Today we learned two things about DJI’s Osmo Mobile series of handheld gimbals. First, that the company thought the name was too long (it’s now simply known as “OM”). Second, that one of the biggest bugbears was apparently mounting your phone in the thing itself. How do we know? Because the main new feature on the OM4 (the successor to the Osmo Mobile 3) has a whole new mounting system. As the name suggests, it’s the fourth in the series, it costs $150 and it’s available starting today.
As a reminder, the Osmo Mobile line allows you to shoot “cinematic” smooth video using your phone while other Osmo handhelds, like the Pocket, have the camera built-in. Video stabilization within your phone’s own camera app has come a long way in recent years, but a mechanical gimbal is usually far superior. There are many mobile stabilizers to choose from, but DJI likely has the most brand awareness right now (sorry, Feiyu Tech).
What’s new with the OM4? The main thing appears to be how you will attach your phone to it. Previous models had a clamp that you had to wedge your handset into. This is true for most phone gimbals, and I’ve never found it to be that elegant. Especially if you have a larger handset, and the temerity to have a case on it. The phone can feel lopsided in the grip, and it can take a moment to get it set just right. With the OM4 you have two options: a magnetic “pop socket” style attachment you leave on the back of your phone, or a magnetic clip which is similar to the old clamp mechanism, but it breaks free from the gimbal and can be left on your phone between uses (it’s small, but you might not want to leave it on all the time).
At first, it’s easy to write the magnetic mount system off as a bit of a gimmick, but if you’ve ever used a mobile gimbal, you’ll know it could actually be highly practical. Not just because it’s easier to sling your phone onto this thing, although that is a benefit, it also makes the OM4 easier to carry around when you’re not using it. Gimbals are ungainly things at the best of times, given how they ungraciously go limp while not in use, and having a chonky phone grip on the end just makes things worse. With this new system and the folding design, you can easily stow it in your pocket without worrying about breaking it or harming the motors.
Of course, a simple magnet likely isn’t enough to lure people over from rival products or earlier models. Thankfully, DJI has added some new features, too. Most notably, Dynamic Zoom (which is similar to the Dolly Zoom feature on the Osmo Mobile 3 and Mavic 2 Zoom) and “Clone Me” panorama, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s also a “Spin shot” mode that lets you rotate the phone with the joystick (usually used for panning and tilting). It sounds fun, but might get tired pretty fast. Either way, expect a glut of such videos right after launch. DJI states that the OM4 offers up to 15 hours of battery life too, but it’s unclear how many hours of spinning it can endure.
If you own or have tried the Osmo Mobile 3, then design-wise you’ll be in familiar territory. The OM4 is more or less identical, bar the removable grip which at least means the OM4 is smaller when folded down. Having been able to spend some time with the OM4, I can say that it feels a lot more elegant to store in a bag or pocket. And while the button configuration hasn’t changed since last time, it’s still pretty intuitive once you’ve had a chance to learn what does what (as some of the controls have dual functionality). When I tried the magnetic clip on my large-ish OnePlus 7 Pro, it snapped on pretty easily, and I didn’t really have to try and find the sweet spot exactly halfway along the phone.
I did initially, and foolishly, ignore the guide markings on the magnetic clip (you have to line up two dots) but once you remember that, you can casually slap the phone against the mount each time without being too precise. The OM4 balanced my phone perfectly right away. The magnetic pop socket also works well, although its usefulness will largely depend on your general stance on pop sockets. Personally I’m not a fan, so I gravitate toward the clip.