The best helicopter drones are slightly different the other drone types. If you enjoy flying traditional drones but are looking for a different experience, you may want to consider trying a helicopter drone. These are essentially miniature helicopters that you control with an external remote or sometimes an app on your phone. Some have cameras, but this is not the primary draw of a helicopter drone. Rather, they are mainly intended to provide fun and entertainment.
One of the most compelling reasons to try a drone helicopter is the price. Your standard quadcopter can be quite expensive, especially if you start to look for additional features. With an RC helicopter, however, you aren’t going to want to spend an arm and a leg. They are a bit clumsy in the air and even seasoned drone pilots may find themselves crashing every now and then. With that in mind, it is better to find a reasonably priced helicopter drone from a manufacturer that sells spare parts.
Pros: The flexible blades and metal alloy body of this helicopter drone make it highly impact-resistant. It is on the larger side, as well, helping to make it easier to control and maintain visual contact during flight.
Cons: As you may have come to expect from a helicopter drone, flight time is the biggest drawback to the S37. Many reviewers noted just a few minutes of flight time, with some noting they were able to fly for less than six minutes per charge.
Key features: With a flight distance of over 100 meters, you can easily fly the S37 either indoors or outdoors. Like other Syma models, the gyro stabilization and altitude hold can also be useful. The helicopter does come with two batteries, as well, so you can extend your flight time a bit by swapping them out.
Additional features: With a high and low speed you can easily fly the S37 in a variety of conditions. It is made from crash-resistant materials and has controls that are relatively easy to learn.
Ideal user: This helicopter drone is ideal for anyone looking for a durable and high-quality indoor/outdoor option.
Bottom line: Syma’s S37 is one of the more versatile models in Syma’s lineup due to its size.
Pros: With WiFi transmission capabilities you can capture video and pictures using the smartphone app. This helicopter drone is also extremely affordable given the photography functionality and still includes more advanced features such as altitude hold and one-touch take-off and landing.
Cons: It is very lightweight, which can make the helicopter difficult to control in windy conditions. Flight time is also fairly short at six minutes maximum.
Key features: The video and picture capabilities are the biggest standout feature for the U12S. As it is a mini helicopter, it is also good at maneuvering in tight spaces. The altitude hold function is very useful for taking steady images and the metal frame is durable and crash-resistant.
Additional features: It can’t be stated enough just how convenient one-touch take-off and landing is, especially for a beginner. This helicopter drone is easy to fly and even has two different speed modes, so you can increase your speed as you become more comfortable with the controls.
Ideal user: This drone helicopter is perfect for beginning flyers of all ages who are interested in photography and videography as well as basic flying.
Bottom line: Cheerwing’s U12S packs a lot of features into an affordable price tag.
Pros: Some find the larger size of the S39 to be easier to see and also more user-friendly to control. It is a great first helicopter drone for a kid as it is crash-resistant and easy to fly.
Cons: This helicopter drone is designed for indoor flight only, which can be a major drawback for those living in smaller spaces or who simply enjoy flying outside. The 10-meter flight distance is also a bit restrictive, even in an indoor setting.
Key features: The gyro stabilization makes for a smooth flying experience with the ability to hover in the air. The helicopter is also low-voltage, meaning longer flight times are possible. You can also switch between two frequencies, meaning if you have two of these helicopter drones you will be able to fly both at the same time without interference issues.
Additional features: Syma’s helicopter drone comes with an additional backup battery. It also includes flashing flight lights for increased visibility and is made from a sturdy metal alloy that is designed to withstand multiple crashes.
Ideal user: Because this drone helicopter is indoor-only, it may be best suited for children who are interested in trying this hobby out.
Bottom line: Syma’s S39 is a budget-and-kid-friendly option.
Pros: This helicopter from Syma is capable of performing basic tricks such as flips and rolls. This is due, in part, to its unique design– while it is a helicopter, it has three protected blades and definitely does not resemble your standard RC model. It is crash-resistant and easy-to-fly, even with its advanced capabilities. The included landing pad also allows you to practice precision flying.
Cons: Like many helicopter drones, flight time is an issue. Don’t expect to fly for more than a few minutes per session. Some have also noted that it is difficult to remove the lid from the battery compartment on the remote control.
Key features: Altitude-hold is one useful feature that differentiates this helicopter from slightly cheaper models. When you release the throttle on the remote while in flight, the drone will stay put at a given altitude. One-key take-off and landing are also quite useful, as are the emergency stop button and built-in LED light for night flying.
Additional features: This drone can be flown indoors or outdoors. It comes standard with several reflective strips, a landing pad, a remote control, and a USB charging cord.
Ideal user: If you are a beginner who is looking to invest a little more in a quality product, or if you’ve already flown an RC helicopter and know this is something you enjoy, then this may be the helicopter drone for you.
Bottom line: Syma’s RC Helicopter is feature-rich and still fairly affordable.
Pros: This drone helicopter is budget-friendly and reasonably crash-resistant– an excellent combination for any new pilot. It can be flown indoors, as well, so you can fly no matter what the weather outside looks like. Spare parts are also readily available.
Cons: Some reviewers noted that the flight time is a little lacking for the length of time you have to charge the batteries. A six-minute flight for a 60-minute charge could feel a bit anticlimactic, so you may want to have a spare set or two of fully charged batteries.
Key features: Protocol’s drone helicopter can easily perform a vertical take-off and landing without much effort on the pilot’s part. The remote control is also built for exploring wide areas, as well as providing excellent maneuverability in tight spaces.
Additional features: The helicopter is able to remain relatively stable thanks to gyro stabilization. This may be less important given that it is not a photography drone, but it can make flying easier. It can also be controlled via the external remote control or your smartphone.
Ideal user: This helicopter drone is perfect for a beginner flyer who is looking for an affordable way to break into the hobby. It’s also great for someone who is looking to practice their flight skills.
Bottom line: Protocol’s Drone Aviator RC Helicopter is a solid contender at a price point that won’t break the bank.
Considerations when purchasing a helicopter drone
There are a few things to consider before investing in a helicopter drone of your own. For one, would your needs be better suited by a helicopter or a quadcopter?
If you are looking for something to practice flying on and don’t need a lot of features, a helicopter drone may be perfect. On the other hand, if you want to take high-quality images or videos, a quadcopter may be the better choice. RC helicopters are certainly more affordable and can make for an excellent gateway into the hobby, but many people will eventually want to graduate up to a true quadcopter.
If you do decide that a helicopter drone is right for you, the biggest considerations should be the affordability of the model you choose as well as the availability of spare parts. As we mentioned earlier, it is almost guaranteed that you will crash your helicopter at some point– and it’s highly possible that such a crash will result in bent blades or other damages. To protect your investment, make sure you can easily obtain new parts. Most reputable manufacturers sell their spare parts and some even provide a discount with the purchase of a new helicopter.
Other factors to take into account include the size of the helicopter drone. Smaller helicopters may be better for flying indoors. If you have a large practice space in your home, this could be perfect for you. If, however, you anticipate flying mainly outdoors, try to find a model that will accommodate that. Flight time is important, as well, but this can usually be increased with a spare battery.
Helicopter drones are a fun and affordable way to break into the drone world. Any of the options on our list would make for a great first drone for a beginner.