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Just as smartphones have become increasingly capable pocket cameras, smartphone gimbals have evolved quite a bit over the years, moving beyond merely stabilizing your videos to becoming smart robots that do the shooting for you. Even so, recent models have been a bit stagnant, leaving many asking if they’re just repackaged versions of the previous generation.

In comes the new Insta360 Flow, the company’s first run at a smartphone gimbal and a clear contender to the DJI OM6. While there are some compromises and first-generation bugs to work out, it’s packing some smart new features for its target market of vloggers and content creators.

Source: Insta360
Insta360 Flow

As Insta360's first smartphone gimbal, the Flow does a lot right, going toe-to-toe with options like the DJI OM6. Its tilt range could be better, though, and not all Android phones get access to all features.

Selfie Stick
Extends 215mm
Maximum Payload
Gimbal: ~369g (13oz), Magnetic Phone Clamp: ~32g (1.1oz)
Charging Time
2 hours (10W)
Up to 12 hours
Tilt Mechanical Range
-100° to 82°
Roll Mechanical Range
-150° to 180°
Pan Mechanical Range
-230° to 100°
Max Phone Thickness
Max Phone Width
  • Great face and object tracking
  • Easy and compact folding design
  • Intuitive and feature-rich app
  • Scattered compatibility issues on Android phones
  • Very limited tilt angles

Price and availability

Insta360 offers the Flow in three bundles, starting at $159 for the Standalone Kit with the gimbal and phone clamp, rubber grip, cloth carrying bag, and a USB C-to-A cable. The Pro Tripod Kit for $193 is identical, but adds a detachable mini-tripod.

The Creator Kit is the most expensive at $209, and swaps out the cloth carrying bag for a sturdier plastic pouch and shoulder strap. It also adds a small detachable spotlight and two more cables for charging a phone from the gimbal: C-to-C and C-to-Lightning.

The Insta360 Flow is available directly from Insta360’s site and most major online retailers.

Design and hardware


At first glance, the Insta360 Flow looks like any other smartphone gimbal, and it certainly borrows many features from the competition; but it makes a lot of small and impactful improvements that really add up.

The body folds on a single pivot that separates the handle from the stabilizer arm. It takes a simple 180 degrees twist to fold or unfold, which is far smoother than many gimbals that require carefully lining up parts each time.

A unique addition to the Flow is a set of small tripod legs that tuck neatly into the bottom of the handle, mostly eliminating the need to carry around a separate tripod. However, the legs aren’t very long or rigid, so they’re not entirely reliable on uneven surfaces or in wind. There’s still a standard ¼-20 mount for larger tripods, if needed. The handle also has the now common telescoping “selfie stick” that extends to just over eight inches.

The handle is a little on the short side for anybody with large hands, and while Insta360 includes a separate rubber grip that does feel more comfortable, it doesn’t add any length. In theory, the tripod legs should act as an extension, but they slide back into the handle a little too easily for that. I also find my hand straining to hold the gimbal for longer sessions because all the weight is distributed far out in front.

The circular control panel includes a thumbstick in the middle of a classic iPod-style click wheel. It’s even touch-sensitive for changing gimbal modes with a swipe across the top — though I recommend reconfiguring this to use soft double-taps on the left and right side instead. A jog wheel surrounds the outer rim to control zoom or focus, and there’s a trigger on the rear for activating object tracking, centering orientation, and so on.

The longest segment of the gimbal arm holds the battery and electronics behind translucent plastic. It looks good on close inspection, but there’s also a slot for paper inserts if you want to add your own art. There’s also a small door covering a plastic shoe mount that’s great for attaching accessories like a wireless microphone receiver.

App and features


The Insta360 app is one of the better companion apps I’ve ever used — setting aside some occasional missing language translations. It loads pretty quickly and offers plenty of features, but remains easy to navigate. Just like every app for gimbals and action cameras, there is a mini social network built in, but it’s easy to ignore if you want to go straight to the camera.

All the usual modes are here, including: Panoramic, Timelapse, Time Shift (a.k.a. Hyperlapse), and Dolly Zoom. Gesture activation is also available, along with beauty filters. There’s also a story mode, branded Shot Genie, that directs you through making your own multi-shot scenes by demonstrating where to place the camera to capture the best angles, then it stitches everything together for quick B-roll sequences. There’s also an Auto Editing feature in the camera roll where you pick several shots to have them automatically cut together with music.

The Flow’s big headlining feature is subject tracking, branded Deep Track 3.0. At first, it seems to merely match other tracking technologies, but it’s also smart enough to resume tracking subjects that have been previously obstructed or lost. It can also track while recording in slow motion.

Insta360 seems to be experimenting with custom tracking scenarios with a custom Hoops Mode, aimed at basketball players. It keeps the ball framed and in focus, and only records the scoring shots for a set of highlights. There is also a Live Mode designed to assist video calling apps, which keeps the phone pointed at you wherever you move.

Unfortunately, many of these features have hit-and-miss compatibility with phones, and all Android phones are currently missing manual exposure controls. Insta360 attributes the mixed support to vendor-specific implementations, and claims some of the gaps will be filled in future app updates, but it’s impossible to know which features will make it to which phones.


Like every modern stabilizer, the Insta360 Flow does an excellent job of eliminating shakes from walking and running — significantly better than what your phone can do on its own. It even seems slightly better than most gimbals at finding and maintaining a perfectly level horizon.

The one undeniable problem is in the arm design, which limits downward tilt to about 35 degrees, and just 20 degrees for upward tilt. This is a side effect of making a compromise between keeping the gimbal small and compact, while also designing the arm to hug the back of the phone to avoid appearing within view of ultrawide cameras. Unfortunately, it's a common problem for most smartphone gimbals and there’s really no perfect solution, but the Flow has less range than most competitors.

In practice, a limited tilt range is little more than a mild nuisance to most users, and may not even be noticeable. However, this is likely a dealbreaker for anybody that needs advanced gimbal moves, like a rising push-in or raising it from underslung to upright position. Put simply, it's better for social media and casual users, but probably not for aspiring moviemakers.

Battery life


Insta360 says battery life can last up to twelve hours under ideal conditions. I didn’t try to use it for 12 hours straight, or record usage across consecutive sessions, but my battery level never fell below 50%, even after several sessions without charging.

Since the battery life is pretty good, it means the gimbal is also a reliable source for extra power to charge your phone.


While there are plenty of unknown or knock-off smartphone gimbals, two brands have been the standing market leaders for years: DJI and Zhiyun.

It’s clear from the $159 price tag and nearly identical features that the Insta360 Flow was designed to compete directly with DJI’s current model, the OM6. The Flow boasts better subject tracking and a better app experience (and it’s available from the Play Store, unlike DJI’s Mimo app). However, the OM6 holds some advantages in range of motion, an arguably better control panel, and fewer compatibility gaps across phones.

Zhiyun doesn’t make a “one size fits all” gimbal, instead choosing to make several models tailored for semi-specific uses. However, the Smooth-Q4 is the most similar to the Flow and OM6, and it’s priced at just $119. The physical design and app don’t feel as polished, but the breadth of features, performance, and ease of use are all very comparable.

Should you buy it?


Insta360’s first smartphone gimbal really is coming out of the gate strong as it’s immediately challenging the dominance of DJI’s latest gimbal. It’s clear from looking at the Flow that it’s designed to solve some of the typical challenges that come with using a smartphone on a gimbal.

However, it’s not a perfect gimbal. I am frustrated by the limited tilt range, and it’s disheartening to see missing features — which are blamed on Android — despite other companies supporting the same things for years on a wider range of phones. But if these issues aren’t dealbreakers, and they likely aren’t for most people, then all the qualities baked into the Flow will make it one of the best gimbals to get right now.

Source: Insta360
Insta360 Flow

As Insta360's first smartphone gimbal, the Flow does a lot right, going toe-to-toe with options like the DJI OM6. Its tilt range could be better, though, and not all Android phones get access to all features.