MJX Bugs 3 Pro Drone Review
Those familiar with drones, in general, have likely heard of MJX. We have talked about them a great deal on this blog, including here, here, and here. Mei Jia Xin Toys (MJX) has made itself a familiar name in the drone industry by producing inexpensive, entry-level toy drones. After breaking out of the toy drone market and into producing higher tier, performance level drones with the MJX 2W, which proved to be a great success, the company introduced a host of models including the MJX bugs 3. The MJX bugs 3 Pro improves upon that model as an affordable and versatile high-performance drone that will be attractive to a variety of users.
MJX was not necessarily aiming to cater to aerial photographers with the Bugs 3 Pro, however its surprising speed makes it suitable for drone racers and sports fliers as well. Those looking for an affordable drone with GoPro support or drone racing will appreciate the longer battery life compared to MJX’s earlier models. Heat and friction are the enemies of battery life, and MJX has minimized both by opting for cooler running, and more efficient brushless motors, compared to the battery draining, brushed motors traditionally used.
What You Will Find Inside
Included with the MJX Pro 3: User Manual, a dedicated transmitter with updated design layout, 2s Li-Po battery (with proprietary connector), charger, screwdriver, spare blades, protection blade, and landing skid. It does not include a camera sensor as many would expect.
MJX Bug Pro 3 Specifications
• 22-minute flight time
• 600-800 meter max flight range
• 230 grams of upward lift
• 2800 mAh 2s LiPo battery
• 240-minute charge time
• Update transmitter control
• 1500kv brushless motor
• Intelligent braking
• Sensors included: Barometer
• Automatic Takeoff/Landing
• Headless Mode
• Smart RTH (Return To Home)
• Failsafe RTH
• Low voltage RTH
• Follow me
• Point of interest circling with adjustable flight radius
• Track flight mode
• Advanced GPS assisted-hovering
• Barometer altitude hold
The 600-800 meter range on the Bugs 3 Pro would be hard to beat in its price range. In open space with no obstacles blocking the transmitter, the drone can be controlled reliably nearly a half-mile away, which should satisfy the needs of most users.
Although the proprietary connector on the battery will be a turn off to some who already have an extensive collection of batteries they’d like to use, the 2800 mAh battery included with the drone performs solidly, keeping the drone flying for up to 22 minutes. Charging takes 4 hours.
Four MT2204 1500kv brushless motors provide 230 grams of maximum lift for the drone, giving it plenty of power to carry a sports camera for aerial photography while delivering maximum flight time.
On each of the four ESCs (Electronic Speed Controller), MJX has mounted their proprietary motor braking system. Their unique braking system helps to prevent damage to the motors and makes flying the drone safer, as the propellers immediately stop rotating on command.
To make an automatic landing, you must first calibrate the compass. After doing so, press the Unlock button to unlock the motors. Then you place the drone on the ground and push the automatic takeoff button. The automatic takeoff button will also cause the drone to perform an automatic landing if it is already flying.
Headless mode is a standard feature on drones that makes flying much more straightforward, especially for beginners. When headless mode is on, the drone will disregard its orientation when receiving the directions. The drone applies the instructions sent by the transmitter with the user's orientation as a reference, so for example, if you tell the drone to turn right, it will turn to your right. Flying the drone in headless mode results in fewer crashes and makes it simpler to maneuver.
Return To Home
Over the course of regular use, all drones are susceptible to losing communication with the transmitter. Obstacles may prevent the craft from receiving a signal from the transmitter, or the user may misjudge their distance from their aircraft. Drones falling out of the air because of a lack of battery are a danger to sometimes quite expensive cameras. You don’t have to worry about moving out of range or running out of power with the MJX Pro, as the company has addressed the issue with three individual return-to-home features.
1. Smart Return To Home
On the controller included with the MJX 3 Pro is a dedicated return-to-home button. At the push of this button, the Bug Pro 3’s GPS sensors will connect to at least seven satellites, and the drone will begin moving towards its last recorded takeoff location. The user can guide the drone around obstacles during its return. Exit Smart RTH mode by pressing the button again.
2. Fail-safe Return Home
If the Bugs Pro 3 fails to connect to the transmitter for longer than 6 seconds, the drone will automatically enter failsafe return to home mode. As with Smart Return Home mode, the drone must be able to connect to at least seven satellites to begin its journey back. When the drone re-enters the range of the transmitter, it will restore its connection, and you may press the RTH button on the controller to re-take full control.
3.Low Voltage Return Home Mode
The included voltage sensor enables the drone to use Low Voltage RTH mode, ensuring that the unit will always be able to return to its takeoff location. The Low Voltage sensor on the drone will alert you of a low battery level in 3 ways:
1.A RxBat icon on the controller display indicates battery level
2.The transmitter will deliver an alarm consisting of short beeps
3.Flashing LED lights on the drone inform you that you should land manually. This indication happens before the drone enters RTH mode and allows you time to perform a landing.
If the drone determines that the user is not taking action soon enough to prevent losing power mid-flight, it will begin returning to its last recorded takeoff location to perform an automatic landing.
Installing the Bugs Go App on your phone enables three other useful features.
Follow Me Feature
Enabling the Follow-Me feature on the app will cause the craft’s camera to lock onto your mobile phone. The drone's camera will automatically track and capture your movement, maintaining a consistent distance from your phone.
Point Of Interest
With the Point of Interest feature, the drone will continuously circle an object, building or position that you set on the map. The craft will fly around the point clockwise at an adjustable flight radius, set by default to 10 meters, which can be changed by tapping Setting and then Flight Radius.
Track Flight Mode
Rather than manually flying, Flight track mode allows you to pre-program the flight path for the drone. You may alter the flight path even after the flight is underway, and the drone will adjust smoothly and safely to the new route.
Advanced GPS assisted-hovering
While hovering, if GPS is turned on and it can connect to the GPS satellites, the drone will record its location. If the signal from the transmitter is interrupted, it will then use its GPS to maintain its recorded position until it can reconnect to the controller.
Barometer altitude hold
Once the drone reaches the desired altitude, you release the joystick, and the drone will use its onboard barometer to maintain that height. Having the drone maintain its altitude is incredibly useful for photography since you can set the height and then focus solely on adjusting the camera to get the right shot.
Setting Up And Flying
When you receive the drone, you will have to perform some assembly before you can start flying. Assembling the drone is pretty straightforward, and the only tools you will need are the included screwdriver. Attaching the propellers is simple. They are self-tightening, so while the drone is flying the propellers aren’t going to be able to spin off. Because the propellers are self-tightening and two of the props must rotate in the opposite direction of the others, the shape of the propellers are different from each other, and you must install them in the correct location. The propellers and their positions are clearly labeled so there should be no confusion there. The kit also includes two extra propellers for future repairs.
You will have to attach and plug in the battery, as well as link the transmitter to the drone once it is powered up. This part can sometimes be finicky, but the video below shows you how to deal with that problem. Reading the manual will also make it pretty clear what you have to do in that situation.
Altogether, you should be able to unpack the drone and have it set up to fly in less than an hour. Attaching cameras that don’t fit the included camera mount will take longer of course, since you will have to make modifications to get it securely mounted. You should keep in mind the weight of the camera, especially if you are customizing the mount.
Here’s a fairly in-depth tutorial on unboxing, setting up and operating the Bugs 3. It features the original Bugs 3, but most people will find it useful due to the similarity between the two. Keep in mind that MJX redesigned the transmitter for the Bugs 3 Pro, so the one you will see in the video will look a bit different than yours. The tutorial, of course, lacks instruction on the special features unique to the Bugs 3 Pro, but it will get you setup and flying.
After you have your transmitter setup, you must calibrate the compass. Once you have calibrated the compass, place the drone on the ground. Hit the unlock button to allow the propellers to start spinning. After this, automatic takeoffs and landings are as simple as hitting the correct button, so you shouldn’t have much if any difficulty there after you find the buttons.
Barometer altitude hold is also about as straightforward as it could be. The throttle joystick is spring loaded, so there isn’t more much to it than releasing the joystick once the drone reaches your desired altitude. The drone will actively adjust itself to maintain a consistent height despite changes in the wind speed or direction.
The Smart RTH (Return To Home) and Advanced GPS Assisted hovering modes are where you will be most likely to encounter trouble. These features rely on connecting to a minimum of 7 satellites to work, so if you are in an area that limits line-of-sight to them, such as an urban area with a lot of tall buildings around, for example, you might have some trouble connecting to them. There isn’t a lot you can do about this, however, besides moving to a more open area. Fortunately, these features will work without any from the user in most cases, especially if you are out in the open or flying above most obstacles that would be able to block the signal.
MJX Bugs 3 Pro Vs. MJX Bugs 3
The MJX Bugs 3 Pro doesn’t look a whole lot different than its predecessor, but the shape of the drone has been refined to be a little sleeker and more stylish. The dimensions are virtually the same between the two, at 410x410x150mm. The propeller size is also the same at 7.4 inches. The Bugs 3 Pro is a smart version of the original Bugs 3, so the similarity in the two designs shouldn’t be too surprising.
The Pro version is a definite step up for a couple of reasons. With a 1000 mAh larger battery, and the replacement of the motors with a more efficient design, the Bugs 3 Pro offers a sizable increase in flight time, with 22 minutes compared to the Bugs 3’s 15. While undoubtedly an improvement, the battery alone wouldn’t warrant an upgrade. The added battery capacity does help to power the sensors that enable the features unique to the Bugs 3 Pro, however.
The original Bugs 3 lacked the sensors for all of what you would call “smart features.” It had no headless mode, autonomous return to home, or automatic takeoff and landing. The basis of the craft was excellent though, so the additional hardware MJX has included on the Pro has increased the functionality of the drone exponentially.
More specifically, the addition of a barometer and GPS sensors are what makes the Pro version stand far above the original in performance. These sensors enable GPS Assisted hovering and barometer altitude hold, allowing the drone to be much more useful for aerial photography.
The transmitter/controller has been redesigned to accommodate the smart feature of the Bugs 3 Pro. It comes with the GR6221A transmitter. Users familiar with the original should still be comfortable with the controls, however, as the basic layout is the same. The new controller is black, and the design includes two antennas that fold down. The display has been changed the most drastically with a toolbar that displays all of the necessary information.
The range has increased over the transmitter included with the original Bugs 3 as well, moving up from 500 meters max to 800 in an area with low RF noise. While primarily targeted towards aerial photographers, the increase in flight-range will be appreciated by those who purchase the Bugs 3 Pro for FPV racing.
Will any camera work with the special features?
No, not all cameras are compatible with the Follow-Me and Point-Of-Interest modes. If you want to make sure that these features are functional, you should purchase the compatible camera from MJX. The Bugs GO APP officially supports the MJX C5000 & C6000, so use those if either feature is important to you.
Does the MJX Bugs 3 Pro have a camera gimbal?
No, the camera mount is a fixed position mount. The stability of the drone does allow for high-quality photography despite the lack of a gimbal, however.
Can I use a GoPro hero+ with this?
Yes, the camera mount takes all GoPro style cameras.
Is the camera mount molded to it?
No, the camera mount is removable, and you can change it if necessary.
Can you use this for FPV?
Yes, MJX offers a camera that can be attached to the front for that purpose.
Is this a decent choice for beginners?
This drone is an excellent choice for beginners. I would surely recommend it over the Bugs 3 as flying it is more foolproof and less likely to result in an accident that damages the drone.
How much weight can it carry?
The Bugs 3 Pro can generate a max upward lift of 230 grams.
MJX uses robust hardware inside the Bugs 3 Pro and has priced it very reasonably. Its incredible flight stability, even in relatively windy conditions will attract aerial photographers. Photographers should be aware of the lack of a gimbal, which helps with regards to image quality, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Although some may consider the absence of an included camera sensor to be a drawback, the custom camera mount will be attractive to serious drone fanatics who prefer the flexibility of choosing their camera.
Beginners and experienced fliers alike will find that the Bugs 3 Pro is straightforward and simple to fly. Both will appreciate the way that it maneuvers intuitively and smoothly. No matter how reasonably priced the drone is, no one wants to destroy their new craft as they are learning to fly. The fact that it automatically maintains its altitude when the joystick is released should help to curb many of the inevitable accidents that new fliers face.
The original Bugs 3 drone’s versatility and price point made it a popular choice for beginners, so MJX had a great base to build off of for the Bugs 3 Pro. Those interested in doing more than normal recreational flying should undoubtedly skip over the original Bugs 3 and spring for the smart version, the Bugs 3 Pro. Doing so adds so much functionality to the drone that it more than overcomes the marginal difference in price between the two models. Even those who do plan only to fly recreation-ally might want to consider the Bugs 3 Pro in case their needs change in the future.