A phone gimbal is a small device that allows you to stabilize your phone while you film or take pictures. Filming on your phone can easily lead to shaky footage, but the motorized or mechanical axes of a gimbal can work to keep your phone steady. Inexpensive phone gimbals are usually mechanical in design, using a counterweight to steady the phone. Our choice for the best phone gimbal overall is the Roxant Pro Video Camera Stabilizer, but when shopping for a gimbal, you should consider your specific filming needs, how many axes the gimbal rotates on, and whether an analog or electronic gimbal is right for you. This guide will help you do just that.
Considerations when choosing phone gimbals
When comparing phone gimbals, the main factors to look for are the stabilization system, the number of axes, and the weight.
Analog gimbals use a counterweight to keep your phone as level as possible while you shoot. More accurate (and expensive) are electronic gimbals that use motors to detect the position of the camera and make small, precise adjustments.
The number of axes a gimbal can rotate on impacts its ability to adjust in a variety of positions. Two-axis gimbals are more limited and typically less expensive, while three-axis gimbals allow you to turn the gimbal in any direction without jostling your phone.
Weight plays an important role in stabilization, but a gimbal that is too heavy will lead to fatigue. Finding the right balance comes down to personal preference and how long you will be filming at a time.
Gimbals vary in their design, mount, and additional features. Some models have a single handle and are compact in design, while larger two-hand gimbals offer more control. Since phones cannot connect to a threaded mount, gimbals use a cradle that squeezes the phone to hold it in place. More expensive electronic gimbals may have controls for functions like panning and rotating smoothly.
Inexpensive phone gimbals can be found for less than $50 and are usually non-motorized models that work well for casual use.
Mid-range phone gimbals for $50 to $250 may be analog or electronic and offer a variety of features for reliable stabilization.
High-end phone gimbals for $250 and up are usually electronic and may be compatible with phones as well as cameras.
Q. Do electronic phone gimbals use your phone for power?
A. No, they typically use their own disposable batteries. However, they may be able to charge your phone, which is a useful feature if you plan to film for extended periods.
Q. Do phone gimbals have controls that work with my phone's camera app?
A. No, but they may have controls that work with an app designed specifically for use with the gimbal. This may allow you to start and stop recording, control the zoom of the camera, and use functions such as panning.
Phone gimbals we recommend
Best of the best: Roxant Pro Video Camera Stabilizer
Our take: If you need an analog gimbal that is compatible with both phones and cameras, this is a great option with a reasonable price tag.
What we like: Assembly is straightforward, and the sturdy construction can support phones and cameras weighing up to 2.1 lbs.
What we dislike: It can take some time to get used to this analog gimbal, and the counterweight is not always sufficient to adequately compensate for movement.
Best bang for your buck: Ulanzi Smartphone Video Rig
Our take: Though this rig doesn't have stabilization, it comes at a low price and features wide handles to improve control.
What we like: This affordable rig includes two shoe mounts, allowing for customization that many more expensive options lack.
What we dislike: There is no form of stabilization, analog or electronic. In addition, some larger phones may not fit in this rig.
Choice 3: DJI Osmo Mobile 2
Our take: Despite its lightweight design, this high-end gimbal offers excellent motorized stabilization and sports an impressive 15-hour battery.
What we like: If you need to film for extended periods and are looking for smooth stabilization with excellent controls, this is a popular gimbal for high-quality footage.
What we dislike: This gimbal requires the DJI app to utilize the controls, and there are many less expensive options available.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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