They call it a quadcopter. I’m gonna call it a drone. This drone, though, has considerably less “faff” about it than most drones, and it’s less than £40, which really isn’t bad at all.
When it arrives, you’ll notice that the remote control is far bigger than the drone. You’ll also notice that the two tiny instruction booklets are next to useless. I perhaps saw something about adjusting the pitch and something else about how to steer it, but there’s nothing in there about how to launch the thing. From what I could make out (after a bit of playing around), the left stick controls the lift and the rotation, the right stick does the tilt forwards and to the side. The buttons surrounding the control sticks appear to to some flash tricks but to be honest I was just grateful to find that one of the two centre buttons (under the power button) made it take off.
To get it ready for flight, you simply pull out the propellers, which are on the end of the arms. You do this one at a time and they click out into place. You also get 4 additional propellers should you need it.
For this review, just to prove how easy it is to fly, I got my son to do all the flying. He’s going to help in the videos you’ll see in a moment.
First though, to charge the thing, and you’ll find a 3.7V 500mAh battery under the drone which you pull out and charge via a standard USB cable. There’s an integrated LED within the power plug so that you can see if it’s finished charging.
The drone, when the arms are pushed in, easily fitted into my coat pocket. It also comes with a little pouch too.
One thing I should highlight is the clip which attaches to the remote control. This hold your phone and, although you can use the supplied remote to control the craft, you can also use your smartphone to fly the Eachine E52 around. This means you can leave the remote at home and carry just the drone and your phone. Ultra portable.
To get the drone hooked up with your smartphone, you simply turn it on and then use your phone to connect to the WiFi hotspot it pumps out. This is all done via an app called “JY UFO” which is downloadable via a QR link in the manual, or you could just search for it.
After charging the drone (and again, you can do this from any USB port, so if you take a portable battery pack with you, you’ll get multiple flights from this), it’s just a matter of either leaving the remote at home and using your phone to control the drone or, if you wish, taking the remote with you and clipping the phone into it. If you do the latter, you’ll see live footage from the in-built camera on the drone. You can snap photos and record video while it’s in the air. This will get magically beamed to your phone.
Flying the thing, and I’ll be honest here, is remarkably easy. It auto-levels and hovers in place so you don’t have to worry about keeping it steady. We did have a bit of trouble battling against the wind in an open field, and had to maintain a full tilt to push against the breeze, but it still became ridiculously easy to fly, as you’ll see from the third flight my son did below. This really was just the third time he’d ever used it..
The on-board camera isn’t exactly the best in the world, but it will give you that birds-eye view and, as you’ll see from my rather wobbly in-house flight below, it’s interesting to watch back..
The camera struggled a little with light and dark and is better suited to daytime outdoor footage but heck, this is less than £40 and fits in your pocket. It’s basically a VGA camera, so you get what you pay for.
As the battery is 500mAh and the drone is having to pump out a WiFi hotspot, record footage and power those four motors, flight time is only around 8-10 minutes. That said, you can recharge from a portable battery as I mentioned before.
Tech specs include a 6-axis gyro, a charge time of around an hour and an 80-100 metre radio control distance. Although I’ve not found the right button as yet, you can do a one key return to bring the drone back and adjust the flight speed too.
With a bright green LED up front and a red LED at the back it’s easy to figure out which way the drone is pointing and, after a number of awkward landings and a crash into a bush, I can attest to the sturdiness of this thing too, although those small rubber bits over the LED’s were easy to pull out (they’re not important, but can be pulled out).
Overall I did like this. It’s great for kids, it’s small enough to pop in your coat and great for a day out in the park because it’s not large enough to worry anyone. As you’ll have hopefully seen from the video above, even up-close this isn’t going to scare anyone or cause a great deal of damage.
Of course, after writing several times that this is “less than £40”, I’ve found that the £39.28 price-tag from the official site appears to be a US-to-UK currency calculation based on the Amazon US price. On Amazon UK it’s actually £46.99 but still, even at that price, I think it’s a sturdy, fun and cool-looking drone which is light, small and easy to control. It comes packed with technology, holding altitude and bringing features such as the ability to follow a flight track you draw on your smartphone. Not only that, but it will also do 3D flips and rolls once it’s more than 3 metres up. Just push the appropriate button and push the right joystick and it’ll rotate. Again, due to the iffy instructions I’m not entirely sure which button does this, but I’m having a huge amount of fun finding out. I’ve since found this image on the internet which helped decipher everything for me :) I found the landing button!!!!
It also has a headless mode which stops it flying away from you when you’ve got a lack of orientation on which way the drone is pointing.
Overall, a brilliant cheap drone for beginners which will make you look like a pro, even if you’re not that brilliant at flying something like this.