Best Phone Gimbals

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

14 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
153 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best phone gimbals

Last Updated March 2019

Tired of blurry snapshots and videos? You need a phone gimbal — a small device that can hold and stabilize a phone or camera as you click and shoot. Common with larger cameras and camcorders, portable phone gimbals have quickly become popular in recent years for people shooting on the go with mobile devices.

A gimbal works by counteracting the natural movements and vibrations that occur when you hold a phone or camera. These movements can shake the camera, creating a shaky video. The gimbal minimizes these movements through a counterweight or motors.

To choose the right phone gimbal, you have to think about important considerations like the gimbal size, type, and the number of axes it can rotate around. To help you out, our handy guide has plenty of important information and some of our top phone gimbal recommendations.

Gimbals are most commonly used when recording free motion is required. If you need a stable image while walking or running around, the gimbal is your best bet.

Key considerations


Type

In order for a gimbal to stabilize a camera or phone, it needs some way to counteract natural movements and vibrations. For example, if the phone starts to move or rotate one direction, the gimbal needs the ability to move in the opposite direction quickly to keep the phone and base stable. Most phone gimbals do this through electric or analog means.

Analog gimbals counteract movement naturally, usually with a weight on the bottom end. The phone sits on top of the handle in a cradle. Below the base of the phone, a weighted end hangs. As the phone moves with the gimbal while you are shooting, the heavy end absorbs the energy and minimizes the movement/vibrations. Since there are no electronics, analog gimbals are common in budget models.

For advanced control, electronic gimbals are the better option. Using a built-in gyroscope and motors, the gimbal can detect the position and movement of the camera and correct the base. Since this happens in real time, the gimbal is less prone to smaller or quicker movements. Many electronic gimbals also come with built-in controls or an app to move the base automatically.

Axis Number

The head or base of a gimbal rotates in different directions to keep the camera or phone level as it moves. Much like an airplane, the amount the base can rotate will influence how much it can stay level. Gimbals are often advertised with the number of axes they can rotate on.

Two-axis gimbals are common for budget models that don't offer as much as higher-end options. The lack of a third axis means the gimbal will be limited in the amount of stabilization it can provide in that specific direction.

Three-axis gimbals are better for stabilization at a higher price. The third axis means the base can rotate in any direction to keep the phone level, even if you flip the handle upside down for lower shooting. This makes the phone less susceptible to random knocks and bumps that are common when recording video on the move.

Weight

With any camera or recording equipment, weight is an important consideration since it will determine how difficult it is to move the equipment around. Portability, especially when it comes to smartphones, is key for good location shooting. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the weight of the gimbal and the smartphone itself.

The gimbal's weight needs to balance the demands of carrying the equipment around and stabilizing the phone on top. If it's too light, it won't offer as much stabilization. Too much weight will fatigue the holding arm more. With most phone gimbals, the weight achieves the right balance for recording video using one hand without fatigue.

The weight of the phone itself may be something to consider with some gimbals. All gimbals have a certain weight limit for the camera or phone. If the device is too large, the gimbal won't be able to move or may even break under the load. Once again, most phone gimbals are rated for the most common smartphones. You may need to avoid, however, gimbals that are primarily designed for action cameras.

Multiple mounting options

An affordable gimbal that can hold larger DSLR cameras is an exception to the rule that you can’t have it all with a portable gimbal. Thankfully, the Roxant Pro Stabilizer easily breaks said rule with a simple weight and modular camera mount that can hold anything up to two pounds. The included phone clamp means you can quickly switch between a smartphone and a camera.

Features


Handles

The handle has the most influence over the comfort and ergonomics of a gimbal. Since it is something you will likely be holding for a long time, the right handle design will make it easier to get good shots with your phone without feeling your hand or arm fatigue after a while.

Gimbals come in either one- or two-handle designs.

  • Single-handle gimbals are common for portable phone setups that are designed to minimize weight and space.
  • For the best camera stabilization, however, a two-handle design offers an extra point of contact between you and the phone. It's easier to control the phone/gimbal without feeling the weight of the setup as much.

 

Gripped handles are the best option for the utmost comfort. A small level of padding around the core of the handle will offer better grip and stabilization if the material can absorb some of the energy from the hands.


Mount

Phone gimbals have the challenge of accommodating different smartphone designs and sizes. Unlike regular camera gimbals that use a threaded mount similar to a tripod, phone gimbals use an adjustable cradle that squeezes the sides of a phone. The quality and adjustability of this cradle will determine how well the gimbal will secure your phone.

Many phone gimbals have a basic plastic or metal cradle. Virtually all options are designed to hold the phone sideways in a landscape orientation. This makes it easier to find a phone gimbal that will work with your device as long as you don't have something larger than a typical smartphone. Tablets and phablets, however, are rarely supported.

A few gimbal options have interchangeable mounts to carry different types of devices. For example, some can hold a phone or action camera using a threaded mount and cradle. While most larger gimbals are designed for true cameras and camcorders, a select few have the necessary mounting accessories to hold phones or larger devices, like tablets, as well.


Control

High-end, motorized electronic gimbals offer more capabilities than just stabilizing the phone. Using the motors, these gimbals can actually pan or spin the camera separately from your hand on the handle. This opens the creative possibilities for different camera movements the human hand may have difficulty achieving with an analog gimbal.

To control this movement, an electronic gimbal may have either physical controls, an app, or both. Physical buttons make it easy to control the phone for pans and other rotations as you hold the handle upright. Apps, however, can be more difficult since you will need a second device to control the gimbal's movements.

DID YOU KNOW?

Phone gimbals use the same type of technology as larger camera stabilizers, meaning you can create convincing cinematic shots with your phone.

Phone gimbal prices

The price of a phone gimbal is much smaller than true camera gimbals and Steadicam rigs. Depending on the type of the gimbal, electronic or analog, the price will reflect the gimbal's design, construction quality, and stabilization features it offers.

Inexpensive

Below $50, most phone gimbals are simple hand-held, non-motorized rigs with a basic weight. These are a good starter option for beginning filmmakers, but the quality of stabilization won't be enough to smooth out minute shakes and movements.


Mid-range

In the mid-range, between $50 and $250, there are plenty of electronic and analog gimbal options that offer better results in terms of image stabilization. Three-axis electronic gimbals start around $100.


Expensive

Beyond $250, most phone gimbals are electronic rigs with extra accessories or features like rotational control. Larger gimbals in this range that are compatible with phones, while rare, are a good purchase if you want a gimbal that can work with several types and sizes of cameras.

EXPERT TIP

Gimbals are just one tool of a large arsenal of camera stabilizers that includes things like dollies and sliders.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • You can use a phone gimbal to create unique video transitions like crane shots and smooth pans without the need for a tripod.
  • If you plan on recording outside in bad weather a lot, buy an analog gimbal or a motorized model that offers a waterproof or water-resistant design.
  • Sometimes, no matter what, a gimbal just isn't enough to smooth out the camera’s movements. When this happens, some warp stabilization can help when you process the video.

Gimbals are prone to vertical movements created when walking or running. You may need to learn to walk with a gimbal to avoid the "bobbing motion" this vertical movement can create in videos.

Simple stabilization

It doesn't get more basic than holding your phone with both hands. Using a lightweight rig that suspends the phone in the middle, this stabilizer is a smart option to check out if you are on a tight budget. With three cold shoe mounts, the rig also easily integrates into larger recording setups using tripods and camera accessories.

Other products we considered

It can be difficult to find a beginner- or budget-friendly recording setup when it feels like camera equipment and accessories add up in costs. A capable phone gimbal, however, doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Coming from a company that has defined modern approaches to camera stabilization, the Steadicam Volt is an excellent example of affordable image stabilization. The gimbal uses a run-and-gun design that's perfect for one-handed recording. The MOZA Mini-MI 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer is another recording rig with a streamlined profile and unique features, such as wireless phone charging, that other competitive options lack.

All gimbals require balancing when you put the phone on the mount. Some use weights or electronic calibration to get everything synced up before you shoot.

FAQ

Q. Is a gimbal a good replacement for a tripod?
A.
Not for shots that require absolute stillness. Even if you stay in place with a gimbal, the camera will still pick up the small movements that happen in your arms as you breathe or operate the camera. A tripod is the best option for the most stability.

Q. What's the difference between a gimbal and a selfie stick?
A.
A selfie stick extends the distance between you and the phone while taking a self-portrait. Phone gimbals have a limited reach and are meant for videos more than still photography. You still can, however, use a gimbal for selfie shots or recording.

Q. Can I use a phone gimbal for still photography?
A.
While a tripod or built-in stabilization is more common for still photography, you can use a phone gimbal for photos. This is a great way to take handheld pictures at slower shutter speeds that are prone to image blur. You may need a remote control for the phone's camera unless you are taking a selfie.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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