Smartphone cameras have really stepped up in performance over recent years, and it’s not crazy to see people create amazing content exclusively with them. This is the case so much that we’ve seen accessories like gimbals — usually reserved for DSLR and mirrorless cameras — make their way down to mobile devices. These tools can go a long way towards filming far more professional-looking videos while you’re on the go. Some options might also have some unique features to maximize your capabilities. Below, we run through the best gimbals and stabilizers for smartphones.
The best overall gimbal: DJI OM 4
DJI is a renowned name amongst enthusiasts who want to film in unique situations. From its popular drones to the Ronin series of stabilizers, the company has a solid roster of options for almost any situation. The DJI OM 4 keeps that spirit alive by providing the most robust experience you could look for in a mobile gimbal.
The sleek OM 4 has a foldable design that features a quick-release, magnetic attachment system which allows for someone to quickly mount their phone and jump straight into filming at a moment’s notice. Three-axis stabilization (up and down, side to side, and back and forth) is just one of a slew of features available to you.
With the easy-to-use DJI Mimo app, special filming modes include subject tracking, various time-lapse options, panorama stills, and a nifty Hitchcock-style zoom effect. Many of the modes can be quickly accessed with the easy-to-reach trigger and buttons, or via hands-free gestures. Assuming your phone’s well-balanced, you can see up to 15 hours of operating time and charge back up in just 2.5 hours. This latest gimbal from DJI will be one of the most expensive options you see on the market, but you’ll hardly feel slighted by that investment once you start using it.
The best budget gimbal: Hohem iSteady X
It’s hard to ignore the hefty price tag of DJI’s OM 4. Maybe you’re new to the content creation game and you just want a solid stabilizer to get started. Hohem’s iSteady X brings all of the essential features you’d want out of a smartphone gimbal, with a few neat tricks to boot.
The iSteady X provides three-axis stabilization with a battery life of 8 hours and a charge time of 2 hours. There’s a hands-free gesture mode to take perfectly positioned selfies and a slick “Inception” mode that automatically rotates your phone while you focus on moving towards or away from your subject. “Inception” mode is just one of seven premade gimbal movements to make your shots more dynamic.
It’s also impressively foldable like DJI’s OM 4, although the iSteady X won’t get quite as compact. It comes with its own tripod mount by default, which comes in handy in a number of ways. You’ll be able to use it while first balancing your phone or as a rock-steady base for a time-lapse.
You won’t get as full a feature set as you might see from the OM 4 and others, but being about half that price, the iSteady X is an intriguing option for beginners and casual hobbyists.
The best value gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth 4
If you’re looking for the perfect blend of reasonable cost and great features from a top name in the industry, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is a clear winner. Like DJI, Zhiyun is a widely known entity due to its stabilizers for full-size DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Luckily for you, a lot of features from those products make their way down to this mobile version.
You’ll get three-axis stabilization and a suite of shooting modes including object tracking with Zhiyun’s ZY Play app. The intuitive handwheel on the side of the handle is a nice touch that brings a real professional edge to using the gimbal. You can use it for zooming functions or, more impressively, pulling focus on your subject at will. The gimbal can run for 12 hours on a charge and recharge in 3.5 hours.
While its handle may not be as ergonomic as the OM 4, it does provide more overall functionality in the number of choices at your disposal. Serious filmmakers who don’t mind the bulk and learning curve might actually prefer this option to get the absolute most out of a gimbal. Depending on what you’re looking for, the Smooth 4 comes close to standing toe-to-toe with the OM 4. Somehow coming in at $50 less in price, the Smooth 4 is a tough deal to pass up that hardly will feel like a bargain buy.
The best of the rest
The Smooth-Q2 from Zhiyun really is the best of the rest. For starters, it’s got the best maximum battery life that we came across, clocking in at a whopping 17 hours. It packs all the gimbal essentials into a small form factor that rivals the OM 4, including a convenient quick-release system. This is an awesome choice for start-and-stop shooting that will last you all day.
FeiyuTech Vimble One
This is a unique option compared to the others on this list. The Vimble One’s calling card is its ability to extend over 7 inches in length, turning it into a formidable selfie stick. Moreover, it can fold down to 5.12 inches, making it one of the most compact options out there. You won’t get the same three-axis counterbalancing you see in traditional gimbals, but there are at least anti-shake sensors to help reduce unwanted motion. The operating time for this gimbal is 6 hours and it recharges in 2 hours. It all makes for an affordable gateway to a really distinctive set of features.
DJI Osmo Mobile 3
One of the perks of the high-end OM 4’s release is the reduced price for the still-excellent Osmo Mobile 3. It’s now regularly $50 cheaper than the OM 4 and you’ll still get core features like three-axis stabilization, object tracking and gesture control in addition to the sleek and compact folding design. You can also expect the same battery performance from this model. If you opt to jump on the Osmo Mobile 3, you’ll have some leftover cash to accessorize with a great smartphone gimbal.