Around a year and a half ago, Skydio blew my mind. The then-unknown company presented the R1 drone to the planet, and it had been quite special. Typically, follow features and obstacle avoidance aren’t very effective, or only add certain modes (i.e. with compromises). Skydio’s R1 put these features front and center, and it did them incredibly well. But there have been still caveats. The R1 was prohibitively expensive ($2,499 at launch), large, clunky and limited in what it could do beyond all that following and obstacle avoiding.

Enter the Skydio 2, the company’s second combat a drone. It’s cheaper, smaller and far more versatile. The hope is that it’ll be the much-needed DJI rival we deserve, and i am excited about it enough to mention right here that it’s. But, and yes there are some buts, it still has some edges that require smoothing out. I’ll get to those in blast, except for now, let’s start with the positives.

Cons
Video link might be more stable
Batteries got to be charged on the drone (or with an accessory)
While the camera is capable there are fewer pro features
Summary
Skydio’s second drone dramatically improves upon its predecessor in every way that matters — price, size and flexibility. The AI obstacle avoidance and follow features are improved, the drone is quicker and battery life is longer. But, to urge the complete experience, you’ll got to pay a minimum of $149 more for one among the controllers. The Skydio 2 does still have room for improvement. The video connection might be more robust, charging batteries on the drone is a smaller amount than ideal, and therefore the camera isn’t as competent as those found on DJI’s drones at an equivalent price.

As i discussed in my original hands-on, at 10.7 by 8.7 by 3 inches the Skydio 2 is far smaller than the R1 (13 x 16-inches). It doesn’t fold down like most DJI drones, but it’s sufficiently small to slip into any backpack, and there is a tough carry case which will easily be worn sort of a satchel. Portability? The Skydio 2 has it. The $999 base package includes that case, one battery and a few spare propellers. the closest DJI drone by price is that the Mavic Air ($919), which also comes with a case, plus a handheld controller — something that costs extra with the Skydio 2.

So the drone is smaller and cheaper, but that alone merely makes it a far better proposition than its predecessor. If it wanted to compete with DJI, Skydio needed to feature more functionality and, thankfully, it has. In spades. My biggest gripe with the R1 was that you simply couldn’t really do anything beyond basic “follow” shots. It had rudimentary controls via the app, but sweeping landscape shots, or any kind of independent flight, was incredibly limited.

With the Skydio 2, the app controls are still sparse, but there are now two new ways to fly the drone. They’ll cost you, but they’re definitely worthwhile. To the purpose where I’d say buying the Skydio 2 without a minimum of one among these accessories is doing yourself a huge disservice. One may be a wand called the “Beacon” and therefore the other may be a conventional two-stick controller. Both cost $149 and both have their own strengths, which one is true for you’ll depend upon your goals.

The core use-case of the drone (to follow and safely avoid obstacles) has also been upgraded. The R1 used an array of cameras to “see” in 3D (and 360-degrees), beat real-time. It worked rather well, but Skydio still saw fit improve it. With the Skydio 2, the cameras dotted round the drone are much higher resolution, meaning it can see in additional detail, and theoretically, avoid more things with more precision.

Skydio 2 review

Testing this is often kinda hard. If only because the R1 already tackled everything I threw at it. And pushing the Skydio 2 to dangerous limits (flying at telegraph cables then on) isn’t something you ought to ever, ever do intentionally. All this to mention, the Skydio 2 still has supreme obstacle avoidance skills. It’s once you use them in conjunction with one among the new controllers, though, that they become most enjoyable.

One thing that hasn’t been upgraded is how easy the drone is to use. Mostly, because I’m unsure it could get any easier. Batteries connect magnetically, with a satisfying “thunk” and pairing with the app is seamless, something even DJI can’t seem to manage. And your first flight are going to be effortless — simply hold the “launch” button within the app on your phone and choose the person you would like it to follow (so confirm the drone is pointing in your/their general direction once you set it down).

Once it’s up within the air and tracking, more on-screen controls allow you to adjust the drone’s height, distance from its target and rotation. there’s the standard selection of “auto shots” — pre-defined movements like “orbit” and “dronie” (the awful portmanteau of selfie and drone nobody asked for). There’s also a rudimentary virtual joystick to “fly” the Skydio manually. the maximum amount because it works, you will not want to believe it for quite the foremost basic of maneuvers.

A feature that’s not new the Skydio 2, but was launched after I reviewed the R1, is that the ability to follow cars also as humans. I tested this while on a road trip, off the beaten path, and i am happy to report it works even as well as tracking a person’s. The Skydio 2 features a top speed of 36 mph, much faster than the R1 (25mph). While this suggests you will not be ready to film yourself driving down the freeway (please don’t ever try), it can certainly continue with backcountry rides — even when in orbit mode when it’s to “overtake” the car on each rotation. The resulting footage looks great, too — like something from a car commercial. i’m unsure what proportion of it you’d want to use during a final video, but it is a nice option nonetheless.

Skydio 2 review

Where the Skydio 2 really comes into its own, at least, compared to the R1, are those aforementioned controllers. I’ll start with the “regular” controller, as that is the one I feel is most useful and exactly what the R1 was lacking. At $149, it isn’t an impulse purchase, but it’s one that i might truly recommend.

Why? Because it exponentially expands the usefulness of the drone. you’ll control the Skydio 2 just fine together with your phone for those tracking shots, and even carve out some basic establishing shots or wide angles, if you so choose. But with the official controller, the Skydio 2 breaks out of these chains and becomes a fully-fledged camera drone. But, and here’s the kicker, you get all that smart AI obstacle avoidance thrown in else.

When I first flew the Skydio 2 with the controller, I did so in an open space. I wanted to urge a pity how it behaves within the air, the range then on. But once I had a handle on things, I started testing the obstacle avoidance. First, by trying to fly into alittle tree — it moved right round it. I gently upped the ante with other inanimate objects until i used to be more confident.

Before long, i actually had a way that this thing would dependably not crash into things, and this gave me the arrogance to fly where otherwise i’d not. Not because they were unsafe places to fly (again, please never do that), but because they’re hard to succeed in or difficult to guage distance. Large objects within the distance often appear nearer. If you have ever tried to fly a drone bent something over, say, 500 feet away, you’ll know that it always takes longer than you thought (if judging the space by eye). Imagine then, trying to maneuver around something that distant, especially if it’s a posh surface or structure.

With the Skydio 2, the app controls are still sparse, but there are now two new ways to fly the drone. They’ll cost you, but they’re definitely worthwhile. To the purpose where I’d say buying the Skydio 2 without a minimum of one among these accessories is doing yourself a huge disservice. One may be a wand called the “Beacon” and therefore the other may be a conventional two-stick controller. Both cost $149 and both have their own strengths, which one is true for you’ll depend upon your goals.

The core use-case of the drone (to follow and safely avoid obstacles) has also been upgraded. The R1 used an array of cameras to “see” in 3D (and 360-degrees), beat real-time. It worked rather well, but Skydio still saw fit improve it. With the Skydio 2, the cameras dotted round the drone are much higher resolution, meaning it can see in additional detail, and theoretically, avoid more things with more precision.

Skydio 2 review

Testing this is often kinda hard. If only because the R1 already tackled everything I threw at it. And pushing the Skydio 2 to dangerous limits (flying at telegraph cables then on) isn’t something you ought to ever, ever do intentionally. All this to mention, the Skydio 2 still has supreme obstacle avoidance skills. It’s once you use them in conjunction with one among the new controllers, though, that they become most enjoyable.

One thing that hasn’t been upgraded is how easy the drone is to use. Mostly, because I’m unsure it could get any easier. Batteries connect magnetically, with a satisfying “thunk” and pairing with the app is seamless, something even DJI can’t seem to manage. And your first flight are going to be effortless — simply hold the “launch” button within the app on your phone and choose the person you would like it to follow (so confirm the drone is pointing in your/their general direction once you set it down).

Once it’s up within the air and tracking, more on-screen controls allow you to adjust the drone’s height, distance from its target and rotation. there’s the standard selection of “auto shots” — pre-defined movements like “orbit” and “dronie” (the awful portmanteau of selfie and drone nobody asked for). There’s also a rudimentary virtual joystick to “fly” the Skydio manually. the maximum amount because it works, you will not want to believe it for quite the foremost basic of maneuvers.

A feature that’s not new the Skydio 2, but was launched after I reviewed the R1, is that the ability to follow cars also as humans. I tested this while on a road trip, off the beaten path, and i am happy to report it works even as well as tracking a person’s. The Skydio 2 features a top speed of 36 mph, much faster than the R1 (25mph). While this suggests you will not be ready to film yourself driving down the freeway (please don’t ever try), it can certainly continue with backcountry rides — even when in orbit mode when it’s to “overtake” the car on each rotation. The resulting footage looks great, too — like something from a car commercial. i’m unsure what proportion of it you’d want to use during a final video, but it is a nice option nonetheless.

Skydio 2 review

Where the Skydio 2 really comes into its own, at least, compared to the R1, are those aforementioned controllers. I’ll start with the “regular” controller, as that is the one I feel is most useful and exactly what the R1 was lacking. At $149, it isn’t an impulse purchase, but it’s one that i might truly recommend.

Why? Because it exponentially expands the usefulness of the drone. you’ll control the Skydio 2 just fine together with your phone for those tracking shots, and even carve out some basic establishing shots or wide angles, if you so choose. But with the official controller, the Skydio 2 breaks out of these chains and becomes a fully-fledged camera drone. But, and here’s the kicker, you get all that smart AI obstacle avoidance thrown in else.

When I first flew the Skydio 2 with the controller, I did so in an open space. I wanted to urge a pity how it behaves within the air, the range then on. But once I had a handle on things, I started testing the obstacle avoidance. First, by trying to fly into alittle tree — it moved right round it. I gently upped the ante with other inanimate objects until i used to be more confident.

Before long, i actually had a way that this thing would dependably not crash into things, and this gave me the arrogance to fly where otherwise i’d not. Not because they were unsafe places to fly (again, please never do that), but because they’re hard to succeed in or difficult to guage distance. Large objects within the distance often appear nearer. If you have ever tried to fly a drone bent something over, say, 500 feet away, you’ll know that it always takes longer than you thought (if judging the space by eye). Imagine then, trying to maneuver around something that distant, especially if it’s a posh surface or structure.

The Skydio 2’s sensor is 1/2.3 inches, which puts it within the same category because the Mavic Air, instead of the Mavic 2 Pros (which sport 1-inch sensors), except for most situations with normal lighting conditions, the Skydio 2 delivers great results.

There are a few of areas that the Skydio 2 could improve. the first one is that the WiFi range. When controlling the drone with just your phone, this is often less of a problem, as you will be tracking yourself, and thus want to stay the drone fairly close. Skydio claims a variety of over 600 feet under ideal conditions, but i do not imagine too many scenarios once you want to travel that far out while tracking. When using the controller, though, you’ll (and should) take it out a touch farther — and this is often where things were a touch more dicey.

On a minimum of twice, I had the video feed drop out because the drone was evidently too far for the connection to carry. On one among those occasions, the drone lost radio connection too, so it automatically flew “home.” the space was different on both days, and both well within Skydio’s claimed range of over two miles (the controller extends the WiFi range considerably). On the flight where it flew home, i used to be just one,000 feet out (about 0.2 miles), so it should are comfortably within range.

The net result was a short lived loss of video feed (but not video recording) during one flight, and a secure, if unwanted, “return to home” of the drone within the other. Ideally, this stuff wouldn’t happen when well within the claimed range. DJI’s OcuSync video feed features a claimed range of over four miles, by comparison, so now that the Skydio 2 is hoping to compete, this is often definitely a neighborhood it can structure some ground.

Skydio 2 review

Another inconvenience is how you charge the batteries. there is no charging dock within the box, instead, you charge them while attached to the drone. This presents a clear problem, therein you cannot fly while you charge batteries. In practice, it’s rare that you’d have enough time to charge A battery while you fly with another (flight time clocks in only over 20 minutes), but i might prefer the pliability to charge cells without taking the drone out of action. there’s an answer to the present, but it’s another optional extra — a $129 dual charger accessory.

All in all, the Skydio 2 may be a vast improvement on the R1. Even without the controllers, it’s smaller, lighter and better across the board. With the controller, it finally seems like an entire drone which will tackle almost anything you’d want to try to to. i really like how easy it’s to line up and obtain flying, and therefore the stellar tracking and obstacle avoidance really do open up shots that, for me, would rather be impossible. for many people, this is often an excellent allrounder that may not just easy to use but gets me excited about where I can take it (literally).

If you’re more concerned about the photography credentials, and fewer of the AI follow features, you almost certainly want to travel with whichever of the Mavics suits your budget. DJI’s camera chops are fairly well established at now and therefore the more fine-grained image controls will please photography purists.

For me, though, and that i imagine many other casual fliers that enjoy weekend jaunts within the wild. The Skydio 2 may be a very compelling package, especially if you cough up for the controller (and maybe a second battery). This configuration would cost you $1,250, which remains way cheaper than a Mavic 2 Pro and it can even do plenty that the DJI flagship cannot.