Snapchat Launches Pixy, Its First Drone Ever
BY Zacc Dukowitz3 May 2022
Snap, the company that owns Snapchat, has released its first ever drone.
Called Pixy, it’s a yellow disk that costs $249.99 and is small enough to fit in your pocket.
Designed to fly autonomously, the Pixy operates without the use of a remote control. Instead, you choose from four different pre-programmed flight patterns that it can fly on its own. Then you press a button and the drone takes off from your hand, shoots a 60-second video following the pattern you selected, and lands back on your hand.
Wondering why Snap would make a drone in the first place?
Because, as the company’s CEO Evan Spiegel puts it, “we’re a camera company.”
In fact, according to Snap’s CEO, the company has been thinking about launching a drone since as far back as 2016.
Since then, the vision for Snap has been the creation of a flying camera that anyone can use, without the need for piloting skills, a big budget, or the burden of having to clear regulatory hurdles like registration—because the Pixy weighs only 101 grams, it doesn’t have to be registered with the FAA for recreational use.
[Recreational flyers still need to take the FAA’s free TRUST exam.]
How Does the Pixy Work?
The Pixy can fly on its own, making it easy for anyone to capture aerial shots.
Here’s how it works:
- Choose from one of four modes.
- Hold the drone at eye level on your palm.
- When you see the green ready light, press the button on the top of the drone.
- The drone will take off and fly in the pattern you selected for up to 60 seconds.
- Hold your hand out when you’re done shooting, and the drone will land there.
After you’ve got your video, you can sync it with the Memories section of Snapchat where you can add AR effects we most commonly associate with the app. Right now there are only a few Pixy-specific effects available, but we imagine more will be added over time.
I think Pixy opens up a whole new space here because your smartphone can’t fly. You can get a totally new and different perspective. And so in that way, I think Pixy is meaningfully better than what your smartphone can create.
– Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap
Wondering how the Pixy can fly on its own?
The Pixy has two cameras—a front-facing camera and a downward-facing camera.
The downward-facing camera allows the Pixy to take off and land on the user’s hand. And the front-facing camera is the camera that shoots your video footage, as well as automatically tracking you for drone’s the different pre-programmed flight patterns.
Specs & Features for the Pixy
Here are all the main features of the Pixy:
- Weight. Super light at 101 grams.
- Battery life. About three minutes, or five-eight flights according to Pixy.
- Camera. Captures 2.7K video and 12MP stills.
- Storage. Can store up to 100 videos or 1,000 photos locally on a 16GB drive.
- Snapchat synching. The footage and photos you capture can be synced wirelessly to the Memories section of Snapchat, where they can be edited.
- Auto-crop feature. Lets you turn horizontal footage into Snapchat’s vertical orientation, with the main subject centered in the shot.
The Pixy offers four different modes, or pre-programmed flight patterns. Here they are:
- Hover. The drone hovers in place.
- Reveal. The drone flies slowly away from you, revealing your surroundings more and more as it gains distance.
- Follow. The drone follows you.
- Orbit. The drone flies in an orbit around you.
At about $250, the Pixy is a lot less expensive than a more sophisticated autonomous drone like the Skydio 2+. And that’s because it’s only made for getting shots on the go, without the need for the more complicated autonomy capabilities you’ll get with a Skydio drone.
Even the DJI Mini SE, which sells for $299, is a more complicated platform than the Pixy. To fly the SE you’ll need to put some time into developing your abilities as a pilot, but with the Pixy you can just press a button and get an aerial shot.
But with that simplicity comes a lot less control, and less quality.
Here are a few things to consider before you buy the Pixy:
- Its light weight means that it can get blown around easily in even mild winds.
- It can’t carry enough battery power to fly very long—we’ve seen reviews claiming it can only fly 3-4 flights before the battery needs to be changed, not the 5-8 that Snap promotes.
- It can’t record audio.
- It can only fly about 15 feet into the air and 30 feet away from you.
- It can’t fly over water or shiny / reflective surfaces, since these can confuse the camera that allows it to fly on its own.