Holy Stone HS900 review: should DJI be looking over its shoulder?

Holy Stone’s best-ever drone sets its sights on the competition

Holy Stone Sirius HS900 inflight against a cloudy sky
(Image: © James Abbott)

TechRadar Verdict

The Holy Stone HS900 is a well-made sub-250g model offering very good but not perfect image quality, decent flight performance and features that are more commonly seen on more advanced models, such as subject tracking, cruise control and time-lapse capture. It’s also Holy Stone’s best drone to date and marks a huge improvement for the well-known beginner drone manufacturer.


  • +

    Good quality photos and videos

  • +

    Great overall flight performance

  • +

    Impressive features for the price


  • -

    No obstacle avoidance

  • -

    Raw photos not available yet

  • -

    Average flight times

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Holy Stone HS900: one-minute review

I’ve reviewed almost every Holy Stone drone available and its latest model, the Holy Stone HS900, represents a significant improvement across the board which makes it the Chinese drone manufacturer’s best drone to date. So much so, that what’s on offer competes directly with the DJI Mini 3 and the Potensic Atom – two impressive mid-range sub-250g drones that come in at two price points.

In terms of price, the HS900 single battery kit costs $330 making it marginally more expensive than the Potensic Atom and significantly less expensive than the DJI Mini 3. Is it better than the Mini 3? No, but if you’re on a budget, it offers an enticing alternative to the Potensic Atom and also provides additional features that could be a deciding factor on which drone to choose, and firmly cements it as one of the best beginner drones available.

Holy Stone HS900 specs

Camera: Sony 1/2.3 in 48MP CMOS sensor / fixed focus f/2.6 lens
Video resolution: Up to 4K
Frame rates: 4K 30 fps / 1080p up to 60 fpsVideo transmission range: 1.86 miles / 3 kmFlight modes: Stable, Normal, Sport
Battery: 2250 mAh Li-ion / up to 30 minutes
Charger type: USB-C cable
Weight: 8.7oz / 249g
Dimensions: 5.63x3.26x2.44in / 143×82.8×62mm folded / 6.59x 8.57x2.44in / 167.4x217.8x62mm unfolded

We’ll go into much more detail later, but some of the features and functionality you can enjoy with the HS900 include a camera with a Sony 1/2.3 in 48MP CMOS sensor and a fixed focus f/2.6 lens, up to 4K 30fps video, subject tracking, time-lapse capture, cruise control, automated flight patterns and much more. Image quality is also very good, not perfect, but the minor issues here could be resolved with a future firmware update.

All-in-all, the HS900 slips into a burgeoning sub-250g drone category which is fiercely competitive, where less expensive options are now hacking at the heels of the DJI. It’s unlikely that they’ll succeed in catching up or overtaking the market leader – although DJI is facing a potential ban in the US – but with the trickle-down of features and improvements in flight performance and image quality with budget drones, it’s pilots who are ultimately benefitting from greater choice.

Holy Stone HS900: Release date and price

  • Released May 2024
  • Only available in the US at launch
  • Available in other regions soon

At launch in May 2024, the Holy Stone HS900 was initially only available in the US. The drone will become available in the UK and other regions shortly. At the time of writing, US residents can purchase the HS900 single battery kit from Amazon for $369.99 after applying a $100 voucher, although the price regularly fluctuates. For UK-based and Australian pilots, this converts to £280 / AU$550 respectively, but official pricing for these regions is yet to be announced so this price could vary.

The single-battery HS900 kit includes the HS900 drone, a controller, one smart battery, phone connection cables, a USB-C charging cable, a set of spare propellers, spare screws, a screwdriver and a carry bag. 

Dual and triple battery kits are suggested on the Holy Stone website, so we could see additional battery kits becoming available in the future. We have been told that a battery charging hub is also due to be released, allowing multiple batteries to be charged at once rather than one at a time in the drone via USB-C.

We'll update this page with any price and availability updates. 

Holy Stone HS900: Design and controller

  • Lightweight folding design
  • New controller
  • Great build quality

Most drones these days feature a folding design to reduce size for transportation and storage, and the HS900 is no exception in this regard. It’s a tried, tested and ultimately successful approach to drone design, so it makes perfect sense in every way. The dark gray drone is just 5.63x3.26x2.44in / 143×82.8×62mm when folded, with an unfolded size of 6.59x8.57x2.44in / 167.4x217.8x62mm and a weight of 8.7oz / 249g. So, all pretty standard for a drone of this type.

Build quality is very good, and there’s nothing to indicate the relatively low cost of the HS900. In fact, it looks more expensive than it actually is, even if looks don't ultimately impact performance. The drone is made of lightweight plastic so it doesn’t feel substantial in the hand, but to be fair this is the case with even the most expensive sub-250g models – it’s just a way of keeping weight down. Durability certainly isn’t an issue.

Flight times are respectable, averaging around 22 minutes in moderate to gusty wind before Return to Home was initiated at 20% battery, as opposed to the advertised flight times of up to 30 minutes. However in reality, with lower winds and warmer temperatures, flight times would likely increase. The 2250mAh battery takes just over an hour to charge in the drone via USB-C, which is quite fast, and you can also charge batteries this way using a USB power bank when out in the field.

The HS900 uses a new P2 controller which sports a simple yet functional design with all of the direct access controls you need to control the drone, the camera and the gimbal. This includes a small joystick for adjusting specific camera settings and a dual-function Fn button that can be customized with two different functions.

For the review, I set the button to tilt the gimbal between 0-degrees and 90-degrees with a single press, and to initiate Cruise Control with a double press. The build quality of the controller can’t be faulted, and although the bottom-mounted folding phone holder arms have a slightly flimsy feel to them, they securely accommodate smartphones of all sizes, so no worries here.

Holy Stone HS900: Features and flight

  • Smooth flight controls
  • Includes subject tracking
  • Multiple flight modes

Holy Stone drones have always been pretty good flyers, but they have also lacked the finesse of more expensive drones. With the HS900, this has all changed and the flight performance on offer is greatly improved and puts the drone comfortably among its rivals. Flight controls are also smooth and responsive, so it’s possible to perform positive maneuvers when capturing video.

What’s more, the gimbal tilt, which has a range of 30 to -90-degrees, allows you to shoot upwards slightly as well as straight down, and has a smooth so you can confidently incorporate it into maneuvers for more dynamic video shots. Image stabilization is highly effective, using a combination of the 3-axis mechanical gimbal and Electronic Image Stabilization to produce shake-free video footage.

With GPS positioning, provided by GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou systems, hovering is generally stable with drift mostly noticeable at higher altitudes. With GPS, pilots can also take advantage of Return to Home functionality which can be initiated manually by the pilot, or automatically when the battery reaches 20% charge / when the connection between the drone and controller is lost. It can also be cancelled when the battery reaches 20% if you want to increase flight time slightly.

Despite being a small and lightweight drone, the HS900 offers level 5 wind resistance, which equates to wind speeds up to 24 mph. The HS900 was flown in wind gusts of 22mph during testing and showed no signs of struggling in any of the three main flight modes/speeds, so this claim appears to be correct. The flight modes include Stable with a top speed of 11mph, Normal with a top speed of 22mph and Sport which offers the maximum flight speed of 31mph.

Being a mid-range sub-250g drone, like its direct competitors, the HS900 doesn’t offer obstacle avoidance, so you do have to take care when flying close to obstacles and when using automated flight patterns. It does, however, have a downward vision system that’s used to determine the ground in situations when a GPS signal is unavailable, such as when flying indoors.

Holy Stone HS900 Time-lapse

The automated flight patterns on offer include Point of Interest, Spiral up, Tap Fly (waypoints), Gesture Selfie, One-key Ascension and Catapult, which work as intended. Plus, there’s subject tracking where you draw a box around the subject to be followed and the drone will do just that. This works well for the most part, but there are times when the HS900 loses the subject so it’s not perfect.

A fun and easy to use feature is Time-lapse, with manual control over the interval and video length, plus exposure and shutter speed to maintain consistency in your videos. Unlike DJI's Time-lapse feature, the HS900's version works independently from flight and you simply hover instead. If you wish to create a moving sequence, also known as a hyper-lapse, you have to judge flight distance and speed yourself, which is extremely tricky. It’s much easier to simply select a composition and shoot with the drone in a hover.

Cruise Control is another useful feature and one that, as the name suggests, allows you to set the drone on a course and maintain it without having to hold the control sticks. This provides greater consistency for videos thanks to a consistent speed. I did try to use Cruise Control when shooting a Time-lapse, but each time it adjusted the gimbal tilt making it unusable in this situation, unfortunately.

Holy Stone HS900: image quality

  • Sony 1/2.3 in CMOS sensor
  • Up to 48MP photos
  • 4K 30 fps & 1080p 60 fps video

Holy Stone Sirius HS900 close-up of the camera and gimbal

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Once again, like overall performance, the image quality produced by the HS900 beats all other Holy Stone drones hands down. The camera features a Sony 1/2.3-inch 48MP CMOS sensor with a fixed focus f/2.6 lens providing a 100-degree field of view, and sharp video and photo quality. 

Fixed focus may sound like a step down from autofocus, which it is in a way, but it uses the principle of hyperfocal distance to provide the maximum depth-of-field possible for the combination of focal length and aperture – meaning much of the scene will be in sharp focus.

Overall image quality is very good for both photos and videos, which can be captured with the camera set to auto or manual exposure. Image quality is best in brighter conditions, like all drones with a small image sensor, but white balance is a little quirky and could benefit from adjustments in a future firmware update. The white balance presets are a little off what you would expect, with Auto providing the best, yet not always perfect results.

Photos can be captured in 4K resolution  (3840x2160 pixels) and 48MP with image dimensions of 8192x4608 pixels – these are in 16:9 format rather than the more common 4:3 format used for drone photos. 

Photo capture is currently only available in JPEG format, but raw capture will be added in a future firmware update. Video can be captured in 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 60 fps in a Normal/Standard color profile for straight-out-of-camera use, and is saved in MP4 format. A flat color profile for increased dynamic range and color grading is, unsurprisingly, unavailable.

My short wish list for a firmware update would be to build on the well-featured camera control by including a histogram and Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB). The former is invaluable for assessing exposure, while the latter makes shooting in high-contrast situations, such as around sunrise and sunset, much easier because you can capture bracketed exposures for HDR photography.

Holy Stone HS900 video in 4K / 30 fps

Should I buy the Holy Stone HS900?

Holy Stone Sirius HS900 unfolded on concrete

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

You’re a beginner
If you’re new to drones and would like a model that will provide the overall performance you require, now and in the future, the HS900 will cover your needs.

You’re on a budget
The HS900 single battery kit is reasonably priced considering the flight performance, image quality and features that are on offer.

You need an inexpensive second drone
For pilots using a mid-size model like the DJI Mavic 3, the inexpensive HS900 is a sub-250g model worth considering as backup.

Don't buy it if...

You’d like obstacle avoidance
Mid-range sub-250g drones like this never offer collision avoidance, so if this is an important feature you’ll have to splash out on the DJI Mini 4 Pro.

You require precise subject tracking
Although the HS900 features subject tracking, it’s not the most effective available.

You’re an advanced user
The HS900 is aimed at beginners and intermediate pilots with features and functionality to match, so if you’re a professional a more advanced sub-250g drone would be more suitable.

How I tested the Holy Stone HS900

  • Several days and flights
  • Used in mixed weather, including moderate wind
  • Various flight modes and video and photo settings

The Holy Stone HS900 was tested over several days of flying in a range of locations, environments and weather conditions (excluding rain) to test flight performance, flight features, overall handling and image quality for both photo and video capture. All testing is conducted in a way that meets local aviation laws and restrictions to ensure that all flights are safe and legal.

Drones are always tested using manual flight patterns for video that are typical of professional aerial video capture to shoot visually interesting footage. This also provides the opportunity to test aspects such as the connection between the drone and controller, latency between the two and the accuracy of the controls and flight in general.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering drones in terms of shooting and editing techniques, alongside writing drone reviews for a number of years. As well as flying most consumer and prosumer models, I’ve previously held a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, and now fly under an A2 CofC (A2 Certificate of Competency).

First reviewed May 2024

James Abbott

James Abbott is a professional photographer and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles about photography, cameras and drones to a wide range of magazines and websites where he applies a wealth of experience to testing the latest photographic tech. James is also the author of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.