The top stabilisers for mobile filmmaking

Smartphone gimbals are a wonderful invention, allowing you to create smooth, gliding shots that look worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.


When gimbals first hit the market, the inbuilt stabilisation offered by smartphones wasn’t up to much, but it has improved dramatically in the years since. Still, while OIS and EIS can get you a long way, they’re still no match for a physical stabiliser, especially when it comes to low-light scenarios.

Smoothness isn’t the only reason to invest in a gimbal, either, they’re amazing for creating motion timelapses and can make filming yourself a lot easier too, thanks to their AI tracking capabilities.

If you’ve decided to invest, there are a lot of options to choose from. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve been testing as many as we can. Here are the best smartphone gimbals you can buy in 2023.

Insta360 Flow (6)

Insta360 Flow

1. Best smartphone gimbal overall

Insta360’s debut smartphone gimbal offers a brilliantly pocketable design, excellent software and unmatched versatility.

Pros

  • Extremely clever and portable design
  • Built-in tripod and selfie stick
  • Best-in-class tracking abilities
Cons

  • The tripod is a little wobbly

The Insta360 Flow is a striking gimbal that looks a little different to any of the others. It’s an exceptionally clever design that manages to be the most compact on the market, whilst somehow cramming in a tripod, extension rod, and great battery life.

Despite how impressive the design is, it’s the software that really won us over. Insta360 has used its 360 camera expertise to craft the best software experience of the bunch, with the most advanced AI tracking that we’ve tested to date.

No matter what type of content you’re creating, we think the Insta360 Flow is likely the best choice. It’s the most portable, has the best software features and comes at a reasonable price.

Zhiyun Smooth 5S (10)

Zhiyun Smooth 5s

2. Best professional smartphone gimbal

$149.99 $169.99 Save $20

Pros

  • Ultimate adjustability
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • Tactile controls

The Zhiyun Smooth 5S is a bit of an outlier in this list, but it’s still one of our favourite smartphone gimbals. It forgoes compactness completely, with a design that’s more in line with a professional mirrorless camera gimbal than anything that’s designed for mobile phones.

What you get in return for the bulkiness is unmatched stability, superb ergonomics and tactile physical controls. If you’re more interested in creating feature-film-style tracking shots than filming yourself for a vlog, then this is the one to look at.

It’s not perfect, the app experience is unnecessarily complicated, subject tracking isn’t too reliable, and it takes a little while to set up – but if you want the utmost smoothness and configurability, you’ll definitely want to check out the Smooth 5S.

DJI Osmo Mobile 6 review photo 18

Pocket-lint

DJI Osmo Mobile 6

3. Perfect smartphone gimbal for travel

$135 $159 Save $24

DJI is a longstanding favourite when it comes to smartphone gimbals and its sixth iteration is the best one yet.

Pros

  • Very portable design
  • Robust build quality
  • Superb controls
Cons

  • DJI Mimo app needs sideloading

DJI’s Osmo Mobile gimbals were, until recently, pretty much unrivalled as easy-to-use, portable and feature-packed gimbals for the average consumer. And the best of the bunch is the Osmo Mobile 6.

If the Insta360 Flow didn’t come along and one-up it for the same price, this would no doubt be at the top of our list, and it certainly served as a large source of inspiration for that product.

However, while the Insta360 Flow bests it in a few areas, the Osmo Mobile 6 still has advantages of its own. Crucially, the joystick is analogue, so you have more granular control over the gimbal’s movements, but we also think the construction feels hardier, too.

DJI Osmo Mobile SE

DJI

DJI Osmo Mobile SE

4. Best budget smartphone gimbal

$99 $109 Save $10

A cheaper alternative to the Osmo Mobile 6, but it comes with advantages of its own, such as significantly longer battery life.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • 8 hours of battery life
  • Compact and easy to use
Cons

  • No extension rod or Quick Launch

The cheaper sibling of the Osmo Mobile 6 loses out on a couple of features, but it also has a significantly larger battery pack, which will net you around 8 hours of runtime on a charge – and that could make it more appealing to some users.

What’s missing from this model is the extension rod, the Quick Launch feature and the side wheel. Otherwise, you get all the same tracking and stabilisation functionality as the Osmo Mobile 6, but you can save a chunk of change in the process.

If you know that you’re not going to need these features, we’d definitely recommend checking out the Osmo Mobile SE, it’s without a doubt one of the best budget options we’ve come across.

Asus ZenGimbal review photo 10
Pocket-lint

Asus ZenGimbal

5. Alternative smartphone gimbal

The Asus ZenGimbal offers full 360-degree panning which is a bit of a rarity and benefits from a slick design that folds down small.

Pros

  • Full 360-degree panning
  • Packs down small
  • Slick design

The Asus ZenGimbal isn’t our favourite option, but it does have some merits that are worth mentioning. Firstly, we think it looks fantastic with its minimalist design, and it also comes supplied with a lovely travel bag.

The main thing, though, is that it supports full 360-degree panning, which is not something that most compact gimbals can do – aside from the Zhiyun Smooth 5S, but that’s both hefty and pricey.

This means that it’s great for filming the Inception-style vortex spinning shots, and it can follow you in a full loop, although the tracking isn’t quite as reliable as on some of our other picks.


How we chose these smartphone gimbals

We’ve tested almost every smartphone gimbal on this list. We’ve taken them travelling, used them to film ourselves with AI tracking, and attempted to re-create cinematic camera movements from our favourite films. We’ve also tested with a wide variety of devices, at varying weights and on both the iOS and Android platforms.

All of this testing means that we can confidently advise which gimbals are worth investing in, and which ones are best avoided. It’s impossible to cover everything, but we’ve tried to include a variety of options to suit different shooting styles and budgets.

FAQ

Q: What size smartphone gimbal should I buy?

Some gimbals are big and bulky, like the Zhiyun Smooth 5S, whereas others are all about compact portability, like the Insta360 Flow. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need a big gimbal because you have a heavy phone, many of the compact options support the heaviest of smartphones, too.

The benefits of a small gimbal are obvious, particularly if you’re buying one to take on vacation. However, there are advantages to larger gimbals, too, especially when it comes to stability.

Larger and heavier gimbals are easier to hold steady, and if you’re looking to create impressive gliding cinematic shots, then you might be best served by a bulkier device.

Q: How important is AI tracking?

Every gimbal on our list offers some form of AI subject tracking. In simple terms, this means that the gimbal can lock onto a subject and follow it autonomously. It’s great if you’re filming yourself, as the gimbal can act like a robot camera person to follow your every move.

The quality of this tracking differs greatly from brand to brand. Out of the models that we’ve tested, we were most impressed by DJI and Insta360’s tracking capabilities. Both brands have lots of experience in this area as their other products, like drones and 360 cameras, use very similar tech.

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