Exploring the Murky Concept of 'Shot on a Smartphone' Commercials

We've all seen those inspiring commercials which claim to have been shot entirely on a smartphone. While technically they were captured with the device they are trying to sell to you, it is often with some heavy equipment adaptation which has always felt a little fraudulent to me, even if they do mention it in the small print which no one reads.

Marques Brownlee over on his YouTube channel shows us some of the additional gear these high-end commercials are using to vastly improve the footage they are capturing with a smartphone. Not only are these setups a little overkill for most of us, but the additional cost of the extra items you will need to achieve the "Shot on a Smartphone" look will easily involve selling a kidney or two.

Thankfully Brownlee goes on to show how us mere mortals can help maximize the smartphone cameras we have with much more affordable and convenient add-ons. In the lens department, we see how the Moment V2 lenses and case system can dramatically transform your phone's field of view and focal length with various bolt-on lenses. For stabilization, we see the equally impressive DJI Osmo Mobile which is a smartphone gimbal that gives smooth panning and tilting capabilities as well as smoothing out and stabilizing all the telltale signs of shaky handheld camera footage.

A combination of these two items will really help to up your game when it comes to capturing smartphone footage. If this is something you're just getting into and you haven't worked out what you'll do with your new and improved videos after shooting them, it may be worth looking at the free video editor I just reviewed. Not only will these products dramatically improve your footage all round, they will allow you to keep those kidneys for more important things like the new iPhone 8.

Log in or register to post comments


Yeah, advertising is almost always misleading it seems like. I remember some early smartphone camera (I want to say it was a Nokia Lumia 1020 or something?) where they said it was shot on it and there was a reflection that showed it was a huge pro rig and they were just totally lying. I never look at sample footage / images from the company selling it, I look for real world usage samples.

Paul Adshead's picture

Thankfully the internet makes it easier to hunt out this stuff. The saying "if it's too good to be true, then it probably is" still rings true...

BTW Moondog sells a Osmo mobile counterweight! So you can use the Osmo with Moment lenses or other accessories.

Paul Adshead's picture

Perfect solution thanks Josh! The video should have done this too..

Jon Wolding's picture

Not ALL of the footage shot in the "Shot on iPhone" spots employ "Additional equipment and software".

In fact, my non-produced, handheld iPhone 5s footage made it into the latest "Earth - Shot on iPhone" commercial. 0:32 - footage of sea gulls ("Jon W.").