I’m not sure about you, but every time I walk into a shop and faced with so many possibilities, I freak out. Considering all these minuscule details, specs, weaknesses, and factors can really be maddening. Thankfully, we have buying guides that make life much simpler.
In this week’s article, I’d like to focus my attention and uncover what the best drones on the market are. To come up with an educated conclusion, I’ll be going through some options and dissecting each one based on factors such as price, design, user-friendliness, kid-friendliness, mobility, and agility.
So for those highly interested in this topic, I invite you to fly with me into this wonderful world of quadcopters! Whoosh!
Table of Contents
Before we can even begin enumerating the varieties, it would be wise to first ask yourself this question – What will you be needing a drone for?
Answering this will allow you to streamline your choices and prioritize which one is the best. While each does offer a set of really cool features, each one is made with a particular use in mind.
For example, a drone that’s smaller in size and made from carbon material would be better suited for racing, as compared to larger models, which would be primarily utilized for transporting gear.
These may initially seem pointless, though they actually have a crucial role to play in the greater scheme of things.
Therefore, being aware of your initial intentions is a great way of prioritizing characteristics. I may not know your answer, but try to remember it as we go through the next few sub-sections.
Money, obviously, can be a swaying factor in this decision. So for this first division, I’d like to enumerate the best value buys for each price point.
Finding one with this tight a budget can be challenging, but not impossible. After doing a quick search, I’d like to introduce you to the Eachine H8 Mini Quadcopter.
This drone may seem small and fragile in stature, but it’s actually very durable. It has a sturdy frame manufactured using an aerodynamic design that equips it to move quickly and reach higher speeds. There are even strategically placed flashing lights on each side, which guides you to fly it around dimly lit areas.
Another notable quality of the H8 Mini is its user-friendly controls, which looks almost like those used by gaming consoles.
It has a power switch, several levers that adjust the direction, and even a button that instructs the machine to come back home. Thrill seekers will also love the 360 rolling function, which helps you to do tricks, mid-flight!
For an average price of $20 (that already includes shipping), this is a lot of value to take home!
Read More: Best Mini Drones
The HS160 comes in a stylish, all-black exterior that looks more expensive than it actually is. Unlike other models that are circular or x-shaped, this one is elongated and almost rectangular.
I’m not sure why they built it this way, but I’ve noticed how this form improves overall stability as you fly. Its propellers can even be folded and inserted into the body for more convenient mobilization.
Aside from these practical design features, this drone also comes equipped with a 720P HD camera, found on its topmost portion.
This allows you to instantly record aerial photos and videos as you whiz through the air; all while the footage is conveniently saved in a specialized mobile album system. You can even connect this device to an application so you can see a real-time glimpse of its surroundings as it is hovering.
Finally, this package comes with 2 3.7V batteries, a set of extra blades, and a beginner-friendly controller. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, you’ll find that using the Holy Stone HS160 is a piece of cake.
Read More: Best Drones Under $100
Another quality piece of machinery from Holy Stone is the HS110D RC drone. At a standard retail price of $125, this is a perfect choice for gifts, giveaways, or personal use.
One of the main advantages when using this model is its heightened control system. Not only can you operate it through an app on your smartphone, but its high-definition camera also enables you to see everything it sees and places you in the proper orientation.
Moreover, an altitude-hold characteristic permits you to keep this gadget suspended in mid-air, even without pressing down on any lever.
This may seem complicated at first, but it’s actually a great option for newbies. Personally, I’ve found that using the app interface is much simpler to do than an actual controller.
All you’ll really need to do is practice regularly to master how to fly it. If you’re passionate about drones, this is a small price to pay to improve.
Read More: Best Drones Under $200
You’re probably noticing that as drones increase in price, so does the technicalities of their specs. The UPair One drone is a good example of this truth.
Coming in at an average price of $380, its most notable feature is the ability to be run from as far as 800 meters away. Using this feature means you can easily capture picturesque images from a bird’s eye view.
You also won’t need to worry about flying it too far out because a single tap on the controller will instantly command the device to return to where you are.
Like other similar prototypes, the UPair One has a 4K HD camera installed in its base. This can be accessed through an app that lets you watch the real-time footage, save photos and videos, and even take extreme selfies from a distance!
A long battery life and longer flying time, sleek aesthetics, and a rotatable 90-degree mount are just more reasons to love this mechanism. If you’re willing to take the risk and invest in it, then it should definitely be worth your while.
Read More: Best Drones Under $500
If you’re willing to spend $1000 on a quadcopter, then you’re probably a master videographer, a military man, or just filthy rich. Whichever the case, you’re going to love our next feature.
Even just from its appearance, the DJI Phantom 4 exudes a professional feel that only a few come close to. It sports an all white, clean-looking body with a square figure and four propellers on each corner.
Having a shape like this helps in keeping the camera stable and steady when maneuvering through strong winds and inclement weather. Best of all, its structure is robust enough to take on outside debris.
An enhanced GPS system with an auto-return function helps in controlling the drone as it’s moving. This can be easily synced to an all-improved mobile software to let you know its exact whereabouts, customize hover functions, and constantly create tracking shots.
Frankly speaking, this is one of the most intelligent and complete drones ever developed.
These not only ensure a fun flying experience but a safe one as well. With an average price of $850, it's no wonder why many consider the DJI Phantom 4 as one of the best drones available on the market.
Learn more about DJI Phantom 4 Pro by watching this short video.
Popularity can be a tricky subject because of how subjective it is. Nevertheless, here’s my take on what I feel are the most beloved options by users.
One of the biggest reasons why consumers love the Contixo F18 is the completeness of its package. You aren’t only taking home a quality piece of equipment with a 1080P camera and four powerful brushless motors, but a reliable long-distance control system as well.
It even automatically comes home when the battery life starts to reach critical levels or you start moving out of bounds.
Besides these, there really isn’t anything extraordinary about it. Yet one reason why I feel so many people have patronized this product is due to its affordability.
Other more well-known companies would charge you at least $400 for all these features, but you can get the Contixo F18 for an average price of $270.
You’ll even get a waterproof backpack worth $50 with every purchase. If there’s one thing that patrons really love, it’s cool giveaways!
Another alternative that’s undoubtedly admired by hundreds of customers is the SGOTA RC drone. It’s a reasonably priced quadcopter, but it resembles an army battle aircraft.
Actually, it looks like it flew out directly from a Hollywood action movie. I’m sure people who are particular about design will give this choice a lot of extra points.
Apart from its strong aesthetics, however, lie strong functional abilities as well. It possesses the capability to link its control system to an external smartphone, where you can track its progress, control its functions, and even map out the trajectory on screen. This gives you a much more efficient way to command the drone.
In addition to all this, a 720P HD camera is installed near the nose of the machine. Activating it gives you an amazing vantage point of breathtaking views and sceneries. You’ll even be able to capture high-quality photos and videos for future use.
If you’re a beginner who’s only starting to explore the world of drones, the SGOTA RC selection is a qualified partner for all your journeys.
Nothing quite appeals to people much like an inexpensive deal. People, even if they don’t like spending a lot, still expect to get the same amount of value, if not more. If this is the type of transaction you’re looking for, look no further than the UniDragon FPV foldable drone.
It’s a solid entry-level option equipped with an HD camcorder and 120-degree, wide-angle lens. This allows you to easily record comprehensively vivid images with a simple touch of a button.
A specialized 6-axis gyro technology has also been installed to improve the quadcopter’s steadiness and overall resistance against airstreams. You can even choose to initialize an altitude hold feature to keep it hovering at a particular rate. Aside from this, it comes with several technical commands that make flying simpler.
The only downside I noticed with the UniDargon FPV is it’s not as durable as other models on the market. Still, with a current price of $70, it’s a small risk to take with an immensely high chance for fun.
Not all drone users are instant masters at flying; some need additional practice and patience to improve. If you’re on the hunt for this type of equipment, here are my top picks for the best drones for newbies.
The HUBSAN X4 may look like cheap, but it’s actually a hardwearing piece of equipment that’s great for neophytes. Its exterior, which has numerous colors, is incredibly aerodynamic and uses an innovative ergonomic design.
Apart from its lightweight, the airframe is equipped with a 6-axis gyro stabilization feature and 4 propellers on each corner. Many users have noticed how drones with thin frames like this are easily overpowered by powerful winds; having a characteristic like this improves the overall stability to greatly lessen this issue.
Lastly, the HUBSAN X4 comes with a small camera and a remote with a tiny screen. This setup helps you see exactly what the device sees and even snap photos in the process.
All this data is, then, automatically saved to an external SD card. Despite not having all the highfalutin features, it covers all the basics a beginner can look for in a quadcopter, including an affordable price tag.
If you’re a novice, particularly in capturing images with a drone, then the DJI Spark is right up your alley. It may look intimidating at first glance, but as you use it, it becomes easier and faster to understand.
Similar to the Phantom 4 Pro that we earlier discussed, its cousin also has a lengthened, modern-inspired body that came straight right out from Star Wars! However, unlike the droids, it comes with several pre-installed flight modes, a 2-axis mechanical gimbal, and a world-class image recognition system.
Best of all, its crown jewel has to be its camera, which has all the cool qualities you could ever ask for.
Not only can it capture crisp imagery and cinematic video using a wide-angle lens, but you can also take selfies with just the swipe of your hand! You can even instantaneously edit and add filters to your content via the Go 4 mobile application.
Although the DJI Spark may cost slightly too much for a first-time user, if you really are intent on pursuing this hobby, then it should be a fine investment to make.
For those consumers stuck between having the desire to fly, yet not wanting to spend too much, the DBPOWER X400W is a great starter selection. It provides you enough fundamental qualities to help you decide if droning is something you want to pursue.
One of the greatest things about this is how easy it is to maneuver around. The quadcopter itself is very agile and basically glides through the air.
As the user, you dictate all its movements using a simple remote control, which can even be synced to your smartphone to serve as a screen. This setup gives you a real-time transmission of what exactly your apparatus is capturing.
Besides this, an enhanced battery pack allows you to fly for as long as 9 minutes of flight time without landing while controlling it from over 100 meters away. Considering its $50 price point, this is a lot of value to take home.
We all consider quadcopters as toys best suited for the big boys, yet some companies have already started conceptualizing simple formats to fit well with the younger generation. Here are some of these examples and why I believe they should be included on this list.
When kids start playing with gadgets, the likelihood of it getting damaged increases by the second.
Therefore, purchasing a drone with increased durability and safety features is a basic prerequisite for all dealings. Thankfully, options like the UDI U818A understand this truth and have adapted according.
First of all, it sports an altered placement of its propellers. Unlike standard models that keep them exposed, this machine surrounds each of its four blades with a protective enclosure. This is meant to guard it against outside forces, while also keeping you safe from any injuries and giving you increased control when using it.
In addition to the improved layout, numerous LED lights and an enhanced gyro system have been added to ensure a secure flying experience at all times. As a parent, investing in a product that prioritizes safety as much as you is always a good move.
Flying around a miniature model was never my cup of tea, yet I know a handful of children who prefer using this to larger options. I guess decreasing the size helps them control its direction more and minimizes the risk of an accident occurring.
If this situation is what you prefer, the Cheerson CX-10 is ones of the best drones for you.
Coming in at a standard weight of 5.6 ounces and 1.6x1.6 inches in girth, it can literally land on your palm and is one of the tiniest archetypes available on the market. This, however, does not come with any provisions for a camera so its primary purpose is to help you practice flying.
Once you familiarize yourself with these controls, you’ll be far more prepared to handle bigger and more challenging varieties.
Despite being the cheapest option in this sub-section, the SYMA X5C is far from a pushover. Not only does it come with an HD camera and bright LED lights, but it is also manufactured with numerous flying commands to guarantee a fun and enjoyable experience.
Doing 360-degrees flips, hard turns, and deep dives are all things that appeal to the younger generations and I know for a fact that many kids will be excited to try these out for themselves. Thankfully, its controller is very easy to learn and understand.
Aside from this, the quality of its frame is above average, despite its $40 average price tag, and spare parts are very easy to find. If your son or daughter accidentally damages their drone, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have it repaired.
After all, SYMA is a reputable company with a long track record for excellent customer service. They’re always ready to assist you in any way that they can.
More and more, quadcopters are using my professional photographers and videographers to capture certain scenes from varied angles.
Since these can get as high up as a few hundred meters, it’ll give you a bird-eye view that will add a touch of elegance to all your content. Here are some of the best drones for this purpose.
Find more similar drones on these guides:
Almost like a CCTV camera with wings, the Parrot Anafi is a revolutionary piece of equipment any artist would love to use.
Thanks to a 2.8X digital zoom and lens, it has the ability to capture 4K HDR videos and as much as 21 megapixels of photos with the simple touch of a button. This device even allows you to edit and add filters, real-time, as everything is being shot.
The drone, which can be linked to your tablet or smartphone to act as a screen, is controlled using an external remote. Although this is one of the more sophisticated models available, it’s very easy to fly.
You’ll appreciate how an improved flying system helps the Anafi glide for up to 25 minutes so you cover more distance within a limited amount of time. Additionally, a durable exterior also protects it from unforgiving weather conditions. This is a good insurance policy for a quadcopter you’d have to spend at least $690 to own.
Another possible option for the modern artist is the Mavic Air. Similar to DJI Mavic Pro and other DJI products, it sports that patented elongated design, yet this particular one comes with an enhanced camera setup that easily dwarfs its nearest competition.
Its camcorder is not only capable of producing vivid 4K 100Mbps videos and scintillating HD photos, but 32 MP sphere panoramas as well. It even gives you the capacity to capture scenes in slow motion for added drama and suspense.
Normally, you’d have to use a separate program to edit this effect, so have this effect readily available when you shoot is a huge convenience.
In terms of built, the DJI Mavic Air is manufactured using magnesium alloy reinforcements and shaped so that it moves in a very fluid manner. This aerodynamic design means it can be used in virtually any setting, whether it's near a waterfall, above a vast canyon, or even a through the forest. Thanks also to its 3D foldable design, you can conveniently bring it wherever you go.
All in all, this is a solid piece of equipment that will allow professional videographers to expand their creativity. Just be prepared for its price, though, because owning something like this will not come cheap.
For those of you with more constricted budgets, yet still looking to get a quality item, check out the U49C Red Heron. It may not be as high-end as our other examples, but with a present retail value of $130 and filled with all sorts of a fun feature, you’ll really be getting your money’s worth.
Like similar models, this drone is fortified with a 720P HD camcorder that has 120-degree wide-angle capabilities and can be suspended in mid-air for a maximum length of 15 minutes. This helps you capture several vantage points from different heights.
You can even activate an altitude hold command to maintain a certain speed, even without pressing on the controller. As a result, your images are rarely blurry thanks to this stabilizing quality.
For thrill-seekers, quadcopters are always a great source of fun. If you’re planning to race them, they should be built using lightweight materials and an ergonomic design. Here are some of the most popular examples you can find.
Read More: Best Racing Drones
If going fast is something that you crave for, then check out the HS230. First and foremost, this drone is powered by several dominant motors that help it accelerate quickly and reach maximum speeds of 45 kilometers per hour.
Among all selections on the market, this is by far the most powerful. The controls even allow you to do swift turns and 360 twirls with a single press of a button.
Besides this mechanical makeup, a 5.8G FPV real-time transmission, which is operated using a 2.4GHz frequency, provides instantaneous images without any lags. This means you can control the device more confidently and greatly reduce the risk of bumping into obstructions. A 120-degree lens is also set in place to present a wider view of the surroundings. Vision is an important aspect of racing and it’s good that the HS230 has this covered.
Overall, this may not have a wide variety of functions, but at least you know it’s great at one thing – and that’s racing.
The Altair Aerial Blackhawk does not come with a camera and may lack durability, although it does have the knack of reaching far distances within a short amount of time. If you’re fine with these limitations, I invite you to read below.
According to its manufacturers, many of the Blackhawk’s specifications were patterned after more advanced racing drones.
This means that aside from a strong brushless motor, they also enhanced widened the control’s reach capability, made the frame more aerodynamic, and upgraded the gyroscope. They even powered up the battery life to increase the overall 17 minutes of flight time.
With these qualities, you’ll be able to cover a large amount of space in no- time! Just be sure you test this in areas without many impediments, since it doesn’t have a built-in camcorder. Otherwise, it might crash and seriously damage itself.
The final item on our list is the Odyssey Starfall X, which even just from the sound of its name sounds like a drone that goes really fast. Spoiler alert: It does
It has a maximum speed capacity of 55 miles per hour, thanks largely to four well built brushless motors strategically located on each main area. Also, as an added security feature, these are programmed to automatically lock any time the drone experiences any kind of impact.
Aside from this, a 6-axis gyroscope with a 32-bit processor is present to maintain stability, while a 5.8 GHz transmission system ensures that all images sent from the camera to your phone arrive without delay. Once you power up this gadget and it begins to fly, all these technicalities work in unison to guarantee a safe and secure session.
Best of all, I really enjoy the aesthetical quality of the Starfall X. Not only is it built for low wind resistance, but it’s also decorated to look exactly like a racecar. I’m always a big fan of products that show-off their character and I believe this one exemplifies this truth.
Now that we’re done going through each of the best drones based on need, here are some considerations you should contemplate on before you make that purchase. They may all seem simple, but factors a lot of people may forget about.
Now that you’ve determined your reason for buying a drone and learned about each sub-categories price range, you’ll now be able to set a proper budget for your purchase. When making this decision, just remember to be practical. I’ve known plenty of people who ended up spending more than they should since they managed their finances poorly.
On the other hand, also avoid being too thrifty because you could end up compromising on quality. This is also another road you don’t want to walk along.
Before selecting a model, do some backend investigating the company’s performance first. With so many of them out there, it’s always best to deal with reputable establishments with a good track record of after sales service and quality.
Doing a quick Google search should provide you with all the information you need, like user ratings and comments. This is a good habit to practice since you familiarize yourself and learn to differentiate good brands from bad ones.
Another way to learn more about a specific model is through online reviews. Nowadays, people love posting remarks and sharing their experiences, most especially if it isn’t a pleasant one. Therefore, you’ll know which choices have a lot of red flags, or at least know each one’s real witnesses.
Generally speaking, these evaluations are rarely fabricated so they almost always come from an area of sincerity.
Of course, you need to do your own research as well. Avoid passing judgment on a particular product that’s solely based on an anonymous users feedback. At the end of the day, this should just be supplementary information.
In this day and age, social media usage is at an all-time high and there’s a group or forum for virtually any topic. Try joining one of these, as it’s a good way to expand your knowledge and collection inside news on the industry.
Many of the active users are hardcore fanatics of droning, who can provide you with invaluable experience and people to turn to in times of need. This is a no-risk decision with almost everything to gain!
The one thing that people almost always seem to forget about is warranty. Everybody just assumes that its part of the package; that is until something goes wrong. So take their experience as a lesson to always remember to ask.
My suggestion is that you treat this as a deal breaker. If a company does not extend this service, then dealing with them would be a huge risk. It also gives off an impression that they don’t value the relationship with you. Of course, these are just my suggestions; I only want to make sure that you’re protected throughout this process.
Things don’t end after you buy a quadcopter; you have to master flying it first! But it can be quite a tricky task, especially if you don’t know where to start. To help you through this phase, here are some reminders of what to do after the purchase.
One of the first things you can do is watch a couple of how-to videos on YouTube or Facebook. This won’t just show you the basics of how to fly, but teach you some tactics that more advanced users practice. I know that using your drone for the first time can be quite nerve-wracking, so doing this also helps calm you down.
Of course, this method is better suited for people who learn better when visual aids are present. Otherwise, you should...
In my opinion, there’s no better way to learn than to experience it first hand. Actually operating your gadget will teach you things on the fly and force you to adapt accordingly. Obviously, be sure you read the manual and learn the buttons before you do.
Another tip I can give is to seek help from more qualified friends or family. Having someone with you, either to guide you or correct you, is also a great way to retain information. It also puts less pressure on yourself because you know somebody has your back.
Still, if drones are really something you’re passionate about, spend as much time practicing as you can. It may seem like a long road ahead, but before you know it, you’ll be leaps and bounds better than when you began.
Besides recognizing the right commands, the location is the second more important thing. As a beginner, you don’t want to be in a venue with numerous hazards and obstructions, like trees, telephone poles, or buildings.
Instead, try going to a beach or meadow where there are lots of open spaces. This will allow you to make all the mistakes, all while keeping your device, as well as yourself, free from harm. In addition, taking photos of captivating sceneries is way better than concrete. Being able to see this will make learning about drones all the more worth it.
Now that we’ve reached the end, I want to thank you for taking this trip with me. I know it wasn’t easy, but I hope you learned a thing or two from me. If I were to summarize what I share in this article, it would be this: Choose a model that best fits your needs and make sure it’s a reflection of who you are.
If I were to decide what I feel was the best drone available on the market, it would probably be the Mavic Air. Not only does it have a high-end camera, but its other features also compliment the most primary purpose.
It has an enhanced gyroscope to hover around consistently, a user-friendly control system, and a design that’s easy on the eyes. Most of all, I’m a sucker for value-for-money deals and I believe this best encapsulates it.
The DJI Mavic Air may not be the most flawless or techy, but its something I’d be proud to call my own.
What about you? Which one would you consider the best drone for 2018? Let me know what you think by leaving a quick comment below.