I know that the Holy Stone HS175D is not a new model, but it is the company’s first drone reviewed on FirstQuadcopter. The ‘D‘ edition is the second iteration of the original HS17 and the biggest differences compared to its predecessor are the more reliable brushless motors and the upgraded camera.
At a glance, the Holy Stone HS175D looks like an affordable DJI MINI alternative. It features a similar folding design, is easy to fly, and most importantly is under 250 grams, which means that doesn’t require registration in most countries including the US. Both are perfect for travel. If you are planning to throw the HS175D in a backpack for a long trip, be aware that the controller adds another 150 grams and is roughly the same size as the drone. The total package comes in about 1 kg, including the case, spare battery, and two chargers.
While both are advertised with a 4K camera, the HS175D fails against the DJI MINI because it does not have a 3-axis stabilization. Without a gimbal, it is almost impossible to obtain super smooth aerial footage. Anyway, at least it has remote angle adjustment which allows framing the subject you want to capture.
Holy Stone HS175D hands-on review
Disclosure: I received this mini 4K drone from HolyStone, to test it and do an in-depth review. Although the product was offered for free, all opinions in this article remain my own, with no partner’s influence.
Holy Stone was founded in 2014 and quickly become one of the most popular low-cost drone brands. Their quadcopters are well known to be easy to fly and suitable for beginner pilots. HS is not a direct competitor of DJI as they cover a different price segment. Even the most expensive HS drone has a lower price than the most affordable DJI quad. Their product range has four lines: Mini, Beginner, Advanced, and Premium.
HS175D comes in a nice handbag along with all its accessories: a spare battery, spare propellers + screws, two USB battery chargers, a micro USB cable (RC charging), and a user manual (EN+DE). The case has a comfortable handler and an internal zipped mesh pocket for small parts.
Holding it for the first time in my hand, I was surprised at how small is this little flying thing. Measuring just 145x90x60 mm with folded arms, it fits in your palm easily. The take-off weight is 215 grams (7.58 oz) with a loaded battery. The overall build quality is good, it feels very sturdy without the impression that could fall apart on the first flight.
As you can see in the image below, it has four rubber vibration damping pads, one on each rear arm and two on the belly of the fuselage. Unfortunately, the distribution of the pads does not provide great stability during landing. In the center of the bottom, there is a tiny camera that serves as an optical flow sensor for stable hovering. The battery and micro SD cards are loaded from the tail of the fuselage.
On top of the HS175D drone, there are a power button and four charging level indicator LEDs. During night flights you will be guided by four LED lights, there are two in front (like two eyes) and one under each rear arm.
The propellers are made from two leaves held together by a piece of plastic. I noticed that if you forget to unfold the propellers, they can get stuck, making it impossible to take off.
Price and availability
Holly Stone drones, including this HS175D, can be ordered from Amazon and Walmart. At the time I publish this review it is priced at $169.99 with two flight batteries. Using this ‘BOVN9WSH‘ discount code you can obtain 5% off of your order.
Holy Stone HS175D: Camera
HolyStone advertises the HS175D to be a 4K camera drone, which is only partially true. The main camera is capable of taking 4096×3072 (4K) photos and only 2688×1512@25fps (2K) videos. For onboard recording, it can accept up to 64GB of TF cards. The camera has a 120° wide-angle lens and it allows remote angle adjustment from straight ahead to ground view (±90° degrees).
When the drone stays steady, videos are reasonable, but there’s some ugly wobble as the drone flies and the HS175D has a difficult time keeping the horizon straight. In windy conditions, the phenomenon is even worst :(
The HS175D scored a 2.5 out of 5 in our video quality testing. Despite its 4K/2K resolution, the tiny lens and sensor in the HS175D’s camera produced footage that wasn’t particularly crisp or clear in comparison to DJI drones. Due to the lack of gimbal, the footage had more of a first-person in the cockpit feel to it, rather than the cinematic shots you’d want.
Holy Stone HS175D: Range
The HS175D comes with a compact entry-level remote controller on which everything is foldable (grips, phone holder, and antenna). It is powered by a built-in battery that can be recharged through a micro USB port.
On the front panel, beside the usual control sticks, there are only four buttons (Power, One Take-off/Land, Headless Mode, and RTH). By long pressing the RTH button you can toggle between GPS (outdoor) and Optical flow (indoor) flight modes. It has four shoulder buttons -Video/Photo on the left and camera Up/Down on the right.
Like most similar drones in this price segment, the HolyStone HS175D also uses WiFi for the drone to phone connectivity. This communication approach provides less range and worst transmission quality compared to DJI’s OcuSync or Autel’s SkyLink.
The max flight range is limited to 500 meters which is a handy safety feature. In case you are a beginner pilot, the max flight radius can be set to a lower value. Max flight altitude is limited to 100 meters. During my range tests, in an open field with low RF noise, I managed to fly 250-300 meters far from me.
Holy Stone HS175D: Battery life
According to HolyStons’s specs, the 2S-1700mAh battery pack allows 23 minutes max flight time (in optimal conditions). By comparison, the DJI MINI2 has a 2250mAh one that provides around 30 minutes of fun.
In my flight time tests, I manage to stay in the air for more than 22 minutes till the fail-safe RTH was activated. Maybe is not the best battery life in its market segment, but if you take into consideration that you got two batteries in the box, the actual fun time is double. Holy Stone includes two 2000mA USB chargers for simultaneous refueling. Using my Kovol Sprint 120W PD charger, it took close to two hours till the green charging indicator stopped flashing.
HS GPS V5 APP
In addition to smart features such as circle hovering or GPS Follow me, the HS GPS V5 mobile APP provides a step-by-step user guide and calibration instructions. From the APP’s main settings you can select your country and WiFi frequency (2.4Ghz or 5Ghz). By default, the APP starts in beginner mode where flight distance and max altitude are limited to 30 meters.
The APP provides real-time flight data such as flight altitude, distance, battery level, and GPS signal.
Who’s it for?
There are tons of 5 stars reviews on Amazon from those who purchased the Holy Stone HS175D. Of the total of 1,547 ratings, 58% had 5star, 18% 4star, and only 11% of 1star. It looks like this drone satisfied the needs of the majority of those who bought it.
Personally, until I saw the downloaded footage I was impressed by this little drone and wanted to give it a high review score. The HS175D is an excellent drone for hobbyists and beginners alike, but if you have great expectations regarding the image quality you should avoid it.
The Holy Stone HS175D is a great drone for beginners. It is affordable and being under 250grams no registration is required in most countries. Everything is nice around this little drone till you download and play the footage. If it’s windy or you fly too fast, the videos are unusable.
- Super compact and lightweight;
- Being under 250g no FAA registration is required;
- Camera with angle adjustment;
- Super stable indoor hovering (Optical flow positioning);
- Brushless motors.
- Low image quality;
- Lack of video stabilization.