We’re excited to put our grubby paws on a new drone, the Autel Robotics Evo Lite series is now shipping to consumers, and we have the Evo Lite+ model in-hand for a review.
Weather has not cooperated with us thus far, therefore, this hands-on coverage is not our full review. We’re liking what we’re seeing so far, we think you can get hyped for this drone.
Evo Lite overview
Autel Robotics announced the new Evo Nano and Evo Lite drones near the end of 2021, with the first shipments delivering right at the turn of the year. On paper, it may be easiest to say that these drones compete with the DJI Mini and DJI Mavic drones. That is, the Nano series weighs in at just under 250 grams, and the Lite series focuses on the balance between a superb camera and a compact, folding design.
The Evo Lite comes in two versions, the standard model comes with a 1/1.28-inch sensor and a new 4-axis gimbal, while the Evo Lite+ packs a larger 1-inch camera.
On the surface, the Evo Lite is a folding drone, the rear propeller arms fold straight forward, sitting just below the front arms that fold straight back. The camera hangs on a gimbal below the nose, just like on previous Evo drones. The battery makes up the majority of the top of the drone, sliding into spot on the back of the drone.
There are obstacle avoidance sensors on the front, rear and bottom of the drone. On the bottom is also a handy spotlight, which is not just for you to use, it helps in low-light situations for hover accuracy.
When folded down, the Evo Lite is about the size of a water bottle, and weighs about the same as well, at least if you have a glass bottle.
You’re looking at a huge 6,175mAh battery, which Autel says will provide up to 40 minutes of flight. The propellers are quick release and fold in two. They look so similar to the DJI Mavic 2 series propellers, that I tried swapping between the two brands. You could force the Mavic props onto the Evo Lite, but it would be an unsafe fit, and the motor shaft diameter prevents you from putting the Evo prop on the Mavic, but they are very, very similar.
There is a USB Type-C port on the right side of the aircraft, and a microSD card slot on the left.
The Evo Lite is available in orange, red, and grey.
Evo Lite Build and specifications
The Evo Lite is well built, with visible heavy composite plastics, light-weight metals, and carbon fiber. The body is wrapped in plastic, the camera gimbal is metal, and the propeller arms appear to be hollow carbon fiber with plastic landing gear. Overall, it feels very sturdy, and has a clean fit and finish.
Under the hood, Autel provides the following specifications:
Evo Lite camera
Two versions of the drone offer two cameras. The more expensive Evo Lite+ has the larger camera, and is promoted as being excellent for low-light capture.
The Evo Lite standard drone packs a 1/1.28-inch sensor, set at 50MP and able to capture up to 4K video at 60FPS. As with previous camera sensors of this size, you can capture at the full resolution, but will see better images from the pixel-binned 12.5MP images. The camera offers up to 16x zoom, with up to 2x lossless zoom on a 4K recording, and up to 4x lossless zoom when recording 1080p.
The 4-axis gimbal is a new feature. A standard 3-axis gimbal offers control for pitch, roll, and yaw. The Evo Lite adds rotation to that mix.
The Evo Lite+ offers a nice 1-inch sensor, set at 20MP and able to capture up to 6K video at 30fps. The Evo Lite+ also offers up to 16x zoom, with up to 1.3x lossless for 4K and 3x lossless for 1080p capture. When shooting 6K video, you’re seeing full lossy zoom.
6K video is limited to 30fps, but you can shoot 4K at 60fps and down to 1080p at up to 120fps.
We were pleased to see HDR video capture on both drones. HDR reduces the maximum capture rates, but appears quite good in our indoor tests. Though, both are limited to 8-bit capture at 120Mbps. This is still great, but 10-bit capture and higher bit-rates may be required by some professional pilots.
Should I buy the Evo Lite?
There are few reasons not to consider the Autel Robotics Evo Lite. We urge you to think about your needs and your budget, as there are pros and cons to all drones, including the ecosystems in which they belong, their prices, and more. For us, the Evo Lite is a capable alternative to older DJI products, and sits nicely alongside the newest DJI Mavic series drones.
The Evo Lite price tag is comfortably in between the DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mavic 3, which may be the deciding factor for many pilots. While the two DJI drones and the Evo Lite+ all rock a 1-inch camera sensor, the overall image capabilities also appear to coincide with their prices — that being the lowest price on the Air 2S, medium price on the Evo Lite, and the Mavic 3 coming in with the highest price. We want to get the Evo Lite into the sky before we stand by this claim, so please check back for our full review.
The Evo Lite+ has one more trick up its sleeve. If you have the appropriate license and clearance to fly after the sun has gone down, the Evo Lite+ has a night mode that captures some of the best night shots from the sky we’ve ever seen. A fantastic feature, but won’t be worth spending extra on if you are a hobby pilot in the United States. At least not this year.
Evo Lite for $1,249
Evo Lite+ for $1,349
Evo Lite Premium Bundle for $1,549
Evo Lite+ Premium Bundle for $1,649
Our final verdict is coming soon. We’ve been toying with the Evo Lite+ for a few days now, and the forecast calls for a break in the wind and rain in the next few days (just as soon as we get through the flood watch for today, ick!)