REVIEW – It’s winter here in Indiana, but that’s not going to stop me from testing out a drone that can land and take off from what? Wait, what?! It’s time to check out the SwellPro Spry+ 4K drone.
What is it?
The SwellPro Spry+ is a bright orange waterproof drone that can record in 4K resolution and has the ability to land in the water and lift off from the water.
Battery – 3600mAh LiHV
Charging time – approximately 90 minutes
Camera – 4K video, 12MP still images
Flight time – approximately 15-17 minutes
Max flight range – 800m (2625 ft) from remote control
Max flight altitude – 200m (656 ft)
Max flight speed – 18m/s
Max ascend speed – 3m/s
Positioning – GPS/GLONASS
Hovering accuracy +/-0.5m
Wind resistance 10m/s
Working temperature -10C -40C
Waterproof level – surface buoyant
Size – 233.5 x 249 x 90 mm
Weight – 538g (without the battery)
What’s in the box?
Everything you need to fly comes packaged in a zippered carrying case with a handle and attachment points for a shoulder strap (not included).
Unzipping the lid reveals the Spry+ drone.
Below the divider is the remote control, 2 antennas, charger, battery charging cable, battery, micro USB cable, 2 sets of propellers, wrench, 2 replacement switch covers, 2 replacement GPS membrane covers, and a user manual.
Design and features
The Spry+ doesn’t a typical look to it compared to other drones. This one has a bright orange body that has a soft slightly rubbery skin.
On the top is a large moisture-resistant battery compartment that is secured with a twist button lock.
The included rectangular battery fits snuggly inside the battery compartment. So snuggly in fact that the battery has a ribbon handle to help you pull it out when it needs to be charged.
There’s a micro SD card slot in the bottom center of the battery compartment. A memory card is not included with the Spry+, so you’re on your own to buy one.
Also inside the battery compartment is a micro USB connector and two other connectors. The two large connectors are for the battery, but there’s no mention of the USB connector in the included user guide so I’m not entirely sure what it’s function is.
The power button is built into the battery cover and on the back of the Swellpro Spry+ drone, you can see the GPS module, which is a round knob sticking out of the top back end of the drone.
When you flip the drone over, you can see the short antenna on the back end. You can also see a small button with a WiFi symbol below it. That’s the… wait for it… WiFi button. You press this button when you want to use the mobile app with the drone instead of the included controller.
Then, of course, there’s the camera that is protected beneath a plastic covering. If you look closely, you’ll see that the plastic cover has scratches on it. More about that unfortunate issue later.
The controller allows you to control the Spry+ drone without your phone as it has its own built-in color display. It also has 2 thumb joysticks and buttons on the shoulders of the controller that are used to move the camera angle up or down as well as buttons to switch modes, initiate the follow-me feature and start/stop video or image capture features.
The controller has a built-in battery that you charge via a micro USB cable.
There are two apps that you can use with this drone. The SwellCam2 app is used to customize various camera and drone settings.
To use this app, you have to press the WiFi button on the bottom of the Spry+ so the app will pair with the drone.
This app will not let you fly the drone, but you can use it to take photos and videos. Not sure how useful that is with the drone on the ground though 🙂
I find it annoying that I have to use a special app to make changes to the camera’s settings when the dedicated remote control also pairs with the drone and has a screen. The screen of the remote isn’t a touch screen, but you could use the buttons and joysticks to navigate a menu of options to customize the settings.
There’s also the SPRY app which you can use to fly the drone.
I was not successful in getting the app to pair with the Spry+, so I was never able to test the special features like one button landing. So I did all of my testing of the Spry+ using the included remote control.
Enough reading, let’s fly!
Being able to use a dedicated remote control is a lot more convenient than using your phone – at least I think so. This is especially true with the SwellPro because the drone AND the controller are waterproof. That means you can drop it in the lake or ocean and it will be fine.
After reading the user manual, watching a couple of videos on YouTube, charging the battery, and preforming the calibration, I was ready for my first flight of the Spry+. Its maiden voyage was short. I mean seconds short. The entire flight consisted of the drone lifting off the ground and immediately flipping over and spinning in the gravel of my driveway. After a few choice words, I walked over and picked it up only to utter several more colorful words when I noticed that the polycarbonate dome over the lens was scratched in multiple places. 🙁 Silver lining (I guess) is the fact that you can buy a replacement dome for $19.
Subsequent flights were less catastrophic although the drone would sometimes seem to have a mind of its own. Case in point, check out the demo video below.
At the end of the video (at the 6:45 mark) I try to land the drone on the sidewalk and it immediately pops back up in the air. Even though I have the left joystick all the way down, I have to fight with it for a minute before I’m able to get it to land.
Flying the Spry+ is fun, but hovering in place isn’t always rock steady, sometimes it will drift. The drone is also fast, so you have to be careful flying it as it reacts quickly to joystick changes. This also causes video footage to look a little bit erratic as the front of the drone with the camera will rock up and down as you fly forward, stop, or fly backward. Wind can also cause the video to be a little shakey. I was happy that taking off from water didn’t cause the dome over the camera to look splotchy or spotty with water droplets. You will notice some glare in the video above, that’s actually most likely due to the scratches on the camera dome and not the sun…
What I like
- Ability to land and take off from water
- A dedicated remote control is included
- A storage case is included
- Easy to fly
What I’d change
- Enable settings customization through the remote control instead of special apps
- Allow for battery charging without needing to take the battery out of the drone
- Longer battery life
- Add obstacle avoidance
The SwellPro Spry+ is the first drone that I’ve seen or flown that is waterproof. Not needing to worry about flights over water is a great feature. Flying the Spry+ is easy enough but I did find the 15-17minute flight time to be short given that other drones in this price range have longer flight times. And since I mentioned price, this drone is close to $1000 and does not have offer an obstacle avoidance feature, which I consider mandatory for a drone in this price range. If you must have a drone that can land or take off from water, then definitely check out the Spry+, but if that’s not an important feature to you, I would make sure that you understand the deficiencies and do your research before dropping almost $1000 on this particular drone.