Best Cell Phone Video Stabilizers for Shake-Free Travel Videos

by | Mar 11, 2018 | Travel Bloggers, Travel Buyer Guides | 0 comments

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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
199 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
  • 【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 or Android Smartphones - Intelligent APP Controls for Auto Panoramas, Time-Lapse a 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
DJI Osmo Mobile 6 Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphones, 3-Axis Phone Gimbal, Built-In Extension Rod, Object Tracking, Portable and Foldable, Vlogging Stabilizer, YouTube TikTok, Slate Gray
  • Stay on Point with ActiveTrack 6.0 - With upgraded tracking tech, OM 6 sticks to your energetic kids...
  • Remote Control With Watch - Install the DJI Mimo app on your Apple Watch, and turn it into a smart...
  • Silky Smooth Shots with 3-Axis Stabilization - You know what ruins videos? Shaky footage. DJI OM 6...
  • So quick, So easy - This smartphone stabilizer powers on as soon as you unfold it. Just attach your...
  • Lightweight, Compact, and Extendable - With a foldable design and weighing only 309g, this cell...
Bestseller No. 2
Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer, Stabilizer Face Tracking without APP - 4 in 1 Cellphone Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone&Android Extended 108cm Rod with RGB Fill Light, AOCHUAN M2PRO White
  • 【Multi-function Cellphone Stabilizer】The gimbal stabilizer is not only a phone stabilizer, but...
  • 【Selfie Stick with Remote and Light】Our gimbal stabilizer has a wireless remote control, which...
  • 【AI Tracking Without App】Unlike other 3-axis gimbals, this one is easier to use without...
  • 【Equipped with Multiple Shooting Modes】The 1-axis gimbal has 4 main modes: AI tracking, handheld...
  • 【Portable and Universal】This lightweight and foldable gimbal stabilizer weighs only 0.87 pounds...
Bestseller No. 3
AOCHUAN Phone Gimbal Stabilizer 3-Axis Smartphone Foldable Gimbal for iPhone Gimble with Focus Wheel TikTok YouTube Vlog Stabilizer for iPhone 15 14 13 12 Pro Max&Android-Smart XE
  • [Powerful and Versatile 3-Axis Foldable Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphones.]More powerful than any...
  • [Portable Foldable Design, Compact and Lightweigh]Palm-size 3-axis foldable gimbal with a net weight...
  • [All-day Long Video Creation] 2600mAh big-capacity battery enables up to 10 hours of continuous...
  • [AI Face Track 4.0 ]Guestual Control in our Intuitive AOCHUAN APP: Easily take any kind of shooting...
  • [SMART 7.0 Anti-Shake Smooth ]Equipped with the enhanced powerful brushless motors and 7.0...
SaleBestseller No. 4
DJI Osmo Mobile SE Intelligent Gimbal, 3-Axis Phone Gimbal, Portable and Foldable, Android and iPhone Gimbal with ShotGuides, Smartphone Gimbal with ActiveTrack 6.0, Vlogging Stabilizer
  • Portable, Foldable, and Magnetically Quick - Take this compact gimbal on all your adventures....
  • Stay on Point with ActiveTrack 6.0 - With upgraded tracking tech, OM SE sticks to your energetic...
  • Remote Control With Watch - Install the DJI Mimo app on your Apple Watch, and turn it into a smart...
  • Effortless Editing - Whether it's shot-by-shot assistance with DJI Mimo's ShotGuides or the...
  • Smooth Footage - Elevate your shots with 3-axis stabilization. With a next-gen control algorithm,...
SaleBestseller No. 5
Selfie Stick Gimbal Stabilizer, UPXON 360° Rotation Tripod with Wireless Remote, Portable Phone Holder, Auto Balance 1-Axis Gimbal for Smartphones Tiktok Vlog Youtuber Live Video Record
  • Anti-Shake 1-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer: With powerful sports gyroscope, high-precision motor control,...
  • Need No APP & Easy to Use: Different from the general three-axis stabilizer, UPXON gimbal is much...
  • Extendable Selfie Stick: With comfortable hand grip and extendable five-section aluminum alloy rod,...
  • Stable Phone Tripod: Open the hand grip part of the stabilizer and place it on the desktop to become...
  • Wireless Remote Control: UPXON selfie stick tripod with removable wireless remote control shutter,...
SaleBestseller No. 6
hohem iSteady Mobile Plus Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, 3-Axis Phone Gimbal for Android and iPhone 15,14,13,12 PRO, Stabilizer for Video Recording with Ultra-Wide-Angle Mode, 600° Inception
  • [Ultra-Wide-Angle Feature] Unveil the enhanced hohem iSteady Mobile plus gimbal stabilizer, and...
  • [Enhanced iSteady 7.0 Stability] Achieve cinematic-grade video with the iSteady 7.0 Stabilization...
  • [Hohem Joy App, Filming Has Never Been So Easy] Enjoy controlling your filming tool on your phone...
  • [3D Fantasy Auto-rotation Mode] This gimble for phone features a newly developed "inception" mode...
  • [13H Long Lasting Power and Universal Compatibility] The 2024 updated version of the Mobile+ phone...
Bestseller No. 7
AOCHUAN 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, Gimbal w/RGB Magnetic Fill Light Upgraded Face Tracking Focus Wheel Foldable iPhone Gimbal for iPhone/Android Phone Gimbal Vlog Recording Smart XE Kit
  • Universal Compatibility: The gimbal stabilizer is designed to be compatible with all types of mobile...
  • Intelligent 7.0 Anti-Shake Technology: Our phone gimbal is powered by cutting-edge 7.0 anti-shake...
  • Smart Tracking and Gesture Control: Our Smart XE gimbal features advanced smart tracking and...
  • Magnetic Fill Light: The gimbal with magnetic RGB fill light, it has 7 different colors and 3 levels...
  • All-day Long Battery Life: Our gimbal built-in 2600mAh large capacity battery, charge for 3.5 hours...
Bestseller No. 8
Gimbal Stabilizer with Selfie Stick for iPhone: Portable Handheld Gimble with Tripod & Remote for Cell Phone Camera & Samsung Android Smartphone Recording Video & Vlogging on Tiktok & YouTube
  • Multifunctional Phone Stabilizer - This gimbal stabilizer consists of a phone stabilizer, a phone...
  • Stabilizer for Phone taking Videos - The stabilizer is sensitive and accurate; When you use the...
  • Selfie Stick Function - This handheld gimbal stabilizer can also be used as a selfie stick; The body...
  • Phone Tripod Stand with Stabilizer - There's a tripod folded at the handle of the stabilizer, which...
  • Portable Design & Easy to Use - This gimbal stabilizer doesn't need to install an APP to run, and it...
Bestseller No. 9
3-Axis Phone Gimbal with Adjustable Fill Light,Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, Phone Stabilizer for Video Recording, Gimbal for Android &iPhone,TikTok YouTube Vloging kit-JCROBOT iSleeky L7C Plus
  • 【Easy to Use,Stable Video】With just a few clicks, you can easily stabilize and shoot smooth...
  • 【Brighten Your Life】Gimbal for iphone with LED fill light boasts a unique and innovative...
  • 【AI Smart Tracking and Gesture Control】 - With the function of estabilizador de celular, the...
  • 【No Leveling Required, Multiple Angle Shots】Designed with beginners in mind, this phone gimbal...
  • 【Portable and Foldable】Bring professional-grade stability wherever your adventures take you with...
Bestseller No. 10
Hohem iSteady M6 Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, 3-Axis Cell Phone Gimbal Built-in OLED Display 400g Payload Reverse Charging Android and iPhone Gimbal with Inception Motion Timelapse
429 Reviews
Hohem iSteady M6 Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, 3-Axis Cell Phone Gimbal Built-in OLED Display 400g Payload Reverse Charging Android and iPhone Gimbal with Inception Motion Timelapse
  • 【Working Status at a Glance】The 0.91 inch OLED display visualizes almost all gimbal status and...
  • 【Up To 400g Payload】3 powerful motors supporting payload up to 400g, make sure your smartphone...
  • 【Reverse-Charge Technology】It supports reverse charging and the battery can last up to 18 hours...
  • 【Capture Moments Precisely】iSteady M6 integrates the advanced iSteady 7.0 stabilization...
  • 【Controls Within Reach】Supports roll axis rotation, focus control, adjustment of cold/warm light...

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 2024-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Paul @ Travel is Life

Paul @ Travel is Life

Hey it's Paul Drecksler the founder of Travel is Life. Thank you for being here (wherever you are). Be sure to join my Friends List for some exciting things coming soon on this website. If you're a travel blogger, vlogger, or photographer, join our Travel is Life Creators community. Happy travels!
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