Review of Best Smartphone Controlled RC Helicopters

The drone has risen from strength to strength in recent years regarding the quality of the mechanics, designs, and functions. These UAVs gain most of the attention from fans and industry experts because of their purpose and capabilities, especially in commercial roles.

One cannot overlook developments in the smaller-scale devices like RC helicopters. Here designs, mechanics, and system controls have also evolved to create a more appealing device that is not just toy helicopters. There are some impressive app-controlled models with a great look, complex flight options and plenty to keep keen operators entertained.

The top models of remote controlled helicopter tend to share many of the same features. Could iPhone controls soon be on that common wish list?

The best RC helicopters are the ones that have the typical features that keen pilots need. The best starting point is a good, strong body with an aerodynamic design, balance and strong crash protection. The latter is a must for all newcomers. Some will also be in the market for a model capable of both indoor and outdoor flight.

Then there is the quality and functionality of the controller, such as the range of channels and ease of use. Then consumers will look at the battery life and ease of charging. From there it all comes down to the details of the specification, functions, and elements like the cameras. The rise of the iPhone operating drone places new question marks around the best form of controller.

The price is also important here when picking the best model. There are lots of kid-friendly cheap models that cover some of these factors, but not all. Then there are the extremely expensive ones for adults only that offer other high-tech features and looks. Then there are those in the middle with a reasonable price point around the $70-120 mark.

The models discussed below are two examples of this midway point. However, the reason they feature in this review is that of the use of controls. These are iPhone controlled RC helicopters that focus on apps and touch screens rather than joysticks and manual controls.

Best RC helicopter

The Popularity Of The App-Controlled Remote Controlled Helicopter

It is easy to laugh at modern technology and say that there is an app for everything these days. However, this does seem to be true. Consumers love to be able to use their smartphones and tablets to make their lives a little bit easier, add convenience and minimize effort. Therefore, it makes sense that apps have found their way into the world of UAVs and remote control helicopters.

Users simply need to download the appropriate app for the job, to ensure that there is a coherent connection between the two devices, and enjoy a whole new way of flying.

The first important question to answer here is why opt for an iPhone or Android controlled RC helicopter at all? What is so appealing it about these machines?

The ease of use that comes from a touchscreen Apple device, compared to a traditional controller, has to be the first benefit here. The use of an iPhone essentially removes the need for a traditional controller with all the usual channels. This has some pros and cons depending on your views on drone flight and operation.

There are some that like the traditional approach and the chance to build a controller and link up all the channels. It is part of the challenge to establish a drone or RC helicopter from scratch. Also, this is the more authentic way to fly any UAV. There is a skill to the controls and the lightness of touch, as well as the ability to understand all the channels on a multi-channel device.

It takes the time to master the joysticks for a steady takeoff and landing or the art of hovering and rolling. This is particularly important for certain types of helicopter and drone flight. The use of a smartphone in place of the controller removes this functionality.

The art of rolling or a loop-the-loop with a toy helicopter isn’t quite as impressive from the app of a smartphone. Some feel that there is the sense that the software and controls make it a little easier, and users are cheating a little.

Others would disagree here. There is still a lot to learn about the flight of the helicopter and the sensitivity of the controls. There is also that same level of respect for the machine and the complexity of the channels and settings.

The app controls are only easier for those used to playing smartphone games. The main aim here is to make flight controls easier to understand and use for the novice users. The traditional controls are great for the traditional pilots that want learn to control a machine in steady flight and perform those tricks. The apps are for those that are in this for more than flying skills.

App-controlled UAVs And RC Helicopters Provide A New Way To Capture Film Footage

The ease of use of the smartphone appeals to those using the helicopters and drones for other applications, especially filming. This is for that multi-tasking up there and doesn’t want to be too concerned with intricate flight controls as they gather data and images.

There are many iPhone controlled drones enabled with some form of camera. These controls allow for flight and image capture for the best experience. This is great for all those working on aerial photography, but also those that use thermal imaging for survey work. The first benefit here is the ease of use of those controls; the second is the size of the screen – as we will see below.

Happy Cow 777-173 - RC helicopters


Happy Cow 777-173 Series Of RC Helicopter Has The Best iOS Controlled Flight

This RC helicopter is a great option for any looking for a mid-point model. It has a nice look to the design, a strong specification, and those all-important controls.

Consumers should also note that there are three bands on the app for three different devices, so this isn’t the simplistic computerized system that some may expect. There is also praise for the battery life, for such a small mid-range remote control helicopter. It only flies for 5 minutes at a time, which is fairly average. It takes just 40 to charge back up again for another flight.

The added benefit here is that it charges via a USB cable into a laptop. This means that this device is ideal for continued use out in the field.

The appeal of this Happy Cow 777-173 goes further than the App Controls and Devices.

One of the interesting things about the Happy Cow model is that it is not just the iPhone that provides the controls. There is also the chance to use the iPad. App controls typically mean a connection to an iPhone or Android phone, which provides a large screen for images and data. This use of the iPad provides a much larger screen again, and an even better touch-sensitive surface. This should allow for greater control of the mechanisms and a better view from the cameras.

This system also goes further than some other iPhone-controlled helicopters as interacts with the device in whole other way. Apple devices have built-in gyroscopes, and this connects to the helicopter for some easy-to-use tilt functions. Tilt the iPad forwards, and the helicopter goes forwards. It is the most simplistic form of steering possible, which is again perfect for those focusing on the shot rather than the flight.

The problem with this Happy Cow model of remote controlled helicopter is that there isn’t first person view.

FPV helicopter

FPV is common with many high-end helicopters and drones that focus on the camera work and aerial imaging. These FPV systems have some key benefits.

First, they allow users to see the world around them just as the drone does. This then allows for a more engaging flying experience with a difference. The second is that they provide real-time images from the cameras for professional applications.

Users can then adjust angles or change direction based on what they are seeing. They are less likely to miss a shot or important data. This is crucial with important work where there are only 5-10 minutes of flight time. Every second count.

Some devices use FPV through viewers, sort of like a visor on a VR system so that operators can immerse themselves into this world. This is fun, but it does bring up some safety concerns as they cannot see the drone or the immediate space around them.

All operators must remember that commercial drones must operate within the eye-line of the pilot at all times for safety. This isn’t true of the iPhone-operated models mentioned here, so there are fewer safety concerns with FPV. However, an iPhone system is still a safer option than the visor.

It provides that field of vision and doesn’t take users out of the “real world” too often. It is also advisable that users have a spotter with them, someone that can look out for the drone or remote controlled helicopter while they control it with the phone.

UDI U16 App-Controlled RC Helicopter Has FPV View Mode And Other Advantages

The inclusion of FPV mode on the UDI U16 does increase its appeal to many consumers. This use of the cameras and controls adds so much to the flying experience, especially for those learning aerial photography.

(Source: WholesaleBabyToys)

There is a spy camera underneath the body of the helicopter, which doesn’t take up that much room or weigh it down. The flight is still pretty smooth and well-balanced, which again is where that app-control can help. The images from the camera beam directly to the iPhone for instant results. The camera resolution of 3 million pixels is a bonus for the clarity of the images.

Another important difference with this model is the battery life. Here it can last up to 8 minutes per flight, which is a significant percentage higher that the Happy Cow. These extra minutes make all the difference when perfect flight and a creating a sequence of the film.

The problem here is that it also takes much longer to charge, likely double the length of the Happy Cow. This is fine for those that get everything on the first take. Others may have a long hour’s wait between flights.

Finally, both models are also pretty good looking, as they are more high-end models with sleek shapes and nice designs. The body contains what the makers call “ultra-strong crush-resistant” materials, for added piece of mind. There is also the use of LED lighting for illumination. The problem with this LED lighting, which is in place on both models, is that this can affect the battery life. Designers advise consumers to switch the lights off when they need to conserve power.

Finding The Best Option In An App Controlled Remote Controlled Helicopter: Happy Cow vs. UDI

There are pros and cons to both of these models. Neither has the best battery or lifespan in the air, but this is to expect at this price point. The Happy Cow is immediately appealing to all those that want to learn to fly with a more intuitive set of controls. This begins with the fun app and the use of the larger iPad screen but continues with the connection to the gyroscope.

The UDI model takes this a little further with the FPV controls with the spy camera and shares many of the same benefits in the look and construction. Both are evenly matched when it comes to the battery as the Happy Cow charges with ease, but the UDI flies further.

In the end, this comparison shows that there are choices and details to app-controlled remote controlled helicopters. This isn’t necessarily the simplistic, child-friendly version of a UAV that some pilots assume it to be. There are complex details to the flight controls and channels and the chance to improve the visual experience.

iPhone and iPad controlled devices are the way forward in remote controlled helicopters and drones, and can only improve.

Post Author: Ethan Thompson

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