Sony Airpeak: Everything we know about Sony’s first drone

Sony has been slowly dropping hints about its maiden drone, the Airpeak S1, since it first appeared at CES 2021. The technology giant’s latest announcement has lifted the lid on nearly every detail about the high-end drone, from detailed specifications to an eye-popping price tag. 

We still don’t know when it will officially arrive, but here’s everything we do know about the Sony Airpeak:

It will not be cheap

Image courtesy: Sony

Sony says the Airpeak will retail for $9,000 (!) when it releases later this year. For that price, you’ll get the drone itself, four propellers, a remote, two batteries and a battery charger. Among the notable, essential components that are not included in the package are a gimbal and a camera. Adding both of those into the ensemble will almost certainly make getting an Airpeak a five-figure investment. 

To be fair to Sony, there are more expensive drones currently on the market. Freefly, for instance, carries multiple drones that eclipse the $10,000 mark. At the same time, DJI sells a capable high-end drone, the Inspire 2, for just $3,300. In other words, the Airpeak won’t be the most expensive drone money can buy, but it certainly won’t be the cheapest either. 

On paper, it’s got impressive specs

As a general disclaimer, no one actually has an Airpeak yet, so we’ve only got the numbers Sony feeds us to work with. We can’t verify with certainty that the Airpeak is capable of performing the way Sony says it is, at least not yet. But if the Airpeak’s spec sheet is to be believed, it projects to be an incredibly powerful machine. 

Sony says the Airpeak has a top speed of 55.9 mph and the ability to go 0-50 mph in 3.5 seconds. On top of that, Sony says the Airpeak can fly at a 55-degree pitch angle and is stable in winds up to 44.7 mph. And, with a diameter of 644 mm, Sony claims the Airpeak (weighing in at 9 pounds, 12 ounces) is the world’s smallest class aircraft that can mount a full-size MILC Alpha. 

The Airpeak will be supported by five pairs of cameras outfitted by Sony’s image sensors. Combined with the company’s Vision Sensing Processor, these cameras are meant to ensure stable flight and recognize obstacles in order for the drone to automatically avoid them. The drone also has an intriguing workflow system, featuring a web application called “Airpeak Base” that’s designed to let users do things like manage equipment, create flight plans and manage flight logs.

There are a few specs we aren’t crazy about, however. Sony says the AirPeak will have a flight time of 22 minutes unloaded and just 12 minutes when fully loaded.  Clearly, the Airpeak is going to be a high-powered drone that places significant strain on its battery. But for the money, it sure would be nice to be able to use the Airpeak for more than 12 minutes at a time. 

It will (probably) only be compatible with Sony cameras

Image courtesy: Sony

Naturally, Sony wants you to use Sony cameras with its Sony drone. To that end, the list of compatible cameras that work with Airpeak and a specially-designed gimbal by Gremsy are the Alpha 1, Alpha A9 II, a7S II, A7R IV, and FX3. 

If you noticed a significant lack of any non-Sony cameras in that list, you’re not alone. When pressed about the compatibility during a pre-briefing for the drone, Sony didn’t completely rule out the possibility of Airpeak users being able to use other cameras in the future. It did, however, raise concerns about controlling these non-Sony cameras. The Airpeak will have a remote control and a dedicated app that will be able to control the drone, gimbal and camera all at once. At present, it doesn’t seem like non-Sony cameras can be controlled through the remote or app. 

It will cater to iOS device owners

Image courtesy: Sony

Sorry, Android fans. The remote control app for the Airpeak will be strictly an iOS and iPadOS app, meaning you’ll need to have an iPad or iPhone to operate the drone. There’s always the opportunity for Sony to change that in the future, of course. But for now, it’s iOS only. 

Also on the subject of drone operation, the Airpeak will support dual operation mode to allow multiple individuals to control the drone and gimbal or camera simultaneously. In essence, you could be flying your Airpeak and leave the footage capturing up to a friend. 

It will be released at some point this year…we think

Sony’s original release window of “spring 2021” has gone, well, out the window. In its place, Sony is now targeting “fall 2021” for the release of the Airpeak. 

Until we get an exact release date for the Airpeak, take this with a grain of salt. We’re excited to see the Airpeak in action, and the sooner it gets here the better. But it’s entirely plausible – and to be honest, probable – that Sony will take its time to make sure the Airpeak is exactly what the company wants it to be when it finally debuts. 

Nick Woodard
Nick Woodard
Nick is the Managing Editor at Videomaker and Creator Handbook Magazines.

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