When we think of drones, the first thing that comes to mind is the all too standard flying drones. Quads, helicopters, even planes – anything that can fly remotely and can hold a camera is instantly recognizable as a drone to us. This was valid until the guys at Syma managed to change our views with the Syma X9, which at first glance looks more like a toy car than anything else. However when the props start spinning, it can fly just as well as a regular drone.
It is a cross between a car and a drone, managing to function perfectly as both without having to sacrifice any power by keeping both roles active. On one hand, you have the Syma X9 remote control car which can run at a rather high speed, take sharp turns, balance itself out and navigate through some rather difficult terrain for remote control cars.
On the other hand, with just a flick of a switch, the power is diverted from the wheels to the 4 propellers allowing it to lift off the ground and fly just like a normal drone.
It manages to combine both roles quite efficiently, without requiring you to turn off the drone or make adjustments to it. It can take off while running on the ground and it can land directly in car mode and start running like a remote control car, with just the flick of the switch.
The drone itself is lightweight, easy to fly, easy to drive, can easily combine driving and flying together if the pilot so desires, and it runs on a very small but efficient battery.
- 2-in-1 Fly & Drive
- 4-Axis Structure – Able to fly indoor and outdoor and is wind-resistent.
- 360° Eversion & Throwing Flight – One key 360° roll.
- 2.4GHz Radio control – Fly or drive at long distance with multiple RC’s at the same time with minimal interference.
- 6 AXIS GYRO – Equipped with the latest 6-axis flight control systems, 3D lock, More scheduled flight, operating more to the force!
There is one drawback with this drone though, it does not sport a camera right out of the box, nor does it present us with the option of attaching one. As it stands, the Syma X9 was not supposed to have a camera but, with a few minor modifications to the chassis and body, along with some rather complicated adjustments to the motor and power distribution, this drone can indeed carry around a camera no bigger and no heavier than a GoPro.
With the modifications in place, the flight and drive time of the drone are both heavily reduced, and if the harnessing for the camera is not done right it can throw it off balance. This is why it is not recommended to modify the drone at all. Also, the warranty is voided and you are proceeding at your own risk.
Another thing that needs to be noted about this drone is the fact that despite the fact that it’s basically a hybrid between a car and a quadrocopter, it still manages to retain a lot of agility and a lot of power at the same time, managing to pull off some interesting stunts and tricks both as a car and as a copter.
The packaging itself is what surprised most drone pilots. As soon as you receive it and you take it out of the shipping company’s packaging, what you are left with is something that closely resembles a toy’s packaging.
Where some drones come in reinforced cases, sober boxes and serious packages, the Syma X9 comes, just like a remote control toy car, in a thin cardboard box with light plastic inside the packaging.
This raises some concerns in regards to the safety of the drone during transportation, because the box itself does not really provide much protection for it.
Once you open the box, you will find the following things in it:
- 1 fully assembled Syma X9 drone
- 1 standard Syma X9 battery
- 1 Syma radio controller
- 1 spare set of propellers
- 1 set of instructions
Like with all other drones on the market, this is just the basic kit, and if you feel the need, you can purchase additional items for this kit from their website.
One of the biggest preferences mentioned by most Syma X9 users is the extra battery and propellers. Also, you can get multiple chargers and even spare parts for those slightly riskier than normal usage conditions.
Design and durability
The Syma X9 has been called a lot of things: “the quadro-car”, “the car-o-copter”, even “the flying car” to some extent, and apparently the engineers and designers at Syma were more or less banking on this.
The design of the drone is very interesting. It’s shaped like a race car, with a few aerodynamic traits and elements, but at the same time as a quadrocopter, with drag-reducing surfaces, lack of flat surfaces and general design fluidity.
Overall it’s lightweight, enduring, resistant, but at the same time susceptible to body damage if crashed a bit too hard or if it bumps into things either while flying or driving.
Even though the material used in designing is mostly plastic, and even though the drone weighs as little as possible, the build quality does not feel cheap at all. In fact it feels rather solid and rather rugged for its size and weight.
It sports 2 pairs of LED lights that allow you to tell which end is which, especially at night – red in the front and green in the back.
The propellers are simple and if they feel lighter and slightly more flexible than the rest it’s because they actually are. They are designed to bow and flex while pushing the air underneath in order to be able to perform stunts and tricks in mid-air. They also maintain the drone’s balance and flight performance.
As a car, the Syma X9 has been designed well. It sports aerodynamic elements and surfaces in order to make it go slightly faster and maintain its balance properly, while at the same time it is able to take sharp turns, reach some interesting speeds and even transition from drive to flight and back with ease.
This is one of the biggest drawbacks of this drone when compared to other drones. It does not have a camera, nor the possibility of attaching a camera to it by default.
There are ways in which you can attach a small camera to it, no bigger than a GoPro, but in order for it to actually hold and be effective, heavy modifications must be made to the drone itself.
That being said, the warranty would be void as a result of these modifications, so even though there are people out there that have managed to integrate or attach cameras to their X9s, they have done so at their own risk, voiding the warranty in the first place.
Battery and flight time
The battery is a Li-Ion battery which takes 100 minutes to charge and an extra 15-20 minutes for it to cool off.
The battery itself is very small compared to other drone batteries. However, it is rather large and bulky compared to toy batteries or even commercial batteries. The battery is not a powerful one, managing to deliver between 6 and 8 minutes of flight time, depending on the conditions.
It can, however, deliver a lot more time in drive mode, when you use the drone as a car rather than a quadrocopter.
The controller is a standard Syma radio controller. It comes in the package with the drone, and it can also work with other Syma products.
One of the great things about it is not only the fact that the controller can control other Syma products, but also the fact that the X9 can also be controlled by other Syma controllers.
The controls themselves are very easy to use, the buttons are very comfortable to press, and rather easy to hold together.
The only drawback that this controller has is the fact that the ground throttle and steering controls are a bit loose, requiring a bit of travel time for the control before the command is registered and the wheels start to turn.
The X9, even though limited to only 6-8 minutes of flight, without any modifications or cargo, can still perform some rather interesting tricks and maneuvers while in mid-air.
One of the features that helped a lot with the flight performance is the fact that the drone sports anti-drag surfaces and an aerodynamic shape, which allow the air to pass freely through its lightweight frame, chassis, and body.
The propellers themselves are slightly more flexible than your average drone propellers. This gives the advantage of allowing the drone to deal with different air flows, minor turbulence, and even hold its balance in windy conditions.
The disadvantage is that, because of the flexibility of the propellers, the amount of air pushed by them is slightly smaller than normal. This, in turn, translates into less overall air velocity, less altitude and less speed.
Regardless of this, the X9 is still very fun to fly, very manageable and still able to perform tricks, flips and rolls in mid-air.
Value for money and guarantee
First and foremost, you have to understand that this drone costs slightly less than $50 at the moment. For that amount of money you get a drone, a battery, a charger, a spare set of propellers and a lot of fun.
Despite its price, the drone does not feel cheaply made and it does not have any hazards or shortcomings.
It is great value for money, considering that spare parts are easy to find and cheap to purchase, as well as because of the fact that the drone itself doubles as a quadrocopter and a car.
The guarantees, however, are a different story altogether. First off, Syma X9 comes with the standard warranty that all drones and all products on the market come. However, most users opted to void the warranties by making modifications to the drones in order to boost their power, their batteries and attach cameras to them.
Because of the low purchase price, the warranty can be voided without any remorse. Even more, spare parts are readily available and quite affordable.
The Syma X9 has quite a few unique features that set it apart from other drones on the market.
For starters, it’s a cross between a quadrocopter drone and an RC car. It manages to combine both those aspects with ease, even switching from one to the other with a single flick of a switch, without having to stop or power off the drone.
Another feature that is unique to the X9 is the actual battery that it runs on. While the stats and charge might be similar to other drone batteries out there, the design and format of the battery is not. That being said, while different drones have interchangeable batteries, the X9 has a special battery that it can work with.
On one hand this might seem a bit narrow sighted on the company’s part, however it is for a good reason.
The X9 battery is one of the smallest and lightest drone batteries on the market, not to mention the fact that being designed to work specifically and exclusively with the Syma X9, the battery has significantly lower chances of malfunctioning of frying the motor, problems that have been known to occur with drones that have been using different batteries over the years.
One last thing that is, in all fairness, unique to the Syma X9 is the ability to switch from quadrocopter to RC car without any issues. There have been other hybrid drones on the market in the past, however switching between modes required turning off the drone and restarting it in order to for the changes to take effect.
Similar models or main competitors
The X8W is a full on quadrocopter drone which, unlike the Syma X9, cannot double as a ground car.
The drone comes in 2 colors, black or white, and it sports a lightweight body, rigid and balanced propeller blades, a resistant frame and a strong set of propeller guards in order to minimize the damage to propellers in the case of a crash.
One thing that the X8W has, that the X9 does not have, is a camera. The camera is able to stream through WiFi, directly to your smartphone, mid-flight, as well as compensate for any shaking and minor turbulences due to the gimbal joint that connects it to the drone.
It is not as agile and as sharp as the X9 in flight mode, but at the same time it is able to outlast it with a flight time of 10-15 minutes depending on the conditions, as well as the possibility for a backup battery to be installed at the risk of voiding the warranty.
If you interested you can check its price here.
This drone can be considered one of the older brothers of the X9, again without the added option of doubling as an RC car.
It is around the same price range as the X9, under $50, however it has slightly better value for money. First and foremost, this is a very basic quadrocopter, with a sleek and elegant design that allows it to fly through the air without having to deal with any drag issues or balancing problems.
Its Li-Ion battery gives it somewhere between 7-10 minutes of flight time, depending on the flight conditions, and the propellers make sure that the drone is not only stable but also able to push large quantities of air, giving it a lot of speed and maneuverability.
Another thing that the X5C sports is a compact HD camera with a 2GB memory card, unlike the X9.
This makes this affordable little drone great for those family fun shots and even small projects that involve aerial footage as well as fly-by shots.
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The H8C is another drone from the same bracket as the X9. One of the first things you will notice about this drone is the fact that it is slightly bigger than your palm, making it one of the smallest drones out there.
Its small size also means that the amount of power needed to get it off the ground and sustain its flight is actually lower. That’s why the battery is capable of offering an average of 10 minutes flight time, with small variations depending on flight conditions.
One of the main differences between the X9 and the H8C is the fact that the H8C comes with a built-in compact 2.0 MP camera which is great for home use and family shots.
The design of the drone is very simplistic with a small and compact body. The body is durable and has impact protection measure. Also, the 4 propellers are equipped with guards that protect them from damage.
One of the areas where the H8C falls short compared to the X9 is handling mid-flight. Sadly, the drone is just too light, and if the wind picks up and reaches any level higher than a slight breeze, the drone will become increasingly difficult to control and balance to the point where you will have to land and ground it until conditions pick up.
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After listing its main characteristics now, let’s see some pros and cons.
- Can double up as an RC car
- Easy to use
- Easy to maintain
- Does not come with a built-in camera
- Does not have any ways of attaching cameras without modifications and voiding the warranty
- The battery is so small it only allows for around 8 minutes of flight time
Overall, the X9 is a fun little drone, even though it has its drawbacks. Due to its affordable price and the fact that spare parts can be purchased easily, the drone can be great for first-time drone pilots or even kids to start learning how to fly a drone and have fun with it.
So, if you are in the market for a drone that is cheap, easy to fly, and can provide quite a bit of entertainment and fun, either for you or for your loved ones, then the X9 might be just what you are looking for.