The Autel Robotics X-Star drone is a new addition to the drone community and my main recommendation as a Phantom 3 Professional alternative. It's not only cheaper, but from my detailed analisys it has pretty much the same functions and overall quality.
Now, let's get on with this review and see exactly what this solid-looking quadcopter has in store for us.
What are the differences between
the X-Star and the X-Star Premium?
Both are pretty much the same drone with the Premium one having double the HD live feed range compared to standard one. Therefore the premium version goes up to 1.2 miles away.
The Premium version also has an included splash-proof hard case and a 64 gb SD card. If you want to see a side-by-side comparison of the two check out this comparison table made by the guys at Autel Robotics.
My recommendation is the Premium version because for $100 more you not only get an incredibly good carrying case (that can carry up to 5 batteries and all accessories) but also the increased range will be useful in many situations.
CAMERA - Can the X-star face the competition at this level?
There's no doubt that when I label something as "a phantom Killer", it has to have an amazing camera. And this time it really does the job incredibly well.
The video quality is so nice, in fact, that I would recommend this drone to anyone even compared to the main DJI Competitor, the Yuneec q500 4k.
The 4k camera installed (both on the standard and Premium versions) can record cristal clear videos that are impecably stabilized by a solid 3 axis gimbal.
It shoots video at a 108 degree FOV and can take very stable 12 mp stills. The video resolutions and FPS are as follows:
- 4k at 30 FPS
- 2.7k at 60 FPS
- 1080p at 120 FPS
- 720p at 240 FPS (this enables some incredible slow motion footage)
MODULAR DESIGN & DRONE FEATURES
A very nice thing to be noted about the Autel X-star drone is that the camera and gimbal comes off whenever needed, and that means it's replaceable.
The modular design also makes it a very upgradable piece of equipment in the future. That is if Autel Robotics decide to make a new upgraded camera in the future, or one with special capabilities like a thermal cam, you will be ready for an upgrade.
Not only that, but it also means you'll be able to easily change the most fragile piece of quipment on the entire drone (the gimbal and camera) without compromising the entire aircraft.
Speaking about fragile things like the gimbal, it reminded me that the drone itself has a very sturdy build with some very durable and high quality plastic.
Allthough it's pretty heavy, it can easily go above 20 minutes of flight time and even beyond, somewhat comparable to the Phantom 3.
- 4900 mAh SMART battery 14.8V 4s
- between 20 and 25 min of flight
- has a self-discharging cycle to maintain longevity
The charger it comes with has a very practical 2-way charging capability as it allows both chargin the drone battery itself and the controller at the same time.
A pretty big problem in the past was that chargers could get pretty hot after some usage time. This time, Autel installed a very useful cooling fan on top of the charger that actually keeps the temperature from raising too high.
With this charger, the stock battery can be charged from 0 to full in about 50 minutes to an hour or so.
The package comes with a set of quality spare props besides the standard ones.
Mounting them is pretty easy considering they have red and black markings for how they spin (clockwise for black and counter-clockwise for red) so that you don't mess things up and destroy the drone.
As much as flight stability goes, the drone does an impeccable job thanks to the great GPS. It also features GLONASS besides standard GPS, just like the Phantom 3 and 4 models do, so you know you always have satelites available.
A very notable feature of this transmitter is that the controller itself does a backup of the flight information (video) in case the app crashes or the cable to the phone/tablet disconnects.
The transmitter is one area where this drone shines compared to it's competition. I personally feel like this is the most comfortable controller I ever held and the phone/tablet grip is very strong indeed and doesn't shake when moving from side to side.
Something unique to this controller is the additional LCD display at the top that shows very important flight data, so it frees up more screen space on the flying app and makes flight safer in case of an error.
I know how difficult it is for many first time flyers to start with a drone considering these things are expensive and nobody really wants to break them (besides Casey Neistat).
Fortunately, this quadcopter has conectivity port that allows a second controller to be added and so a more experienced flyer can help guide a newbie through his first flights without having to pass on the controller.
Just like most other smart drones these days, there are quite a few automated modes that make life easier for any videographer or even average user.
Follow me mode
A standard follow me mode that we're used to seeing in the more advanced quadcopters on the market.
Very useful in open spaces or where you can fly the drone above the possible obstacles (like trees and such).
Perfect to be used when doing sports, driving with a car in an open area or when you can't pay attention to the remote.
The waypoints feature enables the user to either point to the waypoints on the map or draw a line to pick a set course.
The nicest thing about this mode is that you can both speed up or slow down the drone while it's flying toward a waypoint, and also move the camera to take shots without worrying about the flight pattern.
Point of interest
This is a standard setup to fly around a specific point or building, allowing for some very artistic and smooth shots.
First you need to select a point of interest on the map, then you are prompted to select the orbit radius (so you can hover around a larger area or building) and you even have an option to select the number of laps the X Star does around that spot.
Autel Robotics X-Star Drone vs DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Autel's Robotics X Star Premium is pretty much one of the best competitors for the infamous DJI Phantom 3 Professional at an even lower price (about $100 difference).
The only thing that could prove to be a problem with the X Star is that its indoor flight isn't as good as the P3's because it lacks the altitude sensors to keep it in place when GPS signal is not availible.
The advantage it has over it's competitor is that the Autel drone has a modular camera setting which means it's easily replaceable and upgradeable.
Here's a good side-by-side comparison between both drones footage
How do Amazon customers review it?
The best way to know about a product is to get as many honest reviews as possible, so I've decided to show you a few from Amazon to make up your mind:
I lol'ed hard at this one^
Here's a more useful question that I forgot to mention.
What are you waiting for?
If you got this far in the read, you must be convinced by now about how cool this Autel drone really is. So what are you waiting for?
How is customer support handled?
From my experience and many others online the customer support is excelent, they respond fast to calls and solve problems quicly with no questions asked.Here's a quick comment I found online that pretty much speaks for itself: