Skydio 2 Drone Review – This Drone does what DJI can’t

The Skydio 2 is not your typical drone. This drone flies itself and is practically crash-proof. It can follow you down a trail automatically dodging trees because it’s always mapping out the world with six fish-eye cams. The company says that three-year-olds can fly this drone, and it’s kinda true. – I flew it away. It went away. Gone. I did it.

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Skydio 2 Drone Price

But you’re not gonna be buying this $999 drone for your three-year-old, who isn’t actually four. Instead of diving into every single feature of this drone, we’re gonna do things a little bit differently. We’re testing with three different people who wanna use drones in ways they’ve been afraid to use them before.

Skydio 2 Drone Review – This Drone does what DJI can’t

Skydio 2 Drone Review

First, there’s Felicia. She’s a novice who’s never flown a drone in her life. I’ll go second. I’m more of a drone hobbyist and I’ve always wanted a flying camera that could follow me around. Lastly, there’s Vjeran. He’s a pro who’s rarely seen without a drone on his back. – Right out the gate, I had some choices to make. There’s a bunch of different ways to fly this drone. With your phone, a beacon, a phone-beacon combo, or the new Skydio controller. Set-up took longer than I expected, there’s a lot of syncing involved. I flew it with the controller for the first time.

It took me a second to get the controls right, so what ended up happening is it went over a bunch of people and they started panicking, and I started panicking, and I feel better with it now, I just, I was, it was not fun. I was so nervous, really nervous. But I spent another 10 minutes or so with the controller and was able to get some nice footage like this. I flew the drone over a broken pier to get closer to the boats until I was attacked by seagulls. – You want me to take over? – Yes, please. I panicked the seagulls freaked me out. And then we came over here to use the wand.

Which I was convinced was gonna be way easier but actually, I found to be a little more stressful because I didn’t feel like I had as much control over the drone when people and water and things happened, I didn’t feel confident that I could fix it, so I actually found that the wand was easier to use but a little bit more stressful overall. For my first few flights, I wanted to see if you can fly the Skydio 2 with little to no instruction, which I did but I had a feeling the drone can do a lot more and it can. There are a number of built-in modes like drones and cinematic tracking shots.

It’s honestly not that intuitive. All the automated features hide behind menus but once you figure out how to use them, you can do some pretty cool things. I liked controlling the drone with the phone versus either of the optional controllers. Once I had more time in the air I definitely felt more comfortable flying it and even started having fun. I trusted the drone enough to take it off and land it on my hands and never felt like I was gonna crash the thing. My only wish is that the Skydio 2 had a panic button that would bring the drone back to me safely away from people for those moments when I felt like I was just in a bit over my head. – First, let me show you this gorgeous clip of some doofus on a scooter. So you can see what the Skydio is like at its best. This is tracking me with Skydio’s cameras alone.

Notice it’s ducking under trees and swooping around branches. Next, I gave it a tougher challenge going full speed on my bicycle, taking Skydio’s range-extending GPS beacon along for the ride. I love that it let the drone come find me even when I thought I’d left it in the dust, but the footage wasn’t always as dynamic as I’d like. I imagined myself diving through trees with the skydive, but the drone would sometimes just go around and see here how it looks like the drone’s totally lost me. This is a weird quirk. The Skydio’s still tracking me but the camera’s pointed the wrong way.

Though the Skydio did eventually turn around and find me again. And look at this. I was super impressed with this footage of the drone following me under a bridge. I felt like I needed that beacon. Without it, Skydio’s cameras just couldn’t keep up with my bike. Here’s the same path you saw me take with the beacon without it. Time after time, the drone got stuck behind foliage. You could drive a small truck through no problem. This drone just does not wanna hurt itself. Even when I was manually piloting it, the Skydio 2 refused to fly through some spaces I’d have no trouble flying a regular drone. But the Skydio 2 isn’t smart enough to stay out of trouble.

Here’s the moment it decided to fly over someone’s private property for no particularly good reason. Here’s the moment I realized a train might be about to pancake this drone and no easy way to stop it. And here’s the moment it freaked out in downtown San Francisco and nearly electrocuted itself. But the main reason I’m not buying Skydio right now is the rough, unfinished software. It always takes way too long to get it up in the air, whether it’s a failed WiFi link, waiting ages for a GPS lock, or one of the weird glitches where the controller refuses to connect. And why? Even though the Skydio knows how to find a safe landing zone by itself, will it crash if you manually tell it to land safely? – All right, it’s camera time.

So let’s address the elephant in the room right? This drone is supposed to compete with DJI flagship drones but it has a lot of smaller sensors. So it’s not really a fair comparison. Compared to the original Skydio, the Skydio R1, this is a massive leap forward but that is a low low bar. compared to the other drones that use a similar size sensor, you pretty much know what to expect. Crisp 4K footage and some noise. Skydio does have some of its own limitations.

For one, you can only film in one color profile mode. There’s nothing like a flat center-like profile which usually gives you a little bit more room for coloring. You can even adjust that one standard profile that you have but if that’s what you want, you’ll be pleased with the overall results. The colors look accurate, white balance is on point like 99% of the time and overall in sharpness, it’s great as long as you’re shooting a very low ISO: 100, 200. Here are a few clips I filmed in a fairly well-lit warehouse where I still have to crank up the ISO to 400 and 800 and I’m not really a fan of what I got here. Skydio also shoots in HDR.

It looks better than some of the other HDR modes that I’ve tried out like Parrot Anafi meaning it’s not as aggressive but to me, I see more changes in color rather than in exposure, and those color changes often look a bit too saturated and unreal. All right, let’s move on to photos. The JPEG that you get out of this drone, they look pretty good. There’s not a lot of chromatic aberration just look fairly sharp. The only issue is again with the noise that starts creeping in as you keep raising the ISO. Basically, anything above 100 ISO looks pretty noisy to me. It’s still usable and looks fine on smaller screens. So y’all Instagramers will be pleased.

You’ll be happy to know that you can shoot RAW photos, which gives you a bit more flexibility in editing. But I feel like there’s one thing missing which is more photos specific mode. Stuff like 360 spherical photos or vertical photos or 180 panoramas. Maybe next year, or in the next update. As we have established before there are four ways of flying this drone. My preferred way is to fly it with the controller. It’s just what I’m used to and it gives me more control to get that cinematic footage that I want. This controller right here, it’s the very same controller that you get with Parrot Anafi and I never liked it. I still don’t. It feels bulkier than it needs to be and some of the buttons don’t actually do much. It all feels just a bit unfinished.

Oh, on top of all one of the joysticks broke in Felicia’s backpack, so yep, still not loving this controller. Okay, let’s move on to the app. The Skydio app is fairly straightforward, maybe a bit too straightforward for my liking, there’s no way to quickly glance at it to check your settings without opening a separate menu which then covers most of your screen. And there’s no way to tell the distance and the height of the drone, which is why I can’t tell you exact range numbers. Skydio promises around two miles of range in perfect conditions and I definitely didn’t get anywhere close to that. Plus the transmission quality is nowhere near DJI’s.

The video feeds get choppy and pixelated even when you can still easily spot the drone with your naked eye which you definitely should because that’s how you’re legally supposed to fly your drone. But my overall flying experience was pretty good. The drone behaves well in the air, it has nice smooth acceleration and can slow down quickly if it senses an obstacle. I can see myself using this drone instead of the Mavic 2 for specific tracking features, like this shot right here.

But still, flying this drone straight into a building and hoping it will avoid it is the scariest way to fly a drone. It’s definitely a surreal kind of frightening feeling, which I didn’t enjoy at times. Like right here. I was so damn nervous I was going to crash the drone or worse hurt someone but Skydio handled it well. I do wish there was some visual indication on the screen telling you, okay, I see the thing. And you’re good, I’ll avoid it. Skydio made some clear choices which point towards who they’re tryna score and I don’t think I’m in that targeted audience.

You will get some nice looking footage from this drone. And you can get tracking shots which no other drone can get unless you’re really exceptional at flying. But if you wanna have full control over your flying and you’re filming, this drone probably isn’t for you. And finally, I wanna spend a second talking about the built of this thing. I think it looks really nice. Materials look solid, the gimbal feels robust. It is exposed, however, so in case you do crash this thing, it’s probably gonna get damaged. But this drone isn’t gonna crash, right? – Skydio can do things no other drone can.

We flew it in and around trees and obstacles for hours, and we only managed to crash it by landing on a bad surface. It’s a drone, an absolute beginner can learn to fly without fear, even if there are too many ways to control it. And none of them are terribly intuitive. It can be your self-flying camera with caveats, and it could get a professional some shots they can’t get any other way if they’re satisfied with the image quality. We just also get the sense this self-flying drone vision isn’t quite complete. Maybe there’s something better like a Skydio 2 pro perhaps or a Skydio 3. If you wanna know more about the Skydio 2’s tech, specs, or how it was made, check out the hands-on video that we filmed at their headquarters in Mountain View, California. They build and test it right there.

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