autel camera modules

Autel X-Star review: the “Phantom lookalike” drone that truly holds its own

The Autel X-Star Premium drone is an easy-to-fly quadcopter, designed for photographers. I’ve been looking forward to getting this drone in the mail! I hadn’t gotten a chance to fly it yet, but I knew it made quite a splash in its debut at CES this year. It looks a lot like a Phantom, so I was curious to see how Autel’s X-Star holds up against the iconic drone.

Apart from charging it up and adding the propellers, this drone is ready to fly out of the box (which I’ll add is a light, portable carrying case), and easy to get up in the air. Check out my video version of the Autel X-Star review here:

Cost:

Camera:

The X-Star Premium is equipped with a 4K Ultra HD camera that has an 108-degree field of view. It takes 4K video and 12 megapixel photos. Footage is shot with an integrated 3-axis gimbal.autel x-star review drone girl

Flight modes:

Autel’s “beginner mode” comes with a geo-fence to limit your drone’s range and speed. Much like other drones, it also has a Follow-Me mode, Orbit Me mode, and one to set waypoints.drone girl autel x star review

Autel X-Star vs. Phantom

I would be remiss to not say this drone is very much like the Phantom 3 Advanced. Other than the bright orange color of Autel’s drones, on the surface one wouldn’t notice much difference. Some have ventured to call it a “Phantom knock-off.”

It’s hard to say what the link defining a knock-off is, but for someone who has flown a lot of drones in their life, I actually noticed some pretty big differences.

Autel vs. Phantom flight

When flying it, the Autel feels a lot zippier than the Phantom. On one hand, this is a bad thing — it’s slightly harder to control and it doesn’t take off and land as smoothly. But it’s also a good thing — it makes it a lot more fun to fly, because it feels like you are actually flying it. Both drones have a maximum speed of about 16 m/s.

Autel vs. Phantom drone body

The one thing I absolutely love about Autel’s drone that you won’t find in the Phantom is that the gimbal and camera is easily removable. This really benefits the consumer, who eventually may be able to upgrade their camera or add some type of other contraption in the spot where the gimbal is (pizza delivery, anyone)?

It also allows someone who doesn’t care about photography and simply likes flying to get a longer flight time without the additional weight of the camera.

With Phantom’s line of drones, if you were satisfied with the body but wanted an upgraded camera (or vice versa), you would have to buy a completely new setup. With Autel’s you seemingly will be able to upgrade individual pieces in future models of Autel’s drones.

autel x-star rc transmitter

RC transmitter

The RC transmitter operates much like DJI’s — download Autel’s Starlink app, plug in your smartphone to the controller and start flying to get a FPV view of the drone. You can also use the app to control settings (you can still fly without the app).

One thing that’s different is the controller has a variety of buttons like return to home, take off, etc. that make it especially easy to fly.

My favorite addition to the X-Star is that critical flight information is on the transmitter and not on a mobile device. My iPhone is a tad old and not the most reliable, so I would much rather rely on the RC transmitter than my phone, should it spontaneously shut off!
autel x-star battery

Other Autel specs:

  • Comes with: 14.8V LiPo battery, fast charger, 64GB card, hard case
  • HD Live View up to 1.2 miles away
  • 1 hour charging time
  • Battery life: Up to 25 minutes
  • Comes in orange or white

It’s exciting to see another incredibly solid drone on the market. I felt safe flying this — safe enough that I even passed it off to friends who had never flown before during a picnic and ran into no issues. It’s pretty apparent that DJI has dominated the market, but I’m looking forward to who that number two competitor is — and Autel is a close one. The company’s drone is built solidly and shoots high quality video in a way that’s safe and easy to fly.autel x-star flying

The Phantom 3 Advanced is $100 cheaper than the Autel X-Star. But, the standout feature in the X-Star, the removable gimbal, means I could end up saving money in the long run if I’m able to keep either the camera or the drone and upgrade the other.

The X-Star holds its own. Of the many drones I reviewed, the Autel X-Star is the one that most seems to have the consumer in mind. Features like a gimbal that allows for easy upgrades rather than having to shell out money for an entirely new drone, and a light, portable case makes this one of the most consumer-friendly drones on the market.

I look forward to what’s next from Autel. For now, happy flying!

17 thoughts on “Autel X-Star review: the “Phantom lookalike” drone that truly holds its own”

  1. Another great review. The idea of the entire gimbal and camera detaching from the vehicle reminds me of the Typhoon 4K, where you can take off the gimbal and camera and use it to shoot stabilized 4K video by hand. Does the Autel have the ability to detach the camera and gimbal and then shoot by hand like the Typhoon? If so, it would save you the cost of buying the Phantom 4 and the Osmo. Thanks.

    1. Yes, great comparison to the Yuneec Typhoon (the removable camera is very similar). It doesn’t look like Autel makes anything like Yuneec’s SteadyGrip yet, but I could see that happening in the future.

  2. I have a lot of drones/ aee ap11/yunecc q5004k.they both have their own good and bad points! it’s really about how well you adapt to the aircraft.looking forward to getting my xstar.should be here Wednesday.will report back on xstar.later next week.. Kevin

  3. Nice article Sally!! I think you pointed out a good thing with this post that there are alternatives to DJI Brand people should try out.

    And with the upgradable gimbal you can’t really go wrong, being able to plug in a new camera on your favorite drone is a handy thing.

    Sally let’s say you were going on vacation to some beautiful place if you had to choose between a Phantom and a Autel which one would you go for?

    1. They are so similar that it is hard to choose. I will say that with the carrying case, the Autel turns out to be cheaper! I’m all about price, so at the moment I think I would choose that.

  4. I’ve been asked to look into a UAV for making video of very large and tall equipment (towers up to 118’ tall) for marketing, instruction, and inspection. I met the Autel folks at a drone convention and really liked their product, the ability to easily upgrade cameras/sensors, the customer support, and the high visibility of the unit itself. That said, I’m not on a budget for the purchase and I wonder if the newer DJI Phantom 4 would be a better investment because of the advanced flying capabilities and the obstacle avoidance, at least for the longevity and usefulness of the UAV itself. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on these for my use. Also, for your reference, I will be charged with piloting, and this will be my very first UAV. Thank so much.

  5. To me the main advantage of the removable gimbal has to be for easier transportation.

    I bought my Phantom 3 very reluctantly, as I hate the way it is so bulky and difficult to fit into a normal backpack.

    Now if they just made the legs foldable as well…

  6. I purchased a P4 and now regret it. Not because the P4 is a bad bird, it isn’t, but because DJI support is breathtakingly bad. When I read reviews, I thought ‘how bad can it be?’. It’s that bad and more. I wish I’d learned about Autel before I spent $1.7K

    1. After reading through a DJI forum the comments regarding poor customer service along with several Autel reviews touting the high quality customer service, my decision was made easy. I bought my Xstar and never looked back. Great review Sally.

  7. Thanks for the review! I first saw the X-Star at InterDrone in Las Vegas (I enjoyed your part on the panel at the Women in Drones Luncheon) and I could see myself owning one. I was wondering if the props are as noisy as the P4?

    1. Good question, and thanks for coming to the panel! Hopefully other readers in here have experience flying both and can weigh in. I never did any type of sound test, but I can tell you that both are rather noisy!

  8. I just got the X-Star Premium and I love it. Very easy to fly, excellent video quality. The case is a nice added feature and the remote controller and Starlink app are intuitive and well built. I’ve spent the first weekend with it taking videos and photos for my business already.

  9. Great review. I have done alot of research for a business type drone. Thanks to my bride who saw the X-Star at a convention, I am so happy I had more than a DJI model to choose from. My XSP cost $699 so my choice was made. Ease of operation but not dumbed down. Customer service is the best. Autel is a contender.

  10. A superb piece of review Sally. Yeah, it looks much like DJI Phantom as you said. I like the removable Gimbal feature which is cost-effective for me. However, I wonder whether Autel provides good customer service or not. Myself had flown many drones but, did not get a chance to fly Autel X-Star Premium yet so, it is sweet of you to post such a review. It makes me excited to try it out soon. Cheers drone girl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *