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
201 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.

Bestseller No. 1
DJI Pocket 2 Creator Combo - 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with 4K Camera, 1/1.7” CMOS, 64MP Photo, Pocket-Sized, ActiveTrack 3.0, Glamour Effects, YouTube TikTok Video Vlog, for Android and iPhone, Black
  • MOTORIZED STABILIZATION: A 3-axis gimbal stabilizes the camera for smooth video on the move. This...
  • HIGH IMAGE QUALITY: An upgraded 1/1.7-inch sensor captures images with 64MP photo and 4K video. A...
  • ENHANCED AUDIO: Consisting of four microphones, DJI Matrix Stereo offers sound recording in...
  • GLAMOUR EFFECTS: Always share your best selfie with Glamour Effects. Boasting a 93° angle view,...
  • AI EDITOR: AI Editor automatically combines your clips with transitions and music to create...
Bestseller No. 2
DJI OM 4 SE - 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer with Tripod, Magnetic Design, Portable and Foldable, ActiveTrack 3.0, Story Mode, Vlogging Stabilizer, YouTube TikTok Video, for Android and iPhone
  • Feel the Pull - Instantly attach your smartphone to the DJI OM 4 SE gimbal stabilizer and enjoy...
  • Designed to Carry - The DJI OM 4 SE gimbal stabilizer is foldable and incredibly lightweight, making...
  • Improved Tracking Mode - Tracking subjects is easier than ever with ActiveTrack 3.0. This...
  • Be Creative with Story Mode - Apply creative templates for stunning videos in just a few taps. The...
  • Unreal Smoothness - Never post a shaky video again with DJI OM 4 SE gimbal stabilizer for...
SaleBestseller No. 3
Portable 40 Inch Aluminum Alloy Selfie Stick Phone Tripod with Wireless Remote Shutter Compatible with iPhone 13 12 11 pro Xs Max Xr X 8 7 6 Plus, Android Samsung Smartphone
  • 【Selfie Stick Tripod】: Bluehorn*YUN TENG Joint brand Model. Wireless Remote Control. The range...
  • 【EXTENDABLE & FOLDABLE】Extendable length from 8.1 inches to 40 inches so you can choose your...
  • 【Wireless remote shutter】wireless remote control shutter ,fast connecting speed and low engery...
  • 【Notice】Becasue of cellphone system, only some Android devices can run the "Zoom In" and "Zoom...
  • 【Service 】Please feel free to contact us if you have any problems,we will do our best to serve...
Bestseller No. 4
DJI OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer, 3-Axis Phone Gimbal, Built-In Extension Rod, Portable and Foldable, Android and iPhone Gimbal with ShotGuides, Vlogging Stabilizer, YouTube TikTok Video, Gray
  • Portable and Palm-Sized Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphones - DJI OM 5 is a lightweight and versatile...
  • Built-In Extension Rod - Include more friends in a selfie, or even film your pets more comfortably...
  • Shoot Like a Pro - ShotGuides automatically recognizes your environment and recommends a...
  • Smart Gimbal with ActiveTrack 4.0 - A next-generation algorithm ensures DJI OM 5 tracks subjects...
  • 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphones - Never post a shaky video again. Even with an external...
Bestseller No. 5
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone - 3-Axis Phone Gimbal for Android and iPhone 13,12,11 PRO MAX, Stabilizer for Video Recording with Face/Object Tracking, 600°Auto Rotation - Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus
  • 【Newly Developed 3D "Inception" Mode】 Introduce the updated Hohem’s gimbal stabilizer. This...
  • 【Updated Sport Mode & Perfect Balance】The updated sport mode allows you to take incredibly...
  • 【You can also be a Professional Director】 From fast-moving actions to sports, vlogs and...
  • 【Endless Possibilities with "Hohem Gimbal" App】Enjoy controlling your filming tool on your...
  • 【"Time-lapse" & Up to 12H Runtime】Tracking face/object and recording all motions in one stable...
SaleBestseller No. 6
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone with Extendable Selfie Stick and Tripod, 1-Axis Multifunction Remote 360°Automatic Rotation, Auto Balance for 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 remote control:The wireless remote control adopts a tripod-integrated card slot...
  • Pocket-Size Gimbal:With the lightweight design, weighs about 227 grams and measures about 20...
Bestseller No. 7
UBeesize Phone Tripod, Portable and Flexible Tripod
  • Portable and Compact Tripod- The compact flexible legs can easily wrap around bicycles, poles and...
  • Superior Quality- The flexible tripod legs are made of thick premium metal and full metal connector,...
  • Portrait & Landscape Mode Possible- Rotating the side knob, the ball head can be tilted 90 ̐...
  • Functional Accessories- Comes with a wireless remote (compatible with all cell phones), a universal...
Bestseller No. 8
STARTRC OM 5 Case,Waterproof Portable Storge Shoulder Bag Travel Case for DJI OM 5 Gimbal Stabilizer
  • 【Case for DJI OM 5 】This storage bag is specifically designed for DJI OM 5 gimbal...
  • 【High-quality】Surface use waterproof PU material,High-quality shockproof double-layer Lycra...
  • 【Easy to Carry 】Portable design, small and light for travel. Hand-held and cross-carried get...
  • 【Large Capacity】Mesh pocket with a zipper enlarges the storage space for cables or other...
  • 【 Worry-Free】 We promise worry-free 12-month warranty, and friendly customer service. ONLY CASE...
SaleBestseller No. 9
DJI Ronin-SC - Camera Stabilizer, 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras, Up to 4.4lbs Payload, Sony, Panasonic Lumix, Nikon, Canon, Lightweight Design, Cinematic Filming, Black
  • Lightweight and Compact - Opening possibilities for filmmakers and content creators in almost any...
  • Tracks the Action - The Ronin app, and Ronin-SC work together seamlessly to achieve smooth, precise...
  • Dynamic Stability - Even in action-packed scenes, Ronin-SC gives a perfectly stable shot. Continuous...
  • Automated Features - Ronin-SC offers a suite of advanced capturing features to unleash your...
  • Easy to Handle - The buttons and trigger are easy to reach for every essential control. A flared...
Bestseller No. 10
Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone, Selfie Stick Tripod with Face Tracking & 360° Rotation, 4 in 1 Portable Phone Tripod w/Extendable Stick for iPhone 13 Pro Android Video Recording Vlog hohem iSteady Q
  • 【4 Types of Usage】Equipped with a built-in tripod and extendable 19.6in max selfie stick, hohem...
  • 【360° Face Tracking & Gesture Control】 Under table tripod mode, this phone tripod can...
  • 【iSteady Stabilization Technology】Featuring a single-axis brushless motor, iSteady Q phone...
  • 【Portable Selfie Stick & Detachable Remote】Weighting only 0.43lbs, this foldable phone tripod...
  • 【Endless Fun in Hohem Joy App】There is a wide variety of cinematic shooting templates within the...

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!
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