Putting things in layman’s terms, a great share of things we use in our everyday life comes from China. Given the recent trends of quick Chinese offensive throughout global markets, and the drone market in particular, there is a reasonable question: ‘How to buy a quadcopter or some other radio-controlled model directly from China?’ And another one: ‘How can I save money without getting into trouble?’
Just to clarify, of course you can find the coveted drone on some large Chinese sites such as AliExpress, BangGood or Joom catalog, which started to quickly grow its popularity recently. There are plenty of offers, and the price range is quite wide, but as in every process, there are many pitfalls to consider. As a novice buyer, you should seek information on how to avoid risks.
How to choose a drone on Aliexpress or another Chinese site
The first general advice is to be aware of the cultural side of the deal. To buy anything from some Chinese site directly, you need to take into account not only the parameters of the desired radio-controlled model, but also the peculiarities of the Chinese mentality and the ways in which it is projected onto the area of trading.
Then, before comparing various options you’ll have to choose from, decide on the technical specifications of the radio-controlled model you want to buy:
- Who you are buying it for. The age group of future users determines the desired complexity of the drone’s electronic stuffing.
- Where you will use it. Drones for flying outdoors and indoors differ significantly in size and other vital parameters.
- What you are buying for. Amateur models and professional models are two big differences. If you need to buy a drone for entertainment, you can look at small models with a camera or without. But if you are looking for a platform for high-quality video shooting, the risk of buying a cat in the bag naturally increases.
- Configuration and accessories. The presence of spare parts and accessories (propellers, batteries, transmitters, chargers and so on) can significantly extend the life of your new high-tech friend.
- Features. Are you looking for a drone with advanced flight modes or a simple one? Should it be able to return to the takeoff point or not? Will it take photos, selfies, shoot video in flight or not? All those questions need answers for you to find what you’re looking for.
Only after putting time and effort to get through these considerations, proceed to the choice of certain specific criteria. Then, when you find 2-3 models that match the desired parameters, pause again.
Carefully study the reviews for each model, watch an unpacking video on YouTube. The information obtained will come in handy for further selection of the seller on the Chinese website.
Even if you are buying your first quadcopter, do not focus only on the price, but carefully study each offer. If the subject of purchase is the top model such as Phantom or Typhoon, it is even more worthwhile to approach the selection process thoroughly. Could it be that a more budget-friendly option, such as Syma X500 or Hubsan H117S Zino, will do the job? Even if you are a beginner with an unlimited card, proceed based on the expediency of the purchase.
The pitfalls of buying models on Joom, AliExpress or BangGood
If you don’t want to get into the list of customers immortalized by the popular meme ‘shopping from China: expectation vs reality’, don’t be lazy and search the Internet for the exact name of the model you are interested in and find out its exact specifications and equipment. Very often Chinese sellers do not bother to list all the functions of the drone, or moreover, bluntly copy the parameters of another model from the manufacturer’s website – one similar in appearance, differing by one symbol in the name. For example, the Syma X5C-1 has a camera, while the Syma X5-1 comes without one.
Also take into account that not all Chinese sellers are fluent in English. There may be translation difficulties, which do not tend to favor the customer.
You can order a quadcopter on a Chinese site, wait more than a month for your precious gadget, and then be completely disappointed. So pay attention and be patient.
Have you decided on the model and store? Study customer reviews now. It may happen that the store has a good reputation, but the reviews specifically for this product are negative. Chinese sellers carefully monitor the reputation, so you won’t see too many negative reviews. In case the seller offers outright junk and this is evidenced by negative customer reviews, then the site administration may require withdrawal of that product. Write reviews yourself too – it helps to raise the ratings of honest sellers.
Practice says that it is quite possible to buy a high-quality model on a Chinese site. You just need to take a responsible approach to your decisions regarding both the model and the seller. And then wait for free shipping or pay an additional sum for expedited delivery (which, by the way, can also stretch for weeks).
In general, there might be some hesitation initially – if you take into account that normally there is no opportunity to verbally communicate with the seller about the details of the purchase. But if you are confident in your abilities, know exactly what you need and know how to choose among the many offers listed by Chinese sellers, you can buy directly from China.
Then, of course, you shouldn’t expect that the gadget you have purchased will work perfectly forever without repair. Sooner or later you may need the services of professionals like repairsbay.com, who are good at getting faulty drones back on their feet.