It’s no mystery that Autel Robotics is one of the leading drone manufacturers the world over. The technology giant has consistently produced reliable UAV solutions ranging from small form-factor platforms all the way up to commercial and enterprise. However, one of the shining examples of excellence produced by Autel is the EVO II V3. The latest and greatest version of the EVO II is Autel’s flagship drone platform and falls squarely into the prosumer category of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pulling the Autel EVO II V3 out of its carrying case was a pretty memorable moment for me in all of this. The heft this drone has for having a compact physical footprint was impressive and instilled confidence in me that this drone was ready to take on some intense environments and testing.
I never really had the opportunity to put it up against anything too harsh, but I know that given the rock-solid fuselage and premium-grade parts on the camera, gimbal, and motors, the EVO II V3 was ready for anything. I’m still having trouble putting into words my thoughts when first picking up this version of the EVO II for the first time. I suppose summarizing it in one word will do a good enough job…”wow.”
Rating: 10 out of 10
Autel sent me the Rugged Bundle for the EVO II V3 and rugged it was. However, while the ruggedness of the bundle was impressive – it was the least rugged piece of equipment in the bundle that impressed me the most.
For the first time in Drone Geek review history, somebody has managed to pull off a perfect score in a category and it was Autel with their Smart Controller SE, which scored a perfect 10/10.
The controller body itself was ergonomic as all get-out and they captured my heart by putting the video screen in the middle of the controller – a long-time gripe I’ve had with other companies with similar smart controllers that feature screens on the bottom which forces me to crane my neck down for as long as the flight takes me.
On top of that, Autel incorporated its SkyLink 2.0 Video transmission system, which provides up to 15-KM (9.32 miles) signal reliability.
My only complaint about this controller, and it wasn’t enough for me to dock it points, was that the battery life left me wanting a little more. You can easily extend the battery life by mitigating how often you change the settings on the camera and by reducing screen brightness when able.
This is a fantastic smart controller and should be considered the “industry standard” for every other drone manufacturer worth its weight in salt.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Autel ecosystem is extremely friendly to pilots of all experience levels. However, that’s not to say it is without its flaws. Let’s start with the shortcomings and finish strong with what I liked about the UI.
Having to swipe off-screen to find certain menus and tools such as the camera settings and the flight map is not ideal. I’m also not a huge fan of the layout for the general app settings and how you must navigate them to access certain parts of the user configuration.
The positives for user interface are numerous. Setup of the controller and opening of the application is seamless and done in just a few seconds. Connection to the drone itself is just as fast. While navigating to the camera settings menu is somewhat a con with it being hidden until you tap the arrow to open it up, once the menu is hope it’s very easy to use and has a variety of settings and options to help you get the perfect exposure. Switching between intelligent flight modes is easy with the menu in the upper left corner of the screen and the large display allows you to preview the media you’re capturing with great quality.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The flight on the Nano+ is smooth and enjoyable. It’s surprisingly powerful for its size and handles adverse wind with relative ease. I did get some fight when wind speeds exceeded 20mph, but overall, I’d feel confident flying the Nano in almost any conditions other than rain or extreme winds. The handling is also well-tuned, and I feel as nimble and agile as ever flying the Nano+.
The big concern for the flight characteristics is the Nano+’s inability to control a consistent spot in the airspace. While it can hold GPS position and flight some pretty strong winds, I will say that it gets blown around a lot in a 5–10-foot space. This is not ideal when trying to thread it through tight spaces and crowded airspace. It’s not a major mark against the Nano, but something to note before buying.
In general, the flight experience I had with the EVO Nano+ was positive and chock-full of fun.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The EVO II V3 brings forth a great flight-experience in terms of handling, speed, and maneuverability. I was really impressed at just how easy it was to get acclimated with the drone right out of the case and how fun it was to fly. Everything about the flight experience with this version of the EVO II met and exceeded my expectations. You can change your maximum allowable speed as well as bounce between Standard and Ludicrous modes through the settings menu, which gives you a nice variety in pacing and looseness in the controls.
The only thing I’ll say that was a somewhat negative experience was with the yaw stick. I found that right out of the box the yaw on this drone was a little too touchy when roll was not incorporated into the movement first. This is fine for folks just toying around or using the drone for something other than photo and video, but for those of us who do most of the multimedia work it’s a minor setback that we need to either adjust to or manually adjust in the app configuration menus.
Rating: 9 out of 10
The camera on the EVO II V3 is superb. For those of you that might not be familiar, the EVO II V3 boasts a 1-inch, 20MP CMOS sensor with a maximum video resolution of 6K at 30fps. It’s also capable of 4K at 60fps and shoots photos at a maximum size of 5472x3648.
The video bitrate is 120Mbps which means videos captured are smooth and chock-full of detail. It has an adjustable aperture which ranges from f/2.8 to f/11 and its 35mm focal length is equivalent to 29mm, a little cropped in, but still ideal for landscape photography and video.
The stock color profile with the Autel EVO II V3 was super vibrant and full of a wonderful range of colors. It wasn’t the most flattering look for the landscape of NCPA in the dead of winter, as the camera tried to bring out color in the landscape that wasn’t actually there, but I imagine in the middle of the summer or in a more tropical climate this would be extremely complimentary.
Where I was slightly disappointed in the camera was in its sharpness right out of the box. This was the same complaint I had about the Nano+ earlier this week and the Lite+ last year. Autel’s cameras shoot very sharp images, which isn’t always a good thing. I found that there would be a lot of sharpness-related noise created in my video clips and would take an otherwise stellar image and just taint it.
However, I didn’t hold it against the smaller EVO drones and I won’t hold it against the big-daddy EVO either. Sharpness is something that can be easily adjusted in the camera settings or in post, so no major points taken from the EVO II V3 on this one.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Some intangibles I was really impressed by with this drone were the panoramic shooting modes, its obstacle avoidance system, the rugged bundle carrying case, and its set-up and breakdown times. Meanwhile, I wasn’t entirely impressed by the battery recharging times nor was I impressed by the gimbal cover and how frustrating it was to take it on and off of the drone.
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Total Score: 9 out of 10
This drone was a mind-bender for me. I really enjoyed the experience I had flying it and while there were some short-lived growing pains when it came to familiarizing myself with the drone and the smart controller, overall, it has been an extremely impressive piece of equipment. So impressive that it has earned itself not only the first perfect categorical score in Drone Geek review history, but also the highest overall score in review history with a rock-solid 9-out-of-10.
And that, my friends, is exactly why it also won the 2022 Droning Company award for “Best Prosumer Drone.” It delivers a complete experience from beginning-to-end. It’s intuitive enough to be beginner-friendly, but also offer advanced professional settings to make it the perfect tool for professional photographers and videographers. What is really blowing my mind is that this is still just the second iteration of Autel’s flagship drone.
If these are the features and performance markers that are being brought by the EVO II V3, then I’ll need to wear a seatbelt and helmet when the time comes to review the EVO III. Autel, bravo and a job well done. This drone is exemplary and should be the marker other drone manufacturers should be shooting for in the future.