Drones Controlled by Phone – Traditional RC toys rely on dedicated controllers to operate, but modern technology put an extremely capable smart device in your pocket and many manufacturers look to use it for their new toys. I’m being vague, I refer to quadcopter style drones you can control with your smartphone or tablet.
Higher-end drones still rely on a dedicated remote for actual flight controls, but many toy class units fly using nothing more than an app and a WiFi or Bluetooth connection. Let’s take a look at some of the best on the market today.
DJI Spark – Drones Controlled by Phone
Forget your smartphone, control this drone with your bare hands! That’s right, the new DJI Spark was designed for the maximum in ease of use, where a controller can be cumbersome to transport and a smart phone can be used, but maybe you want to save the battery, you can use hand gestures to control the quadcopter. From start to finish, you can fly this drone, capture some aerial selfies and land it right back in your hand.
If you own a larger smartphone, you’ll find it is larger than this drone, it’s that small. I mean, the fuselage is small, there’s still propeller arms and the folding propellers to deal with, but hey, it’s still one of the more portable flying machines around.
You’ll need $499 for the drone alone, a Fly More bundle will run $699.
Parrot Bebop 2 – Drones Controlled by Phone
Parrot is an interesting little company with some great ideas and they look to create a premium experience on most things they do. This sometimes means premium hardware, and sometimes premium experiences through software or features. In the case of their drones, most are able to be flown entirely using just your smartphone. They still offer a controller if you need more, but more than just the basics are only an app away.
The Bebop 2 is one of the newest drones from Parrot, a feature packed quadcopter with a number of autonomous flying modes and a fairly capable camera.
Your smartphone acts as the controller as well as FPV viewer for the Bebop 2, using their app, called FreeFlight 3, you’ll get the basics for free, then fork over some cash via in-app-payments to unlock advanced flying modes.
The Parrot Bebop 2 can be had for as low as $399 for just the drone, but look to spend about $599 to get the whole package with FPV goggles, dedicated controller and more.
Hubsan X4 H501S Pro – Drones Controlled by Phone
The next drone to hit the market will be the new Pro version of the brushless H501S. Despite using their advanced controller with FPV video screen, you can actually fly this drone, as with many other Hubsan drones, using just the app.
They have a special tiny controller in the works that seems little more than a phone dock, which, to be fair, is basically what it is. Put your phone to use on a number of Hubsan drones, including the X4 H501S Pro. or the lesser expensive X4 H501S Brushless for $268 on Amazon today.
DBPower UDI 818A – Drones Controlled by Phone
Compatible with VR goggles, this is another FPV flyer. Offering up remote control or control by smartphone, the DBPower UDI U818A is a little less capable than the U842 but offers a smoother flight for better aerial footage. The live video stream works up to 100 feet away and can be viewed on your smartphone, just place your phone in the holder on the remote control for easy usage.
Check out the DBPower UDI U818A for $80 on Amazon today. We’ve seen the price fluctuating as high as $140, be patient, it should come back down.
Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider – Drones Controlled by Phone
It’s a car, nope, it’s a quadcopter? Parrot is not offering both in one device, but the MiniDrone Rolling Spider has large wheels that can spin along, adding a new level of fun and safety to indoor flying. These are not powered wheels, but they do protect the drone from crashing, allow you to scoot along the floor when there is not enough battery life left to take off, and have fun ‘crawling’ up walls when there is power.
Equipped with a small camera, this small drone is controlled by smartphone or tablet and can be yours for $40 on Amazon.
Sphero BB-8 – Drones Controlled by Phone
What is a drone? The military builds them as highly capable unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance and more, the toy store says it’s a flying multi-rotor remote controlled toy, but if we are to be fairly exact about it, we’re looking at an unmanned craft of pretty much any sort. Under the water, in the air or on the ground, whether autonomous or remote controlled, there are many types of drones, and within these guidelines, Sphero’s BB-8 has got to be one of our favorite.
Control BB-8 with your smartphone, roll along the ground and enjoy some fun sound effects, augmented reality stories and more. Check out our initial thoughts on this toy over on Android Authority. I might add that Edgar, who wrote the post, got his hands on this droid at CES 2016. We’re serious fans around here.
Conclusion – Drones Controlled by Phone
That sums up some of the best drones you can fly using your smartphone or tablet. There are many, but mostly just toy-class units that you can control completely via the mobile device, however, keep your phone charged, it is a valuable tool for most drones even if you can’t directly control them.