Remember that bucket-priced kids' indoor drone you ill-advisedly bought for your child, only for them to fly it straight into the mantlepiece display, shattering six figurines in the process? The Potensic A20W isn't that kind of drone. In fact, right now we think it's amongst the best drones for kids, especially if they’re keen on taking up aerial videography and photography.
The Potensic A20W is a step up from its camera-less stablemate, the A20 (read our Potensic A20 drone review for more on that one), but is still small enough to sit in the palm of a hand and weighs under 30 grams. It’s a hoot to fly and, what’s more, current UK drone regulations mean it doesn’t require registration with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) because it’s classified as a toy.
- Browse more options in our pick of the best cheap drones for children
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- ... or take things up a notch with our general best drone ranking
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: design
Available in just one colour – black – the palm-sized Potensic A20W (opens in new tab) is equipped with a tough outer shell, four tiny propellers and robust prop guards to protect them in a crash. Those same prop guards will also protect against injury, especially if the drone is mistakenly flown into someone’s face. It happens. Make no mistake, this is a tough little bird that can withstand a lot of crashes. It also ships with a pair of extra props.
The A20W’s little front-mounted camera won’t be challenging the DJI Mavic fleet for image supremacy but it’s perfectly good enough for all but the most discerning of young wannabe cinematographers.
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: features
The trouble with most cheap indoor drones is that they’re almost impossible to keep in the air. This is because they don’t have any flight-stabilising barometric pressure sensors on board. Hence, trying to maintain a steady altitude with most toy drones is almost impossible. The flight may go well for the first few seconds after take off, but from thereon in your child will be battling with the sticks until the drone inevitably smashes into the ceiling before crashing to the floor. End of toy and tears galore.
Thankfully, the Potensic A20W is equipped with a barometer to keep the drone on an even altitude plain. We can’t stress how important this asset is when considering a toy drone. It means the child can concentrate on manoeuvring the drone instead of wrestling with the power stick and trying to steer at the same time.
Other cool features include a way-point Flight Route function – simply draw a route on the map on the phone and the drone will follow its path – and a Gravity Induction mode that lets the child steer the drone by tilting the phone.
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: hand controller
For the very low price, this drone is fantastic value not least because it comes with a small but very well designed hand controller and two USB rechargeable batteries. The controller itself is extremely well equipped and features a cradle for a smart phone, a button for automatic take-off and landing, three flight speeds and a headless mode. As a beginner, your child will quickly come to love the headless mode because they won’t need to think about the drone’s orientation in the air. Hence, no matter which way the drone’s front end is pointing, when the child moves the right stick forward, back, left or right, the drone will move in those specific directions and not confusingly veer off on some weird trajectory.
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: camera
Topping off this dandy package is a front-mounted WiFi HD camera capable of capturing 480p video and stills. Now it has to be said that the footage the camera produces is definitely on the low end of the cinematic scale – fuzzy and ill defined like an over-copied You Tube video – but for kids it’ll will do just fine. Just be warned that the camera doesn’t have a gimbal so video footage will pitch and roll as the drone moves around. For best results, let go of both joysticks so the drone hovers in one spot and then start the video recording.
It’s a shame the camera is fixed into a forward-facing position and can’t be at least manually tilted downwards like some models. But on the plus side it means your kid can fly FPV using the screen on a phone to see where he or she is going. Just be sure to download the Potensic app (iOS and Android) first to experience the joys of live-feed video transmission.
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: flight performance
The A20W is a breeze to fly – its flight characteristics and overall stability are really impressive for such a titchy thing. To use, simply pull the two joysticks back and inwards and the little props spin up ready for flight. Once in the air, it holds its altitude position indoors very well and can be calibrated mid-flight if it tends to veer to the left, right, forward or back.
This drone is ostensibly designed for indoor use though it’s perfectly capable outdoors too, as long as there is no more than a gentle breeze. This is because it isn’t equipped with GPS to keep it in one spot when there’s a wind blowing.
The A20W has three speeds. Start in slow mode at first – especially indoors – to get a handle on the controls. The drone will move slowly in the direction you want it to go. The medium speed mode is also good for indoor use though the response is much more sensitive to stick input and it’s faster, too. The fastest mode is really, really quick and it responds to stick gestures with lightning speed. Use this mode only when outdoors, unless you have a very large living room with no delicate ornaments. If using outdoors and a breeze causes the drone to drift away even when trying to flying it back to yourself, immediately put it into max mode and it’ll fight against the wind more effectively.
As explained above, the Headless mode is well worth using when flying for the first time because, chances are your child will change the orientation of the craft mid flight and become confused when the trajectory of the drone doesn’t match the input on the sticks.
You should get about six minutes of flight out of each battery and they’re both rechargeable via a USB pocket charger or desktop computer. However, the batteries do take about 30 minutes to charge.
Potensic A20W Mini Drone review: verdict
The Potensic A20W impressed us right from the start. It’s well built, safe for even four year olds to fly and it behaves amazingly well for such a small drone. We love the Headless mode and the fact the top speed can be changed from slow to dragonfly quick with a simple tap of a button on the controller. And while the camera is no great shakes, it’s perfectly adequate for youngsters. If you’ve been looking for a very competent camera drone for your child that doesn’t require CAA registration then stop right here because this little bird is a cracker in every department.