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
132 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

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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

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
132 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
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone X XR XS Smartphone Vlog Youtuber Live Video Record with Sport Inception Mode Face Object Tracking Motion Time-Lapse - Hohem Isteady Mobile Plus (Upgraded New)
1,755 Reviews
3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone X XR XS Smartphone Vlog Youtuber Live Video Record with Sport Inception Mode Face Object Tracking Motion Time-Lapse - Hohem Isteady Mobile Plus (Upgraded New)
  • 【Newly developed 3D "inception" Mode proudly present the updated Hohem gimbal stabilizer. This...
  • 【Updated sports mode & perfect balance updated sports mode allows you to shoot incredibly smooth...
  • 【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 your...
  • 【"Time-lapse" & up to 12H running time tracking face/object and recording all motions in a stable...
Bestseller No. 2
DJI OSMO Mobile 3 Lightweight and Portable 3-axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer Compatible with iPhone & Android Phones
  • 【Foldable & Portable】A sleek, foldable design allows Osmo Mobile 3 to be taken anywhere....
  • 【Gestures & Selfies】A simple gesture is all it takes to snap a selfie or begin recording. Both...
  • 【ActiveTrack 3. 0】To capture scenes that require fast movement, simply press the trigger, make a...
  • 【One-Tap Templates, Edit & Share Quickly】Story mode provides multiple templates that transform...
  • 【Ergonomic Grip】Thanks to its intelligent design, Osmo Mobile 3 can be held for long periods of...
Bestseller No. 3
Feiyu Gimbal VLOG Pocket, Foldable Phone Stabilizer, Handheld 3-Axis Gimble with One Key Orientation Toggle for iPhone 11/pro/max/XS and All Smartphones (Pocket-Size)
  • 【MUST KNOW】Unlock the three-axis clamp, charge the gimbal and balance your phone BEFORE using.It...
  • 【Pocket Size & Foldable】FeiyuTech VLOG Pocket phone stabilizer 3 axis gimbal is really...
  • 【Non-Shake 3-Axis Stabilization & Self-Adaptation Motor】Advanced self-adaptation motor can help...
  • 【One key for Orientation Toggle】Double click function button to flip orientation easily WITHOUT...
  • 【AI Face & Object Tracking】VLOG pocket has a powerful AI tracking system with fast responding in...
Bestseller No. 4
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, Upgraded Phone Camera Video Tripod w/Focus Pull&Zoom Vertigo Shot for iPhone X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7/S6 Huawei etc Smartphones(White)
274 Reviews
Zhiyun Smooth 4 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer, Upgraded Phone Camera Video Tripod w/Focus Pull&Zoom Vertigo Shot for iPhone X/8 Plus/7/SE Samsung Galaxy S9+/S8/S7/S6 Huawei etc Smartphones(White)
  • 【Born for Mobile Filmmakers】Zhiyun Smooth 4 handheld gimbal stabilizer turns your mobile phone...
  • 【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】New Control Panel Design: Hot Keys Design for Instant Controls...
  • 【Zhiyun Smooth 4 Mobile Stabilizer】Photography Shooting has never been so easy, but now we have...
Bestseller No. 5
MOZA Mini-S Essential Foldable Gimbal stabilizer for Smartphone Timelapse Object Tracking Zoom Vertigo Inception 3-Axis Video Stabilizer for iPhone Xs/Max/Xr/X/11 Pro Max Samsung Note 9/S9 Huawei
102 Reviews
MOZA Mini-S Essential Foldable Gimbal stabilizer for Smartphone Timelapse Object Tracking Zoom Vertigo Inception 3-Axis Video Stabilizer for iPhone Xs/Max/Xr/X/11 Pro Max Samsung Note 9/S9 Huawei
  • 【EXTREMELY FOLDABLE】 MOZA Mini-s makes it easy to store and carry without taking up valuable...
  • 【MANY FUNCTIONS】 packed into the MOZA Mini-S smartphone gimbal include one-button zoom, focus...
  • 【FILMING MADE QUICK & SIMPLE】 Once the smartphone is mounted on the MOZA-S,the no-tool...
  • 【ADVANCED SHOOTING MODES 】The MOZA Mini-S also boasts many cool shooting modes includeing...
  • 【Creative Filming With MOZA Genie App】: The MOZA Mini-S can ben connected to the MOZA Genie APP...
Bestseller No. 6
EVO Shift Camera Stabilizer - Handheld Gimbal for iPhone or Android Smartphones - Intelligent APP Controls for Auto Panoramas, Time-Lapse and Tracking
  • 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...
Bestseller No. 7
Freevision Phone Stabilizer Cell Phone Gimbal for iPhone 11 Pro Max Xs Smartphone Smove Stabilizer for Video Recording Filming Panorama Motion Lapse Time Lapse Object Tracking +Carry Bag -Vilta M Pro
  • 【Premium Stability Performance】Proudly launched this upgraded version of Freevision VILTA M Pro...
  • 【Plentiful functions 】Motion time lapse, Panorama, face tracking, editing, Beautify, 4K,...
  • 【Wired & Wireless charging】support Bi-Power Supply, 15 Hours Battery Capacity
  • 【Compatible for most smartphones with 55-85mm phone clip width】Freevision vilta-m pro smartphone...
  • 【Warranty】12 months Warranty and lifetime friendly customer service. If you need any assistance,...
SaleBestseller No. 8
2in1 Portable Action Camera+Smartphone SYN Stabilizer Mount Ergonomic Hand Grip Video Vlogging Kit Motion Camcorder Phone Handle Holder for GoPro Sony + iPhone Interview Travel YouTube Livestream Rig
  • Made of high-strength ABS material, more than cool eye-catching shape: professional ergonomic design...
  • Super phone clip holder: 360 degree rotary for portrait mode (vertical) or landscape mode...
  • Attach your smartphone to phone clamp of the grip, then the smartphone will turn into a monitor and...
  • Extra bult-in shoe mounting slot on the top, ingenious desing for the plug-in video lights to get a...
  • Detachable and Versatile Hand Grip, compatible with all GoPro and GoPro-Like Action Cameras, such...
Bestseller No. 9
Deco Gear 3-Axis Handheld Cell Phone Gimbal Stabilizer iOS/Android Compatible GIM100BK
  • 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. 10
Hohem Smartphone Gimbal 3-Axis Handheld Stabilizer for iPhone 11/11pro/11pro max/Xs/Xs Max/Xr/X, for Android Smartphones, Samsung Galaxy S10/S10 Plus, for Youtuber/Vlogger (iSteady Mobile Plus)
363 Reviews
Hohem Smartphone Gimbal 3-Axis Handheld Stabilizer for iPhone 11/11pro/11pro max/Xs/Xs Max/Xr/X, for Android Smartphones, Samsung Galaxy S10/S10 Plus, for Youtuber/Vlogger (iSteady Mobile Plus)
  • 3-Axis Gimbal Smartphone Stabilizer:Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus 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 the Hohem Gimbal App on your Android or iOS Phones for...
  • The New Trigger Button backside with much more operation on this gimbal. Ergonomic Handheld Design 3...
  • 600°Roll Inception Mode: With the inception mode, you can get a 600degree Pan Rotation amazing...

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 2020-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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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, join our Travel is Life Tribe. Happy travels!