Yuneec surprised us with the new Yuneec Mantis Q folding drone. As we were eagerly awaiting the official release of the Yuneec HD Racer and the Yuneec Firebird FPV, they sneaked out a compact, folding drone instead.
We’ve been flying the Yuneec Mantis Q and I bet you want to know what we think of it, right?
Overview of the Yuneec Mantis Q
As we continue to appreciate the folding design of smaller quadcopters, the new Yuneec Mantis Q lands, hitting the same great portable design. Yuneec was sure to also include a 4K camera, almost mandatory to get noticed in the drone market today.
Before I paint a picture of Yuneec being a follower, allow me to remind you that they are an industry leader in their own right. You may be more familiar with their larger hexacopter designs. Their line of Typhoon and larger drones are some of the most stable camera and commercial drones around.
Unlike many folding drones that followed the DJI Mavic Pro, the Mantis Q feels like a high-quality machine. A combination of sturdy plastic and metal, with precision fit and finish make for a quadcopter I’d put my trust in. Bottom line, Yuneec knows how to build a quality drone, and the Mantis Q benefits from it.
Back to it, this folding drone slings the front propeller arms backward and the rear forward, no twisting on this drone. The propellers themselves fold, each blade connects independently to the motor, for selective replacement.
The 2-axis gimbal is soft mounted to reduce vibration. It is not stabilized. The 4K camera sensor is able to electronically stabilize your 1080p video capture, but there is no physical stabilization here.
That 4K camera is a 1/3.06 CMOS sensor at 12MP resolution. It captures more than adequate still images, and video is nice in the right conditions. Make no mistake, however, this is a small sensor, which makes for poor low light performance.
The remote control is a simple unit, but is comfortable and compact. It has a full size USB port to connect to your phone, and a USB Type-C port to charge. We have not fully tested battery life, but the 3,000mAh battery has lasted for two full drone batteries now and still reads three our of four LED light bars.
Finally, the battery for the drone is a replaceable 2,800mAh unit. Yuneec rates it for up to 33 minutes of flight time in optimal conditions, we got about 26 minutes in light winds and various flight modes with several take-off and landings in the session.
If you go into your flight with the Mantis Q expecting little from it, please be careful when you launch in Sport mode. The Mantis Q is fairly slow in normal mode, about 14mph, but Sport mode hurtles through the air at nearly 45mph.
Your ascent and descent speeds are a lot more similar between modes, getting up to height in a few seconds and coming down fast enough I always throttled back early, for comfort.
Range is limited by the controller, that is, the controller is only capable of managing connection up to 4,921 feet, that’s a little short of 1 mile. While you’re out there, you have GPS and GLONASS combined to help you keep track of location and offers one button RTH functionality.
We did not test the Mantis Q to full range, but we got to about 600 feet distance at about 200 feet above the ground without issue. Keep in mind that this is a smaller drone, sticking to the legal visual line of sight was the limiter.
Judging a drone by its hover, we’d call the Mantis Q a mid-level machine. Drones like the very latest DJI Mavic 2 Pro hover with accuracy that, frankly, still impresses me. The Mantis Q bounced around for me upwards of two feet vertically and three feet horizontally. This is perfectly fine in most situations, but can be problematic when close to the ground, do be careful at very low altitudes or when within a few feet of obstacles.
I’ll leave the selection of typical flight modes to the spec sheet below, suffice to say that Yuneec offers a few modes from within the Yuneec Pilot app for Android or iOS. There are two real treats here, first is facial detection, for more accurate follow modes, the second is Yuneec’s big trick up their sleeve, voice commands.
That’s right, power on your drone, fire up Yuneec Pilot on your connected mobile device and dive into the settings to enable voice commands. In a typical session, you’ll be able to tell the drone to take off, take photos and videos, land and more.
Your mobile device is what accepts the voice commands, so you do not need to worry about distance or drone noise causing grief. The voice controls work simultaneously with manual controls as well, so you won’t have to hunt for the camera button on the fly.
As mentioned above, the Yuneec Mantis Q offers a 2-axis non-stabilized gimbal, holding a 1/3.06 inch CMOS sensor. That is a 4K shooting, 12MP sensor.
Under ideal conditions, photo capture is more than adequate. Auto focus works well and the full auto camera settings do a solid job with exposure levels and white balance. All of which can be controlled manually, if you are into that sort of thing.
Video capture is where things start to fall apart. At least while flying. The camera captures respectable 4K video, and the gimbal is nice and smooth. Actually, the gimbal tilts from 90 degrees down to 20 degrees up. What I really like, sort of, is that the gimbal automatically stops at 0 degrees. Whether panning up or down you can’t miss center. We haven’t looked at how to turn that off, for when we want to go smooth all the way from top to bottom.
Once airborne, you can luck out on a calm day and capture some stable 4K video, but don’t count on it. Instead, Yuneec has included electronic stabilization when you shoot at 1080p or lower resolution. There are limits to this as well, and you will still find some movement in your video capture, unfortunately.
Specifications[table “22” not found /]
Final thoughts on the Yuneec Mantis Q
Our absolute bottom line opinion on the Yuneec Mantis Q is that it is worth buying, depending on your needs. You get a good bang for the buck to put a still camera into the sky and have some fun flying a solid drone.
It cannot be ignored that the DJI Spark offers a better camera experience, although nearly identical in functionality and resolutions. The Spark also offers a few more flight modes, and comes in at a lower base price. I’m not saying it’s the better drone, but you would be remiss to not do a comparison for research. We’ll do the same, soon.
From there, if you have a larger budget, the DJI Mavic Air has a vastly superior camera in almost all regards.
Look to the future! Yuneec said something to us at InterDrone 2018 that we cannot ignore, they are working on a version of the Mantis Q that has a stabilized camera. Allow me to speak personally for a moment: the Mantis Q with camera stabilization is a drone I would buy over the Spark without hesitation.
The Yuneec Mantis Q is $499 today. The package includes the drone, remote control, one battery, extra propellers and the USB Type-C cable.
Once again, if you are looking for the flying experience and little more than to capture still photos from the sky, the Yuneec Mantis Q is a solid drone to consider. If you want to capture video from the sky, there are better drones out there today, but stay tuned for aversion 2 of this machine.
What is your first impression of the Yuneec Mantis Q?