2018 Ryze Tello Drone 

The recently released Tello drone is a great choice for beginners, but is truly meant for anyone.  At just $99, this feature-rich drone soars above it’s similarly priced competition.  Although it’s catered to beginners, I’ve found myself totally addicted to flying the Tello for several reasons:

  • Great flight time for this little one, up to 13 minutes which is close to the DJI spark’s 16
  • Incredibly fast to launch
  • 5MP photo quality and live video feed is surprisingly good
  • No hesitation to flying indoors. I’m not going to fly my bulkier drones, the Mavic Pro & Phantom 4 Pro, indoors without worrying about breaking them or something else in the home – while I have no issues flying the 80g (2.8oz) at 18mph in our family room. And no issues handing over the controls to our 8 year old.
  • Tello adapter allows for some unique fun – attach Lego figures and blocks to joust with other drones in aerial “medieval” competitions

The Ryze Tello is often refered to as the DJI Tello, and for good reason.  The look and feel of the mini drone is very similar to it’s cousin counterpart – the DJI Spark.  Ryze Tech partnered with DJI and Intel to develop the start-up’s Tello, delivering a fun and functional drone.  DJI flight technology and Intel chipset give the Tello great control by using the camera and sensors to hover steadily.  So the operator can focus on the image and flight plan while the quad maintains it’s flight stability. After flying a few of the $100 and under drones, the Tello is leaps and bounds beyond the competition who often keep you struggling to maintain elevation and control.  The Ryze Tech Tello, aka “DJI mini drone”, offers advanced features found in many high-end quadcopters:

  • Up & Out – the Tello will fly up and backwards while recording a selfie video
  • Orbit and 360 – records video while spinning in place or circling a subject
  • Digital Image Stabilization for smoother 720p videos and 5MP stills. Sensors keep the Tello extremely stable
  • Auto take-off and landing. Even lands in your hand, or takes off by tossing it into the air
  • Up to 100m (about 300 feet) distance and 18mph
  • Live views with virtual reality – VR

If you’re familiar with the DJI drone lineup, the above features are not new to you, so here are a few features that you won’t typically find in the advanced drones:

  • I know, it’s just 5MP, but that is better than 0MP.  Try out the drone in difficult to reach locations for a unique view – a downward shot of a chandelier into the foyer – you wouldn’t try that with your Phantom 4 Pro
Counting whiskers – not scared Nice depth of field New Perspective
  • Aerial gymnastics, it flips in 8 directions with just the swipe of your finger and I’ve had a blast testing it out
  • Bounce mode allows the Tello to ascend and descend, similar to tossing a ball up and down but without touching it. Not only is it fun to do, but this feature gives social media “creators” unique recording options
  • Programmable with Scratch – easily create a program that auto-pilots the drone through and around objects. Challenge yourself with an obstacle course or Lego joust with another drone. Although you can develop your own software to interact with the Tello, there’s no need. I use a free app, DroneBlocks, to program flights using simple drag and drop blocks (take-off, hover for 10 seconds, fly backwards, land) – it’s that easy
  • STEM – learn to code and get creative with problem solving. Create an obstacle challenge, program a solution, and communicate ideas using the Tello.  What’s STEM? Science, Technology, Engineering and Math focused educational methods

Where to Buy:    The most convenient stores are currently DJI and Amazon.  Both offer the Tello for $99 and you can upgrade to include more options.  Either way, you’ll be purchasing from DJI as it utilizes Amazon’s marketplace and distribution.

So, how long is this review?  Believe me, I thought it would be quick and easy because it’s just a $100 toy, right?… Wrong.  I took 11 pages of notes on this quadcopter because I just kept discovering more features to enjoy. My kids and I are even considering a youtube series – stay tuned!  Here are some final Pros and Cons discovered during the past 2 weeks:


  • Awesome flight modes (see above for details)
  • Durable – crashed it several times and shows no sign of damage or wear
  • Intuitive App – just connect your wifi to the Tello, then start the app and you’re ready to fly
  • $99 price includes extra propellers and removable prop guards
  • Good flight time for a mini drone – and for under $20, you can double your flight time with an extra battery
  • “lego” attachment for $6. Connect your own lego figure to the adapter and let them enjoy the ride


  • Controller is not included (I did not use mine as much as expected anyway – mostly used during VR flights)
    • check phone for compatibility, most devices purchased in the last few years will work
  • Micro-USB charging cable not included. Most people probably have one in the junk drawer, but seems like they really needed to stay below $100 not to include one.
  • Doesn’t like the wind.  I’ve flown in 10mph winds, but the stabilization struggles to keep the drone level which reduces image quality.
  • The “toss and go” feature must be selected in the app first. I’d love it if you could just toss it and have it hover in place without searching for it in the app – maybe a feature in the Tello 2.0?
  • VR lags – so controlling the drone while using a VR headset is not recommended.  My kids did enjoy wearing the headset as I flew the drone.
  • Drifting occurs in low light.  Hovering and stable flight is based on the camera, if there’s little or no light, it will not be able to maintain a steady position.  It’s basically like flying other toy drones, you can do it, you’ll just need to maintain focus.
  • You’ll wish you’d purchased the Tello combo kit. With the amount of entertainment and features, you’ll want to fly it all the time, so at least 1 additional battery is recommended.

To summarize: After flying the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro for a couple of years now, I did not expect to enjoy the Tello drone as much as I did.  There’s no doubt that this is the best drone available for it’s price at under $100, it will even challenge drones up to $200. This is a great beginner drone as well as a fun flyer for the most experienced pilots. Finally, learn to code the Tello with programming apps, like DroneBlocks, or challenge advanced programmers to develop their own Tello interface.  Follow us on or contact us at

Need more details?  Here are the accessories I purchased during the past 2 weeks: