Insta360 Flow review

The Insta360 Flow is the 360 specialist’s first smartphone gimbal, with terrific AI subject tracking but also some design quirks

Insta360 Flow
(Image: © Rod Lawton)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Insta360 Flow packs a lot of stabilizing and tracking technology into a folding, pocket-sized gimbal that can be ready to use in moments. The AI subject tracking is next-level, but the vertical support can mess with the tilt axis range and the integrated tripod legs are narrow, flimsy, and springy. At last, though, here’s a smartphone gimbal actually designed for external microphones, with space to attach a cable to your phone and a cold shoe mount.


  • +

    Deep Track 3.0 subject tracking

  • +

    Integrated selfie stick

  • +

    Microphone cold shoe


  • -

    Tilt axis range issues

  • -

    Flimsy and springy tripod legs

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

There’s no shortage of smartphone gimbals to choose from and the Insta360 Flow faces established competition from DJI, Zhiyun, and Feiyutech. What it does have, though, is a couple of innovative features that could set it apart.

The best smartphone gimbals can stabilize your phone far more effectively than its own in-built stabilization system. Even the best camera phones can't replicate the movements of a gimbal. They don’t just stop shakes and jitters, they allow smooth panning motions, tilt-locking modes, horizon locking, subject-tracking, and more. They can make your smartphone footage look as if it was shot with professional filmmaking rigs.


Pan range: -230° to 100°
Roll range: -150° to 180°
Tilt range: -100° to 82° (see handling comments)
Supported phone weight: 130-300g
Charge time: 2hrs
Run time: 12hrs
Dimensions (folded): 79.6 x 162.1 x3 6mm
Dimensions (in use): 73.6 x 269.4 x 69.9mm
Weight: 369g + 32g for Magnetic Phone Clamp

Key features

The Insta360 Flow folds up small enough to fit in a coat pocket and a simple swivel movement sets it up for action in just a few seconds. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The phone clamp opens wide enough to hold a big phone like this iPhone 13 Pro Max, even in a case. It snaps on to the gimbal with a powerful magnet. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

In the base is a handle extension which opens out into a mini-tripod, though this feels flimsy. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

One key feature of the Insta360 Flow is its Deep Track 3.0 subject tracking. Smartphone gimbals work in conjunction with dedicated apps that allow subject recognition and tracking, but Insta360’s AI-powered tracking has Subject Re-Identification, Tracking Recovery, and All-Angle Tracking. 

If something blocks your subject, the tracking can find it again if the obstruction moves, or you move around it, it can find your subject again if it moves out of the frame for a moment, and it can continue to track a subject even as its shape changes when it turns, or you move around it.

Other smart features include an extendable selfie stick with an angled hinge on the end, an extending grip for more comfort, and pull-out tripod legs (more like feet) for placing the Flow on a flat surface. 

It has a 2900 mAh battery for 12 hours of run-time and which can also be used to charge your phone while filming, and a hot shoe mount under a clear plastic cover for attaching a microphone. A wireless receiver works best because a shotgun mic would rotate with the gimbal and often not point at your subject. 

You also get a quick and effective magnetic phone clamp, a molded rubber grip for the handle, and a clear storage pouch.

Build and handling

There's no LCD display but there is a clever all-in-one touch-sensitive controller for gimbal modes and camera settings. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Often, getting a gimbal set up is like wrestling with an octopus – but the Insta360 Flow is different. It packs down small enough to go in a coat pocket but unfolds in a single twisting action and is ready to use.

The spring-loaded phone clamp is slim but very secure, and its magnet snaps firmly on to the gimbal – though you have to check the locating lug is in the right position.

You can swap between horizontal and vertical shooting simply by physically rotating the phone by hand, and the controller on the Flow’s handle has buttons for swapping front and rear cameras, starting/stopping recording, and powering on and off. You can change modes by running a fingertip around the touch-sensitive disk around a central joystick and use a rotary dial around the outside for zooming.

The controls are very direct and very well thought out, and while there are on-screen controls to do the same job in the phone app, the gimbal’s controls are easier and mean you don’t have to tap on a delicately poised phone screen.

This hinge at the end of the extending selfie stick (not extended here) is designed for comfort and convenience, but you can see how the bottom edge of the phone is already up against the main gimbal support, restricting the available tilt movement. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

If you want the Pan Follow mode to work predictably with enough tilt movement to keep the horizon level, you need to switch to a side grip, which needs a bit of strength in the forearm. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

However, the Insta360 Flow’s clever and compact folding design does bring a problem, specifically in the Pan Follow mode. This is where both the tilt and roll axes are adjusted to keep your phone dead level. Or should be. 

The roll axis adjustment works fine, but if you’re using a regular vertical grip position, the tilt axis runs out of adjustment almost immediately if you tilt the gimbal forward for a lower angle or to get closer to your subject – both of which are perfectly natural gimbal movements. This pushes the phone’s angle downwards when it should be staying level (Pan Follow mode), and if you straighten up the gimbal again it doesn’t recover unless you re-center the gimbal (a double-click on the front trigger).

There is a solution – you can switch to a sideways grip which gives the tilt axis all the movement it needs for Pan Follow mode, though you will need some real strength in your forearm to keep this up for very long.

It’s a design compromise that comes about from the Insta360 Flow’s unique folding design, but you can’t help feeling it could have been anticipated, maybe with an on-screen alert or a pop-up suggesting you switch grips.

The only other less good feature is the rather flimsy-feeling handle extension and even flimsier fold-out tripod legs. If you do feel safe enough leaving your expensive phone wobbling on a tabletop it does do the job, but you’d be better off screwing the Flow’s base onto a proper tripod.


The inclusion of a cold shoe mount is perfect for external mics – ideally wireless mics, since shotgun mics will point with the gimbal, not the camera. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Insta360's Deep Track 3.0 subject tracking works brilliantly, and helps make up for some of the Insta360's design and handling limitations. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Insta360 Flow does have some handling issues, then, but there’s nothing wrong with its performance. Its stabilization is great and its movements are fluid. 

You can say the same about its rivals, but where the Flow really stands out is its subject tracking. It’s possible to fool any tracking system if you try hard enough, but in our tests, the Flow’s Deep Track 3.0 proved exceptionally ‘sticky’. Insta360 makes some of the best 360 cameras you can get, so we’d guess its experience in AI tracking and editing has come in useful here too.

It’s genuinely impressive how Deep Track 3.0 can find a subject again if something gets in the way, or if it momentarily leaves the frame, and keep on tracking a subject whose shape and scale are shifting with its position. We’re used to tracking systems that stay stuck on the subject until something happens and then give up, but this one has the ability to find your subject again even after it’s lost.


The transparent rear cover is a nice touch, showing you some of the Flow's internal workings. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Insta360 hasn’t got everything right with the Flow. The Pan Follow mode issues are pretty unforgivable, not because there’s no workaround (there is) but because there’s no warning. And while the extending handle and tripod feet are a great idea, they’re too cheap-feeling and flimsy to inspire any confidence. 

But the DeepTrack 3.0 subject tracking is really impressive, as is the folded size and the speed with which you can get the Flow ready for action. So while Insta360’s first smartphone gimbal isn’t perfect, its size, setup speed, and subject tracking might well make up for its handling issues.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at