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This foldable drone fits in the palm of my hand and takes the best selfies

The future is here, and you can now have your very own flying selfie camera.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Hover Camera X1 selfie drone

Hover Camera X1 selfie drone

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Holding your phone up to take a selfie is so 2022! Make the leap into 2023 with your very own personal selfie drone.

You read that right: a selfie drone. 

Also: The best drones: Which flying camera is right for you?

You might ask: What's that? It's a tiny 125-gram drone that takes off and lands on your palm, has built-in storage, built-in autonomous flight modes, and can capture high-quality photos and video with very little input on the part of the person flying it.

That's what you get with the Hover Camera X1 by Zero

View at Thehover

Hover Camera X1 tech specs

  • Dimensions (L×W×H):
    Folded: 127mm × 86mm × 31mm     
    Unfolded: 127mm × 145mm × 30mm
  • Weight: 125g (with battery)
  • Flight Time: Each battery supports about 20 intelligent flight shots.
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Adjustable Gimbal Range: -90°~15°
  • Max Speed: 7m/s (horizontal), 1.5m/s (ascent), 1.5m/s (descent)
  • Max Flight Height: 15m
  • Video Modes: 2704 x 1520 @30fps, 1920 x 1080 @60fps, 1920 x 1080 @30fps (HDR)
  • Image Size: 4000 x 3000(12MP)
  • Battery Capacity: 1050mAh
  • Charging Time: 35 minutes (with charging dock) 55 minutes (with X1 onboard charging) 

I've flown a lot of drones, ranging from big ones with multiple cameras, to small ones packing powerful 4K cameras. But as I've never tried a selfie drone, I was a little puzzled as to what set them apart from the other camera drones I've flown.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of a controller. There's no joystick or control pad. The app does have a feature for controlling the drone, but this is more for framing shots than anything else.

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The drone has a single on/off button on the front, another tiny button to change flight modes, and that's it. There are six flight modes -- hover, zoom out, orbit, follow, bird's eye, and a custom one you can set up yourself.

Follow mode in action.

Follow mode in action.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Yes, it's weird to have to trust a drone to fly itself.

The other thing that struck me was how light the drone is. At 125 grams, this selfie drone is half the weight of a DJI Mini 3 Pro. It's really small, especially considering that the propellers are covered by a guard to prevent them from coming into contact with fingers or eyes.

It folds flat when not in use.

The Hover Camera X1 selfie drone folds flat when not in use.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There's not even a slot for a microSD card. The drone has 32GB of storage built in.

All you need to do is charge the batteries, unfold the drone, pop in a battery, switch it on, and take off.



Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this drone. I'm also going to be perfectly honest and add that I'm really impressed by what this drone can pull off. 

Also: Hands-on with the DJI Air 3: The perfect all-rounder drone

The drone's camera is very good given the size, and works well in good to moderate light conditions. The video is smooth and clear and the colors are pretty good. The output is what you'd expect from a budget smartphone camera, and great for social media use.

The flight modes are superb too. The drone takes off, does its stuff, and then comes back and waits for you to pop your hand underneath, where it will land. It has no problem dealing with winds up to about 21 miles per hour. You have to bear in mind that the drone doesn't have obstacle avoidance sensors, but after a few crashes into walls and trees, I've come to the conclusion that this drone is quite robust.

Also: Hands-on with the DJI Air 3: The perfect all-rounder drone

Battery life is also excellent. You get about 20 flights out of it. This means you can pop it up, take a few selfies, do a few orbits and bird's eye shots, some follow video, and still have battery left for a few more shots.

Taking off and landing in the palm of your hand.

Taking off and landing in the palm of your hand.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I'm very impressed. I really am. 

I don't find the autonomous flight modes on other drones to be that good, and I wouldn't usually encourage people to take off and land from their hands and fly a drone around their faces. But this is what the Hover Camera X1 is designed for, and it does the job exceptionally well. 

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I was expecting a toy, and this is not a toy.

This is an incredibly simple drone to fly and use. Yes, you're sacrificing features such as advanced image control and being able to tweak the flight modes. But for selfies or holiday snapshots, this is perfect just as is, and I could see it replacing the "action camera on a selfie stick" for a lot of people.

It's fun, it's different, and the output it can capture is pretty special. 

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Now, at $349, the Hover Camera X1 is not cheap. For $470 you can pick up a DJI Mini 3 drone that would oddly let you do more, but not exactly what this drone can do. 

They're very different animals. 

If you're looking for a drone to take selfies and group shots -- the sort of things you might do with a selfie stick -- then the Hover Camera X1 is not only going to cater to that, but it's also going to give you a lot more fun features to play with.

It's a social media game-changer!

On the other hand, if you want a drone that you're going to actually fly and control, and you want to get into aerial photography and videography, you're probably looking at a more traditional drone

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