My experience level with R/C drones and quadcopters is in its infancy, however I’m quickly adapting to each new aircraft that I come across. GearBest.com hooked me up with a unique little flyer, the JJRC Elfie ($40.00), a folding selfie/FPV drone that’s controlled through a smartphone and WiFi connection.
The design of this quadcopter is unlike anything that I’ve experienced before. Folding rotor arms, tuck underneath the main airframe, are both low-profile and sturdy. The rotor blades are larger than those of my other radio-controlled drones. Then there’s the weight. This aircraft is incredibly lightweight. The packaging is reminiscent of an iPhone or piece of jewelry, however the overall weight of what’s inside gives you a moment of pause, wondering if there’s anything inside the box.
Unboxing the JJRC Elfie Folding R/C Drone
- 1 JJRC Elfie Folding Drone
- 4 spare rotor blades
- 1 USB charging adapter
- 1 3.7V 500mAh battery
- 1 instruction manual
Initial Impressions of the JJRC Elfie Drone
This is the first JJRC aircraft that I’ve experienced and from the initial unboxing to the first flight, I have to say that I’m very impressed with this little quadcopter. The lightweight feel, compact form factor and stable hovering performance all scored high marks with me. Not to get too far ahead of myself, let’s dive into the aircraft itself.
Folding R/C drones gained popularity in 2016 with the release of the DJI Mavic and GoPro Karma. Both of these aircraft are on another level when compared to the JJRC Elfie. That said, the Elfie’s construction is impressive, exceeding my expectations for a sub-$50 quadcopter.
With the rotor arms in “storage mode” the shape of the quadcopter is reminicent of a smartphone or handheld gaming device. It’s sleek, compact, and very portable. When you unfold the arms and get the Elfie ready to fly, that’s when the real fun happens. The arm movement is stable and firm, with very little wobble when moving from one position to the other.
The JJRC Elfie rotor blades were larger than I had expected, easily dwarfing those of the SkyViper M500 Nano Drone that I had on my shelf. Those large blades aren’t protected with shrouds. Because of this, avoiding impacts and obstacles is key. I’ll also mention that flying the Elfie into your leg, or any other body part, should be avoided. Take it from me, it’s not a comfortable experience.
The JJRC doesn’t include a traditional R/C controller. That duty is handled by JJRC’s smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). The app pairing sequence is fairly as the controls and FPV video functions are enabled through a WiFi connection from the drone to your smart device.
After pairing is complete, the Elfie is ready to fly. This is where a quick scan of the instruction manual is helpful. The UI of the JJRC app is a bit cluttered and some of the icons and control options aren’t easily identifiable. As soon as the basic controls are found, you’re set to go, however, that may take a little time.
Takeoff and Flight
Takeoff, once controls have been configured, was smooth. Some might say, too smooth. The only action that rivals the Elfie’s takeoff is its hovering. Oh, so buttery.
The onboard, 720p camera works well for both FPV flight and capturing photos and video. The overall quality is decent, but it’s not what you’ll find from a GoPro or higher-resolution FPV camera setup.
Having the controls and the FPV display utilizing the same amount of screen real estate can make for some cramped quarters on your smartphone’s display. This isn’t a deal breaker for this aircraft, but it is an area that you’ll need to deal with.
Looking Forward to Future Flights
Between the stability and the compact size, I’m excited to have more flying time with this quadcopter. With its lightweight frame, I have a feeling any outdoor adventures will be off-limits (or short-lived, at the very least), however I’m anxious to see how the camera performs when there’s an abundance of natural light. Having extra room to roam would be beneficial too.