DJI’s Spark isn’t the only game in town if you want a small, relatively powerful drone with a semi-reasonable price tag. Yuneec has launched US pre-orders for the Mantis Q, a robotic flier that blurs the lines between ‘budget’ drones like the Spark and higher-end counterparts like the Mavic Air. For $500, you’re mostly getting technology that would normally require a much costlier outlay, including 4K video recording, infrared- and sonar-based indoor stabilization, and foldable arms that make it easy to shove in a backpack. There are even relatively rare features like voice control, face detection, a 44MPH top speed and a comparatively lengthy 33-minute flight time.
There are sacrifices. It’s certainly bulkier than a Spark-class drone at 6.6 inches long and a weight just over 1 pound. You’re also looking at a vertical-only camera gimbal that won’t please dedicated drone cinematographers. This is more for capturing your vacation or taking an aerial selfie than producing a masterpiece.
Yuneec hasn’t said when the Mantis Q will ship, but frequent drone navigators will want to be patient. A $650 X-Pack bundle will give you two extra batteries and a shoulder bag when it arrives later in 2018. It probably won’t tempt you if you’re mostly concerned with image quality and the size of the feature checklist. It might, however, be tempting if you’d like more than a starter drone without paying as much as you might on a nice computer.