Video is all the rage on social media and DJI, the Shenzhen-based tech company best known for its drones, has recently released the Osmo Mobile, a new handheld stabiliser, to help users make smooth and cinematic videos with their smartphone.
Design and hardware
Compared with similar, but cheaper, smartphone gimbals on the market, such as Ruipai’s X-Cam Sight 2, the Osmo Mobile looks more sturdy and professional. Weighing 501g, its metallic built, black coating and generous grip all spell quality. It feels solid in the hand.
The three-axis gimbal ensures the smartphone camera stays stable when the power is on: the base rotator (pan motor) swivels left and right, and that is connected to another rotating joint above (roll motor) that goes up and down and, finally, the grip itself (tilt motor) moves forward and backwards.
At the bottom of the handle is where the 980 mAh battery goes.
Osmo Mobile is designed for any kind of smartphone (Android or iOS) with screen sizes ranging from 2.3 inches to 3.3 inches. The adjustable arms can accommodate, say, the iPhone SE as well as the 6S Plus.
On the front of the handle are two status lights to indicate whether it is switched on and connected; a record button; a shutter button; and a joystick that moves the grip up/down, left/right.
On the left there is a rosette mount that can be attached to a tripod or other audio accessories like an external mic, and on right is the on/off switch.
On the back is the conveniently placed trigger, which performs various functions; for instance, double click will move the gimbal to the default position. Also on the back a 3.5mm charging port.
Features and software
Unlike the older Osmo models that connect with the phone via Wi-fi, the Osmo Mobile uses Bluetooth, therefore freeing up the Wi-fi port.
The handheld works with the DJI Go app, which practically takes over your phone camera with its own features. You can take videos in slow motion or in time lapse mode. The “ActiveTrack” feature, which follows a face tagged on the screen, is perfect for those who love taking selfies, as they will never have to worry about having part of their face cut off because they hold the camera at the wrong angle.
We did experience some issues with the app, and they are likely to be caused by the prototype unit for the testing.
Trying to position/prop up the phone upright (we tested with both the iPhone 6s and Sony Xperia Z5 Compact) was, at times, extremely fiddly. Sometimes we lost the Bluetooth connection completely. And, occasionally, we got an error message (one saying the gimbal is locked) and we couldn’t work out why. And when linked to the app the roll motor got very hot.
But since we mainly used the stabiliser for Facebook Live broadcasts for our testing, the use of the app was not required.
Performance battery life
The Osmo Mobile is the perfect tool for Facebook Live. Before we used this handheld stabiliser our videos, though watchable, were shaky. And because we had to move around during these live broadcasts, using a tripod was not always an option. With the Osmo Mobile, our videos simply look steady and professional.
And the product does exactly what it promises. Without the jitters, some of our videos even look cinematic.
We always fully charged the handheld before our assignment and not once had it run out of battery (the longest broadcast lasted about half an hour). However, we did notice the battery drained quite fast when in use, so having a spare battery or a mobile charger is recommended. Bluetooth connection between the phone and stabiliser never once dropped in the middle of a shoot.
The product is supposed to target the mass consumer market but, with a price tag of US$299, the Osmo Mobile doesn’t come cheap. For that price, though, you do get something well built, functional and practical.
If you use your smartphone camera just to take selfies and videos of family pets and children, this hand-held stabiliser might be a bit wasted on you and you might consider using something cheaper. However, if your job or hobbies require well-produced and high-quality videos, to be posted on various digital platforms, or you are into the great outdoors and enjoy recording your own action movies, Osmo Mobile is worth every cent.