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First look: Hover Camera Passport, a lightweight, portable, iPhone-connected flying 4K selfie cam

The newly released Hover Camera Passport is one of the more unique flying cameras we've ever seen, focusing on a durable and portable lightweight design, competitive price, and ease of use through an iPhone app. AppleInsider had the opportunity to go hands-on with the camera, and offers first impressions.

While it shares much in common with other flying cameras, calling the Zero Zero Robotics Hover Camera Passport a drone wouldn't be entirely fair — rather than flying long distances or sporting a high end camera and gimbal, it instead focuses on being as easy as possible to use and transport.

The most striking thing about the Passport its its design. When folded up, it's about the size of an old VCR tape, but at around a half a pound, it's much lighter than you'd expect. This despite featuring protective grates that allow users to safely hold the Passport without fear of the propellers clipping their fingers.

Once unfolded, users can see an adjustable camera — complete with flash — on the front of the device. It's capable of capturing 4K ultra-high-definition video, as well as 13-megapixel images, putting it about on par with Apple's iPhone 6s lens.

Impressively, the Passport includes sensors on the bottom, including sonar, to measure the distance from air to ground. This allows for safe indoor use, giving the drone some idea of how far it is off the ground, and helping it to maintain a set altitude.

Hover Camera Passport folded for transport is about the size of a VCR tape.

The Hover Camera connects to an iOS device over direct Wi-Fi, which limits its range. But again, this device isn't really intended to compete with the likes of DJI or the new GoPro Karma. Instead, it's a small and portable camera that allows you to capture quick aerial shots with minimal effort.

The iOS app for the Passport is well designed, offering simple onscreen touch controls for altitude, forward, backward, and strafing left to right. The Passport can also turn toward the left or right with a finger swipe on the iPhone screen, and swiping up or down angles the movable camera on the front of the device.

One thing that we really appreciate about the Hover Camera Passport is how complete the package is — inside the box, it includes two batteries (and a wall adapter that charges both at the same time), a portable and protective carrying case, spare propellers, a USB cable for manual firmware updates (which can also be installed via the app), and a bag and case strap.

Our limited initial tests with the Hover Camera Passport left us impressed —  it's dead simple to get in the air, and the protected propeller props along with its light weight mean it's safe to fly indoors without worrying about a dangerous accident. Even with a few bumps into the wall, the drone and our apartment were no worse for wear.

Pic taken via Hover Camera Passport

The iPhone app also includes advanced auto-camera modes, including following a subject or capturing video of a 360-degree circular view. And the included camera flash means it'll even get great shots in low light situations.

Priced at $549 for a limited time, and $599 in the next few weeks, we see a lot of value and potential in the Hover Camera Passport. AppleInsider will have a full review in the coming weeks.