Friday, May 24, 2024
Gadgets

AFARER phone gimbal review: Not for serious creators


Key Takeaways

  • Compact size and easy setup makes AFARER’s Desktop Gimbal convenient for beginners in content creation.
  • Poor motion tracking and limited features make it unsuitable for serious content creators or professionals.
  • While affordable and portable, the gimbal’s functionality is limited and may not be worth the investment for quality content creation.


A phone holder, mount or gimbal is an essential part of every content creator’s toolbox. Depending on what kind of content you’re shooting, and how serious you are about it, there are any number of features that are vital to success.

I tested out AFARER’s Desktop Gimbal with auto face tracking that’s been making the rounds on TikTok as a content creator’s best friend to see if it lives up to the viral hype. I won’t spoil it all right now, but I have bad news — it’s not designed for serious content creators or anyone making a living off video production. The relatively low cost along with its compact size and limited features make it more for those seeking convenience and fun. Let me explain.

Afarer phone holder with box

AFARER Desktop Gimbal Phone Holder

Not recommended

Pros

  • Compact
  • Easy to setup
  • Inexpensive
Cons

  • Poor motion tracking
  • Limited range
  • Lightweight

A recommended alternative

Belkin’s Auto-Tracking Stand Pro is a game changer in my creator journey

We went hands-on with an auto-rotating iPhone stand that follows you wherever you go, recording you along the way. It’s a ton of fun.

Afarer phone holder on table



Specs, availability, and pricing

Is this viral smart gimbal worth it?

As it’s made by an international seller, you’ll find the gimbal only on Amazon. Take note not to confuse it with similar models as it’s a common design (or maybe after reading this review, you will want to opt for something else). While I tested out the black model, which fit in fine with my array of black electronics, it is also available in white as well as pink.

This model does not come with any accessories, like a ring light or tripod, although there may be some bundles available if you go looking. It retails at $40, which as we will get into, feels a bit high for what you’re getting. If you find it on sale, there may be some value to be had.

AFARER Desktop Gimbal Phone Holder

Brand
AFARER

Connectivity
Bluetooth remote

Battery
1,200 mAh, 4-8 hours of use

Weight
0.36 pounds

Dimensions
3.3 x 3.3 x 8 inches

Mounts
Standard tripod mount

Power
USB-C

Sensor
Camera for monitoring motion in the base

Afarer phone holder without phoneSetting up the phone holder

Simple instructions and ready to go

The simplicity of design and use is a big selling point, especially for those who are only starting to play around with video production and content creation. The phone holder already had a charge out of the box, so I didn’t need to plug it in. It comes with a very short USB-C cable and one that I will likely never use, instead of subbing it out for something with a bit more length and practicality.


There is a small platform to be screwed into the base for support; this can be taken off if you want to attach to a compatible tripod (none is included). The small Bluetooth remote nestles within the base, easily snapping in and out. I flipped the tiny switch on the remote, and it paired quickly with my phone, and once I had my phone placed on the holder, I could easily take pictures and start and stop videos.

The phone locks into the holder with a bit of effort; there was a bit of concern the gripping sides might break as they are spring-loaded, so you need to pull them apart to fit in your phone. Once in, you can rotate the holder 45 degrees at a time, though you’re most likely to be using it to take portraits of landscapes.


Afarer phone holder outside with droidsMotion trackers pros and cons

Room for improvement

Things became a little tense when I started to play around with gestures and movement. I’m told there are two settings for the motion tracking: on and off. There’s a camera built into the base of the stand that watches for you to show it either an open palm to indicate motion tracking should be turned off, or an ‘okay’ sign, with your thumb and index finger touching, and your other three fingers raised, to start tracking. A button on the top of the base is meant to toggle these settings as well.

As far as movement goes, the camera does indeed move with you, just not consistently or smoothly or when you want it to.

I’m not sure if this is true. There was a lot of trial and error going on, and there’s only so many times I can gesture to a piece of technology that’s ignoring me before I need to give up and save some pride. By using a camera for motion tracking, you’re not forced to use a third-party app for recording video — you can use any app you want, which is a plus.


As far as movement goes, the camera does indeed move with you, just not consistently or smoothly or when you want it to. There is a bit of a lag when it does detect movement, and then the holder speedily moves, as if making up for lost time. It’s jerky and sudden, and will not be good for any kind of live video creation that’s meant to look good or professional. It easily lost me when I moved to the side, and if I had anything in my hand, it would often follow the item instead of my face.

Related

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Motion tracking is still a tricky technology to master, but there are plenty of holders that do it significantly better. For motion tracking, it does state that it should only work up to a distance of about five feet.

Its 360-degree turning feature does work well, however. You press a button on the base, and the holder will rotate the phone in a clockwise direction at a slow, natural pace. It’s hard for me to imagine a lot of situations where this feature will be necessary; it can definitely be fun, but I can’t believe that it’s the reason for purchasing it.


Afarer phone holder setup at desk with laptopPlease hold — hands-free stability works well

Minor conveniences do add up

What became the main draw for me was the simplest function it offered: literally holding my phone. I suppose that’s not a ringing endorsement, but I did find some value for it at my desk. When I’m multitasking at work (i.e. doing too many things at once and distracting myself), I find the holder pretty useful as an extension of my home office setup.

I’m not sure if it’s something I would set up all the time, but if I have a monitor hooked up to the wall at eye level, why not another screen just off to the side? Still, if the only thing you’re looking for is a phone holder to make use easier and to take selfies, there are cheaper and better options available.


Size and portability

A blessing and a curse

Perhaps the best part of the holder is its compact size and easy portability. When the arm is not extended, the whole gadget stands no more than six inches tall, making it easy to pack up and throw in a bag to take with you. Still, there are limitations.

Any modern phone is likely going to be too heavy to even attempt to try shooting from overhead.

You’re not going to be able to do overhead shots for a couple of reasons. The first is that the arm is too short: it doesn’t extend high or wide enough for you to view a big enough space underneath. To do so, you would have to attach a tripod of your own. But even then, you’d have to be careful.

While the arm bends beyond 90 degrees, my iPhone 13 Pro Max was too heavy to keep the base upright. Any modern phone is likely going to be too heavy to even attempt to try shooting from overhead. I couldn’t get more than 45 degrees before the entire unit started to wobble; you would need to put something on or against it to keep it upright.


Afarer phone holder next to DJI Osmo Mobile phone holderVerdict: Should creators stay away?

A TikTok swing and miss

If you’ve read this far, then you already know: The AFARER smartphone gimbal is a hard sell unless you find it at a low price. This sort of entry-level, budget-friendly design is pretty ubiquitous on Amazon from a variety of sellers. If you’re the least bit serious about creating quality content, it’s worth investing in something more reputable and feature-packed.

I highly recommend something from DJI; I have an Osmo Mobile. If you’re just playing around with pictures and video at home, or really need something to hold your phone by your desk, then you might find some value here, but even the things it does well seem either accidental or highly common.



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