I am not going to lie here, I have been wanting to review a proper drone for years and now the time has come. This AUTEL EVO review was made possible by Wellbots and AUTEL Robotics so a big shout out to both of them for hooking this up. Before we move any further it’s important to note that this is my first drone experience. As such, I will be doing this AUTEL EVO review from the perspective a beginner drone pilot. Before flying the AUTEL EVO the only drone flying I’d done was one of those toy microdrones in my living room. I wouldn’t say that qualifies as a proper drone so this review was rather exciting for me.
That being said, when I received the AUTEL EVO mother nature was not very kind to me. We experienced nearly two weeks straight of rain and poor weather conditions preventing me from going out to test the EVO. I was finally able to get out and test fly the EVO and I am writing this review with just five flights under my belt. There is a ton more I know I can learn but the TL;DR here is this: I believe the AUTEL EVO is an excellent drone for new pilots to cut their teeth on. So read on for the full AUTEL EVO review and find out what my experience was like.
The AUTEL EVO has the following features and specifications (hang tight, it’s a long list):
- Hover Precision: GPS+ Ultrasonic+IMU: Horizontal: ±1.5m, Vertical: ±0.2m; Vision+IMU: Horizontal: ±0.1m, Vertical: ±0.1m
- Max. Yaw Rate: 200 dps
- Max. Inclination Angle: 35°
- Max. Ascent/Descent Speed: Ascent: 5m/s Descent: 3m/s
- Max. Horizontal Speed: 20 m/s (45 mph)
- Diagonal Wheelbase: 338 mm
- Propeller Size: 8.3″ x 2.9″
- Video Link Frequency: 2.4GHz~2.4835GHz
- Receiver Frequency: 2.4GHz~2.4835GHz
- Flight Modes: GPS · ATTI · LUDICROUS
- Operating Environment Temperature: 32° F ~ 104° F (0° C ~ 40° C)
- Storage Temperature: -10°C~40°C (14°F~104°F)
- Weight: (Battery & Propellers included) 863g (1.90lbs)
- Operating Environment Temp: 0°C~40°C (32°F~104°F)
- Still Photography Modes: 12 MP Single shot, Burst shooting, Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) Time-lapse
- Video Recording Modes: Normal · Picture In Video (PIV)
- Max Frame Rates: 4K60, 2.7K60, 1080p120, 720p240
- Max Field of View: 94°
- Supported SD Card Types: Micro-SD, 4 GB – 128 GB, Class 10 or UHS-3
- File Formats: FAT32/exFAT, Photo: JPG/DNG/JPG+DNG, Video: MOV/MP4 H.264 or H.265
- Aircraft Battery
- Battery Type: Rechargeable Lithium-Polymer Battery
- Capacity: 4300 mAh
- Battery Voltage Charging: 11.4 V
- Charging Environment Temperature: 10°C~45°C (50°F~113°F)
- Discharging Environment Temperature: -20°C~60°C (-4°F~140°F)
- Storage Temperature & Humidity: Temp: -10°C~40°C (14°F~104°F) Humidity: 65±20%RH
- Flight Time: Up to 30 minutes
- Remote Controller
- OLED Screen Brightness: 330 nits
- Max Operating Time: 3 hours
- RF Receiver Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz~2.4835GHz
- Video Link Frequency: 2.4GHz~2.4835GHz
- Operating Temperature: 0°C~40°C (32°F~104°F)
- Storage Temperature: 1 year: -20°C~25°C(-4°F~77°F), 3 months: -20°C~45°C(-4°F~113°F)
- Max Control and Video Transmission Distance: 7km (4.3miles)
- Transmission Power (EIRP): FCC: <=26 dBm CE: <=20 dBm
- Operating Current/Voltage: 2A @ 3.6V
- Battery: 6700mAH
- Power Consumption: 7.2W
- Weight (battery included): 370g (0.81lbs)
What’s In The Box
- AUTEL EVO
- Carrying case (optional)
- Remote control
- Charging brick and cable
- 32GB MicroSD card
- Extra propellers
- Documentation and warranty
Seeing the AUTEL EVO in photos and video doesn’t do it justice. I was expecting a flimsy and toy-like build quality but was actually pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noticed is just how compact the EVO folds down. All four legs fold in and the propellers tuck in as well to offer up a compact and portable end product. It’s small enough to be packed in the carrying case which is no bigger than a camera bag.
The top of the AUTEL EVO houses the battery and the battery release switch is located here. To remove the battery, it’s easiest to fold out the front legs, then depress the button and gently slide the battery back. On the rear of the EVO is an infrared sensor which keeps tabs on what’s behind the drone so as not to run into anything. Around the front of the drone are two more sensors/cameras which helps avoid obstacles and keep the drone from running into things.
The 4K camera and gimbal is located around the bottom front and is covered with a plastic cover. The plastic cover should be removed before flying the AUTEL EVO but it’s not always easy. I found myself putzing around taking it off and putting it on more than I liked. That’s no deal breaker by any means, it was just annoying. The bottom of the drone has two more sensors that keep the EVO from landing on the uneven ground. These sensors work in conjunction with the cameras on the front and map the environment for the drone to find optimal paths and landing positions.
Finally, there are the four legs which fold nicely against the body of the drone. Each leg has a brushless motor with a propeller attached as well as lights for visibility in the sky. The legs must be folded in and unfolded in a two-step process. AUTEL makes it easy by numbering which set of legs must be unfolded first and then you just reverse that order when folding it back up.
Overall, the design is striking. I really liked how the AUTEL EVO looked online and in videos but I was much more impressed when I finally got my hands on it. It’s sturdy and well built and feels nothing like a toy. So if you’re thinking you’re paying for a cheap toy drone here, you’re not, this is the real deal.
Ease of Use
Alright, so here’s a key part of this review for new drone pilots. The AUTEL EVO is literally the first true drone I’ve ever flown. I’ve played with toy drones and mini-drones in the past but nothing on this level. Setting the EVO up couldn’t have been easier. You can use the included app or you can just fly it right out of the box with the remote control. The control has a nice OLED display which means you do not need a smartphone to fly this.
That being said, setting up for first flight was as easy as charging both the battery and controller, removing all protective plastics, and reading the instructions. The instructions are dead simple and I flew this drone the first two times without the app and without a smartphone. I will say, I did add the smartphone for my next few flights and I prefer using the smartphone app because the screen is much larger.
I should also add that you’ll need to register your drone with the FAA’s UAS registration page if flying this in the U.S., you’ll want to check local regulations if you’re in other countries before flying. Registration is $5USD per aircraft and only takes a few minutes and is pretty self-explanatory and fairly easy to deal with.
My first flight was a bit wobbly and I admit I was pretty nervous and worried I’d crash the AUTEL EVO on my first try, so I took it easy. I didn’t fly any higher than 20 feet and went very slowly. Basically, I worked the right and left stick a little at a time so I could learn how the controls worked. Once I had the basic front, back and side to side controls memorized it was far easier.
By the time I got my fourth and fifth flights in I was much better at controlling the drone. Good enough to throttle it up and make a few maneuvers I wouldn’t have tried on the first flight.
Overall, I was very impressed at how easy it was to get the hang of operating this drone. I think anyone who’s flying a drone for the first time will be nervous and hold back a bit, you’d be a fool if you didn’t take care. I also think the AUTEL EVO is so forgiving that it’s very easy to get comfortable quickly.
As for performance, that’s a hard one for me to really gauge given that this is my first proper drone. I felt the AUTEL EVO fared well in flight. It was stable and held its position even in windier conditions. I don’t recall the max height I flew the drone up to but it seemed pretty high and it seemed rock solid. The propellers seem robust and easy to replace.
The controller is super easy to use and very comfortable to hold. Adding a smartphone to it does make it a bit heavy but you don’t have to use the smartphone or the app. The app offers up basically everything the controller has but if you have a larger screen smartphone like the Note9 or iPhone XS Max you’ll benefit from added screen real estate. Connecting to the app and the drone is just a few taps and not hard at all.
I really like obstacle avoidance detection. This really helped out when I got too close to objects. First, you get a warning and if you get too close for comfort, the drone will move away on its own. That is really helpful when flying the drone out a distance and it becomes difficult to gauge the distance between objects.
I also really like the return to home feature. My first flight I was very fearful of running low on battery and losing the drone somewhere I couldn’t go get it. On my fourth flight, I intentionally let the battery get to the point to let the drone fly itself back to its starting point. It did that very well and you lose all control of the drone until it lands safely.
Overall, I think the AUTEL EVO performed very well, especially in the hands of a new drone pilot.
The AUTEL EVO has a 4K camera that can shoot up to 60fps. The camera also takes still photos and has a nice wide field of view. For my very first few flights, I didn’t even bother with the camera, choosing instead to concentrate on learning the controls. My next flights I did record video but I left all settings on auto. The camera has a ton of settings you could get lost in but I’d say wait on those until you get the hang of flying.
Learning how to maneuver the drone to get good shots will only make the camera footage you get that much better. So for now, I’m only running the camera on default auto settings and playing with drone movement and manipulation. The camera also has the ability to tilt and pan, again, this is something that will take practice and hopefully, I’ll get better over time. So for now, I can’t really launch into a full overview of the camera functions as I am still learning all of that. It fairly straightforward though.
For now, here’s a video sample of the AUTEL EVO camera quality shot in 4K at default settings with no color grading in post. These are shots from my fourth and fifth flights so they are far from perfect and I have much room for improvement.
Overall, the video quality of the AUTEL EVO is the only drone footage I’ve ever edited and I think it’s pretty damn nice. I’ve seen other drone footage side-by-side videos and while more expensive drones might look a little better, I think the EVO holds its own.
Battery life will vary depending on conditions. I generally got around 18-25 minutes on the five flights I had with it. I think you could pull more out of the battery if conditions are good and you’re easy with it. Overall, I don’t have too much to complain about battery life as I read the competition is comparable.
Good drones aren’t cheap but good drones also don’t have to be super expensive. The AUTEL EVO is priced at $999USD and I’d consider this the entry level of professional drones. I think the price tag is justified as I think it can compete with drones that are a few hundred dollars or more expensive.
The AUTEL EVO is probably not going to mean much to someone who’s been flying drones for a long time and already owns more expensive drones. I do think the AUTEL EVO is the perfect drone for a starting drone pilot to wet their whistle on. It’s super easy to set up, has a great build quality, performs well, has decent battery life (you can buy more batteries), and is priced well enough to not break the bank (for a drone). If you’re on the hunt for your first proper drone, you just cannot go wrong with the AUTEL EVO. That wraps up our AUTEL EVO review, hopefully, I’ll be able to revisit this one next year once I have some solid flights under my belt but for now, this is really a top-notch choice for a first drone pilot.
If you do buy this drone, AUTEL has a bevy of information on their YouTube channel for you to watch so be sure to check those videos out!
*We received a review unit of the AUTEL EVO for the purposes of this review.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021.