Hubsan X4 H216A Desire Pro (Review)
It’s always exciting to see trickle-down technology appearing in toy drones. Since the end of last year, GPS has started making an appearance in sub-$100 toy drones such as the Hubsan H216A Desire Pro which is the subject of this review.
Costing just $90 with shipping at GearBest, the Desire Pro sports GPS flight features that were once only available on drones that cost at least a few hundred dollars two years ago. But do the GPS features on the Desire Pro really work or are they just gimmicks?
After bringing out the Desire Pro for about a dozen test flights, I’m glad to say these features work reasonably well although the Follow Me mode is a bit of a hit and miss.
- Platform: Quadcopter
- Diagonal motor distance: 225mm
- Flight features:
- Altitude hold
- Headless mode
- Auto takeoff / landing
- GPS features:
- Position hold
- Follow me
- Waypoint navigation
- Return to home
- Propulsion: brushed motors / 135mm 2-blade propellers
- Weight: 163g (with battery)
- Camera resolution: 2MP stills (1920 x 1080) and HD 1080P video
- File format: JPEG/MP4
- Battery: 7.4V 610mAh Li Po
- Charging time: about 150 minutes
- Flight time: about 10 minutes
- Control distance: about 50 to 100 meters
Like other Hubsan products, the Desire Pro has decent build quality and design. And this includes the supplied transmitter (remote controller) which features good ergonomics and button placement. The Desire Pro does, however, lack a power button or switch. The battery bay is also very cramped and wires are more likely to be clipped if not stuffed in properly.
The Desire Pro can either be flown using the X-Hubsan app on your smartphone or using a smartphone in conjunction with the supplied transmitter (remote controller). Unlike many other toy drones that allow you to use either 2.4G transmitters or WiFi control via a smartphone, the only way to pilot the Desire Pro is by using WiFi. This, I feel, is the biggest flaw on the Desire Pro.
With WiFi control, the control range is limited to about 50 to 100m only. For longer control range, a WiFi extender or repeater is needed. The short control range doesn’t do any justice to the Desire Pro’s GPS features particularly Waypoint Navigation which is no fun to use within a radius of only 100m.
The supplied transmitter, although appearing like a conventional RC transmitter, doesn’t actually link directly to the drone itself. Instead, it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and any stick or button inputs on it are transmitter to the X-Hubsan app first before being transmitted to the drone via WiFi.
The Desire Pro seems to feel somewhat sluggish and sloppy in the air although not terribly so. This might be due to altitude hold and GPS overwhelming its flight controller which obviously doesn’t feature the same amount of processing power found in more expensive drones such as the DJI Spark. Since it is not very accurate and precise, the Desire Pro is not a drone you buy for sport flying (especially indoors).
Fortunately, the X-Hubsan app is very well designed and has some nifty features that are not found on other cheap toy drones. For example, the emulator control sticks will pop up wherever your thumbs touch the screen. If your left thumb touches the left part of the screen, the left emulator stick will appear at the point you touched. This is a much better approach to use for the control sticks. In other apps, the control sticks are located in fixed positions, making it more challenging to fly your drone without having to look onto the screen once in a while to make sure your thumbs are on the right spots.
Besides this, the X-Hubsan app has a very well-designed user interface that’s user friendly. The app is also very stable and has never given me any technical issues. It is impressive that a small company like Hubsan is capable of developing an app as good as this when a much larger and more advanced company such as DJI still has issues with its apps.
Flight time is approximately 8 to 10 minutes so if you plan to get the Desire Pro, it is a good idea to buy a few extra batteries.
GPS Flight Features
This is where the Desire Pro excels in. With a clear view of the sky, it is capable of getting about 11 or 12 satellites signals locked. Features such as Position Hold, Orbit and Return to Home work very well. Follow Me mode is a bit spotty and doesn’t always work. The most complex of all GPS features on the Desire Pro is Waypoint Navigation which also works quite well.
However, Waypoint Navigation is a feature that should only be used if you know what you’re doing. This is because the Desire Pro does not have the advanced features such as obstacle avoidance to avoid flying into buildings or trees that are located along its flight path when executing a waypoint mission.
When drawing out a waypoint mission, you can set certain variables such as the altitude of certain waypoints, flight speed and hover time. The only thing that seems to be missing is a waypoint feature that allows you to bring the drone back to its home position and land. In other words, when the Desire Pro flies to its final waypoint, it will just remain there awaiting further control input.
It is important to note that the Desire Pro will execute its waypoint mission even when it has lost its WiFi control signal from the smartphone so it is important to place the final waypoint not too far from where you’re standing so you won’t lose sight of the drone. Speaking of signal loss, the Desire Pro doesn’t seem to have any failsafe that allows it to return to home when signal loss is detected and will attempt to maintain its position. In situations where GPS signal is spotty or unavailable, I believe it will just drift away.
Despite these peculiarities, the Desire Pro is still a very decent entry level GPS drone. Its GPS accuracy is fairly good and on par with other more expensive GPS drones that I’ve tested.
WiFi FPV Camera
The Desire Pro features a full HD 1080P WiFi FPV camera with a wide angle of view. Image quality is class-leading for a sub-$100 toy drone although they do appear a bit over-exposed by about half a stop. FPV feed can be viewed on the X-Hubsan app and the range is about 50m unless a WiFi extender is used.
Since the Desire Pro lacks a mechanical gimbal, videos taken using its camera are shaky and simply not usable for any kind of professional use. With that said, the Desire Pro takes better stills than videos.
Above is a gallery of unedited sample images taken using the Desire Pro’s camera.
The Hubsan H216A Desire Pro is a great choice for those who want an affordable introduction to GPS drones. Costing less than $100, it sports GPS features that, until only recently, were found only on more expensive drones that cost at least a few hundred dollars. Its GPS features work reasonably well with the exception of Follow Me which can sometimes fail to work.
Another plus point of the Desire Pro is its WiFi FPV camera which produces decent image quality for a sub-$100 drone and features a wide FOV. The biggest flaw on the Desire Pro is obviously the control range which is a meager 50m. For a longer control range, a WiFi extender is needed.
The Desire Pro is currently available for $90 shipped at GearBest. Click here for more details.
Hubsan X4 H216A Desire Pro
Features and Performance8.9 /10
Flight Time5.0 /10
Build Quality7.8 /10
- GPS for less than $100
- X-Hubsan app performs very well
- Decent WiFi FPV camera
- Accurate and reliable GPS flight features
- Poor WiFi control range (approx 50 to 100m)
- Short flight times
- No option to use 2.4G remote controllers
- Sluggish flight performance