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The best smartphone gimbals you can buy
Smartphones have become very good at stabilizing video with OIS (optical image stabilization) and EIS (electronic image stabilization), but they can’t beat the efficiency and control of a mobile gimbal. Directly holding your phone while recording can lead to unexpected movements, jumps, and trips. Add shaky hands to the equation, and any smartphone will need some help keeping footage steady.
Those looking for the best phone gimbal will soon realize there are many options available out there. Finding the right smartphone gimbal can be a daunting task, so we have curated a list of the best handset stabilizers available.
Editor’s note: We’ll regularly update this list of the best smartphone gimbals as new ones launch and older ones are phased out.
Buying the right phone gimbal for your needs
You need to consider several things when picking out a phone gimbal. The obvious factors to consider are price, size, weight, battery life, and build quality. Of course, mobile gimbals have other more complex features to keep in perspective. An essential one is the stabilization technology in use. Are you working with a 3-axis or a 2-axis stabilizer? 2-axis stabilizers smooth out tilt and roll, which means movements going up/down or from side to side. The third axis steadies panning.
It’s also important to consider device compatibility. If the gimbal doesn’t fit or the hardware isn’t made for your handset, you will need to look elsewhere. The motors need to handle your handset’s size and weight. The software will make a massive difference in your experience too. Be sure to look at how many features the app has (if there is one).
The best overall: Zhiyun Smooth 4
The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is getting older now, but it holds the title as the best smartphone gimbal by our book. This device seems to offer the best value for the money. It comes in just short of $100 and provides an experience that few other gimbals can match. This smartphone gimbal already has a successor, the Smooth 5, but we believe it’s overpriced and doesn’t offer much more compared to the Smooth 4. The only upgrade we deem worthy is the included fill light at the top-end of the Smooth 5.
From build-quality to battery life, there's a lot to love about the Zhiyun Smooth 4.
Zhiyun’s Smooth 4 sports impressive build quality, and it offers one of the more stable tripods on the market. It measures 123 x 105 x 328mm and weighs 547g before adding your smartphone of choice. The Smooth 4 packs a 2,000mAh cell, which should keep you rolling for up to 10 hours on a single charge.
We can appreciate the impressive selection of buttons and knobs that Zhiyun equipped its Smooth 4 with. However, the sheer variety results in a steep learning curve, so you may have to do a few practice runs before getting the hang of things. We’re not entirely sold on Zhiyun’s app, either, but the Smooth 4 combines enough quality and value to command our best gimbal slot.
- Impressive selection of buttons and knobs
- Solid build quality, especially for the price
- Impressive stabilization and very stable tripod
- Steep learning curve
- No object tracking
- Not the best for large or heavy phones
Check out our full review to learn more about the Zhiyun Smooth 4.
Other products worth considering
While the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is the best choice for most users, there are a few other products worth considering. Below you’ll find a quick breakdown, followed by a deeper dive into each alternative further down in the article.
- DJI Osmo Mobile 5: The Osmo Mobile 5 is our top pick for a folding gimbal. It’s lightweight thanks to the plastic design, and it’s an overall perfect companion for videographers on the go.
- Zhiyun Smooth Q4: This is a great gimbal for mobile videographers. It’s foldable, powerful, and the removable LED light will keep clips well lit at night.
- Zhiyun Smooth X2: The Smooth X2 is not as capable as others, but it’s definitely one of the funniest gimbals with such a pocketable design.
- Hohem iSteady Multi: Smartphone gimbals are great, but many of us have multiple cameras. This stabilizer can be used with a smartphone, as well as a GoPro or a Sony RX100.
- Moza Mini-S Essential: With a carrying capacity of 260g, the Mini-S Essential is an excellent pick if you prefer a larger phone. It’s plastic, but it offers plenty of features and a comfortable ergonomic grip.
- Feiyutech Vimble 3: The extendable arm is an excellent addition, and it opens up plenty of new angles. It also offers much more versatility, controls, and additional accessories.
DJI Osmo Mobile 5: The best folding gimbal
DJI’s Osmo Mobile 5 just barely missed out on our top spot, mainly because it is a bit too pricey. The OM 5 features a folding design that earns top marks for portability and sets it apart from most other gimbals on the market. It’s super portable, and even has a built-in extension rod that turns it into a selfie stick.
The DJI Osmo Mobile 5 comes in at 292 grams right out of the box, and measures 264.5 x 111.1 x 92.3mm when completely unfolded. The gimbal packs a 1,000mAh battery, which isn’t great, but you still get about six hours of battery life. The clamp can also handle its own, as it can hold devices as heavy as 290 grams, and as wide as 84mm.
- Excellent folding design
- Small and light
- Built-in extension rod
- Great clamp
- New folding design can be a bit clunbky
- Some features are iPhone-only
Check out our full review to learn more about the DJI Osmo Mobile 5.
Zhiyun Smooth Q4: Powerful, foldable, extendable, and with a light!
As you might have guessed, our favorite gimbals often bounce between DJI and Zhiyun. Although Zhiyun’s Smooth Q4 doesn’t fold quite as small as the DJI Osmo Mobile 5, it’s a very compact and portable gimbal that can also be folded down.
Great features include a removable, magnetic LED fill light, which is excellent for lowlight shooting. Light intensity can be customized by tapping on the top surface, and it can be used either pointing towards or against the shooter. The unit also features good stabilization, great controls, and an ergonomic handle. Another great improvement over the Smooth Q3 is that the Smooth Q4 can be extended to work as a selfie stick hybrid.
The body is still made of plastic. While it won’t feel as good as aluminum or other metals, it feels pretty solid in the hand. Battery life is pretty good too, at 15 hours on a single full charge. Of course, you’ll still enjoy all the great features you can expect from Zhiyun’s ZY Cami app. These include Dolly Zoom, SmartFollow, Gesture Control, MagicClone Pano, and more.
- Super light and compact
- Removable LED fill light
- Multiple advanced shooting modes
- Great controls and ergonomic handle
- Plasticky build
- ZY Cami app is unreliable
- You could do better for the price
Zhiyun Smooth X2: Super portable, fun, and comes with LED light
If you’re looking for the most portable gimbals around, Zhiyun’s Smooth X2 might be right up your alley. It is so small it can fit in a regular pants pocket when completely folded down. Don’t let its tiny size fool you, though. The portable gimbal has plenty of fun to offer. For starters, it comes with plenty of lighting effects, which activate with interaction. Additionally, you can use a removable LED fill light, which you can customize with different color filters.
Additionally, the unit can be extended by up to 265mm, essentially making it a stabilized selfie stick. And you still get great ZY Cami app features, such as Smart Mode, SmartFollow, and online editing. The only downside is that it’s a bit too pricey for what you get, and you can get higher-end units like the Zhiyun Smooth 4 and Smooth Q4 for about the same price, but this one is definitely fun and much more portable.
- Lightweight folding design
- Extending gimbal arm
- Magnetic LED fill light for dark shots
- Fun design and cool light effects
- Feels less premium
- Short 3.5-hour battery life
- No three-axis stabilizer
- Expensive for what it offers
Hohem iSteady Multi: The best for using with all cameras
Smartphone gimbals are great, but it’s definitely better to have some versatility. The Hohem iSteady Multi features more compatibility with smartphones and other cameras, including GoPro shooters and Sony RX100 cams. And while the included cable is only for Sony cameras, the gimbal can handle other cameras, too, as long as they don’t weigh over 400g.
The gimbal only weighs one pound, and it features plenty of mobility. It can pan 600 degrees, tilt 320 degrees, and roll 320 degrees. Another great thing about the Hohem iSteady Multi is its app’s features, including really unique ones like “Inception Mode.”
- Can handle smartphones, action cameras, and regular cameras.
- Great weight limit
- Amazing panning and movement
- Simple controls
- Build quality is lacking
- Underwhelming app
Moza Mini-S Essential: Balanced between price and power
The Moza Mini-S Essential is another smartphone gimbal that positions itself in the middle of the road on pricing. It far outperforms its price tag, though. The Mini-S Essential offers three-axis stabilization, which is not always guaranteed on budget gimbals. It does weigh more than most on the list at 498g, but it supports up to 260g to give you impressive freedom to choose your device.
Moza also achieved solid battery life with its gimbal, even if it isn’t top of the class. The 2,200mAh cell is rated for eight hours, and our testing generally achieved the same results. It features a unique, off-centered design that lends well to the ergonomic grip but still folds nicely for traveling.
- Simple to operate
- High weight limit
- Fun effects and shooting modes
- Confusing app
- Build quality could be better
- Limited freedom of movement
Check out our full review to learn more about the Moza Mini S Essential.
Feiyutech Vimble 3: The best for selfie-takers
We loved the Feiyutech Vimble 2S, and the Vimble 3 seems to beat it in every aspect. The foldable design can be reduced to 114.4 x 175.6 x 64.6mm. There are much more buttons for those who need more controls. The design is much more ergonomic. Additionally, it supports cool accessories, including a magnetic fill light and Feiyu Intelligent Tracking Module.
One of the things that made the Vimble 2S special was the 180mm extendable arm. The Vimble 3 one-ups it with a 198mm extendable arm, making it great for selfie shooters.
- Convenient extendable arm for selfies
- More control with a bevy of buttons
- Great 10-hour battery life
- Compatible with accessories
- On the pricier side
- App needs work
- It’s still a bit hard to get in the USA
It depends on what you’re looking for. About $50 seems reasonable for an affordable gimbal that’s still good enough for most users. Prices can go upwards of about $200 for higher-end models. However, about $100 seems to be the sweet spot between price and quality.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, 2-axis stabilizers smooth out tilt and roll, which means movements going up/down or from side to side. 3-axis stabilizers also steady panning. Which one you need depends on your type of video, but generally speaking, those using a gimbal for selfie shooting or still images won’t need panning stabilization as much. You’ll save some money on 2-axis gimbals, and they also tend to be lighter and smaller. Having 3-axis stabilization offers the best results for video production, though.
Smartphone gimbals make for great tripods. Not only can they hold a smartphone still, but they often have special features for tracking subjects. They will also stabilize your video if there are any vibrations or movements. The only downside is that these require battery power, while a tripod won’t. This means that a gimbal can’t be used if you happen to deplete its battery.
You can often get away with using a smartphone gimbal without specific software, especially if all you want to do is smooth out your video. That said, using a gimbal without a specialized app will usually mean missing out on most of the best features and optimizations. These include zooming, remote control, effects, object tracking, etc.
Also, keep in mind there may be some app limitations. Most smartphone gimbals have apps for both iOS and Android, but not all will. And some features might not work on certain platforms.
Given that the gimbal has an app for your smartphone, you should be able to use any phone as long as it fits on the clamp. Gimbal motors should also be strong enough to carry the weight of the smartphone. These details can always be found on the spec sheet.
Sometimes smartphone gimbals are a bit overkill. You may be happier with something simpler, like a smartphone tripod. Check out our post below to see which are your best options.