Ehang GHOSTDRONE 2.0 Review: Aerial Camera Drone with 4K Sports Camera and iOS/Android Compatible
Ehang’s new Ghost Drone 2.0 is the slightly lesser-known Chinese company’s latest model in the UAV market and as the direct successor to their previous Ghost Drone 1.0, This newest flyer offers up several major improvements, the most crucial of which are design oriented for more stability and new video recording compatibility options.
The result of these improvements in the Ghost Drone 2.0 has been a remarkably stable, extremely easy to fly and very versatile piece of UAV technology which is also priced wonderfully for the specs it offers. The Ghost Drone 2.0 is an excellent beginner’s drone that we can’t help but like even if it comes with a few defects and definitely lacks innovative features when compared to its sturdier, more advanced rivals from DJI, Yuneec and even Blade.
To make things even more attractive for this compact and highly affordable flyer, Ehang has included a very decent 4K camera with the latest Ghost Drone package we’re reviewing and also gives their 2.0 the benefit of one very ample warranty, which pretty much seems to give users blanket permission to break the flyer and still get free repairs or even a cost-free replacement model. On top of all this, we repeat, the Ghost Drone 2.0 has got to be the easiest to fly UAV we’ve seen so far, requiring only an Android or iOS-powered mobile device, Ehang’s own downloadable app and a small G-box to be taken into the skies for some very decent video and photo recording.
For starters, we can’t help but love the price at which the Ghost Drone 2.0 comes. At less than $600, this is easily the cheapest drone we’ve reviewed yet with an included gimbal-mounted 4K camera and decent flight time. While the overall package that the Ghost Drone 2.0 offers doesn’t quite match the power of a model like the DJI Phantom 4 UAV, the fact that this particular model sells for roughly half the price of the DJI competitor makes up for a lot of this inferiority.
Next along, the Ghost Drone 2.0 delivers a very nice bit of flight time. Capable of staying in the air for 25 minutes on a single full charge, the 2.0 is a useful tool for prolonged aerial recording and what makes this 25 minute flight time more impressive is the fact that it can be sustained even while video recording or continuous photo shooting is being done.
We also need to mention the fact that we really like the Ghost Drone’s flight control design. This definitely is one of the easiest to fly drone’s we’ve seen yet and the fact that it can be controlled with little more than an iOS or Android smart device and Ehang’s own drone app makes for one very efficient flyer for field use. While this sort of slightly unconventional flight setup also admittedly comes with its own particular precise navigation drawbacks, it’s still more than useful enough for a lot of flight situations in which easy setup and economical flight control design might be the better way to manage things.
Finally, how can we not love the fact that the Ghost Drone 2.0 comes with an included 4K video camera, especially at the price this little puppy is selling for. The camera may not offer up quite the power and video quality of a GoPro Hero 4 4K action camera or even DI’s built-in Phantom 4 camera but it’s still a 4K shooter with 12 megapixel still photo capacity and this is indeed impressive.
We’d also like to note that the warranty which comes included with the Ghost Drone 2.0 offer some of the best no fault coverage we’ve seen yet. Ehang claims to cover repairs and even replacements for crashes without hassles and with shipping paid both ways.
4.8 - 19 Reviews
Despite its low price and the less than famous name of its manufacturer, the Ehang Ghost Drone 2.0 is remarkably low on problems. In general its performance, design and specs are all quite decent compared to what pricier competitor drones offer up. That said, since no drone is perfect, neither is the Ghost Drone.
First of all, we simply don’t like the design of the Ghost Drone’s landing feet. They’re definitely on the flimsier side and too long in our view. This could present a problem during flight in tighter spaces and if the drone were to fall, we could easily see those long delicate feet being the first things to snap right off. Furthermore, the Ghost Drone comes with a rather unique propeller dsign in which the props face downward, as the images in this review clearly show. While this may possibly improve stability during flight as Ehang claims (we’re not sure since this is a bit tricky to test), what we don’t like about it is that the props are another more easily breakable thing if the drone descends into the ground too fast or possibly flies a bit low into some branches. The difference here between this design and that of more typical above-drone propellers is small but worth noting.
Next, the Ghost Drone does also suffer from a few minor issues with its autonomous flight modes. Since the controls of this UAV are quite simple and based off a mobile device screen instead of a combination of touchscreen and full controller, controlling more than one element on the app screen is difficult or near impossible. As a result, more complex maneuvers like doing a circular aerial shot, in which the camera points at one thing as it circles around it go out the window. The same also applies to other multitask flying maneuvers like adjusting elevation and moving the camera gimbal controls and so on. This is overall one of the biggest flight defects of the Ghost Drone and one of the things which puts it most behind its competitors from DJI or drones like the also affordable Blade Chroma.
Control limitations aside, the Ghost is also a bit glitchy in the autonomous flight settings it does offer. One particular example being the drone’s “Follow Me” mode, which has a tendency to overshoot a user if they suddenly slow down, or lag behind a bit too long if someone suddenly speeds up ahead of the drone.
The Ehang Ghost drone is a great little piece of UAV technology with very decent recording specs, as long as you don’t expect too much of its maneuverability and flight control chops. They don’t compare to those of more expensive models like the DJI drones or Yuneec’s excellent Typhoon flyers. That said, for the price you’re going to pay here, the Ghost has quite a bit to offer.
• Max Ascent: 2.5 m per second
• Speed: about 37 miles per hour
• Battery: 4,500 mAh
• control accuracy: for angles: 0.1°
• Max altitude: 3,000 feet (914 m)
• Flight time: 25 minutes but variable depending on conditions
• Connectivity: USB, WiFi
• Camera: gimbal-mountable spherical camera with 4K video recording and 12 mgapixel still shooting
• Camera aperture: 2.8
• Lens viewing angle: 93 degrees
• Camera Resolution: 4K ultra HD 3840 x 2160
• Recording Media: Micro SD
• Automated Flight features: Return-to-home, Orbit, Follow
• Weight: 1.5 lbs
• wingspan: 13.8 inches, 35 cm
• Controller: smartphone application for Android and iOS devices with G-box included
Except for the somewhat flimsy legs of its landing gear, the Ehang Ghost Drone 2.0 has been designed mostly well. Its matte black body (also available in a couple other colors such as red and white) is sturdy and made out of tough carbon fiber, with a central body that’s roughly cubic in form and four protruding arms at each corner. This form factor is roughly similar to the design of most large body quadracopters on the market today and the Ghost Drone has the most in common with the designs of DJI’s Phantom drone models due to the also equally-sized sides of their bodies. In contrast, other drones like the Yuneec Typhoon or the Blade Chroma are more elongated in their main bodies.
Furthermore, unlike the majority of drones on sale today, the Ghost comes with downward facing rotors which look like they’re hanging from the rotor arms. In most competitor drone models, the propellers face upward and are usually the most elevated parts of the drone extensions and body. Ehang claims that the down-pointing design of the Ghost’s props gives it more in-flight stability and while we consider this to be difficult to verify, we can at last say that this prop configuration doesn’t notable affect how well or stably the drone flies compared to other models. It has small problems with autonomous navigation but these aren’t so much the product of its flight mechanism design.
We should also note that the Ghost Drone 2.0 is very light weight and we generally like this about its build. With a weight of just 1.5 lbs, this is one of the lightest quadracopters we’ve yet reviewed and while this might present problems in windy conditions, it’s useful for easy storage, extended flight time and lithe maneuverability.
4.8 - 19 Reviews
The Ghost Drone 2.0’s box is also compact, nicely packaged and comes with all the essential components tucked away into their respective spaces. This means that a bit of assembly is required but said assembly requires no serious effort, the drone can be set up in no time and only the first battery charge requires a couple of hours of waiting. The following items come with the basic Ghost in its box:
• A ghost airframe
• 3S 5400mAH Li-Po battery
• A battery charger
• 8 3-blade props
• A 3-axis GoPro Camera Gimbal
• iOS G-box Module
• 4 prop guards
• A hardware and Alan tool
• user manual and Documentation
• 4K camera (some models)
After unpacking, assembly and setup for flight consist of first putting the battery to charge and then screwing on the landing gear with a couple of bolts per leg. There are slots in the main body where each landing gear leg goes and assembly of this is very quick with the alan tool provided by Ehang in the box. The props themselves are alrady installed on the drone’s arms, so nothing needs to be done there. Next, the gimbal can be attached and along with it the 4K camera that comes with some versions of the drone or a third party camera like the GoPro Hero 4 Black 4K action camera, which is compatible with this drone’s gimbal assembly. After the gimbal is installed, its PCB board can be quickly connected to the gimbal mount and after this the power and control cables of the gimbal as well, into the main connector board of the Ghost. These cables can be easily clipped into the drone body in just a second with their connector ends. This is about the sum total of assembly for the Ghost. It’s a bit more complex than the assembly we’ve seen with other drones like the Blade Chroma or DJI Phantom models but it’s also not exactly rocket science.
As for powering the drone up for flight, this consists of making sure the battery is fully charged, installing it into the drone body, and then charging the G-box which hooks up to the mobile device you us to fly your drone (the G-box provides connectivity between drone and smartphone or tablet controller). The G-Box needs to be hooked into your Android or iOS device and turned on, which will activate Ehang’s own WiFi hotspot network which you can connect to through your G-Box connection and a password that’s provided with the drone, in the user manual. As soon as this connection has been established, the Ghost Drone App can be activated and the Ghost’s flight controls accessed from there.
First however, the Ghost flight app will ask you to perform a compass calibration, which essentially consists of rotating both drone and smartphone controller in certain ways around each other until compass calibration is completed for the sake of effective navigation. Ehang also claims that this compass calibration is necessary before each flight and in an open area that's at least 20 feet away from any largish metal objects. This seems like a bit of a hassle to us compared to the much simpler coordinated flight procedure for most of the other drones we've reviewed here, but it's also part of the non-monetary cost of such a low-price 4K drone.
Once this is done, you only need to set the configuration settings of your drone to let it know which camera model you’re using with your gimbal and if you’ve also installed propeller guards around the props before letting you take your first flight.
The Ghost Drone comes with or without its own 4K camera, depending on which package you buy. For those who choose the basic model without an included camera, the Ghost is fortunately compatible with numerous 4K action camera models such as: GoPro Hero 3, GoPro Hero 3+, GoPro Hero 4 models and of course the Ehang Sports camera from the same brand as the drone.
While we’d argue that you’ll get your best 4K video footage and still photo quality by simply buying a model of this drone without a camera include and spending the money you save towards one of GoPro’s Hero series shooters, the Ehang Sports 4K camera itself isn’t too bad of a shooter either. It offers 4K ultra HD recording at 30 frames per second and deliver 12 megapixel still shots of a fairly decent quality. GoPro’s photos and video are superior but those of the Ehang camera will do for most recreational users who don’t need professional quality footage. In either case, you’ll still be getting the benefit of razor sharp 4K UHD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels in your video recordings.
As we’d mentioned earlier, the Ghost Drone 2.0 uses your own phone or tablet touchscreen as its flight control mechanism and does so by pairing the mobile device in question with the drone’s accessory G-box connection device, which has to stay close to the drone at all times. While this method of flight control via smartphone display has its benefits in terms of space economy, it also comes with plenty of drawbacks. Most importantly among them is the simple fact that the Ghost Pro is much more limited than many competitor drones in how complex its manual flight maneuvers can be. For obvious reasons of how touchscreens on phones or tablets work, users who fly the drone can only manipulate one control vector at a time. Thus, outside of autonomous flight modes with preset flight conditions, the Ghost can’t have, for example, its altitude adjust while the camera is also being swiveled at the same time. This can result in problems when it comes to more sophisticated intents at particular manual recording/flight maneuvers.
This aside, the general in-flight performance of the Ghost isn’t too bad when you stick to basics with the drone. It can keep stable while maneuvering and the gimbal apparatus works wonderfully at providing a stable video feed or clear photo stills. Furthermore, the drone’s operating range is a relatively comfortable 1000 meters. This is a bit short for our liking but many users will be fine with 1 km (a bit more than half a mile) of operating range. One thing we don’t entirely believe is Ehang’s claim that the drone transmits data at 5.8GHz with zero latency even at the drone’s maximum distance range. Why? Because even at close distances, the drone definitely shows some delay in responding to sudden increases or decreases in speed from the user while flying under the UAV’s Follow-Me mode. Furthermore, the Ghost is also a bit slow in its maximum speeds. We clocked its max horizontal flight speed at about 32 mph and this is well below the 50 mph+ top speeds of rivals like the Blade Chroma or the 3DR Solo UAV.
Ehang has also given their Ghost Drone 2.0 some decent autonomous features, which include the ability to perform preset waypoint navigation, the already-mentioned Follow-Me mode and an Auto-Return function for when the battery is dying or the drone’s navigation signal has been lost.
The basic model of the Ehang Ghost Drone 2.0, without a 4K camera from the company and without the VR viewing goggles of the top-shelf edition sells for just $599. The Drone + 4K camera version we’ve reviewed here also seems to be retailing on Amazon.com for the same price.
4.8 - 19 Reviews
• Good price
• Great design
• Light but powerful
• Decent flight time
• Extremely easy to fly
• A bit slow in horizontal flight
• Not the best at smooth Follow-Me mode
• Controls can be glitch
• No complex manual flight and recording possible