Note – Since publishing this article, the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 has been released onto the market and blows both of the featured smartphone gimbal stabilizers out the water. Due to the superior performance, very similar price tag, and excellent reviews from the community we would highly recommend the Osmo Mobile 3 over the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smooth 4.
Smartphones have seen exponential growth over the last decade or so and with the camera sensors on modern smartphones becoming better and better, more and more people are using them for vlogging and capturing footage. Due to this, we are always seeing people reaching out asking about the best smartphone gimbal and in all honesty, we feel that at the time of writing, there are two dominant gimbals in the smartphone space, the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 and the Zhiyun Smooth 4.
Due to this, we have decided to make today’s article a Zhiyun Smooth 4 vs DJI Osmo Mobile 2 comparison to share our thoughts with our readers as we are always seeing people reach out about both of these smartphone gimbals. At the time of writing, the are both absolutely outstanding gimbal stabilizers that are both very similar to each other while still way out ahead of what the competition is able to provide.
They share a large number of similarities and both have excellent reputations within the community. You can click here to read independent reviews of the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 or click here to read independent reviews of the Zhiyun Smooth 4 if you wish. They offer excellent insight into the opinions of the community when it comes to both units and show how highly both of the stabilizers are regarded.
Although we did previously tie both of the gimbals as the joint best smartphone gimbal on the market, the new firmware update for the Osmo Mobile 2 has pushed it out ahead of the Smooth 4 in our opinion. Where the DJI gimbal previously had the advance with maximum load capacity and battery life, the Smooth 4 previously had the advantage of a slightly better balancing algorithm.
The latest firmware update for the Osmo Mobile 2 updates the tech on the DJI gimbal to put its performance on par with the Smooth 4 and due to the additional battery life and load capacity, it manages to sneak out ahead in our opinion. That said if you do choose to purchase either of these two gimbals, ensure that you update them both to the latest firmware builds as both units have had multiple firmware updates since release.
Last update on 2020-01-18 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Now, to kick things off, we always like to start with out comparison table as it usually offers a quick and easy way for our readers to glance over the key features of the gimbals. As both the Osmo Mobile 2 and Smooth 4 are so similar, there really is not much between them other than the better battery life and load capacity on the DJI gimbal. Due to this, we will be jumping straight into our in-depth look at the gimbals below rather than spending any more time going over the data in the comparison table.
Performance And Functionality
Now, as we mentioned earlier in the article, the DJI gimbal does definatley have the advantage when it comes to load capacity over the Zhiyun gimbal. Although both gimbals are able to support the current range of smartphones from brands like Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, and Huawei, even if they are in heavy cases, the Smooth 4 may struggle if you use a heavy case as well as a decent mountable smartphone lens.
On top of this, the additional load capacity of the DJI gimbal also helps to future proof yourself for future smartphone upgrades. Although smartphones do tend to get lighter as technology becomes smaller, you never know and there is a chance the next-generation smartphones will increase in weight. Knowing that your gimbal is able to take this due to its higher load capacity allowing you to upgrade your smartphone without having to also upgrade your gimbal is another advantage helping the Osmo Mobile 2 score even more points.
Next up we have another area where DJI is dominant in and that is the maximum battery life of the gimbal. The Osmo Mobile 2 comes in with around fifteen hours of power with each full charge whereas the Smooth 4 comes in just behind it with twelve hours. In all honesty, we don’t really put much weight into battery life anymore and although DJI wins on paper, twelve hours is more than enough for the vast majority of people.
On top of this, more and more people who use their smartphone for vlogging are starting to add a USB power bank to their collection of smartphone camera accessories. This basically allows you to recharge your smartphone while on the go to ensure you can capture the footage you need to without running out of power. If your power bank has a high enough output, you are also able to use it to charge your gimbal too helping you keep both of your devices going.
Now, speaking of charging your smartphone while on the go, both the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smooth 4 fully support two-way charging. This means that you can hook your smartphone up to either of these gimbals during use and use the gimbals battery to charge your phone while recording. As recording 4k video footage can quickly drain your battery this really is a godsend and can keep you going for hours longer even without using a USB power bank.
One area where both of the gimbals appear to be tied on paper is in the recharge time with both gimbals needing three hours to recharge from empty to full via a wall-based power outlet. Now, although this is a little nit-picky, the additional three hours of maximum battery life for the Osmo Mobile 2 is being recharged in these three hours meaning you get more value with the DJI gimbal over the Zhiyun gimbal.
This is the one area that the DJI previously lagged behind the Zhiyun gimbal until DJI patched the software on the Osmo Mobile 2. The clips in the sample video above were all recorded with the latest firmware build at the time of writing and show the excellent levels of image stabilization on offer. If you are a travel vlogger or in a niche where you like to use slow cinematic video footage then the clips above show how you can use the DJI gimbal to improve the image quality of your video. With both the vlogging space and the social media influencer space becoming more and more competitive, improving your image quality can help to make sure anyone who does see your content ends up subscribing or following you.
The whole system is extremely quick providing you with smooth, fluid image stabilization that is totally free from lag too. The gimbal sensors on the Osmo Mobile 2 are very similar to the ones on the Smooth 4 and are extremely quick to detect any motions. The balancing algorithm then kicks in and tells the gimbal motors how best to compensate for the detected motion and ensures your smartphone stays level resulting in smooth video footage.
With DJI keep pushing the boundaries to knock Zhiyun off the top spot and become the dominant gimbal brand they were quick to push out an update so their Osmo Mobile 2 matched the quality of the Smooth 4. The next factor most people care about in their gimbals is usually the price tag and at the time of writing, both gimbals have the exact same price tag means that the higher load capacity and battery life of the DJI gimbal pushes it ahead of the Zhiyun in our opinion.
The Zhiyun system works in a very similar way to the DJI system ensuring that you are able to get the smoothest possible image stabilization as quickly as possible. Both the DJI and Zhiyun balancing algorithms along with the latest Moza gimbals are way out ahead of the competing brands at the time of writing and in all honesty, we doubt that this will change anytime soon.
User Interface And Control System
Now, both of these gimbals take a very different approach to their control interface system with each having their advantages over the other. Depending on what you are going to be using the gimbal for as well as your level of experience with using gimbals may play a role in the product that you actually choose to be your smartphone gimbal of choice.
Although we will be going over it in more detail below, the short version is that if you have never used a gimbal stabilizer before and are an entry-level videographer, the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 has the easier system. If you are more of an advanced level videographer and want to be able to customize your gimbal and tweak settings as you see fit then the Zhiyun Smooth 4 probably has the better control system for you.
You can learn th basics of the system within minutes and be out and about capturing any video footage that you require very quickly. On the flip side of this though, customizing gimbal settings or advanced controls directly from the gimbal can definatley be a pain.
Although an entry-level gimbal user will be able to get everything that they need out of the Zhiyun system and simply not need the majority of it, where it really shines is for the advanced gimbal users. The system makes it easy to control your gimbal and tweak it as required during your sessions to ensure that you get exactly what you want.
The whole system has been put together very well and Zhiyun has done a great job of ensuring that it is as responsive in wet or cold conditions as it is in ideal conditions too. This means that no matter what you are recording in, you will have maximum control over your smartphone gimbal. The magic wheel also offers the standard functionality offering another advantage over the DJIs system but depending on what you are using your gimbal for, this may never be used anyway.
On top of this, when it comes to smartphone gimbal stabilizers, the smartphone apps tend to missout on one of their biggest uses, their wireless remote control functionality. On a gimbal for a mirrorless or DSLR camera, you can remotely control the head of the gimbal as required for whatever you are doing. With a smartphone gimbal, your phone is mounted to the actual gimbal so if you are close enough to your phone to use the remote you are close enough to the gimbal to manually do it anyway.
Both apps also offer some quick and easy access to your gimbal settings allowing you to tweak their performance if required. Now, we would rate this higher for the DJI app just because its actual user interface on the gimbal itself is so limited. On top of this though, both of the gimbals come with a great default config when shipped that has been designed to be optimal for use with smartphones anyway so the majority of people will never need to tweak their settings.
So many people who are new to using a handheld gimbal stabilizer seem to get worried about actually balancing their gimbals but there really is no need. Modern gimbals are great bits of kit with quick and easy balancing systems that are very straight forward. On top of this, both the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smooth 4 are smartphone gimbals meaning they only need to balance around 0.4 pounds of load capacity making the whole process even easier.
Although slightly different from each other, both the DJI and Zhiyun system is very easy and the explanation in the included user manuals clearly goes over the whole process. Although we doubt it, if you do end up running into trouble then there are a bunch of video tutorials on YouTube of how to balance both of the gimbals too.
Build Quality And Design
As you probably know, landscape video footage fits the aspect ratio for YouTube much better than portrait and portrait fits sites like Instagram much better than Landscape. Being able to quickly and easily rotate your gimbal head through ninety degrees to switch between both is a solid feature that is supported on both the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smooth 4.
The actual design of both of the gimbals pretty much sticks to the standard handheld gimbal setup with no real innovation between them. This is commonplace these days as the vast majority of handheld gimbals that brands release onto the market are simply variations of each other when it comes to the design so we will be tieing both gimbals in the design category.
Another area where we are going to call a tie is on the actual build quality as although there are some very small differences between the two gimbals, they each have tiny advantages over each other that are so small it is just easier to tie them. That said, unlike some competing products, both the Osmo Mobile 2 and the Smooth 4 are lightweight and pretty small meaning they are easy to travel with if needed.
Their lightweight also means that you are able to hold the gimbals for long periods of time with your smartphone mounted to them without having any problems. Some competing gimbals in the smartphone space are still pretty heavy meaning that after using them for a short time your hand and arm can start to ache. Thankfully, this is not an issue with either of the featured gimbals and they are both lightweight.
As both the Osmo Mobile 2 and Smooth 4 are made from almost identical materials they are both just as robust as each other too. Although the advancements in plastic polymers and metal alloys over the last few years have made this commonplace for gimbals, keeping the products as lightweight while also ensuring they are robust at the same time is still pretty rare but both DJI and Zhiyun have achieved it.
Now, the final area that we want to talk about regarding the build quality of the gimbals is their handles and it is another area where we have decided to tie them as it will come down to personal preference. If you are going to have to hold your gimbal for long periods of time then a comfortable handle is important but we have seen reports from people saying they prefer one or the other but this is down to personal preference and in our opinion, both gimbals have a comfortable handle.
That brings our ultimate Zhiyun Smooth 4 vs DJI Osmo Mobile 2 comparison to an end and as you can probably tell by now, we feel that the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 manages to pull our ahead of the Zhiyun Smooth 4 due to having so many areas where it is the same as the Smooth 4 while also having the higher load capacity and battery life.
That said, we still feel that either of these smartphone gimbals will make a great addition to your smartphone camera accessories. They both provide excellent image stabilization that can definatley help to improve your image quality but the DJI gimbal just sneaks out ahead of the Zhiyun gimbal by the smallest margin.
If you still can’t make your mind up then both of the gimbals also have an outstanding reputation within the community and you can click here to read independent reviews of the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 or you can click here to read independent reviews of the Zhiyun Smooth 4. On top of that, we also have our own dedicated Osmo Mobile 2 review as well as a review of the Smooth 4 that you can read too.
Taking the time to read some of those reviews may help you make your mind up as they offer an excellent insight into how both of the units work from people who use them as their go-to smartphone gimbals of choice on a regular basis. You can spend a few minutes skimming reviews for each product and gain a fair amount of information on each product that makes help you select the one you want to purchase.