DJI Tello: The Cutest Little Drone Ever, and Only $99
Tello is quite possible the cutest drone we've ever flown. There's no reason not to buy it, what are you waiting for?
Tello is the latest drone on the seemingly endless conveyor belt of new models being released, but this isn’t your standard drone by any means. Featuring a 720p camera, 10 minute battery life, and a $99 price point, Tello aims to set the standard for entry level drones.
Watch our video review below, and read on to see what we think of this tiny little drone.
DJI Tello Features and Specifications
Marketed as the “most fun drone ever”, Tello appears to have traded modern features such as a 4k camera or gimbal for a lower price point and enhanced safety features. Yes, that means you won’t be able to perform crazy drone projects with this particular model.
With a 14-core Intel processor, Electronic Image Stabilization, a 5 MP camera, and collision detection, this drone still manages to pack in the tech–which is even more impressive given such a low purchase price.
Tello weighs just 2.8 ounces, and comes with four removable plastic propeller guards. Tello provides auto takeoff/landing, low battery protection, a vision positioning system, and failsafe protection.
All of these features are designed to make this little drone safer, more fun, and easier to fly for beginners. Measuring just 3.8 x 3.6 x 1.6 inches, you can easily fly this drone indoors. Unlike the ultra-cheap $10 tiny “toy” drones you may have seen on Amazon, this drone practically flies for you. Not only can it handle takeoff and landing, but it will hover in place, without you having to delicately balance the throttle—something only much larger drones could accomplish, until now.
If those features weren’t enough for you, you can code your own drone software applications using the free software development kit (SDK). Don’t worry if you don’t know how to code, as Tello can also be programmed using Scratch, a free program that allows you to develop programs using simple blocks.
No charger is included in the box, but you can charge the included battery using a micro-USB cable. Photos and Videos are streamed and saved onto your mobile device. There’s no microSD slot for longer flights, however.
If you’re not sure on your USB connectors, then take a look at our guide to USB cable types .
Tello is actually manufactured by Ryze Tech, with a little help from DJI and Intel. But don’t let that put you off. It’s truly remarkable how good this drone is, especially when you compare it to nearly anything else available at this price point.
Flying Tello is very simple. You’ll be right at home if you’ve ever flown a DJI drone before. Using the Tello app, or optional hardware controller, you simply press a button to launch. You’ll need to perform a calibration routine for your first ever flight, however.
This calibration routine can take up to ten minutes, but realistically, this should be complete in less than five. This process is significantly faster on the larger and more expensive DJI drones, but it’s not a huge inconvenience.
You’ll have no problems flying this drone indoors, and it’s not too loud either. You’ll struggle to fly it outside on anything other than a summer day. The slightest breeze will soon carry it away.
The Tello app provides access to basic features such as VR mode, Wi-Fi settings, flight speed, and camera settings, but it’s not the most comprehensive app.
Flying Tello is just as simple as nearly any other drone ever made. By using the two virtual (or physical with the optional controller) joysticks, you can move the drone in all three axis, along with rotation. You can’t adjust the angle of the camera however–the lens is fixed on the main body, with no gimbal.
The included plastic prop guards are a necessity for indoor flights. Not only do these stop you smashing up your new toy, but they prevent you from potentially injuring a family member or pet. If you accidentally break a propeller, you’ll find a spare set included in the box.
You can remove these prop guards if you’d like to squeeze out a minute of so extra battery life. It’s probably safer to keep these on all of the time though.
Image quality is adequate, but if you consider how much this drone costs, you’ll likely be very happy. Slow motion options alongside 4k video (or even 1080p) are non-existent, which is hardly surprising. You won’t be filming the latest Netflix hit on the DJI Tello. But you will have fun, and in that regard, the camera is certainly able to keep up.
It does struggle in low light, which is disappointing considering you’ll be flying this indoors most of the time. However, the live feed on your mobile device is good enough to be usable most of the time.
Flips and Tricks
One area where Tello really shines is by performing flips and other complex flying stunts. This is something that the bigger drones such as the DJI Mavic Air cannot do!
Tello comes with 6 easy to use “special” flight modes:
- Flips: slide your finger on the screen to perform a flip in any direction.
- Circle: record a short video while flying in a circle.
- Throw & Go: throw the drone and it will automatically take off and stabilize.
- Up & Out: record a short video while flying upwards and backwards.
- 360: record a video while spinning 360 degrees in place.
- Bounce: automatically bounce up and down on a flat surface such as your hand.
Many of these flight modes are also available in larger drones such as the DJI Spark , but that model can’t do a flip!
Aside from “Throw & Go”, which is possible one of the coolest drone tricks to ever have been invented, many of these other tricks soon lose their magic. Many of the video tricks you can perform yourself with a little practice.
Code Your Own Drone
Possibly the biggest selling point of Tello is the ability to program your own tricks or flight patterns. If you’ve got the skills, you can download the free SDK, and begin coding immediately. The real trick however, is when you begin to code this drone using visual programming language Scratch.
Just by dragging and dropping a few colored blocks together, you can easily create a complex flight path. Whether this is a double backflip into a square holding formation, or a diamond shape perimeter patrol, it’s very cool to program on your computer, and then see the drone react.
You may find the coding style limiting and will soon tire of coding similar routines, but it’s still an incredible feature. If you’re looking to learn the basics of computer coding—even with a visual language, then you’ll have hours of fun with this little drone!
If you’ve never used Scratch before, then our guide to Scratch on the Raspberry Pi may come in handy.
Should You Buy The DJI Tello?
The Tello is an amazing drone. Don’t let its diminutive size fool you, it’s got the power where it counts. If you’re looking to learn how to code, want a drone that you can fly indoors, or simply can’t afford the expensive price tag of the larger models, you won’t be disappointed with Tello.
If you’re looking for a drone that’s a bit bigger, maybe has a better battery life, or even 4k video, then don’t forget to read our reviews of the DJI Mavic Air or DJI Mavic Pro . These two drones are the “big brothers” to the tiny Tello!