Qanba Drone 2 review: Beginner friendly

Joel Loynds
Qanba Drone 2

The Qanba Drone 2 is an entry-level arcade stick for would-be fighting game aficionados, but does it actually live up to the promise?

Qanba is known for its excellent selection of arcade sticks, with the original Drone being an accessible entry point for those wanting to try out a traditional arcade stick controller on modern devices.

The Drone 2 is its follow-up, but comes with a much heftier price tag, along with officially-licensed PlayStation 5 support. But, does this refresh deliver the quality that we’ve come to expect from Qanba?

Key specs

  • Weight: 1.17kg/2.6 lbs
  • Connectivity: USB-A
  • Compatibility: PS5, PS4, PC
  • Price: $124.99
  • Features: 3.5mm headphone jack, PS5 touchpad, compatibility switch, openable chassis


From perusing the various sticks available from Qanba, the Drone 2 looks much like the rest. It has an angular edge to its design, and a fairly compact design, when compared to other, chunkier arcade stick. But, there’s still plenty of space for lying your wrists and hands wherever you feel comfortable, with very little in the way to actually disrupt your game.

PS5 compatibility

The Qanba Drone 2 is officially licensed and PlayStation compatible, with a touchpad and PS5 home button on the top. There are quite a few officially licensed PS5 arcade sticks out now, and its very welcome to see Qanba partner with Sony to ensure compatibility, rather than having to rely on Brook converters.

However, we do wish the touchpad itself was a little smaller or the buttons lower. While it’s not really been an issue in most of the emulated arcade games we were playing, you could accidentally press them, especially when gaming on your PS5. Luckily, Qanba had the additional foresight to include a tournament lock function, so any inputs will automatically be ignored.

Sticks and buttons

The stick and buttons themselves feel smooth, with no real complaints in our time with it. While some more experienced players will figure out the minute differences in their feel, the Qanba components won’t make a difference to a beginner or average player. There’s a little less actuation on these buttons than we’d like, but we see the benefit to those invested in games that require frame-perfect inputs.

As with the larger Qanba Titan, the wires are located on the left-hand side. Not having it come out of the top seems like a bizarre choice to make, as the strain on the wire over time will almost certainly cause connection issues in the future.

Build quality

However, our biggest complaint is with the outer shell itself. While it’s sturdy enough for general play, it doesn’t feel the strongest. The plastic can feel somewhat thin at times, and it doesn’t feel as premium as you’d expect for a device that costs over a hundred dollars.

We understand that it’s an entry-level product, but Qanba is charging a lot more for the Drone 2 over the original Drone. With that, we’d expect similar quality to the other fighting sticks on sale.


The Drone 2 is fairly barebones when it comes to features, with Qanba’s efforts seemingly going into the PS5 integration. There’s a 3.5mm port onboard for headsets, with a mute button directly on the top so you don’t have to reach for another controller.

While we’d probably prefer to have a wireless headset on so that the wire doesn’t get in the way, it’s still great that Qanba has thought this far ahead.

Ensuring compatibility

There are a few toggles to ensure compatibility with your PC, PS5 and PS4. Thankfully, it’s just a switch and there’s no external software when on PC, saving you from being infested with more bloatware.

Modding potential

Thankfully, Qanba has also thought ahead for those wanting to modify their controller. It’s a fairly easy process, with a small knob underneath and then the removal of some screws. We’ve praised other hardware manufacturers for doing things like this, and we’re glad that Qanba included this in its value options.

While it might just look like a bundle of wires inside, the Qanba Drone 2 is actually incredibly well put together and we quickly managed to figure out what was what, even with untrained eyes.

Gaming performance

Despite the build quality and any nagging complaints about how slick the buttons feel, the Qanba Drone 2 is an excellent controller. It feels so right to sit down and play some classic arcade games with it, that we wound up getting lost down a two-hour Mr. Do! hole.

Classic games

For classic arcade games, we found it just sublime to sink deep into classic shmups, a few rounds of Streets of Rage, and of course, turning out sights to another attempt at Ikaruga.

Modern games

We even used it in some more modern arcade-style games, like Sine Mora, and found ourselves downloading no fewer than three Tetris games. We felt comfortable enough to blame our lack of skill for failing at Tetris: The Grand Master 3, but found the Drone 2 fast enough to keep up with its ridiculous modes.

In Tetris Effect, we were at ease. The smooth motions and glistening look had us hooked as we slapped the stick around to the rhythm. For a title like Puyo Puyo Tetris, however, we didn’t find ourselves with any advantage over our competitors on a controller. It did however make the Puyo Puyo bits of the game a lot more tactile.

Fighting games

Of course, we tried our hand at some fighting games, and while your dear author is horrible at Street Fighter, we managed to sneak in just a couple of wins. For those with the $125 for an entry-level controller, who want to get better at the game on classic hardware, we don’t think there are much better options out there.

The Verdict: 3/5

While it’s a joy to play on, Qanba Drone 2’s overall build quality left us wanting. The asking price for an entry-level arcade stick seems just a touch too high. The original Drone retailed for around $80 at launch, yet this device comes in at $125. In the grand scheme of things, and where arcade sticks are currently at, it is a high-quality device at a low-ish cost.

For keen beginner fighting game players, this is a worthy investment into your chosen title. But, we still think that Qanba could have gone further with some aspects of its design in order to make the Drone 2 perfect.

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