REVIEW – What’s more fun than a remote-controlled quadcopter? A quadcopter that you can control with your phone or a dedicated controller that also has a built-in camera all packaged in a 2-in-1 folding format. Let’s check it out.
What is it?
The Holy Stone HS220 is a quadcopter drone that can be controlled with a battery-powered remote or an iPhone or Android device.
What’s in the box?
- Holy Stone drone
- Handheld remote
- 2 batteries
- micro USB charging cable
- 4 replacement propellers
- 4 replacement feet
- User manual
Design and features
The Holy Stone HS220 drone is made of white and black plastic and features a quadcopter design with 4 rotors. On top of the drone, you’ll see the Holy Stone logo which doubles as the touch-enabled power button. You’ll also notice two other icons which are designators for how to position the drone when in folded (as shown here) and unfolded Wing flight mode.
The bottom of the drone has for LED status lights and the battery slot.
A black plastic cage protects the rotors and your fingers from damage. You’ll also notice the four rubber feet that let you land the drone on different types of surfaces without damage.
As mentioned earlier, the Holy Stone HS220 is a folding drone. Each rotor folds out to create a larger X-shaped drone that is almost 2x the original size. Note, that you have to unfold the drone to be able to remove the battery for charging.
You’ll also need to use the drone in wing flight mode if you want to take pictures and video with the built-in camera.
The HS220 comes with a handheld remote control which doubles as the battery charger. It is powered by the same type of battery that the drone uses. The control has a micro USB connector on the front edge that is used to charge the batteries for both the controller and the drone.
The drone can fly for about 7-9 minutes per battery charge, and the remote will work for a much longer time on one charge, so you can swap batteries with the controller when you’re out in the field if the drone’s battery is too weak for flight. The drone’s weak battery will still work in the controller and the controller’s battery will power the drone for a few extra minutes until you need to go inside for a recharge.
Note that it can take up to 150 minutes (2.5 hrs) to recharge each battery which seems like forever when you just want to fly your drone.
The controller also features a fold out phone holder if you want to use the Holy Stone app and the controller to control the drone.
The app’s user interface is relatively basic. And the main part of the screen is used for a live view through the drone’s camera. Note that you have to use the app if you want to record video and / or capture images with the drone. Also note that the image you see above is the ONLY time I was able to see a live view from the drone’s camera. Every subsequent time that I used the app, it the screen would be black. However, if I clicked the picture capture button on the handheld remote control while the app was open and my phone was connected to the drone’s WiFi, the app would make a click/capture noise. But video and images came out with a black screen.
To fly the Holy Stone drone, you first have to charge the battery for the handheld controller and the battery for the drone. As mentioned above, both batteries are charged using the controller. After both batteries are charged, you can decide if you want to fly the drone in the folded (smaller) form factor or the wing flight form factor. In my experience, the drone is more stable in the unfolded wing flight form factor. When it’s folded, you can snap pictures or capture video and the flight pattern is a little wonky which you’ll see in the video demo below.
Before you can start flying, you will tap the logo on the drone to turn it on and press the power button on the controller. Then you will want to press the lift joystick up, then down to pair the controller with the drone, then press the one key start/land button. This will cause the drone blades to start spinning and you can use the left joystick to lift the drone.
See it in action (or not)
As you’ve seen in my 1st demo video above, I had a LOT of problems flying this drone. It seemed to have a mind of its own for the first few flights. Even so, it stood up just fine from getting stuck in a tree, to slamming into the side of the house, and other flight stopping maneuvers. I have to hand it to Holy Stone for making a rugged little drone.
I got better at flying it, but the drone does drift in different directions, which require frequent trim operations to resolve that problem and even after performing the trim operations, the drone would not just hover completely still in one place, it would always drift a little bit. Also when using the one-key landing button, it would not just descend straight down and land, it would descend at an angle and then land.
What I like
- Small foldable design
- More rugged than other drones I’ve reviewed
- Can fly it with or without using your smartphone
- One button launch and land
What needs to be improved
- Control. Requires frequent trim procedure
- Takes too long to charge the batteries (150 minutes)
- Android app bugs. No way to capture pictures or video without using the app
After some practice, I was able to fly the Holy Stone HS220 drone pretty well, but I was never able to see how well the built-in camera performed as I was not able to get the app to show the live view of the camera or record from the camera.
When it’s all said and done, flying this drone was fun but is overpriced at $100. For that much money, I expect the camera feature to work and I think there should be a way to capture video and images without needing to use an iOS or Android app.
A recent app update did fix the issue that I was having with seeing the live view from the drone’s camera and being able to record video. However, the recorded video was pretty horrible. I wouldn’t buy this drone based on the fact that it has a camera. You’ll be disappointed.