When it comes to travel essentials, there are none more important than your phone (your passport is strong competition though!).
And when it comes to essentials for your phone, travelers need three main fundamentals; a sturdy phone case, headphones (because the whole plane doesn’t need to hear the soundtrack to Bridgerton), and a gimbal.
A gimbal is a handheld device that allows your camera to rotate smoothly along an axis, so you can take smooth travel video (without the camera shake).
There are a million of them on the market, but only one which is truly worthwhile for travel.
The PowerVision S1 is a stylish and portable smartphone gimbal with easy magnetic mounting, AI tracking, gesture control for hands free recording, a built-in tripod, and a portable power bank with wireless phone charging, all packed into a compact device that fits in your pocket.
If you use your phone camera for travel photos and video, or take video calls when you’re abroad, the PowerVision S1 is a gamechanger. Here are 12 reasons you’ll love the world’s smallest smartphone gimbal.
12 Reasons Travelers Will Love the PowerVision S1 – World’s Smallest Smartphone Gimbal
#1 An Excellent Gimbal
The PowerVision S1 may be the world’s smallest gimbal, but it also offers the highest quality of build, design, functionality and features.
It’s small but mighty, and they haven’t cut any corners in making it compact.
A swiss army knife for mobile content, in that it’s also a tripod for your phone, a portable power bank, and a camera-man with its AI tracking, the S1 is first and foremost a gimbal. And it’s an excellent one at that.
They haven’t sacrificed on quality or design to pack it with other fancy features, and it can be used with any phone, regardless of whether you’re team Apple or Android.
So let’s look at the specs.
Specs of the PowerVision S1
- Folded Size: 141.5 × 58.4 × 27.9mm
- Unfolded Size: 258.5 × 58.4 × 59.3mm
- Weight: 298 grams
- Compatible devices: Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei.
- Compatible load weight: 220±60g
- Compatible phone length: up to 164 mm
- Battery life: 15 hours (charging time 2 hours)
- Charging: USB-C+ mobile phone wireless charging (10W output)
- Maximum control speed: 120°/
- Pan：+ 150°
- Tilt：+ 90°
- Roll：-214.8° – 96°
The gimbal is lightweight, and easy to hold; it’s a sleek rectangular shape with rounded corners which fits nicely in your hand, which is important as it also has a lot of uses as a selfie stick.
Important to note that the 3-axis arm is only balanced when the gimbal is turned on, so you do need to have it powered to achieve the firm phone hold.
With 15 hours of battery life, there’s no battery anxiety, but it is worth noting that if it’s not switched on, the axis swings as it’s not supported. So do charge it up before use!
Click Play for Video Recap
#2 Magnetic Ecosystem
The S1 is supported by an ecosystem of powered magnets, and the brilliance here is that you’re able to use features of the S1 app (like AI facial tracking), with your choice of magnetic mount, even if you’re not using the actual gimbal.
There are four ways to connect your phone to the S1, and the last two are accessories that can act separately of the physical gimbal, as independent phone mounts.
These attachments can be bought with the S1 as a combo pack, or are otherwise sold separately.
- Magnetic Phone Case
- Magnetic Phone Clamp
- Magnetic Universal Phone Mount
- Magnetic Car Mount
Attaches to your phone:
The magnetic phone case supports wireless charging and has a built-in two way stand. It has a leather-like comfortable grip, with corners and lens protection, and a magnet attachment on the back.
The phone case supports Apple iPhone: 11, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max or Samsung Galaxy: S20, S21, S21 Ultra. This is a great option because you leave it on your phone, and can attach instantly.
The Magnetic Phone Clamp is a phone clamp with a magnetic connection point on the back. It stretches enough to fit snugly around my large iPhone 13 pro, though I do need to remove my phone case.
I love that you can leave the clamp on your phone when it’s not attached, and whip it out for spontaneous attachments.
Once one of the above two are placed on your phone, you can clip it straight onto the magnet on the arm of the gimbal, or attach it to one of the other included accessories. The attachment is firm, and holds even my heavy iPhone:
Attaches to the case or clamp
The Magnetic Universal Phone Mount comes with the S1, and are two circular magnets you can place anywhere, on any surface, whether at home or in a hotel room, to attach your phone to a wall, a door, or any object. It offers unlimited freedom, the magnets clipping onto the phone case or clamp.
The Magnetic Car Mount then gives you two ways to conveniently place your phone inside your car, by either sticking to a surface like the dash, or attaching to an air vent with a grip.
The magnets keep your phone firmly attached while in use, but are easy to click on and off and detach to put back in your pocket.
#3 Inbuilt Tripod
There’s an inbuilt tripod at the base of the gimbal which you can pull out for a hands free experience, and set on any surface.
This creates a base for the gimbal to sit on, meaning you don’t have to physically hold it, and can enjoy freedom of movement when shooting video, or when taking video calls / conferences.
The aim here is more about allowing it to sit hands free, vs giving you a ton of height, but there’s a also a thread on the bottom of the gimbal, which means you can attach a larger pair of legs if you want to (Powervision sells a separate tripod attachment, though you can also attach your own).
The legs pull out from the base of the gimbal, and simply slide back inside the body once you’re done with them. Very easy, and the three points of contact offer a solid base for even heavy phones.
#4 Epic Magic Buttons
When it comes to hitting buttons and finding out what they do, the control panel on the front of the gimbal is a lot of fun to play with.
There’s a joystick that controls the pan and tilt of the gimbal, and if you double click it it resets the stabilizer to the center default position. If you press it three times it changes your camera from front to rear.
Double tap the power button, and the stabilizer changes the orientation of your phone, from portrait to landscape (hold the power button for 3 seconds to turn the gimbal on and off again).
There’s a record button which takes a photo or starts and stops your recording (with compatible phones).
And then once you’re recording, there’s also a zoom slider switch for smooth zooming in and out effects.
There’s definitely a higher learning curve trying to figure out the illustrations on the box as there is actually seeing / reading what each button and feature of the device can do.
#5 Cinematically Smooth Video
Click Play to See the Type of Footage it Shoots
Smartphones these days are capable of shooting cinematic quality video, though what usually gives you away are your shaking hands (mine do anyway!).
The 3-axis stabilizer allows you to shoot smooth and steady video, and compensates for any camera shake you would usually have shooting with your phone.
The 3-axis motor totally eliminates hand held imperfections giving you professional quality footage, which is perfect for travel vloggers, Instagram stories, Tik Tok videos, and just perfectionists taking travel footage for fun!
Even with a heavy phone like my iPhone 13 pro (weighs 204 grams), the motors perfectly balance the shot.
I will reiterate here though that the motors do need to be on for the arm to offer stabilization, and won’t work if the gimbal isn’t actually turned on. So make sure you’re fully charged!
#6 AI Tracking Technology
While the gimbal can work normally without the app, downloading the S1 PowerVision app means you can access facial recognition AI Tracking Technology.
What does this mean?
It means you can be standing in front of the camera, and operating it completely solo, and the facial recognition will continue to adjust the camera as you move around the room, following you so you’re always in the center of the shot.
It’s like carrying around a professional camera crew in your pocket!
There’s also object tracking, where you can draw a box around the object you want it to track within the app, and it will lock on and follow it seamlessly (perfect for product reviews or wildlife).
It keeps up nicely, even when you’re moving at quite a rapid pace. Obviously though, not even the best Instagram husband would be able to shoot you smoothly if you’re running around at a pace that’s faster than Usain Bolt, so keep this in mind if you find you’re moving too quickly.
This feature only works when your phone is attached to the gimbal, as it relies on the 3-axis stabilizing arm to move and adjust the camera angle; i.e. it won’t work if you’re trying to use it on your car mount, or universal phone mount.
#7 Power Follow
AI Tracking Technology is already very cool, but the S1’s Power Follow feature is next level tech, developed with genuine thought of how the experience can be more immersive.
Turn on Power Follow within the app, and this then allows the gimbal to continue to follow you even when using another app, like going live to Facebook or Instagram, or using your phone’s inbuilt camera app.
Keep the S1 app running in the background, log into Facebook or Instagram, and the AI tracking will continue to follow you.
It’s still just as fast an accurate even though the app itself is working in the background.
#8 Gesture Control
Filming gets even easier within the S1 app with gesture control; no more need to run up and hit a button to record or fuss around with timers, you can simply gesture to your phone to take photos, activate tracking, or record video.
Once you’ve downloaded the app and paired it with your phone, there are a range of triggers which can be made with hand gestures for a fully hands free experience.
To start face tracking, make a 5 finger open palm gesture, and it will lock a focus. To start recording, you can then make a two finger, closed palm, L shape gesture.
It starts and stops the recording from a distance, without needing to hit any buttons. You can do the same thing here for taking photos.
#9 Smart Editing App
The app also has smart editing built in, for being able to instantly share your videos and photos without needing to download them to a computer at home.
There are 5 shooting modes allowing you to shoot video, time-lapse, slow-motion, photo, and panorama, and you can also adjust your EV (exposure value), shutter speed, and ISO settings in manual mode.
It’s an incredibly intuitive app as it also recognizes all of the lenses your smartphone has, and allows you to switch between them.
#10 Great Battery Power
The S1 comes with 15 hours of battery life, which will well and truly keep you covered for a few days of use at a time (if not more if you’re not using the powerbank and wireless charger).
It can charge an iPhone 12 Pro Max to up to 60% and still has enough juice for 2.5h of gimbal time.
By the time you get back to the hotel at the end of the day, simply plugin to recharge. It takes 2 hours to fully recharge the battery via a USB-C port.
The battery works in 0 – 40℃ (and can charge in 5 – 40℃), meaning it doesn’t matter whether you travel into the desert or the snow, you’ll still have a working gimbal (and power station).
You can easily track how much battery capacity you’ve used with the status LEDs on the side of the gimbal’s control panel. Say goodbye to frustrating wires and enjoy extended battery life!
#11 Built-in Powerbank
All that battery power, and what to do with it!
The gimbal itself certainly doesn’t need 15.86Wh / 1030mAh 15.4V of energy, though what is incredibly useful is being able to tap all that extra power, as a pass-through wireless charging option for your smartphone.
The gimbal has a built-in power bank, which allows you to charge your smartphone, earbuds, or any wirelessly charging enabled device on the go.
You just put it on top of the S1 and it immediately begins charging, or for devices which aren’t enabled, you can charge it through a traditional USB cable.
The max charging power is 18W5V/3A 9V/2A 12V/1.5A, and the wireless output is 10W Max.
#12 Fits in Your Pocket
All of this; the 3 axis gimbal packed with features, the wireless charge bank, the built in tripod; it all fits into your pocket, in a device that is smaller that your mobile phone.
It’s a swiss army knife for mobile content!
The S1 is truly portable, and has been designed to be compact, with the 3-axis and tripod attachments folding down into itself, stored in the main body.
It’s all very easy to unfold and simply attach your phone with one click. And it’s then just as easy to pack back up again, so the whole thing fits comfortably in your pocket, making it super easy to travel with.
The S1 may be the world’s smallest smartphone gimbal, but don’t let its size fool you; powerful things come in small packages, case in point with the mini but mighty S1!
Discount Code S1 Gimbal
The S1 Gimbal comes in blue, green, or black with a rose gold accent.
It’s priced on the higher end of the market, but is well and truly value for money in the huge range of features you get for it.
DISCOUNT CODE: Use the discount code mappingmegan20 to get 20% off the PowerVision S1 – it’s valid until June 2023. Get the discount here.
Thank you to PowerVision for providing the S1 for review, and for providing a generous reader discount we can pass on to you.