When people talk about drones, the first thing that comes to their mind is that they are extremely difficult to control. This is especially true for people who never piloted an unmanned aircraft before, but trust me, it is not that difficult. Most drones nowadays come with extra stabilization systems that greatly assist you during flight time. From gyroscopes, GPS systems, and autonomous flight modes, drones nowadays really have a massive arsenal of assistances in midair.
With this being said, you must make sure you opt for a good drone. We’re here to help you find the best drone for beginners. The most expensive ones are out of the picture, even though they have all the stability assistance you need, it still takes just one (or two) errors and your $1000+ investment is toast. That’s why for your first drone you should opt for some of the cheaper ones on the market. You’ll thank me later!
What makes a beginner-friendly drone?
Altitude hold is your friend!
Even though the first few drones on my list don’t come with altitude hold function (I tried fitting the list for everyone’s pocket, I strongly recommend you squeeze a couple of extra bucks into your purchase and go for an altitude hold enabled model. This function is extremely important for keeping the drone stable at all times. Without it, you would have to constantly adjust your throttle to keep it balanced. Needless to say, that’s way too much hassle for first-time pilots.
How much should you spend on your first drone?
To be honest, this is a difficult question to answer. There are more than a few variables that greatly affect the end result. Starting off with your own personal preferences. If you believe your “craving for drones” is a transient phase or you’re not even sure what you’re going into, spending more than $200 would be a mistake. On the contrary, if you’re certain you were born to be a drone pilot, go balls deep and don’t save a penny – DJI Mavic Pro is the drone for you! It’s small, insanely easy to use and features everything you’ll ever need from a drone.
So, with all of this in mind, let’s start off with the list and show you the 10 best beginner-friendly drones which are currently available on the market!
Table : Drones for beginners
|15. Syma X5C||HD Camera||50m||6min||See price now|
|14. Holy Stone F181||HD Camera||100m||8min||See price now|
|13. UDI U818A||HD Camera||30m||9min||See price now|
|12. JJRC H8D||HD Camera||200m||10min||See price now|
|11. MJX Bugs 3||Optional||300m||15min||See price now|
|10. Parrot Bebop 2||FHD Camera||2000m||21min||See price now|
|9. Hubsan H501S||FHD Camera||300m||20min||See price now|
|8. Upair One||4K Camera||800m||15min||See price now|
|7. DJI Spark||FHD Camera||2000m||16min||See price now|
|6. 3DR Solo||Optional||800m||22min||See price now|
|5. Traxxas Aton||Optional||300m||15min||See price now|
|4. Hubsan H109S||FHD Camera||1500m||25min||See price now|
|3. Autel X-Star||4K Camera||2000m||25min||See price now|
|2. DJI Phantom 4||4K Camera||7000m||27min||See price now|
|1. DJI Mavic Pro||4K Camera||7000m||27min||See price now|
15. Syma X5C
We are starting this list off with the ultimate beginners’ drone on the cheap. Syma, a brand that’s absolutely dominating entry-level drones market, has set up high bars with their X5C model. There are tons of copies of it out there on the market, but none of them gets even close to the original. In terms of popularity and value for money, Syma X5C is still the champion.
Why is it so popular? Well, for starters, Syma X5C is among the cheapest drones that come with a 720p HD camera that’s able to effectively record aerial footage. True, there’s a solid amount of jello going on, but I challenge you to find something better for this money. Plus, all parts are available and can be found virtually anywhere you look – Syma has made sure of that!
In terms of extras, Syma X5C includes prop guards and an extra 500mAh battery to double your flight time. While we’re talking about flight time, you need to know this little fella has roughly 7 minutes of juice. Range, however, stands tall at 30 meters which is somewhat of a standard at this price point. So, with all those things taken into consideration, we come to the conclusion that Syma X5C is deservingly at the top of the food chain in entry-level market. With steady flight, 2 batteries and plenty of parts available online, I doubt it will get a proper challenge anytime soon.
14. Holy Stone F181
Just one spot from the last place we have Holy Stone F181. This awesome looking drone is currently on a massive sale and can be found for less than $100. If you ask me, that an outright steal considering this drone’s performance.
Let’s start off with features. Holy Stone has implemented one key return, headless mode, 3D flips, and even altitude hold into their F181 model. Keep in mind that neither altitude hold nor one key return is GPS powered… but they still work correctly most of the time with some minor accuracy issues. Additionally, I’d also like to state that this baby comes with an extra battery so you can enjoy it more. So, let’s do the math here – 1 battery gives up to 8 minutes of flight time which means you get more than 15 minutes if you charge both and take them with you. Combine that with 50-100 meters of range (depends on interference in your surrounding area) and you’ll understand why Holy Stone F181 made it onto this list.
Moving forward, it’s also noteworthy to add Holy Stone F181 has a tiny 2MPX camera. It is not capable of providing you with live feed, but can still take solid quality aerial shots… as long as you don’t expect too much from them.
13. UDI U818A
After those 2 introductory models, we are moving onto UDI U818A, an interesting looking drone that could captivate younger audiences. But, how does it perform in the hands of a first-time flyer? Well, continue reading and you might just find out!
First of all, it needs to be stated that there are two versions of this drone. The cheaper one (the one I’m featuring here) costs just above $50 while the upgraded one costs almost double the amount. Still, the standard version comes with decent features such as 6-axis gyro, posture control, and modular design (it is very easy to install new parts if something breaks). The thing that probably interests you the most is its controllability and general ease of us. If that’s your main worry, then rest assured UDI U818A is great. Why? Well, this little bugger flies like a champion and is insanely intuitive to control properly. The gyroscope is balanced nicely and will provide you with an enjoyable flight every time.
Other than that, it is important to add that it has a built-in camera, although its quality is not that good. But still, with around 9 minutes of flight time and cca 30 meters of range, the UDI U818A is a fairly good choice for first-time drone pilots.
12. JJRC H8D
If you want a great FPV piloting experience and you are willing to pay close to $200 for your brand new drone, then JJRC has a great solution for you. Their H8D model comes with 2 extra batteries, extra props, a drone carrying case, 4GB memory card and a top-quality transmitter with a built-in 4.3-inch LCD screen for FPV purposes. But is all that enough to take those $200 from you? Well, let’s take an in-depth look and thoroughly examine this little bird!
In comparison to the Holy Stone’s X400C, the FPV mode of H8D is much superior since it is working via 5.8Ghz frequency while the X400C works via Wifi. There’s no need to tamper with your smartphone or anything, and needless to say, both range and responsiveness are much bigger than what would be the case over Wifi.
JJRC H8D excels in the specifications department as well, having roughly 200 meters of lag-free range and up to 10 minutes (8 on average) of flight time. Camera-wise, we’re talking about a 2MPX one that is known for having issues with jello in strong winds. But, despite that, I still believe JJRC H8D is a great drone that you should definitely check out!
11. MJX Bugs 3
MJX Bugs 3 is one of my all-time favorite drones. As a matter of fact, it was my first drone (not counting toy drones though) so I have very special memories attached to it. Plus, I had an awesome action camera at that time (GoPro Hero 4, still have it actually) which captured more than a fair share of awesome aerial shots. However, I’ll put my personal feelings aside and, in the next 2 paragraphs, give you objective insight on MJX Bugs 3.
First of all, it needs to be said that MJX Bugs 3 is an insanely cheap, entry-level model. With that said, you should not expect things such as GPS, autonomous flight and all that advanced stuff from it. From a drone that sits at just above $100, those are not the things you should not expect. However, what you should expect is an insanely stable flight, well-built frame and MT1806 1800KV brushless motors that provide an extra bit of reliability. True, it does not come with a camera but instead with a specialized mount that fits GoPros, Xiaomi Motion cameras, and plenty of other brands.
Even though MJX Bugs 3 does not come with a motorized gimbal, it is still able to capture buttery smooth aerial videos with little to no jello effects. This little bugger runs on a 2S 1800mAh LiPo battery but you can upgrade all the way up to 3S 2200mAh LiPo if you want more than 15 minutes of airtime with stock hardware. Lastly, MJX Bugs 3 can reach up to 300 meters away from its controller. Needless to say, considering pricing, this number is more than solid.
10. Parrot Bebop 2
The 10th spot of best drones for beginners list goes to Parrot Bebop 2, an exceptionally well build drone that has been receiving a fair share of popularity for quite a while now. More precisely, I am presenting you with Parrot Bebop 2 model bundled together with its dedicated Sky Controller. The drone comes in 2 colors at the moment, red and white. I know it’s a matter of personal preference, but if you ask me, white one looks a lot more sophisticated and gives the drone that premium feels to it.
Why am I featuring Parrot Bebop 2 bundled with its controller? Welbecausease I believe it’s not worth purchasing without it. Don’t get me wrong – you can buy this drone standalone and pay just a fraction of this price, but you will not be getting your hands on the Sky Controller. At first, that might seem not that important, but trust me – it is! The Sky Controller extends the range of this drone by more than 2 kilometers and gives you proper 2-joysticks piloting experience that allows you to control your drone much better than you would via your smartphone.
And finally, it is equipped with a GPS system and has a full HD, 14MPX camera along with built-in 3-axis image stabilization, which guarantees to provide you with exceptional aerial footage time and time again. In terms of battery life, you are looking at approximately 25 minutes which is double the amount from the original Bebop.
9. Hubsan H501S
If you though GPS powered drones are extremely expensive and you probably can’t afford one… think again! Why? Because today I am going to tell you a bit more about Hubsan H501S, a drone with an extremely aggressive price tag that sports GPS and all of its essential features. So, without further adue, let’s see what’s it all about!
Starting off with features, as I’ve already stated above, Hubsan H501S is a fully-fledged GPS drone which, obviously, makes it a lot more beginner-friendly straight out of the box. Why is that? That’s because the implementation of GPS usually brings a whole bunch of features to the drone. For example, altitude hold function is of utmost importance for beginners as it allows them to release throttle without destroying their drone. Needless to say, this makes flying Hubsan H501S much easier… especially when combined with its stable flight in both indoor and outdoor scenarios.
With all that said, let’s slowly move onto the camera. Hubsan H501S sports an integrated FHD model that serves it justice. Even though there is no hardware stabilization present, this miniature camera still performs excellently and is capable of capturing awesome aerial shots. It is also noteworthy to add that Hubsan H501S runs on 7.4V 2700mAh Li-Po battery which provides up to 20 minutes of flight time. Last but not least, operating range of this beauty is sort of a bottleneck at 300 meters. Despite that, I still firmly believe Hubsan H501S is an excellent model, if not because it offers GPS features at an incredible price point, then surely because of its aerial photography qualities which are second to none!
8. Upair One
If you’re a huge fan of DJI drones but you don’t have the money (or excuses for spending that much money on a drone) to buy it, there’s this little birdie called Upair One that might just soothe your cravings. The first thing you will notice about it is the extreme similarity to DJI Phantom models. Heck, even the controller is basically the same with the exception of huge 7-inch LED display for 5.8g live FPV feed.
Upair One comes with either 2.7K or 4K cameras. The price difference is roughly $50 so I warmly recommend going for 4K to ensure your drone is future proof. No matter which one you buy, you can be sure Upair One will record buttery smooth aerial footage at only the highest quality. In terms of features, there’s nothing to worry about since Upair One comes with all you might need. I’m talking about GPS, automatic return, altitude hold and many more…
Upair One runs on a 5400mAh intelligent battery that allows for approximately 15 minutes of airtime. Even though that might not seem like much right now, take a second look at the price tag and you’ll come to your senses. Lastly, the range is somewhere around 800 meters.
7. DJI Spark
After making a fortune from the massively popular Mavic Pro, DJI has created yet another miniature drone. This time, it is obvious they outdid themselves by making a hand-sized model with an array of amazing features. They’re bound to astonish you, I’m sure of it!
First things first, DJI Spark comes with an FHD camera with integrated 2-axis gimbal for optimal image stabilization. Even though it’s not 3-axis, this gimbal will still effectively annihilate all vibrations and get rid of that annoying jello effect from your footage. Moving forward to the specifications, DJI Spark flies up to 2 kilometers when controlled by its dedicated controller (you’ll have to get DJI Spark Fly More Combo if you want this). Last but not least, it boasts with 15 minutes of airtime which outright awesome considering its size.
Finally, we have reached features. If you thought the camera and specifications of DJI spark are awesome, wait till I tell you more about its features. Needless to say, it comes with full support for DJI Go app as well all usual smart flight features including GPS, ActiveTrack, TapFly etc… and can be controlled exclusively with your smartphone (you’re limited to this if you go for DJI spark standard package that ships without controller). The real fun starts at its special features called PalmLaunch and PalmControl. What they do is basically allow you to take off and control DJI Spark by using only your hands. Awesome, right?
6. 3DR Solo
If you are looking for a smart drone in every meaning of the word smart, then I got excellent news for you – 3DR Solo is the drone you should opt for. This attractive little fella possesses all features you could think of and gives them to you at an insanely affordable price tag. Even though it was selling for roughly $800 last year, it’s now priced below $250 which perfectly sums up this introduction.
Why is the price so low? Well, folks over at 3DR have pivoted to a slightly different industry and have decided to drop drone-related activities… including Solo. If you thought there’s a problem with this drone… think again since there is a ton of material online that suggests otherwise. As a matter of fact, just take a look at Amazon reviews and they’ll tell you all you need to know. Back to the topic now – Unfortunately, 3DR Solo does not come with a camera. However, a 3-axis gimbal is available for purchase. It supports GoPro action cameras and will provide you with optimal image stability no matter how windy it is outside.
Furthermore, 3DR Solo isn’t shy when it comes to specifications either. Its battery can take it for a 25-minute (20 with the gimbal) long spin. Additionally, its range goes somewhere along the 800-meter mark, but you can extend it by modding the Solo. While we’re talking about modding, 3DR Solo’s community has made a ton of content and all of it is available online. There are mods, leaderboards and even homebrew app called Solex. Some say it’s better than the original…Perhaps it might be worth checking it out!
5. Traxxas Aton
In the golden middle of this list, we have Traxxas Aton… and it’s quite a champ, trust me! This beautiful little drone is aimed at people who would like to both races and shoot aerial photography with their drones. How exactly? Well, that is exactly what you’ll be able to find out down in the next 2 paragraphs!
Traxxas Aton delivers the best of both worlds – racing and casual photography. With 2 dedicated modes (sports and filming), this little fella is able to achieve more than 50 miles per hour top speed (cca 80km/h) in sports mode and provides you with optimal image stabilization in filming mode. There’s also a dedicated 2-axis gimbal that’s available for purchasing separately or bundled together within the Traxxas Aton Plus package. Additionally, you’ll also receive a more powerful 5000mAh 3S LiPo battery which will make your Traxxas Aton last even longer.
In terms of specifications, Traxxas Aton has a great battery life of roughly 25 minutes but its range could be a turnoff for some people. We are talking about 250 meters which are not even close to my initial expectations. To justify this, Traxxas Aton is extremely easy to control since it comes with dual navigation systems (GPS and GLONASS), air brakes, one key return to home function and a bright LED status bar which is clearly seen even at bigger distances. This could easily be the best drone for beginners, and for all people who still cannot decide whether they’d like a drone for racing or aerial photography.
4. Hubsan H109S
4th spot is reserved for Hubsan’s top-flight model – H109S. This fierce-looking quadcopter comes in several different versions; 3 if we are to be more precise. In addition to gimbals (1-axis, 2-axis, and 3-axis), they are also differentiated by controllers. Low and medium versions come with a smaller one while high-end provides a well-placed upgrade that sports a huge touchscreen display for live FPV feed.
When it comes to camera quality, Hubsan H109S actually managed to surprise me. I thought the provided FHD camera would be solid at best… but it performs spectacularly well and gives out buttery smooth 1080p footage and crystal clear aerial images. Features-wise, this little fella comes with GPS, altitude hold, detailed telemetry, and one key return to home. Honestly, follow me mode wouldn’t hurt and would provide a much better overall package, even at the cost of a couple of extra bucks in the price tag.
Moving forward to the specs-sheet, Hubsan H109S still stands tall. That’s because of its 11.1V 7000mAh battery that gives it approximately 25 to 30 minutes of airtime. FPV transmission starts to twitch at roughly 1 kilometer. The same goes for operating range in most cases… Sometimes (rarely though) it reaches up to 1.5 kilometers, but that’s only in 100% perfect conditions with no obstacles in sight.
3. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
Bronze medal in this list goes to a highly underappreciated drone which goes by the name of X-Star Premium. It is made by Autel Robotics and is one of their 2 models available (other one is also X-Star but without the Premium suffix). Why is it underappreciated? Well, mostly because Autel Robotics did not do a good marketing campaign with it. Luckily, the shape of the matter is slowly improving over the course of this year. Who knows, perhaps X-Star Premium kicks things up a notch before 2018!
I think we should start off with its awesome 4K ready camera. It is mounted on a motorized 3-axis gimbal stabilization system that ensures only the smoothest image/video quality each and every time. Not only that, but this camera is also capable of recording slow-motion videos in full HD which brings a fair share of opportunities for filmmakers out there. In terms of features, Autel Robotics X-Star Premium incorporates GPS+GLONASS navigation systems, altitude hold, one key return, magnetic interference protection, a huge set of smart flying modes and full support for Autel Robotic’s Starlink app.
Specifications are second to none as well. With roughly 25 minutes of flying time per charge and close to 2 kilometers of operating range and lag-free FPV stream, Autel Robotics X-Star Premium should not be taken for granted.
2. DJI Phantom 4
I am proud to present to you the runner up – DJI Phantom 4. Even though there’s also a Pro version of this drone available, for beginners I recommend standard one. Most of you won’t even notice the difference in performance… but the price difference, I believe you will. So, why exactly is DJI Phantom 4 a runner-up to the Mavic Pro? Well, here’s the deal…
The standard version of DJI Phantom 4 is a well-capable aerial photography platform with some serious processing power underneath that beautiful all-white frame. In addition to precision hovering, several smart flight modes (including DJI specials such as TapFly) and visual tracking, DJI Phantom 4 also feature obstacle avoidance sensors that keep it out of trouble wherever it goes.
Furthermore, you’re also getting a 4K camera with integrated 3-axis gimbal. Add a variety of post-production options and FHD slow-motion footage and you’ll understand why professionals swear by DJI Phantom 4. But that’s not all… This drone also boasts exceptional numbers in both airtime and range departments. The latter goes up to 6 kilometers thanks to OcuSync technology while the former hovers around 25 to 27 minutes. Lastly, you don’t have to worry about controlling this thing as it can be fully programmed and taken in the air via autonomous flight modes. After all, this is “best drones for beginners” list…
1. DJI Mavic Pro
Finally, we have reached the best drone on this list. As I’ve already mentioned, in my personal opinion DJI Mavic Pro is the best drone for both beginners and experienced pilots alike. True, it does come at an incredibly high price tag, but believe me – you get what you pay for. Still, even with that said, I would recommend purchasing this drone only if you are sure you’re going to enjoy them for a longer period of time… Without any further adue, let’s jump straight to action and see what’s this baby all about.
In terms of features, DJI Mavic Pro is as good as they come. That’s not surprising at all considering its full support with DJI GO app as well as its awesome features including TapFly, ActiveTrack and plenty more. Additionally, DJI Mavic Pro also has sensors for obstacle avoidance, although not the same number like Phantom 4 Pro. Despite that, they do their job correctly and will stop you from flying your Mavic Pro straight into a wall. Try that at your own risk though…
Moving onto the numbers, DJI Mavic Pro has a whole bunch of them to brag around with. For instance, the range of this foldable birdie is 7 kilometers and its airtime hovers around 27 minutes. Obviously, DJI Mavic Pro is on par with all full-sized drones in this department. As a matter of fact, this drone is on par when it comes to camera quality too. With a miniature 3-axis gimbal and a fully-fledged 4K camera, there’s no doubt DJI Mavic Pro is great for aerial photography.
Is this everything you need to start flying your drone?
In terms of equipment needed to get your drone flying straight out of the box… yes, this is everything you need to purchase. All drones listed below are RTF meaning they come fully assembled with controllers/apps, batteries and pretty much everything needed for their first takeoff.
On the other hand, if you did not have any prior contact to drones, it might be a good idea to invest in some spare parts. Let me elaborate that – first-time flyers are bound to make mistakes, some of which might end up with damaged parts. Motors and propellers are the most common culprits. Luckily, they’re not that expensive so your budget will remain intact.
Are you serious about drone hobby?
In case you would like to keep on pursuing better models and continue enjoying the entertainment drones provide, then… welcome to the club, friend! If this is really the case then you should definitely look for something that has the capability of familiarizing you with everything you might stumble upon once you go for a premium model. I’m talking about FPV, autonomous flight modes, altitude hold, and all that good stuff. These types of drones are somewhat pricier but are well worth every penny! Think of it as investments into your future! Who knows… With a lot of industries already using drones, perhaps one day you decide to get your Remote Pilot Certificate and start flying drones commercially!
So with the final drone on this list, we have come to the very end of it. As you could see for yourself, the market is filled with beginner-friendly drones that will surely provide you with a lot of fun. With this being said, I would like to conclude this list by thanking you for going through it. I hope it helped you with making your decision, and until next time – HAPPY PILOTING!