Whether Amazon’s dropping two-hour delivery packages on your doorstep, or the neighborhood kid flew one over the street, everyone knows what drones are, and what they’re capable of. Independent photographers, movie studios, and even drone flights schools are getting the most out of this amazing tech, and we’re seeing innovative uses for them every single day. However, they’re also loads of fun to use. Test the limits of technology or capture high-definition 4K videos — the choice is yours, but it starts with a premier drone. Luckily for you, we’ve taken care of categorizing the top sixteen best drones you should be looking at.
Note: as of December 21st, 2015, you must register to man your drones in the United States (applying to all drones that weight half-a-pound or more). You will be given a unique ID number, which will apply to every single drone you purchase. Each registration is valid for three years before requiring a renewal. Be sure to check your local laws regarding piloting drones in your area.
The Best Drone
After close examination, it is more than obvious that the DJI Mavic Mini Drone is a viable choice. Here’s something that any prospective drone owner will be pleased to know, the DJI Mavic mini does not require government registration in both the United States and Canada. So, that’s a whole lot of convenience offered up already. Now, for the more technical perks of owning one of these babies. This device can stay up for a full 30 minutes on a single charge. To ensure that the Mavic Mini is protected while in the air, the device itself is equipped with a 360° propeller guard. Not only does this protect the propellers while in motion, but it also guarantees total flight safety. To ensure that this device can function properly both inside and outside, it has a downward vision sensing system as well as GPS.
Furthermore, it comes with an accompanying two-way charging hub that can accommodate and power three batteries all at once. Even better is the fact that it’s a great storage device for batteries while on the go and even extends its charging capabilities to mobile devices. The battery isn’t the only handy attachment here, there’s also the remote controller which is the heart of this device. It has the ability to capture high-definition video feed at a distance that’s up to 4 kilometers. Additionally, the control sticks themselves are detachable and can further be stored within the controller. This entire device is a hoot when it comes to portability.
Weighs less than 250 grams
30 minute flight time on a single charge
Takes 12MP aerial photos and 2.7K Quad HD videos
Works on iOS v10.0 or later. Android v6.0 or later
- Weight0.16 ounces
When it comes to all sorts of tech and devices available these days, there are often no training wheels involved. This does not mean that ‘training wheels’ and ‘easing in’ has become obsolete though, so it is refreshing when user-friendly products like this come onto the scene. The F11 Pro drone is a great choice for beginners since it is fitted with functions like; one key takeoff/landing, headless mode, auto-return, FPV, tap fly among an array of others. This baby is so easy to operate that even kids and teens can join in the fun without causing any damage at all. The next best thing about this drone is its size, not only is it as compact as they come, but it is also foldable. So, there is no question as to how easy it is to either carry around or stow away. You can simply pop it in their pockets while they go about their business and take it out when the need arises.
Now, all this would be rendered obsolete if the picture and video quality were subpar. Thankfully, that is not the case here as it offers up 4K Ultra HD picture quality alongside 2.7k video. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the display quality with the unmatchable clarity, rich colors and realistic contrast. Additionally, the camera itself is equipped with a 120°FOV lens which is put in place to provide an extensive view of every recorded moment. Speaking of recorded moments, how much battery life is this drone equipped with to that effect. You will be pleased to know that it can stay up in the air for a total of 30 minutes after a single charge. When the second battery included in the pack is factored in, that adds up to a total of 60 minutes of flight time.
Produces 4K Ultra HD pictures and 2.7k videos
60 minute flight time on a single charge
Has a strong GPS signal
- Weight1.15 pounds
The Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone offers up one of the closest things there is to a firsthand viewing experience. Let’s start with the fact that this is a well-built and well-designed piece of equipment. Fitted with a sturdy exterior that also happens to be foldable for easy storage. It also offers in-built metallurgical gear shafts that go a long way to enable seamless movements of the device itself. The cherry on the top here in terms of convenience is the added carrying bag which makes it a lot easier to carry the drone from one point to another. Even more convenient is the 26 minute fly time that this device is capable of and it’s on a single charge too. This is all thanks to the military-grade intelligent battery which is that powers this entire device.
Furthermore, there is a dual balance charger thrown into the mix here. After the battery, the next force to reckon with is the brushless motor which works hand-in-hand with the aviation propellers to push the aerodynamics here to the limit. The fact that it offers up a more quiet experience (as opposed to a device with a brushed motor) makes for a superior experience altogether. Then, of course, there are those special features that make for a more personalized and immersive experience. One such is the GPS to return home feature which, as is implied, ensures that the drone will make its way home any time the battery is low or the signal is lost. Then there’s the custom flight feature that allows users to chart the drones course so they can sit back and fully enjoy the view handsfree.
Has a shock absorption holder
Makes use of GPS assisted intelligent flight
Allows 26 minute flight time on a single charge
90 degrees adjustable lens
- BrandHoly Stone
- Weight1.01 pounds
We live in a dynamic world full of dynamic people, so compactibility is a big deal when it comes to devices of all sorts. Drones are not left out on this front, luckily, this particular device is as lightweight and compact as they come. This goes a long way to ensure that it stays up in the air for as long as it possibly can. Equally, it makes it quite easy to carry when the need arises. And thanks to features like a 20MP 1 inch CMOS Sensor, the DJI Mavic Pro Drone Quadcopter is further equipped to offer clear images and vivid colors which make for a more satisfying recreation of moments and memories. Even better is the fact that users can equally immerse themselves in the viewing experience on a real-time basis. So, while the flying and recording are going on, you do not need to be in a clueless state, be carried along every step of the way. It will feel as if you are up there taking it all in, but the truth is the drone is far out of your reach at that point.
One of the things that ensures that it comes down to you in one piece is its omnidirectional obstacle sensing capabilities. It means exactly what it sounds like, while it is up in the air and out of reach, this device can actually identify and avoid any obstacles on all sides. This works whether or not the drone is tracking a target. Finally, there’s that longlasting battery life that was mentioned earlier on. Best believe that this device delivers on that front with a total of 31-minute flight time on a single charge, which is actually the longest so far for consumer drones.
31 minute flight time on a single charge
Equipped with a 3-axis gimbal
Allows real-time view during flight
- Weight2 pounds
2.7K HD video camera? Check! One of the biggest names in consumer drones has been DJI; their multiple lines of consumer-based drones have captivated the market, and pushed the boundaries in almost every single categorization for drone technology. This is one of the top rated drones for camera usage: real estate agents, photographers, videographers, roofing inspectors—just to name a few professions—have received invaluable use out of their DJI Phantom. 2.7K video is more than plenty to get a clear, fantastic picture across to clients.
DJI is quickly taking the forefront of the professional drone market. With their no-nonsense approach to high-functioning integrated features, and their attention to futuristic design, DJI is going to lay the groundwork for upcoming drone capabilities. The auto-land feature is the most effective in its class, accurate within ten feet of initial takeoff site.
Holy Stone cornered in on the mini drone market, and did it with flair. With their wide-range of inexpensive, intricate copters, you’ll be able to fly on a budget. Their HS200 FPV model is perhaps one of the best yet. With a built-in dock to the controller, you’ll be able to snap your smartphone right in and view live video of your Holy Stone in flight. You even get the great feature of releasing the throttle, and knowing that your copter is going to stay hovering at the same height.
With cheap drones, you expect there to be a few mechanical issues from time to time. We always have that “You get what you pay for” term in the back of our minds. While Holy Stone’s quality is spectacular, they aren’t using the most high-grade physical components on the market, otherwise, they’d be charging what DJI does. To offset the greater possibility of running into issues, their customer service team is the standard of how all customer service, for any industry, should be run. You’ll get answers, speak to a live person, and whatever you need will be fixed.
Smack dab in the middle of cost and effectivity, you get DBPOWER to bring you a top-class, fantastic drone with great video capabilities, all without taking out a second mortgage on your home. Pop your smartphone on the built-in dock and get flying; you’ll be looking at everything through the drone’s eye in real time.
You’ll be able to use your smartphone as a controller, as well. Keep screen rotation on, and tilt the phone in the direction that you want the drone to go. Whichever angle you want, you’ll get with the DBPOWER. Charged via USB and sporting excellently powerful motors, you can get some serious power out of this. The only problem we found with this model? It goes fast. Really fast, very quickly. Yeah, we didn’t think you’d be upset by that, either.
Get ready for one of the longest flights you could imagine on any drone model today. Download the Starlink app, and get started immediately. With a fantastic built-in 4K UHD camera, extensive range of 1.2 miles away, and a sleek design that’s appealing to any eye, Autel really hit this one out of the park.
This model comes with one of the most versatile and easy-to-use controllers we’ve seen yet. With a no-nonsense approach to drone flight, Autel makes it easy for just about any level of drone pilot to gain something from the X-Star. This quadcopter is a cheap drone for what you get—compare this to models that range in the thousands, and you’d be surprised how many of those luxury drones fall flat on features.
DJI is the first name in quadcopter drones, and it’s plain to see why. With their extensive line of models, specifically in the Phantom series, and their consistent innovation of a brand new and expanding market, they’ve got the know-how to remain on the top of their podium as the kings of drones.
Enjoy automatic takeoffs with the integrated GPS feature that DJI is famous for. Believe it or not, going through the manual on this is an absolute well of information that’s only going to increase your know-how as a drone pilot in the future. They’re the leaders in premier drones for a reason.
A premium drone, without paying the premium price. For under 100, you get so much more than you would ever expect. USA Toyz crafted a versatile and extremely power-friendly drone for every user. With a secondary battery, you can keep one charging while you use the other, and get the most out of your flight.
Based on the design and it’s capabilities, UDI U818A HD+ Drone is able to perform stellar tricks with minimal risk. If you’ve flown a drone more than a few times, and you’re able to control the craft with a bit of skill, then you’ll be able to flip and twist this into different stunts and tricks. Impress your friends, or practice alone; this is the perfect drone for every occasion.
One of the coolest features of any drone is the ability to flip into first person view with ease. Use the included controller to get your bearings and experience the skies through the eyes of your drone. Enjoy great quality flight recording, and one of the most lightweight drones on the market. You will need to register with the FAA with this model.
There are four LED indicators with a 480p camera; not HD quality, but for the price, you’re getting some great aerial shots that will definitely train you for future, higher-quality drone purchases. Master the skies with Hubsan’s take on the quadcopter. Rubber feet on the bottom of your drone make it easier to stick landings, as well. Perfect for first-timers.
A relatively unknown brand in the drone world, Syma comes out of the gate swinging with a model that’s aesthetically designed for children, but is undeniable great to get your hands on for both cost-effectivity, and for getting your feet wet with a premier drone that’s going to give you a great bit of fun. In an all-red chassis, this quadcopter is great for both indoor and outdoor use. You’ll actually be stunned at how low the price on this one is.
If you’re looking to get it as a present for your son or nephew, why not both? You could batch buy a few of these for the same cost as a more expensive drone. Truth be told, if you’re getting it for children, the thing’s only going to last so long anyway, right? Kids can have a blast with these, and when you’re telling them that the battery is “charging,” you can be whizzing it around the yard. Because, well, it takes AAs, but they don’t have to know that. Burn through those alkaline batteries!
This is an ultracool drone that’s not going to drain your bank. It comes with some enhanced features, such as the FPV camera with Wi-Fi capabilities. Stream some live video from your drone straight to your phone. You can even setup a customized, predisposed pathway that your drone will fly on its own. Just watch your screen as it takes you through the air.
It’s not just all about the FPV camera, though. You get an extra battery and a power bank to ensure you won’t have to take ninety minute breaks in between each and every flight. These things are a load of fun—don’t stop when it starts getting good. You get HD video recording, up to 720p, and auto-assistance when trying to takeoff and land. It’s an all-in-one drone for the beginner, who’s just trying to get started in this crazy, drone-filled world we live in.
While it’s hailed more as a toy than a professional quadcopter, it’s how you intend to use it, right? With seven minutes of flight time and just over an hour-and-a-half to charge, it’s good enough to get some fun in, and test out just what drones can really do, without spending a fortune. For under 50, you get a non-camera drone that shows you just what you need to be an expert pilot.
With the best drone on the market to practice with, you’ll be a professional in no time. This is the perfect first step into drone piloting full-time. Purchasing an inexpensive, introductory model like this is exactly what’s going to make you a drone fanatic, and have you coming back to this article to see what you missed at a later point.
If you are a big fan of lightweight drones, you will want to consider the Snaptain S5C. The drone is pretty great, and it works well for beginners too. You can get this user-friendly drone going at the press of a button. You also get a smartvoice control – which allows you to command the drone however you like. We consider this as its standout feature. The 360-degree flip is also impressive, and it’s sure to pique beginners’ fancy with that.
The S5C has a video transmission of up to 80 meters that allows you to fly far and upload videos instantly to social media or edit HD videos with your iPhone or iPad. With the S5C drone, you don’t have to worry about safety thanks to protective propeller guards that ensure a safe flight and top-notch ABS materials that prevent the drone from a sudden drop or shock.
Another exceptional choice for drone neophytes is the Altair 818 Hornet Drone. The drone comes with two batteries, with each giving you fifteen minutes of flight time before you need to recharge them. Like the S5C, the Altair has an altitude hold function that keeps it stable and one button to control flight and landing. It also features three controller skill settings that you can adjust to the drone’s pilot.
Another standout function of the Altair 818 Hornet is that you can fly this drone either indoors or outdoors, so bad weather can’t stop your fun. It’s also incredibly easy to operate; the learning curve is only a few hours. The 818 is sturdy and can withstand crashes and hard landings, which makes it perfect for adults and kids looking to learn how to fly a drone.
Things To Consider When Purchasing The Best Drone For You
There are far too many factors that go into choosing our best drone guide and drone piloting. We’re about to dissect every little tidbit of information you could possibly ever need, from personal safety to how to pick the best drone for your personal use.
How To Pick The Best Drone
There’s going to be a lot of varying factors that come into play: what do you want your drone for? Is this for photography and videography, or just for fun? Indoors, or out? Here are some of the biggest things to consider when purchasing the right drone for you. These are going to break everything down into classifications, where you can nitpick on small features later.
Camera Quality - Is this for work? Trying to get those perfect shots of a house that’s going up for sale? Whatever your industry, you can benefit from a higher-quality camera. If 720p HD is good enough for you, then that’s all you need. However, if you want to wow your clientele with 4K HD aerial shots, well, that’s always an option, too.
Battery Life - Just want to cruise? Nobody else but you and your drone? Sounds like an ideal Sunday afternoon. If your drone’s battery only lasts ten minutes or less, your fun’s going to get cut short pretty quickly. Take the time to either purchase a secondary battery, or look for a model with a longer battery life/shorter charge time. If you’re going to YouTube it up and spend some quality time shooting excellent videos, the battery life is also going to be a huge factor.
Maximum Speed - Up for a bit of drone racing, are we? (Yes, they are a thing.) If you’re looking for the fastest, most badass drone on the market, you’re going to put speed at the top of your priority list. We don’t blame you. So long as you know how to control a fast-moving drone, you’ll get the most out of a lightweight, lightning-fast model; you’ll also end up paying a higher price point, too.
Durability - Whether this is for you or a gift for your offspring, durability matters. Drones are naturally fragile, and are not going to take a lot of hits before becoming severely damaged, and in some cases, unusable. Take note of “Headless Mode” features to prolong the life of the blades, and materials used in the physical construction.
Q: Where Is The Best Place To Buy A Drone?
A: The largest online marketplace on the world—Amazon. They don’t just sell drones, they use them to deliver packages. Every manufacturer has taken to Amazon for the largest customer base, and the most versatile market on the planet. Buying them from smaller online retailers means that they’re garnering fees and higher prices just to keep their head above water.
What To Consider When Flying A Drone
There are a whole mess of things to consider. You’re manning a high-speed flying robot, more or less. You’ve got an immense amount of power in the palms of your hands. Between safety and the law, here are seven things to remember when you’re going to fly your RC drone or RC plane around.
The World We Live In - Nobody wants to say it, but we will: seeing a flying craft hovering over buildings is a scary thing. Keep in mind the world we live in, and use your best judgment and common sense when deciding where to fly your drone.
Airports and Helipads - If you’re within even a few miles of a nearby airport, you need to let them know that you’ll be flying a drone. Ideally, you’d do well to find a space that isn’t inhabited or close to suburban/urban areas. The last thing you want is police showing up simply because you’re using your new drone.
Influence - If you’ve been drinking or using anything else that’s going to impair your judgment, cognitive function, and dexterity, just do us all a favor: don’t pick up the remote. Don’t let your friend, Mr. Life-of-the-party, talk you into it, either. You’re dealing with devices that can exceed most street speed limits, and that are easily uncontrollable.
Powerlines - Don’t be the reason that an entire city block lost power for three hours. You will be hit with a fine if you accidentally knock into a powerline, and it’s not going to be pretty.
Don’t Go Over 350 Feet - Raising too high is going to make your drone visible to just about everyone in the surrounding area, and it’s going to look suspicious. They won’t be able to see you—or if they can, they’re not going to know that you’re controlling it. It’s very easy to scare people; keep this in mind.
Battery Life - It can’t be stressed enough—use your fully-charged battery. If you don’t have a secondary, then don’t fly until your primary is fully-charged. While some controllers let you know with a battery indictor LED light, not every one of them does. You do not want to run out of battery life in mid-flight. It could not only wreck your craft, but prove dangerous for anyone nearby.
Crowds - If you’re at the park on Saturday, and you’re trying to show off your excellent drone skills, here’s a tip: don’t. Even if you’re in an acceptable place to fly them around, be extremely wary and cautious of crowds.
Flying Tips For Your Drone
There are actually entire schools devoted to teaching you how to fly a drone properly. When you think about it, you’re single-handedly controlling a flying device that can exceed speeds of 50 MPH in five seconds. That’s a lot of power in your hands. Take these tips into consideration when actually piloting your drone.
Avoid Manual Mode - Unless you end up taking part in those courses we mentioned, or you’re a fourth-year student in aerodynamic engineering, it’s safe to assume that you’re not ready for manual mode. Automatic mode, which comes standard on all drones, is definitely the way to go. When you’ve spent hundreds of hours piloting your drone, you’ll be more in-tune with your machine. If you’re comfortable flying one specific brand of drone, stick with it. Each type feels a bit different, as each manufacturer uses different components both in the drone itself, and in the controller.
Ascend to Lord of Hovering - The best trick to master is hovering. Whether it’s ten feet off the ground or a hundred feet in the air, maintaining altitude and balance of your craft is essential to quick stops and keeping a level of confidence when controlling your craft. Hovering is a great trick for capturing excellent video, and for maneuvering just about any situation
The Throttle Can Be Your Enemy - Crashes are a part of drone piloting. It’s bound to happen. If you’ve never crashed your best drone, kudos to you and your omnipotent abilities. When your drone crashes, you’re going to run the risk of severely damaging the entire thing, right on down from the chassis to the blades. You can minimalize most of the damage by learning to hit the kill switch on the throttle as you’re going down. You won’t jam up the blades, and it could save some of the internal components from getting destroyed.
Checklist Before Takeoff - Especially if you’re planning to utilize video capture features, you’re going to need a checklist to get you ready to takeoff. Don’t overlook any of the details. Is the charged battery inserted? Is my SD card clicked-in on the camera body? Is my GPS tracking function synchronized? Make sure that every check and balance has been accounted for. Why is this considered a flying tip? Can’t fly with a dead battery. You might get fifty feet off the ground, but it’s a long way down from there.
Don’t Be the James Bond of Drones Just Yet - You’ll be surprised at how long it takes to master simple hovering. Don’t go for those double barrel rolls just yet. Get adjusted with an hour or two of flying every day for three to six months. (No, we’re really not kidding.) After that point, you’ll be adept enough to complete those crazy, insane moves without risking your potentially expensive drone each and every time.
Windy Conditions - Just like with aircrafts and hot air balloons, you need to account for the windspeed when planning to takeoff to the skies with your new drones. Each manufacturer has recommendations for optimal windspeeds when flying your drone. If you can’t find information about the maximum windspeed you should be flying in, drone forums across the internet will have further information from real users who have tested their drone models in adverse conditions.
Account For Maximum Speed - At one point in time, the fastest drone for consumer purchase topped 67 MPH (Inspire 2), and they reduced that speed down to 58 MPH to comply with tightening safety regulations and concerns among consumers. That being said, your drone can do incredible things. Keep the maximum speed for your model in mind when flying your drone.
It’s not just for safety purposes: if you’re in a field or open area where it’s perfectly fine to fly your drone at top speeds, you’ll see that even nicking the edge of a tree branch can send your drone spiraling out of control, and crashing to the ground. For both personal safety and the vulnerability of your drone, keep in mind just how fast it can go.
Flying At Night
As you can well imagine, flying your drone at night can be hazardous for a number of reasons. While the law is still catching up with flying drones, here are some tips to keep yourself and others safe when flying your drone at night.
Visibility - If you’re having difficulty seeing your drone, or seeing through your drone’s camera, there’s a good chance that nobody else is going to see your drone either. You should never fly blindly just because you feel like you know where it is. If you fly your drone in a public park setting at night, beware of others. Often times, you’ll find cyclists and runners exercising at night. If you can’t see exactly where your drone is flying, it could be far closer to the ground than you think, and you risk colliding with other park patrons.
Lights - In the spirit of proper visibility, getting a drone with a light feature can make your flying time that much safer. Especially if you’re in the market to purchase this as a gift for your child. It can be a great safety precaution, and prevent unnecessary scrutiny from others.
Respecting Other People’s Property - Just like you wouldn’t want a drone flying over your house at 2:00 AM, you should be vigilant of your flying zones, and limit yourself to specific areas. Whether it’s rigged with a camera or not, you’re still controlling the drone, and run the risk of infringing on others personal space and private property. Fly with caution and awareness.