What Is Headless Mode & 5 Headless Mode Drones
You may have heard about headless mode drones but not have a clue what it actually means and whether you need it. We explain headless mode in detail and bring you 5 great headless mode drones to consider buying.
Headless Mode Drones & Guide
With so many drones on the market and with so many of them having a new feature (or an old feature renamed) it can feel a little overwhelming to someone new to drones to understand what everything means. One feature that crops up often in the cheaper drone category is ‘headless mode’.
Before we take a look at exactly what it is, it may be helpful to understand the dynamics of a drone and essentially how they work at their most basic level.
Unlike most other vehicles, drones have four motors that usually equidistant apart from each other. At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that these motors are all the same – but they are not. You usually have two motors that rotate in a clockwise direction and two that rotate in an anti-clockwise direction. We are not going to get in to the why’s and how’s of that right now but you do need to realise that there is a front an a back to the drone. The front will usually have one of each directional motor and so will the rear.
It can be tricky to identify which is the front end of the drone and which is back end – especially if there is no camera – and that’s when you are close up. For beginners, identifying the front and back of the drone from a distance will be even more difficult.
Assuming you are controlling your drone using standard controls it stands to reason that the direction your drone is facing will largely determine where your drone heads when being controlled remotely. If this is difficult to picture, imagine taking the steering wheel out of a car and using it as a remote control – now imagine trying to control not knowing which end is the front – hopefully you start to see the picture.
What Is Headless Mode?
Headless mode is a different method of controlling a drone so that you don’t have to worry about the orientation at all. It essentially allows you to control the drone based on your own orientation and not that of the quadcopter itself.
Headless mode allows you to fly the drone in any direction based on your own orientation rather than that of the drone. So you rotate the drone to the left you will still only need to push forward on the controller (type 2 controller) to make it move forwards. If headless mode was not activated then forwards on the controller would just make the controller move forwards relative to its own direction – which in this case would be left of your own position (as you have rotated it left).
Headless mode is an important setting for beginners to have access to and luckily most budget drones do actually have this feature. It will usually be advertised as a key feature as it is so important for many first time pilots. To activate headless mode you will need to check your instruction manual as this is different for all drones. Some will have a setting within a mobile app and others will have a multi button combination on the physical controller.
If headless mode sounds like something you would like then be sure to check before you buy. We have compiled 5 of our favourite headless mode drones for you – all of which are relatively cheap.
Our Best Headless Drones:
1. UDI U818A – Best Headless Drone
The UDI U818 is without doubt one of the best drones on the market at this price point. It of course features headless mode and compared to some drones we have to say that the user friendliness of the U818A is better than any other we have tested. The package we have linked to below comes with two batteries and with each one providing 6-9 minutes of flying time there is much fun to be had here.
This drone packs a 720p HD onboard camera and ships with a very well built remote controller. The camera streams live video to your phone when connected using the UDI app and the video relay is excellent. Whilst the headless mode will attract beginners, you will be using this drone far beyond your novice days and once you have mastered the controls and started using the FPV video you will most likely give up on the headless mode altogether and switch back to the normal flying mode.
Whether you want to take great video, race your drone or simply have a bit of flying fun with it, the U818A has it all. Including altitude hold and the ability to perform impressive stunts – it is no surprise this is our number one headless drone.
2. UDI U842 Predator – Best For Battery
Another drone from UDI comes in at second on our list and although the brand and the controller are the same this model has a very different style to it. If you prefer a drone that is a little more robust then this could be a better choice for you – although the U818A will take some breaking in all honesty.
The U842 Predator is aptly named as it really looks the part and this drone will probably appeal more to younger pilots than our first choice in this category. With a flight time of 6-9 minutes we actually found this one fared better in terms of battery life and with two being supplied (using the link below) you are getting twice the air time. We managed to consistently get a full 18 minutes out of our two batteries and that was including when we were using the 720p HD camera and streaming live back to our smartphone screen that we had mounted on the controller.
The headless mode on the U842 is easy to initiate and we found it worked pretty well. This is much bigger than the U818A measuring up at 48cm by 48cm – that’s pretty big for a drone of this nature! It will work at a range of around 100m and with headless mode activated this was very easy to control.
3. GEEKERA Mini – Best Value
The Geekera mini drone is the cheapest headless drone we have added to this list and it is pretty feature heavy considering its low price. There is no camera on the Geekera which helps to keep the cost down but that is just about the only omission. Available in electric blue and racing red, this quadcopter also comes with a small controller meaning you don’t need a smartphone to use it – perfect for the kids. The fact that you don’t need to control it with a smartphone also makes it easy to use – but of course controlling it is even easier when you activate headless mode.
We found battery life maxed out at around 6 minutes but you will get two included which is astonishing at this price. This drone is one of the most fun cheap drones we have used – with a range of flips and stunts possible at the touch of a button. It also has flashing LED lights installed, two speed modes and a one touch return to home button.
All in all, if you are looking for a perfect beginner drone with headless mode for cheap then look no further – unless you want a camera!
4. SYMA X22W – Best Mini Camera Headless Drone
At 14.5cm by 14.5cm the SYMA X22W might not be the smallest drone to be classed as a mini drone but compared to some it is still pretty small. Sometimes good things do come in small packages and that is certainly the case here, in fact, the X22W could easily have been claiming top spot in this round up.
This is perhaps our favourite looking drone of the lot with its black and white styling and clean lines and curves. A front facing 720p HD camera will capture your video and pictures and relay them back to your smartphone. You can use your phone as a standalone controller (with video being shown on the screen) or you can use it as a display with the supplied controller. Whichever control method you opt for you will be able to use headless mode.
The X22W is one of the most stable quadcopters on this list when it comes to flying. This combined with the superb altitude hold feature and the headless mode means that this is simply perfect for novice pilots. Two speed settings, LED lights and 3D flips and rolls make this a great all rounder and at its current price it is an absolute steal.
5. LBLA FPV – Best For Kids
Another FPV drone that has headless mode, altitude hold and one key return to home is the LBLA FPV drone. This is another that will appeal to the teenagers with its mean anthracite and vivid green body colouring. Some sharp contours on the body of this drone certainly give it attitude but it won’t give you grief when it comes to piloting it.
This quadcopter only has a 480p HD camera but it does perform pretty well compared to the better 720p models and in all honesty this drone is all about the looks and the flying. You can enjoy up to 8 minutes of flight time from the LBLA but you will need a smartphone to use it as there is no separate controller supplied.
If you are looking for an excellent cheap headless drone then this a top choice.