As the saying goes, ‘less is more’, and with the Potensic A20 Mini Drone you get a tiny palm-sized drone with basic features aimed at children and beginners. At this stage, I know what you’re thinking, it’s going to be awful. But in reality, the A20 is an astonishingly good drone for the low price. Sure, it’s not going to take amazing photos or capture sublime aerial video – it hasn’t even got a camera – but what it does is allow you to hone your flight skills safely indoors.
In his recent article, ‘Are drones too daunting? You need a burner drone!’ Resident drone expert Adam Juniper discusses the usefulness of less sophisticated and, indeed, less expensive drone models for honing your flight skills, and the Potensic A20 is a perfect example of one of these models. Potensic is well respected at the beginner end of the drone market thanks in part to its most recent models, the Potensic Atom and the Potensic Atom SE.
The A20 is available to purchase from Amazon and primarily comes in green, although there are six colors/designs in total that are available if they’re in stock. And this tiny indoor toy drone costs just $30 / £31 making it an incredibly affordable option. In the kit, you get the A20 drone, a small controller that runs on three AAA batteries, three drone batteries, a USB charger, a spare set of propellers, and an instruction manual that’s easy to follow and worth a read for at least the Flight Steps section.
Build and handling
At just 3.10 x 1.25 x 3.50in (7.87 x 3.18 x 8.89cm) with a weight of 6.7oz (190g), the A20 is tiny and lightweight making it perfect for indoor flight. The airframe is well made considering the low cost, although it’s certainly not built to the same level as Potensic’s higher-end models.
The power of the drone is also quite low which is ideal for indoor flight, providing adequate speed and power in an enclosed environment, but this combined with the small size and lightweight means it’s not suitable for flight outdoors where even a light breeze might carry it away. Not to mention, it would be incredibly easy to lose in long grass, a tree, or a bush if you crashed.
Design-wise, the A20 looks a little like an FPV micro whoop drone with propeller guards that protect the propellers, people, and objects if the drone crashes. There’s also a useful light on the front which helps you to identify which direction the drone is facing in the absence of a camera.
The controller is small but it’s comfortable for an adult to hold and use. It offers all the controls you’d expect including a take-off and landing button alongside four other buttons for accessing basic flight features. The drone and controller do have to be paired before each flight, but this is a quick and easy process achieved by pulling the left control stick down until the drone lights stop flashing.
Flight times are around 10 minutes per battery and charging only takes around the same amount of time using the included USB charger plugged into a computer. Batteries are easy to remove and replace in the drone, and with three in the kit coupled with the fast charging time, you could easily fly all day long if you wanted to by charging as you fly.
Flying a drone indoors never fails to create a sense of mischievous fun for me. Of course, I’d never fly even a sub-250g model such as the DJI Mini 4 Pro indoors despite its impressive collision avoidance, but the A20 can be weaved around people and furniture with ease. I appreciate that for me this is quite easy because I’ve flown FPV and camera drones for years, but even kids and beginners wouldn’t take long to build confidence and flight skills with the A20.
In terms of features, there’s not a great deal on offer and what there is focuses more on fun than anything else, but that’s not a bad thing. The A20 is a toy after all. On the controller, there’s a button to make the A20 rotate, another for orbiting, one for headless mode which reverses the left and right roll controls when the drone is facing the user and finally, there’s a button to change flight speed, although there was no perceptible change in speed. You can also flip the drone by pushing down the left control stick until the drone beeps and then flying forward.
There’s no GPS available with the A20, but it does use a barometer to set altitude which allows the drone to hover when the controls are released. It does tend to drift though, so you have to maintain control to avoid crashing. But despite its basic offering, it provides fairly stable flight that’s not dissimilar to much more expensive camera drones making it ideal for getting to grips with drone flight controls.
Cheap camera drones can fly awfully, even when they have GPS positioning. But while the Potensic A20 Mini Drone doesn’t even have this functionality, it does hover reasonably well with some vertical and horizontal drift, but the controls are surprisingly smooth and responsive.
The fact it maintains a hover for a low cost is fantastic, and this combined with the standard drone controls makes it ideal for beginners and kids alike. The A20 isn’t perfect, but for the price, it’s well-built and performs much better than expected overall.
The A20 isn’t perfect but it’s incredibly easy to fly and a lot of fun when used indoors. The propeller guards protect the drone and objects from damage, and the low speed is ideal for indoor flight. But the lack of speed and power means it’s not suited to outdoor flight.
The BetaFPV Cetus Lite Kit provides a drone that’s similar in many ways to the Potensic A20, with the major difference being that it’s an FPV drone for beginners and children. It’s just as easy to fly, but you get a basic set of analogue FPV goggles for a first-person view from the drone.
The Potensic Atom SE is one of the best and most cost-effective sub-250g camera drones available. It can capture photos and 4K video and comes in at a competitive price, but it’s designed for outdoor flight making it an attractive option for beginners aiming to get started with aerial photography and video.