As more and more people purchase gimbals designed for use with smartphones we are seeing more and more people reaching out with questions regarding various smartphone stabilizers. Over the last few months, we have noticed a consistent number of people reaching out about a dedicated Zhiyun Smooth 3 review so we have decided to make the Smooth 3 the topic of today’s article.
Now, before getting into the review, we just want to say that the Zhiyun Smooth 4 has since been released and it is without a doubt one of the best smartphone gimbal stabilizers on the market right now. Since its release it has gone from strength to strength earning the excellent reputation it enjoys amongst the community today. We also have a dedicated review of the Zhiyun Smooth 4 online that you can read instead of this review of the Zhiyun Smooth 3 if you like too.
The Smooth 4 is also around the same price as the Smooth 3 but comes with the latest gimbal technology such as gimbal sensors, gimbal motors, and the newest Zhiyun balancing algorithm. We have noticed that a fair few people who are reaching out about the Smooth 3 are unaware that the Smooth 4 is available so we just wanted to point that out early in the article as it really is an excellent gimbal stabilizer. Due to being such a similar price yet offering much better performance and image stabilization, we would highly recommend that you add the Zhiyun Smooth 4 to your smartphone camera accessories over the Smooth 3.
Now that we have got that out of the way, we will still be going over our full review of the Zhiyun Smooth 3 as it is still a great smartphone gimbal stabilizer that managed to earn a solid reputation amongst the community back in its day.
Performance And Functionality
On top of this, there are also a number of third-party action camera adaptor plates on the market that you can attach to the gimbal to mount an action camera such as a GoPro to it too. As the vast majority of premium action cameras on the market right now come in at under 0.3 pounds, the Smooth 3 offers plenty of load capacity to support your GoPro if needed too.
When it comes to the maximum battery life, the Smooth 3 is able to offer you up to fourteen hours of juice per charge ensuring that you have all of the power available to capture all of the video footage you need between charging opportunities. Now, you may notice that the Smooth 3 has a higher battery life than the more modern Smooth 4 and there is good reason for this.
More and more people in the vlogging and videography space are starting to carry USB power banks with them when recording. Provide that you have a high output power bank, you are able to use it to charge both your smartphone and gimbal while on the go. Due to this rapidly increasing trend, especially in the smartphone gimbal space, gimbal brands have taken to using smaller, lighter batteries that have a lower battery life on their modern gimbals.
This either allows them to produce a gimbal that is lighter than the older generations or use the spare weight for better gimbal motors to improve performance drastically. If you look at the Zhiyun Smooth 4 over the Zhiyun Smooth 3, its battery life is lower but in exchange for this, the gimbal is smaller, lighter, and has much higher torque gimbal motors offering much better performance.
Both the Smooth 3 and Smooth 4 also offer two way charging too meaning that you are able to use your handheld gimbals power supply to charge our smartphone during use. Just keep in mind that this can deplete your gimbal battery much quicker than regular use would and in some cases means you can get less than half of the maximum advertised battery life if you use your gimbal to charge your smartphone or action camera during use.
As you can see, the footage is butter smooth due to the gimbal keeping the smartphone stable throughout but at times the stabilization is a little slow. Now, to be clear, this is just the Smooth 3 showing its age and this was more of a limitation of the technology available back when it was released than a problem with the Smooth 3 itself. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 is extremely rapid at its detection and correction of movement and really does show how far Zhiyun has come since the release of the Smooth 3.
Although the gimbal motors and sensors on the Smooth 3 are a few years old now and show their age against the modern gimbals from Zhiyun and DJI, they actually still hold their own very well against some compeating brands. Even though it is an older gimbal, we still feel that the Smooth 3 is better than anything brands like Feiyutech have managed to release into the smartphone gimbal space from their latest generation of gimbals.
This is why the Smooth 3 does still have a solid customer base today but more and more people are going over to the Zhiyun Smooth 4 due to its excellent reviews from the community as well as the fact that it offers the best possible smartphone gimbal performance available right now.
User Interface And Control System
Thankfully, Zhiyun had actually planned ahead and put themselves in their target audiences shows when it came to designing the interface for the Smooth 3 and they put ease of use as a top priority. We would imagine that anyone who is able to efficiently use their smartphone will easily be able to pick the Smooth 3 up and work out how to use it within minutes.
The system is based around the tried and tested joystick and button combination that has been used by handheld gimbals for years now and offers maximum control with minimal effort. The joystick is also very responsive to touch offering superior control over the gimbal heads movements when using in manual mode to allow you to capture the footage that you want.
If you are a more advanced videographer and plan to do some setting customization with your gimbal then the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is definatley the better option. It is as easy to use for entry-level gimbal users as the Smooth 3 but also offers a ton of advanced customization and gimbal modes for the more advanced users too.
Over the years the app has been plagued by initial sync issues, connectivity issues with random connection drops and a difficult to navigate menu system. Thankfully, when Zhiyun overhauled their app for their latest gimbals, they managed to fix these bugs as well as give the app a facelift to make it easier to navigate.
The app is not a solid gimbal accessory that is well worth downloading to your smartphone, especially as the app is totally free. Now, some of the functionality such as the wireless remote control system is a little pointless for a smartphone gimbal as your device will be mounted in the gimbal anyway but the quick access to your gimbal settings is excellent.
It offers a quick and easy way for you to access your settings and make any tweaks or switch gimbal modes within seconds. We feel that this alone warrants that you download the app as over the course of a day of recording, the time saved by making these tweaks via the app vs manually doing them can quickly add up and save you a whole bunch of time.
We know that balancing a gimbal is often one of the main worries people new to using a gimbal have but thankfully, the Zhiyun Smooth 3 is extremely easy to balance. Not only is the expected payloads so low due to it being a smartphone gimbal but the Zhiyun balancing process is one of the easest going and it assists you as best it can. Additionally, a full guide on how to balance the Smooth 3 is in the included user manual and it is very easy to follow.
Build Quality And Design
Although this may not sound like a big deal, the Smooth 3 also has a very comfortable handle that makes it easy to grip for long periods of time while recording. So many people overlook the importance of the comfort level of the handle on the gimbal but it matters so much, especially if you know you will be holding it for long periods of time without being able to take a break.
Thankfully, Zhiyun picked up on this pretty early on and all of their recent gimbals have a great handle grip on them that is very comfortable to hold. The grip also holds in place with ease, unlike some completing brands where it can slide up and down the handle causing problems.
That’s the end of our Zhiyun Smooth 3 review and although the Zhiyun Smooth 3 is a decent gimbal, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is just so much better for almost the same price. Additionally, when it comes to the smartphone gimbal space, the Smooth 4 is by far the best gimbal available at the time of writing and has plenty of independent glowing reviews from the community.
In our opinion, adding the Smooth 4 to your collection of smartphone camera accessories instead of the Smooth 3 is just a better choice. It provides better levels of image stabilization that inturn results in a better overall image quality for your video footage.