The HoverAir X1 is a camera drone by the Chinese drone manufacturer, ZeroZero Robotics — and it could be a non-DJI alternative, particularly to the company’s lineup of tiny drones, the DJI Mini Line. Much like the popular DJI Mini drones (including the new DJI Mini 4 Pro), the HoverAir X1 drone is intended for beginners, people on a budget, and those looking to up their selfie game — and it’s highly portable.
And because Skydio ended production on all consumer drones earlier this year, it is rare to hear about a non-DJI drone in the consumer field.
So how does it stack up against its DJI competitors? I put this DJI competitor camera drone to the test in this HoverAir X1 review:
The drone markets at $439, but is currently on sale for $399 on its own website. While that’s a pretty low price point compared to other camera drones, it’s still not cheaper than Drone Girl’s top-rated drone under $400 — but we’ll dig into that later. Unsurprisingly, the low price also means that many of the key HoverAir X1 camera specs (e.g. flight time, flight distance, storage) are pretty unimpressive.
However, don’t write off the HoverAir X1 completely. It can do some things that most drones can’t: fly indoors, fly near people, record sound, and fly totally hands-free (no app, no controller needed).
This drone is less of a drone and more of a self-flying camera (which is even on how the company markets it). If you are a vlogger, who is looking for something on the go, and not too concerned with high image quality, then this might be for you.
Here is my full HoverAir X1 review — showing off a small folding drone that can take video and snapshots hands-free.
Table of contents
HoverAir X1 review: this camera drone in a nutshell
The HoverAir X1 drone is designed with portability in mind. The drone folds down to a compact 128g (4.5-oz) package, making it easily transportable. The weight of the drone is a huge selling point. Any drone under 250 grams is a big deal because many types of federal drone regulations do not apply to drones that size.
The HoverAir X1 launches in 3 seconds from the palm of your hand and lands in your hand as well. The protective cage over the propellers makes for safe take-off and landing.
The HoverAir X1 does not come with a controller. It flies with a selection of pre-programmed flight paths, including Hover, Follow, Zoom Out, Orbit, and Bird’s Eye.
- Hover: frames the user from a static position, for hands-free selfies or group photos
- Follow: follows you from the front or back up to 20 km/h
- Zoom Out: gradually include more of the surroundings for dramatic effect
- Orbit: orbits steadily around the user
- Bird’s Eye: captures overhead views
The pre-programmed flights can be determined by using the app or even without an app and straight from the device. Each of the modes has the ability to customize (time, height, sound on/off, etc.). However, you will need to do so through the app.
There is also a manual control mode, where you can fly the HoverAir X1 through a controller on the app.
The device achieves a peak video resolution of 2.7k/30fps and employs a combination of mechanical gimbal and electronic image stabilization to maintain steady and balanced footage. Additionally, it has the capability to capture both videos and photos and is provided with 32GB of internal memory.
One charge of the drone’s quick-swappable 1,050-mAh lithium battery is good for approximately 11 minutes of flight time–depending on usage. The device comes with two batteries and a charging station that fits both batteries.
The Hover X1 also features a level 4 wind resistance a maximum height of 15m and a maximum distance from the user of 30m. It does not use GPS, so it doesn’t require calibration each time you fly.
Recording sound with the HoverAir X1 drone
The HoverAir X1 drone has a unique feature in that it records sound — and don’t worry, it won’t just record sound from the drone and pick up the annoying whir of propellers.
Delightfully, the accompanying HoverAir X1 drone app records sound via your phone’s mic and then syncs it up to the drone’s video once the footage has been downloaded. To keep that audio from solely recording the HoverAir X1’s whining motors, the app applies a digital noise filter to its recordings. I found that as a result, you won’t hear ambient sounds, just human voices are detected. The sound quality is strong (the exact same as it would sound recording a video from your phone). However, the sound and video don’t always match up perfectly.
Here you can check out the HoverAir X1 in orbit mode while recording sound.
Flying the HoverAir x1
I was impressed by the organized and small package, the additional extra battery, and the charging hub. The drone is incredibly lightweight (about the same as a bar of soap). The propellers are in a simple cage that folds easily into each other. It also comes with a little simple bag to easily tote it, clearly a drone for on-the-go. If you don’t want to use the HoverAir-designed bag, the drone could easily fit in most bags or larger pockets. In fact, I carried mine in my fanny pack which was quite convenient.
This drone was definitely designed so you do not have to know how to fly a drone, but with that in mind, I wish there were a little bit more directions on the front hand to help with the learning curve. Being a ‘beginner’ drone for most people, I was surprised by the lack of directions.
A simple QR code on the packaging leads you to download the Hover app. The app is user-friendly, and connecting the drone to the app was as simple as connecting any device through Bluetooth.
Then, I was ready to get flying! …Or so I thought.
On my very first flight, my HoverAir X1 flew about 2 inches off my hand and then went right back down. My app gave me a message that read: “Propeller Abnormal. Please replace the propeller.”
Replace the propeller? There was no spare propeller provided. I tried it a few more times and was left with the same message.
Eventually, I noticed the back right propeller was the one not moving. From there, I wiggled it around a little and tried one more time and the drone took off.
It ended up being a small issue, but support on the app or even on the internet on how to troubleshoot the error message was minimal.
Once I got flying, it flew pretty well. I wasn’t sure how long it would fly for or when to put my hand out, which was a little nerve-racking. However, I put my hand out pretty quickly and the drone always found its way safely onto my hand.
While flying the HoverAir X1, I found it to be very stable with little to no drifting or shaking. And (almost) always followed the modes I selected.
The drone comes with sensors on the bottom to help it avoid obstacles. While flying, the drone did a strong job of avoiding obstacles below it. However, one time, while in follow-me mode the HoverAir X1 must have lost me as the subject as it crashed right into a tree branch.
There was no lasting damage after the crash (except some green markings left on my white drone) and the drone alerted loudly “collision detected” as it landed into the tree.
The crash only happened once, but it is a good warning: make sure you stay in the view of the HoverAir X1 at all times, the technology isn’t advanced enough to avoid obstacles or find you after being lost.
And, it was another reminder of some of the limitations of the HoverAir x1. This self-flying camera can only shoot and follow one selected person. That means no sweeping aerial shots most drones are known for.
All in all, the quality of the video and photos was standard. It is definitely strong enough image quality for smaller prints or images to post on social media.
Transferring the videos and photos through the app was simple enough; you just need to be on the same Wi-Fi. The HoverAir X1 has 32GB of internal storage, though there is no way to add an additional SD memory card.
HoverAir 1x vs. DJI Mini 2SE
In terms of price, the HoverAir X1’s closest DJI drone competitor is the DJI Mini 2SE (which is Drone Girl’s pick for best drone under $400). The DJI Mini 2SE is currently priced at $339. The HoverAir x1 camera drone is $399, making the Mini 2SE 15% cheaper than the HoverAir X1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two drones:
|DJI Mini 2SE
|Max Flight Time
|Max Wind Speed
|7.9 m/s (Level 4)
|10.7 m/s (Level 5)
|Max Flight Distance
|Effective Pixels: 12 MP
|1/2.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP
The HoverAir X1’s most impressive features remain its size and weight. In almost every other way, the DJI Min 2 SE wins.
The DJI Mini 2 SE has more than double the flight time. It can withstand stronger winds, it can fly farther and higher. Plus, that $339 price for the DJI Mini 2SE that price includes a controller.
The DJI Mini 2 SE does not have internal storage built in but can hold up to 256 GB with a purchase of a microSD card. The HoverAir x1 does not have the capacity for a microSD card but holds 32 GB internally.
If you are looking for a more powerful drone, definitely purchase the DJI Mini 2 SE. It is by far the superior drone in terms of flight time, wind resistance, and flying strength — not to mention it’s cheaper.
But perhaps size and weight are most important. Maybe you want something you can throw in your bag and then easily take off and land.
The HoverAir X1 is less of a trusty flying camera and more of an extreme upgrade to the selfie stick. For what it’s worth, the camera quality on the HoverAirX1 vs. DJI Mini 2 SE is actually quite similar. So while the flying experience on the two drones is quite different, ultimately the end product might turn out the same.
The HoverAir x1 is currently only available through the company’s own website. You can purchase it here.
Have you flown this drone before? If so, leave your own HoverAir X1 review in the comments below!