Selfie stick: genius invention or idiot pole?

Selfie stick
Wonder wand or burk baton?

Unsurprisingly, the selfie stick has earned itself a marmite reputation - you either love it or you hate it with a fiery passion. The nation is split, and so too is the TechRadar mobile team.

In the blue corner we have John McCann, a self-proclaimed selfie stick super fan, while in the red corner we have Gareth Beavis, who is quite possibly the stick's biggest enemy.

We've let them go head to head on the sensitive subject of the selfie stick and stake their claim as to why they are right - but whose side are you on?

John McCann: Selfie stick - get in my life RIGHT NOW

"My name is John and I really, really want a selfie stick. Why? Well, at first there was no particularly rational reason, I just became obsessed with them. I'm not even someone who takes a lot of selfies - although they're a great way to test out the front-facing snapper on whatever phone I'm reviewing, especially if there's a beauty mode present. Not that I need it, of course.

But when I'm out with friends and we want a picture, it's easier to grab a phone and all huddle around to try and get in shot, rather than ask a stranger to take one, which more often than not ends up being a terrible photo anyway. There are, however, two issues here.

First, if there's a large group of you it's difficult to get everyone in shot while holding your phone at arms length - meaning you'll literally have to go cheek to cheek and even then Dave's fat head is still cut out.

Then there's the taking of the photo. So many phones have ditched physical shutter keys, meaning a fiddly and unorthodox grip on your phone as you try to hit the on-screen capture button.

Some handsets do allow you to use the volume keys to capture images, but if you're rocking an iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 4 this can be pretty tricky too. Especially after a few drinks.

The humble selfie stick solves both of these issues. It gives you the distance you need to get Dave's big head in, plus most come with a remote shutter to fire the camera without having to actually touch your phone.

Of course people will scoff, but they're just jealous you've a group of friends willing to get in a photo with you. And just watch the retweets and likes stack up once you've posted the legendary shot on Facebook, Twitter and every other social network in sight.

You 1. The naysayers 0.

And to get you in the mood, here's a cracking YouTube video. (You're welcome)."

Gareth Beavis: Absolutely horrendous

"The selfie stick. Let's sit for a moment and think about that. A stick, that you have to carry around, with the single purpose of making it easier for people to see where you are and (hopefully) envy you.

I don't have time to get into my anger that the 'selfie' has become a thing. I use the quote marks as it's the only way I can tolerate even writing the word... it's narcissism taken to a new level, and now someone has made a tool to supercharge the maddening phenomenon.

Look, before I get into the reasons why a selfie stick is a horrendous idea, I do agree with some of John's points. Yes, taking a photo without looking at the camera screen is a nightmare nowadays thanks to some phones getting rid of the button altogether. It's hugely frustrating.

And the tech fan in me likes that you can fire the camera with a Bluetooth button. I'll always love a remote button, no matter the function.

But why do we need a stick to help? I was flabbergasted to learn that, especially in tourist hotspots, these are a very popular thing to have, doubling up as a walking cane for those moments when your legs, possibly atrophying from spending too long dribbling over YouTube vloggers, need a little boost.

I get that there are moments on a trip when you want a photo of you and your significant other, or group of mates, and you don't want to hand over your camera to a complete stranger. But you've still got to plan that into your day: the possibility that you'll come across a pretty spot and you need your special pole to help out.

Yes, the 'selfies' are better with the pole attached; the field of view is wider and the angle is better from up high. But what's wrong with just taking a picture of a scene and then publishing that to Facebook? Why do you have to be in it? And if you do have to be involved in the snap, why do you need the quality upgrade so much that you'll carry hardware with you?

I appreciate this is me verging on 'come sit on my knee and I'll tell you a story of how good it used to be in the olden days' Grandpa mode, but it's one of the few things that I really dislike thanks to the fusion of social media and front-facing cameras.

Just take nice pictures and remember that nice place. You don't need a magic stick to help you out."

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.