Best Smartphone Gimbals Android Central 2020
Smartphone cameras are getting better and better with each new flagship release, so why not pair those cameras with an equally excellent gimbal that'll ensure ultra-smooth, cinematic video? With the wide availability of portable, easy-to-use, and best of all, affordable gimbals for your phone, there's no excuse anymore to shoot shaky cam footage — unless you're just a huge fan of The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 is the gimbal you should buy to shoot your next vlog, but there are some great alternatives.
- Best Overall: DJI Osmo Mobile 3
- Most Affordable Gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth-4
- Best Small Gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth-Q2
- Best for Pros: Freefly Movi Cinema Robot Stabilizer
Best Overall: DJI Osmo Mobile 3
DJI has long been a major player in the smartphone gimbal space, starting with the original Osmo Mobile. The latest model's highlighting feature is that it can fold in half when not in use, making it much easier to pack in a bag. Once unfolded, it's about as easy to set up as a gimbal gets; just open the clamp, drop your phone in (almost any size of phone is supported), and start shooting.
You can adjust the position of your phone for better balance if you so choose, but the Osmo Mobile 3's motors are able to correct for just about any imbalance, albeit with a slight toll on battery life. The Osmo charges over USB-C, and lasts for a whopping 15 hours of shooting.
Best of all, DJI's Mimo app has all sorts of preset actions that make it easy to capture stunning shots. ActiveTrack 3.0 is an excellent object tracking mode that pans the camera to follow a subject, and there are plenty of other templates like hyperlapse, panorama, and more. You can even flip your phone from landscape to portrait mode to accommodate for different social platforms.
The Osmo Mobile 3 doesn't have quite as many complex movements as the Freefly Movi, and it isn't designed to stand on its own with a tripod, but the compactable form factor and ease of use make it a better fit for most people.
- Convenient folding design
- Excellent object tracking
- Simple balancing and operation
- Handy app with preset actions
- 60FPS in Mimo is only available for iOS
- Missing some advanced features
Great for beginners and pros alike
The Osmo Mobile is lightweight, compact, easy to use, and comes with a number of templates for easy, eye-catching shooting.
Most Affordable Gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth-4
The Zhiyun Smooth-4 closely resembles the Osmo Mobile 3, but with far more physical controls on the handle. There's a handy dial on the side that can be used for either focus pulling or digitally zooming (you can set this for yourself within the companion app), and as with DJI, there's a small tripod included in the box for resting the Smooth-4 on a flat surface.
With the Smooth-4, you get a number of preset shooting modes including various object-tracking settings, and the general stabilization from the gimbal is just as smooth as you'd expect. Unfortunately, the Smooth-4 doesn't handle heavier phones quite as well as the Osmo Mobile 3, which can at times strain the motors and lead to unwanted battery drain. Still, this is a fantastic option with some unique and convenient features for a bit less than the Osmo Mobile 3.
- Large multi-purpose dial
- Charges over USB-C
- Plenty of physical and software controls
- Tripod included
- Bulky and hard to pack
- Has trouble supporting larger phones
Most Affordable Gimbal
Focus pulling on a mobile gimbal
The Smooth-4 is a handy gimbal that features a handy dial on its side that can be used for focus pulling or digital zooming.
Best Small Gimbal: Zhiyun Smooth-Q2
If you want the smallest gimbal you can get your hands on, look no further than the Zhiyun Smooth-Q2. It's shockingly tiny, coming in at roughly the same height as a modern plus-sized smartphone. It also weighs next to nothing; this is without a doubt the most compact, portable gimbal on the market. It's also nicely built, with an aluminum design that bests DJI's plastick-y build on the Osmo Mobile 3.
The Smooth-Q2 lasts for up to 16 hours, depending on how much weight you're putting into its clamps, and conveniently recharges over USB-C. There's also a thread at the bottom of the gimbal that you can use to mount the Smooth-Q2 on top of a tripod or add an extension handle for a more comfortable grip. Despite its small stature, the Smooth-Q2 handles surprisingly well, balancing even large and heavy phones without a problem.
- Incredibly compact
- Charges over USB-C
- Sturdy build quality
- 16-hour battery life
- Doesn't handle fast pans well
- Filming vertically is awkward
Best Small Gimbal
A gimbal as small as the phone it carries
The Smooth-Q2 is one of the smallest gimbals on the market, yet it still manages to offer smooth video with virtually any phone.
Best for Pros: Freefly Movi
The Freefly Movi is a camera stabilizer with built-in panning, tilting, and more for stunning stationary or handheld video. It condenses some of the best tech from industry-grade gimbals to the mobile space, and supports even the heaviest phones thanks to the ability to add counterweights. The flat bottom allows you to sit the Movi down without the need for a tripod, and you can use the dedicated app to program different camera movements without ever having to touch the gimbal.
This is one of the priciest mobile gimbals on the market, but it's well worth it for all of its filming capabilities. If you prefer to take matters into your own hands versus programming moves in an app, the Movi supports both one- and two-handed operation, and can even dynamically switch between portrait and landscape orientations — or anywhere in-between.
- Fantastic companion app
- Panning, tilting, and more
- Sits flat for programmed movements
- Ability to add counterweights
- Mount for adding a microphone
- Doesn't fold down
Best for Pros
An advanced stabilizer for precise camera movements
The Freefly Movi isn't cheap by any means, but it's worth the money if you're looking to shoot pro-grade video with your phone.
There are plenty of great gimbals to choose from these days, but most people will be well-served by the DJI Osmo Mobile 3. It's affordable, well-made, portable, and easy to set up and use. The simple controls on the handle keep your mind on the shot rather than on the gear, and being able to toss your phone on and start shooting without worrying about perfect balance is a game changer for casual shooting.
Even better for beginners and pros alike, there are plenty of preset camera movement options in the DJI Mimo app that allow you to easily shoot tracking shots, panoramas, time lapses, and more. The fact that the battery lasts through an entire day of shooting and recharges with the same cable you use to charge your phone is just smooth icing on the cake. What's not to love?
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and video editor for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
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