Every lifelong hobbyist started as a beginner. Everyone has to start somewhere and the same goes for owning and operating a personal drone. Since crashing into the consumer market several years ago, personal drones have become one of the trendiest toys for would-be pilots, young and old alike.
That being said, not every drone is designed for every purpose and every pilot. While you’ve likely seen aerial footage taken on a multi-thousand-dollar camera drone, you certainly won’t need to spend nearly that much in order to own your own entry-level drone. These drones can do everything from taking photos and videos to even racing (just like old RC cars!).
If you’re interested in any of these pursuits, you’ll be more than happy to know that the market for personal drones has never been better. Hundreds of companies have put out personal drones recently, allowing you to pick one designed for your skill level and interest level, without having to pay a fortune.
First-time drone buyers often struggle to weed through the many different models available today. But you won’t have to put up with that kind of hassle. All you need is this handy guide to the top 10 best beginner drones. Each model on this list has been hand selected because of its stand out quality, performance, durability, or price tag. You’re sure to find a beginner drone on this list that is right for you.
Even veteran drone owners can face some difficulty deciphering the many specifications and features that come with a personal drone. For this reason, we’ve researched and created a buying guide that features detailed breakdowns of key drone types and features you’ll likely encounter as you shop.
Before you begin, though, take a moment to ask yourself a few questions about your future drone:
- How are you planning to use this drone?
- What is your purchasing budget?
- Are there any must-have features you need?
- Am I a beginner drone pilot or do I have experience with aerial radio-controlled devices?
Once you have answers to these questions, you’ll be ready to review the top 10 best beginner drones. As you read each review, be sure to keep your responses in mind in order to find the precise beginner drone for your needs.
We also have sorted all the drones we have reviewed on the basis of budget: less than $100, less than $200, less than $300 and less than $500
Good luck, and happy flying!
10 Top-Rated Drones For Beginners Reviewed
Finding the best beginner drones available today is no easy task (at least, not without a guide). But after considerable research, we were able to determine that these 10 models are the best of the best in a crowded market.
In order to make it onto this list, each drone had to be equipped with a productive feature portfolio and solid construction – all without costing more than what its features would justify. Range, camera quality, battery life, flight time, and more all played a role in determining which drones made the list and which were tossed aside. With that in mind, you can be sure that these 10 models will serve the purposes of beginner drone pilots exceptionally well.
Last update on 2020-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Holy Stone F181W WiFi FPV Drone – The Ideal Beginner Drone
With a simple video game console-like controller, the Holy Stone F181W is a great beginner drone choice for use with children. Even adults find this drone model to be among the best available on the market for both its features and price.
A distinction among beginner drones, the Holy Stone F181W is able to remain stable in wind with its powerful altitude hold. Without wind, this model can complete full 3D flips with ease, a move that might endanger other cheaper models.
Finally, when it’s time to return home or change batteries, you can recall the Holy Stone F181W with the one-touch “return home” key.
Like many beginner drones, however, the Holy Stone F181W does not take movie-quality videos. Even so, the resulting video from this model will enchant and entertain nearly everyone all the same.
The Holy Stone F181W most standout feature is its 6-axis gyro flight system. Unlike other models that rely on fewer components, this model’s flight control system is tight and reliable, making it ideal for use by inexperienced drone pilots who are still getting a hang of the controls.
The Holy Stone F181W also comes with a bevy of other fantastic features. This beginner drone model includes the following:
- 720p HD camera: Kids and parents alike look forward to shooting aerial photography and videos to show friends and family. With a 120° field of view, you won’t miss an inch of the wondrous sights seen from this drone.
- Real-time FPV transmission: Using the built-in Wi-Fi module, this model is capable of transmitting real-time first-person views from the built-in camera to a smartphone or tablet. Many high-end models feature this capability, but none are as affordable as the Holy Stone F181W.
- LED light undercarriage: Each arm of this model is equipped with colorful LED lights that make it easy and exciting to spot at night. These LEDs are bright enough to illuminate the area around it, making them ideal for navigation when it is dark.
- Real-time FPV transmission directly to your smartphone app
- LED lights allow for nighttime entertainment
- Easy-to-use controls that provide enhanced responsiveness for new pilots
- 720p HD camera for entertaining and enchanting videos and photos
- Short battery life makes buying extra batteries a must
- Slightly louder during operation than other models
Simply put, this is a fantastic beginner drone. Its unique portfolio of features would justify a much higher price tag, but you simply won’t find such a barrier with this affordably-priced model. Whether for a friend, a family member, or even just yourself, you’ll find few entry-level drones as feature-packed as the Holy Stone F181W.
2. Force1 U818A HD Camera RC Quadcopter – The Affordable Quadcopter
Many beginner drone pilots put their budget before all else. If that’s you, then the Force1 U818A is the ideal drone for you. With a very affordable price tag, you’ll find that this model can still accomplish a lot.
With a simple portfolio of videography and stunt features, the Force1 U818A is definitely designed for those who want to show off their abilities soon after picking up their first drone.
Many drones require you to wait until you are home to upload newly recorded videos.
The Force1 U818A won’t make you wait, though. It comes with a data cable that makes uploading to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms a breeze.
The Force1 U818A also includes several pre-installed stunts in its interface. It can even do 360-degree flips! But if that isn’t your style, it also includes alternative flight modes to ease learning for beginner pilots.
One noteworthy drawback of this model is its sub-par construction. Several previous owners have expressed how easily it chips and damages when impacting even on soft surfaces. Parents should especially take note of this deficiency if they intend to use it with children.
The Force1 U818A’s most unique feature is its exceptional flight life. Because this model comes standard with a spare battery, this compact model can provide up to 18 minutes of continuous use before needing a quick recharge.
The Force1 U818A also comes with several other features. This quadcopter drone model includes the following:
- 1080 x 720 video at 30 FPS: Even for its size, this model can take clear video and photos with ease. All of that valuable footage will be stored on the 4GB microSD card, included standard with this model.
- Low battery alarm: Drones of all types prefer soft landings. This model helps ensure you always bring your drone down safely with a built-in low battery alarm. When you hear the beep, you’ll know it’s time to bring this drone in for a rest.
- Out-of-the-box ready: Many drones require tiresome start up protocols before you can fully use them. The Force1 U818A is ready for use out of the box. Simply charge it up and take to the skies!
- Records video with 1080 x 720 resolution at 30 FPS
- Comes with a spare battery
- Includes a low battery alarm to ensure safe landings
- Data cable makes it easy to remotely upload videos and photos
- Fragile frame and components
- Difficult to find replacement parts
In all, the Force1 U818A is a solid choice for those looking to dip their toes into a drone flying hobby on a budget. For its price, you get a good number of useful features that will serve you well as you take to the skies for the first time.
Though it tends to run on the fragile side of beginner drones, a variety of first-time drone pilots will still find it an exhilarating thrill to “jump into the cockpit” of this lime green drone.
3. Holy Stone HS100 RC Drone – The Enhanced Standard Drone
Most beginner drones come in around a similar price range and provide a similar level of quality and performance. But for just a little bit extra, you’ll be able to get more than the average fair with the Holy Stone HS100. A slight step up from the FHS181W model, this drone is capable of capturing even clearer video and flying an even further distance.
The Holy Stone HS100 is definitely geared at the same audience as Holy Stone’s other entry-level models, which is to say, those interested in getting started in the drone hobby without a substantial monetary investment.
The Holy Stone HS100 can also use its built-in GPS trackers to guide itself home when it senses a weak signal or low battery. Along the same lines, this GPS tracker can be set to follow an individual with Follow Me mode, the best way to get hands-free action shots.
Many Holy Stone HS100 owners note that the controller for this model is more ergonomic and comfortable to use compared to similar models. This can go a long way when it comes to operating the drone over extended periods of time.
The Holy Stone HS100’s most noteworthy feature is its inclusion of extra parts standard in every package. Drones, by nature, are fragile pieces of technology. Holy Stone anticipated this by including four extra blades, two extra propeller guards, and two extra landing feet – just in case a crash damages any crucial components.
That’s not to say the Holy Stone HS100 is difficult to fly. It is very stable for a beginner model and can even be set to hover in place using an altitude lock.
These aren’t the Holy Stone HS100’s only features though. Look to the Holy Stone HS100 for these features as well:
- GPS-assisted flight: In GPS mode, this model incorporates enhance satellite-assisted positioning. This allows it to become more aware of where it is in relation to the controller. This allows it, in turn, to more effectively stay within a safe range of the pilot at all times.
- 1080p HD video: Though most beginner drones shoot only in 720p HD, this model takes videography a step further by providing TV quality 1080p resolution in all recordings. This video can be recorded for easy uploading or beamed live to a smart device for real-time viewing.
- 500m flight range: Most entry-level drones only fly a paltry few hundred meters (if even that). This model has a range of up to 500m, a remarkable innovation among its peers. This allows for more extensive flights into new and exciting territory.
- GPS-assisted flight for improved location accuracy
- Low battery and signal loss auto return
- 500m flight range for improved versatility
- Great price for improved features
- Known problems with syncing/pairing
- RTH (return to home) mode has problems if improperly paired
Overall, the Holy Stone HS100 is a great step up for those interested in entering the drone field with a leg up on base-level models. Even for the improved features, this model won’t bankrupt you like some pricier models with similar features.
Even for its known syncing and pairing problems, the Holy Stone HS100 is definitely a beginner drone you should consider if you’re looking to take some of the highest quality videos with your very first drone.
4. Holy Stone HS200 ‒ The Simplified Drone for Flying
While many drones (beginner and otherwise) are focused around their onboard photo and video recording hardware, the Holy Stone HS200 instead focuses on its flying capabilities while putting camera equipment on the back burner. With a bevy of flight-centric features, you’ll have unparalleled control over this drone’s flight.
Designed for those with the skies in mind, this model is among the most navigable and easy to pilot on the market.
When it’s time to recharge, the Holy Stone HS200 brings an unmatched level of convenience to the necessary process. Rather than being forced to remove the battery for each and every recharge, this model features a USB charging system that allows you to charge the battery while it is still in the device.
Because this model does not focus in on its camera equipment (which is often expensive even by itself), the Holy Stone HS200 is one of the most affordable beginner fly drones available.
The Holy Stone HS200 includes a fair number of features that will help first-time drone pilots adjust to and master its controls in no time at all. One of these features is its unique SENSOR mode, which allows the drone to be controlled from a smartphone app by simply moving the smart device around in space.
That’s not all for the Holy Stone HS200, though. These additional features make it easier than ever to fly a drone:
- 4 transmission channels: Each controller is capable of outputting on one of four unique channels, allowing up to four Holy Stone HS200 models to operate in the same radius. This is a fantastic feature if you want to enjoy your new drone with friends.
- One key takeoff/landing: Two of the most difficult parts of operating a drone are automatic on this model. In just one touch, both takeoff and landing are handled by the onboard guidance system. This can especially help new pilots keep their drone safe from accidental crashes.
- 6-axis gyroscopic controls: This built-in multi-axis system allows for enhanced stability and responsiveness. This model follows tight movements and can even perform full 360-degree flips with the help of its internal digital gyroscope.
Holy Stone does have some sub-optimal recommendations for this model’s use, however. The Holy Stone HS200 does not handle well in wind, they say.
They also indicated that it may require magnetic recalibration if it is shipped from certain online retailers. If your drone flies away when you try to use it, it needs to be recalibrated. It’s probably best to do a recalibration before using your drone for the first time. Recalibration is a quick and easy process.
- Four transmission channels allowing for up to four craft to operate at once
- Simplified takeoff and landing
- Integrated USB charging
- 6-axis gyroscopic controls for enhanced mobility
- Model is not wind resistant at all
- Requires recalibration due to magnetic interference in shipping
Altogether, the Holy Stone HS200 is among the best flying drones available on the market today. With a bevy of flight-centric features designed with new pilots in mind, you or your children will quickly get a hold on this drone. Soon after, it’ll be a favorite toy as it whirls and dives around your parks and neighborhoods.
5. GoPro Karma with HERO6 ‒ GoPro Adaptability Champion
ome beginner drone pilots balk at the lack of familiar names in the drone market. The GoPro Karma should provide them some familiarity, as GoPro is already world famous for their nearly indestructible compact cameras and an assortment of specialized off-road filming equipment.
The GoPro Karma finds itself well within this quality tradition, making it an optimal pick for those who already own or believe in GoPro’s equipment.
The GoPro Karma is optimized for use with GoPro’s modern HERO6 camera. However, the centralized grip system can also be adapted to fit the similarly-shaped HERO5 camera, if you already own one.
As expected from a name brand product, the GoPro Karma runs a high price tag. Part of this price is because it comes standard with both the Karma drone and the HERO6 model camera (though the drone may be bought by itself). This high cost may block out some beginner drone users.
Though the GoPro Karma is made for the skies, one of its unique features is its ability to also function as optimally on land or in hand as it does in the air. This should add a degree of versatility for the seasoned videographer who is making the first-time leap to recording drone footage.
In addition, the GoPro Karma is built to perform with this assortment of bonus features:
- Optimized for GoPro gear: Whether you own a standard GoPro camera or one of their many specialized grips, the GoPro Karma can adapt to equip it and keep it safe. In so many words, no other drone besides the Karma is designed with GoPro equipment specifically in mind.
- GoPro quality video stabilizer: GoPro as a brand is well-known for its exceptional video stabilization, even when their cameras are taken to the most extreme locations on Earth. The GoPro Karma hold fast to that unmatched level of stabilization, with its camera capturing every second of your journey with minimal shaking and shuddering from the wind.
- Extremely lightweight: Like its camera predecessors, this model is among the most lightweight beginner drones with a camera in its class. With a simple to pack form factor, this model can easily go wherever your adventure leads you.
- Optimized for use with GoPro cameras
- Most stable video recording in industry
- Automatically follows the primary controller
- Extremely lightweight form factor
- May be imminently phased out by GoPro
- Very expensive compared to other models
The GoPro Karma certainly provides an exceptional level of performance among beginner drones. Though it runs a high price tag, this model may be the ideal fit for those looking for videographical reliability or are simply fond of GoPro’s products based on previous experiences.
6. Potensic T25 RC Drone ‒ The Beginner’s Upgrade
A step up from bare-bones beginner drones, the Potensic T25 offers a strong level of performance for only a slightly higher-than-average price tag. Regarded by some online experts as a class leader, this model can provide most everything a new drone pilot could want with a little extra.
With up to 10 minutes of flight on a single battery charge, you’ll be able to use the Potensic T25 to capture some exceptionally interesting video shots. Without recording video, this battery can even last longer!
The Potensic T25 can optionally be equipped with a smartphone for FPV (first person view) functionality. However, the mount built into the controller is not optimized for all smartphones, making it difficult to use with new models.
Many of the Potensic T25’s features match those seen in comparable models, with the noteworthy exception that this model includes improved responsiveness and flight range. With an improved camera on board, this model definitely represents an upgrade over the “industry standard” entry-level drones.
Among the Potensic T25’s other features, some of the most useful are:
- 9-axis gyroscopic controls: If a 6-axis gyroscope is great, the a 9-axis gyroscope must be fantastic. And indeed, the 9-axis gyroscopic control system in this model handles like no other. This has the added bonus of improving wind resistance overall.
- 1080p HD video: Crystal clear video from the skies is very easy with this model. Because all video is saved into the primary app, you’ll be able to share your videos quickly and easily onto social media platforms.
- 300m control range: With an expanded flight range, this model is able to fly over new and interesting locations. With headless mode as a standard inclusion, this model will remain easy to track and control even at the maximum 300 meters.
- 9-axis gyroscope for added wind resistance
- 300m control range with 10 minutes of battery power
- 1080p HD quality video optimized for uploading
- 3D VR functionality
- Phone-mount does not fit all phones
- Sub-optimal range of motion
Overall, the Potensic T25 is a pretty useful drone that new pilots shouldn’t overlook while shopping for a beginner drone. With some excellent features that equate to quality handling, this drone is capable of both performing and entertaining when you call upon it.
7. Altair #AA108 RC Quadcopter ‒ The Durability Leader
Like many other types of consumer electronics, drones are by nature fragile. This issue is further exacerbated by their primary function in use several stories above the ground. Though no drone can survive every crash, the Altair #AA108 was designed with such durability in mind.
First-time drone pilots and their parents will truly appreciate this attention to quality construction, especially as the pilot in question gains a firm handling of the drone’s controls (with a few minor crashes along the way).
Though a smartphone isn’t required to fully enjoy the Altair #AA108, this model’s app does offer the ability to make custom flight paths. This can be especially useful when trying to film custom shots without manual guidance.
This model, unfortunately, does not come standard with a memory card. This makes it difficult to use for filming until you invest in a new memory card (sold separately), which may add to the overall cost.
Many beginner drones require a smartphone and a specialized app to function optimally. The Altair #AA108, however, does not require a smartphone, which makes it even more ideal for kids. All of this drone’s functionality is centralized in its easy-to-use controller.
Among its several features, the Altair #AA108’s chief assets are:
- Enhanced durability: As noted, few other drones can take a hit like this model. Built with unique blade guards and a thick plastic body, the Altair #AA108 can stand up to more than its fair share of wear and tear. This should come in handy especially as beginner drone pilots build their flying skills.
- Out-of-range and low battery alarm: This model lets you know when it is reaching the end of its flight range with a non-intrusive alarm. The same goes for when the drone reaches low battery, allowing you to safely land it to commence a recharge.
- 3 flight modes: This model also comes with three different flight modes. These modes are tiered based on skill level, allowing a beginner drone pilot to move up and learn progressively and at their own pace.
- Best durability among beginner drones
- Out of range alarm for enhanced safety
- 10-minute flight time
- 3 flight modes for multiple skill level
- Requires SD card for saving video (sold separately)
- Handles poorly in wind
While it may not feature top-of-the-line performance in videography, the Altair #AA108 easily makes up for it by providing a drone that can stand up to the hits and bumps that come with operation by a beginner pilot.
8. Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone ‒ The Safe Lander
Getting a drone out of the air can be difficult under regular circumstances. This issue is double concerning when you notice that the battery is running low. The Altair 818 Hornet works to combat both concerns by making takeoff and landing as simple as possible, even under adverse conditions.
Those looking for a drone that will protect itself and keep the expensive onboard technology safe will definitely find the Altair 818 Hornet to their liking.
While the Altair 818 Hornet’s 15-minute time is exceptional, this represents only half of its fly time capabilities. In fact, this model comes with two batteries standard, allowing it to fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. That far outpaces other beginner drones when it comes to flight time.
The Altair 818 Hornet does not include a GPS, unfortunately, making it more difficult to self-track overall. This also has the added drawback of preventing the implementation of an automatic “come home” feature.
When synced with the app and controller, the Altair 818 Hornet’s most unique feature is its automatic orientation adjustment system. With this mode engaged, your Altair 818 Hornet will never fly sideways or at an unusual angle, thus risking a stall or sudden blade interruption.
The Altair 818 Hornet has even more than this to offer, including the following:
- Emergency automatic landing: One of this model’s most outstanding features is its ability to automatically land if it senses an internal emergency. This can include everything from a mechanical malfunction to a deficient battery. Rather than dropping from the air and crashing, this feature helps the Altair 818 Hornet remain safe against unforeseen emergencies.
- 15-minute flight time: This model provides a longer-than-average flight time, thanks in part to its battery and energy-optimized hardware. During that long 15 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to adjust and snap the perfect photographs using the built-in camera.
- 3 flight modes: In order to get new users up to speed, this model also comes with three different flight modes. Each mode optimizes a different built-in system, allowing a new pilot to learn the ropes over time.
- Emergency automatic landing for device safety and preservation
- 15-minute flight time for extended flights (with two batteries for up to 30 minutes)
- 3 flight modes for a variety of skilled pilots
- Specialized for aerial videography
- Does not including a “homing” system due to lack of a GPS
- Wind may affect operation and camera control
The Altair 818 Hornet runs around a mid-range price tag. Even so, you can be sure that this technological investment will protect itself, thanks to its built-in safe landing features.
9. Parrot Bebop 2 Compact Drone ‒ The Drone with a Fresh Point of View
Some beginner drone users want to jump immediately in the deep end and pilot a higher-end drone right off the bat. The Parrot Bebop 2 can provide this, as it includes a wide array of high-end features for all types of aerial photography and videography.
Drone hobbyists on a budget should shy away from this pricey model unless they are intending to take the next step towards owning a high-end drone designed with optimal functionality and reliability in mind.
For added convenience, every picture and every second of video is saved and easily accessible on the Parrot Bebop 2’s smartphone app.
This app, it’s worth noting, does require some in-app purchases in order to unlock every bit of this model’s functionality. This may be a considerable drawback for those who do not wish to be up-charged by an already pricey model.
For its memorable name, the Parrot Bebop 2 carries an assortment of memorable features that go entirely unrivaled among beginner drones. One of its noteworthy features is its exceptional photography and videography recording capabilities. With 1080p HD video and 14mpx photos, you’ll be well on your way to professional status with these crystal clear shots.
The Parrot Bebop 2 has more under the hood as well, including:
- 25-minute battery: With this exceptionally long single battery life, you won’t be forced to land your drone every several minutes in order to recharge it. Long shots and long exposures will always be an option with this much battery life onboard.
- 1.2-mile flight range: To acquire this much flight range, you often have to seek out a $1,000 and up for professional drone models. Not with the Parrot Bebop 2, which can travel exceptionally far from its origin in order to snap an extensive array of views and angles.
- FPV goggles: Cashing in on the wave of VR goggles, this model comes with a pair of FPV goggles that allow the pilot (or their friend) to view the world from a bird’s eye, live from the built-in 1080p camera. These goggles create an immersive experience through Parrot’s proprietary immersion technology.
- 25-minute battery for exceptionally long flights
- 1.2-mile flight range for improved navigability
- 3-axis stabilization system
- Comes with FPV goggles
- High-end price tag
- Some features require in-app purchases
In the end, the Parrot Bebop 2 may not be for everyone because of its price. But with absolutely outstanding specifications, there is definitely an audience interested in taking the dive and making their first personal drone a high-quality, high-performance model.
10. Parrot PF728000 ANAFI Drone ‒ The Updating Drone
Out of date technology can often be a liability. Remaining up to date can be time consuming, though, even for a readily available piece of technology like a smartphone or smart watch. The Parrot PF728000 tries to remove some of that hassle by keeping itself up to date with all newly released software patches.
Those who want their new drone to remain on the cutting edge should definitely put this model high on their list.
To add to an already great portfolio of photography features, the 21mpx camera also includes an f/2.4 wide-angle ASPH lens and 2.8 times digital zoom. No matter the location, you’ll always be able to snap the ideal aerial photograph with the Parrot PF728000.
Simply put, the Parrot PF728000 costs a fair amount. Though not the most expensive drone by far, its price tag may put it out of reach of some entry-level pilots (especially if they are buying it for their children).
Tracking down a drone has never been easier with the Parrot PF728000’s unique built-in software. This software allows the drone to be easily located with its responsive geofencing and “Find my Drone” system standard.
Several other specifications and features on the Parrot PF728000 also steal the showing, including:
- Auto-updating on-board software: Using a unique proprietary update system, this model is able to keep its firmware up to date. With this system on board, you can be sure that your drone is persistently free of device-threatening bugs and glitches.
- Timer and burst photography: Leaping to a nearly professional level of photography, this model includes a timer for specialized time-sensitive shots. With this model’s burst photo feature, you can even take a rapid sequence of photos – such as at a sporting event.
- 25-minute battery life: While this long single battery life is noteworthy, it’s even more enticing when you learn that it remains firm even when recording video. As a result, the Parrot PF728000 can record much more video than the competition before needing to recharge.
- 25-minute battery life even while filming video
- Auto-updating software for continual quality assurance
- Timer and burst options for enhanced photography
- Can fly at up to 55 km/h (34 MPH)
- High-end price tag
- Refurbished products only have 80% of original battery capacity
Even as one of the most expensive models on this list, the Parrot PF728000 represents the peak of photography potential on a beginner drone. If photography is your game, the Parrot PF728000 is a name you should become quickly familiar with.
In fact, there are wide-variety of specialized photography drones that you should consider in addition to the Parrot PF728000.
When it comes to buying a drone for yourself or the beginner drone pilot in your life, you shouldn’t go into the purchasing process blind. Knowing as much as possible about the unique specifications and features of individual models will empower you to purchase the model that is right for your needs and your budget.
There are a wide variety of details that may affect your starter drone purchase. While some details such as cost, weight, and overall quality are standard fair when investing in a piece of consumer technology, there are also device-specific factors that will impact how your chosen quadcopter for beginners performs.
In order to make this buying process simple and intuitive, we’ve created this buying guide for the best beginner drones. If you keep these primary and secondary specifications in mind when you go to shop, you can be sure that you’ll find the best quality drone at the most affordable price.
Though a generally broad category, looking at overall quality is one the best ways to gauge a drone’s expected performance and durability in the long term. No one wants to get stuck with a drone that flies poorly or breaks easily, so it is imperative that you evaluate overall quality in each and every model that you compare.
Quality, in broad terms, can act as an umbrella metric for several factors generally associated with consumer electronics. While size and weight play a role in this, drones, in particular, are judged for quality based upon factors such as construction, durability, responsiveness, and more.
A fault in any of these categories may indicate that the model will perform poorly or break very easily if it encounters a crash.
Unlike like cars, which can be test driven in order to experience general quality hands on, few retailers allow you to test drive a drone before you buy it (especially if you are a beginner). As such, you’ll need to find another method of analyzing first-hand performance among entry-level drones.
Luckily, you aren’t the first person to desire and purchase a drone. As such, you can turn to beginner drone reviews as a primary method for evaluating general quality. Many online retailers offer these types of reviews on their product listing pages.
Because the drone market is flush with competition at this time, know that there isn’t a particular “standard quality” for drones (beginner or otherwise). Many major and minor brands sell drones at a variety of qualities and price points, so the onus is upon you to search through the forest and find the model that fits your needs and budget.
Types of Drones
There are several broad categories that most consumer drones fall into today. These drones are targeted at different audiences and skill levels, which can be discerned by their price tags and feature portfolios. Though there are some outliers, consumer drones tend to fall into the following categories:
◆ Beginner Drones are the most entry-level drones available on the market and are generally designed to provide a simplified, fun drone experience for first-time pilots. Though some practice is still necessary, these drones are easy to pick up and use with a phone or controller.
For the most part, these drones come in at low price tags and carry comparable levels of durability. However, replacement parts for these drones are often readily available.
◆ Hobby Drones are the next step up from beginner drones. They often feature improved handling and video-capturing equipment. Amateur photographers and videographers favor these models because of their improved capabilities while still remaining at a moderate price point.
Some beginner drones may also be categorized as hobby drones, depending on the seller.
◆ Professional Drones are, as their name suggests, geared at professional photographers and videographers. These models are nearly always on the expensive end of the price spectrum. However, such a price point is rationalized by the superior specifications and capabilities of these models.
These long-range models are often able to capture video at up to 1080p resolution, even in challenging locations.
◆ Racing Drones are a unique subset of drones that are geared for speed and agility, rather than photo or video capture. An extension of traditional RC cars, these drones are geared towards skilled fliers with a desire to compete. Without such skills, these models tend to crash easier, which can end up being a costly accident in the long run.
Though online videographers may make it appear that drones can fly on forever, their range is not unlimited (even in professional models). Many drones rely on a type of wi-fi or radio signal in order to interface with and receive instructions from the pilot. If the drone flies out of this predetermined range, it may run into unforeseen problems, including loss of direction and altitude.
Having a good range to fit your needs is essential. Many drones advertise their range in order to demonstrate their general quality. Beginner drones tend to have ranges between 50 and 110 yards, while some advanced drones are capable of flying up to 3 miles from their origin point.
Individual models within each class will vary, however. If flying over long distances is an important factor in your drone purchase, be sure to invest in a model that provides enough range to send your drone out and bring it home safely.
Flight Time And Battery Life
Flight time is another essential drone specification that many beginner drone operators overlook. Flight time and battery life combined can severely impact your drone usage, especially if you accidentally purchase a model with sub-par specifications.
Like other consumer electronics, nearly all drones are powered by a battery. However, drones tend to require a substantial amount of power in order to fly, record, and communicate back to the pilot all at once. As such, their battery life can vary greatly depending on the model and the batteries that come packaged with it.
Flight time, as a general specification, is a measurement of how long a drone can stay in the air before running out of power. As expected, flight time is most directly impacted by the battery quality and its ability to hold a charge.
Beginner drones tend to feature simplified batteries with markedly short charge lives. As a result, beginner models tend to top out at 10 minutes of flight time (with many coming in at less).
Hobby drones and up tend to feature improved flight times, often because they are powered by higher-end batteries. Additional sets of these batteries can cost a pretty penny, while batteries for entry-level models tend to run much cheaper. As such, beginner drone pilots can easily extend their low-level flight times by purchasing additional quick-charge batteries to use as backups.
For those interested in using their drone to take aerial photos and videos, having a quality camera on-board your drone is essential. Nearly every drone, even beginner drones, come equipped with some type of camera. However, much like traditional DSLRs and smartphone cameras, these drone cameras can vary dramatically in quality.
Beginner drones with cameras tend to record in standard quality, sometimes up to 720p. Though some include production assistance technology such as movement minimization, these types of features are generally reserved for high-end models.
Most drones with cameras are able to rotate while in flight using controls on the main console, as well as provide real time video playback (even when not recording).
In the long run, this may be a key specification that you overlook in order to find an affordable, entry-level model for yourself or your children. This is okay, as camera functionality is only an added bonus when it comes to drone usage.
However, if you are looking to maximize your drone usage and wow your friends with your new favorite gadget, a quality built-in camera is a must-have.
Drones across the spectrum usually come with a variety of unique bonus features that are intended to set the particular model apart from the crowded market. These features run the gamut from enhanced standard features (such as flight assistance or camera enhancement) to added functionality beyond industry standards.
While not every model includes every bonus feature, the following features are some of the best and most useful features available in today’s best camera drones for beginners:
◆ Follow me mode is a setting found in several beginner drones that allows the drone to lock onto and follow the pilot as they move around. This feature automatically controls the camera to keep you in frame and takes photos at regular intervals. This is by far one of the easiest ways to take hands-free action shots of yourself without a camera support team.
◆ Headless mode is a feature common to beginner drones in order to simplify the piloting process. As a drone flies, its front end (or head) tends to act as the orientation point for the entire craft. When flying away from the pilot, this means that all orientation directions are as expected.
But when flying in reverse, these left-right orientations usually flip, making controlling the craft difficult for those unaccustomed to inverted controls. Headless Mode heads off this problem by preserving the tradition orientation, no matter what direction the craft is moving in.
◆ A return home button is also a standard feature on many beginner drones that is designed to simplify the return and landing processes. If the drone has built in GPS, it will use this system to find its way back to your location and land gently near you.
Some models also use a specialized landing pad in order to further simplify the manual landing process.
◆ FPV compatibility or first-person view compatibility is a special feature on some drones designed to provide the pilot a first-person view from their drone in real time. Usually, this is accomplished through a video uplink with a specialized set of goggles (sold with the device).
However, some VR-equipped phones and headsets are compatible with FPV modes through a downloadable app.
At the end of the day, the biggest mistake you can make when buying a beginner drone is not properly assessing your device-specific needs. Because of a rise in drone market competition, you have to be prepared to dig deep and find a model that meets your needs without breaking the bank.
When looking to purchase a drone, you will need to compare and contrast factors such as cost, quality, range, battery life, flight time, camera quality, and more. The market for drones has never been better, so you are very likely to find a model to meet your specifications.
If you’ve made a mistaken drone purchase in the past, don’t feel downhearted about the hobby as a whole. One mistaken purchase shouldn’t put you off from all drones. Instead, you need to return to the drawing board and find the drone that is right for you.
How better to find that perfect personalized drone than by rereading this list of the 10 best beginner drones. While you analyze these reviews, be sure to also re-consult our buyers guide in order to find definitions and explanations of many of the key specifications found across many drone models. You can even get a sense of how drones function in the first place!
In short order, you should be on your way to picking out and purchasing the drone of your dreams. Soon enough, you’ll be able to take to the skies and capture tons of high-quality aerial photos and photography. With the right beginner drone picked from this guide, you’ll surely be able to take full advantage of this highly-desirable modern hobby.
Last update on 2020-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API