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Osmo Mobile 3 Combo Refurb Made a Novice Feel Like a Director

Oct 12, 2020 2:06:35 PM 3 min read

When I used the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 to shoot video with a cell phone, I almost felt like I deserved one of those folding canvas chairs that’s labeled Director.


Well, OK. Slight exaggeration, but beyond a doubt, the Osmo Mobile 3 made me a better videographer with my mobile phone, not the best camera for recording video. (Ironically, it’s the one most of us use.) What a difference there is between the video a phone creates when handheld and the professional-looking footage it produces on the Osmo Mobile 3. Video from the Osmo-mounted phone is rock stable. No shakes. No herky-jerky motions when panning.

To stabilize my iPhone—check the compatible phone list— I used a $109 Osmo Mobile 3 Combo Refurbished, a double bargain. First, the combo adds convenience items to the Osmo Mobile 3, most notably a carrying case and a small but highly useful tripod base. Second, it sells for $30 less than the brand new Osmo Mobile 3 Combo—a 22 percent savings.

Stabilizing Video

My video from a phone always looked like Barney Fife from Mayberry shot it—shaky, with the subject disappearing occasionally. It was hard to watch. I never got used to it. Gimbals made shake-free video from drones routine, and I wanted the same on the ground. The Osmo Mobile 3 delivered.

Suddenly, everything was silky smooth. The gimbal stabilized the camera—my phone—on three axes, keeping it in the same position when my hands moved or I walked.

The easy-to-use spring-loaded mount holds phones firmly. The successor to the Osmo Mobile 3, the $149 DJI OM 4, uses a magnetic mount that is, admittedly, even easier to use.

Osmo Mobile 3 doesn’t give your phone super powers. If your phone is limited to 1080p without Osmo, it’s limited to 1080p with Osmo. And Osmo actually can negate some phone capabilities. For instance, 60fps—and slow motion—on 4K works only with an iPhone, not on Android. Also not available to Android users are manual camera adjustments and burst mode, and depending on the Android version, HDR, 4K and auto exposure/auto focus lock. Owners of iPhones can’t shoot panoramas from the front camera, although they can from the rear.

Still, Osmo worked wonders.

Osmo Mobile 3 Elevates Skill Levels

Osmo Mobile 3 let me do things I couldn’t have—at least not easily—without it.

The lightweight grip was a lot easier to hold and operate one-handed than a thin mobile phone. The phone was much easier to control when operated through the Osmo. Most controls, including a thumb-operated joystick to aim the camera, faced me. A trigger on the back of the grip controlled recording. If I had to tap the screen, I could do it without lowering the camera or interrupting my view.

Active Track followed moving subjects better than I could have. I merely tapped a box onscreen and dragged it over my subject. Unless the subject was running full tilt, Osmo kept up. On the downside, tracking is not available in sport mode, which would have made the gimbal move faster.

Vlogging would be simple with Osmo and the tripod. I could lock onto myself with Active Track and stay in the frame. I did have to avoid palms up or raised arms, which are “stop” commands the Osmo understands. There’s a jack for an external mic.

Once I synced my phone with Bluetooth, the Osmo Mobile 3 automatically synced each time I remounted. I did, however, have to rebalance, something I wouldn’t have to do on the OM 4.

Using a USB-C cord, the Osmo battery charged my phone as I used it. I can live with the Osmo discharging in a remote area—not likely with a 15-hour runtime—but not my phone when 4K recording drains it.

As for transport, the Mobile 3 folds quickly to a phone-sized footprint. It’s thicker but even in the combo’s case fits a backpack, hoodie pocket, purse or glove box. That can’t be said of the competing, bulkier Zhiyun Smooth-4. The Zhiyun Smooth-Q2 is smaller without folding but has fewer features. The Freefly Movi, more automated at more than twice the price, is much bigger and doesn’t fold.


Osmo Mobile 3 makes your phone the only video camera you’ll need on a vacation or a fun day out.


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