It’s not hard to see why drones are becoming so popular. They make you feel powerful without spending 40 hours to get an aircraft pilot’s license.
But seriously, the creative possibilities are endless. Plus, drones are fun. Like, a lot of fun.
From beginner-level drones to drones that cost as much as a car, there is no shortage of options for aspiring drone pilots. Whether you’re looking for backyard fun with the kids or a powerful drone for professional-grade video production, this guide has you covered.
How to Choose a Drone
When you’re choosing a drone, it’s important to think about how you’re going to use it. There’s a huge difference between a drone for personal use and commercial drones, so you’ll want to make sure you get one that’s a good fit for you. We’ve evaluated drones on several key qualities, including price, flight time, range and camera quality.
Let’s look at the best drone for every budget:
Entry-Level Drones ($)
These drones are all $100 or less and are primarily used as toys. They’re a lot of fun, and a great introduction to drones, but you’re not going to get the professional quality footage you’ll get with more expensive models:
1. Syma X20 Mini Drone
If you don’t care about fancy features, photography, and just want an entry-level drone you can fly around the back yard, this pocket sized drone is the one for you. It normally retails for less than $35, is easy to fly, and does a few stunts (360° flips anyone?).
Unlike all the other drones we’ve reviewed here, the X20 doesn’t have a camera, but it’s still guaranteed to make your kids (and you!) smile. With a five minute flight time and a 60ft range, this drone won’t make it out of your backyard, but it’s the best entry-level drone out there.
2. Vivitar DRC-445 Skytracker GPS Drone
Coming in right under the $100 mark is the Vivitar Skytracker drone. It packs all the features of more expensive drones, with GPS, WiFi, and an HD Camera all included. Flying is easy. It has a one-button take off and landing and three different speed modes.
While it lacks the power of more expensive drones, the Skytracker has a pretty decent set of specs, with 16 minutes of flight time, a range of 1000ft and built-in GPS to enable automatic return. You won’t get the cinematic power of more upscale models, but the 720p HD camera will capture family memories from a unique angle.
Mid Tier Drones ($$)
If you’re starting to get serious about drones, spending a few hundred dollars will get you a high-performance drone from some of the best manufacturers out there. You know you’re getting a high-quality piece of equipment, packed with powerful features. These drones are perfect for the serious hobbyist:
1. Ruko F11 Pro Drone
Don’t be fooled by the small size – the Ruko F11 Pro packs a lot of powerful features into a portable mini drone. Equipped with a 4K UHD camera with a 120° field of view, and nearly 4000ft in range, the Ruko F11 Pro is a major step up from entry-level drones.
But by far the best feature of the Ruko is it’s flight time. The Ruko comes with two batteries, each with 30 minute flight time, giving users an unparalleled 60 minutes of use on a single charge. While it’s missing a couple of features of the more expensive models, like camera stabilization and obstacle avoidance, the Ruko represents fantastic bang for your buck, and we bet you won’t be disappointed.
2. DJI Mavic Mini
DJI dominates our list of the best drones, and looking at the Mavic Mini, it’s easy to see why. It’s a powerful yet compact drone, packed with a range of features partnered with DJI’s intuitive mobile app.
The DJI Mavic Mini is certainly mini, coming in at a weight of under 250 grams, barely heavier than the average smartphone. This makes it the perfect option for travelers, while also exempting it from drone flight regulations in many countries. With 30 minutes of flight time, a 2.5 mile range, and 3.7k quad HD video, this drone makes for a powerful travel companion to capture your adventures.
3. DJI Mavic Air 2
Checking in at the top of the mid-tier range is another DJI model, the Mavic Air 2. It’s the Mavic Mini’s big brother, and is the best drone you can buy without dropping thousands of dollars. With ultra-clear details, cinematic video and intelligent shooting technology, this drone will take your content to the next level.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 boasts 4K, 60 fps video capabilities, 34 minutes of flight time, and an enormous 6 mile range. SmartPhoto technology helps you capture the most optimal shots, and panorama mode offers unrivaled landscape photography. It’s easy and fun to fly too, with obstacle avoidance technology paired with a top speed of over 40 miles per hour in sport mode.
Professional Grade Drones ($$$)
Artists and creators across the world use top-of-the-line drones to shoot your favorite videos and TV shows. It should go without saying: drones in this category aren’t cheap, but they are undoubtedly the best in the world… well maybe the CIA has something better, but we’ll never know that for sure.
1. DJI Inspire 2
The DJI Inspire 2 is built for professionals – and it’s used by filmmakers all over the world to capture dramatic, thrilling scenes. The specs on this drone are off the charts, with 6K video, a 58mph top speed, and a fully rotating camera to capture all the action.
At this price point, it’s all about video quality, and the DJI Inspire 2 excels. Features include an HD video transmission system, integrations with popular lenses, and the all new CineCore 2.1 image processing system. Buy this drone, and the footage you capture will be jaw-dropping – just make sure you credit us in your Oscar acceptance speech.
Find a Good Drone
We’re sure you’ve realized now that there are a lot of options when it comes to purchasing a drone. From a $35 toy to buzz around the backyard, to a $3000+ professional-grade flying movie camera, there’s a drone for every budget. When choosing your drone, make sure to consider what you plan on using it for, how much power you need, and how much you’re willing to spend.
P.S. Drone crashes happen. When your kid (or you, we won’t tell) drives your drone into a wall, our experts can fix it.