The Tello drone is a favorite at The Drone Girl. Priced at $99, it qualifies for (and steadily wins) the title of best drones under $100. With safety features that simultaneously make the drone easy to fly, it’s the best drone for kids, plus the best indoor drone. And with accompanying tools like simple educational coding software, it’s also the best STEM drone. But lately, the drone community has been wondering: was the Tello drone discontinued? Here’s what we know:
Tello drone discontinued: what availability looks like now
Over on the DJI shop, the $99 Tello drone, as well as the $149 Tello Boost Combo are both listed as sold out — as they have been for a few months now. You can still purchase the Tello drone from some third-parties, but even there quantities are limited. On camera retailer Adorama, the Tello is sold out entirely. On Amazon, stock is painfully limited to largely used versions only. We did still spy it on Walmart.
We reached out to DJI to find out if this is simply a matter of demand outpacing the pace of production — or if production has ceased completely.
“Currently, the Tello series is still being sold in the United States, and we will continue to provide technical and after-sales support to the customers,” a DJI spokesperson told The Drone Girl. “We have been working hard to provide global users with drone products that meet different needs. We will continue to launch new products that are accessible, easier to use and meet entry-level or educational needs, so stay tuned.”
So what does that actually mean in human speak? It’s hard to say for sure, but the fact that DJI has said it’s being sold but not actually in production doesn’t exactly bode well for more units being in production.
Because the DJI spokesperson mentioned the launch of new products, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no hope for people seeking an excellent, affordable STEM drone — even if the Tello drone is, in fact, discontinued.
About the DJI Tello drone
The DJI Tello drone first launched in 2018 — and it’s still held up incredibly well as a relevant drone more than five years later. It’s managed to strike the perfect balance of simplicity with high-tech — particularly astounding since so many other drones have rapidly iterated over a similar period (we’re on the 4th edition of both the DJI Mini and DJI Mavic, for example).
The Tello isn’t quite a DJI product, though it’s closely tied to DJI. It’s actually made by another Shenzhen-based tech company called Ryze Technology, and it combines DJI flight technology with an Intel processor to create a budget camera drone that also can be used to teach newbies the basics of programming.
Among its key specs:
- Weighs just 80 grams
- Flies for 13 minutes
- Takes 5 megapixel photos
Read my full Tello drone review here.
What to do if you can’t get your hands on the Tello drone
If there’s a chance you’d want the Tello drone, move fast. They’re already sold out from major retailers like Adorama and DJI itself, and there are very few left for sale on other big retailers like Amazon.
If you’ve missed the boat on getting one from a standard retailer, here are your next steps:
First off, consider buying a used drone. Buying a used drone has many benefits (beyond the obvious of acquiring something that’s otherwise sold out). It can often be cheaper, and you get the benefit of helping the environment by buying something that is otherwise collecting dust in someone else’s closet besides demanding another unit be produced. Just beware of the risks of buying used drones.
But if you truly can’t find any actual Tello drones, then it’s time to look into Tello drone alternatives. There are many drones that are quite similar to the Tello — and at a similar price point.
An excellent runner-up to the Tello, particularly for STEM classrooms, is the Robolink CoDrone Mini Programmable Coding STEM Educational Drone Kit. It’s designed for kids ages 8 and up, but honestly it’s great for adults learning to code, too. Priced at $99 (the same price as Tello), it’s designed primarily to introduce pilots to basic coding concepts. Using simple programming language Blockly, you can code the drone to fly in patterns or do flips, and you can also control the lights via code.
And if all else fails and you’re desperate to have a DJI (or at least DJI-affiliated) drone for around $100 that’s great for beginners or kids, then perhaps your best bet is to be patient. As DJI told The Drone Girl, the company says it still is on a mission to launch new products for entry-level and educational needs. Given that, you might just have to wait for what 2024 has in store.