The market for beginner drones has grown dramatically over the past few years. And one of the latest beginner drone models to take the market by storm is the Potensic Atom SE drone.
In this review, we’ll take a look at its design and build, flight performance, camera, remote controller, and other features and explore why the Atom SE is an amazing choice for anyone looking for an affordable but high-quality quadcopter.
- Color: Gray
- Weight: <249g
- Folded size: 3.46×5.63×2.28 inch
- Unfolded size: 11.8×9.53×2.28 inch
- Build material: ABS plastic
- Battery capacity: 2 intelligent 2500mAh batteries
- Flight time: up to 31 minutes per battery
- Charging time: 90 minutes
- Camera: 4K EIS camera with Sony Sensor, 12MP photos, and up to 4K@30fps HD digital video
- Control method: Remote controller / App
- Remote control: 2.4GHz control
- Control range: up to 4 km
See Potensic Atom SE price on Amazon
What’s in the Box?
When purchasing the Atom SE drone, you have two options: the Standard Kit or the Fly More Kit. The former only includes the drone, one battery, the controller, and cables, while the latter contains an extra battery and a carry case.
For our testing, we decided to go with the Potensic Atom SE Fly More Kit, which comes with the drone, an instruction manual, a battery, the controller, a full set of spare propellers, and tools for replacement. The kit also includes a USB cable for charging and three cables (USB-C, Micro-USB, and Lightning) to connect the smartphone with the provided controller.
The additional battery doubles the flight time from around 30 minutes to 60 minutes. And the well-padded carry case has ample storage for all Potensic Atom SE accessories.
However, note that the Atom SE drone has no internal memory. So, you will need to purchase a micro-SD card separately to record footage during outdoor or indoor flight.
Potensic Atom SE review: Design and Build
The Potensic Atom SE is a nifty beginner drone perfect for anyone wanting to explore aerial photography without breaking the bank. And the best part? It’s super compact and easy to store, thanks to its foldable design. Plus, with a weight of just under 250 grams, you only need an Operator ID to fly it in the UK.
The Potensic Atom SE camera and sensor are at the front, with a visual positioning system and GPS unit for stable hovering and safe returns. And despite its small size, it produces high-quality stills and enables low latency for videos.
At the rear of the unit, you’ll find the battery and status light. The drone’s charging port is conveniently located on the battery, which can be charged separately from the drone (as the Atom SE doesn’t have an internal battery).
The one drawback we found is that the Atom SE’s grey ABS plastic shell can be difficult to spot in unpredictable weather conditions. Since the drone is so small and lightweight, it can be challenging to locate, particularly on cloudy days.
The Atom SE’s camera has a 1/3in 12MP Sony CMOS sensor and a lens that provides a wide 118° field of view. But while the camera is dampened, it lacks a 3-axis mechanical gimbal, relying instead on only electronic image stabilization to prevent shaky footage. This results in a locked camera position, capturing FPV-style video where drone movements are captured rather than stabilized.
One downside of the locked camera is that in windy conditions, the horizon may appear at an angle. Although the camera can be tilted vertically between +20° to -90°, it cannot point straight down.
The Atom SE’s center frame sharpness is impressive, but sharpness is decreased towards the photo edges, as is common with many consumer drones. And even at low settings, ISO noise is noticeable within the ISO 100-6400 range, and photos may have a vignette effect. Fortunately, videos don’t have this issue, likely due to less use of the sensor and lens.
When it comes to video capabilities, the Atom SE can shoot in 4K at 30fps, 1080p at up to 60fps, and 2.7K at 30fps, with a maximum bitrate of 40 mbps, which is considered a high level of compression. For photos, both JPEG and Raw formats are available in a 16:9 ratio, offering greater flexibility when editing.
Although the overall camera functionality is limited, future firmware updates may provide control over ISO, shutter speed, and white balance.
The Atom SE’s compact controller has a sleek design that extends from the left-hand side, creating ample space in the center for your mobile device. It features a pair of foldable antennas and runs on an internal lithium battery.
Compared to the RC-N1 controller for the DJI Mini SE, it has a minimal number of buttons, including power and automatic return-to-home buttons, as well as top buttons for recording videos and images.
To access advanced features, you’ll need to download the PotensicPro App. With the app, you can unlock the drone’s advanced camera settings, intelligent flight modes, and flight data display, giving you a more reliable flight control experience.
Flying the Potensic Atom SE was a delightful experience. The controls were intuitive, and with a plethora of features to experiment with, there was never a dull moment. Even as a novice drone pilot, I had no major issues flying the Atom SE.
Equipped with a built-in GPS drone chip, the Atom SE can determine its location and navigate back home automatically, making it an ideal choice for inexperienced pilots. The drone model also hovered more efficiently when connected to a GPS signal, though it could take some time to establish the signal after exiting the app.
The emergency return-to-home mode activates automatically when the battery drops to 25%. In an emergency, the controller/app will start beeping to alert the pilot. If you wish to fly the drone back home manually, you can always do so by disabling this mode.
Another drawback of Potensic Atom SE is that it’s incredibly lightweight, so the wind speed significantly impacted its flight pattern and stability.
On the bright side, the Potensic Atom SE had a communication range of 4 km (~2.5 miles), so users could explore vast areas and fly the drone beyond the range of sight.
The Potensic Atom SE also has a SurgeFly flight control system that offers three speed modes: Video, Normal, and Sports. In Video mode, the drone can reach a maximum speed of 13 mph. In Normal mode, it can travel up to 22 mph, while in Sport mode, it reaches its max speed of 35 mph. The drone also features three intelligent flight modes:
This mode allows the drone to lock onto your smartphone and fly around your position while you control the speed, height, and distance.
This mode makes the drone follow its user by tracking their smartphone.
This mode enables professional drone pilots to draw a flight path on a map, and the drone will fly along that route automatically.
Is Potensic Atom SE Worth It?
If you’re a starter on a budget, the Atom SE is an excellent option. It is well-built, has an impressive image quality, and comes reasonably priced. The Fly More Bundle offers all the necessary accessories, making it an even better value.
However, if you are a professional or an advanced drone pilot looking for a sub 250g drone, the Atom SE’s limited camera controls and lack of a 3-axis mechanical gimbal might not meet your needs. The electronic image stabilization can only reduce vibrations to a certain extent, so you may still experience jittery footage, especially in high winds. The Atom SE’s consistent video quality is still suitable for casual use, but it may not be professional-grade.
Best Alternatives to the Potensic Atom SE drone
The Potensic Atom SE is an excellent option for beginners on a budget. Despite a few limitations that could be fixed through firmware updates, the drone performs well in flight and can capture high-quality images. However, if you want more advanced features and greater control, the DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro and Autel Evo Nano+ are sub-250g drone models worth considering.
They offer superior image quality and more advanced flight features like collision avoidance and Quickshots automated flight patterns. They are fully-featured models suitable for professionals and casual enthusiasts alike, though they come with a higher price tag. If you’re willing to invest more, the Mini 3 Pro and Nano+ are the way to go.
Read more: SG900 Drone Review
Tips When Flying the Potensic Atom SE Drone
Turn Off Notification
Notifications from calls, messages, or other apps can cause you to lose concentration and lead to flying accidents. Furthermore, notifications may cause interference with the remote control signals, resulting in loss of control or erratic flight behavior.
By minimizing distractions and potential interference, you can enhance your safety and enjoyment while flying your drone.
Follow Drone Laws
Drone laws are in place to protect both people and property and prevent accidents and other legal issues.
For example, in many countries, drones are not allowed to be flown near airports or above certain altitudes to avoid collisions with airplanes. Flying drones over crowded areas or private property without permission is also generally prohibited to prevent invasion of privacy and potential accidents.
Following drone laws not only prevents legal consequences but also helps promote a positive image of the drone community and supports the integration of drones into society.
Calibrate and Preflight Check
Calibration involves setting the drone’s sensors to ensure it operates correctly and responds accurately to your commands. A preflight check, on the other hand, involves a thorough inspection of the drone, its components, and the surrounding area to ensure everything is in good working condition.
Check the Weather
Strong winds, rain, or snow can affect the drone’s stability and control, leading to crashes. Moreover, different lighting conditions can also affect the drone’s camera performance and the quality of the footage captured. For example, flying in low light conditions can make it difficult to see obstacles or determine the drone’s orientation, while flying in bright sunlight can result in overexposed or washed-out footage.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Just like any other skill, improving your drone flying skills requires regular practice. Start by practicing basic maneuvers in a safe, open area with few obstacles, and gradually progress to more complex flying techniques.
It’s also helpful to fly in different weather conditions and lighting situations to understand how the drone behaves in various environments. This can help you feel much more confident and prepared when flying in less-than-ideal conditions.