Drones these days come by a lot of names: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), quadcopters, unmanned aerial systems (UASs), and so forth.
Whatever you decide to call them, they’re a blast to fly! Thanks to a fairly shallow learning curve and inexpensive point of entry, drones are becoming more and more popular.
The Syma X5C has been one of our top choices for several years, mostly because it’s cheap and capable–and it’s a breeze to repair if you find that initial learning curve is a little, well, steep.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Drone
If you’re interested in the Syma X5C, it’s probably because you’re new to the world of drones. So, we thought we’d take a paragraph or two and explain what to look to make sure you’re not wasting money or getting something that’s going to be miserable to fly.
First, decide what you want to do with your drone. There are as many reasons for owning a drone as there are pilots, but knowing what you want with your drone will help you find the right toy for you.
Do you want to have a few minutes of fun on the weekend? Do you want to take aerial photos for fun? To sell? Do you want to get into drone racing?
You also need to think about how much you want to spend. Drones can crash and break easily, especially if you’re new to flying and it doesn’t pay to look for the cheapest drone. Here are a few features that will help make your drone cost-effective, no matter what you pay for it up front:
- Is it easy to disassemble for repairs?
- Are repair parts easy to find, cheap, and simple to replace?
You can also look into purchasing flying insurance, though this won’t become cost-effective until you’ve spent well over $1000 on a drone (or have yours carrying expensive camera equipment).
Make It Easy On Yourself
Here are a few features that make learning to fly easier:
- Sensors that allow your drone to hover, in case you fly it out of range or get mixed up at the controls
- Return-to-home (RTH) is a feature that will send your drone back to you (or to some other point) if it (or you) gets lost
- Follow me is a feature similar to RTH and allows the drone to follow you by GPS or remote signal (perfect for if you’re driving and you want the drone to follow you)
- Headless mode makes it easier to control your drone
You should also consider your drone’s battery life and the fact that the manufacturer is telling you how long the drone can fly in optimal conditions. If it’s windier or the drone is carrying a camera, it will drain the battery faster. Consider purchasing additional batteries.
You might not know this, but if the drone you are flying weighs more than 250 grams (about half a pound), you need to register yourself with the FAA.
There are many other federal requirements for flying (and failing to meet them can result in some hefty fines and even prison time), especially if you get paid for any of your drone flying (photos, videos, etc.), so make sure you check federal aviation guidelines before take off.
Tips For Safe Flights
Even after you’ve done due diligence with the FAA, there are other rules you should keep in mind for your safety and that of other people. Here are a few of them:
- 1Stay at least five miles away from any airport at any given time
- 2Check for no-fly zones before the flight (they’re more and more common; you can use AirMap or B4UFLY)
- 3Keep your drone within sight at all times
- 4Never fly over 400 feet (this is an FAA guideline)
- 5Never fly over roads (drones can crash and cause accidents, which you may be liable for)
- 6Don’t fly over people, their homes, or their backyards (again, drones can crash, and you may even be liable for trespassing charges or violating peoples’ privacy)
- 7Practice, practice, practice
- 8Check the weather (windy or rainy days make for crash-prone flying)
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Syma has been around for about ten years. It started with remote control helicopters and had a reputation today for cheap drones and ‘copters (tons of models are under $50).
It weighs 1.37lbs, so you will need to register with the FAA if you want to fly it (don’t worry, though, the process is quick and easy and completely online).
The Syma X5C comes with an HD camera (more on that later) and can flip in every direction with the push of a button on your remote.
You can fly it indoors or outdoors (we’re impressed at its relative stability, even in strong winds) and gets about 5-7 minutes of airtime, though it takes over an hour and a half to charge the battery (we recommend you buy extra batteries to get extra flight time).
We’ll share more details below, but if you want the quick version, here it is: the Syma X5C is around $35, and while it doesn’t pull any punches, it’s a good starter drone.
Not too difficult to learn to fly, easy to replace parts if (when) you crash, and it even has a fun little camera to play around with.
What Makes The Syma X5C So Unique?
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You need to understand from the beginning that this is no $100 or even $1000 drone. If you’ve flown one of those, you’ll immediately understand what we mean–the Syma feels cheap. It doesn’t act cheap, though, and that’s what’s so surprising.
When it first showed up on the market about two years ago, it was priced at $50, and even then we felt it gave us more than we expected.
Two years later and $15 less, it’s an even better deal, especially as the model as evolved.
The original version created by Syma was known as the X5C Explorers, while the second version, which customers are now receiving and testing, is the X5C-1 (we’ll refer to it here as the X5C).
The Syma X5C comes with a 720p HD camera. Is it great? No. At high speeds it gets jumpy, but you can take still shots and decent (short) movies, all of which are stored to the included 4GB micro SD card.
If you like your drone and want to update your camera, Syma sells a WiFi camera you can upgrade to for about $17.
The WiFi means you can connect to your mobile phone for first-person view (FPV; this means you can see what the camera see in real time).
We’ve already mentioned Syma offers an updated camera you can switch out, but in truth, the whole drone can be replaced with inexpensive replacement (and, in some cases, upgradable) parts from Syma’s website.
Syma X5 Spare Parts
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This includes different colored props and landing gear, in addition to the upgraded camera. Extra parts range from about $2 to about $30, and most pilots report the drone being excessively easy to disassemble. All this means the Syma X5C is cheap but not utterly disposable.
FYI, extra Syma batteries are cheap, too, and you can get extra flight time by flying the Syma without the prop guards, camera, and landing gear. It might not be worth it to you, but it’s worth playing around with.
Does $ Make Sense For The Syma X5C?
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With drones, you tend to get what you pay for, more or less. That’s why we typically recommend spending a little closer to $100 for your first drone.
You’ll enjoy the learning process a lot more, and you’ll be less likely to crash. And normally, for $35, that’s what you’d do–crash a ton, and have to buy a whole new drone.
That’s not the case with this little Syma. It’s not fancy, but it does have a camera with takes the fun factor up a notch.
It’s like this little machine was built to crash because Syma makes all parts uber available and easy (not to mention cheap) to replace.
In short, $35 is a bit of a steal, and a great way to enter the drone world. Will you want to upgrade to a bigger, nicer machine once you get the hang of things?
Definitely. But since your initial outlay as so slow, you’ll have plenty of cash left in your pockets to do so.
What Do Other People Think About the Syma X5C?
Especially considering how many extras this Syma model doesn’t have, we’re shocked at how much pilots enjoy it.
We think that probably goes back to the price, however–at $35, people are expecting bargain quality, but they’re getting something better.
On Amazon, out of nearly 5,000 reviews, the Syma X5C (both the original and the second version, the X5C-1) gets almost 4 out of 5 stars.
Many other publications, including CNET, have rated this Syma model as one of the best drones for the price.
How It Compares
To help you better understand if the Syma X5C is right for you; we wanted to compare it to three other similarly priced drones.
The HS170 Predator Mini From Holy Stone
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The HS170 Predator Mini is about $5 more than the Syma, but its specs are roughly similar. Two features we love about it, though, are that it has Headless Mode, which makes learning to fly exceptionally easy, and that it is so lightweight, you don’t have to register yourself to fly it.
It does not, however, come with a camera, so if that’s one of the reasons you’re shopping for a drone, the Syma will be a better choice than the Holy Stone.
The DBPower FPV RC Drone
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At $49.99, we expect this FPV RC Drone from DBPower to deliver more than the Syma X5C, and it does. You’ll get FPV, which most love, and it’s compatible with a 3D VR headset.
Most people report that it can be very difficult to learn how to fly, however, so we feel like it’s not the best drone for a beginner to start with.
Especially since, with the Syma, you can replace broken parts (it’s harder and more expensive to do that with the
DBPower drone), the Syma just makes a better beginner drone.
LBLA FPV Drone
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Another $50 drone, this FPV option from LBLA has all the features you love in a drone for beginners–headless mode and auto hovering–but also includes FPV.
While it still won’t be as easy to fix as the Syma, this LBLA drone gets tons of praise for being extremely easy to use.
Syma Replacement Accessories
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If you’re willing to spend about fifteen more dollars and aren’t too worried about losing it due to a crash, you might enjoy flying the LBLA drone more than the Syma X5C drone.
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Our Bottom Line
Drones are one of the hottest new electronic toys on today’s market for one simple reason: they’re fun!
Whether you’re a hobbyist and know you’ll be purchasing lots of drones or you just want to check one out and see what all the hype is about, the Syma X5C is a great place to start.
We love the practicality of this drone and the price point and are impressed at how it stands up to drones that cost quite a bit more than it does.
Frankly, we don’t think you can go wrong with this little drone. Grab a few extra batteries, propellers, and props when you check out and take it out to an open field for an afternoon of great flying. Enjoy!