Review: Swann’s iFly Micro Lightning RC Helicopter


I suck at RC.

I had a little race car when I was a kid. Just trying to get it to run around an oval track was a frustrating experience–especially when friends of mine were going to track events on a regular basis.

Lately I’ve been getting my hands on some incredible RC flying toys. From $20-ish mall kiosk jobs, to the Force RC fighting copters, to the gorgeous AR Drone.

Swann dropped the iFly Micro Lighting in my hands, and after some of these premier devices I was a touch skeptical. Thankfully, the iFML has a few tricks up its rotors…

The iFML is surprisingly well accessorized for a $60 copter. In the box you get the heli, controller, an IR adapter to use with a smartphone, charge cables, spare blades, and a landing pad target.

Out of the box, you’ll need to supply 6 AAA to power the remote, or charge the adapter for your phone. The box only mentions the iphone, but searching I found Swann’s Android app. Not all phones are supported yet, but they seem like they’re consistently adding new handsets.

Hooked up to a USB charge cable, the iFML should take about 35 minutes to charge. I can’t say for certain. I’m not particularly fond of the charge cables. They light up when the cable isn’t connected to the copter, then turn off when charging. There is no indication that the heli is fully charged. The only documentation you get is “don’t leave it connected for longer than 90 minutes”.

When fully charged, the iFML delivers about 8 minutes of indoor flight which is pretty decent for this price point. Not surprisingly, the battery isn’t removable, so when you’re out, you’re out–and you’ll be charging for another 15-30 minutes to get it back in the air.

The controller is fat and comfortable to hold, but oddly I actually preferred flying from my phone. In part I didn’t have to go digging for batteries; but mostly because I like using the accelerometr in my Nexus. Tilt control is a lot of fun. The iMFL is responsive. It seems to do a good job of balancing fine level control with auto stabilizing for wreck-prone pilots like myself.

This is an easy-to-recommend starter copter for anyone interested in RC action. The inclusion of spare parts and alternate control methods makes iFML a pretty safe recommendation as well.