Hohem iSteady Q
- Four different operating modes.
- Modular, removable remote.
- Excellent build quality and stabilization performance.
- Multiple smart app features.
- Very affordable.
- Initial setup can be confusing.
- Inadequate battery protection features.
If you want to promote yourself, your business, or your brand, social media is key. And depending on what you’re doing, video is liable to be a part of your strategy. But video is both harder and easier to do than ever before. On the one hand, we have so much more capability at our fingertips than in the past. On the other hand, people have come to expect higher quality. Gone are the days when you could film a grainy video in your basement and become an influencer. If you’re not putting out high-quality content, people are going to be unimpressed. To get the best videos, you need the right equipment.
In this regard, many people put a lot of focus on smartphones. And it’s true, there’s a big difference between the camera on the iPhone 13 than on a cheap TracFone. But a good phone camera is only part of the equation. If you’re in motion, your video is going to be shaky unless you have a gimbal to keep it stable. If you’re filming yourself, you might also want a tracking mount that can stay pointed at your face. For presentations, a tripod is an essential way to keep your phone stable and level. And of course, no influencer’s toolkit would be complete without their trusty selfie stick. That’s a whole lot of equipment. But what if you could get all of those things in one package?
The Hohem iSteady Q is a unique, all-in-one tool for mounting and pointing your camera. It’s a motorized gimbal that keeps your phone level for smooth action shots. It’s a tripod for presentations, and it can track and recognize your face. The handle even telescopes into a nifty selfie stick. But how well is it actually designed? How do you control it, and how long does the battery last? To find out whether the iSteady Q is worth the investment, we’ll have to consider many different factors. We’ll have to talk about how you control the various functions. We’ll have to look at the AI features, and the motion stabilization. After we’ve gone over the entire package, we’ll be ready to sum up what we’ve learned. Let’s begin!
Design & Construction
The Hohem iSteady Q is available in white or black plastic, with some aluminum parts. It’s not exactly military-grade, but it’s reasonably tough, and it’s also affordable. The design is collapsible, so it’s easy to transport. When fully closed up, it measures just 5.51 inches long, 2.13 inches thick, and 1.42 inches wide. And at less than half a pound, it’s very lightweight and easy to carry.
So far, so good. But what happens when you open it up? The first thing you’ll notice is the phone mounting clamp. This is used no matter what configuration you’re using the device in, since it’s necessary to hold your phone. It’s capable of securing pretty much any modern phone, including any Samsung or iPhone. It can actually be used in two different ways. First, the clamps can be opened wide, and because they’re spring-loaded, they’ll pull tight to your phone. They’ve got rubber pads on the inside, so you don’t have to worry about your case getting scratched. The clamps are also slotted, so you can pop your phone into the slots. This is no good for action shots, but it’s useful for some tabletop applications. The base of the clamp plays host to the power button, along with a few small indicator lights.
In its most basic application, as a gimbal grip, you simply hold onto the handle and point the camera. The base of the clamp is mounted, so it can rotate 360 degrees. It’s also motorized, so it can hold your phone at the right angle as you move around. Inside of the handle is a telescoping aluminum rod, which can extend to a length of 19.6 inches. That way, you can use the mount as a selfie stick. The clamp’s mounting bracket can rotate 180 degrees, to point the camera directly at you. And with the motorized clamp, you can easily switch between portrait and landscape mode.
The handle is actually three-sided, and the three sides are hinged about two thirds of the way up. When opened, they form the base of a tripod. There are even little rubber feet that keep it from sliding around. If you want to do motion tracking, you can put the phone in two positions. If it’s between the clamps, it can be rotated on its vertical axis. It can also pan 360 degrees. If it’s in the slots in the clamps, it won’t be able to rotate. But it will be able to pan around the room and pivot 180 degrees up and down. If this sounds a little confusing, it is at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that this is a very versatile little tripod.
In addition to the app controls, you’ll also have a built-in modular remote. It fits in a slot in the top of the handle, so you can operate it with your thumb. If you’re using the iSteady Q as a tripod, you can remove the remote, and use it from up to 33 feet away. There are buttons for zooming, for stopping and starting recording, and for taking snapshots. You can zoom in and out, or pan around the room. You can even use a single button to switch between portrait and landscape modes. The remote uses a watch battery, and should last for months of normal use. To save battery life, it has a little black switch on the top. You’ll need to flip this switch to use the remote, and turn it off when you’re done.
As we mentioned, this is reasonably robust but not bulletproof. If you want a more durable gimbal for extreme action shots, check out the Hohem iSteady Pro 2. It’s made from a more durable polymer and has a longer-lasting battery. On the downside, there are fewer app features. And the iSteady Q is still covered by Hohem’s 12-month warranty, so you’re protected from any defects.
Operation & Ease of Use
So, how do you use the iSteady Q? It all depends on what mode you’re using it in. Let’s start with the most basic function, the gimbal mode. This is used for taking shots while you’re walking or running. It’s also used if you’re filming another person and want to move the camera freely. In this mode, you’ll have a few different options. First, you can lock your phone into a portrait or landscape configuration. As you move around, the motors will automatically keep the camera level. Meanwhile, they will also compensate for any vibrations. Alternatively, you can lock the bracket in place, and point the camera any direction you want. This is necessary for any shot that isn’t on a level plane, and you’ll still get motion stabilization.
When you’re using the iSteady Q as a selfie stick, it’s a little bit different. Because you’re going to want to aim your phone manually, there’s no automatic leveling. But you still get the benefit of motion stabilization, for smooth shots that don’t shake.
The tripod mode is the most straightforward. You simply set up the tripod, and put your phone in portrait or landscape configuration. That’s really all there is to it. However, you can also activate the motion tracking function. This will follow you around the room, so you can move around without wandering out of frame. You can also get some basic motion controls. For example, you can flash a “v” sign at the camera to start recording.
To use the motion tracking function and motion controls, you’ll need to stall the Hohem Joy App. This app is free on iOS and Android, and easy to install. In addition to motion controls, you’ll get a number of other benefits. You can take a time lapse video, or take a 360-degree panoramic shot. You can even simulate a dolly zoom, which is a pretty neat effect.
If you want even more features for selfies and motion controls, consider the Zhiyun Tech Smooth XS Smartphone Gimbal. It has a ton of features for filming yourself, which makes it a perfect choice for streamers. Then again, it’s not really an action cam.
Running Time & Charging
The iSteady Q has a battery capacity of 460mAh, which is sufficient for three hours of continuous use. This is only a rough estimate, since a lot depends on how you’re using it. There’s a special, power-saving mode that will deactivate the motors and more than triple your battery life. In this mode, it won’t stabilize or rotate your phone, but you can still use the remote control.
Charging takes only 45 minutes using the included USB to USB Type-C power cord. That said, you have to be careful about what kind of charger you plug it into. In a normal, 5V/2.4V USB port, it will charge just fine. But you don’t want to use any high-powered QC ports. If the battery gets a charge of more than 20 watts, it can be permanently damaged. This was a bit disappointing, since a halfway-decent BMS system would protect against over-voltage.
If you need more battery life, take a look at the Hohem Mobile Plus. It has a battery life of up to 12 hours, and can even function as a power bank. It also has more action functions. On the other hand, it’s not extendable, and it’s twice as expensive.
The Hohem iSteady Q is one of the most versatile smartphone gimbals around. It has so many applications that you might never need another stand, gimbal, or selfie stick. The brushless motors are nice and quiet, and the motion stabilization is very effective. We also liked the modular remote, which makes everything very easy to use. All in all, this is a fantastic value.