Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Drone RTF
I have to get this off my chest first: “Yuneec”? Really? I get that wacky spellings of common words are a marketing staple, but is this really the coolest drone brand name you could come up with guys? “Yuneec” sounds like the name of an exotic dancer, and not an expensive one either.
Yuneec is actually not an unknown name in the RC world. They’ve been around for more than a decade and a half. They have a long history in RC as a whole and claim to be responsible for the first “commercially successful” ready-to-fly fixed-wing RC plane.
Anyway, would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? The Q500 Typhoon that Yuneec presents us with here in its RTF kit form is a pretty compelling package. Let’s see what’s in the box.
This RTF bundle comes with an aluminum case, the Q500 itself, a CG03 camera, and a ST10+ transmitter.
This bundle also comes with two batteries as standard, which is pretty great, actually, since you need at least two batteries by default. I wish more drone makers included them as standard.
I Feel Pretty
I have to admit to liking the looks of the Q500 quite a lot. Its CIA-black styling and chrome motor trim appeal to me. It’s all very heavy metal. Drones like the DJI Inspire and Phantom are going for the Apple vibe in a big way. I totally appreciate that, but it’s good to see Yuneec not simply following the crowd.
The Q500 with its 4K camera is directly aimed at the DJI Phantom 3 equipped with a similar resolution of snapper.
The Q500 has a few advantages over the DJI. I’ve already mentioned the two batteries, but the radio that comes with the Q500 also has a built-in video touchscreen. So, unlike the Phantom, you don’t need to use your phone for that function.
The Q500 also comes with a handheld steady grip, which allows you to take the camera off the drone and film steadycam-type footage on the ground – most likely while you wait for the batteries to charge.
The camera has a 12MP sensor and can do 4K video at 30fps. More interesting to me, though, is the 120fps 1080p slo-mo mode. It seems like that may have a few fun and creative applications.
One niggle is the lack of retractable landing gear, limiting the possible field of vision. It’s not a big negative since the competition (the Phantom 3) also lacks retracts, but it seems like a missed opportunity to really differentiate the Q500.
Ground Control to Major Tom
The included ground station contains a GPS, so the Q500 knows where you are and can follow you around. This is also why the Q500 has a neat safety feature: it won’t fly within 26 feet of the transmitter. This isn’t always ideal of course, so you can switch it off, but it’s still pretty cool.
Compared to the DJI Phantom 3, the Yuneec Q500 seems to have a little bit more flight time before it needs to come home. One tester claims about 20 minutes of flight time before the low battery warning sounds.
Overall, the 4K footage from DJI’s Phantom seems a bit better than the Q500’s. On the other hand, the Q500’s camera has less fish-eye distortion, making for some very nice stills and in-flight videos.
Apart from the product specifications there is one very important differentiating factor between Yuneec and DJI – customer service.
It’s hard to pinpoint it, but it’s not hard to find complaints about DJI’s customer service. Yuneec, on the other hand, generally has favorable things said about its service. Now, it’s dangerous to make a judgment based just on a few negative reviews, but you can draw your own conclusions.
Overall, the Yuneec Q500 is a product I feel very compelling. DJI’s Phantom casts a long shadow in this price range, but personally this Q500 is where my money would go. It’s competitively priced, a complete package out of the box, and relatively feature-rich. Coupled with the generally positive sentiment about Yuneec’s customer service and the existence of a U.S. office, this 4K camera drone seems like the clear choice at this price.