Can I Use My Phone as a Launch Monitor?

can i use my phone as a launch monitor and why should i use a launch monitor

Improving at golf can be a real struggle. Whether you want to improve your distance, hit straighter shots, or just put less or more spin on the ball, knowing where to start can be very challenging. However, there is a solution that makes this a lot easier.

Using a launch monitor gives you valuable insight into many things, including swing path, smash factor, spin, carry and total distance, and more. Unfortunately, professional launch monitors are often costly, but luckily that can be solved by using a mobile phone launch monitor on an app.

What Is a Golf Launch Monitor?

what is a golf launch monitor and can i use my phone as a launch monitor

A golf launch monitor is a device that lets you track your golf shots, and is typically used on the driving range. The point of a launch monitor is to get a better idea of your golf shot’s numbers, including:

  • Carry Distance
  • Total Distance
  • Clubhead Speed
  • Ball Speed
  • Smash Factor
  • Spin Rates
  • Launch Angles

The reason why it’s great to know these numbers is that it lets you adjust your game and understand what you need to improve on.

For example, if your driver has very high spin rates, you might want to do something about that to improve your distance, and the opposite goes for wedges. 


There are plenty of reasons why you should use a launch monitor to improve your golf, no matter your skill level. Here are some of the fantastic benefits of using a launch monitor:

Knowing Your Yardages 

When you use a launch monitor frequently, you get to know the distances you hit with all of your golf clubs. This is done by hitting multiple shots with all golf clubs and then averaging the results.

After every shot, the launch monitor gives you a carry distance and total distance, which goes for all types of launch monitors.

The carry distance is most important, as that’s the distance you need to know when hitting into a green or over a hazard. The total distance is also important but will always differ significantly depending on winds, fairways, weather, and so on.

The total distance is probably the most important when hitting the driver, as the difference between that and carry can be pretty significant. For example, many drives that carry 260 yards will roll to well over 280, given that you don’t put a lot of spin on it. Total distance also gives you a better idea of what club you’ll be hitting next

Speed and Distance Improvements

All golf launch monitors give you data to improve your clubhead speed and distance. The main factors that impact the golf ball’s distance are clubhead speed, smash factor, launch angle, and spin.

  • Clubhead Speed

Probably the most significant factor for distance in golf is clubhead speed, which is how fast the golf club’s head is traveling at impact. This is where you see professional players beating a lot of amateur golfers.

  • Smash Factor

The smash factor measures the energy transferred from the golf club to the golf ball at impact, essentially how efficient you are striking the ball. This also significantly impacts the golf ball’s distance and depends on many things, such as the grip and where you hit the ball on the club face, etc. 

  • Launch Angle

The launch angle is also very important, especially when hitting the driver. When hitting the driver, it’s crucial to hit up on the golf ball to get height and little spin. A launch monitor gives you the information and data, helping you to see if you’re doing this correctly.

  • Spin Rate

Having good spin rates is crucial for playing good golf. When you’re hitting the driver, a low spin is desirable as the ball will travel further, but with wedges, a high spin is optimal to allow the golf ball to stop on the green.


Do Phone Launch Monitors Work?

The short answer is yes. Phone launch monitors do work at delivering data of your golf shot, but they might not be as accurate as “professional” launch monitors. Nevertheless, phone launch monitors can help you improve your game immensely.

How Do Launch Monitor Apps Work?

There are two different ways golf launch monitors work: Doppler radar technology and camera technology. Both options have their strengths and weaknesses, and understanding them correctly is crucial when deciding what type of launch monitor to buy.

Doppler Radar Technology 

Doppler radar technology is what the best launch monitors in the world use, such as TrackMan and SkyTrack. The radar tracks the ball after impact and measures the distance, among other things, to deliver the most accurate result possible. Doppler radar technology is undoubtedly accurate, but it’s not cheap.

Launch monitors with this system can be very expensive, with one of the most costly options coming in at a staggering $20,000. These top-of-the-range launch monitors are used by the world’s best players, as they are the most accurate. However, these price tags usually aren’t justifiable for us amateurs, although the PGA Tour pros might need them.

Camera Technology

Camera technology launch monitors use a camera to record data at impact when hitting a golf shot. This is what phone launch monitors use, and it does a pretty good job at measuring the same things as the doppler radar technology launch monitors. Simulator companies such as ForesightSports use the camera technology to gain incredible accuracy.

The phone launch monitor uses the phone’s camera to measure data at impact. Then, the launch monitor app calculates the carry and total distance of the golf ball by using its algorithms and factoring in the measured clubhead speed, launch angle, and so on.

The launch monitor app will present the results when you’ve hit the shot. Of course, since there’s no actual radar involved, the app simply makes an educated guess. 

Are Launch Monitor Apps Accurate?

Whether golf launch monitor apps are accurate depends on what you compare them against. Not even a $20000 trackman is one hundred percent accurate, so when you’re considering that there are free golf launch monitor apps, the results can be relatively inaccurate and still be great.

Depends on the Club

But that’s not to say that launch monitor apps are bad. They are actually surprisingly accurate, especially when you’re hitting average golf clubs like a 7 iron. Like all golf launch monitors, the extremes tend to be the hardest to measure, at least when it comes to guessing camera technology.

Drivers and wedges have very low and high spins, making it harder for the computer to guess the distances correctly. The review team at TellMeMoreGolf tested the ShotVision golf launch monitor app against a high-end TrackMan doppler launch monitor that you’ll find in most ranges.

Averaged Differences Are Negligible 

As expected, there were some differences. But when you take the average of, let’s say, 30 drives, the differences become pretty negligible. But, once again, the most tangible differences were in the highest and lowest lofted clubs. 
The most significant difference between the two launch monitors was in the distance. When it comes to clubhead speed, which is important to know when trying to add distance, the results were remarkably similar.

What Are the Pros of Launch Monitor Apps?

Launch monitor apps do come with many benefits; in short, they will undoubtedly make any golfer of any level improve. The pros for golf launch monitor apps are:

  • Knowing your yardages perfectly 
  • Enlightenment of what needs improvement in your swing 
  • More straightforward speed training 
  • Very cheap compared to other launch monitors

What Are the Cons of Launch Monitor Apps?

As with all things, there are also negatives with launch monitor apps. Here are some of the cons of golf launch monitor apps:

  • Somewhat inaccurate compared to professional launch monitors
  • Won’t pick up all shots
  • Not great at extremes – driver or wedges, especially if you put a lot or little spin on the golf ball

Which Launch Monitor App Should I Use?

Currently, there’s only one big golf launch monitor app, and that’s ShotVision. ShotVision is completely free, but then it will only give you data on launch angle, spin, etc., and not distance. If you want to get the full experience and reap all of the benefits from a launch monitor, a pro version for $6.99 per month is available. 

Unfortunately, ShotVision is only available for iOS and not android. That means that android users will have to resort to a standard launch monitor or a relatively budget-friendly portable launch monitor such as a PRGR or Garmin Approach. 

Conclusion: Research by

black tell me more golf compressed logo with mottled background information for golfers

Golf is hard, and improving at it can be even harder. One of the most challenging aspects of improving is that it’s often difficult to find where the problem lies. Using a launch monitor to get data on your distances, smash factor, launch angle, and spin rates, help with this.

However, a professional launch monitor is exceptionally pricey. Luckily, there is an alternative for iPhone and iPad users, and that is to use a cheap launch monitor app on your phone. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of the benefits of using a launch monitor and know if an app suits you.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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