tl;dr: I’m going with the Zhiyun Smooth Q Stabilizer.

A few months ago I started creating travel videos which you can check out on Facebook or YouTube, and so far I’ve created every video completely using my cell phone for both the video recording and audio voice-overs. While in Medellin, Colombia these past few months, I didn’t have any other video equipment with me, but I did not let that stop me. However, I’m about to take a short trip to the USA in a few days, and while there, I’m going to upgrade some of my equipment. The three things that I think will make a big difference in my production value are a: 1) Stabilizer, 2) Unidirectional Microphone, and 3) Drone. Today’s article is about finding the right stabilizer for my phone (which is a Samsung Galaxy S7).

By the way, if you’re into travel vlogging, check out my article on 21 Things I Learned From Nas Daily About Travel Vlogging

Here’s what I’m looking for in a cell phone stabilizer:

  • 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer: Gimbal stabilizers use brushless motors to keep your smartphone steady. Two-axis gimbals stabilize the Tilt and Roll, and three-axis gimbals stabilize Pan. I need the three-axis because I do a lot of pan shots of cities and landscapes in my videos.
  • Rechargeable Batteries: I don’t want to have to buy batteries all over the world so I’m looking for a stabilizer with a built-in rechargeable battery (which most of the better ones have). Ideally the battery lasts 10+ hours so it can double as a battery pack and recharge my phone while I use it.
  • Android App: This goes without saying, but the stabilizer has got to have software that’s designed to work with my equipment which is a Samsung Galaxy S7 and a Lenovo Yoga 910 laptop. Not all stabilizers work with every operating system.
  • Lightweight and Compact: Everything I own fits in one bag and I’d like to keep it that way. Bigger and heavier stabilizers work better because their weight acts as a balancing agent to keep your camera steady, so I might have to sacrifice a little weight or quality in one direction or another. I don’t want to add 4 lbs to my bag but also want something that works well and can handle some wear and tear.
  • Equipment Versatility: Right now I’m using a Galaxy S7, but it’d be nice if I could use the same stabilizer when I upgrade my phone later this year to something with a larger screen. I previously used a Samsung Note and miss having the bigger screen, so I’m going to look for a stabilizer that can also handle a bigger phone like the Pixel 2 Plus.
  • Doubles as a Tripod: Makes sense right? I’ve wanted a tripod for a while which would be helpful in recording myself and also pan shots. So it’d be great if the stabilizer had one built-in.
  • Cheap to Mid-Priced: There’s always the risk of losing/breaking equipment in transit or getting robbed while traveling. I have insurance on my laptop and cell phone, but this stabilizer won’t be insured. So for that reason, I don’t want to spend a fortune on a stabilizer. I’m looking for a happy medium between quality and price, which will probably be about $100-$150 based on my research.
  • Sold on Amazon: I’m on a time frame here and will have a limited window in the USA to get things delivered, so I need to rely on Amazon’s 2 day shipping. This shouldn’t be a problem though as I’d imagine the best stabilizers are sold on Amazon anyway.
  • BONUS: This isn’t required, but I’d love it if the stabilizer had a built-in unidirectional microphone to record better sound than my phone. I can buy a separate microphone, but if it was built in, I’d know that the stabilizer is built to handle the extra weight.

And the winner is… the Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

Sale
Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, i.e. iPhone 7 Plus 6 Plus, Samsung S7 S6, Featuring APP Control, Vertical Shooting, Face Tracking
114 Reviews
Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, i.e. iPhone 7 Plus 6 Plus, Samsung S7 S6, Featuring APP Control, Vertical Shooting, Face Tracking
  • Zhiyun Smooth-Q is a 3 axis gimbal stabilizer, suitable for smartphones up to 7.7 oz like iphone 7...
  • Smooth, Steady and Noiseless Videos powered by 3 brushless motors, 3 axis up to 360 degrees...
  • Allow easy switch of mounting direction, either horizontal or vertical. Control the shooting angle...
  • Enhanced camera functions such as camera record, zoom in/out, face tracking, panorama mode and...
  • A standard micro-USB charging port and built-in batteries support 12hrs operating time. Another USB...

Does the Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Gimbal meet my criteria?

  • 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer: Yes, it offers 3 axis up to 360 degrees unlimited rotation with one step balancing by adjusting the knob.
  • Rechargeable Batteries: Yes, via two built-in 18650 mAh Li-ion batteries for up to 12-hours of continuous recording (assuming my phone doesn’t explode before then), and the battery is rechargeable from within the device. I can also use it to recharge my phone while shooting.
  • Android App: Updated APP-ZY PLAY APP supports Auto-Tracking, Time-Lapse and Filter Options.
  • Lightweight and Compact: The device weighs a total of 450 grams and is 14.7 x 6.1 x 2.9 inches.
  • Equipment Versatility: This device can handle a payload of 75g-200g. My Samsung Galaxy S7 is 152 grams and the Google Pixel 2 Plus is 143 grams so I’ll be good to go for this phone and my future phone.
  • Doubles as a Tripod: Yes, on this particular listing, the seller offers a free tipod that connects to the bottom of the gimbal as a gift.
  • Cheap to Mid-Priced: Yes, this falls within the budget that I set.
  • Sold on Amazon: Yes, here’s the link to buy on Amazon.
  • MIC (BONUS): No, it does not offer a built in mic, but I found some small smartphone attachment mics that I’m going to order for about $25.

Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Gimbal Reviews

On paper, the Zhiyun Smooth-Q looks like it will meet my criteria regarding technical specs, but does it work well? The reviews on Amazon were mostly positive via verified purchases which is a good start. Only a handful of people gave this gimbal a shitty review, but from what they wrote, I got the impression that they either didn’t know how to use it properly or got a lemon, which happens with technology. I also looked to YouTube to see the gimbal in action.

What do you think? Have you used this gimbal?

If so, please share your thoughts about the Zhiyun Smooth-Q in the comments section below. Or if you have experience with a different gimbal that you’d like to recommend, feel free to do so as well.

Zhiyun Smooth-Q Alternatives: My Runners Up

Although I’m going with the Zhiyun Smooth-Q because it fit my particular criteria, I want to show you my runners up. These were the gimbals that I was also considering. Underneath each gimbal, I’ll post the reasons why I went with the Zhiyun instead.

#1) Hohem Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer

The Hohem Handheld Gimbal is 3-axis, highly rated, has a built-in battery that recharges your phone as you use it, is lightweight, works with my current and future phones, comes with an Android app, and is within my budget. Most of the items on my list were checked off with this one. The reason I did not go with this gimbal is because it doesn’t come with a tripod or offer a tripod connection. It’s mostly made for attaching to yourself or bikes and would be great if that were my intended use.

#2) Feiyu SPG 3-Axis Gimbal

Sale
Feiyu SPG Upgraded Version Splash-Proof Design 3 Axis Handheld Stabilizer Phone Gimbal for iPhone Huawei Samsung Galaxy Moto LG Xiaomi Smartphones
12 Reviews
Feiyu SPG Upgraded Version Splash-Proof Design 3 Axis Handheld Stabilizer Phone Gimbal for iPhone Huawei Samsung Galaxy Moto LG Xiaomi Smartphones
  • Splash proof Design: The upgrade version of spg achieves the splash proof function, which enables...
  • Smart portrait mode: Ideal motorized gimbal for live streaming on Facebook periscope meerkat,...
  • Intuitive user interface: Powering on, off and switching among various modes with just one button,...
  • Excellent craftsmanship: Enhanced finish with revolutionary unibody motor arm for sports camera and...
  • Perfect for one hand hold: Built from solid aluminum alloy, super lightweight and comfortable by...

The Feiyu SPG 3-Axis Gimbal was a close contender for me and I was seriously considering this one. It satisfies all my criteria above and it’s highly rated. The only reason I went with the Zhiyun Smooth-Q instead is because it had a larger quantity of positive reviews, and the price was $60 less expensive than the Feiyu SPG at the time I purchased it.

#3) EVO SHIFT 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal

EVO Shift 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal for iPhone & Android Smartphones - Intelligent APP Controls for Auto Panoramas, Time-Lapse & Tracking + Built in Phone Charging - Includes 1 Year US Warranty | Black
100 Reviews
EVO Shift 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal for iPhone & Android Smartphones - Intelligent APP Controls for Auto Panoramas, Time-Lapse & Tracking + Built in Phone Charging - Includes 1 Year US Warranty | Black
  • The EVO SHIFT 3 Axis Gimbal for iPhone & Androids (regular & plus size) smartphones transforms your...
  • Record & Zoom Controls on Handle: When paired with your smartphone, the EVO Shift allows full...
  • Advance Stabilization Modes: Featuring 3 easy to use stabilization modes, the EVO Shift gives you...
  • Perfect Panoramas, Object Tracking & Time-Lapse: The SHIFT's intelligent control features allow you...
  • Up To 10 Hours of Run-Time with Built in charger and battery. The EVO SHIFT also has a Built-In...

The EVO SHIFT 3 Axis Handheld Gimbal is a popular and highly regarded gimbal as well. Similar to the Feiyu SPG, it satisfies my criteria for a gimbal, but was priced $50 more expensive than the Zhiyun Smooth-Q.

Best Selling Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizers

And lastly, if you’re curious to compare my top choices with Amazon’s best sellers, these are the top 10 gimbal stabilizers for smartphones.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer YouTube Video Vlog Tripod for iPhone Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE Android Smartphone Samsung Galaxy S10 S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 Q2 Smooth-Q III 2019 New Black
730 Reviews
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer YouTube Video Vlog Tripod for iPhone Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE Android Smartphone Samsung Galaxy S10 S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 Q2 Smooth-Q III 2019 New Black
  • 👍👍【Filmic Pro】The official APP for Smooth 4 is called ZY play. But Filmic Pro...
  • 👍👍【Control Panel】Integrated control panel design,Focus Pull & Zoom Capability
  • 【MUST KNOW】Balance the gimbal before use: Slide the smartphoone in as close as possible to...
  • 👍👍【PhoneGo Mode】PhoneGo Mode for Instant Scene Transition
  • 👍👍【Time Lapse & Object Tracking】Time Lapse Expert and Object Tracking available,...
Bestseller No. 2
Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer 3-Axis Handheld Phone Gimble with Face Tracking for Android Smartphone, for iPhone Xs/XS MAX/XR/8P/8, for Galaxy S10, S9 (Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus: 2019 New Model)
88 Reviews
Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer 3-Axis Handheld Phone Gimble with Face Tracking for Android Smartphone, for iPhone Xs/XS MAX/XR/8P/8, for Galaxy S10, S9 (Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus: 2019 New Model)
  • [ISTEADY MOBILE PLUS LAUNCHING, NEW APP "Hohem Gimbal"] --- iSteady Mobile Plus is upgraded from...
  • [PLAY LOAD UP TO 280G] --- The iSteady Mobile Plus has 30% Torgue improvement on upgraded motors,...
  • [INCEPTION MODE, 3D FANTASY, ROTATING COMPLETE 360°] --- As it can rotate a complete 360° (Paning...
  • [SPORT MODE or PHONE GO MODE BY TRIGGER BUTTON] --- It enable the motor to increase the power and...
  • [12HOUR BIG BUILD-IN BATTERY & MUST KNOW] --- kindly inform you that the iSteady Mobile Plus is sold...
Bestseller No. 3
Hohem Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer 3-Axis Handheld iPhone stabilizer for Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 iPhone Gimbal Stabilizer iPhone gimble for Galaxy S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 S6 Q2 Edge (iSteady Mobile Plus)
101 Reviews
Hohem Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer 3-Axis Handheld iPhone stabilizer for Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 iPhone Gimbal Stabilizer iPhone gimble for Galaxy S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 S6 Q2 Edge (iSteady Mobile Plus)
  • 3-Axis Stabilizer for Android and iOS Smartphone:iSteady Mobile Phone Gimbal Stabilizer works with...
  • 【MUST KNOW】Place and Balance your Phone on the Gimbal with Calibration Switch on the Roll Axis...
  • Intuitive [Hohem Gimbal] App: Please download 2019 Newest 'Hohem Gimbal' App on your Android or iOS...
  • The New Model add on one Trigger Button backside with much more operation on this gimbal. Ergonomic...
  • Warranty Only by USKEYVISION - All Hohem gimbals are guaranteed by 1 Year Warranty ONLY from...
SaleBestseller No. 4
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer, Upgraded Phone Gyro Stabilizer Vlog Tripod w/Focus Pull&Zoom for iPhone Xs Max X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7 etc Mobiles (Black)
161 Reviews
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer, Upgraded Phone Gyro Stabilizer Vlog Tripod w/Focus Pull&Zoom for iPhone Xs Max X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7 etc Mobiles (Black)
  • 【SMOOTH 4 and FiLMiC Pro Collaboration】Zhiyun Smooth 4 handheld smartphone gimbal stabilizer now...
  • 【Tips for Using Smooth 4 Gimbal】Please BALANCE the GIMBAL in power off status before startting...
  • 【Making your own Smooth Videos】Focus Pull & Zoom Capability: smoothly zoom in/out the footage...
  • 【Professional Technology upgrade】New Control Panel Design :Hot Keys Design for Instant Controls...
  • 【The Warranty from KuxiuDirect】12 months warranty and lifetime friendly customer service....
SaleBestseller No. 5
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Video Recording - Handheld Smooth 4 3-Axis H w/Focus Pull & Zoom - for iPhone Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE - Samsung Galaxy S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 S6 Q2 Edge
24 Reviews
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Video Recording - Handheld Smooth 4 3-Axis H w/Focus Pull & Zoom - for iPhone Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE - Samsung Galaxy S9+ S9 S8+ S8 S7 S6 Q2 Edge
  • CUTTING EDGE - The E.GO gimbal will transform your smartphone into a portable production studio!...
  • SMALL BUT POWERFUL - Weighs only 15.5 oz, and carries a payload up to 11 oz. Lighter and more...
  • MULTIFUNCTIONAL - Rich set of buttons on handle for total control of all functions allows one-handed...
  • PORTABLE - Our pocket-sized video stabilizer gimbal folds to less than half size to make your travel...
  • Balance the gimbal before use. When phone stays in level in power OFF status, it is balanced. We...
SaleBestseller No. 6
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Compatible FiLMiC Pro for iPhone Xs Max/Xs/X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7 etc Smartphones(Gopro Adapter/Charging Cable/Counterweight Included)
24 Reviews
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Compatible FiLMiC Pro for iPhone Xs Max/Xs/X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7 etc Smartphones(Gopro Adapter/Charging Cable/Counterweight Included)
  • 【SMOOTH 4 and FiLMiC Pro Collaboration】Zhiyun Smooth 4 handheld gimbal stabilizer now compatible...
  • 【Applicable Smartphone Models】The motor power of Smooth 4 has increased by a large extent,...
  • 【Making your own Smooth Videos】Focus Pull & Zoom Capability: smoothly zoom in/out the footage...
  • 【Professional Technology upgrade】Hot Keys Design for Instant Controls can reduce the need to...
  • 【Warranty from KuxiuDirect】12 months warranty and lifetime friendly customer service. Shooting...
Bestseller No. 7
Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Tripod for Smartphone,Beasyjoy Cell Phone Selfie Stick Stabilizer with Built-in Bluetooth Remote for iPhone X / 8/8 Plus / 7/7 Plus / 6 / 6S / 6 Plus,Galaxy S9 and More
14 Reviews
Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Tripod for Smartphone,Beasyjoy Cell Phone Selfie Stick Stabilizer with Built-in Bluetooth Remote for iPhone X / 8/8 Plus / 7/7 Plus / 6 / 6S / 6 Plus,Galaxy S9 and More
  • 【Automatic Balance Gimbal Stabilizer】The selfie stick stabilizer automatically finds the balance...
  • 【Reduce Vibration and Sloshing】The handheld steady stabilizer use electric acceleration sensor...
  • 【More Angles Hand hold Grip Stabilizer】The handheld gimble stabilizer can be kept stable at a...
  • 【Simple & Portable,Compact,Yet Professional】Beasyjoy is between the universal selfie stick and...
  • 【Wide Compatibility Mobile & Risk-free Purchase】Extendable monopod for cellphone,like Apple...
SaleBestseller No. 8
Deco Gear 3-Axis Handheld Cell Phone Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 6 Plus 6s Plus 7 Plus 8 Plus X XR XS, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge S8 S9 S10E A6 A8 J6 J8 Note 5 (All Phones 5.5-6.1 inches)
14 Reviews
Deco Gear 3-Axis Handheld Cell Phone Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 6 Plus 6s Plus 7 Plus 8 Plus X XR XS, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge S8 S9 S10E A6 A8 J6 J8 Note 5 (All Phones 5.5-6.1 inches)
  • Capture moments to tell your story just like the pros! Fits phones with widths 5.5-6.1 inches and...
  • 3-Axis Stabilization. Simple Thumb Control. Quick Adjustable by Hand. One-Key Back Original...
  • Brushless Motors for quite operation. Front/Rear Camera Switch Button. Face Tracking.
  • Gestures Vertical Shooting. USB Charging with approximately 4 hour battery life.
  • IN THE BOX: Camera Gimbal | USB Cable | Removable Tripod Base | Instructions | Authorized USA...
Bestseller No. 9
Deco Gear 3-Axis Handheld Cell Phone Gimbal Stabilizer iOS/Android with Counterweight Set for Larger Phone Models
  • Capture moments to tell your story just like the pros! Fits phones with widths 5.5-6.1 inches and...
  • 3-Axis Stabilization. Simple Thumb Control. Quick Adjustable by Hand. One-Key Back Original Position
  • Brushless Motors for quiet operation. Front/Rear Camera Switch Button. Face Tracking
  • Gestures Vertical Shooting. USB Charging with approximately 4 hour battery life
  • The must have gimbal accessory that improves function and extends lifetime operation by relieving...
Bestseller No. 10
OSMO Gimbal Stabilizer,STARTRC 4th Axis Stabilizer for 3 axis Mobile Phone Gimbal OSMO Mobile 2 ZHIYUN ZHIYUN Smooth 4 FEIYU SPG/Vimb
6 Reviews
OSMO Gimbal Stabilizer,STARTRC 4th Axis Stabilizer for 3 axis Mobile Phone Gimbal OSMO Mobile 2 ZHIYUN ZHIYUN Smooth 4 FEIYU SPG/Vimb
  • Professional Design 4th axis stabilizer for 3axis mobile Phone gimbal OSMO mobile 2 /OSMO...
  • 4th Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer is the Best Video Stabilization System for Professional Film/MV...
  • OSMO 4th Axis Gimbal Stabilizer was made the spring-damped design, increases the stabilizer by 30%...
  • Excellent Maximum Load Ability: Maximum load capacity of 1.3kg, support all brands, all styles of...
  • Light weight, drop resistant, wear resistant, comfortable to grip and easy to install, Only require...

Where’s your video examples Paul?

I’ll update this post after I publish my next video recorded with the Zhiyun Smooth-Q. So look for that soon. Follow along on my Facebook to get updates.

UPDATE: I dropped the ball when I was in the USA in terms of getting everything on my list accomplished, and I wasn’t able to get ahold of a Zhiyun Smooth-Q. A friend of mine is coming to visit me in Peru from the USA in April and I may have him bring it down for me then. So in the meantime, sorry about the shakey videos! I went ahead and published this post since it includes my research and my purchase decision – and perhaps in the meantime I can get some feedback from others about which gimbals they’ve had success with. I’ll be sure to update again though after I get my hands on the Zhiyun Smooth-Q.

Last update on 2019-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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