REVIEWS – Potensic’s new T25 drone has a lot of features, almost too many to grasp. Want to know more? Read on.
The T25 is a small to mid-size drone with a full suite of capabilities including takeoff and landing assist, return to home, full 1080P recording and much more. Are you looking for your first drone or an upgrade from a low-cost mini-drone? Let’s take a look at the T25 and see if their feature set and performance are right for you.
Drone GPS and specs – Follow Me, GPS return home, GPS positioning and hold, Geo-Fencing, and Low Battery ReturnDrone inflight features – Headless mode, Auto Takeoff / Landing / Hover, 9-Axis gyroscope, Color-coded dual LED lights, 2.4G technology – Range: Up to 300m (Image range up to 100-150m) – Max Height: Up to 120m, Max Speed: Up to 25km/hCamera – HD Wifi Camera with 75º articulating 120º wide-angle lens – Optional SD card (sold separately)Battery – 3.7v 1000mAh lithium ion – Micro-USB port allows for charging in or outside drone – LED lights for battery level indicationController– Internal lithium polymer battery – Micro-USB port for charging
Functionally, the design of the T25 is well done. The landing legs are replaceable as are the propellers and the propeller guards. The will hold most (if not all) smartphones and the app works well during use. From an aesthetic standpoint, there is little here that stands out as being unique to this drone so I would forgive almost anyone for mistaking it for a drone from the market leader. Maybe that’s the point, but in the end, while you are watching the drone as you fly, you quickly start to go heads down and watch your phone where the camera feeds a live view. As bland as the exterior may be, you’ll want to avoid putting stickers on or painting it as even adding the 4 propeller guards changes flight characteristics and a medium gust of wind definitely does. Let’s move on to set up and performance.
If you’ve had a drone before, none of the following is likely to surprise you. If not, let’s just say that setup isn’t hard, it’s just not fast nor straightforward if you’re expecting something similar to an RC car. The T25 is relatively assembled in the box, but as you saw in the photos above, there are so many additional small parts, both required and spares that it still feels like a kit instead of a finished product. That’s actually part of the charm in some respects.
Here’s a shot of the propeller guard posts and the press-in receivers on the drone. It literally is a press-fit.
Right about here is where you think you’re ready to fly, and you kind of are. As a drone novice, I underestimated the amount of time the next steps would take including getting comfortable piloting the drone. While awaiting the review sample to arrive I did happen to notice that the battery provides about 8 minutes of flight time, so I ordered a spare battery from Amazon so that I’d have double the flight time between charging sessions. All that out of the way, here’s the next set of setup instructions. (Feel free to skip this if you’re familiar with drone calibrations)…
There are a lot of controls on the controller (which makes sense), but it makes for a learning curve that’s as steep as your familiarity with this kind of setup. If you play any kind of modern gaming system you’ll already be more likely to jump in. Let’s take a look at all those controls quickly…
Above you see the trigger controls for [follow me], [camera/video] and on the left hand [angle up] and [angle down] adjustments
Here are the [return to home] , [power] and [takeoff/landing] buttons along with a whole lot of indicators above which help to communicate which settings the drone has active. These are lit well during use and hard to confuse.
When it comes to actually flying the drone, Potensic has done a few things that aid a new pilot significantly. The first is a one button take off which literally works as advertised. Press that button and the propellers whirr to life lifting the drone to about 5 feet off the ground at which point it just unnaturally maintains its position. Auto land is another that just takes a huge headache away by just landing for you.
A unique feature is “headless” mode which basically translates to the controls never switching orientation. This means that forward is always forward based on the starting position of your controller and left is always left of that forward motion. This is super useful if you’re thinking grid style, but if you turn around because you flew the drone behind you, you’ll need to mentally remap the controls to have the drone do what you want it to do.
Follow me is a feature that got me really excited and in my first attempts also concerned me the most. I don’t trust the GPS on my phone to be accurate to within 10 feet. When experimenting, the drone does what it’s supposed to do and if you back up, it advances. The problem is that with some GPS drift, sometimes it would get a little closer than I expected which resulted in me stepping back and it continuing to advance. Comical right? Also scary.
So as a new pilot, the reality is that it learning to fly is a bit stressful and just when you think you’ve got it, something changes and your gut reaction ends up causing a problem. It’s also a bit frustrating to see all these beautiful drone-shot videos on youtube and other media outlets, only to realize that it’s not quite that easy to get that beautiful shot without a lot of practice. So here are a couple of reference comments for you to consider.
I only had one real ‘crash’. It was before I discovered headless mode and I ended up sending the drone into the side of our car. The propeller guards did what they were supposed to do and kept both the car and the drone uninjured, but one propeller guard snapped. It would be nice to have some spares in the box as it seems like these are more likely to be needed than spare landing gear, but then again who’s really to say.
The on-board video camera is why I think drones intrigue most of us, and the T25 boasts 1080P. Note that both the below videos are posted here at 720. On a recent family vacation, we were filming a sequel to an ongoing saga of movies with our kids as action heroes. There was a scene with my older kids running towards the beach and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a drone shot. In the video below you’ll see that while it worked, I didn’t account for the amount of wind and controlling the drone was quite difficult. I will say that it was impressive to see the T25 tilted at almost a 25º angle and just holding its position which was right at the beginning of this video.
Here’s another video of one of the earlier flights just getting the hang of the controls and even just comfort level of having it head back towards me. The camera does a pretty good job, but it can be a bit jumpy and the clarity isn’t quite as good as I was hoping.
A couple of things to note about the way the camera works. You see exactly what you’re shooting on your controller display (iPhone in my case). Any photos or videos are recorded directly to your phone as well as an SD card if you have it installed. Videos record in .avi format on the SD card while .mov on the iPhone. That’s helpful as macs don’t read .avi natively so you’ll need to grab VLC or some other player/editor. I did not see resolution differences between the SD card recordings or the iPhone recordings.
When initially setting the drone up and looking over all the parts I took off the legs and inadvertently pushed one of the release buttons too far where it pushed inside the drone and the spring was rattling around. In retrospect, this is why their wrench has a small extended section with physical stops. Regardless, it resulted in taking the drone apart to rescue the button and I got to look at some of the inner workings. You can see in the second shot where the button arm is keeping it trapped against the assembly post. Overall an easy fix, albeit with a lot of screws.
I’ve flown a couple of drones before, but it was quick flights with the drone’s owner right there. When it’s your own and you’re doing all the setup, the “am I doing this right?” weighs on you quite a bit and I can only imagine that ratcheting up a lot if you’ve dropped your own dollars to purchase it. The more time you can spend flying, the more efficient you’ll be and the better results you’ll get out of video and photos. The main complaint from any user will be flight time. I’d recommend a minimum of one extra battery and likely two as if you’re headed out to fly, you’ll want a good 30 minutes and 3 won’t quite get you there. Also once the controller battery is depleted you’re done as it takes an hour to charge even if you brought a power bank. Overall the T25 is a good value, not too light, not too heavy and sits in a pretty good spot as far as not being too expensive while having an impressive feature set.
Thank you for a very clear and detailed exposition of the T25 Quad. As someone who is new to this I was quite bewildered by it all and you answered so many questions, most important -the need to go through the setting up procedure at each location. (But do I need to rebind and calibrate at the same location?) Your photos were very clear and helpful, I think you should try a YouTube video production. Thank you
It’s less about each location, than it is each time you turn it on. There’s not a way to hot-swap the battery without a power cycle. Something that would be very interesting to see… Thanks for reading and commenting!
I think in order to hot swap the battery, there should be charging inlet built into the drone like it is on the battery. So when plugged in, and you remove and replace the battery it will maintain power to the drone.
Is there a way to do a factory reset on the t25? Also I’m getting really spotty viewing on my phone from the camera. Is this normal?
Please check the manufacturer’s website regarding a factory reset. I had occasional bouts of spotty viewing, but may have been caused by local interference. Check the surrounding areas for any significant electronic infrastructure if you’re still having trouble.
Hi Alex, I purchased this drone after reading your review. This is a very nice drone, thanks for the writeup. Question: My only complaint is that the App running on my iPhone display’s all status in Chinese and not English – Do you know if this can be changed?
Definitely did not run into that issue myself, but please check the manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting the app.
Alex absolutely a great overview on t 25 only I have one question I’m trying to reset flight parameters I turn off beginner mode choose my settings and press save all it does it spin like its loading but nothing happens
First, make sure you’re on the most recent release of the app, and then force quit the app to confirm it’s booted up cleanly. After that, confirm you have good connection to the drone. Beyond that you’d need to troubleshoot based on any info from the manufacturer’s website or contact their support team for assistance.
Hi, this is my first drone, I got this drone for Christmas and just started playing with it, I’ve learned more from your post, than the instruction manual. My question is… do I have to go through the process of holding it and doing a 360 holding it vertically and horizontally every time I fly it? I am not a play station guy, so getting used to the controls might take some time.
Hi I’m thinking of buying the t25 and taking out on a boat, can the send home feature be the controller or will it always be the starting point from where you set off
Hi Alex, I like this drone being a beginner. Your article is very helpful. I have one question. About the hover feature. I was told to just let go of the throttle and it will hover?? It falls to the ground. Am I doing something wrong or missing a step?
Thanks Matt, I thought you had to control the altitude with the throttle. I will experiment with the trim… lol
Jim, You do control the altitude by adjusting the throttle, but the trim will adjust the “neutral position” so that a centered joystick will maintain a fixed level.
You may need to adjust the trim every time you fly the drone as air density will affect how efficiently the props lift the drone. Air density is affected by temperature and humidity. Hot, dry days == low air density; cold wet days == higher density. Plus your altitude makes a differences. Your drone will require higher throttle in Denver than in Miami due to the differences in air pressure / density.
Thanks very much again Matt. I was a licensed aircraft mech in the day so I know about density and temp etc. , but I didn’t know the trim is as important as it is. You have helped beyond words. Now I just have to get out and fly!!!
When I first started flying non-fixed wing RC aircraft with onboard stabilizing systems, I used to get frustrated until someone explained why I had to keep tweaking the altitude trim on some of the aircraft.
I’ve seen some systems (prototypes?) that used an ranging system to auto adjust while within 8-10 feet of the ground.
Hello, I can’t use it … I turn on the drone and the flashing red lights come on. I crush up and down on the Joystick and the lights begin to flash with a pink color. I never see blue lights