I just tried the coolest new MacBook feature in years — your iPhone is the webcam
The Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook is a great peripheral that turns your iPhone into a webcam. First revealed during WWDC 2022, this product complements the updated version of Continuity Camera coming to macOS Ventura. It’s a small peripheral that could bring a huge change for some folks — especially those using MacBooks with a 720p camera and content creators.
We received a prototype of the Belkin iPhone mount to test out. Though the final product may differ, we’re fairly pleased with the peripheral. It’s a simple puck that makes video conferencing on the best MacBooks more enjoyable. On top of that, the Desk View feature allows you to show what’s on your desk to others, which you could use for demonstrations, how-to videos, unboxings and more.
All of this makes for one of the most amazing features I’ve ever seen on MacBooks.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Release date and price
Unfortunately, the Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook does not yet have a release date or price. But we anticipate that this accessory will be made available when macOS Ventura launches this fall.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Setup
Setting up the Belkin mount is a straightforward affair. You’ll first need to have macOS 13 and iOS 16 installed on your compatible MacBook and iPhone (respectively). Our guides on how to download the macOS Ventura public beta and how to download the iOS 16 public beta will get you started.
After that’s done, you’ll snap the Belkin mount to the back of your MagSafe-compatible iPhone – namely, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lines. There’s a latch with a Belkin logo that you’ll then flip up. This part directly attaches to your MacBook’s top bezel. Continuity Camera will automatically detect your phone if it’s in range, so there’s no need to plug it into your laptop. The process is really that simple.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Design
As stated above, the Belkin mount we were provided is a prototype and thus not reflective of the final product. As such, be aware that anything I discuss regarding its design and functionality is subject to change.
The Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook is a circular all-white puck that attaches to the back of iPhones with MagSafe. I’m not sure what kind of material covers the mount’s surface, but it feels as smooth as the silicone cover on my iPhone 13 Pro. The product also has a metal ring you can use as a kickstand or phone grip.
We don’t have official specs for the mount, but it’s roughly the size of the MagSafe ring on the back of an iPhone, which has a diameter of 2.12 inches. We also don’t have final numbers for the mount’s thickness, but it’s about as thick as my Spigen Valentinus magnetic wallet card holder, which is 0.27 inches thick. It weighs about as much as that card holder (about 1 ounce). Again, please keep in mind these are rough estimates.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Performance
I tested the Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook using an iPhone 13 Pro Max and a MacBook Pro M2 for the purposes of this hands-on review. I also tried the mount on the MacBook Pro 16-inch, which has a thicker lid than the M2 MacBook Pro. The mount slotted into both laptops without an issue, though it did fit more snugly into the MacBook Pro 16-inch’s lid.
Once you’ve placed the Belkin mount on your MacBook, all you need to do is fire up your favorite video conferencing app and select your iPhone from the list of available webcams. Note that you’re not relegated to using Apple’s proprietary FaceTime App. Google Meets, Zoom, Discord and more all work equally well.
Since both macOS Ventura and iOS 16 are in beta, there were times when the picture would freeze when switching from the MacBook Pro M2’s built-in webcam to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Sometimes the iPhone wouldn’t be available as a camera option at all. Restarting the MacBook Pro resolved this issue for me.
The difference between the MacBook Pro M2’s built-in 720p webcam and the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 12MP camera is staggering. The MacBook Pro’s camera made me look paler than usual. Sunlight from the nearby windows appeared harsh. By contrast, my skin had its natural light olive tone using the iPhone’s camera. Not only that, but everything behind me was clearly visible. The frame rate was also smoother on the iPhone camera.
The latch that attaches to the MacBook’s top bezel is fairly thin. Because of that, I worried the phone would fall off if I opened the laptop lid beyond 90 degrees.
Thankfully, my concern was unwarranted as the Belkin mount maintained its grip no matter how far I opened the laptop. If the mount can easily hold the heavy iPhone 13 Pro Max, it shouldn’t have a problem with lighter phones.
The mount’s metal ring gives it additional functions. When you pull the ring down so it’s perpendicular to the puck, it serves as a kickstand to prop your phone up when watching videos. It also serves as a phone grip when you’re talking on your device.
The only complaint I have with the Belkin mount is that the latch feels a bit flimsy. Though it grips the top bezel well enough, I still couldn’t help but worry it would fall off. I hope the final product’s latch is made of a harder plastic instead of the current soft silicone material — even if it’s just for the sake of giving me peace of mind.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Desk View
I had to dedicate a section just to the Desk View feature. Why? Because it’s the most impressive feature of the updated Continuity Camera.
Desk View uses the iPhone’s ultrawide lens to display a live view of what’s on your desk. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this as a tech reporter, but I have no idea what kind of processing wizardry makes this possible. What I do know is that it’s pretty mind-blowing. I showed the feature to colleagues at the office and everyone who saw it was stunned. It’s really that incredible.
With that said, I noticed that whatever was on-screen appeared somewhat distorted. For example, the notebook I focused on appeared longer in Desk View than it does in real life. My fingers also became elongated when I had them on camera. I’m not sure if this will be (or can be) fixed when macOS Ventura and iOS 16 are officially released. However, as things stand, Desk View is pretty remarkable.
Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook: Outlook
I found the Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook a handy tool that pairs nicely with the updated Continuity Camera. Though I’ve not tested the finished product, I think the prototype gives a good indication of what to expect. If you own a MacBook and do a lot of video calls, this accessory seems like a no-brainer — assuming the price is affordable.
As for the new Continuity Camera features, I think they’re great and will make video conferencing better on MacBooks. Using an iPhone as a webcam is a winning idea, especially for folks using MacBooks with 720p webcams. And I look forward to showing Desk View to my friends and having them marvel at the feature the way my peers at the office did.
We don’t have a release date or price for the Belkin iPhone mount for MacBook. The new Apple operating systems are set to launch this fall. Hopefully, the camera mount will come out around the same time. If the finished product is as functional as the prototype, I’m sure it’ll be a hit among MacBook users.
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