With the amount of innovation in recent years, today’s market is flooded with competitive options. And it may be challenging to figure out which drone is the best choice for you. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned professional, adding a drone to your repertoire adds a new dimension to your creation.
Considering that many of today’s options combine excellent image quality with ease of use, they present an impressive addition.
Below are the top ten best drones, in today’s market that all provide distinct advantages and are the leaders in their class.
|DJI Mavic Air 2|
|DJI Mavic 2 Zoom|
|DJI Mavic 2 Pro|
|DJI Phantom 4|
|DJI Inspire 2|
|Parrot Bebop 2|
10 – RYZE TELLO
The Ryze Tello is a partnership release with DJI. It’s a drone that they’ve designed to be educational and fun, rather than competitive. It features 720p HD video at 30 fps, electronic image stabilization, and FPV flying. For control, it ships with a Bluetooth controller for directly controlling the drone, or you can control it using the free Tello app.
Weighing only 79g, it’s also light enough that it doesn’t require registration with the FAA before flight. It produces 5 MP still images, and Ryze rates its flight time at 13 minutes on a full charge and a maximum range distance of 100 m.
Overall, this drone is all about adventure, acrobatics, and Ariel moves. In addition to standard flying, Tello can perform flips, take off or land from your hand, and capture 360-degree views.
It’s also a drone that’s designed for use as a STEM tool for beginners or enthusiasts looking to learn the basics of programming or software development. It may not be the flashiest option. But, it addresses an overlooked segment of the market for users who want an easy to use quadcopter, with custom software without breaking the bank.
9 – Parrot Bebop 2
The Parrot Bebop 2 is a mid-range drone that’s budget-friendly and feature-packed. It features a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, 180º fisheye lens, 1080p full HD video up to 30 fps, 3-axis digital stabilization, and FPV support. And for control, it uses your smartphone via the FreeFlight Pro app or the optional flight controller is available for purchase as well.
Parrot has re-designed the body, making it more robust than the predecessor and installed a higher capacity battery. The drone is now rated for a range of 300m via smartphone or 2000m using the Skycontroller, and 25 minutes of flight time.
Unlike competitors, it boasts a fisheye lens, with a large 170º field of view for silky smooth video. And it even uses software algorithms combined with a dampened design to further compensate for shake, creating superior stabilization compared to rivals at this price. Plus it supplies 14MP RAW images, for added versatility.
Overall, the Bebop 2 is a strong smartphone-controlled option that produces high-quality stills and videos. And it provides a unique perspective compared to competitors. With its superior stabilization, it’s a great entry-level option for those looking to get started.
8 – DJI Inspire 2
The Inspire 2 by DJI is a flagship-level drone and is a notable refresh to the original Inspire, which quickly rose as a favorite release. It features 3-axis stabilization, FPV support, and object avoidance. For control, it ships with the DJI controller for use with the DJI Go 4 app for 27 minutes of flight time.
Unlike rivals, it offers users the ability to swap camera lenses. And the distinct advantage of tailoring the lens for the job at hand, perfect for professionals who need complete control over how the drone captures images. It also boasts an enormous range at 7000m and a robust object avoidance system to tracking objects at a distance of 30m, plus infrared and terrain detection sensors.
The result is a drone that’s virtually impossible to crash, as it’s more than intelligent enough to avoid collisions. That avoidance system also affords the drone with unrivaled subject tracking abilities, with its Spotlight Pro mode. When paired with the X5S camera, not only does it provide a large Micro Four Thirds sensor, for better low light. But, it also supplies 5.2K video at 30 fps or 4K UHD at 60 fps.
Overall, the Inspire 2 provides notable improvements over the predecessor with its sleek magnesium finish that’ll surely turn heads. Not only is it lightning quick, and feature-packed, but it’s also incredibly responsive. For professionals looking for a robust all-in-one package, this is your choice.
7 – DJI Phantom 4
The Phantom 4 is quite the refinement and progression over the competition. It features a 1/2.3-inch sensor, 20mm lens, C4K UHD up to 24 fps, 4K UHD up to 30 fps, 2.7K up to 30 fps, 1080p full HD up to 120 fps, 3-axis stabilization, FPV support, and obstacle avoidance. For control, it ships with a dedicated controller that connects to your phone via the DJI Go 4 or Pilot apps.
Unlike rivals, it offers ActiveTrack, which uses its robust object recognition system to track and follow a subject. The drone also supports TouchFly, enabling flight by simply touching on the screen, no control sticks needed. DJI rates the drone for 28 minutes of flight time on a single charge and an impressive range of 5000 m. And it also provides full manual control over both stills and video, allowing users to change ISO sensitivity or shutter speed. Plus, it offers full RAW support in the DNG format for maximum versatility.
Overall, its sleek magnesium alloy body and glossy white finish are sure to appeal both enthusiasts and professional fliers alike. And with a host of features and a helpful beginner mode, it’s a compelling choice for beginners with the budget. It builds upon the successes of its predecessor and is a complete solution for your aerial needs.
6 – DJI SPARK
The DJI Spark is a compact powerhouse and one of the company’s most compact drones to date. But, despite its small size, it’s packed full of features and functionality that matches its bigger and more expensive brothers. It features a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, a 25mm lens, 1080p full HD video up to 30 fps, 2-axis stabilization, and object avoidance. DJI rates the drone for 16 minutes of flight per battery, totaling 32 minutes on a full charge.
Unlike rivals, it features an enormous selection of intelligent flying modes, expanding on the standard set installed on DJI’s range. Some of these include the Rocket, Circle, Helix, and Dronie modes. These modes allow new users to capture excellent cinematic footage, without needing the piloting skills to do so. It also boasts gesture recognition, allowing for operation without the controller or a smartphone. And unlike most selfie drones, it provides two-axis mechanical stabilization and a robust obstacle avoidance system that closely matches DJI’s more expensive drones.
Overall, the Spark is easy to fly and gives new users the confidence and vigor they desire. And like the company’s higher-end drones, it provides a flying experience and feature set that leave opponents in the dust. If you don’t mind shooting in 1080p, it’s among the top portable drones available on the market. And one that outshines rivals in virtually every regard. For beginners, the Spark is your best choice.
5 – DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The Mavic 2 Pro by DJI is the company’s flagship and a strong choice for those looking for a premium drone. It features a large 1-inch CMOS sensor, 28mm lens, 4K UHD video up to 30 fps, 2.7K at 60 fps, 1080p full HD video at 120 fps, and collision avoidance. For control, it uses the DJI controller that connects to a smartphone via the DJI Go 4 app. And they rate the drone for 31 minutes of flight time.
Unlike rivals, its lens offers a variable aperture, avoiding the need for purchasing neutral density filters when flying in bright conditions. And it also provides a large 20MP 1-inch sensor, giving the drone image quality that outpaces rivals when coupled with its DNG format. With these specs coupled with its foldable design, it is the most compact drone with such a large sensor around.
Overall, it’s an excellent choice for those looking for a bit more quality over other DJI models. It’s easy to fly and provides intuitive control and a sophisticated feature set to match. It remains as one of the most impressive consumer-oriented drones to date, and a strong all-rounder suited for professionals, but easy enough for beginners. If you need a highly portable option as a second angle to your setup, this is the best option around.
4 – DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The Mavic 2 Zoom by DJI is a variant of the Mavic 2 Pro, with their main difference being camera systems. Otherwise, it shares many of the highlight features and a similar portable design. It features a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, a 24-48mm lens, 3-axis stabilization, 4K UHD 30 fps, 2.7K up to 60 fps, 1080p full HD up to 120 fps, omnidirectional sensing, and collision avoidance. And for control, it ships with the DJI controller which uses the smartphone as the display via the DJI Go 4 app.
Unlike rivals, it offers an optical zoom lens, allowing fliers to capture close-ups of subjects while maintaining a safe distance. And its zoom lens unlocks a new world of possibilities and creative potential. The drone also inherits all of the intelligent and sophisticated flying modes typical from DJI, for example, Hyperlapse and ActiveTrack. DJI rates the drone for 31 minutes of flight and a range of 8000m. Like the 2 Pro, it also supports the RAW format for both stills and video, adding versatility.
Overall, the Mavic 2 Zoom is a serious photographic tool that provides a novel approach and perspective to an already proven platform. It makes an excellent choice for those looking for a similar design and robust feature set as the 2 Pro, but want more versatility in framing or to get closer to subjects than laws allow. And it remains as one of the top drones for users looking for pro-level quality, in a compact form factor.
3 – DJI Mavic Air 2
The Mavic Air 2 represents a significant improvement over the original Mavic Air and is an excellent all-round option for both seasoned pilots and beginners. Like the Mavic Mini, it offers excellent 4K video at 60 fps, along with a wide array of shooting functionality. It features an updated 1/2-inch Bayer sensor, a 24mm lens, 3-axis stabilization, 4K video up to 60 fps, 2.7K up to 60 fps, 1080p video up to 240 fps, subject-tracking, obstacle avoidance, and landing sensors. And weighing only 570g, it’s quite portable, considering its power.
For control, the drone uses an included controller, which pairs with the DJI Fly app and uses your smartphone as the display. The updated controller boasts an impressive range of 10,000m, far outpacing competitors and a significant improvement over its predecessor 4000m range. And unlike rivals, it offers advanced autopilot functionality, allowing the drone to reroute to avoid obstacles automatically. It obtains many advanced features typically reserved for DJI’s Pro lineup plus an impressive 34 minutes of flight time to boast.
Overall, the Air 2 makes a notable improvement over its predecessor, with a host of new features at the same friendly price. And it makes an excellent choice for filmmakers and photographers alike with its ease of use and pro-level feature set. It’s a strong choice that undoubtedly offers broad appeal, and is among their most popular releases to date.
2 – Parrot Anafi
The Parrot Anafi is another compact, lightweight option that packs a punch and provides a feature set that competes well. It features a 1/2.4-inch CMOS sensor, 26-78mm lens, 3-axis hybrid stabilization, C4K at 24 fps, 4K UHD at 30 fps, 1080p FHD video up to 60 fps and landing sensors. For control, it connects to smartphones via the Parrot Skycontroller III for use with the Freeflight 6 app. And Parrot rates it at a maximum range of 4000m and 25 minutes of flight time.
Unlike rivals, it offers a 180º vertical range, enabling the drone to take photos upwards, a distinct and rare feature in this class. It also offers a 2.8x zoom lens that provides a penalty-free zoom to get close to subjects without a reduction to image quality. Plus, it shoots the slightly wider 17:9 aspect ratio cinema 4K, a rare feature in this class. It even supplies both RAW images, in the form of DNG files, or JPEGs at a whopping 21MP.
Overall, it’s a particularly strong choice for those wanting a drone for self-portraits and filming, with its Follow Me mode to track your movements. And it represents an excellent balance between price, performance, and portability for both newcomers and seasoned fliers. Sure it’s not the most stylish option and offers a more functionalist design. But, it’s one that impresses with high-quality results.
1 – DJI Mavic Mini
The Mavic Mini is a featherweight design that flies without the need for registration. And it’s one of few drones on the market to bypass FAA and Civil Aviation registration requirements. With this release, DJI has monopolized on the sub-250g category with this super lightweight, yet capable option. It features a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, a 24mm lens, 3-axis mechanical stabilization, 2.7K video at 30 fps, and 1080p video up to 60 fps, and landing sensors. It also offers follow and FPV modes, for added versatility. For control, it ships with the Mavic Mini controller, which uses your phone as a display via the DJI fly app for a maximum range of 4000m.
Unlike rivals, it provides up to 30 minutes of flight time and a collapsible design for maximum portability. DJI has also equipped the camera with full manual control up to ISO 3,200, which gives users a real possibility of capturing usable low light 12MP photos.
Overall, the Mavic Mini remains the best all-rounder. Sure, it doesn’t offer 4K video, 60 fps at 2.7K, or object tracking or avoidance. But, for the price, it couples a compact size for maximum portability with excellent image quality and a strong-flying experience. And it remains the most affordable drone to date and the leader of the class in performance combined with portability.
Below you’ll find a complete guide of all the factors to consider when looking at your first drone. There are quite a few things, so to simplify the process we’ve done our best to rank them in order of importance.
Ease of Use
Not all of these devices come ready to fly (RTF) from the get-go. Some will require minor installation or outright soldering to get working. So since you’re a beginner, it’s essential to focus on RTF models that are fully assembled and ready for use. We don’t recommend any non-RTF models for beginners. Those are strictly for seasoned FPV pilots.
You want a drone with built-in fail-safes so that in the event of a communication loss, it can safely return to the launch point. This feature is essential, especially when it’s low on battery or there’s signal interference. So it’s important that you look for models that specifically offer automatic return home and a low battery warning.
You may also want some of the pre-programmed cinematic maneuvers available, like subject tracking and various aerial maneuvers, like Helix or Dronie. So use these as a deciding point between models, as they’ll help create exciting cinematic content immediately.
Not all devices come with built-in cameras. So it’s important to double-check to make sure the model you’re considering has a built-in camera that’s on par with the image quality you’re after. Otherwise, consider skipping them altogether. However, built-in cameras do vary wildly. You can find some models capturing 4K or higher resolution. Or those only offer 720p SD.
Even so, most of the models aimed at beginners will deliver image quality that matches today’s smartphones. So the consideration here is whether the model has a built-in camera and shoots higher than 1080p video. If those two qualifications are met, it likely has decent image quality that’s shareworthy online.
Not every camera has built-in stabilization in the form of a three-axis gimbal. But, if you want to record smooth aerial footage, this feature is a must. Skip any models offering electronic stabilization alone and go for those with a physical gimbal instead. Digital stabilization does little to stabilize aerial footage.
The truth is that most of us will crash our drones. So when that happens, you want the device to be sturdy and somewhat resistant to the beating. So it’s wise to look for models with optional rotor shields and a healthy selection of replacement parts to replace damaged parts quickly.
Most devices ship with an included controller with two joysticks. One controls the altitude, including pitch and roll. The other stick controls the rotation and speed. Some controllers also have extra buttons to engage specific maneuvers and tasks quickly. Others will feature built-in displays. But, either way, the controller should be well designed, clearly marked, and comfortable. Models with awkward controllers will make the flying experience cumbersome and take away some of the joy.
When it comes to battery life, most devices offer 20 to 30 minutes per charge. And that’s usually standard across the mid-range segment. However, if you’re looking at toy drones, the standard is closer to 10 minutes. So it depends on which specific area you’re considering. Even so, it’s wise to look for models with interchangeable batteries that you can swap with little hassle. Some models also support USB-C charging so that you can charge them via a battery bank. But, at a minimum, look for models offering 15 minutes of flight time per charge. This will give you enough flight time to capture great footage or photos and enjoy the experience.
Most of these devices are collapsible in some way. But, you can find many fixed-wing options in the toy segment. The problem with fixed-wing drones, though, is that they’re difficult to store, making them tedious when traveling. They’re always overly bulky, regardless of how compact they truly are. So, if you plan on traveling often, it’s important you find a model that uses a collapsible design instead.
Maximum Transmission Range
Many of these devices have exceptionally long ranges, often reaching 1 to 3 miles away. But, the FAA mandates that you keep the drone within visual line of sight, which is about 200 yards, depending on the visibility that day. But, it’s important to highlight that many budget-friendly models have maximum transmission ranges of 100 ft or less, limiting where and how you can fly. So consider the maximum range if you want to fly across larger landscapes.
If you plan on flying in windy conditions, it’s important that you know your drone’s maximum wind resistance. This specification is something you can find on the manufacturer’s page. But, most mid-range models offer a wind resistance rating of Force 5, which is roughly 20 MPH.
First Person View (FPV) Support
You’ll find that some models have FPV support, giving you a birds-eye view of its camera in real-time. Some models also support streaming this feed to VR goggles, giving you the ultimate flying experience. So if you’re interested in piloting and liking the flight experience, this feature is a must.