Best Drones

James Faner

Updated Nov 15, 2018

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Best Overall Drone

DJI Mavic Pro

Best Photography Drone

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Best Budget Drone

DJI Spark

Best Drone for Practice Flights

Parrot Mambo

The List Of The Best Drones Of 2018

7 Drones Considered 7 Top Picks
Name Price Rating Top Speed Flight Duration Weight
DJI Mavic Pro 40 mph 27 minutes 1.62 lbs
DJI Phantom 4 Pro 45 mph 30 minutes 3.06 lbs
DJI Spark 31 mph 16 min .661 lbs
Parrot Mambo 18 mph 9 minutes 2.22 oz
Parrot Swing $59.00 18.4 mph 7-8 minutes 2.57 oz
Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
with Intel RealSense Technology
43.5 mph 25 minutes 59.8 oz
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom 45 mph 31 minutes 31.92 oz

Intro

Personal drones are more popular now than they ever have been. As result, they’re easier to get, and competition has driven the market to create better and better models. Unfortunately, that can make it hard to know which drone is best suited to your needs. If you’re just getting into drones, if you’re looking to upgrade to the most technologically advanced model, or if you’re really interested in the best photography, you’re going to want a different drone. As you’re preparing for your purchase, it’s important to research, but since that’s often a daunting and time-consuming task, we’ve started that for you.

Best Overall Drone

DJI Mavic Pro Check Price

The DJI Mavic Pro is most recognizable for its great portability. It’s a relatively light model and folds down simply, making it an easy accessory wherever you’re looking to travel. It’s good flight time and excellent range give it the ability to cover a wide area with ease, and you’re better able to optimize your experience. All of these functional design elements don’t sacrifice the capabilities of the drone either—the camera is high-quality, and it captures 4K footage. You can use a tablet or smartphone to take full advantage of all of its camera features.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 1 h
  • Range: 4.3 mi
  • Dimensions: H83mm x W83mm x L198mm folded

Pros

  • Travels well thanks to great folding size and weight
  • Good flight range for covering a wide area
  • Quality camera that captures 4K images

Cons

  • Requires tablet or smartphone for full camera abilities
  • High, although not excessive, price

Best Photography Drone

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Check Price

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro offers the best photography experience available. It has an extremely high-quality camera which can shoot 4K 60-fps videos, has a mechanical shutter, and takes great JPEG stills. For experienced photographers, the Phantom allows plenty of manual controls for personalized settings. Additionally, it has all of the same modes as the DJI Mavic Pro as well as Sport and Draw modes. It also has a higher top speed and flight duration. The downside to this model, though, is the significantly higher price point. If you think the additional features are worth the bump, then this is absolutely the model for you.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 1 h
  • Range: 4 mi
  • Dimensions: 13.8 in diagonal

Pros

  • Great camera for pictures and video
  • Better specs than the DJI Mavic Pro
  • Settings can be specified and optimized by experienced photographers

Cons

  • High price point
  • Heavier and larger than other drones

Best Budget Drone

DJI Spark Check Price

Smaller and even more portable than the DJI Mavic Pro, the DJI Spark is the little brother model which doesn’t quite live up to the features of the Mavic but comes with enough of a price reduction to make it a tempting offer. Folding into about the size of a hand, this model is definitely transportable, making it easy for you to bring anywhere. It has 1080p video recording, good image capture, and standard smart-flight modes and controls. It’s not as advanced as more expensive drones in terms of flight capabilities or photography, but it comes in at a low price that could save you hundreds of dollars if you’re more interested in a small user-friendly model than the top-of-the-line. 

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 82 min
  • Range: 100 m
  • Dimensions: 143 × 143 × 55 mm

Pros

  • Low price point
  • User-friendly with standard controls
  • Extremely portable with a good camera

Cons

  • Not as technically powerful as other models
  • Not for experienced photographers looking for the best quality

Best Drone for Practice Flights

Parrot Mambo Check Price

This drone isn’t aimed at people focused on photography but rather at those who are looking to get into the drone world with ease. It doesn’t have a camera at all, but it is controlled by your smartphone for easy use. The size, in-flight stats, and charge time all indicate the intended purpose of the Parrot Mambo: this drone is for quick and easy flights wherever and whenever you’re looking to get some fun practice in. For those interested in testing the waters, you won’t find a model better suited to your needs.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 30 minutes
  • Range: 65 ft / 20 m with smartphone, 100 m with Parrot Flypad
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 7.1 in.

Pros

  • Great for introducing you to drone operation
  • Light and small
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • No camera
  • Extremely limited flight duration, range, etc.

Best Drone for First-Timers

Parrot Swing Check Price

Like the Parrot Mambo, the Parrot Swing offers limited capabilities in exchange for easy and fun use. This model is great for younger users, inexperienced users, or bulk use. Compared to other minidrones, it has high in-flight capabilities, and its two modes allow for varied usage. Autonomous flight features and the sturdy design work make this a seamless introduction to drones, but serious or older users will quickly find themselves yearning for more.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 30 min
  • Range: 65 ft / 20 m with smartphone, 200 ft / 60 m with Parrot Flypad
  • Dimensions: 13 x 5 x 5 in.

Pros

  • Good flight capabilities for a minidrone
  • Price point good for gifts or buying multiple models
  • Good introduction for younger or new drone users

Cons

  • Significantly limited when compared to full drones
  • Quickly grown out of after introduction

Best Pro Performance Drone

Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
with Intel RealSense Technology
Check Price

The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro with Intel RealSense Technology offers several pro features that make it a top-of-the-line model. The six-rotors increases the stability of the drone during flight, and the freely rotating camera gives greater freedom than many other drones. Additionally, it has 4K video and image capability, providing high quality. The RealSense technology allows obstacle detection and avoidance in Follow Me mode, as well as obstacle and distance detection when manual. This lowers the speed of the drone, however, and significantly contributes to an expensive price point.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 1 h
  • Range: 4 mi
  • Dimensions: 13.8 in diagonal

Pros

  • Strong and elegant design
  • Good video quality and free rotating camera
  • RealSense object detection and avoidance

Cons

  • Expensive model
  • Activated RealSense object avoidance slows down flight speeds

Best Videography Drone

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Check Price

A variant of the DJI Mavic 2 line, the Zoom has the same form as other models, and it has multi-directional obstacle avoidance. Critically, however, it has a different camera which gears this drone for the best video recording. It can shoot 4K at up to 30fps and 1080p at up to 120fps, and it produces crisp, sharp footage, although the still photography suffers from the different focus. The Zoom also takes its name from the 2x optical zoom ability, which lets you get a closer look at otherwise inaccessible subjects.

Other Tech Specs:

  • Charge Time: 1 h
  • Range: 5 mi
  • Dimensions: 322×242×84 mm

Pros

  • Fantastic video quality
  • 2x zooming capabilities
  • Doesn’t sacrifice flight abilities for video quality

Cons

  • Poorer still image quality
  • Only for those interested in videography

Buying Guide

In-Flight Factors
The primary purpose of a drone, of course, is its flight. That means your number one consideration should be the specifics and limitations of how each model flies. The Top Speed gives you an idea of how fast the drone can go under ideal conditions—no obstructions, no wind, etc.—so if you need something that will really zoom, keep an eye on that number. The Flight Duration and Range give you an estimate of how long and far your drone can fly. If you only want small, quick flights, these won’t factor in much, but if you’re looking for lengthy sessions to film or capture photo, this is your go-to detail. Additionally, the charge time will tell you approximately how long you’ll need to wait to fully charge your drone—compare this with the flight duration to get a sense for how long you’ll have to wait versus how long you can use it.

Size
The size of your drone is also important information to bear in mind when considering a purchase. Some drones are much smaller—there are even minidrones you can purchase for practice—while others can get to be considerably larger and heavier than you might expect. This might not be the number one deciding factor in a purchase, but you’ll want to be sure you’re working with a model that isn’t too big or small for your needs . Remember that portability plays a huge role into how often you’ll use your drone.

Price Point
The price always plays a huge role in any purchase, and drones are no different. Small, meager models can come quite cheap, while the top-of-the-line models can put on strain on your wallet if you’re not careful. Lots of the best drones can be purchased around the $1000 price range, but both more expensive and better budget options are available too.

About the Author

James Faner

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About the Author

James Faner

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