Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
For a long time now, DJI has dominated the drone market. This is thanks to their up-to-date technologies and the fact that they have drones for everyone – from kids to professionals.
But this hasn’t stopped other manufacturers from joining the industry. And one drone manufacturer that’s fast gaining popularity is Autel Robotics.
In January 2020, Autel Robotics released the Autel Evo II series of 3 drones. Drone enthusiasts positively received it since it matched most of the aspects that DJI is known for. But how is it, really? And is it worth the hype and the high price tag?
Let’s find out.
Table of contents:
- About Autel Robotics:
- Autel Evo 2 Review:
- How to Fly the Autel Evo 2?
- A Viable Alternative:
About Autel Robotics:
Autel Robotics is a leading drone manufacturing based in the US but owned by a Chinese company known as Autel Intelligent Technology.
Autel Intelligent technology was launched in 2014, and they specialize in building unmanned systems, including drones. It’s also one of the few drone companies that operate from the United States.
Even though they don’t have as many drones like DJI, the few models they’ve produced quickly gain popularity among professional and hobbyist drone users. Some of their drones include;
- Autel Evo
- Autel Evo II (Pro and dual)
- X-Star Premium
Autel Evo 2 Review:
Even though the Evo 2 has gained quite some popularity, Autel Robotics actually released 3 versions – the Evo II that we’re reviewing in this article, the Evo II Pro, and Evo II Dual. Below is how these drones compare to each other.
|Features||Autel Evo II||Autel Evo II Pro||Autel Evo II Dual|
|Sensor||½” CMOS||1-inch CMOS||½” CMOS FLIR BOSON thermal sensor|
|Sensor Resolution||48 MP Quad Bayer||20 MP||20MP (Optical) 640*512 (thermal)|
|Photo resolution||48 MP||20 MP||20 MP|
|Video Resolution||8K/25p 6K/30p 4K/60p||6K/30p 4K/60p HD/120p||6K/30p 4K/60p HD/120p|
|Zoom||8x – 4x lossless||8x – 3x lossless||8x – 2x lossless|
|ISO range||Video – 100 to 6400 Photo – 100 to 3200||Video – 100 to 6400 Photo – 100 to 12,800||Video – 100 to 6400 Photo – 100 to 12,800|
You can choose any of these drones based on your camera needs and budget. The Evo II Dual is more of a professional drone suitable for rescue missions and inspections in places experiencing fires.
The good thing is that whichever drone you choose, you can interchange the cameras without buying another drone.
Now let’s look at what the Autel Evo II has to offer.
Professional photographers will also love the 8K video resolution at 25p. While most drones promise up to 6K resolution, Autel Evo 2 allows you to choose between 8K/25 p, 6K/30p, and 4K/60p.
This makes it the perfect drone for both professionals and hobbyists since not everyone needs an 8K resolution for their videos. Heck, not all standard devices can support this format.
And that’s not all. Autel Evo 2 comes with a 4X lossless zoom. That means that if you have a 4K resolution, you can zoom in up to 4 times while maintaining the same video quality.
Even though you may not use the 8K video resolution, you’ll benefit from this lossless zoom.
As I mentioned earlier, you can swap the camera with the one from the Evo 2 Pro or the Evo 2 Dual. Not only does this give you flexibility, but it also shows that if Autel Robotics were to build a more powerful camera, you would still use it on your Autel Evo 2 drone.
And to top it all, the 10-bit color depth captures nature, or any other object of interest, as it is. This also gives you more freedom and makes the editing process easier and the HDR-effect adds a nice touch to the photos too.
Surprisingly, this drone lacks the panorama effect where drones take photos while orbiting and stitch them together (it’s very common in DJI drones).
Considering this drone can accomplish surveying tasks with the mapping functionality, they ought to have included this feature. But as long as you have some photo editing skills, you can stitch these photos.
The operating range of the Autel Evo 2 isn’t that bad either. It’s 5.5 Miles (9 Kilometers), which you may never have to fly to since you should fly a drone within the line of sight in most areas.
And if you push your drone to its limit, you could lose connection due to other interferences, leading to crashing, or you could lose your drone forever. But it’s still good to know that you still have control of your drone even when it’s a couple of miles away.
Ease of Use:
You can control this drone through the controller or the app. Autel Robotics didn’t change the controller since it’s the same design you’ll find in the original EVO drone.
What’s most annoying about this controller is the handles that retract at the bottom. They are made of light plastic and feel a bit weird when holding them. But once you’re used to them, you’ll be fine.
I also loved that this controller has a 3.3-inch OLED screen. So you don’t need to use a smartphone since you can take photos and record videos through the screen. Better yet, the screen shows other telemetry details such as battery life, and you also view a live feed of what your drone is recording.
However, I would recommend you attach your smartphone and use the Autel’s Explorer App. For those with iPhones, you’ll have to get an extra USB Type-A connector since it’s not included. But a Type-C connector is included for Android phone users.
Some users also complained about the location of the “A” and “B” functions. Even though you can reprogram them to perform other functions.
Some users were worried that you could accidentally click them and initiate a function you didn’t intend to use. But overall, the joysticks are easy to use, and the other controls are strategically placed for smooth flying.
New users forget that you’ll need to use an SD card to update the EVO2’s firmware. This is because the Evo 2 lacks internal memory, but it comes with a standard memory slot.
So if you went outdoors without an SD card, you’d have to look for one before you can get the drone ready to fly.
A 256 GB SD card or smaller would suffice to update and effectively use this drone. Camera settings, flight modes, and other functions are quite straightforward in both the app and the controller.
Autel Evo 2’s battery life is quite impressive. The manufacturer promises at least 45 minutes, and the drone can fly as fast as 45 MPH. It may last up to 35 minutes when flying, but that’s still more than most drones offer.
And it gives enough time to shoot, take family photos, conduct a survey, or any other activity you had in mind before having to recharge or replace the battery.
The only issue is that this drone’s batteries are quite expensive ($219 for one battery). But for the love of flying your drone outdoors for hours, I would still sacrifice the extra cash for extra batteries.
Size and Appearance:
With a volume of 3335cm3 and a weight of 1174gm, the Autel Evo 2 isn’t exactly small. To make it worse, the arms don’t fold nicely into the drone.
Some edges are left outside, making it difficult to fit it into your pocket. But you can get a convenient drone carrying case at an affordable price.
Autel Evo 2 still maintains the distinctive orange look that the previous drone had. It’s not the prettiest as far as drones are concerned, but this color makes the drone easier to spot when in flight. Or when you land it in thick grass and far from where you’re standing.
Stability and Obstacle Avoidance:
Autel Evo 2 has 19 groups of sensors. Among these sensors, 12 of them are visual sensors for effective obstacle avoidance in all directions.
The Evo II also features two ultrasonic sensors at the bottom, which ensure stability as the drone hovers. It also features IMUs. All of these sensors help map out a clear 3D path in real-time.
There may be a blind spot in the 4 corners of the drone, and the manufacturer even points that out, but you shouldn’t worry about that since you’ll be flying in the line of sight.
Besides the numerous sensors, the Evo 2 also relies on GPS and GLONASS to maintain its position. And when the connection between the drone and the controller is interrupted, the drone automatically initiates the Return-to-home feature.
Intelligent Flight Modes:
One of the most notable flight modes of the Evo 2 is the Dynamic Track 2.0. It can identify the object of interest, estimate its speed, and track it while avoiding obstacles.
You can see it in action here where the YouTuber realized that it could be quite aggressive once it maps out a path. But the omnidirectional obstacle avoidance systems ensure it doesn’t crash into obstacles.
Autel Evo 2 also has gesture control and voice command. For gesture control, the drone recognizes you if you hold your arms out. It has a light that shows that it has identified you, and you can strike a pose as it takes photos.
The voice command allows you to take photos, start recording, or even take off by “speaking” to the drone. Other flight modes include;
- Parallel track
What’s in the box?
The Autel Evo 2 package comes with the following items;
- An extra set of propellers
- Power cable
- USB Type-C connector
Price and Availability:
Currently, the Autel Evo 2 drone costs $1495. And if you asked me, it’s totally worth it. Autel has always experienced production delays, but it’s more than a year since they released this drone, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.
Is Autel Evo 2 Good for Beginners?
Considering how straightforward it is to use, I would say that this drone is good for beginners. However, around $1500 is a lot of money to spend on a drone if you’ve never flown one before.
It would be better to learn how to fly a drone with a cheaper drone and pick the Autel Evo 2 when you want to carry out professional videography, photography, or mapping.
Autel Robotics doesn’t limit their drones in terms of altitude like DJI does. While Autel Evo II can achieve a maximum altitude of 2600 feet (800 meters), it’s best to keep your drone within 400 feet as it’s the limit in most regions.
Autel Evo 2 lacks geo-fencing too. So, you’ll have to do your research about No-Fly-Zones, and avoid flying in them.
The only safety feature in terms of altitude is the Novice Mode, limiting you to a 30 meters maximum altitude and a 100 Meters maximum flight distance. But you can disable this in the settings section once you get used to flying the drone.
How to Fly the Autel Evo 2?
Flying the Autel Evo 2 is pretty similar to flying other drones. And the manual also guides you. Below is a brief step-by-step process;
- Launch the app on your smartphone or any other mobile device.
- Connect the smartphone to the controller. And follow the onscreen prompts to complete the setup process.
- Unfold the drone, remove the gimbal protector and place the drone on a flat open surface.
- Long press the power button on the rear of the drone for at least 3 seconds. The drone will power up and produce a beeping sound once it connects to the controller.
- Once the controller shows it’s ready to go, the app will prompt you to log into your account. If you don’t have an account, just follow the registration process.
- You will need to log into your email to verify your account.
- The drone will then prompt you to upgrade the firmware.
- Once you’re done with the upgrade, reboot your drone.
- You can choose to take off the drone from the app, the controller, or even voice commands. Joystick movements are universal in all drones.
Here is a helpful video on setting up the drone, the lights’ colors, and what they mean. –
- It’s easy to use, right from setting up to making the first flight. And the manufacturer provides clear instructions.
- The obstacle avoidance mechanism is better than in most drones.
- High-quality camera for both videos and photos.
- It’s also flexible – you can swap the cameras with the other Evo II versions.
- Extended flight time
- High stability thanks to the sensors and accurate GPS.
- It lacks a panorama effect, and stitching up the photos is not always easy.
- It lacks geo-fencing capabilities.
- The batteries are quite expensive.
A Viable Alternative:
Let’s face it. Even though more companies are building great drones, there’s a reason DJI still holds more than 70% of the drone market.
For starters, they manage to keep their drones compact while retaining the features and functionalities of drones from other brands. For instance, the Evo II is often compared with the DJI Mavic Air 2.
And while the Mavic Air 2 costs half of the Evo 2’s price, they function the same way. Mavic Air 2 is smaller, has a flawless obstacle-avoidance mechanism, and is lighter.
They also use the same sensor, and Mavic Air 2 features DJI’s OcuSync that ensures a range of up to 10 Miles.
The 8K resolution in Autel Evo II is a sight to behold, but few devices can support it, as I mentioned earlier. So, if you want a good camera and a compact drone without spending thousands of dollars, you’ll be better off with the Mavic Air 2.
And there you have it. While there are better alternatives at even a lower price, the Autel Evo II is worth checking out. The 8K resolution, 4X lossless zoom, and the ability to swap the cameras between other Autel drones are some of its perks.
But we can’t ignore that you can get the same functionalities with the Mavic 2 at half the price. So if you don’t need the 8K or have a lower budget, the Mavic 2 would be a better option.
Hopefully, in the future, Autel Robotics will take the cue from companies like DJI to make their drones smaller and maybe adjust the price tag.
If you are new to drones and wants to buy one then this guide is just for you.