A key part of our evaluation is testing out various flight modes, and putting the battery life to the test to see if it lives up to expected flight time and range. More advanced drones may have pilot assistance systems and the ability to perform advanced flight maneuvers, which is something we also test. If the drone includes a camera built-in we use it and evaluate the camera resolution, focus, tracking, frame rate, and other key features. Finally, we take a look at the price of the drone and compare its features to a competitor in the same range to make our final judgement. All of the drones we test are purchased by Lifewire; none are provided by the manufacturer.
The transmission range is 4.3 miles for 30 minutes and it offers a true 4K stabilized and smooth footage. Buttons are simple to access and users can command the drone to return home, including automatic take-off and landing, capturing photos, videos, etc. It can autonomously follow objects, thereby creating a box shape around the object. Cinematic shots are easy, where you just select the point that is to be shot and the drone flies a perfect circle around it. Automatic flight routes can also be set for surveying.
For the power system, it has Lumenier RX2206-11 2350Kv motors and Lumenier 30A BLHeli_S ESCs with DSHOT Multishot and all of the other high-speed communication protocols you need. The flight controller is a MPU6000, STM32F405 (what a mouth full!). Basically, it’s a clone of a flight controller called the REVO that originally cost over $100 to make and had a super fast F4 processor. The FPV system is nothing that will blow you away like on the Falcore drone. It’s just your standard 200mW 5.8GHz Raceband TX and 600TVL camera, but it gets the job done for pro pilots, so I guess we can’t complain!
Though you’ll occasionally find good drones for less than $100, most drones for sale tend to be fairly expensive. It all depends on the brand and model that you are buying, as well as the features, specifications, etc that are involved. For example, for a more high-tech, newer drone that incorporates more than ten features, you’re going to be looking at a price that’s closer to $1000 more often than not.
One fun little feature of this drone is it will do 3D flips and rolls 360° in all directions with just a push of the control. No experience necessary! Also it has a pretty good range at about 100 meters or 300 feet. It’s very sturdy too making it pretty forgiving of beginner pilot errors. The instruction manual can be a little hard to follow, and it can be a pain to remove the tiny little screw to replace the battery every 10 minutes, but overall this is a pretty nice drone for the price. It’s a bit more than some drones in it’s class, but well worth it based on their customer service reputation alone.
Our expert reviewer and tester evaluate drones on a number of factors. For starters, we examine the size and design, taking into account my many rotors the drone has, how portable it is, and if it comes with an included remote control or camera. Next, take it out to a park or wilderness area and test how easy it is to learn and fly. We pay attention to the learning curve of learning the control, and how much latency there is in video transmission (if the controller has such a feature). We also look at flight capabilities like omnidirectaonal sensing, obstacle avoidance, tracking, and automatic landing.
The Passport has a lot of the same features as the DJI Spark. You can turn it on, hold it up and launch it right from your hand. It will automatically recognize your face and start following you without using a controller. You can even make gestures telling it to take pictures. Camera wise, the Passport is technically better than the Spark since it does 4K and has a 13 megapixel camera, but we all know specs aren’t everything.
It is a bare-bones quadcopter that relies entirely on the skills of the pilot handling the remote. Controls are easy to use. It comes in a minimalistic design with a plastic frame and electronics placed in a small cavity at the center. It has a small battery-powered at 500 mAh. The camera is small and is connected by wires. It also has a micro-USB card for storing videos and images. The rotors are small at 5.25 cm diameter and made of plastic with a small screw locking it in place. You also get a spare set of rotors along with a small screwdriver. Buttons on the quadcopter can take photos, start and stop videos, flip and change the flight mode, etc.
The Typhoon H is the biggest competitor to the Phantom 4 we’ve seen so far. It’s a 6 rotor retractable landing gear beast of a drone, with a 360 degree gimbal (similar to the Inspire 1). What makes it similar to the Phantom 4? Well both drones get over 20 minutes of flight time, have obstacle avoidance, decent video quality and are in the same price range.
It does include a camera, although not the greatest quality but still fun to play around with. This drone, like many others also has a headless feature, but also features an altitude hold function or hover which is something most of the less expensive drones do not have. This is especially useful when trying to learn how to hover. FPV is not possible with the small LCD display on the controller but it does give you some vital information about the drone during flight.
With a reasonable flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 11 miles, you’ve got a lot to work with in terms of setting up your shot and creating sweeping artistic videography. While larger than some of the other drones reviewed here, it’s able to fold and should fit in a large backpack. It’s easy to control and fly, with accurate obstacle detection and top speeds of 45 mph.
With a price point starting just under $1500, the newly released Autel Evo II Series is a serious contender in the increasingly competitive foldable drone segment. The Autel Evo II Drones pack some serious hardware under their bright orange shells. With 40-minutes of flight time, it also has the longest flight time of any prosumer drone offered on the market.
To launch the drone and set up your shots, you just use your smartphone, or your Apple Watch. There are a few ways that the R1 can follow you. These flight modes are called Cinematic Skills (Follow, Lead, Orbit, Side, Tripod). Using follow will make the R1 follow you from behind. Lead will make the drone predict your direction and stay in front of you. Side stays to the side for panning shots. Tripod keeps the drone in one spot while looking at you like an automated tripod in the sky.
The flight time is only 22 minutes on one battery, which is a pretty good amount of time. It’s a pretty big drone, though, weighing in at 21 points, so it’s definitely not a toy. Unfortunately, a lot of people have had issues with dead batteries being sent. Some have had issues reaching DJI and have even been asked to send them a proof video. If you receive a faulty battery that is dead on arrival and will not charge, ensure you contact them straight away for a replacement.