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Hands-on Gear Review
YUNEEC Breeze 4K Review
Price: $500 List | $399.99 at Amazon
Pros: Portable, lightweight, generally stands up to crashes
Cons: Poor video quality, short battery life, short range
Bottom line: Essentially a toy model with a nice enough camera to take selfies, but doesn't capture quality video footage
The YUNEEC Breeze 4K offers big resolution in a tiny package. That tiny package also means it can easily be pushed around by its namesake breeze and lacks a proper gimbal. Footage from this drone is, consequently, much shakier than from any of the gimbal models we tested. It most likely wouldn't cut the mustard for any filmmaking ventures. This small copter can function well as a portable selfie machine or a great toy for a kid. It is also small enough that crashes aren't very consequential, lending the option of flying it inside. However, it just isn't cut out as a filmmaking tool. If you're looking for an actual filmmaking tool in this price range, check out the Phantom 3 Standard
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This graph shows how the Breeze performed overall (in blue) compared to the other models we tested.
Below we go into further detail about how the Breeze did in each of our individual tests.
The Breeze scored a 3 in our video quality testing. This was the same score as the Parrot Bebop 2, the other non-gimbal model we reviewed. However, it was far off from the top performing model, which scored a 10. Despite its 4K resolution, the tiny lens and sensor in the Breeze's camera produced footage that wasn't particularly crisp or clear in comparison to other models. The lack of a gimbal made this footage inevitable shaky. Footage had more of a first person in the cockpit feel to it, rather than the sweeping panning shots you'd want. Speaking of panning shots, the Breeze only has a range of 300 feet, which severely limits the scale of any shot you take. The only thing this drone did well was take still shots when at a stationary hover. This makes it a good option if you're top concern is getting a coolest possible angle for your selfie, but we doubt any filmmaker would be happy with it.
Ease of Use
The Breeze scored a 4 in our ease of use testing, putting it just above the bottom score of 3, but far off the top score of 9. Setup out of the box was slightly more of a hassle than some other models as calibration seemed to take a bit more turning and spinning, but once that was completed it was easy. The Breeze Cam app is well laid out with intuitive menus, but we just did not like the feel of the controls. The Breeze uses only a third party smartphone or tablet as a controller, so you fly with two virtual touchscreen joysticks. This provides no tactile feedback to the flying experience, and it is really easy to let your thumb drift off the "joystick" without even realizing it. This provides much less control than a dedicated controller, but is adequate for maneuvering into position for a selfie.
First flight with the Breeze does feel quite breezy. Tapping a takeoff button within the app starts up the drone and brings it to a hover at about eye level. The touch screen joysticks take some getting used to, but that process doesn't feel stressful as the copter itself is so small and likely to be undamaged in a crash. With the maximum range of 300 feet it certainly feels like a toy you can't fly far away or lift too far off the ground. Landing is again accomplished with an onscreen button. Compared to the larger gimbal drones flying, this feels fun and carefree, and not nearly as serious.
The Breeze earned a 5 in our flight performance testing. This score tied with its non-gimbal sibling, but was the lowest score in this metric, well behind the top score of 9. It bobs and weaves a decent amount in takeoffs and landings. Due to its small size and correspondingly small consequence in the instance of a crash, this isn't particularly concerning or stressful. Hovering was similarly unstable, though it was able to hold position fairly well if the wind cooperated. Its lack of stability transferred to its autonomous flight functions. When executing its orbit point of interest and cable cam functions it bobbed and drifted a bit. We didn't have any issues testing its return to home function, but we'd like to remind you this function is only meant for when a problem inhibits you from piloting the drone back home yourself, and not as a way to end every flight. The Breeze has quite a short-lived battery, providing a maximum flight time of only 12 minutes. This problem is somewhat reduced by the fact that the Breeze is sold with two batteries, but you'll still have to land the copter and change the batteries if you want to keep flying.
The Breeze shared the low score of 4 in this metric with the Parrot Bebop 2, putting both on the non-gimbal models well behind the top score of 10. The video feed was fairly clear, but the connection wasn't always reliable and the picture occasionally became pixelated. The biggest issue, however, was that the touchscreen joysticks sit in the middle of the downlink. When using a normal sized smartphone this completely obscures the entirety of the downlink, meaning you're essentially flying blind as to what the camera is capturing. This problem is somewhat rectified by using a larger tablet, but you still cover a lot of the video feed with your fingers. Obviously this is less than ideal if you're trying to frame the perfect panning shot. It does work for selfies as you can put your thumbs on the controls, move the drone, then take your thumbs off to see if your beautiful face is framed perfectly, and repeat as needed.
YUNEEC scored a 5 in our customer service and reliability testing, putting it in the middle of a metric that saw scores ranging from 3 to 9. We never felt like we got timely responses from Yuneec, but at least they do have a customer service number that you can call to try and get in touch with a real person, which is better than some other brands. Calling this number often led to long hold times, however. If you end up getting the Breeze we suggest using a retailer with a good return policy and good customer service.
The Breeze lists for $500. This feels a bit steep considering it does feel like a toy, but it might be totally worth it for someone looking for a very portable selfie machine. However, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard can often be found for around the same price, and actually has the performance required to produce movie quality aerial footage. If you're interesting in making films, the Phantom 3 Standard would be a much, much, better value.
The Breeze Is a small, portable drone that can effectively function as a fun selfie machine or a really cool toy for a young kid, but its lack of stability and flight performance make it unsuitable for capturing high quality aerial footage.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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