Autel Robotics Drone EVO Customers Reviews - Evo has the best camera on the smallest drone
How's Autel EVO Drone?
The Autel Evo is an impressive drone that takes fantastic videos & pictures. EVO is released in 2018. It's very easy to fly with its excellent controller & safety features, flight is stable & smooth, and comes with many cool flight modes. The fit-and-finish is excellent ensuring long-term durability. The Autel Robotics EVO is a very solid small drone with strong battery life, a stabilized 4K camera, and an obstacle detection system. Autel has created a very compelling & quality drone and app ecosystem.
Autel EVO Drone Pros & Cons:
Good-looking & Foldable design with nice colors.
Quick & responsive flyer.
Easy to control.
Remote is well-designed & has a 330-nit 3.3" OLED screen.
Can fly without a smartphone & still have a live video feed.
UHD 4K video at 60FPS looks stunning.
3-axis stabilized gimbal = stable videos and pictures.
Obstacle avoidance (front, rear, & below).
Comes with a nice carrying case.
"Intelligent Flight" modes are cool, such as Dynamic Track and Orbit.
No "No-Fly Zone" restrictions & forced firmware updates.
Charger charges the drone & the controller at the same time.
No privacy & security scandals like Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) drones.
The drone is a bit sensitive to magnetic interference.
No automatic obstacle avoidance function when flying in reverse (just a warning).
Too easy to accidentally press the buttons on the back of the controller.
1. Foldable & Durable Design
I think Autel EVO looks really cool with its striking colors of bright orange with matte black which make it a heck of a lot more eye-catching than most drone designs. Build-quality & build-material of the EVO are top-notch as well. The drone has been constructed with tight tolerances & all the seams and lines are clean and even. In other words, it has excellent fit-and-finish in a durable package.
The aircraft features a folding design. With its arms folded against the body, it measures in at about 5.5 by 5.5 by 10.0 inches (HWD). That means you can find space for it in your existing camera bag—it takes up about the same amount as a typical 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom and adds about two pounds of weight to your pack.
2. Flying Without a Smartphone
The included remote control is quite nice. It's compact, with a clip to hold your phone at its top, handgrips that swing out and to the bottom, and a full-color display. There are wheels to adjust exposure and camera tilt, buttons to snap images and start or stop video clips, two programmable rear controls, and dedicated controls for takeoff and landing, as well as for return-to-home. There's also a Pause button, which will stop the EVO and hover in place.
The remote's color screen doesn't just show telemetry data, battery life, and other sundry features. With a press of the Display button, it switches to show a live feed from the EVO's camera. Unlike most competing models, you can fly it without having to attach a smartphone and still see the view from the camera. The 3.3-inch display isn't huge and doesn't support touch input, so you'll need to navigate through settings using the physical controls—the right wheel is used to scroll through menus and doubles as a button to confirm any changes you make to settings.
You can access and adjust basic settings—video resolution, frame rate, image file format, maximum flight altitude and geofence settings, and the like—using the remote. But for more advanced settings, including access to different video profiles, automated shot modes, and subject tracking, you'll still need to attach a phone. The EVO does remember which video profile you've chosen, though, so you can make those configuration changes once with the phone app and they'll still be applied when flying with the remote control only.
3. Video & Photo Quality
I was very happy with the video quality in general—there's plenty of resolution to show crisp detail, and colors look great. I've never before seen such high-quality, well-stabilized, and splendid video from any of my tech gadgets & toys. Auto-exposure & white balance are handled very well & 4K 60FPS is simply awesome.
But I have one big complaint—the default profile applies way too much sharpening to footage, giving it an unnatural look. Thankfully you can dial back the sharpening using the app, either by manually fine-tuning the default color profile or switching to the Film mode, which is no different from the default, but with sharpening turned all the way down. It's the first thing I'd recommend EVO buyers do when setting up the drone.
There are a couple of other things to watch out for, too. I had to manually dial in a bit of gimbal roll adjustment in order to straighten out my horizon during one test flight, and propellers can enter the frame when flying forward, even with the top speed throttled to 22mph by the obstacle sensors.
There are a number of frame rates available. I shot my test footage at 24fps, as I prefer a cinematic look, but you can also choose 30fps for a video look, 48fps for cinematic slow-motion, and 60fps for traditional half-speed playback. You're also able to shoot at 2.7K resolution at any of those frame rates, at 1080p (2K) up to 120fps, and 720p as quickly as 240fps.
4. Obstacle Detection
Obstacle detection sensors are located at the nose and tail. The forward sensors do cut the top speed to 22mph when enabled—the drone can fly as quickly as 44mph when they're turned off. They can stop the drone from crashing, though—the EVO stops in its tracks when it senses an obstruction in its flight path. Flight speed is similar to the DJI Mavic Air, which also tops out around 22mph when its obstacle sensors are enabled.
Rear sensors are included too, although they won't prevent you from backing the drone into a tree during manual flight. Both sets of sensors are used when the drone is set to track a moving subject—you just need to draw a box around your target using the control app. There are no top, bottom, or side sensors available, so automated tracking is limited to forward and backward motion.
5. Explorer App & Intelligent Flight Modes
The Autel Explorer app is well-designed, comprehensive, and simple to use. Besides granting the user access to ALL the drone settings & the special Flight Modes, firmware updates are handled here as well.
Inside Settings, there are 8 main entries on the left column & inside the "Intelligent Flight" menu, there are 6 modes to choose from - Camera (default startup mode), Dynamic Track (Evo follows a subject), Viewpoint (Evo flies toward a subject), Orbit (Evo flies in a circular pattern around a subject), Waypoint (Evo flies a predefined flight path), and VR (Virtual Reality goggles).
I had lots of fun playing around with all the special flight modes (except for VR) & they all worked very well as intended. My favorite one is Dynamic Track, which I used often to chase around my hyper toddler.
6. About Battery Life
Battery life is quite good, though not as good as the 30 minutes advertised by Autel. In real-world flight conditions, I averaged about 26 minutes per flight. That's right up there with competitors, though—the DJI Mavic 2 gets about 27 minutes and the Parrot Anafi about 25 minutes. Market sell additional EVO batteries for from $76 -$85.
7. No "No-Fly Zone" Restrictions
Autel isn't as authoritative with enforcing safety features as DJI. This can be appealing to pilots who are aware of regulations, but it can also be dangerous for uneducated pilots. So, while it is possible to fly the EVO as high as 2,600 feet above ground level, you should take care to limit yourself to a 400-foot altitude—the default, and legal limit in the US.
If you’re a responsible flier, this is certainly a huge plus and I’m all for responsible flying, but as an owner of 3 DJI models, I will say all the updates, all the geo fencing red tape can get annoying. I fly according to the rules, but they do get more and more constricting overtime, which makes the lack of that red tape on this model liberating.
There is also a geofence, which can be set from about 100 feet all the way through 1,640 feet. When enabled, the drone won't fly farther away from the launch point than the set limit. It can certainly serve to keep you out of trouble, although you should remember that you're required to keep a drone within visual line of sight when flying in the US.
8. The Price for the Quality is Worth It
I do believe as an overall drone model, this could be slightly better (more flight time, better range). But for such a price, I think EVO has the best camera on the smallest drone.