The Syma X12S Nano Drone is the smallest Syma drone that I have flown so far. And much like its bigger cousins, the X5C and X8C, it delivers a great deal of value and performance in a small and inexpensive package. The cost is around $25 USD for this drone and you can get it on Amazon.com, Gearbest.com and many other online stores. It is definitely a toy, but I’d say that it is also a great training drone. It has a good flight time for its size and seems to handle a light outdoor breeze without much difficulty. Best of all, it is a good size for indoor flight – with built in prop guards that will help you avoid damaging anything in your house while you fly.
Let’s start with the Syma 12S Nano’s size. It is actually a bit bigger than other “nano” size drones that I have flown. The Estes Proto X, which came out in 2014, was the first tiny drone that I ever flew. By comparison, the Proto X seems like a dinosaur when it’s flown along side the Syma 12S. The main reason is agility. The 12S is a very agile little copter with the ability to flip quickly, with very little loss of altitude, recover from collisions with objects like walls, and enough power to “dead stick” from twenty feet up and then recover gracefully just inches before it hits the ground.
The Syma 12S comes in green, black, red, or white colors and has small, lightweight prop guards built into the frame. This really comes in handy when you are flying indoors. The prop guards protect the quadcopter from collisions with the wall, but also protect it from crashing indoors if you get a bit “stick happy” and hit the ceiling. When you do hit the ceiling, it just hugs the flat surface until you let off the throttle and resume normal flight. And to wrap up on the point of its size, I believe that the slight larger form factor gives it more resilience in a breeze.
|Flight time||6 – 8 Minutes|
|Range||Approximately 20 meters|
|Flight Modes||Beginner, Advanced & Headless Modes|
|Dimensions||7.7 cm wide x 7.7 cm long x 2.7 cm tall|
|Flight battery||Internal 3.7v 100 mAh Lipo|
|Transmitter||Works with most Syma 2.4GHz Radios|
Quality of build
For a cost of twenty-five US dollars, you would expect this quadcopter to be made mostly of plastic and perhaps be a bit fragile. While it is mostly plastic (except for a few metal screws and electrical parts), this drone is far from fragile. So far mine has been crashed indoors numerous times, stuck and retrieved from a tree, landed in a shallow puddle, and even briefly picked up by my dog’s mouth when I landed a bit too near her. The result has been no loss of flight performance and just a few minor scratches on the body.
One other interesting thing about this drone is the remote control that comes with it. It looks very much like a video game controller…similar to what you would use to play X-Box or Playstation. While my son is very experienced with video games and really likes using that controller, I was not as happy with it. However, I soon discovered this would not be a problem for me because the Syma X12S will bind to and fly perfectly with the remote controls for a Syma X5C or Syma X8C, both of which I own. For me the larger sticks on the remote give me more control and make me feel more like I’m flying and less like I’m playing a video gaem.
Assembly and tuning
There is not much to assemble with the Syma X12S Nano drone. It comes spare propellers and a built in battery which you charge with a small USB charger that you can plug into any USB port…either on your computer or in a USB power port (like you use to charge a phone). After you charge the battery, you will want to place the drone on a smooth, flat and level surface before you turn it on. This allows the internal gyroscopes to calibrate properly and ensures a smooth flying experience. Once the X12S is on, the bright red and green LEDs will blink rapidly and then more slowly. After the blinking slows down, you turn on the remote, raise the throttle all the way up and then back down, and wait for the LEDs to stop blinking and remain lit in a single solid color. At that point the quadcopter is bound and ready for flight.
The Syma X12S Nano Drone is really easy and fun to fly. Because it is slightly bigger than other drones in its class, it seems to deal with wind fairly well. That’s not to say that you should take this bird outdoors when there is a strong gust blowing, but for light breezes, it does just fine. It is very important to calibrate the gyros before you fly. If you don’t, it will be very difficult to control and maintain level flight. But calibration is easy…just make sure it is sitting on a level surface when you turn it on and give it a few seconds (until the LEDs slow down their rate of blinking) before you calibrate.
In the air, the X12S has two flight modes, beginner and advanced as well as a “headless” mode that automatically orients the drone for you, no matter which way it is facing. Much like other toy drones…Symas in particular…you change the flight modes by pushing the top left button (on the top edge of the remote). One beep means you are in “beginner” mode. Two beeps means you are in “advanced” mode. There is also a button on the top right which allows you to flip the copter by holding the right stick the direction you want to flip and simply pressing the flip button. One thing I really like about this drone is that you can flip it at a pretty low altitude and it won’t crash into the ground. This one seems to flip very efficiently and does not lose much altitude when it flips. And, of course, like most other toy drones, there are bright LEDs on the bottom that help you orient its direction (red is front, green is back) and allows for night flying!