The Best Cheap Smartphone Gimbals of 2019

A smartphone gimbal is designed to make handheld video look less shaky. The technology dates back to 1976 when the "Steadicam" was used to film the movie Rocky (remember how the camera seems to float behind Rocky Balboa as he runs up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art?).

The secret to shake-free video is the gimbal.

Basically, a gimbal acts like a self-correcting level. A good smartphone stabilizer uses a 3-axis gimbal. This is like a self-correcting level working in all dimensions at once, which makes a camera seem like its floating in a bubble. You can't eliminate camera shake without a 3-axis gimbal, so if your goal is buttery-smooth video, don't settle for a $20 stabilizer stick. It just isn't worth it.

A decent 3-axis smartphone gimbal costs $100 or more. It's an expensive accessory, but it’s also a wonderful tool for travel, sports and visual storytelling. Tools are only as good as the operator, so you’ll have to practice using your gimbal to get excellent results.

Here are the best-reviewed smartphone gimbals that have sold for $150 or less in the last 12 months:

Good Price: $132 | Great Deal: $117

The DJI osmo has mostly positive reviews, but even happy customers encountered challenges and frustrations calibrating this gimbal and using the control app. The software isn't compatible with all Android phones, so make sure to read the DJI website carefully before buying.

Good Price: $121 | Great Deal: $99

Several Amazon customers praised the Smooth 4's packaging, build quality and image stabilization, but some Android phone owners had issues with the gimbal's control app. iPhone owners had less technical troubles with the gimbal, but some customers found the Smooth 4 harder to use than they had imagined.

Good Price: $167 | Great Deal: $80

The SteadiCam Volt has positive reviews from Amazon customers who were willing to invest time and energy into set up and calibration. One happy reviewer said that using the Volt is like driving a car with manual transmission: You need to practice before you can use it effectively and comfortably.


John DeFeo