I’m old enough (safely in my thirties) to remember a time before we all carried digital cameras with almost unlimited memory. With a roll of film, you had 24 chances to capture a moment. What you had was what you got. As a kid, the only opportunity I had to really perfect my pose was when my mom took me to the mall to get our glamor shots done.
I was reminded of this when I showed my coworker my Pixy selfies, cringing, and he remarked that it looked like I was putting out a garage rock album. Of course it did! Punk and grunge pics are ostentatiously unposed and unfiltered, which is exactly how the Pixy rolls.
Snapchat’s new teensy camera drone is adorable and incredibly easy to use. But the battery life is so short that even when you carry multiple batteries, you don’t have a ton of opportunities to get the shot you want. And with an onboard camera that’s merely decent, images can look a little flat.
But that is far from a big complaint. After all, our pick for the best drone on a budget is the DJI Mavic Mini S (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which is significantly larger, costs twice as much, and requires you to actually learn how to fly it. The Pixy flies itself, launching from your palm, grabbing a selfie or ussie, then landing back on your hand. If you don’t want to waste time and money wading through cheap drones on Amazon, and you want selfies that are more dynamic than what you’d get with a selfie stick, the Pixy is a good buy. My kids also love it.
The Pixy is about the size of a small paperback book (do we even carry those anymore?) and weighs less than a deck of cards. It’s so small that even my 7-year-old can hold and operate it. Also, I kept forgetting which pocket in my bag I put it in.
To start, you pair the drone with the Snapchat app on your phone using Bluetooth. Next, you fiddle with the small silver dial on the top of the drone that shows five icons for different flight modes: Hover, Landscape, Follow, Orbit, and a star for a favorite mode that you can customize. Once you’ve picked a mode, press the yellow button on the top of the drone. Then hold the drone in your palm and move it up near your face so the Pixy can lock onto the location of your head and body; once it has done so, a light on one side of the camera turns green. Watch Pixy take off. While it’s hovering, wait another beat for the light on the other side of the lens to turn white, which is an indicator that Pixy has started recording. After about 15 seconds, marvel as it flies back down to your outstretched hand.
To get your videos off the Pixy and onto your phone, spin the drone’s silver dial to Standby mode. You can import videos and pictures to both Snapchat and your phone’s camera roll, and the drone itself can store around 20 videos. That will last you, oh, one day. Since the drone doesn’t capture audio, you can also add any music you like, in the app or elsewhere. You can also do all the usual Snapchat things, like add stickers or video effects.
The camera captures 2.7K footage, which is noticeably grainier than the now-standard 4K video that I normally look at on my iPhone 11. (It probably would have helped if I had remembered to clean the lens every time I flew it, but such are the perils of carrying a palmable pocket drone.)
It also bears noting here that my three-year-old iPhone has three separate lenses and features like Deep Fusion to computationally take much more gorgeous shots. The Pixy doesn’t have any of that stuff. However, this was more than repaid by the fact that I had never seen my butt in jeans before. Thank you, friends and family, for never taking pics of me from this particular angle.
The grainy footage also reminded me of the Dead Wife in a Movie TikTok meme. Women (and men!) shot parody videos of themselves as the wife who is but a much-mourned memory at the beginning of a movie. The footage consists mostly of snuggling under the covers and frolicking irresistibly as they walk away from the camera in gauzy dresses.