MOZA Mini Mi Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Review

MOZA Mini Mi Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Review

Buy it at Amazon: MOZA Mini Mi Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

Takeaway: Lightweight, fully featured, good stabilization, though app is a bit finicky

You'll receive the gimbal in semi-rigid clamshell carry case, a flat microUSB charging cable, a mini tripod, and an instruction manual. The gimbal handle and arms are made of a lightweight yet hard, durable plastic. The handle has a flattened, wide 7" long handle that's easier to hold onto than a skinny cylinder, even without rubber grip pads. The unit contains a rechargeable Li-ion battery that takes about 4 hours to charge via the USB port near the bottom and powers the gimbal for about 10 hours of continuous use. On the side of the handle facing you are the onboard controls. There's a 4-directional joystick for controlling pan, tilt, and roll, of the gimbal, 4 LED lights to indicate battery life and mode, a click and scroll wheel for menu navigation, shutter button, and the power button is off to the right hand side. There are four ¼"-20 mounting points on this gimbal: one on the bottom, one on the back of the handle, and one on either side of the phone grip. These are great for attaching accessories like the mini tripod, extra lights, microphones, etc. One feature that this gimbal doesn't have that we've become accustomed to on other gimbals is a trigger button on the other side, but I found that I didn't miss it much.

While the plastic doesn't feel as durable as metal, it is remarkably lightweight weighing just over 1 lb without a phone. Even with the max payload of 10.5 oz added, it's still under 2 lbs and isn't that tiring to hold over longer recording sessions as heavier gimbals might be. There are two ways to charge your phone while using this gimbal. The phone mount grip has integrated wireless Qi charging (for supported phones), however, for phones without wireless charging there is a full-size USB port on the underside of the tilt arm so you can charge your phone with its cable. The grip mount expands to accommodate smartphones up to 3.25" in width. It'll also accept adapters for stabilizing action cameras like the GoPro.

For most larger phones, I found the grip mount to be a tight fit so even if you use a slim case, you might have to take it off to mount your phone, like I did with the LG G5. The max payload for this gimbal is 300 grams or about 10.5 oz. Its relatively quick and straightforward to balance the roll and tilt of the phone prior to turning the gimbal on. This will alleviate the stress on the motor which imrpoves battery life and reduces wear and tear on the motors. The mount can also be rotated into portrait mode for taking panoramic photos and Instagram photos/videos.

Before first use, I chose to update the firmware on the gimbal, which was pretty simple and only took a few minutes. The MOZA Genie app, while still under development, is fairly functional with only a few blips in operation (and sporadic crashing). The biggest complaint that most folks have is that the subject tracking feature hadn't been operational, however, as of mid-August, 2018 I was able to use this feature successfully on both Android and iOS, although occasionally the tracking would "lose" the subject on the Android phone. When turning on the gimbal, the default mode is Pan/Yaw-Follow which allows the camera to follow the movement of the gimbal when turning left and right but locks the tilt and roll axes.

One of the things I found tricky about this gimbal is the combination of button clicks to perform specific actions. Nearly every button has multiple actions depending on how many times you click it. So for example, clicking the left button twice toggles on and off the pan or yaw-axis lock, while clicking it three times toggles the tilt or pitch-axis lock. Then if you long press the left button, this toggles the roll-axis lock. Whenever an axis is locked, you can use the joystick to change its position, or manually positioning it along the locked axis. You can control the speed of the movement based on how far you move the joystick from center, so small movements move the gimbal slowly while fully pressing in the direction will move the gimbal quickly.

There's also a Sports mode which allows to gimbal yaw motor to react more quickly to follow fast moving subjects, a selfie-mode, a quick re-center command, and "inception" or vertigo mode. So it's a lot of function/key combinations to remember if you don't end up using the gimbal that often. There are also some limitations to the tilt and roll compensations. For panning you get 360° rotation, but for roll you'll only get 165° and for tilt 310°.

The MOZA Genie app allows you to pair your phone to the gimbal via Bluetooth, so you can control it remotely rather than using the controls on the handle, but it can be finicky and some phone models may not be fully supported. If you are able to use the app it'll allow you to adjust gimbal and camera settings on the fly like motor speed and follow smoothness. You can also adjust focus and zoom using the scroll wheel. Again there are plenty of other key combinations to learn that are specific to controlling the app if you're connected via Bluetooth.

Overall, the MOZA Mini-Mi is a decently fully featured handheld gimbal for smartphones that stabilizes well and has a lot of options for different users from beginner to professional. It's also inexpensive compared to other gimbal options out there with less competitive features/performance making it a good choice for filmmakers on a budget who shoot with their smartphones.

Buy it at Amazon: MOZA Mini Mi Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer [Affiliate Link]

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