Skydio 2 drone

Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade: is the $1,500 price tag worth it?

The Skydio 2 drone is making waves this summer after the California-based drone company resumed sales on the follow-me drone, while adding some long-awaited software updates. But in order to take advantage of those software updates, you’ll have had to pay extra — most likely through what’s called the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade.

Skydio offers a number of add-on products that can be purchased individually. But Skydio also offers a kit that gets you all of them in one bundle via the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade, which costs $1,500 — not including the drone itself.

What’s the latest with Skydio 2 and its accessories?

Skydio 2 went on production hiatus earlier this year, due in large part to the coronavirus. But the fantastical, follow-me drone has been back on sale since the end of June. With the relaunch, Skydio also made some software improvements to address complaints with the first iteration of the launch. Improvements include increased maximum tracking distance with the Skydio Beacon from 10 meters to 40 meters (130 feet). And the Dual Charger received a software update that allows it to pass power through to the 2nd USB-C port, allowing you to plug in and charge small accessories like the Beacon, Controller, or your Phone. If you connect 1 or 2 batteries to the charger and then plug in a USB accessory, you can charge the accessory off the batteries.

Is the $1,500 price tag for the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade worth it?

Here’s what comes with the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade, as well as how much each item would cost to buy a la carte.

ItemCost to buy individually
1 Rugged Case$229
1 Controller$179
1 Beacon$179
1 tablet mount for Controller$39
3 Extra Batteries$115 each ($345 total value)
1 Pair of Extra Propellers$29
1 Dual Charger$149
1 128GB SanDisk Extreme microSD Card and Laptop Adapter$39
1 Microfiber Lens Cloth~$5
Skydio Premier Support$749
Total value:$1942

Is it worth actually paying $1,500 for the Pro Kit – especially considering the drone itself isn’t included?

If you were going to buy all these things anyway, then you’re looking at a 30% discount for buying the bundle. Of course, if that’s the case, then buy it!

But the more likely scenario is, you want some of the items in the Skydio 2 Pro Kit upgrade. You very well would have paid for some of the items a la carte. And now, you’re not sure if upgrading to the full Skydio 2 Pro Kit is worth it. You could look at it like you’re getting other items for “free,” or at least at essentially a huge discount, but are they even worth it?

Skydio Premier Support: is it worth the price?

Most of whether or not the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade is worth it is contigent upon how you value Skydio Premier Support, which normally costs $749 on its own. That’s about half the price of the upgrade kit alone.

Skydio Premier Support is essentially an extended warranty plan offered by Skydio. It turns the standard one-year, limited warranty into a two year plan, and it also puts you int Skydio’s “priority tier of customer service.”

Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade
Everything that comes with the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade

“If you need help with an issue, you can get in contact with us right away,” according to a memo on Skydio’s site about the Skydio Premier Support plan.

It will also ensure you never live a day without a drone. If you need to send in your current drone for repairs, Skydio will send you a new one before they’ve even received the old one.

Here’s the thing: Skydio’s warranty won’t guarantee you complete protection in case something goes wrong. In fact, it really only seems to cover situations where the product you bought malfunctions. It won’t cover you if you accidentally mess up. The following scenarios are just a handful of common situations that are NOT covered by the warranty plan:

  • Damage due to modifications, alterations, tampering, disassembly, or improper maintenance or repairs
  • Damage due to use not in accordance with the company’s Safety and Operating Guide 
  • Natural disasters such as lightning, flood, tornado, earthquake, or hurricane
  • Objects striking the drone
  • If the drones is dropped, hit, bent or crushed; or exposed to extreme temperatures
  • Water damage, regardless of cause (even if the drone malfunctions and flies into water, you won’t be covered)
  • Damage caused by failure to update the software in a timely manner (so if the software goes berserk, but you didn’t do the update, you’re at fault)
  • Damage caused by operation in bad weather, poor or low lighting conditions, or other rough conditions like strong winds, rain, sand or fog
  • Damage caused by operating in an environment with electromagnetic interference, like mining areas or close to radio transmission towers, high-voltage wires, substations

And that list isn’t comprehensive. There are so many potential scenarios that aren’t covered, that you’ll want to think carefully about whether you want to pay $750 for an extra year of coverage that’s already pretty limited.

Personally, it’s a bad deal. If I didn’t realize a building I was flying near had strong electromagnetic interference and my drone crashed, I’m not optimistic Skydio would cover it. If Skydio’s cameras get blinded by bright sunlight and the drone crashes into a pool (which was perhaps reflecting that sunlight), I wouldn’t be covered. There are just too many scenarios that aren’t covered, that it’s hard to know what the $750 for 12 extra months of coverage actually covers.

Instead, look to other forms of insurance.

Credit card extended warranty: Many credit cards offer extended warranty insurance, as long as you paid for that item on your card. For example, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card will doubles the length of a US manufacturer’s warranty for up to one additional year. If Skydio crashed, you’d also be covered for two years for what the item originally cost, minus shipping and handling. That card has a $95 annual fee — a steal compared to the $750 cost for Skydio Premier Support.

Homeowners insurance: For situations like your drone was damaged in a house fire, you might find it’s covered through your existing homeowners policy. The most common homeowners policy, the HO-3, covers issues like theft, hail, vandalism, or falling objects on your house.

Gadget insurance: You might also want to look into general gadget insurance, which typically does cover incidents like water damage.

Then again, Skydio Premier Support could be for you. If you need to file a claim, Skydio Premier Support eliminates the third party (and in the even of credit card extended warranty, likely a fourth-party, as credit card companies contract out with other insurance companies to handle claims).

Is Skydio Premier Support ever worth it?

Sometimes.

For drone pilots who value time highly, it could be worth the $750 to guarantee a new drone at their doorstep almost immediately after the damage, then filing loads of paperwork and spending time on the phone, which is inevitable when going through non-Skydio insurance offerings.

Plus, with priority customer service, you’ll be able to get connected with customer support staff, which may be helpful especially for newer pilots.

How does Skydio Premier Support stack up to the competition?

The competition is namely DJI — which also offers their own version of an extended warranty plan. For consumer drones, like the DJI Mavic Air line, there’s DJI Care Refresh. To participate in that service, you pay a very small upfront fee (expect to pay about $99, though it varies per product — as opposed to the $750 for Skydio) to be covered for 12 months. The big difference is that if your drone was damaged for a covered incident, you’ll have to pay for the replacement as well. But, replacement costs are low. In the case of the DJI Mavic Pro, the first replacement will cost $79 and the second will cost $129.

To replace a damaged Mavic for a covered reason under DJI Care Refresh, you’d pay just $168.

DJI also offers another version of coverage for their enterprise-grade (and yes, that means more expensive) drones called DJI Enterprise Shield.

Skydio 2 Beacon
The Skydio Beacon is one of my favorite add-ons

Add-ons you do need: controller, beacon, batteries and the dual-charger

If you do think the $749 Skydio Premier Support is something you’d pay for anyway, then go all the way and get the full, $1,500 Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade kit. Why?

Once you’ve made peace with the $750 extended warranty coverage, you’ll need to justify the other $750 somehow, and it’s easy.

Beacon and Controller: I highly recommend getting both the Beacon ($179) and the Controller ($179). The Beacon extends your drone’s range, provides more accurate user positioning, and generally enables Skydio 2 to fly in more complex environments where the drone can’t necessarily see you, like if you’re walking through thick trees. The Controller allows your Skydio 2 to operate like a more traditional “drone” with sticks. If you’re trying to get a specific shot, you’ll need to fly in this mode, rather than rely on the AI modes.

Together, they cost $360.

Dual charger: One of my biggest criticisms of the Skydio 2 is you have to charge the batteries directly through the drone. That means you can’t charge batteries and fly simultaneously. If you’re expecting to fly for more than one battery round (that’s 23 minutes, max) in a row, you’ll want multiple batteries. And if you’re flying for longer than how many batteries you own, you’ll want to be charging while the drone is flying.

Thus, you’ll need the dual charger, which allows you to charge your batteries without involving the drone itself.

The dual charger costs $149, and batteries cost $115 each.

The easiest way to justify the cost of the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade

Skydio 2 Pro Case
The upgrade version of the Skydio 2 case is built by Go Professional Cases.

If you’re already looking at both the extended warranty, the controller and beacon, the dual charger, and 2 extra batteries, you’re looking at $1,490 in total a la carte costs.

But the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade comes with much more than that. There’s actually a third battery. You’ll also get the memory card (which you need, unless you have one already from other cameras or drones), extra propellers, and that big, sturdy case.

The case is designed by Go Professional Cases, which has long been a leader in drone cases.

Not only is the case much sturdier, but it holds way more than the Skydio case that comes with the base kit. If you’re gearing up for a major shoot that requires bringing multiple batteries and other spare parts like cords and chargers, you’ll want the space this case affords, rather than the lightweight case that comes with the $999 standalone kit.

All that’s to say, if you’re not impressed by Skydio Premier Support, skip this $1,500 upgrade kit. But if you’re going for Skydio Premier Support anyway, the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade can be a budget-friendly way to save on cool accessories like the Beacon and Controller, while also earning you other goodies that can dramatically improve your experience flying the Skydio 2.

Would you pay $1,500 for the Skydio 2 Pro Kit Upgrade? Leave a comment below!

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