If you’re searching for an affordable and user-friendly quadcopter that costs only a fraction of the cheapest DJI Mavic model, then the Ryze Tello drone is a solid option. 

The Tello boasts an impressive array of features for its price point, making it an excellent choice for kids, STEM students, hobbyists, and beginners on a tight budget.

In this article, we’ll look closer at the Tello’s design and build quality, flight performance, camera capabilities, and other features that make it stand out from other drones. Whether you’re interested in experimenting with programming languages like Scratch or simply want to learn how to fly a drone, the Tello has something amazing to offer. 

Product Specification:

  • Color: White
  • Weight: <249g (2.82 ounces)
  • Dimensions: 98×92.5×41 mm
  • Port: Micro USB Charging Port
  • Built-in Functions: LED, Range Finder, Barometer, 2.4 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, Vision System, 720p Live View
  • Propeller: 3 inches
  • Detachable Battery: 1.1Ah/3.8V
  • Max Flight Time: 13min
  • Max Flight Height: 30m
  • Max Flight Distance: 100m
  • Max Speed: 8m/s
  • Video: HD720P30
  • Photo: 5MP (2592×1936)
  • Format: JPG(Photo); MP4(Video)
  • FOV: 82.6°
  • EIS: Yes

See Ryze Tech Tello’s price on Amazon

Design and Build

The Tello’s compact size is remarkable. Without propellers or guards, it measures less than 10cm (3.3in) wide. But despite its small size, its build quality is surprisingly robust. During our indoor testing, we opted to attach the included propeller guards and found that the plastic material strikes the perfect balance between brittle and bendy.

The airframe acts as a protective shell for the battery, which can be easily slid in and out of the back via a clip. However, due to the manufacturing standards, it can feel a bit sticky. The drone’s top shell is made of glossy plastic, while the legs and base are a single piece.

A recessed 5-megapixel camera lens sits at the front of the drone, accompanied by a multi-color LED that indicates its status. During boot-up, it alternates between red, green, and yellow. It slowly blinks blue while charging and turns solid blue when fully charged.

Opposite the power button is a micro USB connector. If multiple batteries are required, bundles, including extra batteries and charger bricks, are available.

At the rear, you’ll find a central sonar-like distance sensor and dual vision sensors that assist with positioning. These sensors track the ground’s texture and prevent drift, resulting in impressively precise hovering even without GPS–a feature often associated with high end drones such as the DJI Mavic.

Camera Capabilities

If you’ve been eyeing high-end camera drones that cost five or ten times more than the Tello, it’s important to temper your expectations regarding the camera. 

The Tello’s difference lies not in its lower resolution or lack of a gimbal, but rather its absence of on-board image storage; footage is recorded and transmitted over the live feed or lost forever. And since there’s no MicroSD backup available, the video quality is vulnerable to outdoor interference.

In indoor use, however, the camera delivers a pleasant surprise in terms of quality. By staying close to the device, there is no need to worry about reception. Sufficient lighting is required, though, to hold its position. If the downward-facing camera doesn’t receive enough light, the aircraft may begin to drift, and a crash may ensue if this happens for too long.

Although the Tello’s video quality is not on par with high-end drones, it remains surprisingly good until there is motion in the shot. Fast movements can cause compression issues, resulting in blocky areas, particularly in grass.

Despite the limitations of the fixed camera in the fuselage, the digital image stabilization is impressive. The device produces breathtaking first person view FPV flying, and the video recordings are of decent enough quality to edit and share. The cropping doesn’t allow for pitch control over the camera, as the field of view isn’t wide enough, but refined camera control is what the DJI Mini is for. 

Remote Controller and Tello App

The Tello app has been around since early 2018, and it’s still going strong. It’s been well maintained, and it’s user-friendly, which is crucial when you’re flying Tello via a screen.

One thing that stands out about the Tello edu app is that it guides you through the basics without wasting time. The last thing any drone pilot would want is to be bogged down with too much information before you can even start flying. 

Despite using brushed motors (the only viable option for a drone this size), the Tello can execute rapid speed changes and acrobatic maneuvers. In practice, the Tello can perform cool aerial stunts on command within less than a cubic meter of airspace, and there’s even a faster flight speed setting for those who prefer an added level of excitement.

Another unique feature of the Tello is the “Bounce” mode, where the drone hovers between 0.5 to 1.2 meters, repeatedly bouncing like a magic ball. It may not have a practical application, but it’s a fun addition that adds to the overall experience.

The Tello app’s friendly UI is also compatible with a Bluetooth remote controller, which many users may already have. The app is straightforward, with no complicated navigation menus, so you can focus on having a good time. 

Read more: Potensic Atom SE Drone Review

Flight Performance

The Tello’s charging time is around one hour for a single battery, which is a bummer given this drones flight time of about 11-12 minutes. If you plan to use the drone for longer periods, investing in the optional charger and two extra batteries is probably best. Reports suggest that this impressive little drone will give you a charge time of around 2 hours for all three batteries, which is definitely preferable to waiting around for an hour between flights.

Despite its small size, the Tello has an impressive speed, clocking in at just over 17mps/(8m/s). It also has a range of almost 100m (with a clear line of sight), which is impressive for a Wi-Fi-controlled drone.

Compared to other drones in its price range, the Tello is much easier to control. It can hover without any user input and moves through the air with stability, making it easy to fly in straight lines or execute smooth turns. This feature makes the Tello a great training drone for those considering upgrading to a more expensive model, as its flight characteristics closely match those of high-end models. 

However, the Tello struggles to deal with wind effectively, so it’s best to only fly it on calm days and at low altitudes when outdoors, lest it turns into a kite and flies away.

Educational Value

Because of its excellent educational value, the Tello drone has become a go-to choice for parents, educators, and students. It provides a fun and interactive learning environment that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and hands-on experience in coding, programming, and STEM-related applications. Below are some features that highlight its educational benefits.

Scratch programming

The Tello drone is compatible with Scratch, a beginner-friendly MIT-developed visual programming language, making it a perfect introduction to coding education for children and beginners. By dragging and dropping code blocks, users can create custom flight patterns, behaviors, and interactive games. This approach to learning programming concepts helps students develop their computational thinking and problem-solving skills.

STEM learning

The Tello drone is an excellent tool for teaching STEM concepts. By combining drone flying with educational content, the Tello drone provides a practical and interactive way for students to explore topics such as aerodynamics, physics, and engineering. This hands-on approach can boost engagement and retention of complex concepts.

Python SDK

The Tello drone also offers a Python-based Software Development Kit (SDK) for more advanced users, allowing for more sophisticated programming and customization. This feature enables students to explore more complex programming concepts, work on real-world projects, and further develop their coding skills.

Collaboration and teamwork

Working with the Tello drone in a group or classroom environment promotes student teamwork. They can work together to solve problems, create custom flight patterns, or compete in friendly drone races. This collaborative experience helps students develop essential communication skills valuable in various aspects of life.

Problem-solving and creativity

The Tello drone encourages students to find creative solutions to unique challenges and think critically. Experimenting with flight patterns, coding sequences, and drone behaviors allows students to develop their problem-solving skills while also fostering their creativity.

Real-world applications

The Tello drone provides a practical and engaging platform for students to explore real-world applications of drone technology. They can learn about the various industries that utilize drones, such as agriculture, search and rescue, and aerial photography, and understand the importance of responsible drone usage and safety.

Read more: SG900 Drone Review

Is Ryze Tello Drone Worth It?

The answer is yes! The Tello drone is a good choice for beginners, those on a budget, or anyone who wants to practice flying drones without worrying too much about crashing. Its camera may not be as advanced as more expensive drones, and its flight time and range may be limited, but these are the tradeoffs that keep the price low and make it an affordable introduction to drone flying.

However, if you’re an experienced pilot or looking for the most fun drone with more advanced features, the Tello is not the best option for you, and you should consider other options like the DJI Mini 2, DJI Mavic 3, or DJI FPV, depending on your needs and preferences.

Do I Need a License to Fly Toy Drones?

The answer depends on where you are located and the size and weight of the toy drone. In many countries, such as the US and UK, if a toy drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams), you must register it with the aviation authority and obtain a drone pilot license. However, if the drone weighs less than that, you may not need a license, but there may still be restrictions on where and how you can fly it.

The laws and regulations around drones are constantly changing, so it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations from your local aviation authority before flying.

ryze tello drone

Tips for Flying the Ryze Tello Drone

Tello users know just how awesome flying a drone is. But it’s important to remember the tips below to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight. 

Start in a safe area

Find an open area, such as a field or park, away from obstacles like trees, buildings, or power lines so you can have plenty of space to fly the drone and minimize the risk of accidents.

Read the manual

Before flying the Tello drone, read the manual carefully to fully understand how the drone works and how to operate it safely.

Calibrate the drone

Make sure to calibrate the Tello drone before flying it to help improve its stability and ensure smooth flying.

Practice basic controls

Spend time practicing basic controls, such as takeoff, landing, hovering, and directional movement, to be more familiar with the drone’s handling and responsiveness.

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