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HolyStone F181 Review – An Affordable & Great-Looking Drone!

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HolyStone F181 Overview & Specs

The F181 by HolyStone is one of its best-selling quadcopters – and for a reason! It’s cheap, but also very good looking and reliable. It’s also a ton of fun to fly, as it provides a relatively long flying time and it’s smooth and stable in the air.

In this HolyStone F181 review, we’ll dig deeper into the specifications of this drone and see what exactly makes it better than the competition.
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  • One Key Return & Headless mode – perfect for beginners
  • Altitude Hold function: You can let go off the throttle stick and the drone will keep hovering at the current height. 
  • 4-Ways flip stunts
  • Comes with two batteries which doubles your fight time (~18 minutes in total)
  • Range: 50-100 meters
  • Flight time: 7-9 minutes per battery
  • Charging Time: ~1:30h

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Design

HolyStone F181 drone

Let’s start with the overall design and the look of the drone. Upon unboxing it, you can immediately see that it’s a good-looking drone. Many people state that it reminds them of the “Robocop” movie, just because the F181 gives you the feeling of a solid aircraft, and when you add the blue and red LED lights, I’d say the resemblance is quite striking.

You should definitely try this drone out during the night, simply because the LEDs are too good to not be used – they are really bright and since they are colored in red and blue, you will be able to see your drone from a great distance (however, don’t forget that the flight distance of the drone is around 50-100 meters).

Flying the HolyStone F181

This quadcopter is made mostly for beginners, so flying it shouldn’t be too hard, even if that’s your first quadcopter ever. However, even if you’re more experienced, you’ll have fun with this one, as it has a few different speed modes. You can choose between flying at 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% throttle. I highly suggest that you select the lowest speed mode if you’re a beginner, and slowly increase it once you get more comfortable at flying the drone. In 100% throttle you will definitely feel the difference, as the quadcopter is a lot more agile and really flies a lot quicker.

Flying the HolyStone F181 outdoors is very doable, but i highly recommend you to do it in calm weather with little to no wind – even though the quadcopter is solid and medium-sized, sometimes a wind gust can pick it up and fly it into an obstacle without you being able to stop it on time.

This brings me to the next thing – the durability of the drone. I’ve had multiple occasions of crashing it against a wall or a tree, but the F181 remained intact.

In fact, if you install the protecting frames for the propellers, the drone can withhold some serious damage before braking a propeller or a piece of its body. So the F181 definitely gets a good grade in terms of durability.

You can see the F181 in action here:

Camera

The camera of the F181 comes in the package, so you don’t have to purchase one separately. It’s 2MP, and it’s able to shoot photos in 1280×720 resolution and record videos in 30 frames per second in 720p resolution. This is far from the professional camera drones, but it’s quite the norm when it comes to beginner quadcopters.

With the camera, you’ll be able to snap a few photos of your surroundings, maybe capture a video or an image of your house from above, and that’s about it. The quality is decent, but nothing spectacular, as mentioned above.

Your photos and videos will be stored on the 2GB SD card which is included in the box of the F181. That should be plenty of room for your shots, but in case you need more, you can always fit a larger SD card (up to 16GB) and increase your storage.

Remote controller

F181 controller

The Remote controller of the HolyStone F181 is one of the best I’ve seen for a drone within this price range. You can’t help but compare it to a Playstation or an Xbox controller – it really does look similar, but it’s also very comfortable in the hands. To power it on, you’ll need 4 AA batteries (which are not included in the package). Once you power it on, you’ll see some information on the little screen above the controller – it’s very useful for practical information such as the battery level, the strength of the signal, the speed mode you’re in and the LED status.

Unfortunately, this screen is black&white only and does not provide any FPV capabilities, it’s made strictly for the flight information. However, I still think that’s great and very useful in everyday flying, and not having FPV capabilities is definitely not a deal-breaker for me, since the price of the drone is so low.

Besides the joysticks which serve for navigating the drone left/right/forward/backward, you also get dedicated camera buttons – one for taking a photo and one for starting to record a video. Quite nice, if you’re planning to use the camera 🙂 You also get trim buttons for correcting the drift of the drone and flip buttons for making flips and stunts with the quadcopter.

Battery life

HolyStone states that the battery life of the F181 is around 7-9 minutes, and in my tests I was able to squeeze around 8-10 minutes of flight time. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I was flying without the propeller guards installed and with no camera attached. In this case, flying with less weight gives you a few more minutes of flight time, so keep that in mind.

What i don’t really like is that you can’t buy a higher capacity battery for this drone and make the flight time longer.

However, the F181 comes with 2 batteries in the package, so that basically doubles your flight time and you can get between 16-18 minutes of flight time in total. Just make sure you don’t overstress the motors of the quad, because they are prone to burning out. Best case scenario is when you leave the quad on the ground for a few minutes to cool off, then swap the batteries and continue flying.

What you get in the box

The contents of the box are quite standard, except for the extra battery you get – great move from Holystone 😉

  • Holy Stone F181 drone
  • 2.4G remote transmitter
  • 2 USB charging cables
  • 2 drone batteries of 3.7V 750mAh
  • 2 landing slides
  • 4 extra propellers
  • 4 protecting frames
  • A screwdriver
  • The user manual

The Good

I definitely like the LED lights a lot. They are bright and offer great visibility in night conditions. In addition, you have a light in the front which can be used as a headlight together with the LEDs or separately. So visibility is something HolyStone has taken good care of.

Like I mentioned above, the durability is also great, and even though the quadcopter itself is relatively light, it flies smoothly and overall feels great.

There’s no way not to mention the extra battery, which doubles your flight time. I definitely like that.

The Bad

There aren’t many things worth mentioning in this section. Besides the annoying beep that you get when in headless mode, there isn’t much else to complain about. Yes, the camera’s quality is not great, but you shouldn’t expect it from a drone with a price tag under $150.

Lastly, the lack of FPV can put off some people, but that’s definitely not a deal breaker for me, as the FPV connectivity on cheaper quadcopters like this one comes with a substantial amount of lag, so it’s pretty much useless.

Final thoughts

Overall, the HolyStone F181 is a great entry-level quadcopter which you should definitely check out. It offers great visibility, smooth flying and tons of fun, since it can be used by complete beginners, intermediate and advanced flyers. The different speed modes, the extra battery, the altitude hold and headless mode are without a doubt this quadcopter’s best features.

If you’re on the lookout for an affordable drone that won’t break the bank, don’t hesitate to check out the HolyStone F181 on Amazon and buy yourself some fun 🙂
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Comments (2)

I love my HolyStone drone. I had a Parrot drone from Brookstone and I like this much better. In addition, the customer service is unsurpassed.

received drone as gift and I am new to flying. Not sure how to charge battery. Can I plug my Samsung galaxy charger into was and charge this drone’s ( f181) battery directly into the wall charger via usb.

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