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DJI Osmo Mobile 3 initial review: New folding design, the trigger returns and more

Say hello to the DJI Osmo Mobile 3. Which, as you’ll likely guess from its name, is the third-generation of the mobile phone gimbal system, designed to provide ultra-smooth support for your video-capturing escapades.

Ahead of its official announcement, we got to play with one at DJI’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China, to tell you all that’s new and what’s to love about the Osmo Mobile 3.

What’s new?

  • Folding design, even with phone attached
  • Reintroduces trigger control to front
  • Phone port access now possible
  • Now USB-C (not Micro-USB)
  • Simpler setup for balance

If you’ve been following the DJI Osmo Mobile story then you’ll know this mini Steadicam-style device for phones had evolved from its original form into a simpler, more affordable model in version two. The third-gen, however, brings an all-new design that can fold down – even with a phone stowed in its holder, if you want – to occupy less space.

But that’s not all: the Osmo Mobile 3 reintroduces the trigger mechanism that was present in the first-gen but absent in the second-gen model, which makes for far easier re-centering and other controls.

The setup is also simpler to get a phone balanced in almost zero time, while an attached phone keeps access to its charging/3.5mm ports open, so you could factor in a tethered microphone too – something which serious vloggers will love, given its previous absence.

Interestingly, despite all these design changes and additional features – there’s more that we’ll get to in a bit – the Osmo Mobile 3 isn’t any pricier than its predecessor. Indeed – and we’re jumping the gun a bit here, as we’re still pending 100 per cent confirmation from the company on final pricing – the suggestion is the newer model will be cheaper than the second-gen one. Bargain.

Design

  • Max phone screen size: 7.08-inch diagonal
  • Max dimensions: 118 x 88 x 9.5mm
  • Native camera app support (devices TBC)
  • Rubberised grip for greater comfort
  • Tilted handle for more natural hold
  • 15 hours battery life

There are some other subtle tweaks to the Osmo Mobile 3’s design. Namely, the holding handle is tilted slightly forward, for a more natural position, making it feel less rigid and upright than its predecessor. That handle is also now coated in a rubberised finish, which not only feels better but adds some visual interest too.

Not that this is a visually exciting product: the dark grey is hardly thrilling, but then you’ll probably have enough attention on you when capturing mobile phone videos from a gimbal device anyway.

In addition to the standard edition, a ‘Combo’ set will also be available for a little extra cash, which includes a screw-on tripod section (via the 1/4in thread), included carry case, wrist strap and soft pouch. Given the Osmo Mobile 3 folds, the addition of this case is great – keeping the overall footprint of the product to a minimum. It’s a right ol’ squeeze to get the additional tripod section into this case too, but it can be done.

When it comes to attaching a phone, gone are the older screw-on mounts, instead it’s a simple tension tray that pulls open to either side. It can accommodate phones slightly larger than the second-gen model, ensuring even 7-inch-screen devices will be compatible. The design is said to avoid pressing physical side-mounted phone buttons, which rang true with each of the three phones we tested in the Osmo Mobile 3.

The attached phone needn’t draw on the gimbal’s 15-hours of battery life – which DJI assures us is ‘similar’ to the previous model, which we had found to be very impressive – as there’s an embedded battery within to keep those stabilisation motors working. However, thanks to a full-size USB port you can charge devices if you wish (and not just your phone!). The Osmo Mobile 3 finally makes the switch to USB-C, too, ensuring fast charging and better compatibility with more modern phones.

And to work around the fact so many phones now offer two, three, four or even more cameras, DJI is set to implement native camera app support, i.e. if you want to not use the DJI Mimo software – and forego some controls, such as the zoom toggle – in order to use that super-wide or optical zoom camera on your phone, then you can. We did some test shooting with the ultra-wide and 5x optical zoom cameras on our Huawei P30 Pro and each worked a treat.

Stabilisation

  • Portrait and Landscape orientation stabilisation via double-tap of M button
  • Triple-tap M button for Stow position, manually fold in Standby mode
  • Sport mode allows for rapid panning motion
  • Double-tap trigger to reset phone position
  • Active Track automated focus tracking
  • Gesture control activation for selfies

The feature that really makes the Osmo Mobile a five-star product is its stabilisation. Forget hand wobble or any jerkiness when walking about, this thing will set everything ultra smooth. It’s incredible.

You can set the phone to be positioned in portrait or landscape orientations, flipping between the two with a simple double-tap of the M button. Tap this button three times and the gimbal spins the phone into a position ready to stow, manually, where 15 seconds later it’ll enter standby mode to conserve on-board battery life. From stowed position, simply pop the arm back up and triple tap the M button again to get everything fired up and ready to use in next to no time.

If tracking goes a little awry – which only tends to happen if you go really crazy with wibbling the device around – then a double-tap of the trigger control will reset the phone position in a natural manner, meaning even during recording you’ve got a natural way to keep everything under control.

As before there’s a joystick control for motion, a zoom toggle for controlling zoom (DJI Mimo will need to be used for this to work), a start-stop recording, along with the mentioned M button and trigger controls.

A gesture control system, similar to what you’ll find in the DJI Spark or Mavic Air drones, is also available, meaning you can set that selfie camera to engage and then track you around a room as you, who knows, present your piece to camera for that next big Insta video. The tracking software works well, just as it does for subject tracking when using your phone’s main camera(s).

In addition to the automated stabilisation, additional modes cater for different scenarios. Sport, for example, means rapid panning is possible. Beauty, meanwhile, goes overboard with those face-distorting filters… if that’s your kind of thing.



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