Battery: Removable 2000 mAh, 7.4 volt
Flight time: 10 min
Charge time: 3 hrs
Transmitter rates: 4 (variable yaw)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Competitors: Kai Deng K70
The WLToys Q333 is a brushed, geared toy grade quadcopter currently retailing for between $100 and $150 depending on the version, of which there are three: A) a 5.8 GHz FPV version, B) a WiFi FPV version and C) a 720p camera version, which is the one I’ll be reviewing. $100 for the most basic version feels steep compared to similar existing models. Does the Q333 offer anything that justifies this higher price point? Let’s find out!
Welcome to this review and flight test of the Inspire 1… I mean Q333 quadcopter from WLToys!
Let’s not beat around the bush but start off by addressing the elephant in the room: Yes, the design of the Q333 is very obviously (and quite shamelessly) ripped-off the DJI Inspire 1. I don’t know how or even if WLToys is getting away with it (though this review seems proof they are), but make no mistake: the similarities pretty much ends there. While the Inspire 1 is a $2000+ heavily assisted, brushless platform aimed at professional aerial photographers, the Q333 is a $100 toy; Brushed, geared and without all but the most basic of flight conveniences. With a mind-boggling 20:1 price ratio, it’s like comparing the features of a helium balloon to those of a space station.
Clone or not, it can’t be denied the Q333 looks both cooler and more sophisticated than it should have any right to given its price. I’m sure it doesn’t have the same premium finish as the real deal, but that’s not to say it feels cheap. If you’re looking to impress as cheaply as possible (and what classy person don’t?), look no further! …and in WLToys defense, they have actually added a few touches themselves: The lights – for example – have been moved and made bigger versus the original.
I should mention the Q333 is big! With more than 400 mm motor-to-motor distance and huge 9 inch props, its closest relative is probably the Kai Deng K70. Like the K70 it also uses a 2 cells-in-series, 2000 mAh capacity battery, but unfortunately it’s proprietary with both a special casing and connector. I feel inclined to give it a pass this time though, as it feels motivated by the design. There’s also no on/off switch or button, which would’ve been appreciated. At 600-something grams including battery, the craft do have some reassuring weight to it, but doesn’t feel particularly robust and do flex a little when handled. The arms themselves could be carbon fiber, but other critical components are entirely plastic.
Just like the Inspire 1, the Q333 can transform, raising and lowering itself in relation to its arms. The use-case isn’t as clear-cut here as on the Inspire 1, where I understand this was mainly a way to keep the arms from obstructing the view for the rotatable camera, but impressive and novel nonetheless! It has three positions I’m going to call “Landing”, “Neutral” and “Flying” which can be switched between using a dedicated button on the transmitter. I’ll talk more about the feature in relation to flying in the flight test portion of the review. For now, I’d just like to mention that it’s a bit annoying having only one button for three positions as it means you often have to cycle through one you don’t want in order to get to the one you do want.
The transmitter shipped with the Q333 should look familiar to owners of all but the smallest, cheapest WLToys multirotors. It’s a conventional mode 2 hobby grade style transmitter with a couple of extra buttons and a small, backlit display that shows current trims, rate and the like. Overall, I find it perfectly fine. My only complaint is that, because WLToys has assigned each of the four rates a separate button, there are not enough buttons to go around for headless mode and return-to-home resulting in an annoying long-press/short-press workaround.
My Q333 – the camera model, just to reiterate – came with the already mentioned transmitter and battery, a spare set of propellers, a wall charger, an instruction manual and a USB microSD memory card reader (though no actual memory card). Note that – for sake of compactness – the propellers do not come pre-mounted. You’ll have to do this yourself, but it’s an easy enough process covered by the manual.
All big, geared quadcopters tend to fly pretty much the same, and the WLToys Q333 is no exception: Very stable. I wouldn’t call it sporty (despite four rates, there’s not much variation on offer in terms of pitch and practically none in terms of yaw), but I wouldn’t call it sluggish either. Getting off the ground or maintaining altitude at full pitch is no problem, but some factors (probably its relatively high weight and sizeable props) seem to make it more prone to vortex ring state than your average craft.
Probably due to the flexing and – supposedly – more fragile construction, WLToys has ditched flips this time around in favor of the ability to transform. As stated earlier, it’s a neat-looking feature and works as well in-air as on the ground, but at least this reviewer doesn’t notice any difference between the positions in terms of flight characteristics.
The Q333 uses an interesting setup of brushed motors, gear reduction and big propellers. Flight times are good though, clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, which almost justifies the 3 hours it takes to charge with the included charger. There’s a 30 second or so low voltage cut-off warning, which should give you enough time to get the quadcopter back on the ground before the motors cut out.
Speaking of motors cutting out, this happens almost immediately when the signal is lost, which is a good failsafe in case you fly out of range. If you fly by line of sight, this isn’t likely to happen though. I’ve flown mine as far away as I can and still make out its heading, probably right up to the advertised 100 meters, with no issues.
The built-in camera looks like it has a downward slant, but is actually pointing pretty much straight ahead. It captures video at 720p resolution and while the results have decent detail, color and no excessive “jello” effect, the footage is the kind I’d feel I have to apologize for rather than want to show off. Decent, but no match for even the more affordable stand-alone cameras from the likes of Mobius, RunCam or Foxeer.
This brings me to a broader problem with the Q333. Many people buy these really big multirotors with the intent to – either straight away or down the line – attach stuff – like FPV equipment or said action cameras – to it, but in the case of the Q333 neither design nor – I suspect – spare payload capacity really supports this: Few even surfaces for mounting, little ground clearance, proprietary connectors… Suffice to say, the Q333 is probably best – or at least easiest – enjoyed as is.
In conclusion, I have no hesitation calling the WLToys Q333 technically satisfactory. It certainly shouldn’t be compared to the DJI Inspire 1 in terms of functionality, but what it does – for the most part – it does well.
Whether it’s a good match for you comes down to higher-level considerations: How do you feel about the completely ripped-off look, the purpose-specific design that makes it impractical to modify or the perhaps not super exciting flight characteristics and lack of flips? Problem or not a problem?