Best Drones Now
Best Drones, January 2018
What is the best drone? That seems like a simple question, but really the better question is what is the best drone for you? That depends on a few different things.
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?
After you have determined why you want a drone then you’ll need to determine what you want to spend on your new quad. If this seems overwhelming then you can skip ahead to our Half Chrome Drone Cipher™. You’ll answer a few questions and we’ll give you a recommendation on what we think would be best for you. Or you can keep reading and we will give you our breakdown of the top drones on the market today.
I Want to Take Awesome Pictures and Video
Most people that want a drone because they’ve seen the awesome aerial footage that one of these machines can provide. These drones aren’t cheap, but they do come with an excellent array of flight modes and features to help you capture the perfect pictures. If you want tips on how to get the best aerial photos check out this article. You’ll notice that DJI dominates this category. Autel and Yuneec have some awesome products, but DJI is the clear leader. If you are interested in getting started but these price tags scare you then check out this article on how to get started. A good aerial photography drone won’t come cheap. Here are our recommendations based on price if your goal is great pictures and video.
Beginner Aerial Photography- Bugs 2W ($199-299)
The Bugs 2W is the best drone you can get for $200 with GPS and a 1080p camera. It will take good video and even better still images. The GPS helps keep the drone stable and adds a nice return to home feature. You won’t get stabilized footage like you will with a drone with a camera on a mechanical gimbal so you’ll have to fly slow and steady.
|Learn more about the Bugs 2W||Buy the Bugs 2W|
The Next Level- DJI Spark ($399-699)
The DJI Spark technically starts under $400, but we highly recommend the Fly More package that adds a remote, extra batteries and some other goodies. The Fly More package will cost you $699 but is definitely worth it. 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||Buy the DJI Spark|
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. Even pros will have a Mavic Air in their lineup of flying cameras because of its portability.
|Learn more about the DJI Mavic Air||Check the current price of the DJI Mavic Air|
Only the Best: Phantom 4 Pro or Inspire 2
If you are a professional photographer or you require the absolute best then there are two great options from DJI, the Phantom 4 Pro and the Inspire 2. The Phantom 4 Pro starts at around $1500 and has a spectacular camera with a variable aperture and a mechanical shutter. The Phantom 4 Pro has multi-directional obstacle avoidance and a flight time of over 30 minutes. The Inspire 2 is bigger and faster. 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.
|Learn more about the Phantom 4 Pro||Check the current price of the Phantom 4 Pro|
|Learn more about the DJI Inspire 2||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. This ducted flyer 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. As is its stability control system and advanced flight modes. 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. If you want a more powerful and efficient cost-effective option then keep reading…
|Learn more about the Tello||Order the Tello|
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. They 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 on ESPN and you want to get into flying FPV then you definitely do NOT want to start with a bigger racing quad like they use. 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 $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 super-stable altitude hold mode or you can switch it up and go full FPV. It is a punchy, brushed-motor quad that you can fly in stable (angle) mode or you can 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. Its an all-in-one mineature 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|
Under $150- KingKong 90/95/110GT
Brushless micro FPV quads are probably the best option if you really want to learn how to fly FPV. They have more power than their brushed counterparts and respond a lot more like the real racers. KingKong has three awesome options the 90GT, 95GT and 110GT. You’ll need a transmitter (again we recommend the Taranis QX7). Despite their small size, these micro racers are fast and fun. The 90GT and 95GT are probably a little more nimble and definitely a little tamer than the 110GT. If you want to learn how to freestyle than the 110GT is the way to go. All three models can be found for $100-125, but don’t forget you’ll need your own transmitter.
|Learn more about KingKong Micros||Check the current price of the KingKong 110GT|
Under $150 and RTF– DYS Elf
The DYS Elf 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. If you have to pick one FPV racer to learn on, this would be it.
|Learn more about the DYS Elf||Check the current price of the DYS Elf|
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 three recommendations.
- 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 and taken the Cipher, but still aren’t sure then feel free to contact us and hopefully we can help you out. We 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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