Are you looking to downsize your drone world, but still want a full-featured, superbly functioning hover bug? Then read on. This DJI Spark review will make you wish you had already whipped out your credit card and ordered one!
DJI Spark Review – Big Performance From a Mini Drone
This DJI Spark review proves the old adage that good things come in small packages. DJI has managed to pack more features than you would think possible into an itty-bitty package. Not only is it packed with features, it is an extremely hardy drone, able to take a lot of abuse and still keep ticking.
Compact Form Factor
The DJI Spark review revealed that this drone is one step up from tiny. It has been related to the size of a Twinkie. For such a tiny machine, it supports a lot of different flight modes. Let’s take a look at the product’s specifications as a part of our DJI Spark review.
The basic Spark packages uses a smartphone app to control the drone. There is also a controller available separately.
The drone’s range depends on whether you’re using a smartphone app to control it, or have purchased the optional controller. In smartphone mode, the range is about 600 yards, but with the controller, the range is extended out to 1.2 miles.
None of the other drones in this review can come close to the DJI Spark’s range.
The camera is unexcelled for a drone in this price range. It has a 1080p capability and can capture 12-megapixel stills. The drone has two-axis gimbal stability, and several special modes such as soft background (simulates depth-of-field) and burst shooting capability.
In its special flight modes, it can provide a view of a single object from different angles or a continuous view of track over the ground.
The Sparks battery life is good but not great. All those features take battery power. The manufacturer says the battery will last for about 16 minutes, but real-world experience says the flight time is closer to 13 minutes. The battery takes about 45 minutes to reach a full charge.
This is an area where the DJI Spark really excels. It supports a bunch of different intelligent flight modes, such as Helix, Drone, Rocket, and Circle. It also has a close-in mode called ‘Gesture,’ where you can control the drone with hand movements.
The Spark also can automatically avoid obstacles, a feature usually only found on significantly higher-priced drones. Its GPS system enables you to auto-hover the drone, and also gives the unit return-to-home capability. It is quick to respond and nimble in flight, responding very well to control input.
The DJI Spark also features a low-battery warning and, should the battery reach a critical level, the device will auto-land, preventing costly crashes.
Portable Charger Dock
The Spark is one of the only two drones in this DJI Spark review that have an optional portable charging dock available. The portable charger has two ports for recharging batteries. As well, it can recharge the Spark directly.
The charging station has a 5000 mAh capacity, It can charge three Spark batteries in around two and one-half hours. The charger is intelligent. It will first charge the Spark’s battery, and then charge the other two batteries, charging the one with the most power remaining first.
- Portable battery charger
- Replacement propellers
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
- Parrot Mambo Fly
- Holy Stone HS160 Shadow
- DEERC HS110D Drone for Beginners
DJI Spark, Portable Mini Drone
- DJI spark remote control Combo includes remote controller and standard spark accessory Kit (see details below)
- 2-Axis Stabilized Gimbal Camera 12MP Still Photos/ 1080P/30 Video gesture and Tap Fly control
- Flight autonomy with obstacle detection subject tracking from various angles GPS- & vision position-based navigation
Ease of Use
The GPS and auto-avoidance features make this one of the easiest, most versatile drones to use.
The DJI Spark is well designed. It is stable and durable and should have a long product life. DJI provides firmware upgrades for its drones which are available via the Internet.
The camera is actually very good. It has high-resolution camera, but lacks FPV and goggle connectivity. However, the manufacturer’s website states that FPV capability is coming soon.
DJI warrants by component rather than by the unit as a whole. Here are the warranty items and their duration:
- Main controller 12 months
- Gimbal and camera 6 months
- Vision positioning system 6 months
- Propulsion system (excluding propellers) 6 months
- Remote controller 12 months
- Battery 6 months and charge cycle fewer than 200 times
- Charger 6 months
- Battery charging hub 6 months
- Frame No warranty
- Propeller No warranty
- Many intelligent flight modes
- Camera stabilization (two axis)
- Great flight performance
- Automatic obstacle avoidance
- Portable charging station available
- No 4K camera or First Person View (FPV) capability (but FPV should be coming soon)
- Maximum flight time has been reported as less than the manufacturer states
Where to buy
Parrot Mambo Fly
- This drone with a camera equipped with f/2.4 wide angle ASPH lens, HDR, and up to 2.8 times digital zoom captures...
- The ANAFI Parrot Drone can have up to 25 minutes of filmed flight time thanks to an intelligent Li-Po battery that...
- With its ultra-compact and lightweight carbon frame (320 g), this quadcopter drone unfolds in less than 3 seconds,...
You can control the Parrot with either a smartphone (after downloading the Parrot app) or you can purchase the Parrot Flypad controller.
Flight range is one of the drawbacks to the Parrot Mambo Fly. When using a smartphone the range is about 65 feet. When using the Parrot Flypad controller, the range goes up to around 360 feet.
The camera on the Parrot Mambo Fly is not very robust. With only a three-megapixel resolution you’ll get VGA-level pictures at best. The camera has a lot of noise; the colors are run together and, if the unit is moving, the picture is blurry.
Best case, you’ll get about nine minutes of flight time out of a fully charged battery. Fortunately, the recharging time is only about 30 minutes with a two-ampere USB charger.
The Mambo Fly has decent performance for a drone in its price range. It is easy to control (keeping in mind the wind caveat), and can do simple tricks such as spins and flips. However, it does not have ‘Headless’ mode capability, auto hover nor object avoidance.
Portable Charger Dock
You can purchase a portable charging dock and a spare battery, which is not a bad idea. The drawback is that Parrot says the battery takes about one and one-half hours to recharge. We’re not sure if that is worth the investment, considering the short flight time of the Parrot Mambo Fly.
- A ‘cannon’ that shoots soft pellets
- A ‘grabber’ that allows you to pick up and drop small objects
- A first-person view (FPV) camera and goggles
Ease of Use
It’s easy to use right out of the box, but the app is limited and there are some connection glitches when using a smartphone to control the unit.
There are some significant fails when it comes to camera quality, connection, and durability.
The standard camera is lacking in picture quality and resolution.
The manufacturer’s warranty is somewhat vague. It states that it will warrant ‘the parts that wear out’ for six months from the date of purchase.
- Easy to fly right out of the box
- Fun takeoff mode – throw the unit up in the air and the propellers start
- Accessories can make the unit a lot more fun to fly
- No ‘Headless’ mode
- Limited range (65 feet when controlling by smartphone)
- Light weight makes it prone to being unstable in even a light wind
- Standard camera is only 0.3 megapixel
- Accessories cut the already short flight time
Where to buy
Holy Stone HS160 Shadow
- FOLDABLE STRUCTURE: Foldable & flexible blades make the drone small and portable. Also provides a better and safer...
- Wi-Fi FPV 720P HD CAMERA: Equipped with 720P HD camera to take aerial photos and videos. Images and videos will be...
- APP CONTROL SYSTEM: Operate your drone through an APP after connecting the Wi-Fi to your phone (iOS or Android),...
You can fly the HS160 with the included controller which has a holder on it for your cell phone. The cell phone provides the view from the drone’s camera. FPV capability is available but the downlink lag makes it difficult to use when controlling the drone.
The HS160 controller has a range of about 200 feet.
The HS160 comes with a 720p camera and a 4GB Micro-SD card. The quality is good in both video and still picture modes.
We found that you’ll only get about eight minutes of flight time out of a fully charged battery. There is no portable charger available, but the drone does come with a standard spare battery.
The HS160 has very good performance considering the price. It does not support advanced features like object avoidance, auto hover and auto return-to-home (it does not have GPS capability), but it is easy to maneuver and is responsive to controller inputs. It does have altitude hold, which is enabled by a combination of a 6-axis gyrostabilizer and a sensitive barometer.
Accessories, with the exception of spare batteries, are available in the aftermarket. Most notably, you can purchase a hard carrying case for the drone.
Ease of Use
While the drone is easy to use, it lacks sophisticated flight modes.
The arms are foldable, so you can tuck them in and put the drone in a pocket. The lightness of the design does imply durability issues, however.
The HS160 has a 720p camera resolution with full FPV capability.
Holy Stone offers a 30-day ‘whole unit’ warranty for what they call quality issues. They will then replace any faulty accessories for 90 days. There is one huge caveat: the Holy Stone warranty states, “Our warranty service is limited to all purchases made from Holy Stone. If you purchased through a different retailer, please contact them directly.” Amazon does not list warranty information for this drone.
- Easy one-key takeoff and landing
- Great camera considering the price
- Good range for the price
- Downlink lags can make it difficult to frame a shot
- Very poor warranty
- Few accessories available (beyond spare batteries and propellers)
Where to buy
DEERC HS110D Drone for Beginners
- Headless/IOC function. Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the nose direction. By...
- Equipped with the latest 6-Axis flight control systems, 3D lock, more scheduled flight, operating more to the force!
- Equipped with HD camera to take photos and videos while flying! Bring a new perspective to your photos and videos from...
The HS110D can be controlled in two ways; either through an app in your cell phone, or with an included controller. The controller allows you to attach a cell phone to it so you can see what the drone’s camera is seeing.
The manufacturer states the range is around 100 meters (~328 feet). This makes it the longest range device of all the drones reviewed.
The HS110D comes with a 720p camera that supports FPV, and has a 120-degree field of view (FOV). The camera is one of the best features of this drone.
The HS110D’s battery is in the mid-range of life for drones in this class. Flight time is about ten minutes on a full charge.
The HS110D has good performance for the price. It advertises altitude hold and headless mode, and can execute flips and spins.
Ease of Use
Reportedly easy to start, fly and land.
The design quality is reflected in the warranty.
An excellent camera, particularly considering the price.
The DEERC HS110D comes with a 30-day warranty.
- Longer range than others in its class
- Supports headless mode – unusual in a drone in this price range
- Excellent camera
- Often loses communication
- If communication is lost, drone continues in the last direction it was going until it runs out of battery
- Warranty is virtually non-existent
Where to buy
Our DJI Spark review compared the higher-priced Spark with three less expensive alternatives. What we found just goes to prove the old adage that you get what you pay for. While the other three drones are good for their price, they can’t touch the overall capability of the DJI Spark.
We rate the DJI Spark 4-1/2 thumbs up. It is a high-performing, durable drone with amazing capabilities, a superb camera, and rugged construction. If you’re looking for a first medium-price drone or adding a mini-drone to your existing fleet, definitely consider the DJI Spark.