Apple may have improved the webcams on its laptops recently - so much so that the 13in MacBook Air M2 appears in our ranking of the best laptop webcams - but it’s clearly not finished there. The iPhone’s rear cameras are among the best you’ll find on a smartphone, and Apple’s new Continuity Camera tech allows you to link it up to your MacBook and use it as a video-conferencing camera and microphone combo.
You get the benefit of the triple-camera array on the back of most iPhone Pros, with its ultra-wide and short telephoto views, and you can take the phone off its mount to use Desk View to share a top-down view of whatever you want people to see instead of your face. There's Center Stage, just like Apple’s other webcams, which keeps you in frame as you move around, and Studio Light which brightens your face while darkening the background.
There are a few things you’ll need first, however. You need an iPhone 12 or later to use all the features - though an iPhone XR or 11 can still function as a basic camera - and it needs to be running iOS 16 or later. You’ll also need a Mac running MacOS Ventura or later, and both devices need to be signed into with the same Apple ID and are on the same Wi-Fi network.
The phone doesn’t need to be strapped to the back of the MacBook’s lid, but it helps if it is as the camera lenses are pointing in the right direction. This is where the best Continuity Camera mounts come in, specially formed mounting points that attach to the back of the MacBook’s lid and hold your iPhone in exactly the right position.
They’re more than just shaped pieces of plastic anyone could run off on a 3D printer, however. Some take advantage of the MagSafe feature on newer iPhones (12 and later) that attaches them to a wireless charger to hold them steady, while others have foldable hinges to get them into the perfect position.
The best Continuity Camera mounts in 2023
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Belkin is a prolific maker of iPhone and Mac accessories, so it’s no surprise to see it create this excellent Continuity Camera mount. It’s sold through the Apple Store itself, along with other outlets, so seems to have the Cupertino seal of approval.
What you get is a small circle that attaches via magnets to the MagSafe wireless charging hotspot on the back of an iPhone, and then clips over the top of your MacBook lid with a simple hook. Being magnetic, you can rotate the phone into portrait orientation if you want to, and it also features a kickstand so you can use it away from your laptop to prop your phone up while watching movies.
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. This mount from MiiKARE (or Klearlook in some countries) doesn’t cost very much and is pretty versatile. It uses a spring-loaded clamp to attach to your phone rather than any fancy magnets, which means it’s always visible, peering around the top of your phone while it’s in place. It does the job though, and is a good choice if you want to use one of the older iPhones that doesn’t have wireless charging. It also opens up into a desktop stand for your phone, so has a use away from Continuity Camera calls.
Another circular magnetic mount, but this time made from aluminum and more versatile than others. Not only does Stouchi’s mount work with Continuity Camera, attaching solidly to the top of the laptop screen in the classic piggyback style, but it also functions as a desktop stand and as a grip ring to securely put your finger through when holding your phone up for filming or video calls, giving it extra stability and theft protection.
The surfaces that come into contact with your phone or laptop are coated in rubber to prevent scratching, and being magnetic you can easily rotate your phone into portrait orientation if you need to.
The beauty of Continuity Camera is that it’s wireless, so you don’t have to keep your camera in the traditional webcam position at the top of the screen. This string-loaded arm allows you to swing your camera away from your screen, rotate it into the perfect position using its ball head, and then add a little illumination with its ring light.
A clamp at the bottom of the arm gives it a solid grip on your desk, and the light’s USB power connector means you can hook it up to a rechargeable power bank to keep things fully mobile. It’s ideal for filming things on your desk, giving demonstrations such as cooking tutorials, or just making sure you appear in the best light possible.
With the ability to tilt your phone from vertical to a 30° downward angle, this mount allows you to film what your hands are doing on your desk without having to move your screen or your keyboard getting in the way.
It’s a plastic mount that simply clamps over the top of your screen using a spring to keep it secure, and attaches magnetically to your iPhone using the MagSafe charging connection.
• Where other mounts are designed with MacBooks in mind, and can’t attach to thicker screens, Capstone also offers an adjustable clamp that's ideal for thicker screens such as iMacs (see at Amazon).
This mount does something slightly unusual, but obvious when you think about it. Not only can it hold your iPhone with its rear cameras facing you so it can act as an enhanced webcam when you’re taking a video call on your laptop screen, but it can also flip around the other way around, so that a video call can appear on the phone screen, using the phone’s front camera, keeping your laptop screen clear for other things. It can also mount on the side of your monitor, holding the phone in portrait, so you can keep a messaging, music playing, or social media app in your eyeline but without cluttering up the larger screen. Made from aluminum, the mount comes with magnetic discs so you aren’t confined to using it with MagSafe compatible phones.
Which iPhones have a MagSafe mount?
Continuity Camera works with all Apple iPhone generations introduced in 2018 or later (so from the iPhone XR onwards).
So the full list as of August 2023 is: iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, SE (2020), 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, SE (2022), 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max.
Which phones are compatible with Continuity Camera?
The MagSafe magnetic mount was introduced with the iPhone 12 series in 2020.
So the full list as of August 2023 is: iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max, SE (2022), 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max.