Choose How You Fly

While designing Snap, we recognized that many flyers have strong personal preferences, and we wanted to create an experience that could delight both the beginner looking for ease of use and the experienced user looking for high performance.  Our solution to this challenge is controller flexibility, which lets you fly how you want. You have three different control options with Snap:


Before creating Snap, the Vantage team used to fly drones with standard two-stick controllers, which allow for the most tactile response. But we were disappointed by their bulky nature, how geeky they made us look, the lack of intuitive controls, and the challenge of extending their capabilities to more capable flight modes. So, we set out to make something better using a controller that everyone already has in their pocket.

Smartphone Controller
For beginners, this is the option that will be easiest to use; it is also the cheapest, lightest, and smallest. Over months of testing, this is the option that the Vantage team has come to prefer. Here’s why:

We’re using a proprietary technology called SmartTilt that allows you to intuitively tilt your phone while Snap responsively mirrors your motion. No matter the direction Snap is pointed, it always moves in the direction you tilt your phone, based on an automatic yaw transform. Other products with similar features require a GPS fix for this, but it works both indoors and out with Snap.

For instance, if Snap is pointing at you and you tilt your smartphone to the right, Snap will fly to your right (its left). If you tilt away from you, Snap will fly away from you (flying in reverse). You no longer need to make the mental adjustment, because we’ve done it for you. It’s an aspect of the controller technology that we spent ample time refining and re-engineering until we truly got it right.

Using a smartphone has come to feel like the most natural flying option for Snap—and it also lets you fly one-handed, which is, well, handy.

But, regardless of which controller option you use, your smartphone is needed if you want to stream 720p footage from Snap, and view it in real time. In an upcoming blog post we’re going to do a deeper dive into our custom-designed app, which will be available on iOS and Android, with tablet capability being added in the near future. Here are some sneak-peeks of the app:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.19.20 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.21.11 PM

We’ve invested in an extremely high performance Wi-Fi module that will enable a very robust link between your smartphone and Snap. We find the 150-meter range is more than sufficient for tight, action shots that can zoom out to location-setting shots. And for those really big, butterfly-inducing zoom outs, we prefer using pre-planned flight modes, which let Snap fly out over a kilometer without depending on the Wi-Fi link. If you really wanted to manually control Snap for super big shots, we’re developing a range extender that will let you extend that range to 1500 meters.

As you can see below, if Snap loses its connection it will hover in place until the signal is regained, or fly back to you if it isn’t.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 9.36.43 AM

We’re confident that you can get the shot you want with our smartphone controller. But we also recognize that the controller is sort of like a paintbrush for a painter, and we didn’t want to limit your artistic freedom based on our perspective. So we’ve invested in making Snap the most flexible flying camera out there, enabling you to fly according to personal preferences.

DSM Two-Stick Controller [UPDATE 11/3/16— you must use DSM accessory module to connect with DSM] We made sure that those who fly with two-stick controllers could still use what they prefer. You can opt for Snap’s DSM accessory module (free for customers who pre-order Snap before 11/10/16) which will allow you to link to a DSM controller. The DSM link will allow for extended range up to 1500 meters. Two-stick controllers have the best tactile feedback and offer the most accurate control.

Because the smartphone range only extends to 150 meters, we recommend using the DSM controller with the smartphone range extender: this will allow you to utilize the full range from the DSM and still maintain the live video feed.

Game Controller
Though this may not be the controller option that first comes to mind, for dedicated gamers it will be a familiar tool and give you the bonus of being able to fly something real, outside of the virtual world!  From a portability standpoint, the game controller is less cumbersome than the DSM controller, but just slightly larger than a smartphone, making it an ideal middle size.

You use the game controller in combination with your smartphone so you can see the live stream and get the rich feedback from the smartphone.


You can also fly Snap hands free using one of our autonomous flight modes. We have a lot to say about this aspect of Snap, so stay tuned for an upcoming blog post.

We’ve designed Snap to enable flyers of every level to have ultimate flexibility and get that perfect shot.  We can’t wait to see what you create!

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to your questions in the comments. Let us know how you want to fly and we’ll do what we can to get you there.

Until soon,

Tobin, Joe, and the Vantage Robotics Team


  • Vincent says:

    Very cool. Amazing how many features you put into Snap. I can’t wait to get it into my hands. Any update on the shipping date? Thanks, Vincent

    • James Squires says:

      Thanks Vincent. We can’t wait to get you flying either! Pre-orders will start shipping in June and should wrap up in August, we will share more details as we get them.

  • Mike Paulin says:

    Hi Vantage Team,
    I have been following the progress of Snap and it is exciting to watch its development. I enjoyed this blog post about the controller options. I like the Smart Phone controller option, however, most likely would go with one of the other controller options. The main reason – you can’t see the Smart Phone screen in bright light, especially if you are outside and the sun is shining…. Pretty much you would have to use the Smart Phone controller on a cloudy day or when you fly inside. I have had several Smart Phones and that is the biggest complaint I have with them and that is you can’t see the screen when outside. Thanks and keep up the great work on Snap!

    • James Squires says:

      Thanks Mike. We haven’t had any issues with sun light so far. Please let us know if you do once we get flying!

  • Peter Herweijer says:

    Here in The Netherlands there’s legislation in the pipeline aiming at a max altitude of 50 mtr and a max distance of 50 mtr between pilot and drone. This makes the android smartphone controller my best control option.

  • Kevin Wickens says:

    Looks like it should be really easy and inexpensive to connect your smart phone to a pair of HDMI input FPV glasses with something called a MHL / SlimPort HDMI adapter. Best part is you could do this and still control Snap via the smartphone app. Awesome! This is the best of all words! So excited!

  • David hui says:

    Would it be adaptable with a VR glass and smartphone combination ?

    • James Squires says:

      We have played around with the VR goggles and think they are very cool. While it won’t be ready at the time of shipping, we do hope to include this feature in the future.

  • Ryan says:

    In the comments of the previous update, someone at Vantage mentioned there would be an update about “production and shipping in the next one or two weeks.” That comment was posted on April 7th (nearly three weeks ago). I’m very excited about everything in this update, but when will we hear more detailed information related to the timeline of receiving our pre-ordered drones?

  • Joe says:

    I like all the options. But a question about using the dsm controller, you said to maintain the video feed throughout the full range of the dsm controller you recommend using the smartphone range extender with the dsm controller. Is that the extender that is coming out later this year? Or available now? Thanks.

  • Al Springstead says:

    Great to see you adding to the blog! I check a lease twice a day. I sure think that this information is very helpful for all of those that have pre-order. Keep the information coming.

  • Scott says:

    I’m confused, with a dsm controller is the range extended to 1500m? Or do you also need to purchase the range extender?

    • James Squires says:

      Yes. A DSM remote transfers data differently and has a much longer range. However, the live streaming will not work with a DSM, so that will only have a range of 150m (unless its combined with the range extender).

  • Michael says:

    Can SmartTilt be turned off? If you are streaming 720p to the Smartphone, will the Snap move in sync with your phone motion (aligned to what you are viewing on the phone) instead of being dependent on the operator’s relative orientation to the snap’s bearing?

    • James Squires says:

      We are still finalizing the details on the software, but yes, this option should be available.

  • Neil says:

    It would be good to see some actual footage of the various control methods being used on a working drone. When will the android/ios apps be available?

  • Nice work! Does controlling the gimbal position also happen with the controller (whatever one it may be), or can you only control it through the app?

  • JK says:

    Really like this. I’m excited and can’t wait!

  • ArtnVegas says:

    just sliced my fingers trying to fly my “piece of ****” MINIVET Drone, so hard to fly, poor instructions, most of it in Chinese, what a waste of money……… can’t wait for my Vantage Robotics to arrive.

    • James Squires says:

      Ouch! Sorry to hear it. We can’t wait for your Snap to arrive either!

  • Nick says:

    any news on shipping? May has come and no news on estimated dates?

    • James Squires says:

      We will be sending out a blog post about this very soon. We plan on shipping in June, and will be sending units out sequentially starting with the first orders.

  • Florian says:

    Picking up the previous comment, I think everybody would feel comfortable seeing some pictures of pre production like molds etc… Being 7 weeks away from end of June (what is still June 🙂 ) You guys should be at a certain stage regarding the hardware…or let us know in time if June is not realistic…managing expectations is key…

    You have a big crowd anxiously waiting – including me 🙂

  • Kevin Wickens says:

    Fingers crossed, we get a new blog post this week. 🙂
    And toes crossed that it’s the “Production update” Blog update!

  • Jeremy says:

    Hi James

    Will there be a mode on the app where you can completely turn off the tilt and have two joysticks in the app so you can use your smart phone to fly manually like you would with a radio? I love the idea of having my phone be the controller but would really rather be able to have manual control without carrying a second device. (Tilt is cool and all but would make it hard for some shots plus it’s hard to see what’s going on with the screen when it is flat 😉 )
    I really like how you added dsm reciever as well I love Spektrum!

    • James Squires says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Snap will not have virtual joysticks like you described. We feel that the SmartTilt feature provides much better manual control than any virtual joysticks can.

  • Mark says:

    I’m still wondering if a PS4 or Xbox One controller will be compatible. If not then what “Game” controlers will be?

  • Don says:

    I wonder if folks realize if they buy now during preorder, if they start shipping in June, probably won’t see theirs for months yet. Depending upon, how many were sold preorder. The preorder started last year. So I’m assuming a June ship date isn’t realistic for those ordering now. It’ll happen when it happens. Not much you can do but wait. They’ll get to it.
    The suspense is killing me. I hope it lives up to the expectations.

  • Kevin says:

    So far from everything that is out there, it really really looks like it is going to live up to the expectations. And that’s even before all of the amazing add-on modules come out. I’m so so stoked! If Vantage delivers…. and I really really think they will…. I think they’ll win the top aerial camera of 2016 award hands down. 🙂

  • JK says:

    I am also curious if there is a way to quickly turn it off, like a “kill” switch?

  • Don says:

    Hello again guys,

    Will you be posting more videos anytime soon? I would like to see a few more examples of the camera. I noticed that the small print on the site states that orders placed now will be shipped in September. Will second batteries be available to order anytime soon? Any downloads available for the control app yet?
    I’m curious if you found a distribution partner or are the units being hand assembled in a small warehouse? Doesn’t matter to me but I’m curious about the ramp up of production. If I ordered mine in February can I expect to see it in June? I’m not seeing much info on other sites.
    Thanks for any updates

    • James Squires says:

      Hi Don,

      We will be posting a blog update about manufacturing and shipping details later this week. More videos will be coming shortly as well.

  • Pete says:

    Interesting product. I cant find the following in the specs:
    Is it going to be FCC approved?
    Does it require a HAM license?
    What is the mW output of its video transmitter?

  • Ben C says:

    Hi, how can I get hold of the DSM Two-sticks controller for my Snap? How much?

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