Hands on: DJI Osmo 2 review

This is going to take camera stabilizers mainstream

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Our Early Verdict

The DJI Osmo 2 is lighter and cheaper, and despite all of that is a way better smartphone camera stabilization gimbal compared to everything else we've tested. It's using AI to track subjects and is even ready for the Instagram Stories and Snapchat generation with a new portrait mode.

For

  • Lighter in every way – including price
  • New portrait-orientation mode
  • Smarter subject tracking

Against

  • Have to physically switch orientation
  • Bluetooth can be wonky at times
  • MicroUSB port instead of USB C

The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is the popular drone company's most refined gimbal for smartphone cameras, enough that it could take camera stabilizers mainstream.

It's the DJI Osmo Mobile sequel launching with simpler controls, smarter stabilization options and, most importantly, at a cheaper price of $129 (about £95, AU$164). 

The previous version? Yeah, that launched for $299 (about £220, AU$379). At this price, it's worth considering an upgrade, even if you have the old one. There's enough here.

The Osmo Mobile 2 is also a big upgrade in design. It's made of high-strength Nylon, which is lighter than the plastic and magnesium base of the previous gimbal. DJI has also modified the handle to be more ergonomic to your hand. That's ideal for long recording sessions. On the bottom is a 1/4 standard accessory mount for easily popping this thing on a camera tripod.

Use Snapchat? No. Okay, how about Instagram Stories? Well, then you're luck. DJI has built Osmo Mobile 2 with the 'Stories' generation in mind. You can keep the phone locked to portrait-orientation mode through the gimbal holder. However, it has to be done physically by turning a knob on the back. There's no on-the-fly button to change between the two orientation modes.

Everything else about the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is simpler thanks to the fact that there are fewer needless controls – some buttons double up on functions, like the power button and the mode switching button. There is a new digital zoom switch on the side of the gimbal wand, however. The limitation to this is that, so far, we've found that it's all limited to DJI's Go camera app.

DJI is touting that its new gimbal has artificial intelligence – like everything else on the CES show floor. In this case, it uses AI for tracking subjects with a feature called Active Track. DJI has also added Hyperlapse in addition to its returning motion lapse, panoramic and light trail modes.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 battery life has been extended from four to five hours to a whole 15 hours. Its internal battery is three times better than before. You can hot swap it out, but there is a new battery level indicator we really got use out of. The gimbal can also help charge your phone through its microUSB port (which is where you also charge the device). Sorry, no USB-C in this generation of the gimbal.

Early verdict

The DJI Osmo may be the most 2.0 product we've seen as CES 2018. It's better than the original in every way – price, weight, smart stabilization controls, battery life and adapting to the Stories portrait-mode generation.

It's so much of an improvement and such a drop in price that it's the rare case in which we'd recommend upgrading even if you have the old one. It goes on sale in February 2018, but there'll be an exclusive pre-sale on January 23, 2018 through the Apple Store initially.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2018 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.