REVIEW – For most of us, our phones are our point and shoot cameras and our video cameras. We use our phones to document our lives and we improve the built-in camera by using accessories like clip-on lenses and selfie sticks. But when it comes to selfie sticks, they just hold the phone at a static angle and don’t help with stabilization. For those features, you need something like the iSteady Mobile Plus 3-Axis Stabilizing smartphone gimbal from Hohem. Let’s check it out.
What is it?
The iSteady Mobile Plus 3-Axis Stabilizing smartphone gimbal is a selfie stick on steroids. It holds your phone in landscape or portrait orientation and uses a motor to keep the phone stabilized while you use buttons on the handle to start and stop recording and move the phone/camera to the perfect shooting angle.
What’s in the box?
- iSteady Mobile Plus gimbal
- Mini tripod
- USB cable
- Carrying case
- User manual
Design and features
The iSteady Mobile Plus gimbal (I’ll just call it the iSteady going forward) is about 11.75 inches long and weighs in (without your phone) at 1 lb 1 oz. (480g). Although it’s portable and compact, it’s not an accessory that’s going to fit in your pocket.
The iSteady is constructed of a combination of parts that makes up the handle and the gimbal/phone holder assembly.
The handle of the iSteady has a power button that doubles as the capture and video record/stop button. There’s also a mode button, a zoom slider button, and a joystick button that moves the phone holder up, down, left, and right. There are also two LEDs at the top of the handle that show the status of Bluetooth and the gimbal mode.
There are battery status LEDs on the side of the handle and a trigger on the backside of the handle which centers the phone when pressed.
Speaking of batteries, there’s a micro USB port on the side of the handle that is used to charge the iSteady’s internal battery which has a 12-hour battery life. There’s also a built-in USB-A port that you can use to “borrow” power from the iSteady to power your phone or another accessory like a microphone.
The iSteady has 3 standard sized threaded tripod mounts. One is on the phone holder, one is on the side of the handle, and one is on the bottom of the handle.
The phone holder assembly has rubber lined spring-loaded jaws that take two hands and a bit of effort to spread apart in order to place the phone between them.
Let’s get iSteady
To get started using this smartphone accessory, you first need to put your phone in the holder and then balance it using the adjustable holder. In the image above, you can see the adjustable arm that slides in and out to balance the phone and then the screw knob tightens it in place. As mentioned before, it takes two hands to get everything ready to go. Getting the iSteady ready to use takes enough time that you probably won’t be able to use it to capture spur of the moment footage.
It’s important to note that you should never turn on the gimbal without the smartphone mounted.
You can still use your favorite image/video capture app with the iSteady, but the Hohem app has to be used if you want to take advantage of some of the special features like face tracking, the image capture/video capture button on the handle, and the zoom/focus switch.
The app also has a cool panorama feature.
There’s also a follow feature that will let you draw a box around a person’s face or a subject and then the phone is supposed to follow the subject if it moves. I have a lot of trouble getting this feature to work.
See it in action
The gimbal can be set in 1 of 4 modes that include Pan follow, Pan/Tilt follow, All locked, and All following. I prefered to use the Pan/Tilt follow mode during most of my testing.
What I like
- Makes video capture smoother
- Controls right under your thumb
- No motor noise at all
What I’d change
- Follow feature doesn’t work well
For capturing smooth video, while moving, walking, and running, the iSteady does an excellent job. I also like that all the controls are right there at the tip of your thumb and the 12hr battery life lets you use this accessory for a long time before it needs to be recharged.
The only downside that I found is that it’s pretty heavy once you mount your phone and if you plan to use it for more than a few minutes at a time, you’ll start to feel the strain on your wrist. Or maybe I just have wimpy wrists! 😉
The Hohem iSteady Mobile Plus 3-Axis Stabilizing smartphone gimbal definitely has a lot of good things going for it including the affordable price, quiet operation, and of course, the ability to shoot smooth video. Although I find it a little uncomfortable to use after a few minutes, I still consider this gimbal a worthy addition to your smartphone camera accessory kit.