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

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
  • 【Phone-Size & Foldable Gimbal】 Weighing only 246g, SMOOTH-X can be easily rotated to phone...
  • 【Instant Landscape /Portrait Mode】Double click the M button to switch Portrait/Landscape mode....
  • 【Accurate Object/Face Tracking】Wherever you go, SMOOTH-X follows. Simply select the desired...
  • 【Intelligent Gesture Control 】If your hands are busy, just showing a V gesture or waving to...
  • 【More Features in "ZY Cami" APP】With the dedicated App "ZY Cami", you can unlock more...

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

No products found.

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

No products found.

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
  • 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.

Bestseller No. 1
DJI OM 4 - Handheld 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer with Grip Tripod Vlog YouTube Live Video for iPhone Android
  • 【FEEL THE PULL】: The magnetic phone clamp and magnetic ring holder enable effortless capture...
  • 【3-AXIS STABILIZATION】: Never post a shaky video again. Even with an external lens added, DJI OM...
  • 【DYNAMICZOOM】: Try out the mind-boggling “Hitchcock effect,” a creative zoom shot that...
  • 【GESTURE CONTROL】: Whether you’re taking a selfie or a group photo, hands-free is the way to...
  • 【ACTIVETRACK 3.0】: ActiveTrack 3.0 makes following subjects a walk in the park. This version...
Bestseller No. 2
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 12 11 PRO MAX X XR XS Smartphone Vlog Youtuber Live Video Record with Sport Inception Mode Face Object Tracking Motion Time-Lapse - Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus
8,400 Reviews
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 12 11 PRO MAX X XR XS Smartphone Vlog Youtuber Live Video Record with Sport Inception Mode Face Object Tracking Motion Time-Lapse - Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus
  • ✈【Newly Developed 3D "Inception" Mode】 Proudly present the updated Hohem gimbal stabilizer....
  • ✈【Updated Sports Mode & Perfect Balance】 Updated sports mode allows you to shoot incredibly...
  • ✈【You can also be a Professional Director】 From fast-moving action, like sports, to vlogs and...
  • ✈【Endless Possibilities via "Hohem Gimbal" APP】 Enjoy controlling your filming tool both on...
  • ✈【"Time-lapse" & Up to 12H Running Time】 Tracking face/object and recording all motions in a...
SaleBestseller No. 3
DJI Osmo Mobile 3 - 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Handheld Stabilizer Vlog Youtuber Live Video for iPhone Android
7,785 Reviews
DJI Osmo Mobile 3 - 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Handheld Stabilizer Vlog Youtuber Live Video for iPhone Android
  • Featuring a new foldable design, a lots of new functions the Osmo Mobile 3 smartphone stabilizer is...
  • A 3-axis stabilized gimbal features brushless motors that provide smooth, real-time responses to...
  • The Osmo Mobile 3 features a variety of functions allowing you to vlog and shoot content throughout...
  • Compatible Phones: Weight: 7 +/- 1oz; Thickness: ≤ 0.37"; Width: 2.44"-3.46"
  • What you get: DJI Osmo Mobile 3 (Built-in Battery), Power Cable, Storage Pouch, Wrist Strap, 4x...
Bestseller No. 4
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone with Extendable Bluetooth Selfie Stick and Tripod, 1-Axis Multifunction Remote 360°Automatic Rotation, Auto Balance iPhone/Android
  • The most cost-effective stabilizer: a single-axis motor with a high-precision motor that can...
  • Anti-shake selfie stick with stable function: Built-in single-axis motor, 360-degree remote control...
  • Mobile phone tripod: Open the handheld part of the stabilizer and place it on the desktop to become...
  • With multi-function Bluetooth remote control:The Bluetooth wireless remote control adopts a...
  • Pocket-Size Gimbal:With the lightweight design, weighs about 227 grams and measures about 20...
SaleBestseller No. 5
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer with Grip Tripod for iPhone 12 11 Pro Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE Android Cell Phone Smartphone YouTube Vlog Live Video Kit
  • 👍👍【Filmic Pro】The official APP for Smooth 4 is called ZY play. But Filmic Pro has best in...
  • 👍👍【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, Supports...
Bestseller No. 6
Gimbal Stabilizer, H4 mobile phone stabilizer 3 Axis handheld PTZ Live Anti-shake Bracket Stabilizer for Smartphone Action Camera
  • 【With new phone holder】: The gimbal stabilizer has a newly designed mobile phone stand that...
  • 【3 modes】: The gimbal stabilizer has three follow modes: full follow, half follow and lock,...
  • 【3 Axis】: The gimbal stabilizer uses a three-axis design that supports smooth rotation in three...
  • 【1/4-inch screw interface】:The 1/4-inch screw interface on the bottom of the gimbal stabilizer...
  • 【Rechargeable】:The gimbal stabilizer has a built-in lithium battery design and a USB interface....
Bestseller No. 7
IKOMMI Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Stabilizer Selfie Stick Tripod with Wireless Remote, 360°Automatic Rotation and Smart Gesture Switching,Suit for All Cell Phone
48 Reviews
IKOMMI Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Stabilizer Selfie Stick Tripod with Wireless Remote, 360°Automatic Rotation and Smart Gesture Switching,Suit for All Cell Phone
  • 【Simple and Easy to Use】: Compared with the operation of the 3-axis phone stabilizer, the gimble...
  • 【Multifunctional Anti-shake Smartphone Gimbal with Stable Function】:Powerful sports gyroscope...
  • 【Remote Shooting Portable Gimbal and Integrated Selfie Stick Tripod】: Can be pulled up to 68...
  • 【Wide Range of Application】:Adjust the height of the four-section aluminum alloy rod to choose...
  • 【Excellent Battery Life & Performance Compatibility】:IKOMMI gimbal stabilizer can be...
Bestseller No. 8
FeiyuTech Official Vimble 2S Gyro 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone iPhone 12 11 XR Cellphone Phone Gimbal Stabilizer Selfie Stick Handheld Extend 7.1' Timelapse Face Object Track Dolly Zoom
145 Reviews
FeiyuTech Official Vimble 2S Gyro 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone iPhone 12 11 XR Cellphone Phone Gimbal Stabilizer Selfie Stick Handheld Extend 7.1" Timelapse Face Object Track Dolly Zoom
  • Impressive video or image is generally believed taken by photographer with camera. Now your cell...
  • STABILIZER SELF STICK: Built in 7.1'' extension pole can provide much larger space to make the...
  • ALL FOLLOW MODE PHONE GIMBAL STABILIZER: All follow mode is added to realize 360° dead angle free...
  • CELLPHONE STABILIZER WITH PROFESSIONAL APP: You can easily realize Hitchcock Dolly Zoom,Overlap...
  • PHONE IPHONE GIMBAL STABILIZER COMPATIBILITY:Compatible with 11, 11 Pro(Not for11 Pro Max), X, XS,XS...
Bestseller No. 9
SIRUI Swift 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Mobile Phones, Sports and Mirrorless Cameras, 1.98 lbs Capacity (Gimbal Stabilizers)
  • Comfortable Handheld Shoot:The comfortable anti-slip strips located on the sides of the control...
  • Four Modes Switch:Master every movement to create your own Cinematic art with a quick switch to...
  • Active Track:Automatic facial tracking with the AI Algorithms or frame the object manually and...
  • POV (Roll Follow Mode):See the world from a new perspective. With the Roll Follow Mode activated,...
  • Path Lapse:With an easy setting of shooting points, speed and time, customize your path shots to...
SaleBestseller No. 10
Zhiyun Smooth X Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 11 Pro Xs Max Xr X 8 Plus 7 6 SE Android Samsung Galaxy S10 Huawei Vivo Cell Phone Vlog Kit Extendable Selfie Stick for YouTube TIK Tok Video
  • 【Ultimate Flexibility at Your Palm】Zhiyun Smooth X phone-size foldable gimbal weighing only 246g...
  • 【Telescopic Grip for Perfect Angle】To release the possibilities to shoot the way you want, the...
  • 【Native Phone Camera Control & Intelligent Gesture Control】SMOOTH-X supports direct control to...
  • 【Accurate Object/Face Tracking】Always at the center of attention, wherever you go, Smooth-X...
  • 【NEW“ZY Cami”APP for Awesome Edit】The new ZY Cami App offers SMART video modes where you can...

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 2021-04-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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