Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Zhiyun Smooth XS smartphone gimbal

Travel vloggers will love this smartphone gimbal and selfie stick combined

Why travel with a gimbal when you can just use a selfie stick? Though a common sight at the world’s tourist honeypot destinations, selfie sticks don’t give you anywhere near as much stabilization as a gimbal, but they do give you a reach that’s hard to beat. So Zhiyun has combined the two, fitting the smartphone-friendly Smooth XS gimbal with a 260mm-long telescopic selfie stick that can be unfurled on-demand. That’s going to be useful for group shots, quasi-aerial shots and to get a wider angle when using a smartphone’s front camera. But is this also the ultimate gimbal for travel? 

Zhiyun Smooth XS smartphone gimbal: design

Welcome to the smallest smartphone gimbal around. Measuring just 188x61x56mm and weighing a mere 249g, this gimbal is exceptionally compact and lightweight. It can be folded in such a way that you can just about slip the Zhiyun Smooth XS into your pocket. However, being so lightweight is not an ideal form factor for a gimbal, which after all, is all about solidity and stability. Mind you, this smartphone gimbal is only a two-axis product; although it can pan horizontally and roll in both directions, it cannot tilt. However, unfurl that 26 cm selfie stick and you can actually achieve a manual tilt. The ergonomic handle is arguably the most advanced part of this product, offering all kinds of buttons – and even a manual joystick for making subtle manual movements – within easy reach, but it’s made for relatively small hands.

Zhiyun Smooth XS smartphone gimbal: features

Here’s a gimbal aimed mostly at creating short novelty videos for sharing on TikTok and on social media, but it’s got some pretty advanced features. For example, there’s a face-tracking feature and it’s even possible to stop/start recording by waving at the Zhiyun Smooth XS. It’s also possible to tweak manual settings like ISO, shutter speed, frame rate and resolution, while indulging in a timelapse, a panorama, or even a timed photo. TravGear also liked that it has a 1/4-inch tripod thread on the bottom, and there’s even a little tripod in the box. 

Zhiyun Smooth XS smartphone gimbal: performance

Although the Smooth XS’s clamp holds a smartphone well, it’s spring-loaded at both ends so it’s all too easy to painfully pinch some skin as you mount and dismount a phone. It also takes way too long to position a phone perfectly so the weight keeps its balance. That’s the same for all gimbals, but it’s no excuse. 

It’s a touch lightweight and doesn’t quite have the stability of a high-end gimbal, but the Zhiyun Smooth XS’s real issue is that it’s tethered to one compulsory app. The ZY Cami app, though stuffed with features, is mostly concerned with emojis, tacky templates, and general social media froth. So despite the Zhiyun Smooth XS being easy to use and easy to travel with, it’s aimed at a niche of users. 

Zhiyun Smooth XS smartphone gimbal: verdict

TravGear enjoyed using the Zhiyun Smooth XS. It’s got some great features, and never before have we seen a gimbal so lightweight and compact for easy travel. However, if you’re about to hit the road to make a movie using just your smartphone, you might want to think about upgrading because the Zhiyun Smooth XS is aimed at social media users who don’t mind being tethered to one app, and not prosumer filmmakers.

Price as reviewed: US$74.99 / UK£59.99