Yuneec Mantis Q drone review: Voice control isn’t enough

The Mantis Q is a nimble, maneuverable drone, but its 4K video is shaky and its voice control is gimmicky. I’ve been yelling at my gadgets for years, but only recently have them started to listen to me. Technology like Amazon Alexa means you can now control your gadgets with your voice, and drones like the $449 Yuneec Mantis Q are getting in on the game. Unfortunately, voice control feels like a gimmick that doesn’t add much to the experience.DesignThe Mantis Q is a sleek, futuristic-looking drone that measures about 6.2 x 3.7 x 2.2 inches with arms that fold into the body when not in use. When you want to fly, you unfold the arms and lock them into place.The remote is slightly smaller than the drone and comes with a nifty foldable smartphone holder. Our iPhone XS slid into the holder easily during testing. There are also two foldable Wi-Fi antennas on the back of the controller, as well as a USB Type-C and USB Type-A port for connecting a smartphone to the controller. A USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable is included for connecting Android phones. iPhones must use the included Apple Lightning to USB cable.Flight PerformanceThe Mantis Q is an easy drone to fly. Simply unfold it, turn on the remote, connect it to your phone, and press the takeoff button. The drone then takes off and hovers about 5 feet above the ground. In standard flight mode, the Mantis Q is very stable, which is great for beginners. Sport mode makes the drone faster and more maneuverable. Yuneec claims the Mantis Q can reach a top speed of 44.7 mph, but we measured a slightly slower (but still very fast) 33 mph.In standard flight mode, the Mantis Q is very stable—great for beginners.The Mantis Q offers a variety of flight modes, including Journey (fly out and back); POI (fly around a point of interest); and Visual Follow (follow a selected object using the camera), either by moving the drone to keep a fixed distance from the target or by keeping the drone stationary and moving the camera. Visual Follow mode works well as long as the target is unique enough to track.For example, it tracked me without a problem, but had trouble following a dark-colored dog in a meadow. Since the Mantis Q lacks collision detection and the forward-looking camera that drones like the Mavic Air use to avoid objects, it will run right into trees if the subject it’s tracking happens to be hiding behind cover.Voice ControlThe Mantis Q’s voice control feature is interesting, but feels a little half-baked. The idea is interesting. When you use the app and enable voice control, you can tell the drone to take off by saying “Mantis Q, take off.” To avoid accidents, you have to confirm by saying “yes” when the drone asks. When the drone is flying, you can say “take a selfie” to take a selfie. This is nice, but the remote app sometimes fails to detect voice commands — especially when the drone itself is flying nearby. And you can’t control the drone’s position or attitude with voice. So voice control feels more like a gimmick than a useful feature.Sometimes, voice commands can’t be detected, especially when the Mantis Q itself is flying nearby.The same is true of the smile feature, which tries to detect when you’re smiling to take a photo. It does work, but I found that you have to smile a big smile to trigger the feature, which makes you look a lot like the Joker. This might be useful if you were Batman, but it doesn’t work for us non-crime fighters.Photo and Video QualityThe Mantis Q has a 4K camera, but when electronic image stabilization is enabled, the camera resolution drops to a maximum of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (1080p). You get video at 60 frames per second, though.The Mantis Q’s electronic image stabilization is also not as effective as the stabilized gimbals used by drones like the Mavic Air 2. Those drones shoot higher-resolution videos that are sharper and smoother. We also found that the Mantis Q’s stabilized video has an annoying habit of jumping around.When the drone is tilted to move quickly left or right, the stabilized video remains level for a while, then suddenly shifts to a tilted view in a rather confusing way as the gimbal turns to reflect the drone’s direction. In contrast, drones like the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro physically tilt the camera to adjust for the drone’s movement.The Mantis Q has a 4K camera, but the camera resolution drops to a maximum of 1080p when you enable electronic image stabilization.Photos and videos are stored on a MicroSD card, which is located in a slot on the left side of the Mantis Q body. A 16GB card comes with the drone.Yuneec Drone Battery LifeYuneec claims that the 3,000 mAhYuneec Mantis Q drone batterythat clips onto the back of the Mantis Q body will last for 33 minutes, and that estimate isn’t far off. We flew for about 25 minutes before the low battery alarm started to sound, and we continued to fly for a few minutes before the app warned us that the drone would automatically return to its starting point soon. The Mantis Q comes with one  

Yuneec Mantis Q battery, but the included charger can hold three Yuneec Mantis Q drone battery batteries, which are charged in sequence. Spare batteries cost about $60.ConclusionThe Yuneec Mantis Q feels like a missed opportunity. It’s a nice, easy to fly, and fast drone that shoots pretty good 1080p video. That might have been enough a few years ago, but competing drones like the Mavic Air shoot steadier, more attractive 4K video for just $200 more. The Mantis Q’s voice control feature is nice, but not very useful. As a result, it’s hard to recommend the Mantis Q over similarly priced drones with better features.

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