iFlight Defender 25 Review: The Best Alternative to DJI Avata? (2024 Updated)

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Daniel Henderson
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward
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Reviewed by Kristen Ward

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FPV drones come in all shapes and sizes these days, but few pack in as many features into such a compact and lightweight form as the new iFlight Defender 25.

This sub-250g powerhouse has quickly become one of the most talked-about ready-to-fly (RTF) options out there. With incredible video quality thanks to an integrated DJI camera system, plus tunable performance and long flight times, it makes an ideal stepping stone for FPV beginners and a fun new bash-around quad for experienced pilots.

In this in-depth review, I’ll share why the iFlight Defender 25 looks set to be one of the hottest quads of 2024.

From details on using the proprietary and off-the-shelf batteries to its features, accessories, flight performance and more, read on to find out everything you need to know about this feature-laden micro FPV quad.

An Overview of the iFlight Defender 25’s Standout Features

Before diving into the details, let’s take a quick look at a few of the key things that make the Defender 25 such an impressive ready-to-fly FPV drone:

  • Integrated DJI camera and transmission system – Featuring the same incredible DJI O3 camera and transmission tech as the Avata drone for brilliant image quality
  • Sub-250 gram takeoff weight – Weighs just 240g with included battery for minimal regulations in most countries
  • Tunable performance – Manual S adjustable rates let you tweak agility to your flying style
  • Proprietary and off-the-shelf battery options – Use the included proprietary batteries for plug-and-play convenience or standard LiPos to save money
  • Robust brushed motors – Won’t burn out if you overload them like brushless motors can
  • Beginner-friendly and highly durable – Ideal for new FPV pilots thanks to prop guards and its rugged injected plastic frame

Its compact size coupled with cutting-edge cameras and components make the Defender 25 a superb option for newcomers and veterans alike. Let’s explore further why this mighty micro punches so far above its weight class.

It Delivers Stunning DJI Image Quality in an Agile Sub-250g Package

The first thing that pilots will notice—and love—about the Defender 25 is the phenomenal footage you can capture with its integrated DJI drone camera. Featuring a 1/1.7” CMOS sensor capable of recording smooth 4K/30fps video, it delivers image quality on par with DJI’s flagship FPV drone, the Avata. The only difference in the camera systems of the Avata and the Defender 25 is the HD wireless transmission module required to relay footage back to your FPV goggles.

The Avata utilizes DJI’s higher latency O3 Air Unit, while the Defender 25 uses the lower latency O3 system from DJI specifically tailored for high-performance racing drones. But when it comes to recorded image quality, you can expect equally stunning video from these two drones, even though they have drastically different purposes and designs.

And weighing in at just 240 grams with the included 550 mAh LiPo battery, the Defender 25 manages to stuff all that incredible camera hardware into an agile, sub 250g airframe. This opens up huge opportunities to rip around public places or proximity fly the Defender 25 in locales with stringent regulations on heavier drones. Here’s some fast and loose backyard cruising showing what this micro beast is capable of:

Its diminutive size lets you dart the Defender 25 through gaps and places that would be far too tight to fit larger, more cumbersome drones. Take it down underground tunnels, through dense forests, underneath park structures, or anywhere else creative inspiration moves you. Just be sure to fly responsibly!

The DJI system isn’t simply about recording pretty pictures though. It also enables powerful capabilities through the DJI FPV Goggles V2, from digital zooming to access useful flight telemetry and warnings. You can even pull off slick moves using the goggles head tracking feature which lets you control the Defender’s movements just by turning your head.

All in all, you’d be hard pressed finding another plug-and-play FPV drone that delivers this combination of cinematic camera quality and agile flying performance in such an insanely portable package for the price. And at just $379 for the Defender 25 itself or $628 bundled with the DJI FPV Radio Controller 2, it brings an incredible value.

Next let’s break down more on the proprietary and standard battery options available to power this pocket rocket.

Battery and Power Systems: Proprietary or Off-the-Shelf LiPo Options

One smart design choice by iFlight was to create a modular battery system for the Defender 25 that lets pilots use either the included proprietary batteries or standard LiPos they may already own. Here’s an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of each:

Proprietary Batteries

Out of the box, the Defender 25 ships with iFlight’s own 550 mAh 4S LiPo battery which clicks securely into an integrated harness built into the chassis. Other proprietary battery sizes are sold separately, like the 850 mAh and 1400 mAh 4S LiPos which offer longer flights of up to 10 minutes.

Benefits of the proprietary batteries:

  • Secure lock-in system keeps battery firmly in place even on heavy crashes
  • Integrated battery meter on side of battery for checking current charge level
  • Low overall weight while still providing 5+ minutes of energetic flights

Downsides to proprietary batteries:

  • More expensive than off-the-shelf LiPo options
  • Can’t use batteries you already own without buying adapter
  • Must recharge with included proprietary charging board

So while the proprietary batteries offer nice quality of life perks, their added cost and other pitfalls lead many pilots to forego them in favor for more standard LiPo options.

Off-the-Shelf LiPos

If you don’t want to shell out for iFlight’s official battery line, nearly any 4S LiPo pack with an XT30 connector will give you the power you need. The Defender 25’s battery harness has teeth lined with rubber gaskets that grip a variety of battery sizes to hold them snugly in place. And many standard 4S packs happen to fit perfectly into the gap!

Slap a 4S 850 mAh LiPo in there and you’ve got a 9 minute shredder without adding much weight over the proprietary equivalent. Or strap larger batteries on top to really push the limits. Just be warned that anything over 1500 mAh will start infringing on that crucial sub-250g takeoff threshold for looser regulations.

Benefits of off-the-shelf LiPos:

  • Use existing batteries without a required adapter
  • Save money over proprietary packs
  • Easily find replacements from common battery shapes (550 mAh 4S, etc.)

Downsides to standard LiPos:

  • Must be strapped tightly in place or may fall out on crashes
  • No integrated battery meter to check current charge

So if you’re fine getting creative with spare velcro, straps, or battery bags, off-the-shelf LiPos helps you save a chunk of change. Just ensure they’re strapped snugly to prevent losing power mid-flight!

Charging Batteries

No matter whether you choose proprietary or standard LiPos, charging them is simple. The Defender 25 includes a dedicated charging board which connects to RC hobby chargers that any seasoned pilot will already own.

For beginners coming from a DJI background though, iFlight optionally offers a $29 standalone charger capable of replenishing proprietary battery packs. So no matter your experience level or charging hardware available, juicing up batteries for this quad is quick and painless.

Now that we’ve covered how to power this diminutive rocket, let’s move onto the hardware that transforms battery current into exhilarating FPV flights.

Motor and Propulsion Systems That Punch Above Their Weight

Don’t let its small stature fool you—the Defender 25 has some serious pep thanks to its brushed 1404 4000kV motors turning 2.5 inch triblade props. Combined with the ultralight frame primarily constructed from rigid injected plastic, it gives the Defender crazy thrust-to-weight ratios that rival many larger quads.

It zips around with enough punch that iFlight rates its top speed at around 64 mph (100 km/h). And that number doesn’t seem like much of an overestimation from my test hovering around wide open fields. This micro machine absolutely screams across the sky!

The decision to use brushed motors rather than brushless offers advantages and disadvantages worth considering too. Brushed motors are typically less efficient than their brushless counterparts and generate more heat under heavy loads. However, they continue spinning fine even if overloaded temporarily. Compare that to brushless motors which may burn themselves out if pushed too hard.

So brushed motors prove more durable to mistakes beginners may make starting out like slamming the throttle for too long. But their relative inefficiency does mean slightly less aggressive speed and acceleration capabilities versus similar sized brushless quads.

It’s a smart tradeoff then for iFlight to spec brushed motors considering the Defender 25 seems positioned squarely at intermediate pilots looking to have fun zipping around without the stress of destroying expensive components. And the brushed motors’ durability contributes to the overall ruggedness of this mini shredder. Speaking of which…

An Extremely Durable FPV Drone Perfect For Newcomers

Between its protective prop guards, brushed motor resistance to overload damage, and sturdy frame materials, the Defender 25 can really take a beating. Which makes it a prime choice as a first FPV drone for beginners or as an indoor basher to hone close-proximity skills.

Its lightweight plastic frame holds up far better to crashes than carbon fiber while still keeping the overall package nimble. Titanium hardware and thick rubber gaskets around components help everything stay locked securely in place so nothing shakes loose.

And iFlight made the smart decision to forgo sticking long-range receiver antennas off the back. Instead they integrated a flat patch antenna layout into the frame itself:

This helps prevent breakage of delicate antennas in the inevitable crashes piloting FPV drones entails. Just be aware that the integrated antenna system gives around a 1 mile max video range—not a multi-mile cruiser by any means. But given tiny drones like this get hard to see at longer distances anyway, it’s a sensible concession.

The Defender 25 likely won’t explode into pieces on first impact like other quads. Everything about its design speaks to standing up to repeated beatings—an ideal durable trainer drone. Just be sure to stay away from water as moisture ingress could still damage sensitive electronics.

And while we’re on the topic of safety, having prop guards wrapping this micro machine 360 degrees will prevent nasty prop cuts when you invariably smack a wall learning to fly. It even comes with an extra set of props in the package so you’ve got spares when your learn-to-fly crashes bend the first few!

Extensive Manual Tuning Options For a Customized Flying Experience

Out of the box, a beginner could stick the factory default rates and have a great time flying the Defender 25 in stability mode with almost no learning curve. But intermediate pilots who eventually want to progress into racing-style manual/acro mode flights will appreciate how much this quad can be customized.

It runs the Betaflight firmware preferred by DIY and custom drone builders. This unlocks extensive configuration adjustments via the Betaflight Configurator app. Tweak PID controller values, rates, camera angles, and filters to transform the flight characteristics however you wish.

Don’t want to mess with PID tuning curves and other firmware-level tweaks? No worries. Even ignoring advanced adjustments, the Defender 25 has all the basic flight mode and rate configurability an intermediate pilot could ask for.

Use the buttons on the left shoulder of the radio to switch between pre-configured flight modes. And flip between multiple manual rate presets to find the right level of responsiveness for your current flying skill progression. Rates can be further minutely adjusted in the DJI FPV Assistant app.

So in summary, you can tweak this quad as lightly or extensively as desired:

  • Beginner pilots – Select stability mode and fly it just like a DJI drone with minimal learning curve
  • Intermediate pilots – Switch to manual modes with lower pre-configured rates as skills improve
  • Advanced pilots – Hook it up to Betaflight Configurator and go wild with custom PID tuning and filters

Having these options to grow into the Defender 25 as your prowess progresses prevents it from being a short-lived beginner quad you outgrow after a couple weeks. This amount of custom tuning potential gives serious legs for long term enjoyment.

An Impressive List of Included and Optional Accessories

Praise should be given to how well iFlight equipped this RTF drone straight out of the box. Beyond just the Defender 25 itself, here’s everything included in the package:

  • Extra set of props
  • Full set of tools for repairs & maintenance
  • Battery charging adapter board w/ balance cable
  • Additional accessory cables for betaflight/DJI module/etc
  • Durable prop guards (already pre-installed)
  • 550 mAh 4S proprietary flight battery
  • Manuals & stickers

With everything needed to start flying safely right away, a newcomer couldn’t ask for a more complete ready-to-fly package. Though as mentioned earlier, you may want to pick up some extra batteries which sadly never seem to be included with RTF drones nowadays.

As far as accessories go, iFlight kept them thoughtful yet minimal. There’s no complex ecosystem of proprietary accessories to get immersed in if you don’t want to. Any standard FPV equipment you already own will work flawlessly like extra goggle antennas, battery straps, landing pads, etc.

But iFlight does optionally offer a few nice pairings if you want an integrated ecosystem:

  • Longer lasting proprietary flight batteries
  • Dedicated battery charging station
  • Hard shell carrying case w/ drone body foam inserts
  • Their Tango 2 gamepad-style radio controller

So in summary, you shouldn’t need any extra add-ons to have a good time flying thanks to an impressively inclusive out-of-box package. But nice quality accessories exist for those seeking a little more convenience or customizability.

Lastly, any owners wanting to modify or customize this quad can rest easy knowing nearly any standard FPV components will integrate cleanly from video transmitters to flight controllers and motors. The modular design means you’ll never feel locked into annoying proprietary upgrades.

Final Impressions After Extensive Test Flights

After countless batteries worth of test hovering this surprising little shredder, I can confidently say the Defender 25 strikes an impressive balance of features, durability, flying performance and overall value. I can’t wait to bash it around even more!

If you’re an FPV veteran wanting a fun basher that won’t break the bank should you make a mistake, it handles admirably while letting you still pull off smooth cinematic footage.

And if you’re a total beginner seeking an accessible entry point into FPV flying without immediately smashing a $800+ rig on day one, its ruggedness and stability mode do seem up to the task of withstanding rookie mistakes.

While offering two very different value propositions for pilots of differing skill levels, both types will ultimately just have an absolute blast zipping this little rocket around. Because despite looking like an unassuming toy drone, flexing the throttle reveals the Defender 25 as a legitimate speed demon.

So if you’ve got the need…the need for FPV speed, do yourself a favor and pick up an iFlight Defender 25. This thing rips!

Final Verdict: Should You Buy the iFlight Defender 25?

Lightweight yet surprisingly fast with exhilarating agility, brilliant DJI camera footage, extensive customization options, and overall extreme durability make the new iFlight Defender 25 one of the best plug-and-play FPV drones under $500 available today.

It manages to pack practically every feature an intermediate pilot could want into a crazy compact frame under 250 grams. Very few competitors on the market today in its price range offer this combination of customizability, cinematic video potential, and outright fun.

The Defender 25 was already drawing attention from seasoned FPV pilots before launch. But now.

Frequently Asked Questions About iFlight Defender 25

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Written By Daniel Henderson

My name is Daniel Henderson and I'm an avid FPV pilot and videographer. I've been flying quadcopters for over 5 years and have tried just about every drone and FPV product on the market. When not flying quads, you can find me mountain biking, snowboarding, or planning my next travel adventure.

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