Drones have slowly taken domination over the skies in the few years that the hobby was given a chance to flourish, with these technological birds coming in all shapes and sizes, each designed with a specific purpose or niche in mind.
But how often do you come across a waterproof drone — and not just any kind of waterproof, but one that can navigate the underwater realm just as easily as it does in the air?
The SwellPRO Spry is one such drone, boasting an amphibious design that allows it to act as a submersible and a UAV at the same time.
It offers a plethora of specs and features that are apparently suited for a wet operational environment, but just how far can it go in terms of reliability, as well as performance? Dive into our SwellPRO Spry review to find out.
|Weight||Unloaded: 538 grams|
|Size||Length: 233.5 mm|
Width: 249 mm
Height: 90 mm
|Speed||Max: 65 kph|
|Signal||Range: ~800 m|
Operational Frequency: 2.4 GHz
|Battery||Flight Time: ~17 mins|
Capacity: 3600 mAh
|Recording||Camera: 4K, 12-MP CMOS|
SwellPRO Spry Features
GPS + GLONASS
The SwellPRO Spry doesn’t miss a beat with its integrated GPS + GLONASS module that allows it to keep tabs of its real-time position by connecting to up to 24 satellites that allow accurate triangulation of the drone’s location effectively.
This configuration also offers a redundancy functionality, where either system kicks in to fully take charge of the Spry’s positioning needs should the other system malfunction. This keeps the craft secure mid-air even with one of the systems being down for the count.
Follow Focus is the drone’s follow me function, which constantly tracks your movements and location to accurately keep you in the frame, following you with a consistent speed and distance value. This allows you to shoot videos on your lonesome without the need for manual maneuvering and shot composition.
The Follow Orbit mode automatically revolves around a subject to shoot a comprehensive 360° coverage of it, making for a handy cinematic preset whenever you need that dramatic panning action.
Return To Boat
SwellPRO aptly named the Spry’s Return To Home function to show that they are serious about getting the drone wet. The craft simply backtracks its way to the location of the controller, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a moving craft or not. This feature can also be used on land, of course.
This safety function kicks in once the battery levels reach its emergency threshold, or when signal transmission becomes spotty. You can also manually prompt the function to automatically recall the drone when you want to recon or relocate.
One Key Launch/Landing
The easy way to launch and land is via the One Key function, that takes away the awkwardness of having to manually maneuver the drone for initialization or retrieval, especially on rough seas.
Tap To Fly
Accessible via the Spry smartphone app, the Tap To Fly function takes in the FPV feed of the SwellPRO Spry and allows you to choose a point in the current frame to fly the drone towards. This can be used to fly the drone without having to mess with the directional controls at all, and instead command it via simple taps on the screen.
There is a waypoint function called Autonomous Navigation that brings up a real-time map of your vicinity, as well as showing the location of the drone itself. You can then set waypoints for the craft to fly along, which saves you the hassle of having to manually maneuver it, especially when you have a planned shooting route in mind.
This is handy when you want to focus on composing that shot, with the drone flying on its own on the path you set for it to follow.
The SwellPRO Spry has a 3600 mAh LiHV battery that provides up to 17 minutes of uninterrupted flight time, give and take, depending on your usage. While this is better than the average flight juice some drones may possess, we still feel a bit underwhelmed especially when put side by side with the drone battery’s capacity.
You can top the battery up in about 90 minutes, taking it back to full charge, which is decent enough. You’ll be stuck with a grounded drone for the same time when you don’t stack up on extra battery modules, though, so pick some up if you really need the extra flight time.
In the optics department, it sports a 1/2.3-inch Sony sensor that is capable of 4K videos taken at 30 fps, or 1080p at 120 fps.
If you want cinematic footage for montages, you can stick with the former, but for sports shots that need that delectable, buttery-smooth slow-mo treatment, the latter is a great choice.
For stills, the SwellPRO Spry can capture stunning 12-MP photos with even the smallest of details standing out in the sea of pixels. You can also customize camera settings to get your preferred level of exposure, HDR, contrast, and more. Speaking of color reproduction, you might want to experiment with various settings to get the right mix for your desired effect.
Stabilization for the camera comes in a hybrid 3-axis feature, with 2 for the mechanical side of things, and an electronic stabilizer as the third axis. This makes the final product smoother, even with the drone doing high-speed maneuvers.
The camera is enclosed in a specially-designed polycarbonate dome to protect it from the elements, while a tint of sorts surrounds the dome filters to minimize the level of glare caused by reflective surfaces such as water and snow.
The controller follows the usual RC design, with its rounded square design fitting in your hands rather comfortably.
Populating its face are dual joysticks, a bunch of dedicated buttons and levers, and a 4.3 inch LCD screen that provides you telemetry stats like battery level, signal level, and a real-time feed of the drone’s FPV, forgoing the need for a phone to do so.
Here’s the catch, though, as you’d still need your smartphone to access special features like GPS-assisted flight and shot presets, which could rather turn awkward as the controller doesn’t have a mount to accommodate one.
Just like the SwellPRO Spry itself, the controller has waterproofing built into it, with an IP66 rating that allows it to withstand several degrees of wetness, albeit not having the same submersible capabilities.
Design and Build Quality
The bright orange color scheme doesn’t come across as cheap, as its satin finish gives it a premium vibe, especially when held up close.
It adapts the aerodynamic quadcopter design, complete with curves that reduce drag when this bird takes to the sky.
SwellPRO seems obsessed — in a good way — with keeping the Spry’s internals extra chilly too, with an aluminum heatsink by the belly and a ventilation hatch by the back providing ample cooling to the heat-generating components of the drone.
The landing gear is integrated into the bottom of each rotor hub, dampening the effects of impact when the drone lands.
But the prime feature that creates such a buzz is its waterproof capabilities, with an IP67 rating that allows the drone to be float or be submerged into a meter of depth in a duration of 30 minutes. It can swim through the water and record, making it great for surfing, rowing, kayaking, swimming and any other water-based sports.
Response-wise, you’ll encounter no problems with the SwellPRO Spry doing your bidding with your control inputs.
The drone’s control range is very respectable, maxing out at 800 meters.
The 2206 1400KV brushless motors allow it to reach speeds of up to 65 kph, making it one of the nimbler UAVs around. These motors are more efficient, generate less friction (and heat), and generally have a longer service lifespan than their brushed counterparts, making the drone they’re equipped in extra agile and resilient to sudden gusts of wind.
The SwellPRO Spry promises something that only a few drones have been willing to incorporate in their design and fulfills that promise satisfyingly so.
Apart from decent flight time, impressive flight performance, top-notch optics, and user-friendly features, this drone’s design is the envy of any water sports enthusiast, with an impressive IP67 rating that either has the drone float on the surface or turn into a submersible of up to 1 metre in depth when needed.
While there are obvious limitations with the depth, this is a step in the right direction, providing a priceless template for manufacturers to follow.
This certainly isn’t a cheap waterproof drone by any means, but it’s certainly a decent offer waiting to be snagged.
Plus, the SwellPRO Spry is a product of a startup effort, proving that such directives can churn out amazing results like this bird right here.