Drones, or quadcopters to use their technical term, have become incredibly popular in recent years. In large part, this is because the technology to create them has become so cheap that you can now buy one for a lot less than $100.
But with so many new models and brands out every month it is difficult to figure out what will work best for you. Flying a drone is not that easy. As a beginner, you will have totally different requirements than an advanced pilot would.
So, how are you meant to make the best decision?
To help with this, we have done extensive market research and compared dozens of the most popular models. This has led to a list of the best drone products for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. The list below summarizes all that research, which means you can just pick one to suit your budget.
Table of Contents
- Choosing The Best Drone For Beginners To Advanced
- 1 – DROCON Navigator
- 2 – DBPOWER MJX X400W FPV
- 3 – Holy Stone HS170 Predator
- 4 – DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD Quadcopter
- 5 – Rabing RC Drone Foldable
- 6 – Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter
- 7 – TOZO Q1012 X8tw Drone RC Quadcopter
- 8 – DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter 4K UHD
- 9 – Metakoo Drone with 720P Camera
- 10 – Dazhong WIFI Drone Quadcopter
- What Features You Need To Focus On
- Flight Time
- Ease Of Control
- Built In Camera
- Best Drone Options By Category
- Best Drone For Beginners
- Best Camera Drone
Choosing The Best Drone For Beginners To Advanced
The following is the list of the best drones from all the product research completed to date. There is something for every budget including beginner to advanced requirements.
For the beginner to intermediate quadcopter pilot this Drocon device is excellent value. You will get some advanced features that help you to keep a level altitude. This is especially helpful when there is a little bit of wind or updraft. In addition to that, you can use your smartphone to input a custom flight path and the drone will then execute it in autopilot.
The camera quality is also pretty good considering the very competitive price. With the ultra-wide angle lens, you will be able to take some spectacular areal videos and photos. Just keep in mind that this has a distorting effect that is most notable when you are close to larger objects.
It also has a very good out of range warning. When the signal strength goes below a certain point you will be warned about this giving you enough time to correct course.
- Excellent specs for the money
- Altitude hold to make control super simple
- Out of range warning to avoid losing control
- Emergency stop cuts out engines at press of button
- HD camera built in for great video
- Not the best range
- SD card is not included
2 – DBPOWER MJX X400W FPV
This model possibly has one of the coolest looking designs and could have been taken right out of a James Bond movie. Priced as an entry level drone this is ideal for learning about flight controls and preparing you for more advanced models.
At the touch of a button, you can trigger a 360-degree roll that looks really impressive. It’s a great way to show off in front of friends. With the headless mode, you will also not have to figure out which way is forwards to backwards. Instead, it will use the orientation of the controller to indicate indirection.
For an entry-level device, you will get quite a decent range up to 300 feet. Just be aware that the video feed will cut out before you reach the range limit. This is down to the fact that the video transmission requires a certain minimum signal strength.
- Fully charged after 2 hours
- Compatible with VR headsets through split screen view
- Flight time up to 9 minutes
- One button 3D roll for cool stunts
- Range up to 300 feet
- Video transmission cuts out before end of range
- Difficult to swap out battery
3 – Holy Stone HS170 Predator
One of the best beginner level quadcopters available is this Holy Stone one. It is very basic, but that doesn’t mean it won’t provide valuable lessons. If you are starting out or maybe want to teach one of your kids the skills of flying, then this is ideal. If it does crash and break, you won’t be out of pocket too much.
The range is limited to about 150 feet with line of sight and you get 8 minutes of flight time out of every charge. This might sound like very little, but for entry level drones it’s actually pretty good. You will also be able to fully charge the battery within an hour to have some more fun.
It doesn’t have a camera, but that can actually be a good thing. It is designed for you to learn the controls rather than get distracted by video. Also, video equipment and signals greatly reduce the amount of flight time you get
- Great entry level product
- Flight time up to 8 minutes
- Range up to 150 feet line of site
- Fast charging time of 1 hour
- Quite unstable in windy conditions
- Changing direction causes drop in altitude
4 – DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD Quadcopter
So far you have seen recommendations for entry level and intermediate drone pilots. That is now going to drastically change. If you have some advanced requirements like longer flight time and higher quality video, then this DJI Phantom P3 is the best drone for filming you could possibly buy. Still affordably priced it will give you video quality up to 2.7K HD.
The great thing is that the camera angles can be controlled so you can tilt and turn the camera, as your flight direction stays constant. This provides much more professional looking videos.
There is also a GPS based flight assistant where you can essentially enter a flight path and then focus on controlling just the camera. Doing both at the same time can be very difficult and will actually provide poor results.
You will get up to half a mile of range and 25 minutes’ flight time which is a significant step up in functionality from all the cheaper models on this list.
- Very professional quadcopter
- Range up to half a mile with video
- GPS flight assistance helps to focus on video not flight
- Up to 25-minute flight time
- 8GB SD card included
- A bit more difficult to learn controls
- Long charge time
5 – Rabing RC Drone Foldable
The design of this quadcopter is spectacular. It almost looks like it has some sort stealth concept behind it. But the design goes beyond that. For easy transport and storage, it fully folds up into a very convenient package.
It also includes the ability to define flight paths in advance and then it runs in an autopilot type mode. To give beginners some cool looking effects it also has a one-button 360-degree roll. That’s a feature that is really fun to watch. And to make sure a beginner will always get it to come back home there is a button to make it return to the controller at the press of a button.
It also includes a 2MP HD camera that gives some good quality video recording. This is ideal for taking some areal and landscape videos and photos. Especially if you’re on vacation in some amazing sceneries.
- Really cool stealth like design
- Easily folds together for transport and storage
- Set predefined flight paths to make video taking easier
- One button return to avoid losing drone
- Altitude hold for stable flight
- Longer than average charge time
- Limited flight time even without camera
6 – Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter
The second Holy Stone recommendation on this list is the F181, which has some more advanced features. It does include a HD camera that will provide some great quality video that is recorded to an SD card. The main idea with this product is to learn to become a more skilled pilot by providing better range and flying times.
At the push of a button, you can hold altitude to take some steady videos. This is ideal for windy conditions where you would otherwise have a lot of camera movement. You can also make it return home on a direct path, which helps to avoid losing the copter.
Flight time is an average 9 minutes, which isn’t bad at all. And the charge time is 80 minutes. The good thing is that you get a spare battery, so you can get a bit more fun before you have to head back to the charging station.
- One key return to prevent losing
- Altitude hold for stable flying out of the box
- One key 360 degree flips for cool actions
- Extra battery included
- 9 minutes’ flight time on 80-minute charge
- SD card not included
- Controls take getting used to
7 – TOZO Q1012 X8tw Drone RC Quadcopter
One of the best features about this model is that you can actually control it directly from your smartphone through an app. To help with easier navigation it has a built in headless mode. This means that you don’t have to figure out what direction the drone is pointed in and makes learning the controls easier.
You only get 7 minutes’ flight time, but the batter will charge in about 80 minutes, so you won’t have to wait too long. However, it might make sense to get an additional battery as your first accessory.
For safe storage and transport, you can fold it up very neatly. This makes sure you avoid accidental damage. And it doesn’t mean you have to assemble a load of the parts each time. Overall this is a very solid choice for the beginner to intermediate and even includes a decent camera for areal video recording.
- Direct control through phone for more flexibility
- Altitude hold for more stability
- Headless mode to make navigation easier
- Easily folds for storage
- Fast charge in 80 minutes for 7 minutes’ flight time
- Difficult to control in windy conditions
- Limited range
8 – DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter 4K UHD
The second advanced DJI models is the P3 Professional, which really brings some amazing features. With a 4K ultra-high definition camera, you can take video that is suitable for TV and movie production. Even the live view will give you a resolution up to 720p, which will show a lot of detail on your screen.
You will have a total of 23 minutes’ flight time and the battery can be easily changed if you need to use for longer periods. With an excellent range, this drone can easily be used for use that is more professional in nature. It certainly goes beyond the capabilities of the basic devices on this list.
It has some good control help built in like flight path and beginner mode that will make learning to use the controls a lot easier. It’s certainly a great option if you want longer flight times and excellent range. This is by far the best quadcopter drone by specifications.
- 4K Ultra HD video for amazing footage
- Live view and camera control through Smartphone
- 23 minutes’ flight time
- Beginner safety flight mode to learn the controls
- Very stable flight
- Quite a few parts to put together
- Accessories are expensive
9 – Metakoo Drone with 720P Camera
If you really want to start advancing your drone piloting skills, you need something that is nimble and has some longer flight times. This Metakoo is ideal for precisely that. You will stay airborne for up to 15 minutes, which is quite a long time. Especially when you consider flight times above 20 minutes will usually cost several hundred Dollars.
The built-in HD camera will give you some reasonably good video which is saved to the SD card. You won’t be able to get a live view with this model but that helps you focus on the actual controlling.
With the press of one button, you can automatically take off and land. This is very helpful as a beginner to make sure you avoid crashing. Another cool feature is the LED lights. When you turn those on at night you can create some amazing effects.
- Reasonable quality HD camera built in
- Headless mode avoids confusion over direction
- Up to 15 minutes’ flight time
- Cool LED lights for night time effects
- One button take-off and landing
- Instructions aren’t easy to follow
- Charger has to be unplugged immediately when fully charged
10 – Dazhong WIFI Drone Quadcopter
If you need something a bit more than the basic entry-level model then this Dazhong drone is a fantastic option to invest in. The battery will give you up to 13 minutes’ flight time, which is about 50% more than a lot of the other products in the price range.
The HD quality camera can be adjusted to point in different directions. That means you don’t always get the same angle view from your flight time. You will also receive a 4GB SD card in the box, so you don’t have to go and buy that separately.
And if you like flying at night time then make sure you turn on the LED lights. It will give you a great spaceship like effect.
To make returning home easier before the battery dies you can hit the return to home button and the quadcopter will auto pilot its way back to you.
- Good battery life for hobby device up to 13 minutes
- WiFi connection to your Phone
- HD quality camera built in
- Altitude hold to make controlling easier
- Return to home with one button
- Quite a long charge time
- Instructions are a bit difficult
What Features You Need To Focus On
As you can see with all the above products there are a lot of different features that they can include. Product specifications can quickly make things confusing. That’s because different brands often use different terms to essentially refer to the same feature. To help keep you focused we have put together this section on what features you really want to keep an eye on for your final decision.
More flight time requires bigger batteries. And bigger batteries require more power. And bigger batteries and more power both mean a bigger price tag. For entry to mid-range devices you should be looking to get at least 8 minutes of flight time. That would be fairly standard.
Also check that the battery can be easily changed. That way you can have a fully charged second battery and don’t have to wait for an hour or 2 for more time in the air.
The higher end models above will give you about 25 minutes of flight. Quite a bit more and that will give you a lot more fun. To start out though it is better to get a cheaper model and learn to control a drone first.
This is quite important. Very basic models will be limited to about 100 to 150 feet. But that will be enough to help you learn to take off land and move in different directions. What is more important when it comes to range is a feature on the controls that will warn you when you are close to losing connection. Some will also go into a safe mode to return into range when that happens.
Ease Of Control
If you’ve never piloted a drone before then you probably don’t appreciate how difficult it can be. Most vehicles you control are largely moved in two dimensions, but with a quadcopter you have to be aware of all 3 dimensions for movement. On top of that you have to be aware of where forwards and backwards is, as you are not actually on board.
To help with controls modern devices usually have some cool features built in. One of these is headless control. This basically means that the orientation of the controls dictate which direction is forwards. You will also find altitude control which is very helpful in windy conditions, especially updrafts.
Built In Camera
If you’d like to take some great aerial videos or photos then you need to have a camera attached to the drone. Just a few years ago this meant buying an extra device like a GoPro. But now even entry level products come with decent cameras. The above list even has a recommendation that has an Ultra-High Definition camera. That would allow you to shoot TV and movie quality videos.
Best Drone Options By Category
The two main categories that people look for are products for beginners and those with built in camera. If you’re looking for a camera drone then chances are you want some really good footage and we have some great recommendations for that.
Best Drone For Beginners
If you are completely new to flying or you want to introduce a child to it, then the Holy Stone Predator is possibly the best option. It is cheap, robust and pretty easy to control. At the same time not so easy that you don’t have to do anything at all. For absolute beginners, you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Chances are you will crash it a couple of times and possibly break it.
With a charging time of just about an hour you will be able to get back flying many times a day to build up some skills for the next upgrade. Once you have started flying these things you will quickly become addicted.
Best Camera Drone
If you are looking for the best drone for video recording then either of the two DJI products above will give you amazing results. The professional one has the advantage of having a 4K ultra-high definition camera that will take pro quality recordings. It is quite expensive but if you have some high end needs then it will not leave you wanting.
You can even buy camera accessories like filters for different light settings and effects. That will allow you to improve the video quality even further.
You now have a full picture of the all options from best drone for filming to perfect beginner products. All of the above recommendations were extensively researched and you now have all the information you need to make a decision. Pick one of the best drones and you will not be disappointed with the fun you will have with friends and family.