Battery: Built-in 120 mAh, 3.7 volt
Flight time: 5 mins
Charge time: 20-25 mins
Transmitter rates: 3 (fixed yaw rate)
Transmitter compatibility: ?
Headless mode: No
To me, the Xinlin X165 has two distinguishing features: its looks and its price. Up until now, these have been seemingly mutually exclusive. It wasn’t so much that a toy multirotor with nice design would cost you more, more the opposite: that a really inexpensive one would also look… Well, really inexpensive. Take the JJRC H8 for example: Very cheap, not very exciting to look at. Boring design, flimsy plastic, sloppy paint job…
The Xinlin X165 seemingly breaks this unspoken rule. It’s currently being sold for only around $14 and must be said – regardless of if you happen to agree with the design or not – sports a more premium look than other multirotors with a similar price point. How has the manufacturer achieved this? Are there other corners that been cut in order to save on cost or is this simply an example of good value for money? Let’s try to find out! Welcome to this review and flight test of the X165 nano quadcopter from Xinlin!
The Xinlin X165 lies between the nano and micro size classifications, although definitely closer to the former. The slightly larger size allows – among other things – for a slightly larger battery, 120 mAh instead of 100 mAh, than most nanos, though – as on practically all multirotors of this size – it’s built-in (as in non-removable and non-replaceable). Also much in line with the convention of the size class, the aircraft uses a direct drive configuration, meaning the motors drive the propellers directly (hence the name) without any gearing in-between.
Closer examination reveals some of the feared drawbacks resulting from the cheapness of the Xinlin X165, perhaps the biggest of which are the LEDs… or rather lack thereof. The Xinlin X165 has – I think – only one LED (possibly attached directly to the board) behind the “eyes” in the front of the aircraft. On the black model no light shines through the actual body, meaning it’s only visible from specific angles. Suffice to say, night flights are a no-go. There are also no padded landing feet.
The Xinlin X165 sports a high gloss, piano black finish (a high gloss, white version is also available) and an angular design, giving the impression of a Nighthawk stealth fighter crossed with a cyberpunk hovercraft. I will not lie to you, the design and look of this quadcopter was a huge part of the reason I got it. Again, tastes vary, but I think it looks cool as heck! It’s like a miniature version of what I imagine a luxury vehicle looking like in 50 years from now or so. From a purely esthetical perspective, I’m giving it two thumbs up!
The transmitter that comes with the Xinlin X165 quadcopter is typical for a toy grade nano multirotor. These are so common that it feels like I’ve – at this point – said everything there is to say about them in previous reviews. I’m not going to repeat myself and instead just give you my summed up opinion: They’re not good and not terrible. The only thing I’ve noticed the Xinlin transmitter does differently is the sticks, which are slightly longer than usual. This will surely be welcomed by pinch flyers and probably not bother thumb flyers. I haven’t been able to bind the quadcopter with any other transmitters that I have access to.
When it comes to the included accessories you are once again reminded of the cheap nature of the Xinlin X165. Excluding the already mentioned transmitter, you get a fairly comprehensive instruction booklet and a USB charging cable able to top up the battery in around 20-25 minutes. That’s it! No prop guard, no screwdriver and – outrageously, one could argue – no replacement propellers!
The instruction manual seems to indicate that one (as in: a single spare) should be included, but either I lost mine or this is simply not true. Whatever the case, none or one included replacement propeller for a quadcopter with – to my knowledge – no spares available for purchase anywhere, is a big potential problem as it – with just a little bad luck – could leave your quadcopter stranded for good and something to keep in mind when considering a purchase.
I haven’t actually verified this so don’t take my word on it, but the propellers do look pretty much exactly the same as the ones of the Cheerson CX-10, for which spares are readily available. So that’s at least some consolation.
Airborne the Xinlin X165 can be summed up in three words: satisfactory but unremarkable. It’s by no means a bad or broken product. It hovers very well and I’ve noticed no range issues or unexplained behavior. At the same time, there are things that could have been tweaked to make it so much more appealing, like differentiating the now quite “samey” rates more and having the yaw speed change with the rates as opposed to being static.
There is a gradual response to the stick inputs that makes the controls feel a little “floaty” and, while probably beginner friendly if this is your first quadcopter, takes some getting used to if you’re coming from most other models.
Due to the gradual input response and the adjustment process that comes with it, I’ve accidentally put my Xinlin X165 through a number of crashes and am happy to report it still runs as new, save for a few bent propellers (which is just typical when I don’t have any spares!). It is very light and hollow, which probably works in its favor when subjected to a crash, but also makes it near impossible to maneuver properly under conditions with any real wind.
It does flip very nicely, pretty much maintaining its original altitude.
The flight time is listed in the specs as 5 minutes and I find that that’s about right. However, the LVC warning – which is in itself hard to spot because of the lack and placement of LEDs – often trigger much too early, after around 3 minutes. What’s the deal with that? It feels like I’ve had this issue with a lot of toy multirotors lately. Anyway, I’m willing to give it a pass here since it’s a nano and unlikely to be very high up or far away from you at any time.
Both the box and instruction manual advertises a headless mode, which – according to the latter – should activate on the third rate. At least on my Xinlin X165, this feature is simply not there. For good or bad (depending on your preference), the third rate is just the second rate with pitch and roll further dialed up. I repeat, no headless mode.
In conclusion: If you look past the – admittedly polished and super cool – exterior of the Xinlin X165, you’re left with a pretty “meh” aircraft. Sure it’s cheap, but it feels like I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Beginners would likely enjoy it, but probably soon find themselves out-of-commission as no spare propellers or prop guards are provided. Intermediates and experts would probably be unimpressed by the dull rates and yaw speed. Overall the Xinlin X165 feels a little uninspired and hastily put together, which is such a waste on the nice design. It’s like the designers had all the inspiration and the engineers none on this project.