Tech

Get steady video from any phone with one of these stablisers

The quality of video – and photos – you can get from a phone has increased steadily to the point that you can use one in place of a ‘proper’ video camera in many situations. Plenty of YouTube channels are shot on iPhones as well as Android phones these days.

Stabilisation has been one area of constant improvement, but no amount of software or optical trickery can match a three-axis gimbal for smooth, stable footage.

This is the same type used on many drones and it means your viewers are less likely to feel nauseous while watching compared to simply holding your phone in your hands.

There are lot of gimbals available, but it’s important to note that the companion app is just as important as the hardware if you want to get creative and shoot motion timelapses, as well as being able to use all the physical buttons on the gimbal itself.

Most gimbals use Bluetooth to talk to your phone and while some buttons might work in your phone’s stock camera app, some will only work if you use the companion camera app.

Being forced to use a sub-standard app can ruin the experience, which is why it’s a good idea to read reviews such as those below before making your choice.

The good news is that prices have dropped significantly since phone gimbals first appeared a few years back, so even if your budget is small, you should be able to buy a good one.

Best Phone Gimbal Reviews

  • Pros
    • Very affordable
    • Good stabilisation
  • Cons
    • Availability will diminish as it’s discontinued

The Osmo Mobile 3 is still one of the best phone stabilisers you can buy. It’s been discontinued by DJI, but until stocks run out, it’s an absolute bargain at the moment thanks to discounted pricing.

Arguably you should go for the Combo version which comes with a carry case and tripod, but if you really don’t need those you can save some money.

It’s essentially the same as the OM4, but without the magnetic clamp. This means it’s a bit bulkier, but since it still folds up, it’s more portable than some other gimbals here.

Thanks to DJI’s Mimo app, it’s easy to make the most of all the features on offer.

Read our full DJI Osmo Mobile 3 review

DJI Osmo Mobile 5

  • Pros
    • Very portable
    • telescopic ‘selfie’ stick
  • Cons
    • No USB port to charge phone
    • Shorter battery life than OM4

The OM5 is one of the smallest, lightest gimbals we’ve seen, and that will make it the most attractive option here for a lot of people.

But while it may be your number one, we couldn’t rank it above the older Osmo Mobile 3 for a couple of reasons. First, it’s much more expensive (it costs the same as the OM4), but has shorter battery life (it’s still fine for most people) and lacks a USB port to charge your phone (again, not a dealbreaker for everyone).

As a bonus, it also has a built-in selfie stick, but while there’s an optional magnetic clamp with built-in fill lights, they can’t rotate to face your subject and it’s surprisingly expensive.

There’s no Combo pack available, but there is a basic soft carry bag included in the box along with the usual tripod.

If the price is no barrier, then this is a fine gimbal. But while the Osmo Mobile 3 is still sold, it’s simply the better-value choice.

Read our full DJI Osmo Mobile 5 review

Zhiyun Smooth Q3

  • Pros
    • Built-in LED fill light
    • Decent price
  • Cons

The Smooth Q3 is an unashamed DJI clone, even down to the design of the removable warning stickers.

Yet it also has one feature that DJI’s stabilisers lacked – until the OM5 was launched, that is. It’s the LED fill light which is handy for illuminating your face, or your subject, in unfavourable lighting conditions. 

It’s warm white and you can’t change that, but you can choose from three different brightness levels, and it rotates, unlike DJI’s,  which can only face you.

It’s a decent gimbal overall, offering 3-axis stabilisation, good battery life and all at a sensible price. The only niggle is the ZY Cami app, which simply isn’t as good as DJI’s Mimo. But you can use your phone’s stock camera app if you just want to use basic video modes.

Read our full Zhiyun Smooth Q3 review

DJI Osmo Mobile 4

  • Pros
    • Fairly compact
    • Effective stabilisation
  • Cons

The OM4 is considerably more portable than the Osmo Mobile 3, but not as compact as the newer OM5.

It is a tricky choice between the three, though. The ‘3 is by far the cheapest, but if you don’t mind spending more, the OM4 certainly offers more convenience (and portability) because of its magnetic mount.

The OM5 might be smaller and lighter still, but it does miss out some of the OM4’s features, including long battery life and a USB port for charging your phone.

As with DJI’s other gimbals here, the OM4 makes it simple to shoot smooth video and the app is brilliant.

Ultimately it will come down to the prices you see when you’re about to buy, and availability of the Mobile 3, which is now discontinued.

If you find the Combo package for the OM4 available for the same price as the basic version, it’s a great choice

Read our full DJI Osmo Mobile 4 review

Joby Smart Stabilizer

  • Pros
  • Cons
    • Not the most user friendly

Joby’s Stabiliser isn’t as user friendly as DJI’s OM4. You’ll be referring to the manual a lot to get to grips with how the various modes and functions work. But if you shoot videos of yourself for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms, the Joby Smart Stabilizer does a good job at a good price.

The stand-out feature is the built-in telescopic ‘selfie stick’ that allows you to be further from the phone, so is useful if your phone lacks a wide-angle front-facing camera, as many do.

Read our full Joby Smart Stabilizer review

Zhiyun Crane M2

  • Pros
    • Can stabilise various devices
  • Cons

It may not be quite as versatile as the marketing suggests, the Crane M2 is primarily designed to stabilise compact system cameras, but can also work with phones and GoPros.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to buy accessories to mount a phone or action cam and swapping cameras is far from seamless, but if you want to carry around one stabiliser to cover multiple devices, the Crane M2 does the job well.

Great battery life, solid performance, and an impressive array of stabilisation modes are enough to make up for slightly clunky controls – just make sure your camera is compatible before you commit.

Read our full Zhiyun Crane M2 review

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