With the holidays around the corner, people want to know what is the best drone to give as a gift? I get asked that question all the time, but answering that question is not very easy. My favorite drone is the Mavic 2 Zoom, but I wouldn’t recommend that drone to everyone. Your purpose and your budget are two hugely important factors when looking for a drone.
If your goal is to have fun, then I would recommend one of the inexpensive drones on my list. If aerial photography is your focus, then the best beginner drone has been the DJI Spark, but now there is some competition under $400. I’ll take a look at the entry-level competition as well as some of the higher performing birds, like the Mavic 2 Pro.
Unlike most authors of “best drone” lists out there, I have actually flown all of these drones. I have flown hundreds of other drones as well, so you know these drones actually are great picks. I’ll update this article on a monthly basis, so check back to see what is new. And for fun, I’ll add a featured drone of the month at the bottom.
Best Drone Under $25: Eachine E010
The Eachine E010 is the “gateway drone” to kick off your addiction to flying. For the price of a few pumpkin lattes, you can buy a tiny ducted drone that is a blast to fly.
The E010 is an excellent beginner drone and a solid option for kids as well. It is a no-camera, no-frills quadcopter, but sometimes simple is better. It can be safely flown indoors or outside. Those who enjoy DIY projects can convert it into a mini FPV race quad. Learn more or Buy One. Don’t forget the extra batteries.
Best Drone Under $100: Ryze Tello
This palm-sized drone is a technological marvel. Ryze, a small startup company, teamed up with Intel and DJI to give us an excellent beginner drone. The Tello has a 5 MP camera that shoots electronically-stabilized video. It has built-in sensors to help keep it stable and make it super easy to fly. The Telloeven has built-in flight modes so you can take unique videos or killer selfies. Learn more or Buy One. Amazon has some great package deals as well.
Best Drone Under $200: Yuneec Breeze
The Breeze was initially released with a $500 price tag but the price has plummeted to under $200. This compact drone features a 4K camera, GPS and a handful of flight modes. While the video is only stabilized when recording in 1080, it still is an excellent option for the budget-conscious buyer who is looking to make quality videos. Think of the Breeze as a bigger Tello with a higher resolution camera that can tilt. Don’t miss out on the Breeze, it may not be available for much longer. Learn more or Buy One.
Best Drone Under $300: Parrot Bebop 2
If you are looking for a little more range and flight time from your drone then you might want to consider the Parrot Bebop 2. The Bebop will give you 25 minutes of flight time and a range of up to 2000 meters. Its 14 MP camera will stabilize your video electronically for smooth footage. The Bebop also includes a handful of intelligent flight modes like “return-to-home,” “follow me,” and waypoints. The video and picture quality can’t compete with the drones further down the list, but this drone is a steal at its current price. Learn more or Buy One.
We’ve heard a lot about the Xiaomi Fimi A3. This drone checks in at $259 and will be released soon. Its HD camera on a mechanical two-axis gimbal put it firmly ahead of the Parrot Bebop and might even put it in DJI Spark territory in terms of quality. We are waiting to get our hands on one to put it to the test. Stay tuned. Learn more or Preorder One.
Best Drone Under $400: DJI Spark
The Spark is the first drone on this list that we would recommend to anyone who wants to use their drone for high-quality aerial photography. It uses a two-axis gimbal to stabilize the 12 MP camera. The Spark is surprisingly stable and has some excellent intelligent flight modes. It has a range of up to 2,000 meters and a flight time of 16 minutes. The DJI Spark is a great drone for people getting into aerial photography. Once you get comfortable with the Spark you will probably want something a bit more capable. Learn more or Buy One. I strongly recommend the Fly More Package.
For a long time, the DJI Spark was the only drone I would recommend for anyone that wanted to get into aerial photography for less than $500. With the previously mentioned Xiaomi FiMi and now the Hubsan Zino, the Spark has some serious competition. The Hubsan Zino features a full 3-axis gimbal and the ability to shoot 4K video for $399. We are waiting to get our hands on one to do a full test, but the initial reports on the Zino are promising. Learn more or Buy one.
Best Drone Under $700: Parrot Anafi
Unfortunately, there isn’t much available in the $500-700 range, unless you are looking for a used drone or you can snag a flash sale. The Parrot Anafi is a step above the DJI Spark and adds two unique elements that you won’t find on many other drones – a 180° gimbal and 3X zoom. The Anafi offers a range of creative shots that no other drone can provide thanks to its innovative 180° camera gimbal that can look up, down, and all directions in between. It also is the first consumer drone under $1,000 with the ability to zoom, albeit digitally. With a solid flight time of 25 minutes and a 4,000-meter range, you can do a lot with the Anafi. The 21 MP camera of the Anafi can shoot 4K video. This is the time to buy, as for a limited time Parrot has dropped the price $100 and is offering an extra battery for free. Learn more or Buy One.
Best Drone Under $800: DJI Mavic Air
The Mavic Air is a super-compact drone with some impressive capabilities. With both front and rear obstacle avoidance you get peace of mind when you fly. The impressive camera sits on a full three-axis gimbal and is capable of 4K video. Whether you are a pro or an amateur, this is the perfect drone to throw in your backpack or suitcase. You’ll get some great intelligent flight modes, a decent 20 minutes of flight time, and a 4,000-meter range with the Mavic Air. Learn more or Buy One. The Fly More Package is a great deal.
Best Drone Under $1,000: Yuneec Typhoon H
You can get a few really good drones under $1,000. The original Phantom 4 and the original Mavic Proare two that you can’t go wrong with. However, for the money, the Typhoon H might just be the best buy. This hexacopter with its folding legs and 360-degree gimbal looks like something right out of a Sci-Fi movie. It is an incredibly capable drone with a super sharp camera. It is the least expensive drone that is suitable for two-man filming crews. The pilot can fly and the cameraman can have full access to control the camera and gimbal. The built-in screen on the controller and 43.5 mph top speed are two big plusses for the Typhoon. Learn more or Buy One.
Best Drone Under $1300: DJI Mavic 2
If I could only have one drone on this list I would choose the Mavic 2 Zoom. Not only does it have a top-notch camera and impressive specs, but it also is incredibly portable. While the Mavic 2 Pro might be better suited for professionals, the Zoom is probably the best drone for most people. The Zoom camera is spectacular, and the ability to zoom gives the photographer so many options. With sensors in the front, back, top, bottom and sides, this is the smartest consumer drone that DJI has ever created. It is the first consumer drone with optical zoom, and it is sharp at all zoom states. The 8,000-meter range is bolstered by an impressive 31-minute flight time. Learn more or Buy One.
If you want a larger sensor, then the $1,500 Mavic 2 Pro gets you best-in-class color and dynamic range. There is no doubt that the Mavic 2 Pro produces the best-looking pictures I have ever taken from the air. Learn more or Buy One. Also, grab a Fly More Kit, you won’t regret it.
Best Drone Under $1,500: DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
The best camera you can get on a drone without breaking the bank is still the Phantom 4 Pro. The Mavic 2 Pro comes close, but it can’t quite match the sharpness you will get from the Phantom 4 Pro when filming in 4K. If you want the best, but don’t want the monster that is the Inspire 2, then you want the Phantom 4. For those that are budget conscious, I’d recommend the Phantom 4 Advanced. With the Phantom 4 Advanced you will get the exact same camera, you just won’t get the fancy propellers or the side and rear obstacle avoidance. It just might be worth saving a couple hundred dollars. Learn more or Buy One.
Best Big Budget Drone: DJI Inspire 2
If you want a no-limits drone to make Hollywood-quality videos then you need the Inspire 2. With a 58-mph top speed and a plethora of camera options, you can customize the Inspire 2 to suit your needs. The Inspire won’t come cheap. It starts at around $2,000 without a camera, but if you want the best camera options you will have to pay up. Learn more or Buy One.
BONUS Drone for December
The FatShark 101 training system is the best drone to buy if you want to get into FPV racing. The drone comes with a remote, goggles, race gates, multiple batteries and more. You will even get a subscription to the DRL racing simulator. You won’t find a better all in one package for a beginner.