In this review, I am going over my thoughts and user experience of the Skydio 2 after flying it for 60 days. This new drone was heavily hyped back in October of last year when it was first announced and they only started shipping in very small batches starting in December. At the time of launch, there was a very high demand for pre-orders, in fact, I think it even surprised Skydio how many people pre-ordered and they definitely were not prepared to meet the demand. The first run sold out in under 24 hours so they started taking pre-orders for a production batch 2, then a batch 3 and even a batch 4. The problem was that this drone was built in a way that it could not be mass-produced so if you were not lucky enough to get into batch one you were looking at about a 6-month wait or longer to get your drone. Ultimately this prompted many to cancel their order as they became impatient and many videos started popping up on YouTube that showed the Skydio 2 crashing which is the one thing that it was promoted that it would not do because if its groundbreaking obstacle avoidance. Now in all fairness, most of the Skydio 2 crashed were the result of user error and not following the guidelines for safe operation that Skydio published. Skydio warns not to fly around thin branches or telephone/hydro wires as it has a hard time seeing anything thinner than 1/2 inch.
Now my user experience has been nothing short of amazing, the obstacle avoidance is truly spectacular. In my review, I am not going to go over all the specs of the drone as there are tones of those videos and articles already out there including some I have already done. But instead, I am going to focus on my experience with the Skydio 2 drone and if I would recommend it as an everyday drone, not just for its tracking capabilities but also for using it to capture cinematic footage which is why most people buy a drone in the first place.
Of course, the Skydio 2 is a great drone for tracking and following you. Its AI and autonomy engine are leaps and bounds ahead of what is currently on the market. When you factor in is superior obstacle avoidance you have the perfect drone to capture all your adrenaline-filled sports moments such as downhill skiing or snowboarding or perhaps some footage of your mountain bike or dirt bike adventures. But the reality is most people do not need to film themselves in this manner unless you are a sports enthusiast. So the main question people are asking is if this drone is suitable for the average consumer that does not need tracking and only wants to fly it like a traditional GPS camera drone? I myself have read many articles stating this is just an action camera drone and that’s all it is made for. I could not disagree more with that statement and I will tell you why.
First off the camera on this drone is very impressive, the color science and clarity is ridiculously good, you don’t have to be a master color grader/editor to get some nice looking footage. In fact, I think most people would have a hard time determining what video came from which drone if compared side by side against some of today’s most popular cinematic drones. I love to get nice close proximity shots, flying threw heavily wooded forests, perhaps along a scenic brook or river If you are like me and you like to get shots like this you know that this can sometimes be stressful as these drones are not cheap and you are always worried about crashing or hitting a branch or some other obstacle. With the Skydio 2, you do not have to worry about that, even if you try to fly it directly into a tree it just will not do it. When you remove the fear of flying it allows you to get the shots that maybe you normally would not even attempt. Now with that said you still have to fly responsibly and with caution because as we have seen on YouTube it is not perfect…but pretty close. Another nice feature of the Skydio 2 is that it does not rely on a compass for navigation as it has its own built-in autonomy engine. This can save time out in the field as you never have to calibrate a campus. The lack of compass also means you will not get interference from metal allowing you to fly confidently around or threw large metal structures, even if you lose GPS. If you are someone who will be making use of the tracking capabilities, Skydio has introduced a nifty little device call the beacon that allows the drone to follow you without having to use a smartphone or controller. You can control the drone quite easily with the built-in navigation tools. It also allows the drone to follow you even if it loses sight of you as it can follow the GPS location of the beacon.
So I would say yes it is a great drone for capturing cinematic footage with the added bonus of is impressive obstacle avoidance. Now just like every other drone on the market, there are definitely things that can be improved perhaps some with firmware updates and some with a next-generation model. The main complaint I have with the Skydio 2 is the range, just like all drones that use WiFi for its image and data transmission you are limited to the range you can achieve wich is nowhere near the advertised range. When flying the Skydio 2 in heavily congested WiFi areas you will be lucky to get 400 to 500 meters before the image starts to break up or you get disconnected. If your want a controller for the Skydio 2 which is a necessity if you want to fly your drone to capture cinematic footage you will have to purchase it separately for $149 as it is not included in the base kit. Skydio worked out some kind of deal with Parrot to use their Anafi controller, however, it is branded with the Skydio logo and is loaded with Skydio specific firmware. If you own an Anafi controller already it will not work with the Skydio 2. In my opinion, the build quality is a little cheap and not as premium as a DJI controller but it does get the job done. I wish that Skydio had developed a controller that had the same premium look, feel and performance as the drone itself but perhaps there is one still in the works, maybe something like the DJI Smart Controller…that would be really nice.
The battery life of the Skydio 2 is mediocre as it is only rated for 25 minutes but a more realistic number is 21 minutes in my testing. The batteries are fairly inexpensive compared to other smart batteries so you can purchase several to get you the amount of air time that you need. The smartphone app is pretty basic and could do with some polish but it does work as it is intended and I have yet to have any kind of software error or app crash which is not something I can say for all drone apps. It is still new and I am sure the app will mature over time as all software does. If you like to fly at night then the Skydio 2 drone is not for you. Due to low visibility at night the obstacle avoidance will not work and thus the drone will not even take off. I myself don’t fly at night so not a deal-breaker for me. At the end of the day, this drone is not for everyone but personally I have really enjoyed it and os of late is what I have been flying on a regular basis. I do highly recommend it just keep in mind if you are in the market for a drone this summer, the Skydio 2 may not be a good choice as the wait time is quite long and you may not even see your drone until sometime late summer or even fall and that definitely could be a deciding factor for many to go with another drone. You can watch my YouTube video review to see more of my thoughts on the Skydio 2.
You can see more of this drone at https://www.skydio.com/