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Supercharge your iPhone video with DJI's OM 5 gimbal

With a compact design, extending selfie stick and smooth performance, the OM 5 is great for capturing better video on the move.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can already shoot superb-looking video that can beautifully capture your holiday or just life around the house. But if you want to take your video production to the next level you could consider investing in a stabilizing gimbal and DJI's latest OM5 is a great, compact option to go for. 

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Like other phone gimbals -- and their larger cousins, aimed at heavier DSLRs -- gimbals use various motors to keep your device rock steady, smoothing out the sort of shakes and wobbles you'd normally expect to see when holding your phone. The OM5 is much the same, but offers a few key features that make it great for vloggers and other mobile creatives, including a compact, folding design, a built-in extension pole and a handy magnet mounting system. 

The DJI OM 5 is available now worldwide and will set you back $159 (£140, AU$239).

Here's what I like about DJI's new gimbal. 

Pocket-friendly design

The joy of filming your trips on your phone is that you don't have to carry loads of extra gear with you, so having to pack an enormous stabilizer like DJI's professional RS2 gimbal sort of defeats the purpose. Thankfully, the OM5 employs a clever folding design that allows it to squash down into something you can comfortably fit in a jacket pocket. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That means it's always available when creativity strikes. It also means that even when you chuck it in your backpack, its 290-gram (10.2 ounce) weight won't drag you down. The phone attaches with a magnetic clamp that detaches from the gimbal itself. It's a neat design that means the gimbal can pack down smaller when not in use while the clamp itself is so slender that you won't notice it much when it's still on your phone. 

Solid performance

The OM 5's stabilization is impressive. It's able to smooth out hand movements entirely, resulting in slick, professional-looking footage even when using the iPhone 12 Pro Max's 2.5x zoom lens or super-wide angle lens. My early review model had the odd occasion when it started to shake or wobble for no discernible reason but a quick "off-and-on-again" of the gimbal sorted it out. I was impressed at how good the footage looked (using both the iPhone's standard camera app and DJI's Mimo app) and I'd definitely consider using it when filming with my phone for my own YouTube channel.

Battery life is great, too, with DJI claiming about 6 hours from a 1.5-hour charge. From my own use I'd say that's about accurate. The full 6 hours is a hell of a long time to film for, so I suspect for most people -- myself included -- you'd comfortably be able to charge it before you go on holiday and not worry about recharging again until you get back. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Built-in selfie stick

Selfie sticks might look faintly ridiculous but that extra extension can help you get much more dramatic selfies and the OM 5 has one built right in. Pull on the top and the gimbal section will extend away from the handle by almost 9 inches which not only helps you get better selfies but also allows for some much more creative shooting. 

I found it particularly great for getting low down shots, holding the gimbal upside down with the phone almost scraping along the ground, or zooming through grasses. The gimbal automatically adjusts when in this position and you can start and stop recording using the physical buttons on the handle, rather than having to reach down to tap on your phone. 

Easy to use

Setting up professional gimbals with full-sized cameras can be a nightmare, involving fine-tuning the camera's position in order to get the balance just right. Swap a lens though and you'll need to rebalance everything. The OM5 doesn't require much in the way of adjustment -- just pop your phone in the clamp and slap it on the mounting point, then turn it on and the gimbal will adjust to support the weight of whatever phone you're using. I tested the OM 5 with the iPhone 12 Pro Max and had no problems at all, despite its hulking 6.7-inch frame. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There are few buttons on the gimbal's grip, but they're comfortable to reach with your thumb and make it easy to quickly change the phone from landscape to portrait orientation (for you TikTok vertical video fans) or to adjust the position using the joystick. There's also a zoom button, which swaps between your phone's different lenses, and a start-stop recording button. These only work when you're filming using DJI's Mimo app, however. 

The app also offers shooting tips for different environments as well as tracking for people or pets to help keep them more in frame. 

Handy accessories

The OM 5 comes with a mini tripod in the box, which functions as both an extra bit of handle to hold on to. It also gives the gimbal something to stand on if you want to shoot timelapses, or you want to film yourself in front of the camera. 

DJI has also released an alternative magnetic phone clamp which has its own built-in LED light for lighting up your face when shooting selfies in dark conditions. It's an extra $59 (£42, AU$79), so won't be to everyone's taste, but it offers multiple brightness and color temperature levels and is rechargeable over USB-C. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The one thing it doesn't have is any way to attach an external microphone, which I feel is a huge oversight for a product aimed at vloggers who want to speak at the camera on location. Without one, you're forced to record audio using only your phone's built-in microphone, which won't perform nearly as well as a small external mic like Rode's VideoMicro. If, like me, you're a vlogger keen on getting better audio, you'll need to consider third-party clamps that attach to the handle. The downside is that you'll then need a wire connecting to the phone, which could affect the performance of the gimbal itself. I'd love to see DJI find a better solution here. 

I like the DJI OM 5 overall, however, and it's a solid option to consider if you want to give your phone footage a more professional upgrade. YouTubers and vloggers who rely on phones for filming are well catered-for here, while the gimbal's simple operation makes it great if you just want more cinematic footage of your holidays to share with your family.