26 May 2016

Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick: A Great Mobile Photography Accessory - Not Just for Selfies!

First up, a quick confession: I'm not a member of the target demographic for a selfie stick. I'm thirty, male, and not prone to self-portraiture ("selfies"). Having other people point cameras at my face makes me uncomfortable enough as it is, so I'm not in any hurry to further that trauma. That said, I do have a lot of fun with mobile photography, and am always looking for new techniques to try.

Enter the Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick. I figured I could use it as a poor man's monopod to stabilize low-light shots and also to provide a bit of extra reach for unusual perspectives.

In traditional Anker fashion, the selfie stick arrives in a friendly blue-and-white box. There's no excess packaging material to dig through, and no horrible plastic blister packs to struggle with and ultimately cut yourself on (thanks Anker!). Inside I found the selfie stick itself, a short micro-USB charging cable, a welcome guide, and a product feedback card.

The selfie stick's metal shaft can extend to almost 3 feet long, and it bears an indentation along its length to help keep both ends aligned correctly. It still has a little bit of a wiggle to it, but should be stable enough for most purposes.The soft rubberized phone grip easily expands to secure any Android or iPhone device between 2.2" - 3.3" wide (even my Nexus 6P), and a pull-tab at the top makes it easy to extract your phone once you're finished. The handle features an ergonomically-placed remote shutter button and is wrapped in a soft rubber coating. The coating makes the selfie stick easy and comfortable to grip, but (as an added bonus) also prevents the base from slipping if you use it as a monopod.

Pairing the Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick with your phone is a simple and straightforward process. To turn it on, simply press and hold the shutter button until its LED indicator starts to blink. Then search for the "Anker selfie stick" device from your phone's Bluetooth menu. Tap to connect... and that's it. To turn off the selfie stick, just press and hold the button again. The selfie stick will quickly and automatically reconnect to the last paired phone each time it gets powered on. To pair to a new phone, just repeat the same process.

Once paired, open your favorite camera app and start shooting! Pressing the shutter button emulates a volume key press, so if you don't have a camera app open you may get some unexpected results. I did note that some third-party camera apps (like FreeDCam) required me to set the proper external trigger within the app's settings, but it worked out of the box with the stock camera apps on my Nexus 6P and Honor 5X. The remote shutter is nearly instantaneous so you don't need to worry about missing the shot, and it even works with some other shooting modes like videos and panoramas (though won't work with any burst shooting modes which require a long-press of the shutter button).

The internal battery claims to provide 20 hours of service on a single charge, and after a week and a half of playing with the device (on the original charge) I have no reason to doubt this claim. Charging it, when needed, is easy using the provided USB cable.

So how does the Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick do for my somewhat unusual usage? Quite well, actually! When used as a monopod, the selfie stick provides a bit of extra stability for close-up and/or low light photographs. It obviously won't be quite as good as a proper self-supporting tripod, but makes a great compromise between utility and portability. I was able to get some pretty decent low-light shots that would have been impossible to pull off without some added support.

I think I had even more fun just using the selfie stick to place my phone's camera in spots I otherwise couldn't comfortably reach. I shot a panorama over the heads of a crowd, cars from slightly above them, and pictures of my dog looking down at the camera near the floor. These are all perspectives that would have been a bit challenging without the selfie stick's added reach, and I think the photographs turned out a bit more interesting simply because they aren't views that my eyes are used to seeing.

For the price, (currently $8.99 with free 2-day Prime shipping) the Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick would make a solid addition to your mobile photography kit.

Just don't use it to actually take selfies. You're not THAT attractive.

Note: Anker provided me with this product for testing and evaluation in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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