The 3DR Solo is the latest drone offering from 3D Robotics, and is being hailed as a “scary smart” quadcopter option. Featuring a three-axis gimbal, LED lights, onboard 1 GHZ computer, self-tightening, glass-fortified nylon props, and live HD video to your mobile device, the drone also includes an exceptional battery. Let’s take a look at the 3DR Solo’s battery life, shall we?
Featuring a 14.8 V LiPo 5200 mAh battery, the 3DR Solo makes “efficient use” of said battery thanks to its computer-controlled flight system.
This efficient battery offers 25 minutes of flight time without a camera attached, and 20 minutes of flight time with a camera and gimbal.
But my field tests showed that actual flight time is shorter. I found that the the battery would dip to about 20 percent after 14 minutes of flight, which means that you can expect to keep the Solo aloft for little longer than 16 minutes before the battery is fully depleted. But you’ll want to bring it in a little earlier, so 15 minutes per flight is a more reasonable estimate. The Solo isn’t the only drone that promises longer flight time than it manages. DJI’s Phantom 3 series, which claims 23 minutes of capability, gets closer to 19 minutes in reality.
The Solo may use a GoPro camera, but integration is strong. Not only does the gimbal provide power to the action cam—a big plus when you consider the relatively short battery life of GoPros—it’s also the only drone on the market that allows you to control the GoPro via the app.
There are other downsides to the Solo as well. Its GPS takes a long time to lock on, and sometimes it can’t get a signal at all.Even in an area with clear, open skies it takes about three minutes to lock onto a signal. In my driveway, where I launch drones to test operating range in a typical suburban environment, I wasn’t able to get the Solo to lock on to enough GPS satellites to take off at all. To date, it’s the only drone I’ve reviewed that has been unable to acquire GPS at this location. A lack of a rock-solid GPS connection also makes it a bit erratic when left to hover in place, which could get you in trouble if you’re not careful.
If you are a GoPro owner and want a drone that offers tight integration—and aren’t willing to wait GoPro Karma coming back-the Solo is a nice choice as long as you understand its drawbacks.There are competing models that are better overall buys, including the DJI Phantom 3 Professional,Phantom 4.They are our editors’ choice winner that now are offered with a great discount.