The 10 Best Drones

Updated December 11, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

10 Best Drones
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
Rated for overall value, ease of use, flight technology and imaging capabilities, our selection of remote-controlled and app-enabled aircraft runs the gamut from resilient and budget-friendly options for novices that won't empty your wallet, to highly maneuverable racers and premium drones for capturing professional-quality aerial photographs and videos. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best drone on Amazon.

10. Blade Inductrix

The Minionesque Blade Inductrix is playful-looking but tough as nails, equipped with a 25mW video transmitter and 4.3-inch FPV monitor for tracking your tiny yellow speedster's in-flight progress, and high-performance motors to compensate for the onboard camera's weight.
  • entertaining toy racer
  • recharges in about 40 minutes
  • may overheat without cooldown period
Brand Blade
Model BLH8500G
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. MJX X400W FPV

Inexpensive and durable enough to withstand more than a few hard landings, the MJX X400W FPV is remarkably agile and easy to use — making it a good place to start if you're not quite ready to invest in a premium model just to crash it until you work out the kinks.
  • 3d split-screen display
  • 8-9 minutes flight time per charge
  • could go rogue if signal is lost
Brand DBPOWER
Model X400W
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Eachine E012HW

The Eachine E012HW may not take professional-quality photos, but GPS navigation and FPV capabilities make this itty-bitty quad a great choice for toying around with aerial acrobatics and streaming video entertainment without straining tight purse strings.
  • 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization
  • suitable for newbies and kids
  • spare batteries may be hard to find
Brand EACHINE
Model pending
Weight 6.7 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. JJRC H44WH

Stepping up a bit from the toy models for which the brand is best known, the JJRC H44WH from Owill is an adorably compact and capable little foldable FPV — great for novices to get the hang of buzzing the landscape and taking snapshots with a minimal risk of collateral dam
  • easy-to-use 720p camera
  • smartphone app integration
  • altitude hold function
Brand Owill
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. DJI Spark

Among those for whom snapping and sharing photos and video are more than just passing fancies, gestural controls and intelligent flight modes are some of the coolest perks of flying the DJI Spark, which also comes with advanced image-capturing and editing software.
  • over 1 mile of transmission range
  • obstacle detection and avoidance
  • high-end option for hobbyists
Brand DJI
Model CP.PT.000899
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Holy Stone HS160 Shadow

The smartphone app-enabled Holy Stone HS160 Shadow is a handy, foldable FPV selfie bot that can be tucked into a pocket whenever it's not in use. Once it takes to the skies, it's good for up to 18 minutes of flying time with a quick change of its modular batteries.
  • 3d virtual reality compatible
  • one-key return feature
  • gravity sensor control
Brand Holy Stone
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. UDI U34W Dragonfly

Piloting the UDI U34W Dragonfly is about as easy as remote-controlled flying gets. The diminutive, but durable, airframe can hold its own indoors or out, and you can program customized routes on your smartphone for its 720p HD camera to capture the view from above.
  • one-button launch and landing
  • agile and responsive design
  • spare battery for more airtime
Brand Force1
Model pending
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Syma X22W

Coming from the maker of some of the market's most popular budget models, the Syma X22W offers an impressive complement of functions and features, including multi-axis gyroscopic stabilization, FPV video streaming, smartphone app integration and automatic hovering.
  • one-touch launch control
  • modular battery for extended flight
  • low-voltage and overheat protection
Brand SYMA
Model pending
Weight 13.9 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium

A worthy homage to the elite Phantom line, the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium features a 4K Ultra HD video camera, a quick-release gimbal mount, and dual GPS/GLONASS positioning. It comes with an LCD controller, a 64GB SD card and its own custom water-resistant rigid case.
  • magnetic interference protection
  • hd fpv via starlink mobile app
  • over 1 mile of transmission range
Brand Autel Robotics
Model XSPRMOR
Weight 12.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. DJI Mavic Pro

If you dream of flying your UAV effortlessly through the sky and capturing spectacular views along the way, the DJI Mavic Pro is the answer to your prayers, dauntlessly navigating the most challenging flight paths to record every breathtaking frame on its 4K, 12MP camera.
  • high-precision mechanical stability
  • multiple autonomous navigation modes
  • compact and foldable airframe
Brand DJI
Model CP.PT.000500
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

The Camera And The Bird

Twenty years ago the primary reason there was little to no such thing as aerial drone videography wasn't the absence of interest or industry need. Just look at any of the hundreds of aerial scenes shot from helicopters in the brief history of film to see that the market was there, waiting. The problem was that if you did manage to somehow get your camera airborne, the likelihood was that you were shooting on film was small, which adds just a little too much weight to the flight package.

Now, your modern drone video setup includes everything from physical gimbal stabilizers to 4K capture and live video feedback transmitted to your mobile device. Flagships like the DJI Phantom 4 (botDB) are redefining what we can do in the air.

Do you really need all that stuff? Probably. Especially if you have aspirations of showing your footage to anyone who's so much as taken a video on their iPhone. You want something of comparable quality, so here's why each element is important.

Think of the gimbal as a system of counterweights that allows for occasional erratic movement in your flying, either from pilot error, unexpected winds, or a hungry eagle mistaking your drone for prey. These counterweights will immediately adjust to the smallest turbulence in your flight, allowing for that super smooth video we already see Hollywood employing.

You may not have a 4k TV just yet, but, it turns out that most serious video production always shoots in 4K Video Capture which means it captures a higher resolution than the most common displays available. Why is that? Cropping. You see, if your framing isn't quite right, or you want to be a little closer to that character, or you find that the winds were so intense your gimbal can't cut down on all the shake, you can fix it in post, but only if you have room to crop the image and not lose resolution by the time it makes it to that 1080p television. 4K gives you all that freedom.

Are Lithium Batteries On The Way Out?

If you've flown a drone before then you understand the limiting factor that comes with them - battery life. The best drones out there are generally powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries, however, these are still limited in the sense that they don't truly contain that much energy, hence the short flight times. Not only that, but these batteries are expensive.

Why are they so expensive, if their energy reserves are low? That's due to the materials it takes to manufacture them, and due to the fact that they are usually rechargeable as previously mentioned. All batteries have ions and electrons. What separates lithium from regular batteries are how these ions and electrons react. With ordinary ones, the chemical reaction taking place happens in one direction, which equates to a use-it-and-toss-it scenario. Lithium batteries can reverse this chemical reaction, which causes the battery to absorb power. So, they've already got a leg up compared to their non-rechargeable cousins.

Are there other sourceable energies available other than batteries? Yes, but no. Some technology is out there, but they haven't been engineered to work in conjunction with drones, at least not yet. And other readily available power supplies just don't make sense. Take gasoline for example, which has a higher energy density than lithium. It seems like it'd make sense to pair it with a drone motor, but this adds weight to the body and it also produces propeller lag that wouldn't prove well on such a small scale. Besides, can you imagine using a mini-gas can to refuel the unit? That sounds highly inconvenient and potentially disastrous to us.

The other potential power source can come from hydrogen fuel cells. In theory it sounds like a smart alternative to batteries - they generate electricity through chemical reactions and they do so with little pollution. After all, these fuel cells only require hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity. Its exhaust is simply water vapor. If this sounds familiar even in the slightest regard, you're not crazy, as this technology has slowly and recently been pushed into the vehicle market, and in some cases in homes too.

If drones started enabling fuel cells it would mean fly times that can last up to a few hours, and refilling these cells would take minutes compared to a batteries lengthy recharge time. But why isn't is being employed in drones yet? Actually, it is, but only in prototypes since it still hasn't been researched enough to become a standard norm.

Luckily, the industry is starting to shift and soon enough drones with fuel cell sources will become available. Their price will increase astronomically no doubt, but some may be willing to invest if it results in a longer flight time. Until then, lithium batteries are the next best thing.

Drone Wars

There are a lot of examples throughout history of military technology making its way into the lives of everyday citizens. Wealthy nations often set aside considerable sums of money for their military expenses, and research and development into the next competitive advantage can drive technological advancements forward at an incredible pace.

Remember the Internet? Sure you do! Why, that started out as something called the ARPAnet, which is, let's face it, considerably less catchy.

Drone technology followed much the same path, though most early implementations of it were designed to give soldiers something to shoot at as they trained. The first known attack use of an unmanned areal vessel was in Venice in 1849, when Austria sent balloons loaded with bombs into the country.

In the early years of the 21st century, hobbyists, engineers, and downright geeks began building DIY drones out of simple materials and basic model plane and helicopter motors. That enthusiasm, and its concurrent development with cheaper, smaller, higher resolution cameras combined to rocket the drone market into something that no one could have predicted.

It's still early in the game for the technology, and the rules and regulations of development and deployment are still being debated, but for now, the sky's the limit.



Statistics and Editorial Log

0
Paid Placements
5
Editors
35
Hours
475,580
Users
35
Revisions

Wiki Granular Update & Revision Log


help support our research


Patreonlogoorange psj5g7Wiki ezvid low poly earth xdypeb

Last updated on December 11, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with an alphabet-soup of credentials to her name, Lydia has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts, throwing herself into a broad constellation of interests. From antithetical cultural analysis to interdisciplinary combat training, she bears the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience. Reading, biking and exploring are favorite pastimes, but – with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order (not on speaking terms with a higher power) and becoming an artist (can’t even draw a respectable stick-figure) – she’d try almost anything once.


Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.