Remote control drones have become affordable and easy to use. So it's the perfect time to buy your quadcopter!
Now: You might be wondering what to look for when choosing your drone. It's easy: Right below, you will find the six most important specs to look for.
We've also included them for each drone review further down on this page so that you can quickly compare products. Bada bing, bada boom — you’re almost ready for takeoff!
Here are the six drone features you need to know when shopping:
This is the average time your drone will stay in the air on a single charge. Longer is better. Tip: Get extra batteries to extend your flight time.
This is the fun part: It's the maximum speed your drone can fly (miles per hour). Pretty self explanatory, right?
Drones are all about exploring the sky. The range shows you how far your drone can fly without losing contact to the controller (in feet).
Many drones include an on-board camera or a mount to attach your own camera (e.g. one of these GoPro cameras). A great feature to have.
Controllers can come in the form of a hardware controller or an RC app. Both are fun, so choose based on your personal preference.
Return home tells the drone to automatically come back to you using GPS. It's a very useful and convenient feature to have.
The UDI 818A HD+ is a great camera drone for beginners who want long term value and room for their flying skills to grow. It comes with everything you need get started, no assembly required.
You get a built-in HD camera, automatic "return home" functionality, 6-axis gyro stabilization, and more. All that comes at a surprisingly low price. There's a lot to like here!
The drone also comes with many extras such as a remote control with LCD, an extra battery, spare blades, a Micro SD Card plus USB card reader, and more. All these extras are great to have and really improve the long-term experience with the quadcopter.
All in all, the UDI 818A HD+ is one of the best drones for beginners we've seen. It's easy to use, fun, and very budget friendly.
The brand new Hubsan X4 offers live HD video that you can watch on the included remote control. This lets you explore the world around you from an amazing first-person perspective, high above. The FPV video feature also makes the drone much easier to fly and land.
The X4 has a robust frame which makes it one of the best drones for beginners. Hubsan is known to make high-quality quadcopters, and the X4 is no exception. Everything about this drone feels well-designed. It handles well and is a clear top choice for beginners.
The drone's arguably best features are the amazing live video which streams directly to the remote control, the excellent battery life and range, and this quadcopter's ease of use.
All these features add up to a high-quality product which provides hours of fun and a lot of long-term value. The X4 is a top affordable camera drone.
The Syma X5SW-V3 doesn't just look cool - it's also a beast to fly. It features an optimal mix between an affordable price tag and easy flying for drone beginners.
You get A LOT of features for the money here, including an HD camera, the latest 6-axis flight stabilization systems, and (surprisingly for the price) first-person Wi-Fi video via iOS and Android app.
The drone features 360-degree flips and continuous roll functionalities and is very stable. While the battery life falls behind the Hubsan X4, the Syma X5SW offers a lot of flight stability, and a great range for the price. The drone is small (about 12x12 inches), light, and very agile.
This new version supports cell phone control directly from your iPhone or Android phone. We also liked that the drone comes with a variety of spare replacement parts. There's a lot to like here!
The new Holy Stone F181 is one of the most feature-rich budget quadcopters you can buy.
You get a two megapixel HD camera, strong flight plus stabilization technology, as well as an excellent and very responsive remote control.
If you're looking for a fully featured drone that comes at a low price, this is the top choice. The F181 offers a fantastic balance of value and price.
We highly recommend it for it's balance of price and features, plus it's overall excellent quality.
One of the many reasons the HS170 is featured in our buying guide is that it's easy to fly and stable even in most conditions.
Excellent performance and wind resistance make the drone fun to use. You will get the hang of it quickly, and it offers a frustration-free experience. If you want a cheap, basic drone buy the HS170.
If you want a camera for a few extra dollars, we recommend the Holy Stone F181.
The Syma X5C is another top budget choice. It offers amazing flying performance and includes an HD camera, plus spare propellers. It is also very affordable. The price is actually unbelievably low for all the high-tech features you get.
The Syma X5C's full 6-axis gyro stabilization automatically helps to stabilize flight in any condition. We highly recommend it, because it's hard to go wrong at this price.
Meet one of the best mini drones on the market - and one of the absolute best priced quadcopter drone available!
Being affordable luckily doesn't mean that this drone lacks in performance. It's an absolute beast to fly, reacting quickly and handling very well.
The Cheerson Cx-10 Mini only measures 2.5x2.5 inches. It's hard to believe that such a small drone can pack a powerful battery, but we consistently were able to fly it for eight minutes or longer.
Everything you need to start flying immediately is included. You get extra propellers, a USB charger, and a great controller. It's one of the best mini drones for sale.
Don't let the tiny size fool you, the bestselling E010 Mini UFO is a beast and offers lots of flying fun with an eye-popping price tag!
The E010 measures only about 3.7 x 3.7 x 2 inches and clocks in at 1.5 ounces. However, the strong motor, excellent stabilization technology, and fun remote controller make this small drone a blast to fly.
The Mini UFO also offers advanced features usually reserved for bigger quadcopters, including automatic return home functionality that brings the drone back to you safely. Out of all the drones we've seen, this is one of the most fun. It's a high-tech gadget that's both cheap and powerful.
Indoors and outdoors, the Kidcia Mini Drone is fun! Perform stunts and flips with the easy to use app which makes flying this mini drone lots of fun. The Kidcia is also very durable because of its light weight and protective blade guards.
What also stood out was the Kidcia's long battery life. The drone can fly for nine minutes before recharging, which is amazing for its miniature size. When you first get it, you'll be amazed by just how small this flying machine is. It measures only 3x3".
All that comes at a very affordable price. The Kidcia RC drone is one of the best mini drones you can get. If you're looking for a cheap and easy to fly small quadcopter, this is it!
The brand new DJI Phantom 4 is an absolutely amazing quadcopter. It's hands-down the overall best drone you can buy.
The new version of the bestselling DJI Phantom includes a fully automated GPS which makes controlling the drone easy. For example, the drone can automatically take off and come back to you, which is great. It now offers a high-end camera that captures ultra-HD 4K video and stunning 12MP photos, all with Gimbal stabilization technology.
The new Phantom 4 features a fun sports mode which unlocks the drones speed for an insane 45 MPH! All this is topped off with a spectacular 16,000 feet (3 miles) range. In short, this is the best quadcopter drone you can buy. It's a high-end, polished flying experience. Everything about this drone is well-designed, premium, and fun. Our overall winner!
The Bebop 2 is the new version of Parrot's bestselling drone. There are a lot of improved specs, making this quadcopter even better than it already was.
The Bebop 2 sports an enhanced 14 megapixel camera that records sharp 1080p HD video. It now also has a much longer battery life of 25+ minutes. The camera drone is controlled from your smartphone or tablet using Parrot's excellent app. The drone streams live HD video right to your device. Check out the Parrot Sky Controller.
The Bebop 2 quadcopter features improved aerodynamics, 3-axis digital stabilization, and a lighter body for better handling and reliability. It's one of the most enjoyable flying experiences of any drone. Overall, the Bebop 2 is an excellent HD camera drone that blends new technology with an affordable price point.
If you're looking to shoot pro-level aerial photos and videos without breaking the bank, this is the drone you should get! It offers an excellent 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) camera with the ability to capture slow-motion 120fps (1080p) videos and 12 megapixel photos. The camera is stabilized by a 3-axis Gimbal for smooth shots.
The drone also comes with a handy Steadygrip, a pistol-grip device that lets you control the drone’s camera from the ground using your smartphone as a viewfinder. The Yuneec Q500 4K comes factory assembled and ready-to-fly in a nice aluminum drone carrying case.
The Q500 4K is also very stable and resists wind and turbulence. While the DJI Phantom 4 offers a better range and speed, the Q500 4k is a quieter alternative. If you want to take great aerial videos and photos, and still plan to save some money, the Yuneec Q500 4K is a top choice!
DJI now offers the newer Phantom 4, but the popular DJI Phantom 3 is still one of the very best professional drones you can buy. Best of all, it offers a really affordable price. Tip: You can get it in a bundle with premium accessories.
DJI is the market leader in high end remote controlled drones, and this model is one of the best you can currently buy. It captures stunning, stabilized 4K UHD video and offers an intelligent flying system that allows for cinema-quality shots.
The drone also offers a really perfect flying experience. You get an excellent range, top quality, and a great live HD video downlink directly to the controller. In summary, the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 are both equally excellent choices if you're looking for a professional drone that includes all high-end features that are currently available and is very future proof.
The T600 Inspire 1 is another ultra-high-end model from DJI which offes 4K videos and 12 MP photos. The drone streams a real-time view from the camera to your remote. This gives you a perfect view to set up and film even complicated shots with ease.
It's pre-assembled and factory-tested, offering you a complete aerial film making tool in a box. This advanced drone features strong carbon fiber arms which lift out of sight once the drone flies, so that you can shoot true 360-degree videos with the built-in UHD camera.
The drone's Gimbal and camera system can be removed for transport and for future upgrades, which is a smart feature and makes the drone future proof. The DJI T600 Inspire 1 is very stable and easy to fly. It's one of the most advanced and reliable pro camera drones you can get.
One look at the DJI S1000+ and you know you're dealing with professional-level equipment. The first thing you'll notice is that this is not a quadcopter drone but an octocopter. The eight propellers give it a strong uplift and incredible stability for professional aerial photos and videos.
The strong motor and propulsion system allows the drone to safely carry DSLR cameras and other heavy equipment. The S1000+ is build for filmmakers, real estate professionals, and other users who require extremely reliable and advanced features. It consistently delivers world-class stabilized shots, even at great heights and at far distances. The drone is regularly used in professional movie productions for a reason.
If you're looking for the very best camera drone money can buy, this is it. It's truly a technical marvel without equal.
Tip 1: Start slow and low. Practice with your new drone for a while to get a hang of how it handles.
Tip 2: Extra power. No matter which drone you get, pick up a few extra batteries for longer flights.
Tip 3: Watch out. It's easy to overlook trees, power lines, and other obstacles, so think ahead.
Tip 4: Practice makes perfect. The first minutes with a drone can seem hard. No worries, it gets easier.
Tip 5: Roll, pitch, yaw, throttle! Check out the manual to find out advanced functions on your controller.
Drones are a lot of fun but can become dangerous when not operated properly. Here are some basic safety tips:
First off, read the manual carefully. Each manufacturer provides lots of useful information on how to use the drone and keep things safe. Whenever you use the drone, keep away from the rotors because these things spin fast and can start unexpectedly.
If you're about to crash your drone, quickly turn the throttle to zero so that the damage to your drone and other objects is minimized. Speaking of power, if you're doing any work on the drone, always take out the battery as the drone may suddenly turn on.
If you're a beginner, learn to fly in easy conditions (meaning a wide open space with no wind and no obstacles). No matter where you fly, always follow all laws and regulations, including registering your drone with the FAA if needed.
Lastly, be considered of other people, especially with camera drones. All that being said, drones are awesome and lots of fun. Pick up one of these engineering wonders and explore the world from above. Have fun and fly safe!
All right, so you're excited to get started and touch the sky? We've got some additional tips to make flying your brand new drone even more fun and rewarding. Let's jump right in:
Many drones support manual flight mode.
This allows you to fly fast, advanced maneuvers without the drone’s stabilization and alignment features getting in the way. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it is, but only once you have a hang on how to handle your new drone.
We recommend always to start out in automatic mode. If you have the option, turn on all stabilization, return home, and auto-flight features your drone offers. Then go ahead and fly for a while. You will get an intuitive sense for how your drone performs, especially in more windy conditions.
Speaking of Wind
The windier it gets the harder it is to pilot a drone so be patient at first and take your drone for it's first test flight on a day with calm weather. This way you will get a feel for how it behaves and reacts under normal conditions and develop the skills to handle it should wind pick up one day.
If you notice that wind speeds pick up and start exceeding about 10 miles per hour, it is time to land your drone. Don’t lift off during windy days, because it is easier than you think to lose your investment to a sudden, powerful gust of wind.
Want to have some fun?
Start practicing interesting maneuvers like flying wide and tight curves, adjusting flight height skilfully, flying an upward corkscrew path, and smoothly going from full speed to a stable hover at will. These moves are not only tons of fun but will also teach you solid drone flying skills to show off. There are a ton of stunts you can try if your drone supports it.
Try a 360 degree flip forwards, backward, or to the side. Next, carefully fly your drone through an obstacle race of objects around you. Another fun activity is to grab a friend with a drone and race them to a goal and back. We also found that precise flying is a ton of fun!
As you get more advanced, you can test your skills by precisely and quickly maneuver your drone where you want to and then return back like a pro! Lots to do, for sure.
Mayday, mayday.. we're going down!
No worries, this pretty much happens to everybody and you should prepare yourself for it to happen sooner or later. But even crashing can be made much easier if you have the right skills. When you know for sure that your drone is going to make a hard landing, there are a few things you can do to minimize damage. If you get lucky nothing happens.
First off, if it's still possible, steer your drone away from trees and other high or complicated obstacles. Trust us, it's so much easier to retrieve a crashed drone in a field that in a 50 foot tree (yup, we had to do that a couple of times and it's not really fun).
Then, before your drone hits the ground, make sure to quickly cut off all throttle so that the blades stop spinning by the time the drone makes contact. This does two things. First, it reduces damage to the blades and motor and second, it reduces harm to whatever you crash into (hopefully an inanimate object).
If there’s one drone skill that’s as important as it is underrated, it is hovering. No matter if you are preparing for takeoff, need to get quick control over your quadcopter to prevent a crash, or want to land like a pro – being able to bring the drone to a sudden hover is important. The best part?
Hovering also allows you to take much better pictures and videos without that annoying shake. So how do you learn it? Practice lower, near the ground and then hover higher up. You will notice a big difference as turbulence from the rotors affects hovering stability.
Then, practice hovering after the drone is moving slow or fast. Get a feel for how the wind, speed, and momentum affect how your drone behaves. Soon you will be able to hover in any situation.
Do you need to register your drone?
We're not lawyers so this is just an opinion, but the short answer is: Yes. New rules for drone registration have just been released and they affect most hobby drones.
The good news is that registering your drone with the FAA costs only a few dollars and you can do it quickly online. According to the FAA, you need to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg) - so yeah that's pretty much every drone. You must be at least 13 years of age to register.
Definitely get this done before the first flight, it's pretty easy and will save you a lot of potential trouble. Note: These rules may change, so be sure to check the FAA's website for the most up-to-date regulations for drones and quadcopters.
Looking for more tips? Check out our new reviews for the best DSLR Cameras or browse all of our Technology Reviews. We've done the research so that you can buy with confidence. Take a look!
Everybody and their grandmas want to fly a drone. Thankfully, they no longer cost an arm and a leg to purchase due to the numerous manufacturers and simplified technology that goes into making them. The problem, however, is spotting a good drone from the seemingly infinite ocean of models available.
First, we need to see what types of RC drones are out there. Generally, they can be split into four groups – single rotor, fixed-wing, hybrid, and multi-rotor.
Single rotor drones are efficient at generating thrust for better movement. Some models come with combustion engines that run on gasoline, though electric/battery-powered drones are much more popular. They’re also designed to carry bulky and heavy loads while in flight. If you need to transport large objects to neighboring cities, then a single rotor drone might be for you.
Fixed-wing drones are similar to airplanes in the way that they generate lift using their wings rather than thrust-generating rotors. The way these drones achieve altitude is by angling their wings. However, the wings cannot help with vertical lift-off. These can be quite fast in the air and can last for several hours of flight.
Fixed Wing Hybrid
A relatively new category of drones is fixed-wing hybrids. They use the basic flight principles of helicopters (rotors) and airplanes (wings). The rotors are generally used for liftoff, then the wings take over for horizontal movement and gaining altitude while in the air. These are more complex drones and can cost quite a bit. However, they’re definitely worth the investment if you need hours and hours of flight time to deliver large parcels.
Multi-rotor drones are by the more most popular drone type. They’re used by both hobbyist fliers and professionals. Multi-rotor drones are equipped with powerful cameras that take beautiful images and videos. If you want to up your Instagram page with wonderful aerial shots, multi-rotors are the way to go.
Your purchase decision should be based on what you plan on doing with the drone. In general, there are three user types – hobbyist, professional, and racing.
The most important things to a hobbyist flier are flight time and maneuverability. Drones built for hobbyists are durable and can reach long ranges. Spare parts are also readily available in the event of crashes.
Certain drones are made specifically for photography and video recording, making the onboard camera the star of the show. Controlling these drones is a lot easier in order to capture images from all the right angles. They typically last for between 10 and 20 minutes in the air per charge.
Drones for racing are built purely for speed. Drone races require the use of FPV (first-person viewing) goggles that lets the pilot see from the lens of the camera. Racing drones usually come with every feature in the book.
When shopping for an RC drone online, you need to take into account several important factors. And here they are.
The most important factor is your skill level in operating a drone. Nobody, not even your worst enemy, wants to see you crash your pilot on its maiden flight. If this is your first drone, we’d recommend investing in a cheaper model that you can use to hone your skills. Or you could hire a personal flight trainer to teach you how to fly.
This refers to how long the drone can stay in the air on a single battery charge. Several factors affect the drone’s flight time, such as the weight of the drone, the weight of its cargo, battery size, and maneuver patterns. The price tag of a drone is usually a good indicator of how long it can stay in the air – cheaper models range from 7 to 15 minutes, whereas high-end drones can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than 10 hours.
GPS sensors are extra handy for those of you who aren’t experts and flying drones. You can program certain coordinates into the GPS sensor to tell the drone where to fly. A neat feature is “Return Home” which, at the push of a button, will command the drone to come back to your home’s coordinates (must be programmed beforehand).
Most drones come with onboard cameras that let you take pictures or record videos from the heavens. To see exactly what your drone sees from the sky, the camera should have FPV that connects to a set of goggles.
The controller, also referred to as the transmitter, is what you need to perform figure-eights in the air. Depending on the model, the controller can show real-time diagnostics (altitude, speed, remaining battery life) and even come with a monitor for viewing through the lens of the drone’s camera.
Depending on how you use the drone, you might want to consider purchasing a few of the following accessories along with your first RC drone.
The rotors, though extremely important, aren’t all that durable. Flying your drone into a tree can end in disaster when one of the rotors snaps off. Having guards around the rotors will not affect its flight pattern and will protect them when you inevitably crash the drone into a brick wall.
The worst part about flying drones is calling it quits when the battery runs out. With a portable charger, you can refill the battery pack without needing to head home.
Additional Battery Packs
Or better yet, you can have an extra battery charging up while another one powers your drone. Having multiple battery packs will help you extend your flight time so you can get more practice each day.
Whether you’re racing your drone or would like to see what your drone sees, you need a pair of FPV goggles. Not every drone is compatible with goggles so we recommend double-checking with the manufacturer before settling on a drone model.
One of the hardest things to do when controlling a drone is landing. Setting her down on a surface can be tough, especially if you need to land on concrete or another hard surface. Landing pads are made of a soft material to cushion the drone’s feet to prevent scratching.
Flying while the sun is out is the safest way to gain flight hours. However, the sun isn’t kind to smartphone screens and controller displays. An umbrella/sunshade can prevent glaring by blocking sunlight from reflecting off of your phone or controller.
Cushioned Backpacks or Cases
Whether you get an expensive $1,000-plus drone or a cheap $50 model for practice, you shouldn’t carry the drone to and fro out of risk of dropping it and damaging the rotors. Instead, consider investing in a safety case with cushioned linings. Some cases have Styrofoam cushioning with cutouts that perfectly match the size and shape of your drone and its accessories.
Numerous drone models can be controlled via your smartphone. But just like gaming on your phone, controlling a drone can be difficult without an attachable controller. These snap onto the back of your phone and come with buttons that make flying a heck of a lot easier.