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
  • 【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
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...
SaleBestseller No. 2
Zhiyun Smooth 4 Professional Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone Smartphone Android Cell Phone 3-Axis Handheld Gimble Stick w/ Grip Tripod Ideal for Vlogging YouTube Vlog TikTok Instagram 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. 3
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. 4
ARTOFUL Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Selfie Stick Tripod with Wireless Remote Control 360° Rotation Auto Balance Stabilizer Portable Phone Stand for iPhone & Android Phones
  • 3 in 1 Design: Combine the 3 functions of the selfie stick, gimbal stabilizer, and cell phone stand...
  • Smart Anti Shake Function: With anti-shake stabilization technology, we can click the button to keep...
  • Remote Control: With a built-in remote device, it can control distance is up to 10m. And it can be...
  • Comfortable Handheld Gimbal: It is durable and light because of made of ABS and aluminum alloy....
  • Portable and Wide Compatible : The small and light gimbal makes it so easy to carry. Compatible with...
Bestseller No. 5
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. 6
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone - Handheld Phone Gimbal w/ Remote Auto Inception Dolly Zoom Foldable Gimbal for iPhone 12 11 Pro Max Samsung S20 for YouTube Vlog - hohem iSteady X2 (Black)
  • ✌【3-Axis Stabilization & Extra Anti-shake】Compared with average gimbals, hohem 3-axis...
  • ✌【Foldable Design & Fit into the Pocket】With a folded length of 7 inches and weighs only 0.57...
  • ✌【Convenient Remote & Face Tracking】To meet the more diverse needs of taking pictures, hohem...
  • ✌【Creative & Rich App Features】Are you still worrying about making a plain or dull video?...
  • ✌【Upgraded Material & Emergency Power Supply】Hohem iSteady X2 gimbal stabilizer has levelled...
Bestseller No. 7
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone - Hohem Lightweight Foldable Phone Gimbal w/ Auto Inception Dolly-Zoom Time-Lapse, Handheld Gimbal for iPhone 12 pro max/11/Xs Max/Samsung - Hohem iSteady X
  • 〠【Foldable Design & Pocket-Size】As the world's lightest 3-Axis handheld smartphone gimbal...
  • 〠【Moment Mode - Create Your Own Blockbusters】Are you still struggling with the plain & dull...
  • 〠【HOHEM PRO - Record Your Story】With the upgraded HOHEM PRO, this smartphone gimbal can...
  • 〠【Outstanding Anti-Shake Performance】Equipped with the enhanced brushless motor and iSteady...
  • 〠【Extremely Easy Operation】iSteady X smartphone gimbal, which adapts the one-handed & simple...
Bestseller No. 8
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone 11 Xs Max XR X 8 7Plus 6 Smartphone Vlog Youtuber Samsung Galaxy Note10/10+ S10+ S9 POV Hitchcock Panorama Face Object Tracking Timelapse FeiyuTech Vimble 2S
  • --Warm Reminder: please RELEASE 3-Axis locks first( 1 on tilt axis, 1 on roll axis, the panning axis...
  • Greater Compatibility Mobile Gimbal Stabilizer: Vimble 2S is Compatible with iPhone 12/11/ Xs...
  • Direct Control to Native Phone Cameras & Quick Switching among Horizontal and Veritical Shooting:...
  • 18CM Extendable Rod(Extending manually)& More Shoting Modes Phone Stabilizer: 18cm long extension...
  • Long Battery Life Phone Gimbal: Support the gimbal to work up to 10 hours continuously. The built-in...
Bestseller No. 9
Stabilizer for iPhone, 360°Rotation Smart Face Tracking Holder Fansbe Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Cell Phone Stand Holder Portable Selfie Stick for Shooting Video Recording Tripod TIK Tok YouTube
  • Auto Tracking: This smartphone gimbal can 360 degrees automatic rotation to track and shoot...
  • Face Object Tracking: Bring Auto Tracking to your zoom calls and live streams within the free-to-use...
  • Portable Phone Stabilizer: The universal 1/4-inch port at the bottom compatible with most tripod and...
  • Easy to use: Install the 'Live 360'App, no required registration, Open 'Live 360', press and hold...
  • AI Smart Composition: This face tracking holder introduces AI technology of human image composition...
Bestseller No. 10
Zhiyun SMOOTH-Q3 Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone Android Cell Phone iPhone zhi yun q 3-Axis Handheld Gimble Stick w/ Tripod Stand LED Fill Light for Tiktok YouTube Vlog Video Kit Face/Object Tracking
  • 【Rotatable Fill Light-Shine In Every Way】 With a touch button to light you up from all angles (...
  • 【Gesture Control-Say "Yeah" to Capture】Use just a single gesture to start the shooting while you...
  • 【SmartFollow 3.0-Following Smart & Easy】Always stay in the spotlight. Activate the SmartFollow...
  • 【MagicClone Pano-Multiple "You", Multiple Fun】Clone yourself up to show different sides of...
  • 【Wide Compatibility-Suitable for Most Smartphones】Q3 weighs only 0.75lb(340g), supports up to...

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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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!