Snaptain S5C – Key specs
Video stabilization: Yes
App support: Yes
VR compatible: No
Flight time: 8-10 minutes
Flight distance: 80m
Flight height: 80m
Weight: 137g (inc. battery and blade guards)
Number of batteries: 2
Controller included: Yes (batteries not included)
In a market proliferated with cheap drones, the Snaptain S5C tries to slot itself neatly below some of the competition while offering features that set it apart from the options sitting at the bottom of the barrel. The Snaptain S5C retails at $69.99/£59.99, though you can pick it up as low as $49.99/£49.99 and provides a camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, extra batteries, and a controller.
Despite what it’s including, the Snaptain S5C isn’t all that remarkable. It certainly can fly and doesn’t have too steep a learning curve, but it’s not the most elegantly designed drone and isn’t quite dependable enough to even take full advantage of the features it offers.
The Snaptain S5C makes for a fun toy to fly around, but there are better options, and some are in the same price ballpark.
Snaptain S5C REVIEW: DESIGN AND FEATURES
The Snaptain S5C has a rigid construction. Its propeller arms extend from a Batmobile-like frame in an X shape, and its propellers are adorned with chromed plastic. The propellers themselves sit on plastic gears rather than directly on the electric motors, which raises some minor durability concerns. Snaptain includes propeller guards and landing gear that is a little tedious to screw onto the frame. Despite a modest weight at 137 grams, the lack of any foldable parts makes it a bit tricky to bring the drone from place to place.
Since the Snaptain S5C boasts an 80m flight range from the controller, it includes lights for visibility. There are blue lights on the front arms and red lights on the back as well as a white light directly out of the front. They’re not very bright though, so they’re only likely to help with orientation in the evening or at night.
Underneath the frame, the camera is attached with a hinge that allows for some slight tilt adjustment, but it feels very cheaply made. This lack of polish is only made worse by the fact that camera section also doubles as a flimsy door for the battery compartment, where the battery is awkwardly wired inside. Getting the battery in and out is a finicky affair, and they aren’t housed in any special casing, so they may not be well suited for younger kids.
This drone comes with a controller, but it feels much like a toy. The analog sticks are surprisingly nice and springy, but the rest of the buttons are just stiff. The controller has a flip-up mount that can hold a wide range of phones to provide a first-person view from the drone while flying with the controller.
Snaptain S5C REVIEW: FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
The Snaptain S5C is a modest flier for the price. It has three speed modes, and the lowest mode won’t see the drone accidentally race off into the distance. The fastest will let you get a little bit of speed to play with. Unfortunately, outdoors, even a minor breeze is enough to get the Snaptain S5C moving in ways you might not intend. This can make it tricky to get the hang of the drone, as you’ll want to stick to a lower speed setting but then won’t be able to compensate for wind.
The drone holds its altitude, but it doesn’t hold its position very well, and that makes it extra difficult to manage if there’s any kind of breeze. This also means flying to higher altitudes is not a good idea, as the stronger winds higher up make it difficult to maintain control of the Snaptain S5C. It’s not quick to descend either, so if it gets caught in the breeze high up, you might have to resort to an emergency landing. I did find one way to quickly descend by rapidly spinning the directional control to make the drone wobble down through the air, but it’s not a smooth or surefire method and prevents adding a direction to that descent.
You might consider flying the drone indoors, but I found it a bit loud for that. And, since it doesn’t hold its position well (even after adjusting trim), it can be a bit hard to practice safely indoors.
On the plus side, the battery does live up to its 8+ minute claims. And with two batteries in the box, you can get a decent amount of flight time in before needing to recharge everything. It’s also easy to make the drone perform a flip.
Snaptain S5C REVIEW: CAMERA AND APP PERFORMANCE
Pretty much all I can say about the Snaptain S5C’s camera is that it has one. It’s a very modest 720p camera that can shoot stills and video to a microSD card or beamed back to a connected smartphone. But, it’s no more impressive than I’d expected.
Still photos are grainy, and there’s not much to help stabilize shots taken mid-flight beyond any inherent vibration dampening from the plastic connections. The connection between our phone and the drone was also poor and had considerable delay. This made it difficult to get good photos (or any photos at all, as some were corrupted), and certainly can rule out all but the slowest FPV flight.
Given the poor connectivity between the drone and app, some of the flight capabilities of the Snaptain S5C didn’t seem dependable enough for us to try, such as drawing a route for the drone to navigate or having it respond to hand gestures — I simply couldn’t take our hands off the controller long enough to try them.
Snaptain S5C REVIEW: VERDICT
The Snaptain S5C is a decent toy drone, but it can’t be expected to do much beyond fly around using the included controller. It’s got a little power in its motors and offers a nice amount of flight time for beginners, but it’s not the most compelling option to pick up. For $20 more, The Ryze Tello drone offers impressive functionality and easy flight, meanwhile, I picked up a GoolRC S161 drone for about half the price that proved just about as capable and better designed with folding arms and a carrying case.