DJI OSMO Mobile Review
The DJI Osmo Mobile is DJI’s smartphone version of the popular Osmo handheld gimbal stabilizer. As the name suggests, the Osmo Mobile uses the same stabilization technology used in the Osmo series and adapts this technology for smartphone use
The Osmo Mobile features the exact same gimbal handle as the original Osmo. Even the buttons and controls are identical. The only thing that differs is the 3-axis gimbal designed specifically for holding smartphones. Priced at $319, the Osmo Mobile is one of the priciest smartphone gimbals currently on the market. However, it justifies that steep price with some intelligent features that cannot be found on cheaper gimbals along with class-leading build quality and ergonomics.
- Weight: 488g (including battery and wrist strap)
- Dimensions: 290 x 110 x 120mm
- Supported smartphone widths: 59 x 84mm
- Battery: 11.1V 980mAh
- Angular vibration range: + / – 0.03 degree
- Controllable range: pan: + / – 150 degree; roll: + / – 25 degree; tilt: -125 to +35 degree
- Mechanical range: pan: + / – 165 degree; roll: – 50 to +90 degree; tilt: -140 to +50 degree
- Max. Controllable speed: 120 degree/s
- Bluetooth 4.0 compatible
- ActiveTrack technology built into the DJI GO app allows the Osmo Mobile to automatically keep your smartphone facing you as you move.
- The Osmo Mobile’s 3-axis gimbal system smooths out the movements you make, turning every shot into cinematic video.
- With a few taps, the Osmo Mobile motion timelapse feature shoots video showing the passing of time.
- The Osmo Mobile lets you share special moments in real time using YouTube Live inside the DJI GO app.
- Shoot better photos in low light, with powerful camera stabilization and full manual camera control.
- The Osmo Mobile’s panorama function automatically captures and blends 9 separate photos together to create one stunning photo.
- Used with its range of accessories, the Osmo Mobile can be mounted almost anywhere, giving you even more opportunities to get that perfect shot.
- Enjoy more than just DJI GO. Osmo Mobile is open for developers to customize.
Build Quality & Design
Build quality on the Osmo Mobile is class-leading and is what you’d expect from a brand like DJI. The gimbal handle has very good ergonomics and is made of high quality plastic with a nice rubber grip. Fit and finishing are excellent and all buttons have a nice tactile feel to them. They are also well-placed and within easy reach of your fingers.
The 3-axis gimbal is made mostly out of aluminum and feels very sturdy. The clamp that is used to cradle the smartphone is controlled via an aluminum dial at the rear and provides a very secure grip on smartphones up to 5.5 inches in size. Bear in mind that this is not your typical selfie stick with a flimsy spring-loaded smartphone clamp. The grip provided by the clamp can be so strong that you need to be careful not to over tighten it especially for smartphones that have plastic bodies which could crack under the sheer pressure.
To protect your smartphone from scratches or dents, all surfaces on the gimbal that come into contact with it are covered with soft rubber pads. Once tightened the clamp never comes loose on its own. I’ve used the Osmo Mobile to shoot videos for up to an hour and have never had any issues with the clamp.
Unlike other Osmo gimbals, the 3-axis gimbal on the Osmo Mobile cannot be separated from the handle. This means it is not possible to use other DJI camera gimbal systems with the Osmo Mobile handle. On a positive note, the Osmo Mobile is a lot more future-proof than its other siblings since it has no built-in camera. Since camera technology on smartphones constantly improve every year, there is always the possibility of using the Osmo Mobile that you bought today with smartphones that have far superior image quality and performance five years from now.
The 3-axis gimbal on the Osmo Mobile does a great job in stabilizing smartphone videos when used with the right settings. By “right settings” I mean if your smartphone has any image stabilization of its own, it has to be turned off. This is because a smartphone’s image stabilizer can work against or over-correct the stabilization provided by the Osmo Mobile. This problem is commonly seen in the iPhone 6 and 7 which makes shooting videos with the Osmo Mobile a bit harder than smartphones that don’t have image stabilization.
Another smaller factor that affects the gimbal’s performance is the size and weight of the smartphone used. Heavier smartphones tend to produce videos with a bit more bobbing and wobble. One way to improve on this is to simply walk as steadily as possible. This requires some practice and skill (and also the right ground conditions).
With the right settings and conditions, video stabilization is remarkably good and significantly better when compared to handheld shots. The Osmo Mobile is a great option if you’re a video blogger or simply want better and less shaky videos for your vacations, events and outings. It provides the same stabilization performance found on the more expensive Osmo and Osmo+ but at a much lower price point (if you don’t factor in the cost of your smartphone, of course).
The only issue that I have when using the Osmo Mobile relates mostly to a narrow field of view (FOV) which isn’t exactly a “problem” caused by the gimbal itself but rather due to the fact that smartphones generally come with cameras that have a narrow FOV. This isn’t to say that shooting videos with a narrow FOV is bad. It merely means that when shooting videos with smartphones, you are restricted to a narrow FOV since the camera cannot optically zoom in or out. Narrow FOVs and a longer focal length also make camera shake more noticeable.
For those who need optical zoom or wider FOVs, the Osmo+ with its 22-77mm zoom lens is an option worth considering. Thanks to its zoom lens, the Osmo+ is capable of narrow and wide FOVs, giving you the best of both worlds.
DJI Go App
The Osmo Mobile was designed to work with the DJI Go app and this is what sets it apart from its rivals — the app brings a whole suite of intelligent features to the Osmo Mobile. One key feature is ActiveTrack — a feature that is also found on DJI drones such as the Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro which allows the gimbal to track a particular subject. A user only needs to drag a square around the subject on the smartphone display and the Osmo Mobile will automatically start tracking the subject on its own.
This feature is great for people such as vloggers who work alone without the help of a camera operator. With the Osmo Mobile mounted on a stand or tripod, a vlogger can use ActiveTrack while in selfie mode or on another subject that is moving around in a room or a wide area.
Another cool feature that it has is the ability to create timelapses — a feature not found on many other gimbals. Mount the gimbal on a stand or tripod, set a start and end point for the timelapse and a few other timelapse settings and the Osmo Mobile will begin capturing the timelapse on its own. Other neat features include shooting panoramas and broadcasting live YouTube videos. Live YouTube videos work great when you have a fast internet connection. There is also a 10 to 15 seconds delay when you do live broadcasts.
Another thing that the Osmo Mobile excels in is creating panoramas. You can choose to create 180 degree, 330 degree and wide angle panoramas all of which work fine even in tight and confined spaces. The wide angle panoramic image above was shot in a very small room and it appears DJI Go did a good job in stitching all 9 images together.
Ironically, although the DJI Go app enables plenty of useful features on the Osmo Mobile, it is also the gimbal’s biggest flaw. The aforementioned features work great, only when they work. That is to say some features don’t work on certain Android smartphones. In testing the Osmo Mobile for this review, two Android 6.0 smartphones were used — a Lenovo Vibe K4 Note (with DJI Go 3.1.1) and a Huawei P8 Lite (with DJI Go 3.1.0). DJI Go behaved differently on both phones.
For example, timelapses don’t seem to work on the Lenovo — the gimbal will just “give up” moving after a few seconds or so into the timelapse although it continues to record video. On the Huawei, timelapses work perfectly fine. Long exposures don’t work on both phones with the app producing garbled images in any setting.
ActiveTrack, although not working previously in DJI Go 3.1.0 on both phones, now works fine with the recently released DJI Go 3.1.1. The exposure adjustment slider works on the Huawei but doesn’t do anything on the Lenovo. My Lenovo also has issues with exposure settings with DJI Go refusing to switch to high ISO settings when shooting videos in low light. This causes videos in low light to be very dark. However, the same issue doesn’t affect my Huawei.
DJI Go can be an incredibly frustrating app to deal with if you’re an Osmo Mobile user using the wrong type of smartphone. Occasionally, some buttons in the app would just “lock” up and not respond at all. Then there are Bluetooth connectivity issues that I’ve experienced on both phones. There are just so many other minor issues that you can actually write a whole new blog post on.
The Osmo Mobile comes with an 11.1V 980mAh Lithium Ion Polymer battery that gives it about 4 1/2 hours of charge. An extra battery costs $40 and there is also a higher 1225mAh capacity version that sells for $45.
Although the batteries are reasonably affordable, I feel the real bottleneck in the Osmo Mobile when it comes to running time is actually the smartphone itself. It is pointless to bring along two or three Osmo batteries out for a shoot when smartphones typically last only one to two hours of continous video recording.
When your smartphone runs out of juice, it doesn’t matter how many fully charged Osmo batteries you have with you, the whole setup just won’t work until you get your smartphone charged up again. With DJI’s other camera gimbals such as the Osmo and Osmo+, all you need to do to continue shooting when you run low on power is to simply slot in a fully charged battery.
There is, however, a simple solution to this problem and that is to plug in a power bank to your smartphone while it sits on the gimbal. If you have a charger cable long enough, you can place the power bank in your pocket as it charges your smartphone while you continue shooting. This isn’t exactly the most elegant way of doing things since the charger cable can sometimes get in the way when you’re moving about but is the only solution I can think of for those wanting to use the Osmo Mobile for more than two hours of video recording and only have one smartphone to use.
Another easy solution is to slimply swap the first phone with another fully charged one but then again, not everyone walks around with two smartphones.
DJI has an entire range of accessories for its Osmo gimbals. This includes a tripod, extension rod, chest strap mount and a universal mount, among other things. These expand the usefulness of Osmo gimbals, giving them more functionality.
For example, with the universal mount and its cold shoe mounts, you can attach an LED light or shotgun microphone to the Osmo Mobile. There is also a suction mount that lets you mount any Osmo onto smooth surfaces such as car windshields or glass windows.
DJI’s range of accessories for its Osmo products is probably the most comprehensive for any handheld gimbal stabilizer range currently in the market. And this is one major reason why many are attracted to DJI’s Osmo lineup.
In terms of build quality and ergonomics, the DJI Osmo Mobile is probably one of the best, if not the best, smartphone gimbal stabilizer available today. Although somewhat pricey, the Osmo Mobile brings the same stabilization technology and quality that was once available only in the more expensive Osmo gimbals to smartphone users. This includes smart features such as ActiveTrack, timelapses, panoramas and YouTube live videos which are mostly not available in other gimbals.
Unfortunately, the Osmo Mobile was made to work with the DJI Go app which in many ways, is its biggest flaw. Despite having so many useful features, the app really ruins the experience for many Osmo Mobile users especially those using Android smartphones. Features such as timelapse and long exposure don’t work on certain smartphones and there is also a long list of other issues which pretty much cripples the Osmo Mobile if you happen to use a smartphone that doesn’t work well with it. On a positive note, apps can be improved over time and I’m sure DJI is doing its best in solving all these issues.
Other not so critical issues that I found with the Osmo Mobile mostly relate to smartphone limitations. For example, with the Osmo Mobile you are mostly restricted to narrow field of views (FOV) since most smartphones do not have wide angle cameras. There are aftermarket wide angle filters that can be mounted on smartphones which can solve this problem somewhat. However, filters generally reduce the image quality and this is something that can be a bit of a letdown. Another issue with narrow FOVs is that camera shake tend to be more noticeable.
Another issue I’ve had with the Osmo Mobile is its operating time. Although Osmo batteries are quite affordable, it doesn’t help at all to have a spare Osmo battery on standby when a typical smartphone can only record one to two hours of video footage before it needs a recharge.
In other words, it is the battery capacity of your smartphone that determines how long you can use the Osmo Mobile. A simple solution to this problem would be to charge your smartphone as you’re using it on the gimbal but, as mentioned earlier, this isn’t the most elegant way of doing things since the charging cable can get in the way sometimes and affect the gimbal’s performance.
For many users, charging their smartphones while using the gimbal is not even possible since most smartphones have their charging ports at the opposite end of where their cameras are located — usually at the bottom of the phone which is blocked by the gimbal.
Despite these issues, the Osmo Mobile is still an excellent gimbal to have, especially when the DJI Go app works as it was designed to. For those who want stabilized video for their blogs, events or vacations but do not want to splash a fortune on the more expensive Osmo gimbals, the Osmo Mobile is a very attractive option. It is also quite future-proof since it does not have a built-in camera. This means you can use it for years, thanks to its excellent build quality, and go through several smartphones as camera technology improves over time. Besides this, the Osmo Mobile is also compatible with a wide range of accessories which help expand its usefulness and functionality.
The Osmo Mobile is currently available at the DJI Store for $319 with one extra high capacity battery in conjunction with the DJI Christmas sale campaign. Click here for more details. Do take note that prices are subject to change at the store and that DJI often come up with different bundle deals from time to time which are worth checking out.
- Build quality, ergonomics and gimbal performance
- DJI Go offers plenty of intelligent features
- Wide range of optional accessories
- Affordable batteries
- Operation time depends on smartphone battery
- Gimbal cannot be separated from handle