Most people use tripods to stabilize large, expensive cameras, but they also happen to be one of the best ways to get the most out of your phone when taking pictures outdoors. One of the downsides of shooting with phones is that they take blurry photos in low-light conditions. The little sensors in Apple and Android handsets are less sensitive than those in DSLRs, so you need to hold them rock steady if you to want to capture, say, an image of your friends around a campfire. A small tripod solves that problem and lets you take complex shots like long-exposures. Best of all, it lets everyone join in on group shots because no one has to hold the camera.
Taking along a heavy-duty tripod may erase some of the convenience of phone photography. Luckily, a handful of manufacturers have recently developed low-weight and often low-cost solutions, from a disk that lets you transform three trekking poles into a stand to an adapter that lets you use your phone with the high-end tripod you already own. With all kinds of phone-specific tripods on the market, you can go high performance (over $100) or super low-end, such as this DIY version (bring your own razors). After the jump, we’ll show you the best options at each end.
One other thing: If you're planning on shooting long-exposure photos, you'll need to upgrade from your phone's included camera app. For iPhones, the best example is Slow Shutter Cam, ($.99). For the Android, it’s Camera FV-5, ($3.91).