Ollie By Sphero Review Built For Speed

You’ve probably heard of Sphero thanks to the company’s app-controlled ball of the same name. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, you will have realized that we got ahold of one recently posted our findings on the minute ball of fun just yesterday.

The team behind Sphero is back with a new connected toy designed to hit a top speed of 14mph and perform all manner of tricks and flips.


Firstly, as I did with my Sphero review, I have to comment on how well packaged Ollie is. Presented as if blown apart from the inside, Ollie sits behind a clear window with wheel hubs, tires and main body all separated waiting for you to put them together.

Sphero could have easily shipped Ollie in a much smaller package, pre-assembled, but it knows that part of the fun with Ollie is building it yourself — emphasized by the number of hub cap and tire options Sphero offers (sold separately).

Instructions guide you through clipping Ollie’s various parts together which can be a bit fiddly, particularly getting the tires on, but introduces you to the idea of this being a customizable toy immediately.

Once charged, connecting to Ollie is easy — easier in fact than with Sphero. Download the Ollie app on the App Store, launch it and tap your iPhone against Ollie. The two will pair almost immediately and you’re ready to roll. No color-coordinated light sequences, no messing around in the Settings app, just tap and go.

Built For Speed

On first looking at Ollie you’ll notice an immediate difference from Sphero – it’s cylindrical and not spherical. This new tubular design aids Ollie in racing and performing tricks, and it is these two areas where Ollie really bests its rounder brother.

I’ll start with racing. Ollie is fast. Sphero states a top speed of 14mph and, while I don’t have an accurate speed camera to hand, I can only imagine that to be true.

Ollie By Sphero Review

While I’ve been whizzing it around my apartment for the most part, it’s best used outdoors. In wide open spaces, Ollie really finds its range and I can only imagine how fun it would be to create obstacle courses and challenge friends to races.

Ollie fares well on hard surfaces, and ok on shorter grass thanks to the tread on its tires. It has a 30m range for the Bluetooth connection and I certainly had no problems with the connection dropping.

Fortunately, in the Ollie app settings, you can select what kind of terrain and driving area you are currently operating in and it adjusts Ollie’s speed, acceleration and handling accordingly or you can set these manually.

App screens

Turn the Ollie app into the landscape orientation and you enter Trick Mode. As the name suggests, this provides extra controls for you to perform a number of tricks and spins with Ollie.

While it’s a little difficult getting to grips with it, an in-app tutorial, help pages and the below video will help you get the hang of all the trick options and they are a ton of fun to try out. The tricks you can complete are much flashier than Sphero’s — more like tricks a skateboarder or inline skater would do, perhaps — and feel a lot more manageable as opposed to Sphero’s uncontrollable spinning madness at times.

You can remove Ollie’s tires and take advantage of the bare wheels for drifting. This, essentially, makes Ollie way harder to control. Every now and then you’ll feel like you’ve got the hang of it as you drift around the living room only to come crashing into the next available obstacle.

Thankfully, Ollie is not just as durable as Sphero but even more so meaning it can take all manner of impacts from jumps, spins and crashes.


Unfortunately, unlike the Sphero app, there’s no form of ‘levelling up’ or earning more experience with Ollie in order to unlock new skills and abilities — the tricks outlined in the app are all it can currently do.

There’s really only one app that works with Ollie right now and that’s the one you use to set it up and perform the above tricks. One of the joys of Sphero is the abundance of mini-games and augmented reality games available on the App Store to extend the playing time.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Ollie — only the Draw n’ Drive app was compatible in my testing. Hopefully more apps will be developed specifically for Ollie in the future.

Sphero ollie

Where Sphero excelled with app selection, perhaps Ollie excels in customization. There are a number of different tire and hubcap options. Some improve speed, some add extra traction for off-roading, some result in new tricks being possible.

Plus, the option to add a little personality to Ollie with different colors and shapes of accessories gives Ollie something Sphero didn’t have — a way to really make it your own.

As for battery life, Ollie will give you one hour of playing time from a full charge — the same as Sphero. Unlike Sphero, though, there’s no inductive charging — just good ol’ micro-USB — which is a tad disappointing.

Check out more photos of Ollie in the gallery below (click for larger):

The wrap up

The good: Ollie is a speedy little character perfect for racing. Tricks feel more like tricks and less like uncontrollable madness. Easier to drive and manoeuvre thanks to cylindrical shape and wheels. Customizable for different looks, capabilities and terrains. Extremely durable. Great Bluetooth range.

The bad: Only one app for taking advantage of Ollie (for now). Limited trick set. No inductive charging.

The verdict: Ollie is an improvement on Sphero in a number of ways, but also lags behind in other ares. However, I don’t feel that matters as Ollie is a different proposition entirely.

Built for racing and performing cool tricks, Ollie is extremely good fun. While the app selection might not keep you playing for quite as long as Sphero, you’ll feel more in control and perhaps enjoy using Ollie more for it.

Ollie is available to order from Sphero’s website. It’s usually priced at $119.99 for the white version or $149.99 for the blacked-out Darkside Ollie but are currently available with holiday discounts — $99.99 and $124.99, respectively — so you can snag one at a cut price if you act fast. It’s also available on Amazon.

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