When it comes to the toy & hobby drone market, one brand we see a lot is JJRC. Their wide range of products is impressive, tend to be well researched and feature-rich. When compared to other manufacturers competing in the same drone category, quite often their flight duration, flight range and the included camera tend to outshine their peers. We were curious to see whether the same was true of their hobby-sized JJRC H31 and decided to review it for ourselves.
JJRC H31 :OUR RATINGS
- Appearance & Construction – 9/10
- Battery Capacity – 9/10
- Included Features – 5/10
- Easy to Use – 9/10
- What was good: Inexpensive drone with an attractive look. It flies quickly and well without much effort. Both the flight range and time in the air are better than one expects to see in the hobby category. We’re not surprised by this because JJRC drones tend to outperform their peers in their class. The construction materials are elastic-plastic which has more bounce to it without breaking as easily as pure plastic alone.
- What was not so good: The model lacks the ability to hover at the same altitude and stay at that altitude for a period. It also doesn’t come with its camera, so one has to be separately purchase a camera which may (or may not) suit buyers. Neither are deal-breakers through for drones at this price range.
- Early Verdict: Offers decent flying at a price that’s hard to argue with. The drone is ideal for fairly new users, absolute beginners and people who only fly drones for fun. Given the features included, there is the good value offered by JJRC here.
It is a fair to say that the mix of features is different to other products on the market. What does stand out is the larger propellers sitting lower on the machine which offers a different in-flight experience. For people who either dislike the DJI Phantom-like design or just want something a little different, the design here is a marked change from what peers are doing that are often copy-catting the “DJI look.” The lack of original design is noticeable on the market today so that the JJRC H31 is bucking that trend is a real pleasure here.
JJRC H31 MAIN FEATURES:
- Effective range: Up to 100 meters
- Flight duration: 8 minutes (or less)
- Battery Charging: 1 hour
- Battery Capacity: 400mAh
- Model Weight: 76 grams
- Measurements: 29x29x9 centimeters
A FEW NOTES BEFORE WE PROCEED WITH THE ACTUAL REVIEW:
The H31 is marketed as “waterproof.” What is meant by this is that a little bit of rain isn’t going to ruin the drone during flight. It is not to say that a water landing where the drone begins to sink underwater is in any way a good idea. It’s not a good idea! It’s also good practice to completely dry off the drone after it’s gotten wet to avoid any long-term water damage.
This model lacks a camera. There is FPV or other camera-related features. If you need to take photos or HD video while flying the H31, purchasing a quality action camera is necessary. It’s possible that future sub-versions of this drone may include a camera, but the model reviewed at present did not have one.
LET’S TALK PACKAGING
The packaging is certainly attractive, and it packs in everything that’s needed to get the drone into the air quickly. It is necessary to pre-own or go out to buy four AA batteries for the remote controller as these aren’t supplied with the model. Not too surprising really.
The drone is ready to get into the air almost immediately. You will need to add the landing gear and the protection for the propellers to avoid them breaking as easily. There is a screwdriver included in the box to secure the included screws to fit these pieces correctly. Just follow the instructions.
What’s in the Box?:
- JJRC H31 drone model
- Black transmitter/controller with white accents
- USB charger
- Extra replacement propellers
- Two landing gears
- Sunglasses (to look cool while flying?)
- Screwdriver and screws
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The design is pleasingly different with the H31. It does look a little bit inspired by the Tarantula X6 model, but this is no bad thing because that drone is sleek looking. The construction uses elastic plastic parts that avoid unexpected crashes causing sufficient damage to prevent future use of the drone. The major letdown is probably the LED lights for night flying which don’t light up as much as one would hope.
Anyone who has flown a previous JJRC drone will find the design of the controller eerily familiar. It is no problem to keep the controller cradled in both hands. There’s not an overabundance of buttons everywhere to confuse because many of the advanced features seen in expensive drones just aren’t present here.
The black appearance with blue accents is attractive, and the controller stands out in the dark. Four AA batteries are required to keep the controller fully powered. For beginners who aren’t used to flying a drone at all, the simpler controller certainly has its attractions to avoid confusion. There isn’t a built-in LCD, so the good news is that these batteries are likely to last a few months.
The thing that impressed us was how quickly the H31 drone shifted direction. It’s nimble, changing direction on a dime. A quick adjustment to the control stick and this model responds in an instant. While the drone isn’t anywhere near the largest or heaviest on the market, cheap models don’t tend to be responsive to this extent. One of the reasons for this is how lightweight it is. On the flip side, for anyone who lives in an area where the wind picks up at certain times of the day, you’ll find that this model will be harder to control under these conditions.
The model is described as “waterproof” which at least means it can withstand some light rain and moisture in the air without causing it a problem. It is not smart to continue flying in rainy conditions and it should be dried off completely once it’s been landed.
There are a few nice flight features included like maintaining the same altitude, returning to base, and more. There are two-speed choices: 50% speed and the full 100% speed. The selection of speeds is a nice extra that one usually wouldn’t see in this drone category and certainly not at this price point.
FLIGHT DURATION & EFFECTIVE RANGE
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the JJRC drones do well with both flight distance and flight duration. The range here is greater than 100 meters in good weather conditions. The signal is strong enough when all the batteries have a full charge to reach 100 meters or higher, but may shorten as the batteries run down.
The included 400mAH battery powers the flight duration. As a result, the flying time of up to 8 minutes is pretty reasonable. Some people can get 10 minutes out of this model, but we didn’t find that to be the case. For an affordable quadcopter, the selection of features was good. It’s hard to think that you’ll get more for the price. There is a warning indicator when the batteries are beginning to run down. Both an audible indicator and a visual one with the LED lights blinking at the front of the drone to alert the pilot. Only 15-25 seconds are needed to get the drone back on the ground and avoid wiping out when the battery completely dies.
The version of the JJRC H31 that comes without a camera offers impressive flight duration and range for the price. The elastic plastic materials used are more durable than other products that tend to break more easily during crash landings. It does lack features like GPS hover, follow me around, and others, but one shouldn’t expect that in this category. On balance, this model is a great one for people who like to fly casually or who need a starter drone to get used to flying.
ALTERNATIVE JJRC DRONES
- JJRC X1
For JJRC, the X1 represents its first brushless drone which they no doubt are proud of. The performance was impressive for the retail price. The flight duration was somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes depending on conditions which most people found perfectly acceptable. The hefty 1,300mAh 7.4V Li-Po battery provided the power. The range was somewhere between 300-400 meters too. There was no camera included with the X1, but it did support a GoPro.
- JJRC H12WH
The H12WH drone is an affordable model that provides real-time FPV capabilities. The included 2-megapixel camera not only took acceptable photos but was also capable of beaming back usable video for navigation purposes. The attractive features of the H12WH included a single button return to base and steady altitude. The ability to maintain the same altitude is useful for flying past a location and taking video or maintaining the same position to keep a subject in focus. It was good to see JJRC adding this feature to their affordable drone range.
As to be expected now with JJRC, the flight duration and range were an improvement over their peers in this category. The range was 300 meters, and the H12HW stayed in the air for up to 8 minutes.