Editor’s note: This Autel X-Star review was originally written in 2016 when the drone was released. It is now out of stock at most retailers, and it is no longer in production.
If you’re seeking a camera drone from Autel, check out the Evo Lite or Evo Nano drones, which are currently in production and some of the best camera drones out there.
The Autel X-Star Premium drone is an easy-to-fly quadcopter, designed for photographers. I’ve been looking forward to getting this drone in the mail! I hadn’t gotten a chance to fly it yet, but I knew it made quite a splash in its debut at CES in 2016. It looks a lot like a Phantom, so I was curious to see how Autel’s X-Star holds up against the iconic drone. So with that, here’s my Autel X-Star review:
Apart from charging it up and adding the propellers, this drone is ready to fly out of the box (which I’ll add is a light, portable carrying case), and easy to get up in the air. Check out my video version of the Autel X-Star review here:
Autel X-Star Cost:
The Autel X-Star comes in at less than $1,000, which is pretty impressive given you’re getting a drone, controller and a built in camera on a gimbal.
- Buy the X-Star Premium on B&H Photo for $899.
- The X-Star Premium drone sells on Amazon with a hard case for $899.
- An additional Autel X-Star battery sells for $117 on Amazon.
The X-Star Premium is equipped with a 4K Ultra HD camera that has an 108-degree field of view. It takes 4K video and 12 megapixel photos. Footage is shot with an integrated 3-axis gimbal.
Autel’s “beginner mode” comes with a geo-fence to limit your drone’s range and speed. Much like other drones, it also has a Follow-Me mode, Orbit Me mode, and one to set waypoints.
Autel X-Star vs. the DJI Phantom
I would be remiss to not say this drone is very much like the Phantom 3 Advanced. Other than the bright orange color of Autel’s drones, on the surface one wouldn’t notice much difference. Some have ventured so far as to call the Autel X-Star a “Phantom knock-off.”
It’s hard to say what the link defining a knock-off is, but for someone who has flown a lot of drones in their life, I actually noticed some pretty big differences.
Autel X-Star vs. DJI Phantom flight
When flying it, the Autel feels a lot zippier than the Phantom. On one hand, this is a bad thing — it’s slightly harder to control and it doesn’t take off and land as smoothly. But it’s also a good thing — it makes it a lot more fun to fly, because it feels like you are actually flying it. Both drones have a maximum speed of about 16 m/s.
Autel X-Star vs. DJI Phantom drone body
The one thing I absolutely love about Autel’s drone that you won’t find in the Phantom is that the gimbal and camera is easily removable. This really benefits the consumer, who eventually may be able to upgrade their camera or add some type of other contraption in the spot where the gimbal is (pizza delivery, anyone)?
It also allows someone who doesn’t care about photography and simply likes flying to get a longer flight time without the additional weight of the camera.
With Phantom’s line of drones, if you were satisfied with the body but wanted an upgraded camera (or vice versa), you would have to buy a completely new setup. With Autel’s you seemingly will be able to upgrade individual pieces in future models of Autel’s drones.
The RC transmitter operates much like DJI’s — download Autel’s Starlink app, plug in your smartphone to the controller and start flying to get a FPV view of the drone. You can also use the app to control settings (you can still fly without the app).
One thing that’s different is the controller has a variety of buttons like return to home, take off, etc. that make it especially easy to fly.
- Comes with: 14.8V LiPo battery, fast charger, 64GB card, hard case
- HD Live View up to 1.2 miles away
- 1 hour charging time
- Battery life: Up to 25 minutes
- Comes in orange or white
It’s exciting to see another incredibly solid drone on the market. I felt safe flying this — safe enough that I even passed it off to friends who had never flown before during a picnic and ran into no issues. It’s pretty apparent that DJI has dominated the market, but I’m looking forward to who that number two competitor is — and Autel is a close one. The company’s drone is built solidly and shoots high quality video in a way that’s safe and easy to fly.
The Phantom 3 Advanced is $100 cheaper than the Autel X-Star. But, the standout feature in the X-Star, the removable gimbal, means I could end up saving money in the long run if I’m able to keep either the camera or the drone and upgrade the other.
The X-Star holds its own. Of the many drones I reviewed, the Autel X-Star is the one that most seems to have the consumer in mind. Features like a gimbal that allows for easy upgrades rather than having to shell out money for an entirely new drone, and a light, portable case makes this one of the most consumer-friendly drones on the market.
I look forward to what’s next from Autel. For now, happy flying! Or if you’re ready for your own, you can purchase it from Autel here.
What’s your Autel X-Star review? Share your own thoughts in the comments below!