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Who says toys are just for kids? As someone who grew up on remote-controlled cars, the prospect of a smartphone-controlled gadget is tantalizing to me even well into adulthood.

And with the kind of cool gizmos that are in the market already, it’s hard to keep that credit card away. From helicopters to submarines and smart balls to robots, this is my (and soon, yours) wishlist of cool smartphone-controlled toys.


Let’s start with the simplest of the lot, taking us back to our childhood: RC cars. CarBots by Desk Pets are tiny little toy cars that can be controlled via your phone after you plug in a custom IR transmitter in the 3.5mm headphone jack. The cars come in four colours (red, blue, green, yellow) to let you play with friends in races or skirmishes (using IR to fire shots at each other). The rechargable battery promises 15 minutes of play after a 30-minute charge.

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: Between $13 to $40


Rover 2.0 Spy Tank

Sit in one room and check out what’s going on elsewhere in the house with the Rover 2.0 Spy Tank. It links with your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi, working with a range of up to 100 feet through obstacles and 200 feet uninterrupted. You can see what’s happening with the adjustable camera and hear what’s being said with the built-in microphone, or transmit your own audio through its speaker — all in real-time. Its video feed or stills can be uploaded directly to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. In case things get a little dark, just switch on the headlights, or better yet, the infrared-based night vision mode! Powered by 6 AA batteries, this is the ultimate toy for geeks.

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: $119.99

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0


It’s a flying camera! Perhaps the most famous smartphone-controlled toy out there, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is a quadricopter with an HD video camera — which freaks Dave Parrack out about what the future holds 8 Robot Quadrotor Videos Suggest A Scary Future 8 Robot Quadrotor Videos Suggest A Scary Future Many technological advances have a scary side to them, pointing towards a future where humanity is in danger of being overrun by intelligent machines which no longer need us. If they ever decide they don't... Read More . You can fly the device as well as control its camera from your smartphone (connected via Wi-Fi) and receive live images, which can be stored directly on your smartphone. And you can even indulge in a few augmented reality games if you’re up for it. There’s a lot more you can do with the AR.Drone 2.0, as you can read in our full review Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Review and Giveaway Parrot AR Drone 2.0 Review and Giveaway The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is the most expensive remote control toy money can buy; it’s a smartphone controlled quadrocopter with a 720p HD camera, and it’s ridiculously fun, but quite temperamental. What follows is... Read More .

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: $299.99

Sphero 2.0

Sphero is the robotic ball I wish I grew up with. As big as a tennis ball, it connects with your phone via Bluetooth (up to 100 feet) and glows with customizable colours. Sphero 2.0 can gather speeds of up to 7 feet per second. It’s features wireless charging and is rugged — both pet-proof and waterproof. Ideally, you want friends who have this to race and play other games with them — there are even two ramps in the kit! But if you’re on your own, you can still enjoy Sphero with the augmented reality games it has. This is just so cool!

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: $129.99

BeeWi Mini Robot

How can you not instantly fall in love with these tiny, cute robots that let you play football and even sumo wrestle! BeeWi’s BBZ150 Bluetooth Mini Robot has two little eyes and two moveable flippers/feet/hands, along with the ability to move in all four directions. With a range of up to 30 feet, the BeeWi Mini Robot is powered by twin AAA batteries.

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: £29.99


How would you like to have your own R2-D2? Romo turns any iPod or iPhone into a cute robot with its own personality. Essentially, Romo is a wheelbase in which you dock your iPhone or iPod touch, and load up their proprietary app that provides Romo with a cartoony face (with a range of emotions) and gibberish speech, much like R2-D2. Romo works via facial recognition to become an e-pet, and also includes telepresence to let you control it with another iOS device or the Web. There may not be much reason to buy a new iPod touch Should You Still Buy MP3 Players? Should You Still Buy MP3 Players? Remember how everyone used to have an MP3 player? In the days before the iPhone, MP3 players were a must-have item. Smartphones have eaten into MP3 player sales over the years -- why purchase a... Read More , and this is a great way to repurpose an old one.

Works with: iOS

Price: $149

PowerUp 3.0

Turn any plain paper airplane into an smartphone-controlled flight of fancy with PowerUp 3.0, a simple device that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0. It’s essentially a carbon-fibre rod with a tiny motor that ascends when you speed up and descends when you slow down, according to Gizmag. The onboard accelerometer even gives a virtual horizon on the app, letting you control it from your smartphone easily. Maker TailorToys says you could potentially get over 30 seconds of flight on a single charge. Even though it’s not out in the market yet, the PowerUp 3.0 is so darn cool, it deserved a spot here. For the time being, you might want to check out PowerUp 2.0 on Amazon.

Works with: iOS

Price: $49.99

AquaBotix HydroView

After driving on land and soaring through the air, it’s time to go underwater. AquaBotix’s HydroView is essentially a smartphone-controlled submarine! It’s fitted with an HD camera to transmit a video stream of what it sees, while travelling at speeds of up to five knots (and one knot in reverse). You can steer it by tilting your smart device, and brighten up dark environments with the built-in LED lights. The HydroView is connected via a cable to a floating smartbox, which is its “brains”. The standard pack gets you a 75-foot cable, but you can purchase others up to 300 feet. But yeah, to dive into water, you’ll need to light your wallet on fire.

Works with: iOS, Android

Price: $5,395

What’s Your Favourite Toy?

These glitzy gizmos are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of cool smartphone-controlled toys you can get. But what’s your favourite in the list? Which other gadget has made you shout, “Shut up and take my money!“?

If you are currently using any of these devices, do share your experience.

Image credit: Cellulari World/flickr

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  1. Mike Smith
    August 12, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    toys aren't concepts. they're actual things. unless you've actually used them & can say whether they're any good or not this article is just pointless chatter

  2. TechnoAngina
    September 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Weird, came here to respond to a reply and It doesn't show my prior comment. Have you guys started modding comments or are unregistered users hidden or something?

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      I still see the earlier comment, TechnoAngina. Far as I know, there's no such moderation happening. It might be that unregistered users are hidden, I'll look into it.

      But I haven't lost track of our earlier thread, so please feel free to reply right here :)

    • TechnoAngina
      September 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      Okay weirder still. I see it now! I was going to say earlier I lost my playful side when I joined a helpdesk. I end up debugging stuff like the problem I was saying I was seeing. Thanks for reminding me to look at my lighter side :)

  3. Pooky J
    September 11, 2013 at 7:22 am

    None of them are for Windows Phone :(

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Sorry Pooky, I didn't come across any that support WP. I'm hoping they can work some cool things out with a Kinect add-on though!

  4. Eric J
    September 11, 2013 at 5:41 am

    i like the parrot one.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 11, 2013 at 7:27 am

      The Parrot is the most well-developed one of the lot, and widely used now. It's got a few cool Augmented Reality games too, which make fun beyond the utility factor.

  5. TechnoAngina
    September 10, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    OMG, Android powered drone wars coming soon! A lot of these look freaking awesome, not quite "Shut up and take my money!" awesome for me, but I can definitely see how some people would be intrigued. Seriously imagine being able to livecast exploring the deeps through your phone someday? That's kind of cool where we are going.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 11, 2013 at 7:25 am

      The Sphero isn't "Shut up and take my money!"? Come on, TechnoAngina, where's your playful side? :D

  6. Gustavo De la Mora
    September 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    The Last one the underwater think, “Shut up and take my money!“

    • Pooky J
      September 11, 2013 at 7:23 am

      haha, me too

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 11, 2013 at 7:26 am

      Yeah, that's my personal favourite too. Imagine just taking it out on a lake and going exploring. Great adventures ahoy!

    • Suggymoto
      September 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      What happens if the battery goes while deep down? Does it auto-float on death?