It’s hard to find camera drones these days that don’t have a foldable design. But this trend is countered by the Holy Stone HS700E; it resembles the DJI Phantom models, but in a smaller, lighter, and ultimately more portable package, despite not being folded for transport and storage. This is not the latest model in the Holy Stone line, it was first available on Amazon in June 2020.
Holy Stone Drones are most readily available from online retailers, making them convenient to purchase anywhere in the world, wherever you are. The HS700E is one of the company’s most expensive models currently available, but it’s priced at $299.99 / £289.99. (will open in a new tab) it remains a budget model that will appeal to beginners and those looking to buy a drone on a budget.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that such a low price means a serious lack of features, but the HS700E has a few tricks that might surprise you. It also flies well, making it a good option for beginners, but the good overall package spoils the poor image quality, which we’ll discuss in detail later. This is not to say that the drone is not worth considering and it may not be one of the best drones on the market right now, but its low price and flight performance make it an attractive drone for beginners and people on a budget.
- Holy Stone HS700E on Amazon for $237.99. (will open in a new tab)
Holy Stone HS700E: Design
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- Reminds me of the design of DJI Phantom models.
- Small and light despite the design
- Uses a folding controller with a small information screen.
With a clumsy design, the HS700E looks like previous generation drones with an overall design reminiscent of the DJI Phantom series. But at 380x230x125mm and 19.64oz/557g, it’s much smaller and lighter. This clumsy design means the drone’s propellers need to be detached each time the drone is packed into a case for transport or storage, but they are easy to install and are clearly marked to ensure the propellers are attached to the correct hands.
The motors are quite powerful, and in combination with large propellers, the drone can remain stable when hovering. Battery life from the 2800 mAh lithium-ion batteries is decent, with a claimed flight time of 21 minutes per battery. The batteries charge using the included USB-C cables, which can be plugged into a USB charger or any USB charging socket, which is handy, but the downside here is that it takes 4-5 hours to fully charge when they’re nearly empty.
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The controller folds for transport and offers a telescoping phone holder at the top with two handles that fold down at the bottom for increased comfort. There is a dial to control the gimbal angle, as well as buttons to change the flight mode and a shutter button to take photos. When the phone is in place, it’s easier to use the video and photo shutter buttons in the Ophelia Go app. There is also a small screen that displays useful information about drones and flights. The controller and drone connect using 5GHz Wi-Fi, which is one of the strongest and most reliable Wi-Fi connections we’ve experienced with Holy Stone drones.
Holy Stone HS700E: Functionality
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- GPS and GLONASS positioning
- Object Tracking Modes
- In general, the drone flies well.
Despite the lack of camera functionality and image quality, the HS700E flies well with responsive and reliable controls that you can’t fault. The drone is also quite quiet for a model of this size and certainly doesn’t look like a swarm of angry bees. The two flight modes offer different speeds, but both are moderate so they are good for beginners; Sport mode (high) is the faster of the two and is similar to the standard flight mode of more expensive drones, while tripod mode (low) provides even slower flight speeds. You can also activate beginner mode to limit height and distance.
The main features of the HS700E include GPS positioning and Glonass GPS, as well as a return to home function. The latter can be activated by the pilot in case of need or simply to return the drone to the takeoff point, or automatically activated when the signal between the controller and the drone is weak or disappears. There are also “Follow Me” object tracking modes and “Point of Interest” modes where the flight distance between the aircraft and the object can be set in the Ophelia Go app. Then there is the headless mode, in which the controls remain the same regardless of the direction of the drone in relation to the pilot; for example, moving the roll control to the left will turn the aircraft to the left of the pilot.
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Collision avoidance is not available, so you need to be careful when flying near obstacles and in difficult conditions; you always need to maintain a visual line of sight, so if you’re careful it’s not a problem, but collision avoidance is a useful feature. However, there are optical flow sensors on the bottom of the drone to detect downward obstacles, though they are rough compared to true collision avoidance. Overall, all the flight features are useful and impressive for such an inexpensive drone, and they work well. They are not as efficient as more expensive drones, but that is to be expected.
Holy Stone HS700E Performance
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- Image quality is poor
- FHD at 60 fps and 4K at 30 fps
- Powerful electronic image stabilization
The camera specs for the HS700E are sparse, as are the settings and controls available in the Ophelia Go app, but we can still review the available information and, most importantly, learn how the camera works. The camera and stabilizer are made of plastic, and the stabilizer is attached to the body of the drone with four rubber dampers. The camera can be moved up and down 90°, but without mechanical stabilization, all video stabilization is a combination of rubber dampers and electronic image stabilization.
Despite this basic setting, the video is jelly-free (rolling shutter) and looks pretty smooth. But with only this basic stabilization, if the drone leans forward or backward or rolls left or right, whether it’s moving in flight or countering the wind, that movement is captured on video because there’s no mechanical stabilization. And when rolling, counteracting the wind, the horizon is often filmed at an angle both in the photo and in the video.
The 2.8mm lens has a full frame equivalent focal length of 14mm, providing a 130° field of view with a fixed aperture of f2.0. The camera is equipped with a small 1/3-inch sensor that can shoot video in 1080p at 60fps and 4K at 30fps, while photos are taken in JPEG at 4K resolution (3840×2160), which equates to 8.2 MP. The exposure is set automatically, but you can adjust the white balance, ISO, brightness and saturation. There are also grayscale (black and white), vibrant, and nostalgic presets that can be applied to photos and videos.
Image quality is generally poor, with strong barrel distortion visible in some but not all images, depending on object proximity and gimbal angle. Photos are also soft, and strong chromatic aberrations are visible. Images of wider scenes tend to be better than images of closer subjects, and lowering the brightness in the Ophelia Go app provides better exposure than the default setting. The video is much more lenient on these issues, but they remain visible.
Holy Stone HS700E: Price
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Holy Stone HS700E retails for a competitive price of $299.99 / £289.99. (will open in a new tab) and comes complete with everything you need to get started. Once you’ve charged the batteries, insert AA batteries into the controller and download the Ophelia Go app on your Android or iOS smartphone and you’re ready to go. And don’t forget to register with the FAA in the US and the CAA in the UK.
The kit includes the HS700E drone, foldable controller, two sets of propellers, two batteries, two USB cables to charge the batteries, a carrying case and instructions. You can charge the batteries with a USB charger or connect the cables to a USB outlet. The instructions are printed and the booklet is A6 size, making it easy to carry around while flying, and fits neatly into the top of the propeller carrying case.
Should I buy Holy Stone HS700E?
(Image credit: Future)
Some beginner drone pilots are afraid to crash new expensive drones, so a model like the HS700E offers a less expensive option that flies well and offers a few useful features. These include GPS positioning, object tracking modes, and a return home function. So, in terms of flight, this is an impressive drone for the price.
Image quality, unfortunately, is the weak point of the HS700E and may be the deciding factor for some. So, if you’re just looking for a drone to handle flying, are on a budget, or just enjoy drone flying, this might be an attractive option. But if you want a model that you can grow up to as a pilot and require much better image quality, a slightly more expensive model may be your best bet.
If this product is not for you
At $299.99 / £289.99 (will open in a new tab)The HS700E is one of the most expensive Holy Stone models available, and while the drone flies well and provides a number of useful features that belie its budget-friendly status, the image quality isn’t up to par. As a drone for learning to fly without the fear of crashing the more expensive model, the HS700E is a good option, but if you’re looking for a drone that can capture higher quality photos and videos, the DJI Mavic Mini 2 is worth it. Considering.
The Mavic Mini 2 is more expensive than the HS700E in the fly version, but that’s not too much of a jump in price. This kit costs $599 / £498. (will open in a new tab) and includes the drone, controller, three batteries, carrying bag and a range of accessories. This is a more expensive and not the latest Mavic Mini model, but it remains an attractive option for beginners and more experienced drone pilots alike.
Holy Stone HS700E: Price Comparison