Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review

Zhiyun is one of the worlds leading tech companies when it comes to video stabilization systems. They have plenty of different solutions for all kind of different cameras but also smartphones. One of their most popular and best selling gimbals is the Zhiyun Smooth 4! It’s a handheld 3 axis gimbal that’s specifically designed for smartphones. And it’s useful as most of the newest flagship smartphones can already record in a 4K resolution. So it can be pretty important to have smooth footage. It’s also the best selling gimbal on Amazon, which is also why we decided to review it!

Technical Specification

  • Dimensions: 328×123×105 mm / 12.9×4.8×4.1″
  • Weight: 547 g / 1.2 lbs
  • Payload: 75 g – 210 g / 2.65 oz – 7.4 oz
  • Tilt range: 240°
  • Roll range: 240°
  • Compatibility: iOS 9.0 or higher, Android 5.0 or higher
  • Modes: Pan Following, Locking, PhoneGo, Following
  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • Charging time: 3 hours

In The Box

  • Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal
  • USB-C cable
  • Tripod
  • Cleaning cloth

Design

The Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal is made out of high quality thick plastic. You can actually tell when you hold it. The gimbal has a bit of a weight to it and it actually helps at keeping it steady. It also remains sturdy and you don’t need to worry about it bending. I’m really happy with its build quality. Zhiyun has done a fantastic job in my opinion. And if you haven’t gone through the technical specifications, then the gimbal has a dimension of 328×123×105 mm / 12.9×4.8×4.1″ and it weighs 547 g / 1.2 lbs.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Gimbal Design

So the Smooth 4 consists of two parts, the actual gimbal and the handle. The gimbal it self is specifically designed for smartphones. It even has an adjustable clamping mechanism for it. I really like that as it’s compatible with all smartphones. The mechanism does feel a bit strong but it won’t damage your phone. Zhiyun has even added thick rubber pads to the parts that go against your phone (even on the back). This is great as you need to take off the case when you use the gimbal.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Controller

The handle is the part where all the magic happens. It has all of the buttons and controls that you use for enabling different modes and making adjustments. You can pretty much do everything from the controller. Besides that, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is also pretty comfortable to hold. All of the buttons are positioned in a way that you never need to take your hands off it. You just use your thumb to access everything.

There is also an internal battery built into the handle. There’s a USB-C port for charging. There is also a MicroUSB port there as well that you can use to power your smartphone. It basically turns it into a power bank. Unfortunately the gimbal doesn’t come with a MicroUSB cable.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 In The Box

What it does come with is a USB-C cable and a small tripod! You can use this tripod to place the Smooth 4 gimbal onto the ground or a desk and not worry about it falling over. I really like that they have included it.

Performance

Gimbals are specifically designed to keep your videos stable and smooth. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 does exactly that and it does it really well. I have been using an iPhone 8 with it and I haven’t had any problems. Neither has it gone crazy on me and started flipping my phone. So overall I’m really happy with the stabilization part.

Here’s a video example of how well the stabilization works:

But that’s just the basic part about this gimbal. Zhiyun has also added a number of different modes to the Smooth 4 as well, all of which can be controlled directly from the handle. For example you can smoothly switch between the Pan Following Mode and Locking Mode. There is also a record button so you don’t need to even access your phone to start shooting. And that’s what I really like about having a handle with controls. I don’t physically need to use my phone to change any settings or modes. You can even use it to switch between the rear and selfie camera.

I also really like that there is a trigger on the back of the handle. It’s also one of the most talked about features on the Smooth 4. The trigger holds two modes that basically give you more flexibility. When you are holding down the bottom part of the trigger, then you can move the gimbal any way you want and it will follow. But it will do it smoothly. When you hold the upper part down, then it does the exact same thing but much more faster. Pressing the bottom trigger just once centers the gimbal.

You can even set the Zhiyun Smooth 4 into a portrait mode, which is excellent for taking selfies and recording stories.

If you take a look at the images, then you’ll also notice a large wheel on the left on the controller. This wheel can be used to zoom in and out but also to adjust the focus.

App & Compatibility

So to fully operate the gimbal you’ll need to enable Bluetooth and pair it with your phone. You’ll also need an app called ZY Play. It’s available for both Android (5.0 or higher) and iOS (9.0 or higher). The app it self is really user friendly and easy to use. You can use the scroll wheel and the central button on your handle to navigate through the settings. Pretty much everything can be accessed and adjusted through the app.

Now there are some compatibility issues that I want to go over. If you have an Apple iPhone then you won’t run into any troubles. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 works perfectly with the iOS devices as long as you have one of the following:

  • iPhone SE, iPhone 6 & Plus. iPhone 6S & Plus, iPhone 7 & Plus, iPhone 8 & Plus, iPhone X

For Android users. things are a bit more complicated. The Android app doesn’t currently have all of the functions enabled that iOS does. There are also some differences regarding phone models. Here is a list of smartphones that are most definitely compatible with the gimbal.

  • Google Pixel2 & XL, Google Pixel & XL, Google Nexus 6 & 6P, Google Nexus 5x
  • Samsung S9 & Plus, Samsung S8 & Plus, Samsung S7 & Edge, Samsung S6 & Edge, Samsung S5, Samsung Note8, Samsung Note7 (PS! The 4K function isn’t currently available on Samsung, only the S9 and S9+ models have it enabled)
  • Huawei P20 Pro, Huawei P10 & Plus, Huawei P9, Huawei Mate 10, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei Mate 8, Huawei Mate S
  • Oneplus 6, Oneplus 5, Oneplus 5T, Oneplus 3, Oneplus 3T
  • Xiaomi Mi 8, Xiaomi 7, Xiaomi 6, Xiaomi 5, Xiaomi 5S, Xiaomi 4, Redmi Note 4X. Redmi Note 3
  • LG G6, LG G5, Smartisan NUT Pro 2, Smartisan U1 Pro, Oppo Find X, Oppo R9S, Vivo X7, Vivo Nex

If your phone isn’t on the list then it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not compatible. If there is a certain function you most certainly want to use then I recommend contacting Zhiyun by sending them an email with the model of your phone. They can most certainly answer if your phone is compatible or not and what functions work with it. They are constantly updating the Android app so hopefully it will soon be as complete as the iOS version.

Battery Life

The gimbal does come with an internal battery that can’t be changed or taken out. It’s connected to a USB-C port that’s used for charging. Thankfully the package does include a USB-C to USB-A cable so you don’t need to worry about that. It takes around 3 hours to fully charge the device and the battery life mostly depends on the shooting modes. You should get anywhere between 10 to 12 hours of recording time.

Conclusion

It’s pretty hard to rate the Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal as it kind of depends on what type of phone you are using. I can say that it’s a fantastic video stabilizer with a lot of different functions and modes when you use an iPhone. I don’t really have any complaints about it.

Unfortunately it’s a bit different when you use an Android smartphone. I did also test it out with the Samsung S9 and it did work. There were some functions that didn’t work as well, such as the follow mode. But overall it did stabilize the camera and I’m really happy with that. So again, if you have an Android phone that’s not on the list or there’s a certain function that’s a must have for you, then most definitely contact Zhiyun before you buy it.

8 Total Score
Good!

Design
9
Build Quality
9.5
Performance
9
Modes
6
Battery Life
7.5
Compatibility
7
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