller Looq branded sticks and a medium to large purse or messenger bag was required to hold the largest sticks.

None were comfortable in a pocket unless the head was removed, so I never carried them in my pocket.

Tested Sticks Rated

My wife, 12 year old daughter, 5 year old son and I all had fun trying out the selfie sticks featured in this article. After a family discussion, here is our consensus on how we’d rank the devices we tested for this article.

5th Place – Looq Be Selfie


Looq Be Selfie

I tested this with a iPhone 4, 5, 5s, 6, & 6+ as well as a LG G3, Samsung Note 4 and Galaxy S4 & S5. For the Android devices it would bring up a menu that had nothing to do with photos when I pressed the button, but it did nothing on the iPhones. As a result, I was unable to properly test this device.

Final Verdict: Didn’t work, so NOT RECOMMENDED

4th Place – Looq Mini


Looq Mini

The only good thing I can say about this selfie stick is that it works – IF you remove your case to plug it in. However, the big problem with this one is that the button required such force to press it that everyone who tested it got blurry shots from movement caused by pressing the button. At a whooping 5.9” long, it really offered no advantage over using your arm extended out without a selfie stick at all.

Final Verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED

3rd Place – iStabilizer Monopod


iStabilizer Monopod

This device doesn’t really try to do anything more than hold a phone or compact camera. I didn’t find it to work very well with large phones like the iPhone 6+ or Galaxy Note 4, despite its claims that it works with all phones.

No matter what phone or camera you use, you’ll need a self timer because this device does not feature anything to trigger the attached device. This was a big drawback over the other devices tested which made me think “what’s the point”?

The only good thing I can say is that with a point and shoot camera you can’t trigger them from any of the sticks tested anyway, so you can save $10 by getting one of these for your point and shoot.

Final Verdict: NOT RECOMMENDED for phones, but good for compact cameras

2nd Place – Polaroid Bluetooth Monopod


Polaroid PLMONBT

This was the Swiss Army Knife of selfie sticks tested and arguably the best one overall. It offers both iOS and Android support over BlueTooth as well as up to 40” of extension for phones as well as compact cameras (shown later below). It also featured Micro-USB charging so no separate batteries are required.  What was also nice about this one is that it not only worked with all modern iOS & Android phones with BlueTooth except extra large ones like the 6+ and Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Polaroid Selfie Stick with Bluetooth Shutter - Controls View
Polaroid Selfie Stick with Bluetooth Shutter - Controls View

I found the controls (shown above) to be intuitive and pairing was super simple (just hold and choose “Polaroid” from your phone’s BlueTooth device menu). What was even better is that this stick is beefy enough to hold compact cameras like my x20 (as shown below). This implies that others of similar weight like the Sony RX100 III, Canon G16 & s120 and others that are roughly the same weight with a tripod receptacle should work too. 

The Polaroid was able to hold some compact cameras
The Polaroid can hold, but not trigger compact cameras
so you’ll have to use your self-timer on the camera

This was a probably the best built and most sturdy of the bunch, but this also meant it was the most bulky and heavy which made it cumbersome to carry around. It would only fit in the largest of my wife’s purses and I fear it could be prohibited in some public venues as it is large and solid enough to be used as a weapon.

This product appears also to sold under the name Satechi Smart Selfie Extension Arm, but I have not personally tested the Satechi device so I only base this on what I’ve seen on the web. 

Final Verdict: RECOMMENDED, but bulky & heavy. Being self-contained battery powered means you could find yourself out of luck if you forgot to keep it charged.

1st Place – Looq Super Selfie


Looq S Battery-Free Extended Selfie Arm with Button

Coming in at $29.99 at the time this article was written (after $15 instant savings), this was tied for the lowest price but it was also by far my favorite selfie stick that I tested. My wife loved how it was compact enough to easily fit in all of her purses, and I loved that it “just worked” with no batteries or BlueTooth required. We didn’t need to install any apps or do anything fancy to get it to work with the iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, 6 & 6+. It should be noted that while it could control the 6+, it didn’t hold the 6+ securely enough for me to recommend it for that phone. For the LG G3, Samsung Note 4 and Galaxy S4 & S5 it would trigger a menu to pop up when the button was pressed, but it failed to take photos with those phones.

Integrated Mirror lets you use the high resolution side of your phone camera instead of the low-resolution selfie camera
Integrated Mirror lets you use the high resolution side
of your phone camera instead of the low-resolution selfie camera

I found the button easy to press and the 24 inches extension was the most we ever found ourselves really needing. I also LOVED the fact that using the mirror on the back of the phone mount (shown above) you can use the high resolution rear camera of your phone instead of the typical 1.2mp low resolution “FaceTime” selfie camera found on most iPhones.

Final Verdict: RECOMMENDED for iPhones excluding the 6+. The 6+ sorta works, but it was too unstable for my comfort. 

Conclusion

Our phones are very important to us these days so it is much harder for me to hand a phone (with lots of personal, work and financial data on it) over to a stranger to take a photo than it is my compact camera (which holds no personal data beyond photos). There’s also a point where the weight of a camera on a stick gets so heavy that it becomes tough to hold it steady to get a sharp shot. While I liked the idea of being able to support my compact camera on the bigger sticks featured by iStablizer & Polaroid, I honestly can’t see myself really using it with them.

I’ll also admit that for this review I’m biased to iPhone 5, 5s & 6 solutions as that’s what I’d most likely use a selfie stick with in my household. Android users might have views that differ from my conclusions here, but if I did have an Android I’d probably do more research and figure out how to get one of the Looq sticks to work with it. I also can’t emphasize how valuable using the mirror on the Super Selfie can be as I loved being able to get a 8mp picture instead of a measly 1.2mp, so that and size was really the big reason why the Looq Super Selfie won this comparison test.

Where to order

Please click one of the following links to order or THIS LINK to see B&H’s current selection of selfie sticks:

  1. Looq Super Selfie (1st Place)
  2. Polaroid PLMONBT (2nd Place)
  3. iStabilizer Monopod (3rd Place)
  4. Looq Be Selfie (4th Place)
  5. Looq Mini (5th Place)

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The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

1 comment:

used to laugh at these but now buying one said...

appreciate your review of the various selfie sticks around. i had been considering the looq s but after reading your blog, i decided it was the best choice for me.