Best Drones Now
Best Drones, October 2018
What is the best drone? That seems like a simple question, but it is actually impossible to answer. A better question is, “What is the best drone for you?” The answer to that question depends on what you are looking for.
Why Do You Want a Drone?
- Do you want something to take breathtaking aerial pictures and photos?
- Do you just want something fun?
- Do you want something to race FPV like they do on ESPN?
We have picked the best drone in a variety of categories to make the process of choosing the right drone easy, no matter what you are looking for. Your search ends here.
I Want to Take Awesome Pictures and Video
Most people that want a drone because they’ve seen the awesome aerial footage that some drones can provide. Quality camera drones aren’t cheap, but they do come with an excellent array of flight modes and features to help you capture the perfect footage.
You’ll notice that DJI dominates this category. Autel, Parrot, and Yuneec have some awesome products, but DJI is the clear leader. A good aerial photography drone won’t come cheap. Here are our recommendations based on price.
If you are interested in getting started but these price tags scare you, then check out this article on how to get started.
Beginner Aerial Photography- Parrot Bebop and Bebop 2 ($179-299)
The Parrot Bebop is an impressive beginner GPS drone that you can find under $200. It has a 14-megapixel HD camera with a wide field of view. Its onboard image stabilization is the best we have ever seen from a drone without a mechanical gimbal. Opting for the Bebop 2 over the original adds a few features and an impressive 25 minute flight time. Learn more about the Parrot Bebop here.
|Check the Price of a Parrot Bebop on Amazon||Check the Price of a Parrot Bebop 2 on Amazon|
The Next Level- DJI Spark ($399-549)
The DJI Spark technically starts under $400, but we highly recommend the Fly More package that includes a remote, extra batteries, and some other goodies. The Fly More package will cost you $549 but is definitely worth it. The best deal, however, might be from Amazon and includes the remote three batteries and their awesome portable charger click here to check it out.
This tiny machine is one spectacular piece of engineering. This quadcopter was designed to be easy to use and can be flown using gesture controls. You can also use your smartphone to control the Spark but we strongly recommend the added control and 2000 meter range that you get with the remote. Learn more about the DJI Spark here.
|Buy the Spark from Amazon||Buy the Spark directly from DJI|
Getting Serious- DJI Mavic Air ($799-999)
The DJI Mavic Air is a spectacular machine. If this article was limited to one drone, then it would probably be the Mavic. It is incredibly stable, takes 4K video and can even fold up and fit in your pocket. This drone is probably the best choice for most people. The only exception is the professional pilot who needs the absolute best optics and better range than the Mavic Air can provide. Even pros will have a Mavic Air in their lineup of flying cameras because of its portability. Learn more about the DJI Mavic Air here.
|Check the current price of the Mavic Air from Amazon||Check the current price of the Mavic Air from DJI|
Only the Best: Mavic 2 or Inspire 2
There are two Mavic 2 models available, with the Mavic 2 Zoom starting at $1249 and the Mavic 2 Pro checking in at $1449. The drones are almost identical, both have 31 minutes of flight time, 8000 meters of range, and six-direction obstacle avoidance. The major difference between the two is their cameras.
While both are spectacular cameras, the Pro version sports Hasselblad lenses with a 1″ sensor and a variable aperture. The Zoom version is the first consumer drone with an optical zoom camera. The Zoom allows for some more creative video shots while the Pro will snap the best pictures. Whichever one you choose you won’t be disappointed. Learn more about the differences between the Mavic 2 models here.
|Check the Price of the Mavic 2 on Amazon||Check the Price of the Mavic 2 from DJI|
Compared to the Mavic series, the Inspire 2 is a much bigger and faster machine. It gives you the option of switching cameras for your specific needs and even transforms to ensure you’ll never get a propeller or landing gear ruining any of your shots. If you are looking for Hollywood-quality video, then the Inspire 2 is likely the drone for you. This awesome and capable machine won’t come cheap, it starts at $2999. Learn more about the DJI Inspire 2
|Check the price of the Inspire 2 on Amazon||Check the current price of the DJI Inspire 2|
I Just Want To Fly For Fun
You don’t need to spend a couple hundred dollars to get a quadcopter. In fact, there are good options for less than $25. These are great for people that are getting into the hobby and do not want to spend a small fortune on a drone. These quads are ready-to-go and you won’t spend much time trying to figure out how to get them up in the air. If you want a few more options then check out our articles for best drones under $50, best portable drones and best drones under $100. Here are our top suggestions if you are flying for pure enjoyment.
Under $25- Eachine E011/RedPawz R010
The Eachine E011 and the RedPawz R010 are small quadcopters with a lot of punch. These ducted flyers can be flown both indoors and out. The E011’s best feature is that it can easily be converted to carry a camera if you decide you want to learn how to fly FPV. The ducted design makes it safer than most quads. It is an ideal drone to learn on.
|Learn more about the E011||Check the current price of the E011|
Under $100- Ryze/DJI Tello
The Ryze Tello really changed the game when it comes to drones under $100. Starting at $99, it is the absolute best option if you are looking for a small or beginner drone. Its 5 MP camera with image stabilization is the best in its class. Its stability control system and advanced flight modes are fantastic for a drone of this size and cost. If you want a small, fun, and capable drone for under $100, then the Tello is your best option. Its biggest limitation is its brushed motors. To learn more about the Tello click here. If you want a more powerful and efficient cost-effective option then keep reading…
|Order the Tello from Amazon||Order the Tello from DJI|
Best Brushless Option under $100
Most drones under $100 use brushed motors. The issue with brushed motors is that they reduce flight time, don’t have a lot of power, and will eventually burn out. The solution is to get a brushless motor drone. Typically they are more expensive (see DJI options above), but there are a couple of inexpensive options. The MJX Bugs 3 and the Force1 F100 are two of our favorites. These two quads are extremely versatile and can be used to fly FPV or carry an action camera or GoPro. The
Bugs 3 and the F100 are identical machines on the inside but have different styling on the outside. The brushless motors spin pretty fast, so we would recommend the Bugs 3 / F100 to an intermediate pilot or the very cautious beginner. We give the edge to the F100 over the Bugs 3, as it is backed by a reputable American company and has sleeker styling.
|Learn more about the Force1 F100||Check the current price of the Force1 F100|
I Want to Fly FPV or Race
If you’ve seen the Drone Racing League (DRL) on ESPN and you want to get into flying FPV then you definitely do NOT want to start with a big racing quad like they use on TV. You’ll need to work your way up. Those machines are both expensive and dangerous to fly until you understand the ins and outs of quadcopters. If you want to learn more about how to get into FPV then check out this article. If you want to learn more about racing then check out this article. Here are the best current options on the market if you want to learn how to fly FPV.
Best Beginner FPV Under $100- Eachine M80S
We’ve already mentioned the Eachine E011 as an excellent drone and if you are a DIY kind of person – the E011 easily converts into an indoor flyer. If you don’t want to deal with soldering then we recommend Eachine M80S. This is truly the drone we’ve been waiting for. The Eachine M80S can fly in altitude hold mode or you can switch it up and go for more control by turning off altitude hold. It is a punchy, brushed-motor quad that you can fly in stable (angle) mode or you can even switch it to acro mode and fly like the pros. If you want something smaller or a little tamer then take a look at the RedPawz R011. It is an all-in-one miniature version of the Eachine M80S that you can fly indoors and it is still a great deal.
|Learn more about the M80S||Check the current price of the M80S|
Best Brushed Micro FPV Quad
The DYS Elf was one of our favorite brushless quads. That was until DYS outdid themselves with the release of the DYS Shark Mako. The Mako is probably the go-to brushless FPV quad if you want to learn how to fly like the pros, especially if you are a beginner. It is both stable and durable, making ideal for a beginner, but fast enough for advanced pilots to enjoy. It even comes with a basic remote transmitter if you don’t have your own. This makes it an RTF (Ready-to-Fly) quad, so you don’t need to purchase a remote. If you decide later you want to upgrade (and we recommend it), it is easy to switch to a Taranis QX7 or the super versatile Jumper T8SG. If you have to pick one FPV racer to learn on, this would be it. Learn more about the DYS Shark Mako here.
|Order the DYS Shark Mako from Amazon||Order the DYS Shark Mako from GearBest|
Under $200- Ready-Made Racer: Furibee DarkMax
Once you’ve mastered the micro FPV drones you’ll probably want something bigger and more powerful. A lot of pilots build their own racing drones, but if that isn’t for you then you may want to check out the Furibee DarkMax. This is a beast of a machine that can handle 2S-6S batteries and has been clocked at over 100 mph. Be prepared, this thing is fast. It definitely isn’t something we’d recommend as your first quad. But as your second…
|Learn more about the Furibee DarkMax||Check the current price of the Furibee DarkMax|
But I Want a REAL Race Quad…
Sure micro quads are a lot of fun, but you want the real deal. The DarkMax is pretty close, but it isn’t necessarily going to put you on top of the podium. You certainly could build your own racer or you could let the pros build one for you. Good Venture Drones is a Chicago-based company that builds professional-quality FPV race quads. Their basic build is faster than you can imagine and their pro build will blow your mind. Check them out.
|Learn more about Good Venture Drones|
So What is Best for You?
That really is a tricky question. Hopefully, this article helped clear things up. If not, then check out our Half Chrome Drone Cipher™ and it will hopefully direct you to the right quad. For those looking for the Cliff Notes version of this article here are our top four recommendations.
- DJI Mavic 2 Zoom– If you want the best then this is most likely what you want. The zoom features are awesome. The one exception would be for the pro and semi-pro photographer may want the better optics on the Mavic 2 Pro.
- DJI Mavic Air– This is overall a most impressive machine. It takes spectacular pictures and is easy to travel with.
- Ryze Tello– This tiny drone is an awesome little dynamo. You won’t find a more capable drone under $100.
- Eachine M80S– If you want to get into flying FPV this is the best place to start. Or if you just want a fun and durable quad you can fly inside and out this is the one.
If you’ve read all of this but you still aren’t sure, then feel free to contact us. We also have other articles looking at the best drones in each price range.
Do you want to search by price? Click on your menu above or we can break it down for you. Check out drones under $50, from $50-100, from $100-200, from $200-500 or over $500. Maybe you like a good Top Ten list, we’ve got you covered.
|Drones by Price|
If you want to learn more about taking great pictures or flying FPV then check out our comprehensive guides on those topics. Also take a look at our articles on how to choose the right drone for great aerial photos or for getting started flying race drones. Learn more about drones and how to get the most out of them in our Drone Academy. In the Academy we also detail some of the advanced testing we do, including our recent addition, drone thrust testing.
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