How We Picked
Smartphones have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1994 (i.e. Simon Personal Communicator). We have gone from being able to type a short text message to being able to produce movie-quality videos in less than 30 years. And even though our smartphones can do so much, there is still a lot left to be desired, especially when it comes to video and/or image stabilization.
Have you ever noticed that the video quality from a DJI Mavic 2 Pro is monumentally better than anything your iPhone XR can produce? Even with all the extra cameras and/or sensors installed, smartphones just cannot seem to match up with video cameras and/or drone cameras. So, is it that the technology is not there or that they would need just a little bit of help?
They just need a little bit of help …
The difference in the video quality comes down to one thing – gimbals. Drones and other high-quality video camera systems have specialized gimbals built into them to help stabilize the images/videos. Unfortunately, smartphones are just too thin and/or small to be able to hold these larger gimbals. To compensate, manufacturers have started using specialized algorithms to help “programmatically stabilize” their videos. The truth is, this is not that effective.
And that is why you need a smartphone gimbal. The question then becomes, which one? With so many on the market right now, how do you figure out which one is the right one for you? Today, we are going to show you seven of the best smartphone gimbals currently on the market.
#1 DJI OSMO Mobile 2
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 15 Hours
- Weight: 1.08 Pounds
What better way than to start our list off with a smartphone gimbal from a company that has perfected the technology in their drone lineup? Remember earlier when we talked about the DJI Mavic 2 Pro? Well, now you can get the same technology that is inside of them for your smartphone.
It is hard to imagine that a smartphone could do as much as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, but the OSMO Mobile 2 Smartphone Gimbal. It is packed with features that turn a standard smartphone into a cinematic marvel. Of course, it is only possible because of the software and technology from DJI.
Starting out, The OSMO is fairly lightweight, coming in at only 1.07 pounds; making it one of the lighter smartphone gimbals on our list. As for battery life, it can be used for up to 15 hours on a single charge. As for recharging, DJI includes a power cable that can be connected to it for quick refreshes; when it is charging, it cannot be in use (no power banks). The handle is fixed, meaning it does not have any type of extension to give you a “better angle” / more height. However, it does have a screw-mount base at the bottom that could affix to a tripod/extension rod, though you might lose some functionality if you cannot access the controls easily.
With all that out of the way, this three-axis smartphone gimbal is a force to be reckoned with. It is loaded with features such as ActiveTrack, MotionLapse, Zoom Control, Timelapse, Slow-Mo, and more. All of this is available through the onboard controls and/or built-in software. ActiveTrack can follow any highlighted subject, keeping them in perfect view no matter where they go. MotionLapse can make rather mundane shots looks extraordinary by creating an experience (not just showing one). And the zoom control can give you some of the most immersive, cinematic visuals from a smartphone. With the OSMO Mobile 2, your limits disappear.
What We Like
The included camera modes make this one of the best smartphone gimbals on the market. While the handle does not extend, it more than makes up for it with ActiveTrack and the other camera modes such as Zoom, HyperLapse, and MotionLapse.
With the technology from its older siblings, the OSMO Mobile 2 is ready for anything. You will not get a bug-filled, overburdened gimbal system. Instead, you get a lightweight, user-friendly smartphone gimbal that creates cinematic masterpieces using a basic smartphone. There is no reason to settle when you can have it all with the OSMO Mobile 2 from DJI.
- Ultra-Long Battery Life
- Multiple Camera Modes To Create An Immersive Experience
- Works With Most Phones Including iPhones and Androids Equipped With Android 4.1.2+
#2 Freefly Movi Cinema Robot
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 15 Hours
- Weight: 1.48 Pounds
Wow! We were not sure if you would make it to this part of the list (seriously) after reading about the DJI OSMO Mobile 2. But, obviously you want more! And we have something that we know you will love.
The Freefly Movi Cinema Robot Smartphone Gimbal takes what the OSMO Mobile 2 and “upped the ante”. While DJI has done a great job innovating mobile gimbal technology, Freefly has perfected it.
Now, the Freefly Movi is a little heavier than the OSMO Mobile 2, with a weight of 1.48 pounds, but that is still fairly light. However, this is not shaped like most smartphone gimbals. Instead, this is more like a video camera recording cradle. It is “L-Shaped” with a phone mount located above the farthest edge. On the edge are controls that allow you to zoom and pan until you are satisfied with the on-screen video. The battery life is pretty much identical to the OSMO Mobile 2 with up to 15 hours on a single charge. Again, this cannot be used while it is recharging. The design of the Movi allows you to use it is landscape, portrait, and selfie mode. Plus, it can actually be set on the ground on its own or used with a tripod.
But, what truly sets the Freefly Movi apart from the competition is what it comes with (built-in and/or through the downloadable app). For starters, you can record in 4K or 1080p, while controlling the frame rate from 24 FPS to 60 FPS (phone dependent). Next, you can actually use external lenses and other accessories like microphones to really capture everything in front (and around you). It comes with plenty of camera modes to choose from including majestic mode, echo mode, timelapse, movilapse, orbit mode, barrel roll mode, and even smartpod mode.
What We Like
The base of the camera is thick, with plenty of counterbalance to keep your camera “on point” and upright without the use of a tripod. It is equipped with several camera modes that will make production-quality videos possible (with downloadable app and high-quality smartphone camera).
Even though the OSMO Mobile 2 is a great option, it has a BIG competitor in the Freefly Movi Smartphone Gimbal. In fact, we think that this is the best option on our list (“premium pick”) for what you get. While it is expensive, it is the closest thing to having your own high-quality, cinematic video camera from a movie production set.
- 2 Ultra-Long Batteries Included
- Can Sit On The Ground Or A Level Surface Without A Tripod
- Has The Ability To Work With Other Accessories Like Extra Lenses and/or Microphones
#3 Zhiyun Smooth 4
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 14 Hours
- Weight: 2.2 Pounds
Next on our list is a brand that might not be that common for you, but they are serious competitors in the gimbal market. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 Smartphone Gimbal is a budget-friendly option that holds its own against some of the more expensive smartphone gimbals on our list.
As we look at the Smooth 4, we notice that it is heavier than most of the other smartphone gimbals on our list at a total weight of 2.2 pounds (this is about as heavy as you want a smartphone gimbal to be). However, it is able to handle larger phones due to the heavier counterweights that are built-in. The battery life for the Smooth 4 is laboratory tested at 14 hours (so expect a little less; perfect conditions). If you need a little extra power for your other devices, you can use the onboard battery with a lightning cable in an “emergency” situations; you cannot use the Smooth 4 while it is charging.
Digging in a little deeper into why the Smooth 4 is so special, we see that it comes with plenty of camera modes to work with (using the downloadable software). Some of the most notable modes include the PhoneGo mode and the Vertigo Shot. With the PhoneGo mode, you can switch it on and move it as fast as needed; it will track the subject without any major/noticeable loss.
The Vertigo Shot can give you some really amazing subject-focus shots with the background looking a little “out of place”. Of course, you also have the standard panoramic mode, zoom modes, object tracking, timelapse, and panning modes. Everything can be controlled from the handle, with zoom being controlled by a hyper-sensitive control wheel.
In fact, all of the controls are easily accessible from one location on the back of the handle; they even included a locking mode so that you do not slip up and change the scene or the zoom during your recording (unless you want to).
What We Like
The Smooth 4 surprised us with all of the features it offers, especially considering it is so budget-friendly. While it does not support Android devices, it still works great with almost any of the iPhone offerings still in use.
If you want to be a “smooth operator”, the Smooth 4 by Zhiyun is perfect. It is a budget-friendly smartphone gimbal that will work with most any iPhone device (sorry, no Androids). Plus, if you want accessories like additional counterweights and microphones, they have you covered. For the price, you cannot beat it.
- iPhone Compatible (from SE to XR)
- Ultra-Long, 14-Hour Battery Life
- PhoneGo Mode For Instant-On Access
#4 EVO Shift
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 10 Hours
- Weight: 2.00 Pounds
Next up, we are going to talk about the EVO SHIFT (we are not talking about the car). EVO Gimbals is making waves with their smartphone gimbal designed to take an average smartphone and convert it into a full-fledged, cinematic camera.
Finding a smartphone gimbal that does not cost a lot can be hard, especially when some of the best tap the $350-$400 price range. Which is why the EVO SHIFT is such a breath of fresh air. At less than $100, this is an absolute steal.
Now, this is not the lightest smartphone gimbal on our list. In fact, it is one of the heavier ones tilting the scale at 2.00 pounds. And while this is not a huge amount of weight, it can become problematic when paired with a large/heavy phone. Battery life is slightly above average with a life expectancy of 10 hours. Charging the EVO SHIFT is easy using the included USB power cable. Plus, you can use the onboard battery as an emergency reserve/power bank for your other devices while feeding them a steady 1A charge. It is tripod compatible for those moments when you need a steady base and/or want to do some special “object tracking” videos.
Now, it is time to talk about the “meat and potatoes” of the EVO SHIFT. This is another three-axis system that creates some ultra-smooth video scenes. Using the EVO Remote App, you gain access to some of the most sought after video scene modes/settings for smartphones and even cinematography. You can adjust the ISO, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Exposure Levels, and even the focal points all from the included app. The Panoramic Mode actually has two settings: 180° or 330°, plus it can handle a true 3×3 scene stitch too. Some of the other camera modes include pan-follow mode, lock mode, full-follow mode, object tracking, zoom-mode, and pan-mode. For those who like going live, you can use portrait mode while still having access to all of the controls. And finally, this is compatible with iPhones (iOS 9.0+) and Android (Android 5.0+) devices too.
What We Like
When you find a smartphone gimbal that costs less than $100, it makes you smile. When it works as well as some of the higher-priced models, you kind of giggle. When it makes you question whether you need to spend anything else, you fall in love with it! We absolutely love the EVO SHIFT and we know you will too.
The EVO SHIFT is built to compete! This is not some budget-conscious, trimmed down lightweight. For those who want a smooth, clean video without any noticeable bumps without breaking the bank, the EVO SHIFT will work. While there are some shooting modes that could be added, and the weight could be a little lighter, this is perfect for the casual shooter looking to expand their horizons without investing a lot of money.
- Works With Most Phones
- Downloaded App Gives You Access To Cinematic Modes
#5 Moza Mini-Mi with Wireless Charging
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 2 Hours Per Battery
- Weight: 2.00 Pounds
Next up is a brand that has been around for a short time. Moza is not a big name, but they have plenty of BIG products that make up for their relatively short startup time. Gone are the days where the only good products came from a BIG-name company. The Moza Mini-Mi is a perfect example of a new company that creates competitive products at a reasonable price.
Now, this is not the most advanced smartphone gimbal on our list, it is not the lightest, it is not the best looking … so, why is it on our list. First, it is a great budget-friendly option. Second, it comes with plenty of features that make it comparable to others. Third, it has a few secrets up its sleeve.
But before we get into the secrets, this is a fairly heavy smartphone gimbal with a weight of 2.00 pounds without anything in it; this is not the heaviest gimbal on our list, but it is close. Next, the battery life is rather mundane with a life expectancy of approximately two hours per battery (this is low when compared to others on our list); but there is a secret that we will get to in a moment. The Mini-MI can be used to power other devices too while providing a 1A charge. At the base of the handheld is a tripod mount for those moments when you need more range or want a fixed base to work with.
Now, do you want to know the SECRET? First, this has wireless charging built-in! You read that right. Now, you can charge your phone while you are using the smartphone gimbal. In fact, here is the other secret … it can be used while it is charging. Thus far, no other smartphone gimbal on our list is able to do that. Now that the secrets are out, let us look at the other features that the Mini-MI comes with. Using the downloadable app, you can unlock different camera features including Fast Tracking (“object locking”) mode, Slow Motion mode, Timelapse mode, Hyperlapse mode, and Vertigo mode. Plus, you can control the pan and zoom with just a swipe of your finger, without losing sight of what is important. Other pan/zoom modes include pan-follow, roll-follow, tilt-follow, all-follow, all-locked, roll-tilt-follow, roll-pan-follow, and even pan-tilt-follow.
What We Like
The built-in wireless charging is a feature that is sorely missed on most of the big-name competitors. Plus, having the ability to use the smartphone while it is charging makes it a must-have for those on the go.
The Mini-MI is a great smartphone gimbal with some awesome features. While the battery life is lacking, the included ability to use it while it is charging makes up for this downfall. For the price, it is impressive that they were able to include so much for so little. While it is not ready to compete with some of our higher-end options, it is a great option for those on a tight budget.
- Built-In Wireless Charging
- Can Be Used As A Power Bank When Needed
- Works With Some Of The Largest And Heaviest Phones On The Market
#6 Hohem iSteady
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 12 Hours
- Weight: 1.00 Pounds
Here is another budget-friendly option that packs a lot of punch for not much moolah. The Hohem iSteady Smartphone Gimbal is anything but “ho-hum”. And while this is not a big-name company, the gimbal holds its own fairly well.
Now, this is one of the lightest smartphone gimbals on our list, barely registering at a paltry 1.00 pounds. Generally speaking, the lighter the smartphone gimbal, the weaker the battery life – that is not true with this one. In fact, this one manages to squeeze out an impressive 12 hours on a single charge, with recharges taking around 3.5 hours. Unfortunately, this is another unit that cannot be used while charging. Also, it should be noted that this cannot be used as a powerbank like some of the other smartphone gimbals on this list can.
As for features, it is a three-axis smartphone gimbal with powerful, fast motors that keep everything in front of you. Using the downloadable app, you unlock a plethora of camera modes that can turn your camera from a standard smartphone into a prosumer camera. Two of the most popular camera modes for this gimbal are Inception mode and the 600-degree panoramic mode. Other camera modes include 3D Fantasy mode, 360-Degree Rotation mode, Sports mode, 320-Degree Rolling mode, and 320-Degree Tilting mode. All of the controls are built into the handle, making it easy to keep everything in front of you. It comes with a tripod, carrying case, and a charging cable to make life super-simple.
What We Like
The iSteady is built to hold some BIG phones. In fact, it can hold phones that weigh up to 280g (0.61 pounds)! If you can find a phone that weighs that much, it is probably 10 years old. Another reason we like the iSteady is the fact that it stays under $100 while giving us plenty of camera modes.
For those in the budget-market, the iSteady from Hohem is a great option to consider. It is extremely lightweight, has an ultra-long battery life, comes with plenty of camera modes including a “Fantasy Mode”, and does not break the bank. Even if the brand is not well-known, the products are worth every penny.
- Can Hold Some Of The Biggest And Heaviest Phones
- Works With Android And iOS Devices
- 14-Hour Battery Life
- Second Lightest Option On Our List
#7 Feiyu VLOG Pocket Smartphone Gimbal
- # Of Axes: 3
- Battery Life: Up To 8 Hours
- Weight: 9.6 Ounces
And finishing off our list of smartphone gimbals is a portable option that takes portability to the “nth degree”. Unlike most of the other smartphone gimbals on our list, this one can be carried in your pocket without drawing some odd-looking stares. Feiyu has given us a pocket smartphone gimbal that is lightweight, easy-to-carry, and does not hit the wallet hard at all.
And while Feiyu is not a well-known brand, the convenience and price easily make up for the lack of brand recognition. This VLOG Pocket Smartphone Gimbal from Feiyu is the lightest of all the option on our list, coming in at a mind-blowing 9.6 ounces (0.6 pounds). And amazingly, they still manage to get above-average battery life out of it with an impressive 8 hours on a single charge. Even better, it can be recharged while it is in use from an external power bank and/or power cord. While most of the other options on our list come in one color, the VLOG comes in Dreamy Pink or Midnight Black.
As soon as you pull it out of the box, it is ready to go. Unlike the options on our list that are full of options, this is more of a pull-it-and-go camera designed for the spontaneous vloggers. You can mount your phone, turn it on, let it balance, and hit record – that is it! It can change orientation from landscape to portrait and back it one simple button press. And it is wireless, using a Bluetooth connection to work with any Android and/or iOS device. It still comes with other camera modes including “Hitchcock Dolly Zoom”, “Face Tracking”, “Time Lapses”, “Panoramic”, “Ultra-Long Exposures”, and even “Double Imaging”.
What We Like
While this is not the most powerful smartphone gimbal on our list, it is the most portable option. At only 0.6 pounds, this will be easy to carry around all day. And the battery is designed to keep up with you, giving you up to 8 hours of power from a single charge. And if you need more power, it can charge while it is running.
For the spontaneous, having a larger smartphone gimbal just does not make sense. Which is why the VLOG from FeiyuTech does make sense. It is super-small, super-light, and easy on the wallet. It can be pulled out and ready to go in under a minute. There is no reason to miss your next cameo because you did not have the right smartphone gimbal – just carry the VLOG in your pocket and be ready for the world!
- Battery Lasts Up To 8 Hours
- Able To Hold Phones Up To 240G (0.53 Pounds)
- Lightest Option On Our List
Buyer’s Guide To Find The Best Smartphone Gimbal
# Of Axes
No, we are not talking about the kind that can cut wood; we are talking about the x, y, and z-axes. Smartphone gimbals can come in one of three options:
- Single-Axis (1 axis)
- Dual-Axis (2 axes)
- Triple-Axis (3 axes)
Of course, the best smartphone gimbals will have three axes. The more axes your device can work with, the better it will be at responding to outside influences (i.e. movement). With so many options on the market, there is no reason to be a single-axis smartphone gimbal. In all honesty, you should not buy a dual-axis smartphone gimbal unless it meets all of your other requirements/needs.
While a smartphone gimbal may be built on a three-axis system, it may not be effective at keeping you at “zero”. Some do not work fast enough to hold up to your rigorous demands. So, you will need to look at the images and/or videos produced while using each smartphone gimbal. Another factor to consider (which we discuss further) is using reviews from others to help you understand how well each smartphone gimbal performs.
You might find out that your three-axis system performs worse than a high-quality two-axis system. Make your decision based on what you know and can find out; not marketing.
No one wants to be “out on the town” enjoying their smartphone gimbal only to find out that it quit working mid-stream and everything looks horrible after it quit working. Unfortunately, this is an area that needs to be considered carefully.
The battery life of smartphone gimbals varies greatly – from as little as a couple of hours to more than 12+ hours. And the worst part is, you cannot tell just by looking at the smartphone gimbal. You will need to look at the specifications sheet provided by the manufacturer and even consider user reviews (to see if the specs match the marketing).
If you are extremely active, you will want a battery life that will outlast you. Do not settle for a system that has a low battery life expectancy if you intend to be out a LOT.
The next factor you need to consider is how much your smartphone gimbal weighs on its own. Smartphone gimbals can range from an ultra-light 10 ounces and break the scale at 2+ pounds. If you intend to use your smartphone gimbal a lot, the weight will become a BIG factor quickly.
Even though it might feel good for the first 30 minutes of use, it can quickly become an issue when you have to hold it up for 2+ hours. Plus, if you have a BIG phone, that will only make the problem that much worse.
Next, not all of the smartphone gimbals created are “universal”. In fact, some are built only to work with iPhone devices while others are only able to work with Android devices. However, the majority bulk of smartphone gimbals are created to work with all devices in order to maximize their profits.
Make sure that the smartphone gimbal you want is capable of operating your device as well as able to hold it (i.e. too small/phone too big).
In order to get the most out of your smartphone gimbal, you will need to be able to control it. From specialized software to joystick controls, the more you can control your smartphone gimbal, the more you will appreciate and enjoy it.
Generally, the more expensive smartphone gimbals come with the most controls. Controllers are expensive, and finding a way to build them in is not cheap.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most commonly asked questions about smartphone gimbals. If you do not see your question on this list, let us know so that we can answer it for you and for our future visitors.
Q: What are smartphone gimbals?
A: Gimbals are devices that pivot on a single axis. They generally have some type of support that allows them to connect to multiple devices (i.e. smartphones). Gimbals are used to keep the device that they are supporting aligned in the proper orientation (i.e. x-axis/horizontal, y-axis/vertical, z-axis/front-to-back).
Q: What are smartphone gimbals used for?
A: While smartphones have come a long way, they still do not have the best image stabilization technology. Smartphones are extremely thin, leaving them little room to incorporate the proper stabilization gimbals to provide ultra-smooth videos and pictures. Smartphone gimbals are designed to help your phone create smooth, non-shaky pictures and/or videos without having to do a lot of editing later.
Again, smartphones do have “stabilization technology” in them, but this is still shaky (pun intended) at best. A smartphone gimbal will remove almost all the shaking, especially in videos with a lot of activity and/or motion.
Q: How do smartphone gimbals work?
A: Smartphone gimbals used can use between one and three pivot points (i.e. gimbals to help stabilize your smartphone. If you use an x-axis gimbal, then the phone can go up/down without any noticeable sway in the video. If you use a y-axis gimbal, then the phone can go left/right without any noticeable sway in the video. If you use multiple gimbals, then you can move in multiple directions without any noticeable sway in the video.
Most gimbals are controlled using a microchip that is mounted to motors. The chip detects movement and makes the necessary adjustments to keep everything in place. The best microchips pretty much stop all movement.
Q: Do I need a smartphone gimbal?
A: The purpose of a smartphone gimbal is to reduce the amount of motion and/or shake in your videos. If you use your phone for a lot of videos, then a smartphone gimbal is an absolute must-have accessory. Even if all you take is still photos, a smartphone gimbal can help tremendously in making sure that you reduce as much shake as possible (great for low-light situations).
And, some smartphone gimbal’s even come with extra features that make it easier to take self fees including extended length handles and remote selfies.
Q: What is the difference between a two-axis and three-axis gimbal?
A: A two-axis system involves a gimbal on the x and y-axis. Basically, this means that you have a pivot point for up/down and a pivot point for left/right.
A three-axis system involves a gimbal on the x, y, and z-axis. In this configuration, you have a pivot point for up/down, a pivot point for left/right, and a pivot point for forwards/backwards.
The best smartphone gimbals are built using three axes.
Q: Is it worth it to buy a two-axis gimbal?
A: While a two-axis gimbal is better than none, you should look for a three-axis gimbal system. A three-axis system will be much more effective at reducing shake as it can handle influences from any direction.
Even though a two-axis gimbal configuration will help to reduce the shake, it cannot account for influences on the forward/backward axis (z-axis) and therefore might affect the final output of the photo and/or video.
Q: Why do smartphone gimbals require batteries?
A: In order to keep your smartphone in the same place, the gimbals require specialized motors that work in conjunction with a microchip to keep everything that “zero”. Since motors are powered by electricity, as well as microchips, they require batteries.
Without batteries, the gimbals would not be able to keep the camera in the same place; systems run on a battery are considered active gimbals. Passive gimbal systems are not able to make on-the-fly adjustments, but use other technologies to keep them in place (they are not nearly as effective).
The best gimbal systems require a battery source of some type.
Q: Are all smartphone gimbals weatherproof?
A: While we would like to say that every smartphone gimbal in the world is weatherproof, we cannot. However, we can say that most are designed to withstand the most basic of elements (i.e. wind, rain, dust) without failing. Of course, the best ones are in fact weatherproof and drop-proof.
Q: Can smartphone gimbals work with all size smartphones?
A: Sadly, no. Some smartphone gimbals are designed specifically for certain devices and/or sizes. If you have a very large phone such as a Samsung Galaxy Note 10, you might find it hard to fit your device (maybe even impossible). Before purchasing a smartphone gimbal, make sure that it can hold your device properly.
Q: Can smartphone gimbals be used with other devices like a GoPro?
A: Some smartphone gimbals can be used in conjunction with other devices like a GoPro. Of course, to do this you will need some type of adapter. Not all systems will work with devices besides smartphones. As you look at each of these smartphone gimbals, take the time to see if it supports other devices if that is what you need; we will only be focusing on the smartphone aspect.
So, there you have it – our list of the best smartphone gimbals available right now!
The smartphone gimbals that made our list all stood out for their value, quality, ability to stabilize your device, and outlast their competitors. We were able to find options for those who are budget-conscious and for those who want to go all-out. Of course, what matters the most is that you found the perfect one for you. As we said before, you can see how we compared these smartphone gimbals by using our buyer’s guide. If you still have questions, then please make sure to look at our frequently asked questions section. If we somehow did not manage to answer your question, let us know so that we can answer you and all of our future visitors as well.