When you think of drones, most people probably automatically think of DJI and their line of incredibly feature-rich drones. They have everything from affordable consumer-friendly drones to more expensive professional-level drones. However, there’s a new player in town and their name is Autel, which recently just entered the U.S. market. They too have a pretty stellar line-up that is varied in both price and features. We were lucky enough to be able to check out their latest Autel EVO Nano+ drone, their 249g lightweight drone, aimed squarely at the DJI Mavic Mini II in size, but with a more advanced feature set, which also puts it out of the price range of those buyers looking for an advanced, low-cost drone.
Upon first glance, the Autel EVO Nano+ looks very similar to that of the DJI Mavic Mini II, but a closer inspection tells a different tale. While yes they seem to share similar dimensions and design, a more detailed look shows that the Autel EVO Nano+ has many features not present on the DJI Mavic Mini II.
Let’s start with the obvious similarities. Both drones look like they were modeled after sharks or stingrays and have cute little faces upfront. Both have four foldable arms and propellers and both have a gimbaled camera system. Both also feature removable and rechargeable battery packs, although the Autel EVO Nano+ doesn’t have a door covering it. Instead, it’s just held in place with a sturdy locking mechanism. Lastly, both even seem to have the same USB-C charging port and SD-card layout on the back.
That’s where the similarities end. On the Autel EVO Nano+, you’ll start to notice that it has way more cameras and sensors on it. It has a 3-way obstacle avoidance feature made possible by the three sets of binocular vision sensors which are located on the front, rear, and bottom of the drone. It however does not have any sensors on the sides, so there’s still a possibility of hitting obstacles there. The Autel EVO Nano+ also comes in more colors than just the standard light grey, with outs being the orange/black bodies unit. I rather like this color as it does make the drone much easier to see in the sky.
In terms of protection, the Autel EVO Nano+ does include a cover for the camera system to keep the lens protected and the camera from moving around. There’s also a nice strap that goes around the arms and propellers to keep them too from moving around. I should mention that we also received the Premium Bundle that includes a handy carrying case that fits the drone, controller, and all the accessories that came with it. The case actually looks really good and is similar to a camera bag that you’d use to carry around your photo equipment.
Speaking of which, the controller doesn’t look quite as cool as the DJI unit. This one sort of just looks like some generic video game controller with a bulky phone holder on it. Thie phone holder can tilt to different angles. On the plus side, the controller does feel fairly comfortable in your hands, even if you have large hands.
The specs on the Autel EVO NAno+ are actually quite good and make it a really competitive drone for its size.
- 249g weight
- 1/1.28 Inch CMOS Sensor (RYYB)
- 50MP photos
- Ultra HD 4K HDR video @30fps
- 10km Video Transmission (6.2 Miles)
- 3-Axis Mechanical Gimbal
- Obstacle Sensing in 3 Directions
- Level 5 Wind Resistance
- 28-Min Max Flight Time
There are even opinions for subject following and tracking so your Autel EVO Nano+ can automatically follow any person, animal, or vehicle without you having to take control. This also includes four automatic shooting modes – Rocket, Fade Away, Orbit, and Flick. Of course, you’ll need to download the AutelSky app to use a lot of these features and to obviously fly your drone.
I will say, Autel does provide new features when they update their firmware sometimes. There was recently a firmware update that fixed a few issues. “Autel has optimized wind resistance performance and flight control gimbal stability. The update also addresses and fixes other Nano+ issues, including a DNG file color error, a photo number display error in the App, an auto exposure lock error in the camera, errors in Hyperlapse, and other minor camera issues.”
For the most part, the Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ is fairly easy to set up. You just need to download the supporting app on your device, create a login, and load it up. You will need to connect your phone to the controller with a cable, which is included for either USB-C, Lightning, or microUSB. You’ll know it’s working if the app shows that the RC is connected. Of course, you’ll need to turn on the remote control as well as the drone by just pressing both power buttons down until they turn on.
Don’t forget to charge both the batteries and the remote before flight. The Autel battery charger in the premium kit is pretty good and can charge all three included batteries at once.
As for the AutelSky app, it’s not terribly hard to use. take off require that you slide a button on the app and then everything else can basically be controlled using the remote control. That app does have some really in-depth settings that you’ll need to look through in order to fully customize the drone’s flight to your liking. I had to set the default controller stick configuration to something else as well as increase their sensitivity. By default, there’s a lag in the joystick inputs because I guess they do this for beginners. If you’re already a pro, you can change them to be much more responsive.
Anyways, once you have everything set to your liking, the Autel EVO NAno+ drone is incredibly easy to fly. The advanced features keep the drone from flying out of control and the wind does very little to push it out of its flight path. The controller also makes controlling the camera quite simple. If you want to use the more advanced features, you’re going to have to use the app.
Now, depending on where you live, there are laws concerning drones. Where I live (Miami, FL), you must apply for a recreational flying license before being able to fly a drone. For more detailed information about what is needed, I highly suggest reading up about it here on the FAA site.
Aside from that, the Autel EVO NAno+ drone is very fun to fly and its small size makes it so nimble and responsive. Not only can you fly this outdoors, but it’s also possible to fly it indoors. The small size also makes this drone so easy to carry around, especially in the premium case. And this is a case that has a strap too so you can easily carry it around your shoulders even if you’re also carrying around a backpack.
For the most part, the design of the Autel EVO Nano+ is near perfect and it seems to have all the right features included. however, the only thing that makes the drone a bit of a hard pickup is the price. You’re looking at about $949 for the base package and about $1049 for the premium bundle, which I would suggest getting. That’s more than what the older DJI Mini and Mini 2 cost and DJI just announced a Mini 3 Pro with some similar features, and still comes in below the price of the EVO Nano+. I haven’t had any time with the new DJI Mini 3 however, so I can’t say if it’s better or not.
However, without that comparison, the Autel EVO Nano+ is a very capable drone that will do everything you pretty much want it to do. While the price is high for a drone this size, it’s understandable based on the feature set, which is normally reserved for much larger drones.
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