MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Drone Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

 

The word drone has become a popular one worldwide.  I still consider the drone market to be in its infancy in terms of mainstream adoption but that is going to quickly change in the next year come 2017.  Just last year I shared that a top US FAA official stated that there could be as many as one million of them sold during the 2015 Christmas season in North America alone, can you imagine how many are going to sell in this quickly approaching 2016 Christmas holiday?  The bubble is waiting to burst, but this untapped market still has a long ways to go.  It's very exciting to see what is unfolding in front of our eyes. 

On May 25, 2016 a report from The NPD Group found that sales of drones have grown 224 percent compared to the year prior, now in the area of $200 million.  This is just drones sold in USA.  The drone segment is not slowing down and is going to steamroll right into 2017.

I remember seeing a bunch of Twitter, Vine, and Instagram posts after the Christmas 2015 where lots of people who got drones as gifts managed to get them stuck in their hair, caught high up in the trees or buildings, and were basically in over their head in operating one.  To me it was quite funny seeing their reactions when chaos happened.  The problem with many who get drones is that they don't read instructions, and they are too brave pulling off moves like a seasoned veteran.  If you have no flight experience you can't go crazy, you have to at least master hovering and moving in an invisible square to get used to the movement.  The key when starting out is make small movements with the flight controller.  

We live in an exciting generation where innovative technologies such as these are available to regular consumers.  The technology just keeps getting better and better and we're already seeing them being adapted for agriculture and other industries.  I'm thinking we're going to see some amazing things in 2017 with more autonomous flight and drones being packed with sensors we haven't seen before.  The more the industry evolves, the better it will be for consumers as prices will eventually have to come down when popularity becomes saturated.  Right now the average price of a drone sold is around $550 according to The NPD Group.

It should be noted that the word drone is quite a general term that has been misused.  Drones down to its basic form are multi-rotor aircraft. Just as helicopters utilize a single motor, drones in the same way can use as many motors as the maker wants to use, which makes drones more flexible and complex. I call them a hybrid combination of airplane and helicopter giving the best of both worlds. The most popular form today is called the quadcopter (quad meaning four, copter meaning a type of aircraft).

Today I will be reviewing a premium toy grade quadcopter from a Chinese company named MEIJIAXIN TOYS CO.,LIMITED that has been at the forefront of putting these affordable quadcopter drones into consumer hands since the very beginning.  In the RC world, they are simply referred to as MJX.

In my first introduction to MJX, I'm given the opportunity to share with you regarding their first ever brushless quadcopter drone creatively named, Bugs 3.  All other quadcopters produced by MJX have been of the brushed motor type, therefore Bugs 3 will be their first venture into the premium brushless quadcopter market.  Because Bugs 3 is using more powerful brushless motors, it's being targeted as a versatile quadcopter that can be sporty when it needs to be and tame enough to carry a GoPro.  Best of all you don't have to break the bank as the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone can be purchased for under $125 USD!

Read on to see how it performs in action and if you should purchase one for this holiday season!

About MJX

MJX RC

"MJX" is one of the main professional manufacturers in the R/C radio control model industry.  The faith of “dream” is the motive power behind company’s growth, MJX is always committed  itself to development of “ Toys and hobby”, which target is to bring incredible , new entertainment  experience to the consumers all over the world. With the spirit of “Innovation & Quality” and the mission  to create “Passion and Happiness” for the blue planet, MJX is always devoting itself to develop, produce  and sell the most reliable and safest toys & models. From radio control cars to radio control helicopters  & multicopters, every product is well-designed and with innovative technology applied. Consumers could  enjoy the feeling of passion, happy and safe that MJX R/C technology brings."

MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Features

Brushless MotorDroneESCLipo BatteryLithium-Ion2.4GHz6 AXISGoProQuadcopterMJXNylon360LEDBUGS 3

MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Specifications

MJX BUGS 3

First Impressions

 

MJX packages the Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter in large and visually appealing white and red inspired corrugated box.  The box has a carrying handle that helps make transport easier for the customer and is surrounding by a sea of red Bugs 3 graphic.  MJX gets straight to the point without any fancy design work by placing huge photos of the Bugs 3 on both front and rear along with the model name and graphic character design.  I haven't taken the drone out of the box, yet I can say Bugs 3 is one of the sexiest and most unique looking quadcopter I've ever seen. 

MJX Bugs 3 brushless is a ready-to-fly (RTF) package, meaning it comes with both quadcopter and flight controller.  Everything is included in the box to get the Bugs 3 up in the air.  The drone is 99% factory assembled, so very little customer assembly is needed.  In fact one doesn't need to assemble anything and can fly as is out of the box if one chooses.  MJX gives the Bugs 3 the versatility of being flown with a shorter landing gear with no camera mount, and also gives you the option to add longer landing gear if you want to mount the GoPro style action camera mount, along with the propeller guards if you desire.  So depending on which configuration you desire, the weight differences will be noticed in flight.  Flying out of the box is easy as taking Bugs 3 out of the box, inserting the battery in the drone, inserting AA batteries in the flight controller, and then flying away. 

Personally I do not suggest beginners try to purchase a brushless quadcopter as their very first drone.   Brushless quadcopters are very powerful and things can go wrong quickly if you're not careful.  Ideally I'd suggest beginners buy a smaller form factor quadcopter such as a mini or micro size, like the ones we have already reviewed, and learn from those sizes as everything you learn from those will be manual flying without assistance of altitude hold or GPS.  You should know how to fly and do orientation in the air without the assistance of any nanny features in order to become a good drone pilot.  Ultimately the choice is yours whether you want Bugs 3 as your first.

If you read my past LiteHawk quadcopter reviews, it would share with you that they implemented a philosophy of using red color propellers and lights in the rear, and white propellers and lights in the front, to help with orientation when in the air...just as a vehicle is set up with red tail lights and white head lights.  This is good for beginners starting out in the hobby to have, but as I stated earlier, the MJX Bugs 3 should not be viewed as a beginners quadcopter.  It has all black propellers but different pairs of lights to help distinguish front (white) and rear (blue).  In addition, the physical shape of the Bugs 3 along with the front LED headlight is a unique enough feature that will help you determine which direction Bugs 3 is facing in the air.  And let's not forget if the action camera mount frame is mounted, this alone will help distinguish the Bugs 3's direction in the air.  For its target audience, users of Bugs 3 will not have any problems with orientation. 

The box marks the suggested age of operation of Bugs 3 as 14 years and older.  This is obviously due to the larger footprint being a 310mm class quadcopter and having powerful brushless motors.  

Upgradable parts are shown on the other side of the box.  MJX will release these parts later for the Bugs 3, they include a 1080p action camera designed for the included action camera mount frame holder, eventually there will be a 360-degree panoramic camera, a WiFi 5.8GHz camera, a 5.8GHz 4.3" FPV LCD display, a 5.8GHz 7" FPV LCD display, and MJX's own VR goggles that consists of the 7" FPV LCD display and the VR goggles themselves.  There's no indication made to me when these will become available, but they will be eventually be released so the Bugs 3 platform can grow.

Four main features are mentioned in the box...

  • Action Camera Mount:  Is said to work with multiple action cameras from GoPro, Xiaomi, SJ CAM, and so forth.  We'll see later on if that is the case.
  • Independent ESC: Also known as Electronic Speed Controller, these are 99% of the time used for a brushless motor setup to help convert the signal from the flight controller and relay that information to the brushless motors telling them how fast they should spin.  ESC's have three wires, one wire is for power, one goes to the flight controllers throttle channel, and the other goes to the brushless motor.  So they are all communicating with each other.  MJX claims they are the first ones (probably on this class) to add in optional features into their ESC such as a built-in automatic lock protection and high temperature lock protection to prevent the ESC from burning out.
  • 2.4GHz Two Way Communication: This is no different than most other quadcopters on the market, using this frequency has been tried and tested and allows uninterrupted use without interference from other 2.4GHz signals nearby.  The very interesting and unique thing I have not seen on a toy grade quadcopter is a weak signal and low voltage remote control alarm.  So MJX has added these optional and greater abilities to the Bugs 3 with an alarm that will sound through the flight controller that the Bugs 3 is having weak signal if it's getting too far away, and they added another alarm through the flight controller that will sound audibly once the battery becomes low.  I think these are great features because all other toy grade quadcopters have just a blinking LED under the drone which can be hard to judge while in the air.  Having an audible tone through the flight controller makes everything so much easier. 
  • Brushless Motors: MJX uses powerful brushless motors instead of cheaper and inferior brushed motors found on the majority of toy grade quadcopters.  MJX says these are MT1806 1800kv type brushless motors that are powerful and efficient but will not hurt your wallet.  MJX claims the Bugs 3 has a maximum upward lift or payload of 230 grams meaning you won't be putting strain on the motors when lifting up an action camera.  Compared to a brushed motor lifting up an action camera, which is not advised as you will surely burn out the motors, brushless motors are more powerful and can handle the payload. They also generally have much greater life span compared to brushed motors.

brushless

Bugs 3 contains all of the high tech features commonly associated with quadcopters such as 4 channels, 6-axis digital stabilization, which uses 3 accelerometers to control and maintain its orientation and 3 to main stability despite vibrations of the motors and outdoor elements like the wind, trying to throw it off. This helps ensure that anyone can pick up the controller and fly with relative ease.  Bugs 3 can do 360-degree flips in four directions with a push of a button and nudge of the directional stick.  As stated, it operates in the 2.4GHz digital RF spectrum and is said to have range of between 300-500 meters.  This is great if true but is very hard in reality to spot the drone that far (without having FPV capability). 

The Bugs 3 is a manual quadcopter and doesn't have other fancy features such as altitude hold, GPS, headless mode, or return to home, one touch ascend/descend.  I personally like flying manual quadcopters so Bugs 3 will be right up my alley. 

Opening the box you'll find the following items.  The bundle is generous. The corrugated box MJX designed does a great job protecting the quadcopter and all components from any damage during shipping because of the thick Styrofoam.  I had no damage from it being shipped from China to myself in Canada.

PropellersXT30charger

MJX Bugs 3 comes with a very nice bundle that includes the Bugs 3 drone, flight controller, 4x propeller guards, 8x propellers (four are spares), a propeller changer tool, screwdriver, 4x landing gear, 1x action camera mount, battery charger, 7.4v 1800mAh lithium-polymer battery, users manual, and Bugs 3 character stickers.

The included charger is a simple one that connects to the balance leads of the battery. A red LED indicates that it's charging, while a green LED indicates that charging is complete.  The charger is not particularly fast, and is actually quite slow only charging at 500mA.  Given that the included battery is rated for 1800mAh, Lithium-Polymer batteries can be charged at 1C or in this case as high as 1800mA or 1.8A, so 500mA is very slow.  I suppose you could look at it as, slower is better, but you will probably want to upgrade to a better and faster charger if you're serious about this hobby.  Downtime is not fun, a second battery is probably a great idea down the road. 

I love the fact that MJX bundles a full set of replacement propellers with the quadcopter, this is something that should be included in every drone purchase so people don't have much downtime in the event of a crash.  I've not needed to use any of the spare propellers, but always great to have for those just in case moments.  A small screwdriver is included to help install the taller landing gear if you choose to mount an action camera.

MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Visual Overview

YouTube

Measurements Per Configuration:

  • Diagonally from motor to motor: 310 mm or 12 inches or 31 cm (Propeller Guards OFF)
  • Side to side, motor to motor: 220 mm or 8.66 inches or 22 cm (Propeller Guards OFF)
  • Diagonally from motor to motor: 210 mm or 8.26 inches or 21 cm (Propeller Guards ON)
  • Side to side, motor to motor: 444.5 mm or 17.5 inches or 44.5 cm (Propeller Guards ON)
  • Ground clearance with tall landing gear: Approx. 101.6 mm or 4.0 inches or 10.16 cm
  • Ground clearance with short landing gear: Approx. 35.56 mm or 1.4 inches or 3.56 cm

size difference

Weight Per Configuration:

  • Everything ON (Propeller Guards + Tall Landing Legs + Mini Landing Legs + Camera Mount Frame + Battery): 507 grams or 1.12 LBS
  • Everything OFF (Only short landing gear): Approx. 478 grams or 1.05 LBS

The propeller guards are well designed and cover just enough height over the propellers and covers over the length of the propellers effectively shielding them in each direction.  They are easy to install, just remove the screws of the pre-installed short landing gears, overlap the propeller guards on top of the short landing gears, and then re-tighten the screws.  Having more flight experience I usually fly without propeller guards, however, for sake of the review I put them on. 

Users should be careful flying quadcopters with propeller guards around trees because they can end up hooking on branches and being an ornament.  My rule of thumb is if you sense a crash is about to occur, cut off the throttle immediately so you do not damage your motors.

In terms of construction, the Bugs 3 body is the most well made and best feeling quadcopter I've felt compared to the others I've reviewed.  It's still mostly plastic, but it feels substantially different from anything I've tested.  The matte finish is excellent and I found no defects throughout the body, and no weird gaps from the build at the factory.  MJX says that they're using a pure nylon fiber material throughout the main body which allows some bendability, but still have the strength on impact.  It should be noted that inside the box that Bugs 3 body and arms were covered with plastic to prevent damages from occurring during transport.  MJX also advises me that everything inside the Bugs 3 is positioned so that the center of gravity doesn't deviate from the center of the drone and that this helps to ensure a stable flight.  Obviously the only way to find out of any of this is true is during the flight, but it's good to hear that MJX seems to have thought everything through.   

In terms of fit and finish the Bugs 3 is excellent.

It should be noted that additional stickers of the Bugs 3 character symbol is included with the quadcopter, so you can put those anywhere you think would strategically help you or just look cool. 

MJX RCCanopy

The MJX Bugs 3 has a very unique looking design belonging only to them as I've not seen anything like it on the market.  This is a good thing because I like originality.  Looking from the side profile, you'll see that it really does look like a Bugs face with the way the head is larger than the rear.  Those painted eyes add on to the effect, along with the frowning mouth, and to top it off the nose of the Bugs 3 character design is an LED headlight!  This LED nose by itself helps you differentiate the quadcopter in the air leaving you no room for error.  It's just a fun and creative look that MJX has designed for the Bugs 3, it makes you happy just by looking at it.  It think the sleek design looks spectacular.  I didn't realize just how sleek it really was. 

I now wonder if Bugs 3 is going to be a sporty quadcopter that can handle an action camera or is it strictly going to be a camera bird?  Are the two identities going to collide and disappoint me like other quadcopters I've tested have done?  The fact that you can configure Bugs 3 both ways with either tall or short landing gears leads me to think MJX has really thought this one out properly and that it should execute and cater to both target audiences very well.  Again the proof is in the flight! 

Smile sleekLEDs

On the bottom we find all four motor arms have their own LED lights covered by individual lenses so that the lights can shine through evenly downward.  Let me tell you that these LED's are really bright and are highly visible even at night, making night flights possible.  The front LED's are white and the rear LED's are blue.  One of the great things is the ability to turn off or turn on the LED lights as you desire.  This saves you some battery power in the day and gets you some extra flight time.

Antenna

The Bugs 3 is the first quadcopter I've tested that has its antenna visible on the outside of the quadcopter.  The majority of quadcopters have their antennas mounted inside the drone next to the flight control board below the top canopy.  The Bugs 3 has its antenna routed outside and mounted on the bottom of the drone next to the battery.  If done correctly, this antenna position alone will help achieve greater range.  If you can believe it, some toy grade quadcopter fliers do this exact modification to get extra range, but theirs is a little more sloppy as they have to drill a hole in the canopy to route the antenna out. This looks so much better.

PCB

The MJX Bugs 3 uses a completely different style of battery than what I've seen in past quadcopter reviews.  Not different in battery chemistry, but different in that it's housed inside a caddy.  The drone itself has a battery compartment where the battery will slide snugly into.  Other toy grade quadcopters in the past, have the battery completely exposed on its own with no caddy.  This one is enclosed in a shell to abide by the new drone rules regarding battery safety.  

The battery connector is different from the usual JST and micro-LOSI connectors.   Bugs 3 utilizes new XT30 connectors which are a heck of a lot better overall to use.  They are easier to insert and remove, can only fit one way, and they are basically fool proof connectors.  I'm familiar with the larger XT60 battery connectors, so XT30 is exactly the same but on a smaller scale.

The Bugs 3 has no power switch which is a small negative.  I'd love one but it isn't offered.  The user must manually insert and remove the battery each time they fly.

XT30

A big marketing claim by MJX is that Bugs 3 can achieve up to 19 minutes of flight time.  If that is true that would be utterly amazing, but I'll be honest and say I'm skeptical of the claim knowing what I know of the many drones I've flew.  It doesn't strike me as plausible to expect 18-19 minutes from a 7.4v 1800mAh lithium-polymer battery.  If it were a 3000mAh capacity battery I would say it's very possible, but from an 1800mAh battery, its a bit of a stretch, but I could be wrong. 

Battery technology is stagnant right now and I can't see how this is remotely possible unless MJX has done some magic in terms of optimizations and if their motors aren't going to draw massive amounts of energy.  I'm going to guess and say that its more plausible that 19 minutes of flight time is a typo and that they meant to say 9 minutes of flight time.  But I hope there's some type of breakthrough because it would be mind blowing to have 19 minutes of flight time from something costing under $125 USD.

MJX Quadcopter

Lastly let's talk about the action camera mount that comes with Bugs 3.  It's a simple plastic frame mount that slides into place on the battery compartment tray.  It clicks into place and is very secure.  It's actually too secure because it's a pain in the bum to remove, which I suppose can be considered a good thing...

There's no motorized gimbal, just a fixed camera frame mount.  I don't see any rubber vibration dampening as well, so it might not actually turn out that good, possibly you'll see Jello effect, unless the brushless motors are quieter and emit less vibrations.  In this basic action camera mount set-up, the user is better off putting an action with an internal gyro to counteract the shake that is going to be present.  But we'll see how well it does. 

Drone

The action camera frame mount is made out of simple plastic and comes with two pieces of thin foam that I suppose are to fill in the gaps of the action cameras that are a little smaller physically than the frame can accommodate.  The side of the frame has a latch that you loosen to open the frame so that you can slide in your action camera.  Tthen you do the reverse to close the latch to make a secure connection.  Out of the box, the very first time I tried to undo the latch it was awfully tight as if it were stuck...I had to resort to using a flat head screwdriver to pry the latch open.  Subsequent attempts were then normal and easily done without tools.

MJX says the action camera mount can work with multiple action cameras from GoPro, and equivalent Chinese action cameras from Xiaomi, SJ CAM, and others that are mimicking the GoPro design.  However, I've already had problems putting in some of my Chinese action cameras because either a) the lens hits the top of the frame not allowing it to close, or b) the action camera is physically too tall and/or too wide.  The one that did fit, the EKEN H8 Pro 4K action camera I reviewed just recently, fits but is physically small in depth so I had to stuff larger foam pieces to make a snug fit. 

Click on the two photos below for a larger version.

EKEN4K

Another problem I've encountered with the action camera frame mount, is that the top portion of the frame contains no circular hole, effectively covering the shutter button that is at the top of GoPro style action cameras.  If you have no shutter button hole then you cannot start and stop video recording while mounted inside this action camera frame.  This is completely puzzling to me and is a big oversight on MJX's part. I can't figure out a reason why they chose to go with this mount.  They would have been  better off sticking a standardized GoPro base mount at the bottom of the quadcopter through the same mounting position.  Then all you would have to do is use your own frame mount that came with your your specific action camera.  That would have made more sense because all action cameras come with their own frame and every one of them uses the standardized GoPro three prong base. MJX should have bundled two mounting options at least and let the user decide.  Not every action camera will physically fit into the bundled frame mount as some are too physically large, ans some of them have lenses that are positioned to prevent the frame from closing, while some fit but are too small physically so you have to do some modifications to stuff them in as best as possible with foam.

Side ProfileRear

When I tried to make sense of this decision, I realized after looking at the stock photo on the box that the FHD action camera MJX is going to eventually release as an optional accessory has both power and shutter buttons at the front fascia of the camera and the lens is positioned lower toward the center.   

As it stands, not every action camera is going to fit in this MJX action camera mount frame and if it does, the user is going to have to modify and cut out their own top shutter button hole to have access while the camera is mounted. Thankfully this is the one and only glaring flaw that I've noticed about Bugs 3 up to this point and it has nothing to do with the drone itself.

2.4 GHz Flight Controller Overview

2.4GHz Transmitter

A conventional flight controller is included with the MJX Bugs 3 brushless and uses the 2.4GHz wireless band. This flight controller is quite compact for this type of flight controller design.  I've used others that have the same physical look, but were physically larger and meant for people with larger hands.  I like the compact feeling because my hands aren't large to begin with so I can appreciate this one.  The only negative thing I can say about this flight controller is that the plastic construction is too smooth and needs more texture to grip.  Some of the other flight controllers have plastic dimples to act as a grip, or MJX could have at least put or included anti-slip tape so you could place it wherever you desire to rest your fingers on.  It's just too slippery and smooth for my liking so I'm going to put on my own anti-slip tape.

Overall this flight controller is something I've come to enjoy because it allows the user the fly with ease.  The best flight controllers are the ones that allow you to focus on flying and not having to fight the flight controller. With a poorly designed flight controller, it takes away from the overall experience of the drone.  Aside from being a bit too smooth and slippery, the Bugs 3 flight controller has very good ergonomics and is very comfortable in the hands.  I notice that the sticks have more range of motion than some other flight controllers I've come across, which I say is a good thing.  The spring loaded tension on the two analog sticks are weighted perfectly to give smooth execution of maneuvers. 

The flight controller is powered by 4xAA batteries and weighs 294 grams or 0.648 LBS in flight configuration.  There's a handy carrying handle at the top of the flight controller and there's a handy lanyard hook just below the power switch so you can mount it over your head, but unfortunately you'll have to supply your own neck lanyard. The flight controller is lightweight enough that it does not make your hands feel tired after extended period of flight.   

AA

Construction wise the controller utilizes thick plastic which helps it feel high quality and stronger than the plastic on the drone itself.  If you were to ever drop it, I'm sure it would survive.  I love that there are recessed areas where your middle, ring, and pinky finger will rest and wrap around underneath, but as I said the plastic is too slippery and needs more grip.

The flight controller has analog sticks that protrude upwards making it useful for both thumb and pinch flyers to use.  I like how the tips have cuts in them for grip, allowing thumb flyers to use it without fear of slippage, while pinch flyers have grips on the inside of the stick pods.  The movement of the sticks are excellent offering equal amounts of spring loaded tension on both sticks and the flight controller feels like it has more range of motion to work with making linear and very progressive movements in the way the command slowly ramps up over how much you move the analog sticks.  This makes for more precision flights and less touchy throttle or sensitive reactions on sticks with limited range of motion, making the MJX Bugs 3 a good quadcopter to hover. This flight controller did not exhibit any signs of sticking or being stuck at different angles, so no defects of that kind to report.    

Good flight controllers like this one allow you to find the sweet spot for a good hover, where you can essentially not have to do much correction (when in calm weather) and it'll stay in the general vicinity without ascending or descending on its own to a large degree.  This is easier to achieve on the Bugs 3 because there is no spring tension in regards to throttle but only spring tension for yaw movement (spinning).

When powered on, a green LED is illuminated just below the red MJX logo. 

Flight Controller

The left analog stick is the throttle (up/down) and yaw (spin-left/right) stick. 

The right analog stick is the pitch (forward/back) and roll (left/right) stick. 

Surrounding both analog sticks are their respective trim buttons.  So you have ability to trim throttle/yaw and pitch/roll if you should find the quadcopter is moving sideways or rolling to a certain side on its own, just press once or more times in either direction to make it centered. A long beep indicates that the particular trim is center.

A single red button at the top of the flight controller is not an emergency button, but rather the button used to lock or disarm the brushless motors from operation.  To bind/pair the flight controller to the quadcopter, make sure the throttle stick is completely down and then simply hold the red button and turn on the flight controller power, two audible beeps shout and the green LED begins to constantly blink indicating that the flight controller is in bind/pairing mode.  Now connect the battery to the Bugs 3 and the flight controller will automatically bind to quadcopter, while the green LED becomes solid indicating successful pairing.

The white button on the left of the lone red button cycles between low and high speed modes and is indicated by an audible tone beeping once or twice.  Low speed is one beep and high speed mode is two beeps.  Additionally if this same speed mode button is held down, it'll disable or enable the quadcopter LED lights. 

The button to the right of the handle is the 360 degree flip mode button.  This is so much fun to see in action, but I've outgrew flipping.  Do not flip in bad weather or else things can go wrong.  To do a 360 degree flip, simply hold the flip button down and nudge the pitch and roll stick (right analog stick) to whichever direction you want to flip, and the quadcopter will flip on its own.

How Does The MJX Bugs 3 Fly?  What Are My Thoughts?  See my flight -- Canadian Winter :(

I can't believe the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone can be purchased for under $125 USD because it flies like something more expensive!  Considering that The NPD Group stated that the average drone sold for more than $550 USD, you can have four or five of these MJX Bugs 3 drones for the price of one of those drones sold.

The MJX Bugs 3 is one heck of a quadcopter drone.  In its lightest form only having the short pre-installed landing legs, no action camera mount, and no propeller guards mounted, the Bugs 3 can be a blistering fast and fun drone to fly with great maneuverability. It really is sporty in this configuration. The difference between low speed mode compared to high speed is very noticeable as the yaw (spin) rate gets considerably quicker allowing you to turn quicker, and the pitch angle or amount of lean opens up greater so you can slice through the wind and bolt down the straight like a race car. That's why brushless quadcopters like Bugs 3 can be dangerous in the wrong hands.  I advise you not to fly it aggressively around people.  I like to fly with ideally no one around (or very little people) so that is something I advise others to do especially starting out in the hobby.

If you want to carry your GoPro action camera, Bugs 3 can do that with ease and do it very well.  Granted the action camera frame MJX bundles needs some modifications for the shutter button on top to have any use, but it's smooth sailing after that mod.  Or if your action camera can be controlled via remote control, there would be no issue.  All you do is slap on the camera mount, tall landing legs, and propeller guards (if you want), and the Bugs 3 is transformed into a tame beast in low speed flying mode allowing you to shoot good footage without being too speedy for video.  The extra payload is almost nothing to the Bugs 3 with marginal performance drop off despite the weight of everything mounted.

MJX Bugs 3 manages to pull off two different personalities extremely well, even though I personally feel Bugs 3 leans a little more toward the sportier side.  I was scared that it would be much more of one thing than the other, but I'm pleasantly surprised by the whole package because it manages to pull off both personalities.  The brushless MJX Bugs 3 flies like a dream.  It does what you want it to do and does so without delays, it's very direct and precise.  It doesn't lag like the other quadcopter I reviewed does because it was too heavy and too underpowered.  Bugs 3 is very powerful when it wants to be with a scream load of punch as it ascends to the heavens in full throttle input.  The 310 mm frame that the Bugs 3 is based on still can get pushed around in truly windy conditions, but it can cope with wind better than most others because of the brushless motors and sleeker frame.  All drones get pushed and blown away at a certain point, but MJX does it better than all brushed quadcopters.

The flying dynamics alone make the MJX Bugs 3 a keeper in my book.  It's powerful and has a sleek profile that can slice through moderate wind. You won't be slicing through typhoons though, hah.

MJX made a great decision by adding an audible warning tone inside the flight controller when the drone battery is entering low voltage.  It chirps constantly to warn you that you should land immediately.  I've never seen this feature on other quadcopters so now I want to continue seeing this because it is an excellent feature.  MJX designed the Bugs 3 to give you plenty of time to land, over a minute.  I couldn't test whether or not the audible warning worked if the drone got too far out of signal because the range is already great as is.  I can confirm that I got past 100 meters easily in a soccer field park.  Going any farther or higher than this is hard to do because eventually you have a hard time spotting it, so I didn't want to risk losing it in horrible Canadian winter weather so I had to bring it back.

But as always, there's something on the flip side that doesn't live up to expectation, but thankfully drawbacks with the Bugs 3 are kept to a minimum with no glaringly major issue.  The MJX Bugs 3 does not meet the claimed 19 minute flight time and is between 5 minutes to 6 minutes 45 seconds off of the claimed flight time, in the "everything on" configuration as you'll see shortly below.

The only smaller drawbacks I have with the MJX Bugs 3 is not with the drone itself, but with the things that come with the drone.  At the end of the day these things are manageable and do not subtract from how great the Bugs 3 performs.  One is the action camera frame mount which doesn't fit with all Chinese action cameras.  Not having a pre-cut hole for the shutter button means it It doesn't even work properly for an authentic GoPro.  If your action camera does not have remote control capability, you're going to have to start recording outside of the drone and then mount it.  I have multiple Chinese action cameras and some of the larger ones did not fit at all because either the lens hit the edge of the frame preventing the latch from closing, or in the case of the EKEN H8 Pro 4K action camera I reviewed earlier, it fits but is on the smaller side.  As a fix I had to stuff the gaps with foam as best I can to have a snug fit. All of this is potentially time consuming when you have no access to side ports (to transfer video) and no shutter button.

The only other drawback is the flight controller being slippery since the plastic construction is too smooth.  The flight controller should have had either more texture to grip, or MJX should have included some anti-slip tape so you could put it where you desire.

Below is onboard and off-board footage with the MJX Bugs 3 in the frigid and brutal Canadian winter.  I mounted the EKEN H8 Pro 4K Ambarella action camera that was reviewed to the Bugs 3 and I had separate off-board footage from a different action camera.  Please note that this video is clearly not indicative of the MJX Bugs 3 performance, it is just the cards I've been dealt with.  The day prior to when this video was taken, it just snowed 15 cm and was extremely windy.  The Canadian winter is brutal and the whole forecast was expecting even worse than what is observed in this footage.  The day of this video footage it was at least -10 to -15 degrees Celsius and the wind chill was 100% a factor in how cold it felt, with winds between 20-39 km/h.  I should point out that winds must have been at the upper limits the whole duration because it was gusting the whole time and I couldn't risk doing any 360 degree flips or anything too fancy in fear of it toppling over, because the MJX was being blown away and fighting the wind the whole flight duration. 

If anything, flying in this extreme winter weather showed me that the MJX Bugs 3 is powerful enough to fight extreme wind.  I brought a smaller and even larger (than the Bugs 3) brushed quadcopter along but they could not fly in these winds at all.  The powerful brushless motors helped the MJX fight against the wind, but this was definitely at the limits of the environmental condition it can handle.  My hands were literally frozen the whole time flying the MJX Bugs 3 and I eventually had to stop, even though the MJX Bugs 3 did not enter low voltage warning.  Bugs 3 still had battery life to fly, but my hands quit because of the frigid Canadian winter.   Unfortunately these are the cards I've been dealt with.  If the weather gets better and calmer, I'll update this review with those videos.

 

Measured Flight Times

  • Everything ON (Propeller Guards + Tall & Short Landing Legs + Camera Mount Frame (BUT NO ACTION CAMERA MOUNTED) + Battery: 507 grams/1.12 LBS): 12 minutes, 15 seconds until low voltage warning kicks in with flashing lights and audible beep tone on the flight controller, and 14 minutes, 0 seconds until final battery safety cutoff when drone descends with no power left to lift. 

So MJX designed the Bugs 3 to give the user approximately 1 minute, 45 seconds to land upon entering low voltage warning when the flight controller beeps to inform you of its low battery status.  This is a very generous amount of time given to return to home and land.

The MJX Bugs 3 did not achieve its bold claim of 19 minutes in the "everything on" configuration and is in reality between 5 minutes to 6 minutes 45 seconds off of the claimed 19 minutes of flight time.  Taking "everything off" will net you minor gains, but still ultimately comes up short of the claimed 19 minutes of flight time. And in the same way, mounting a GoPro will net you less than you see above. 

If you really think about it considering Bugs 3 has an 1800mAh battery, and from my experience, 12 minutes and 15 seconds of flight time for this size of a drone on brushless motors is actually pretty decent run time.  MJX just hurt themselves by exaggerating, which is always frowned upon.  If MJX lowered their figure to 15 minutes from the start, then that would have lessened the blow, but by claiming 19 minutes and the gap being as large as it is, it was impossible to let such a claim slide.  It's always better to be conservative and then exceed expectations.

Where Can I Buy One?  And For How Much?

The MJX Bugs 3 Brushless Quadcopter Drone can be purchased worldwide on Chinese online retailers for under $125 USD.  Some choices are Banggood.com - $115.99, GearBest.com - $107.74, and GeekBuying.com - $93.99.  I am not affiliated with any of these three website mentioned above, so I have no clue if they are good or not, and you have to factor shipping to the total.

If you prefer to shop on Amazon like I do, then the MJX Bugs 3 can be purchased for $149.99 USD (with free shipping), and is going to be fulfilled and shipped directly from the Amazon warehouse and not through a third party. This makes the purchase safer in terms of getting what you paid for, and this way you can have Amazon's own protection and peace of mind.

 

Why do I like Amazon?  They are fast, honest, reliable, and their return policy is great.  I actually got money refunded back to my account after Amazon overcharged me on duty costs, talk about being an honest company, most others would keep the money and not say anything!

If you're thinking of purchasing the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone, or anything else for that matter, please use our Amazon links above, it will help us out greatly, and go towards supporting this website and any future contests we hold through Facebook.

Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!

Conclusion

LED4K

The MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter drone is a refreshing breath of air from the numerous toy grade quadcopter drones I've seen, tried, and tested.  The Bug inspired design is wholly unique to MJX and I like this originality because there's nothing like it on the market.  Bugs 3 design is creative, happy and fun with loads of personality.  I like how the nose of the Bug face is a useful LED light l and how the mouth is an ominous frown.  The whole design is brilliantly executed in my opinion, and both construction and build quality is top notch.

The MJX Bugs 3 is one heck of a brushless quadcopter drone.  In its lightest form only having the short pre-installed landing legs, no action camera mount, and no propeller guards mounted, the Bugs 3 can be a blistering fast and fun drone to fly with great maneuverability.   The flying dynamics alone make the MJX Bugs 3 a keeper in my book. Or if you want to carry your GoPro action camera, Bugs 3 can do that with ease and do it very well.

The MJX Bugs 3 does more things positive than it has negative.  The only real oversight is the claim of 19 minutes of battery life, which my testing revealed to be not true and between 5 minutes to 6 minutes 45 seconds off of the claimed flight time.  To remedy that error by MJX, the customer should purchase another battery to achieve and exceed the original claimed flight time.

All in all the MJX Bugs 3 brushless quadcopter presents an extremely high price to performance ratio that is hard to ignore.  Consider that it can be found for under $125 USD, I don't think you can find a better brushless quadcopter drone for the price.  As a result, the MJX Bugs 3 becomes our first quadcopter drone review that earns our highest Editor's Choice Award rating! 

The MJX Bugs 3 should be on your short list for drones this fast approaching 2016 Christmas holiday.

Editors Choice