Best iPhone Gimbal
In the realm of iPhone gimbals, it's hard to top the DJI OM4. Thanks to its magnetic phone clamp, the OM 4 is a breeze to balance. This device has an abundance of features and capabilities ranging from motion time-lapses for scenery to active tracking for action shots and easy-to-use controls on the gimbal itself as well as the touchscreen of your phone. During our stability testing trials, we found the video to turn out to be extra smooth with this model. Panning speed, zoom speed, camera options, and many other settings are highly customizable with the DJI OM 4, making it a solid choice for those looking to take their content creation to the next level.
The main flaw we found while testing the OM 4 is that the panning range is limited on all three axes. If you're looking to get the super low follow-cam angle for an action sport or you want 360-degree panoramic capabilities out of your gimbal, this is not the model for you. Although it functions exceptionally well once you get the hang of it, we found with the abundance of settings and functions that it takes some time to learn the ins & outs of how to operate it. Despite these drawbacks, the OM 4 is still one of the best options for an iPhone gimbal with tons of functionality.
Another fantastic product, the Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus, has a ton to offer content creators. While still finite, the central panoramic axis can rotate 600 degrees while the secondary and tertiary pivots each rotate 320 degrees. Working in concert, the mechanical range of panning, tilting, and rolling offers a treasure trove of capabilities for photo nerds and video geeks alike. We love how customizable the settings are on the iSteady Mobile Plus. There are options for reversing the joystick controls, adjusting the speed of the pan, adjusting the speed of the zoom… The list goes on and on. Nearly every setting on the gimbal can be customized to your preferences. To top it off, Hohem packed the gimbal, the tripod, and the cord up into a nice low-profile case.
Although we prize the iSteady Mobile Plus, we found a few small flaws. It's not ideal that balancing is required every time you attach your iPhone or that it must be rebalanced to switch between portrait and landscape mode. We've tested gimbals that require minimal balancing and switch between modes with the push of a button. We also found that the tripod's rubber feet and thin arms allow for a bit of swaying and wiggling while in use. This can be annoying while shooting a time-lapse or other shot that requires absolutely no camera movement — in fact, it might even ruin the images altogether. Still, we think the Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus is an excellent option for those looking for an iPhone gimbal with a substantial mechanical range that can be fine-tuned beyond settings that other manufacturers seem to have overlooked.
Not everyone requires a professional-grade gimbal for their iPhone vlogging and social media posts. If you're looking for a simpler device, we recommend the FeiyuTech VLOG Pocket. This device collapses into a shape that will easily fit in a purse or a small day pack, and it's light. The FeiyuTech VLOG balances your phone automatically. This is a desirable feature for those who want to save time when it's time to get those spur-of-the-moment shots or those who don't want to deal with the often arduous task of balancing the gimbal for every single use. A particularly attractive trait of the VLOG is the price. If you want a motorized gimbal but don't want to dent your funds too much to get one, this model is a solid choice.
With the condensed construction of the FeiyuTech VLOG Pocket brings a lack of some of our favorite features. This device is missing a mechanical joystick. The designers have attempted to integrate the joystick into the touch controls on your iPhone, but when you go to adjust the gimbal angle, it closes the video preview, so your adjustments are a blind guess. We found that this gimbal's motion is a bit strange to get used to compared to our top-ranked models during our assessment. That said, once you get used to operating the VLOG, it's as smooth as butter. We also happened upon a few holes in the manufacturer's claims. The 360-degree panorama is listed as 330 degrees in the fine print, but we couldn't get it to shoot any wider than 240 degrees. Also, it might technically fit into certain clothing pockets, but it sure isn't comfortable. Still, we think the FeiyuTech VLOG is the way to go for a smaller profile iPhone gimbal for a reasonable price.
If you're looking for an entirely different take on iPhone gimbals, DJI offers a unique product called the Osmo Pocket. This camera/gimbal combo is a self-contained device that saves files to an onboard MicroSD card. However, it also uses a Lightning adapter to directly integrate with an iPhone, or it can be linked to your phone using a Bluetooth signal. Once connected, the touchscreen of the phone unlocks a wide variety of custom settings and capabilities. We were impressed by the camera resolution offered by the Osmo Pocket — it's able to shoot 4K Ultra HD at a 60p framerate.
With the unique design, the Osmo Pocket does have a few drawbacks. Many high-end iPhone gimbals have a joystick to adjust the camera to the perfect angle, but this model lacks that feature unless it's physically attached to the phone. The Pocket is also missing tripod threads, so you'll have to get creative if you go hands-free. Certain phone cases will not work while attaching this device to your phone. Finally, it's on the pricey side. That said, it's a standalone camera if you want it to be, and it's tiny for those looking for a model that will truly slide into your pocket.
The Movi Freefly Cinema Robot has a unique design and a few features that we appreciate. The feel of the Movi is similar to that of a DSLR or larger camera rather than a one-handed phone gimbal. Freefly has taken the headache and confusion out of learning how to create motion time-lapses by programming the Cinema Robot with preset motion paths that are simple to use in "Echo" mode. If you'd like to set your own pathways, simply adjust the angle by hand and pull the trigger for multiple points. We found this to be much faster and easier than using a joystick for setup. Most iPhone gimbals require you to lock your focus and exposure using the touch screen manually. However, the Cinema Robot has a one-touch button on the control pad that takes care of both settings.
Balancing your iPhone can be a bit of a pain while getting the Movi Freefly Cinema Robot ready to shoot. Also, if you want to switch between landscape and portrait mode, you will have to completely start over as there is no simple way to switch between them. The unique shape and design of the Cinema Robotis not conducive to one-handed use. Most of the gimbal weight is off to the left, making the whole setup much more comfortable to operate with your left hand supporting most of the weight. One-handed left-hand operation is out of the question as your hand and knuckles will be in the way of the gimbal's articulation path. It is also important to note that this model is exclusively for shooting video — photographers will need to look elsewhere. Despite these few shortcomings, we still think the Movi Freefly Cinema Robot is a solid option for those content producers looking for an easy to operate video dedicated gimbal and don't mind primarily using two hands for operation.
The Zhiyun Smooth Q2has some decent features that certain people might find very attractive. The phone clamp has a quick release to detach it from the gimbal arm easily. This function is useful for answering a call without re-balancing your phone once the conversation is over. We like that turning the gimbal's horizontal arm wakes the gimbal up from standby mode to save time fumbling with the buttons when you're ready to shoot. The Smooth Q2 is one of the only iPhone gimbals we've seen with a panoramic axis with infinite rotation, which can make for some pretty incredible shots if you get creative.
Unfortunately, we found quite a few flaws while testing the Zhiyun Smooth Q2. Despite its small dimensions, it is surprisingly heavy, weighing in at a pound and a half. This doesn't sound like much, but considering that there are models available with many more capabilities that weigh under a pound, we wonder if the heaviness of the Smooth Q2 is necessary. Our testers noticed that this device is very slow to balance when compared to other models. This can be the critical seconds where you could make or break a spur of the moment shot and subsequent memory. Sadly, the quick release phone clip doesn't secure to the gimbal very well. It takes a minimal amount of pressure to slide the clip off the device even when it's supposedly locked on. Still, if a quick release phone clamp is a must-have and you like the idea of 360-degree panoramic axis rotation, the Zhiyun Smooth Q2 is the way to go.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our iPhone gimbal project was taken on by Austin Palmer, Ross Patton, and Jason Peters. Austin, our veteran research analyst, has created test plans and carried out the analysis of hundreds of consumer products ranging from VR headsets to electric skateboards and everything in between. Review Editor Ross specializes in technical outdoor products and has been using video cameras to shoot action sports since the days of Mini DV tapes and firewire cables. Our In-House Videographer Jason received a formal education at the Brooks Institute of Photography and practically lives behind the lens. With their combined knowledge and experience, you can rest assured knowing that Gearlab has created a genuine and in-depth iPhone gimbal review to ensure that you make the perfect purchase.
We took several measurements in the lab before subjectively judging the strengths and weaknesses of each model. We scored them each on how easy the product is to use as well as the corresponding iPhone app quality. Finally, we created a series of real-world trials to judge their stability and handling.
Analysis and Test Results
Our review process is broken into three subcategories, which are outlined in the paragraphs below. We began by analyzing the features & capabilities for each model, then judged how easy they are to use, and finally conducted a side-by-side comparison of the video stability.
Features & Capabilities
The application for which you intend to use your iPhone gimbal will largely determine the types of features you're going to want to seek out for your purchase. If you're going to be shooting action sports, you may want a completely different model than if you're into vlogging, shooting motion lapses, or creating lifestyle edits. One iPhone gimbal may be great for photo time-lapses but have limited video capabilities. Some models don't take photographs at all.
It's hard to match the array of capabilities the DJI OM 4 offers in the current iPhone gimbal market. This device connects your phone to the gimbal arm with a magnetic clip, making it very easy to balance and easily pop your phone off to answer a phone call, upload a video to social media, or send a text. In the box, there is a spring-loaded clip that grabs the sides of the phone as well as a magnet sticker if you want to have the magnet permanently attached to your phone or phone case, a carrying bag, and a tripod. It's great that there is a USB A port for charging your phone, so the gimbal works as a power bank as well.
This model has a ton of modes and settings. On top of the standard photo and video modes, it can shoot hyper lapses, motion time-lapses, auto stitched panoramas, burst shots, active track, Dyna-zoom, and sport mode. One capability that we found to be especially impressive is the 3 x 3 automatic photo stitch. Once the DJI OM 4 is in place for a photo, the gimbal takes a grid of 9 images by pushing one button. The app then stitches them together for you, creating a photo that captures a larger area at a higher resolution that is in the same dimensions as a single photo.
The Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus lacks a few of the OM 4 capabilities, such as the 3 x 3 auto stitch, but has a few fantastic capabilities of its own. This model has the capacity to spin 600 degrees on its panoramic axis, which allows for endless possibilities if you're looking to get super creative with hyper lapses.
The iSteady Mobile Plus has its own version of sport modes, fast tracking, Dyna-zoom (also known as "Hitchcock Mode"), and even face tracking. We appreciate that this model has a tilt and roll range of 320º that allows you to either shoot from underneath or above your subject without causing discomfort to your wrist.
If you're looking for a simpler iPhone gimbal that still has plenty of features, we think the FeiyuTech Gimbal VLOG Pocket is a score. Although this version lacks a physical joystick, it makes up for it with a ton of photo modes. It's capable of freehand panoramas, ultra-wide angle, 360º pano, fast pano, 180º pano, photo capture, overlapping image, and light trail mode. It does not lack video capabilities either — it can make hyper lapses, its version of Dyna-zoom, slow motion, and a video version of light rail mode.
Don't let the DJI Osmo Pocket size fool you — this little gadget has an impressive list of capabilities. First of all, it is a standalone camera that does not require you to link it to your phone if you don't choose to do so. It can shoot time-lapses, motion lapses, hyper lapses, slow motion, and the same 3 x 3 auto stitches as its larger cousin, the DJI OM4. We were shocked to discover that the Osmo Pocket can shoot in 4K Ultra HD up to 60 frames per second. When you're ready to check out your shots, you can either put the removable Micro SD card directly into your computer, or you can plug the camera directly into your iPhone, where the settings are even easier to dial in. Once attached, you can use a touchscreen joystick to follow your subject.
Ease of Use
How easy these devices are to use is another critical factor to consider before you purchase. If you're not a tech nerd or you don't see yourself wanting to learn and use a ton of settings or features, then there's no need to buy a gimbal that's a pain to use. On the flip side, if you are a serious content creator, you may not mind taking the time for extra setup or to learn a complicated device.
As far as setup, installation, and out of the box to shooting time, you can't beat the DJI Osmo Pocket. There is no unfolding or balancing or even attaching it to your iPhone at all if you don't feel like it — just take the device out of the case, and with the push of a couple of buttons, you can be shooting. If you want to incorporate your phone screen into your shoot, there is no required Bluetooth pairing because you can link it using the lightning port on the bottom of your phone. If you do wish to use Bluetooth, we found the pairing with the DJI phone app to be a simple task for the Osmo Pocket as well as the DJI OM 4. One downside to the Osmo Pocket is that changing between modes and messing with settings can be challenging on the tiny screen.
The OM 4 is easy to operate in some respects. The magnetic clip essentially removes the task of balancing once you learn the best spot for it on your phone or if you permanently mount the magnetic sticker on your phone or case. It's very ergonomic, and the joystick and zoom buttons are in the perfect place, so long as you are using the gimbal with your right hand. It's easy to unfold, and we love that you can double click the main button, and the gimbal will automatically switch between portrait and landscape mode.
Overall, operating the OM 4 is not very intuitive for beginners. There isn't a button on the gimbal to change between modes other than photo and video, so you end up doing quite a bit of swiping on your phone. To be honest, we had to look up quite a few processes while learning the device.
Another iPhone gimbal that will have you shooting in a matter of seconds is the FeiyuTech Gimbal VLOG Pocket. It's straightforward to set up — just unfold the gimbal, center your phone in the clip, turn it on, and you're going.
This model has some pretty cool ways it makes life easy on the user. It defaults into panning mode, and clicking the function mode enters lock mode. Like the OM 4, double-clicking the function button on the Feiyu switches between portrait and landscape mode. Simply pressing and holding the trigger enters follow mode, and double-clicking the trigger resets the gimbal. We were disappointed with the lack of a joystick on the handle as we feel that they make it much easier to track subjects and adjust the gimbal for the various lapses that the VLOG Pocket offers.
The Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus has its strengths and weaknesses regarding its user-friendliness. We aren't fans of the balancing for this model. You have to balance your iPhone by hand every time you use it, and to switch between portrait and landscape mode, you need to go through the process again. However, we did find the user interface to be pretty solid. The mode button selects a different feature depending on how many times you click it in a row, and there's a helpful diagram on the handle.
If you press the shutter button once, it will take a photo, and twice will start or stop video. The zoom slider can be swapped around to a focus slider, which is fantastic for those looking to use manual settings. The Hohem app is similar to the DJI app in the sense that it takes a bit to learn how to change settings. But, again, if you're looking to go for a lot of manual cinematic settings and tricky effects, the iSteady Mobile Plus is a great choice.
If the primary reason you're shopping for an iPhone gimbal is for action shots, it's going to be vital that it films smoothly. For the first part of this metric, we subjectively judged each model's performance by using them around the lab and watching them for any strange sudden movements or jerks, as well as by testing the sport and follow modes. Next, we set up an obstacle course with road cones and rode through it on an electric skateboard while holding each model in the same position. We then used the electric skateboard on some single-track dirt trails while leading and chasing our trusty test dog Broadus to see how each model handled the bumps. We uploaded all of the footage to a desktop computer to enlarge the shots so our panel of judges could give them a side-by-side look. Finally, we were sure to consider the rigidity and sturdiness of the tripods for those looking to take a lot of lapses, panoramas, and static video shots.
Not surprisingly, we found the DJI OM 4 to be exceptionally stable in all of our assessments. The combination of the broad and stiff tripod and the low and stout overall construction of the gimbal itself make for excellent motion lapses, time-lapses, and panoramas.
The Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus is equally as stable in most of our assessments as the OM 4, but we found that in sport mode, we couldn't get it to react quite as quickly. We were also surprised that the tripod included with this model has a small footprint and is pretty flimsy, especially considering how tall this device is. We noticed a bit of swaying while shooting panoramas and time lapses in relatively moderate wind.
The DJI Osmo Pocket did exceptionally well in our obstacle course testing. It essentially stayed dead straight while a few other models tended to sway or start filming to the side. However, without a physical joystick and with its tiny screen, it can be challenging to track a subject moving quickly or erratically, especially if you are moving as well. This model also lacks a tripod, although it has a square base that works fine as long as you have a flat surface. DJI offers quite a few attachments and accessories for the Osmo Pocket if you'd like to drop a few more dollars on upgrades.
While using the FeiyuTech VLOG Pocket around the lab or at home, it felt good but fell a bit behind in our action shot and obstacle course testing. We thought that the tripod was stable and that the motion lapses and panoramas that we shot turned out looking fantastic.
These devices are a fun and entertaining way to take your content creating game to the next level. From making a fun video of a birthday party to creating mountaintop panoramas to shooting sunset motion lapses on the beach, they will improve your iPhone footage. We hope you have as much fun with your new toy as we had testing them and that you come up with some phenomenal content!
— Ross Patton, Austin Palmer, and Jason Peters