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Ryze Tello Review

Great for kids and beginners alike, this is the best entry-level model we have ever tested
Ryze Tello
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
Best Buy Award
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Price:   $100 List | $99.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, simple operation, small and light
Cons:  Slightly choppy video, short range
Manufacturer:   Ryze Technology
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Dec 24, 2021
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47
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Video Quality - 45% 2.6
  • Flight Performance - 35% 5.3
  • Portability - 10% 10.0
  • Ease of Use - 10% 6.3

Our Verdict

The result of a partnership with Ryze and DJI, the Ryze Tello packs a whole lot of technology into a very small and affordable package. This is a perfect drone for first-time pilots or children. We were particularly impressed with the Tello's stability. We expect most drones in this price range to fly like a drowsy bumblebee, but the Tello easily and consistently locked into a stable hover, rarely drifting more than a few inches in any direction. The phone-based controls are not ideal, but they still provide a good flying experience. There are some downsides, however. This drone isn't quite powerful enough to fly outside in even a light breeze, and the camera takes decent photos but struggles a bit with video. That being said, other drones in this price range don't even come close to the quality.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Ryze Tello
This Product
Ryze Tello
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $100 List
$99.00 at Amazon
$2,199 List
$2,049 at Amazon
$1,000 List
$899.00 at Amazon
$800 List$500 List
$425.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, simple operation, small and lightAwesome video quality, sensitive controls, stable platformLarge sensor, compact, high-quality footage, responsive controlsConsistent color and quality, decent flight time, intelligent flight featuresPortable, lightweight, budget-friendly, solid battery life
Cons Slightly choppy video, short rangeLacks a case, control a bit cramped for big handsLacks following capabilities, some propellor intrusionGimbal overload errors, small sensor is limiting, subpar following capabilities, jittery rideSubpar gimbal stabilization, requires windless conditions, small sensor, low dynamic range
Bottom Line Great for kids and beginners alike, this is the best entry-level model we have ever testedThis fun-to-fly drone is shaking up the professional market with its high-quality video and easy portabilityThe large sensor, 5K video, user-friendly controls, and fantastic flight performance make this a high-quality, do-it-all droneA mostly capable drone that offers consistent color, 4K video, and intelligent flight features but requires regular gimbal calibrationA lightweight and reasonably-priced drone with decent video quality for those who want to capture their travels
Rating Categories Ryze Tello DJI Mavic 3 DJI Air 2S DJI Mavic Air 2 DJI Mini 2
Video Quality (45%)
2.6
9.8
9.6
7.8
6.6
Flight Performance (35%)
5.3
9.4
9.2
8.2
6.0
Portability (10%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Ease of Use (10%)
6.3
9.1
9.0
9.0
8.9
Specs Ryze Tello DJI Mavic 3 DJI Air 2S DJI Mavic Air 2 DJI Mini 2
Video Resolutions 720p 5.1K, DCI 4K, 4K, FHD 5.4K, 4K, 2,7K, FHD 4K, 2.7K, FHD 4K, 2.7K, FHD
Weight 0.18 lbs 1.97 lbs 1.31 lbs 1.25 lbs 0.55 lbs
Maximum Speed 18 mph 42.5 mph 42.5 mph 42.5 mph 35.8 mph
Maximum Claimed Flight Time 13 minutes 46 minutes 31 minutes 34 minutes 32 minutes
Diagonal Size (no props) 5.3 in 8.75 in folded
16 in unfolded
11.9 in 11.9 in 8.4 in
Video Format MP4 MP4 / MOV MP4, MOV MP4, MOV MP4
Maximum Video Bitrate n/a 200 Mbps 150 Mbps 120 Mbps 100 Mbps
Camera Sensor n/a Hasselblad: 4/3 CMOS
Tele Camera: 1/2" CMOS
1" CMOS 1/2" CMOS 1/2.3" CMOS

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ryze Tello is far and away the most compelling drone we've seen in this price range. If you're looking for a cheap introduction to flying or want a cheap but capable quadcopter for your kids to have fun with, this should be on the top of your list.

Performance Comparison


Ryze Tello drones - despite its small size and low price, the ryze tello did quite well...
Despite its small size and low price, the Ryze Tello did quite well in our testing.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Video Quality


This is one area where the Tello is much better than any other drone in its price range, and even some that are more expensive. However, it is clearly inferior to the fully-fledged, much more expensive camera drones.


The camera on the Tello is small and fixed. There is no gimbal to dampen vibration from the drone itself, and you can't angle the camera independently. The drone's flight is actually quite smooth, so the lack of a gimbal doesn't affect the stability of the footage too much. The small, 720p sensor also creates clear images, though they are of a significantly lower resolution than those from larger, more expensive models.

The biggest issue with the footage from the Tello is its choppiness. There is no internal memory where it can save footage; your phone simply saves the footage that gets sent. That feed from the drone to the phone often gets temporarily interrupted, which results in a lost frame in your saved footage. The frequency of this is variable, but generally, for every 30 seconds of footage, you should expect at least 2 or 3 points where the footage will suddenly jump forward.



There are also some difficulties with framing video taken on the Tello. Since the camera is completely fixed, you have to move the entire drone to change the shot's framing. You also can't point the camera down towards the ground unless the drone is flying forward. This can lead to some difficulties getting the exact shot you want when compared to models that allow you to move the camera independently of the drone. All that being said, we still think the Tello's video quality is impressive for a drone in this price range.

Flight Performance


The Tello flies quite well but lacks the autonomous flight features, power, and long range of the more expensive models. This lack of features greatly affected its score in this metric. Yet, the Tello is the best flier of all the inexpensive drones we've seen.


Whereas most models in the Tello's price range require a lot of joystick feathering and intense concentration to get them to hover in place, the Tello can achieve that without any user input. It also moves through the air with similar stability, making it easy to fly in straight lines or to execute flowing turns. This really makes it a perfect training drone for those thinking of upgrading to a more expensive model, as its flight characteristics match that of high-end models very closely. You can takeoff/land by pushing a button and even perform tricks like barrel rolls.



The Tello can also do a 'throw takeoff'. This fun little feature is sure to amuse kids and adults alike. However, it lacks some capabilities when compared to the models that cost much more. First off, it does not have an internal GPS, so it can't perform autonomous flight functions or automatically return to its starting point. The maximum battery life is 13 minutes, which again is far superior to any other inexpensive drones, but is lacking when compared to most of the more expensive models.



The biggest downside of flight performance for the Tello is that it lacks the power to deal with wind effectively. This means you'll only want to fly outside on very calm days and/or at very low altitudes, lest this drone turns into a kite and soars off to an untimely demise. Luckily its accurate sensors and propellor guards make it great for flying indoors.

The Tello's 720p camera provides a decent quality video downlink to the app. We certainly wouldn't call it high definition, but it is more than serviceable for trying to frame a video or photo. However, the downlink does drop some frames occasionally, so don't be surprised if the video cuts out for 1-2 seconds every so often. The range is limited by the wireless network emitted by the drone, so you can only fly it a maximum of 100 meters away from the controller. Here again, this is much better than the incredibly choppy and pixelated video downlinks you get with most inexpensive drones but is a clear step behind what the expensive models can do.

Ryze Tello drones - while lacking in some respects, this drone is incredibly impressive...
While lacking in some respects, this drone is incredibly impressive for the price point.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Portability


The Tello is very small and weighs only 0.18 pounds. That's so light that it doesn't even need to be registered with the FAA. However, partially due to that small size, the Tello is easily pushed around by even light breezes. Though you can take it almost anywhere, you won't be able to fly it almost anywhere.


Ease of Use


The bare bones of the Tello user experience, from opening the box to getting it flying, are quite streamlined and simple. Charging the battery, downloading the app, and getting everything paired are straightforward and well outlined in the user manual. You can perform controlled takeoffs and landings at the push of a button, taking the stress out of some of the more delicate maneuvers. Flying the drone is quite intuitive as well. We think even technophobes will have it buzzing around and doing figure 8s on their first day.


The phone-based controller is nice and responsive. However, we had to knock the Tello a couple of points here due to the inherent limitations and difficulties of flying a drone with a touchscreen. First off, your thumbs will be blocking a large portion of the live feed from the camera. Second, touchscreens don't give any sort of tactile feedback, which is crucial if you want to do really precise maneuvers. This can be rectified by getting one of the multiple Bluetooth gaming controllers that are compatible with the Tello app.

Ryze Tello drones - using a touchscreen based controller isn't ideal, but tello flies so...
Using a touchscreen based controller isn't ideal, but Tello flies so predictably that a suboptimal controller isn't a huge deal. Also, the app is compatible with some Bluetooth gaming controllers.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The app also lets you adjust many advanced settings, letting you experiment as your piloting skills and interest grow. However, most of these settings are not saved when you exit the app. So, if you find some new settings that you prefer, there's a good chance you'll have to go back in and adjust them every time you fly.

If you encounter any issues, you can initiate a chat with a customer service agent directly from the app. We love this feature, as you can usually get some form of assistance within a few minutes of having an issue.

Ryze Tello drones - the tello app's flight controls.
The Tello app's flight controls.
Credit: Steven Tata

Value


In our opinion, the Tello provides the most drone you can get for the price by a couple of orders of magnitude. For those seeking a low-cost introduction to drone flying, or a good toy for their kids, this is far and away the best value around. If you're looking for a proper movie-making tool, however, you're going to have to spend quite a bit more.

Conclusion


The Ryze Tello is the best drone at its price on the market. It's not quite capable of producing cinematic footage, but it is perfect for honing your pilot skills and for kids that want a fun flying toy.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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