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The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is my favorite gadget of the year

This is the 2023 gadget that solved problems, over-delivered on features, and created genuine excitement in me.
By
December 24, 2023
DJI Osmo Pocket 3 in hand with display in landscape mode viewing a cat on screen
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

We focus a lot on Android phones here at Android Authority. To cap off every year, we hand out an Editor’s Choice award for what we think is the best phone. We also run a multi-day event where you pick the Reader’s Choice award winner. However, we don’t do these types of events for all the product categories we cover, which left me nowhere to talk about my personal favorite overall gadget of the year: the DJI Osmo Pocket 3.

When I say “favorite overall gadget,” I mean it. Nothing else has launched this year that’s excited me as much as the Osmo Pocket 3. Sure, I was pumped about the Pixel 8 Pro and the Pixel Watch 2, both of which I bought and love. The advancements with foldable phones were pretty incredible, especially with the surprise smash hit in the OnePlus Open. I was also thrilled about the ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 OLED, which has become my favorite laptop. But none of these items solved multiple problems in my life, gave me far more than I was expecting, or made me actually look forward to using it day in and day out. The Osmo Pocket 3 did, though.

Of course, no device is ever perfect, and the Pocket 3 could use a few tweaks. But if you want to know why I love this thing so much, let me tell you all about it!

What is the DJI Osmo Pocket 3?

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 on table with display in landscape mode
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Like the two models before it, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is a three-axis stabilized camera that literally fits in your pocket. It allows you to quickly record smooth video even while you or your subject are moving.

The Osmo Pocket series has always been an anomaly on the market. DJI and dozens of other companies make smartphone gimbals, for example, which cover many of the same bases as the Osmo Pocket series. However, due to needing to support a smartphone, gimbals tend to be quite large, no matter how hard companies try to shrink them down. Additionally, gimbals need to work with both Android and iOS devices, which brings in numerous compatibility issues. This usually includes, unfortunately, certain features that only work on iPhones.

The Osmo Pocket 3 is like a Steadicam system, but pocket-sized.

The Osmo Pocket series, though, does away with most of these problems because it is a self-contained device. It can be much smaller than a traditional smartphone gimbal with far fewer compatibility limitations because you don’t need to snap a phone into it.

As with any new gadget model, the Pocket 3 introduces numerous new capabilities, most notably a much larger touchscreen display that can flip to record either portrait or landscape footage. It also, for the first time, has a 1-inch CMOS sensor. While there are smartphones on the market with 1-inch sensors, it is highly unlikely the people reading this own one. Even the mighty Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra doesn’t have a 1-inch sensor. This helps the Osmo Pocket 3 not only match the quality of many smartphone cameras but even surpass them under ideal conditions.

There are a few other notable upgrades, including its ability to act as a webcam, a much larger battery, and support for 512GB microSD cards (the Pocket 2 could only go as high as 256GB).

Why do I love this thing so much?

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 with contents of Creator Combo package displayed on a table
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

If you’ve been watching the Android Authority YouTube channel or checking out our Instagram Story feed over the past few months, you’ve likely seen me more than usual. Part of the reason I’ve been able to make more videos is how easy it’s been to record them with the Pocket 3 when compared to the best camera phones or even a traditional camera. The Osmo Pocket 3 sets up in seconds and will always record ultra-stable footage, whether I’m using a tripod or holding it in my hand, allowing me to go from the idea stage to filming in a matter of seconds. It also won’t overheat on its highest settings, unlike some phones (cough Pixels cough).

Likewise, out of the box, the “Normal” setting works great for pretty much every scenario. However, if I want to get particular, I can shoot in various color modes — including D-Log, which allows for accurate color correction in post — and even control things like shutter speed, white balance, and more. It’s so easy to dial in these settings that I can be up and shooting in a fraction of the time it would take me to do so with a traditional camera.

I can go from, 'Hey, that's a good idea for a video,' to shooting said video in a matter of seconds.

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Combo also comes with a wireless microphone. This automatically connects to the Pocket 3 as soon as you turn it on. With this, I’m able to get terrific audio, which is equally as important as the video itself. I can also, crucially, start/stop recording from the wireless mic, allowing me to set the Pocket 3 up and then not touch it until I’m ready to pack up. With a recent software update, the Pocket 3 also got the ability to record a “safety” track from the camera, giving me two sources of audio recordings just in case the wireless mic fails. This is invaluable for fast-paced recording situations, the likes of which I’ll be facing in a few weeks at CES 2024.

I know I mentioned that you don’t need a smartphone for the Pocket 3, but you can wirelessly connect your phone to it if you want. This gives you a wireless viewfinder, an additional remote start/stop button, and the ability to change settings, framing, audio sources, and more, all from your phone. Once again, this allows me to set up the Pocket 3, put myself in position, and then not need to move from that spot until recording is complete. What’s more, when I’m finished, I can wirelessly export the recorded footage at full quality straight to my phone. It is fast, too, with the transfer of a one-minute clip at 4K/60 taking about 10 seconds.

Finally — and I can’t overstate this part enough — everything I need fits into the tiny little bag you see in the photo above. Altogether, the bag weighs 510g, or a little over a pound. This is something that a traditional camera just can’t offer and is a huge selling point for a guy whose backpack seems to get heavier each year.

As much as I love it, though, there’s still plenty of room for the inevitable Osmo Pocket 4 to up the ante.

What about the Osmo Pocket 3 still needs work?

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 side logo and microSD card slot
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Although DJI improved almost every facet of the Pocket 2 when it made the Pocket 3, it did actually downgrade a few features. Most notably, it removed one of the exterior microphones, which means the Pocket 3 has three mics to the Pocket 2’s four. The wireless mic in the Creator Combo makes up for this in my eyes, but anyone who doesn’t want to shell out for the Combo (or prefers not to use the mic) will probably be disappointed with this change.

Despite how small and light the Pocket 3 is, it is actually significantly heavier than the Pocket 2. At 179g, the Pocket 3 is about 35% heavier than the 117g Pocket 2. Obviously, the bigger battery is a factor here, which will likely be a good trade-off for most people (I know it is for me). But if low weight is the most important thing you’re factoring into your buying decision, the Pocket 2 will win in this regard.

Some aspects of the Pocket 3 need a better design, and there are actually a few downgrades with this model.

The Mimo app also continues to be a headache. It’s not available on the Play Store, which means you need to sideload it. Updating the firmware for the Pocket 3 and its accessories is also not super straightforward.

This is a minor quibble, but the microSD card slot could use a redesign. Getting the card in and out of the Pocket 3 is a real pain (see photo above). Thankfully, I don’t need to do that too often with wireless transfers to my phone, but when I do, I fumble with it for a few seconds every time. I hope DJI can fix this on the next model.

Finally, the price of the Pocket 3 jumped up — a lot. The standard edition ($519 at Amazon) without the wireless mic or other accessories is significantly more than the similar package for the Pocket 2 ($349 at Amazon). The Creator Combo ($669 at Amazon) bumps that up even more. These prices are particularly off-putting, considering the target audience for this product is first-time camera buyers, not pros. I hope DJI puts this on sale often.

The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 has made my life better

DJI Osmo Pocket 3 in selfie mode
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

Before using the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, I dreaded making video content. Traditional cameras have so many knobs and tweaks you can make, to say nothing of all the available lenses. I always felt overwhelmed and, frankly, dumb. Filming with one just never felt natural. Likewise, filming with my smartphone always looks shoddy. No matter how new or “pro” my phone is, the footage never looks as good as I think it will.

The Pocket 3 is the perfect middle ground for me. It’s simple enough that I only need to run a few tweaks, if any at all, to get what I want. Simultaneously, it’s professional enough that the quality that comes out of it makes me feel confident about what I’m creating. It makes what used to be a nerve-racking process into something more akin to fun (it’s still work, though).

The Pocket 3 has made my life better. If that's not a ringing endorsement, what is?

This is the biggest reason the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is my favorite gadget of the year. It’s made my life better. It’s given me a new way to enjoy my work and feel good about what I do. For the first time, I feel like I can make video content that won’t make me cringe when I play it back. No other gadget has made me feel this way this year — or any recent year, in fact.

I understand that this is a niche product. People outside my line of work might not see any reason to own this, and if you’re a seasoned videographer you likely won’t need one. But for anyone out there who thinks the Pocket 3 might fit well into their life in some way, heed my advice and get it. It was a game-changer for me and likely will be for you, too.

DJI Osmo Pocket 3DJI Osmo Pocket 3
DJI Osmo Pocket 3
Fully stabilized 1-inch camera • Rotating OLED display
MSRP: $519.00
A major update over the Pocket 2
With a new 1-inch CMPS sensor, articulating OLED display, 4K/60fps recording, and 10-bit processing, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 is a fantastic mobile camera.