Paris-based drone manufacturer Parrot – the biggest in the business in Europe – has finally managed to produce a quadcopter-drone that can truly rival the company’s Chinese competition, specifically DJI.
Costing a hair under $700, the brand-new Parrot Anafi drone is, relatively, cheap but boasts some really cool features, like a compact foldable form factor that gives portability a new meaning, and a brand new camera to boot, in addition to a plethora of specs and features we’ll talk about as we go along.
The camera is capable of turning out 4K high dynamic range (HDR) videos, as well as 21-megapixel stills.
Some of the other features the Anafi lays claim to include 3-Axis Image Stabilization, super convenient portability, 25-minute flight time, and a whole lot more.
Anafi’s package contents include the drone itself along with a remote control, a Lipo battery, a 16GB micro SD card (the drone doesn’t have any onboard storage), a USB-A to USB-C cable, and eight replacement rotor blades, just in case you damage any.
Also included in the box is a good quality carrying case, with a well padded inside, allowing the drone to fit in there nice and snug.
Unfortunately, it’s a drone-dedicated case with no room for the remote, which is not a really a big deal, considering the remote is not unmanageably large – a little bigger than small, for lack of a better description.
The remote’s spring-loaded rubber control sticks feel nice in the hands; on top, you have several buttons for different functions, such as shooting videos and stills, controlling the gimbal, and more.
Weighing in at 320g, this Parrot drone is genuinely lightweight; it’s, in fact, more than a 100g lighter than the 425g DJI Mavic Air – its main rival.
It’s good to see that Parrot has given some nice attention to details, like low rubber feet on the skids, or the ease with which the drone can be folded and unfolded, to give a couple of examples.
What’s comforting to note is that, unlike many other drones out there, there’s no sequence to follow when opening or closing the wings – a small detail but, really, convenient, in that you don’t have to memorize any fixed order.
The smartphone holder has built-in Wi-Fi, looks good and blends well with the unit; however, there’s a small design flaw, if you really want to nitpick, in that this scribe’s smartphone kept coming off the holder but, then, it could be an issue with that particular phone model.
The remote powers on automatically the moment you pull out the phone clamp and after you have fixed your handset into place, you can use the included USB-C cable to connect it to the transmitter/remote.
You can then use the app to control your video, audio, and a lot of other settings.
Parrot’s new Freeflight 6 app offers a plethora of customization options and shooting modes – all for you to experiment with.
Check out the Parrot Anafi in action here
Battery life is pretty decent for a single battery that Parrot claims can give up to 25 minutes of flight time on a single full charge – exactly what it gave during test runs.
There are many good drones out there that are, perhaps, even better than the Anafi but almost all of them are annoyingly noisy, at least for your neighbors and pedestrians, if not you.
This is where Parrot scores big as the Anafi is exceptionally quiet in flight – subtle and smooth, almost elegant.
Anafi is one of the few commercial drones that records videos in 4K HDR, with a maximum bit rate of 100Mb per second, plus, it can record 4K resolution cinema video as well – that’s 4096×2160.
The 21-megapixel stills shot with this camera look quite good, with good color reproduction and clarity.
There’s a bit of a controversy, though, on the company’s claim of 3-axis image stabilization on this thing. It may be technically correct but the fact is that the gimbal controls only 2-axis tilt and roll, while the yaw and pan axis relies on EIS or electronic image stabilization.
The good thing about the gimbal, though – not seen on most other drones – is its ability to tilt as much as 90 degrees, both, up and down, making it possible for users to get really creative with their photography and videography.
The drone is surprisingly steady in gusty conditions, capable of holding its own in 50kmph winds.
In the Sports mode, the Anafi literally zips through the air, hitting speeds of up to 55kmph (33mph) like a champion.
It is rare to find a drone without any flaw, however small it may be, and the Parrot Anafi is no exception to this unwritten rule, of sorts.
While this is more of a wish list item than a fault, really, it would have been good to have a gimbal-stabilized third axis rather than the EIS-controlled one this one has; we may, perhaps, get our wish in the subsequent model.
The other issue that you will have with the Anafi is the 2-3 hours charging time its battery takes, which is, rather, long for a 25-minute flight time output.
Obstacle avoidance technology would have been absolutely cool to have, especially for beginners and first-time enthusiasts, but it appears the exclusion is on purpose, to keep the price under control.
While the app includes some free smart features like Return to Home, Cameraman, and some other fun shooting modes, there are paid features like Advance FollowMe mode and Flight Plan mode that would have been good to have included, as well.
However, to be fair to Parrot, the reason for keeping these features as paid options is because some countries don’t allow them and the other reason would, again, be the price factor.
All in all the Parrot Anafi is an affordably-priced quadcopter-drone, which is compact, lightweight, and easily portable, with a fine camera, great app and a host of other smart features.