The best VR drones offer the fullest immersive experience a drone can offer.
You are so integrated into the flying experience that even your brain struggles to realize that you’re not soaring, rising and diving through the air.
On top of that, you’ll only enjoy it more the better you get at piloting.
And this isn’t a gimmick. You can use your VR drone for taking photos and videos professionally, as online content or for creating mementos, just like with a regular camera drone.
VR is a feature you add to your camera drone rather than a separate category of drones, so you have nothing to lose.
What is a VR drone?
‘VR drone’ is a misleading name.
‘VR’ stands for virtual reality, but a VR drone is a camera drone that streams what its camera sees directly to your headset, so you can see what your drone sees as you take to the sky, exploring the coast, the mountains, the woods or any other location you want to take in – there is nothing virtual about it.
The only similarity to virtual reality is the headset itself, which looks like a VR headset.
However, sometimes the headset is only a holder for a smartphone that displays the screen for the VR drone pilot.
VR headsets vs FPV Goggles
What is the difference between a VR headset and FPV goggles?
FPV stands for ‘first-person-view’. Like ‘VR drone’, this is a poor choice of words. Technically, you could say VR headsets are FPV headsets.
However, FPV goggles are associated with racing drones. They have clearer screens and lower latency for flying at high speeds.
VR headsets are associated with camera drones and provide an alternative to using a controller with a screen in it or a mobile phone mounted on a controller.
Marketing teams and bloggers use the terms ‘VR’ and ‘FPV’ very interchangeably so they can be confusing.
Best VR Drones
Ryze Tello – Best Low-Cost VR Drone
- Price: $79.00 — Check on Amazon here
- A very low-cost way to try out flying a drone with VR
- Good small VR drone for flying indoors
- Children can use it to learn to program
- Cannot withstand light wind when flying outdoors
The Ryze Tello is a low-cost entry-level VR drone, but also good quality for the price, making it a good purchase if you just want to see if VR drones are for you or not.
Although it is not made by DJI (the best consumer drone manufacturer), Ryze uses flight control technology designed by DJI, so you get more than you pay for.
Along with the Tello FPV app for your smartphone and a basic VR headset, you are ready to go.
The Tello is light, however, which is perfect if you want to use it indoors.
Larger drones can be unsafe to fly indoors. However, the Tello is quite loud, so bear that in mind if you have family, pets, housemates, or neighbors who would mind.
Flying around the house is fun though – it feels like you’re sending your eyes around the house.
It’s interesting exploring an environment you thought you were used to, but in VR at a completely different height – experiencing your surroundings from a brand-new vantage point.
Outdoors the lightweight Tello can be blown around by light wind very easily.
In VR mode, stability is extra important. If you suffer from motion sickness and want to fly outdoors, you should check out the higher quality, but more expensive, drones on this list.
You’ll get 13 minutes of flight time from the Tello.
If you’re buying for a child, you have the added benefit that the Tello can be programmed in Scratch, a programming language designed at MIT to teach children to program.
The Tello does not have collision avoidance technology and distances can be hard to judge so make sure any child’s VR play is supervised, especially when flying towards themselves to land.
Mavic Air 2 – Best Value Drone with Virtual Reality Camera
- Price: $1,798.00 — Check on Amazon here
- Great collision detection features (forward, backward and downward)
- Fast top speed at 42.5 mph, so plenty of space to develop as a drone with VR goggles pilot
- Has the photography and videography features for producing high-quality content
- Not the best at anything – more of an all-rounder
The Mavic Air 2 is a powerful, compact drone that is great for content creators.
You can get some serious photography/videography done with its 48 MP camera and 4K/60fps video.
It is not compatible with DJI Goggles, but you can turn it into a drone with a VR headset using a standard VR headset case for your phone and downloading the Litchi app.
This drone comes with obstacle sensing, which is a godsend if you’re using VR and you’re not an FPV racing pilot.
It senses forward, backward, and downward.
Its maximum speed is 42.5 mph (68.4 kph) so given the difficulty of steering in VR mode, obstacle sensing is really helpful. You wouldn’t want to crash into something – or someone – at those speeds.
The Mavic Air 2 flies for a generous 34 minutes.
If you enjoy flying in VR, you will want more time with your eyes in the sky, but you can always buy two or three spare batteries.
One of its best content creation features is its films hyper lapse in 8K.
You have a range of options including Free, Circle, Course Lock, and Waypoint modes using the DJI Fly App if you want to split your time between work and VR play.
This is also a drone you’re going to be able to enjoy in the mountains, maybe the most beautiful location to experience the magic of VR flight (as well as a great place to make content).
The Mavic Air 2 takes off at a maximum altitude of 16400 ft (5000 m). It can handle winds of up to 18-23 mph (29-38 kph) so it is not fragile.
You’ll be able to venture out on a larger range of days.
The Mavic Air 2 may not be the cheapest, the smallest or the most powerful quadcopter with VR but it performs well in all the right places to be great for work and VR play.
Mavic 2 Pro – VR Drone with Best Drone Headset
- Price: $2,399.00 — Check on Amazon here
- Compatible with DJI Goggles, making this a very immersive VR drone kit combination
- The 1-inch sensor is great for low-light
- Mavic 2 Pro’s flight time, video, and photo quality are lower than Mavic Air 2 and it is also bigger and heavier
- DJI Goggles are an expensive accessory
If amazing, professional photography is important to you when you’re not using VR mode on your drone with a camera and VR headset, the Mavic 2 Pro should be top of your list.
The Mavic 2 Pro does not have the longest flight time.
At 31 minutes, it is less than the Mavic Air 2’s 34 minutes. Its video quality is 4K/30fps and the maximum photo resolution is 20 MP, all below the Mavic Air 2. It’s also larger and heavier.
However, it has one huge advantage: with a firmware update, it is compatible with DJI Goggles.
This is a game-changer.
DJI Goggles are built for comfort and immersion. The two cameras, one for each eye, offer 3840 x 1080 resolution.
The 85° field of vision makes the sense of immersion equivalent to watching a 216-inch screen from three meters away. But for real immersion, turn on head tracking to control the camera with your head.
Look in any direction and the camera will turn that way. If you ever wanted to feel like you could fly, this is it!
Try using head tracking for framing photos or recording video for a new experience. You can even share your flight with a friend also wearing DJI Goggles.
As for the camera, it has a Hasselblad camera from a partnership with the famous Swedish camera manufacturer, so expect high-quality results. Its 1-inch sensor surpasses the Mavic Air 2’s 1/2-inch sensor in low light conditions.
It also offers an adjustable aperture for those with the professional skills to use it.
To update the goggles, download DJI assistant. On DJI’s website go to DJI Goggles, go to downloads, then software and download DJI Assistant. With DJI Assistant you can update the firmware on your drone.
Connect the goggles with your computer through the USB port you charge them with. Make sure the goggles are on too. You should have the option to update the goggles with the latest firmware.
The DJI Goggles have a more convenient, integrated menu navigation system than third-party apps that use your phone in a drone camera VR headset setup.
You might find it hard to go back.
Don’t overlook the additional cost of DJI Goggles, though. This is the immersive option, not the cheap drone with a VR headset option.
Mavic Mini – Best Small VR Drone
- Price: $399.00 — Check on Amazon here
- Only 249 g and very compact, great for traveling
- Does not have to be registered with the government to fly in the US legally
- Good camera for the price, but those wanting professional photos and video should look elsewhere
- Obstacle sensing but only downward
At only 140×82×57 mm, the Mavic Mini is a great portable drone for anyone who wants to travel with a VR drone.
Although it is light enough (249 g) to avoid FAA registration, this is not a toy drone like the Ryze Tello – nor is it designed as a quadcopter with a VR headset.
You’ll need to add the VR feature yourself. The Litchi app and VR headset case combination transforms it into a capable drone with a camera and VR headset, ready to trek around the world with you.
The Mavic Mini offers 30 minutes of flight time, which is plenty for its price.
It can manage winds of 17.9 mph (28.8 kph) but which is not very fast, so make sure you check the wind speed if you’re going into the mountains.
Its maximum takeoff altitude is 9840 ft (3000 m) so you’ll be fine in every city of more than 75,000 people in the world but 11 (a few cities in Bolivia, China, and Peru).
If you want to share on your social media accounts, you’ll find the camera and video will meet your needs at 12 MP and 2.7K/30fps.
This is not near the professional photography level of the Mavic Air 2 or the Mavic 2 Pro, so if you need commercial images or content they would be a better bet.
The Mavic Mini does offer limited obstacle sensing but only downward. Every little helps but the more the better, especially for pilots new to VR piloting.
Holy Stone HS510 – Best Budget VR Drone
- Price: $199.99 — Check on Amazon here
- Relatively cheap
- 4K visuals with a 120-degree field of view
- Does not require FAA registration
- Includes two batteries
- Only single-axis gimbal stabilization
- Only allows for manual adjustment of the camera
The Holy Stone HS150 has some pretty advanced features for a low-budget VR drone that make it a contender as a toy drone for learning to fly a drone and learning to fly in VR for the casual but curious pilot.
This drone is also a good choice if you are looking for the best drones for children.
This VR quadcopter is easy to fly and can withstand light winds, making it good for flying outside your house or on a gentle day in the park.
It can take aerial photos and shoot 4K videos at 16 FPS or 2.7K videos with 25 FPS, although this is not a standout feature if you’re serious about photography.
It’s more like an add-on for getting accustomed to aerial photography and video rather than something you’d look to publish.
It conveniently comes with two extra batteries to extend its flight time and is lightweight enough to bring with you on short family trips.
When you’re not flying in VR mode, the HS510 VR drone features flight modes like GPS follow me (the drone follows you as you’re on the move), draw path (you sketch a path on the app for the drone to follow), tap fly (tap a location on the app for the drone to fly to), smart return to home (the drone returns to you), and point of interest (the drone keeps you in view as it flies, like a drone-assisted selfie).
It’s not the cheapest in its bracket though.
If you foresee some quite bad crashes on the horizon, check out the Ryze Tello for a similar drone at a more easily replaceable price.
Parrot Anafi FPV – Best VR Drone Kit Bundle
- Price: ~$700.00 — Check on Amazon here
- A cheap bundle with everything you need to fly in VR, including a VR headset
- Loads of VR flight modes to try out
- Camera quality is not as good as some of its rivals
- No collision detection or obstacle avoidance features
The Parrot Anafi FPV bundle is a good way to get all your VR drone kit and still keep the cost down.
The Parrot Anafi itself makes for a good DJI alternative.
The bundle comes with a drone with a camera and VR headset, a controller, and a backpack to transport it all for a low price. You also get a 16 GB micro-SD card thrown in.
The VR headset is a case for your cameraphone but is more durable and comfortable to wear than the cheap third-party ones you’ll find online.
The backpack is designed with a flat surface. This is handy as a launchpad if you don’t have a dedicated one on you.
You can shoot 4K/30 FPS HD video and capture 21 MP photos.
The camera’s performance is not as good as DJI equivalents but it is decent. If photos and videos are going to be an important use for you and your drone, this won’t be a good choice for professional-grade results.
It is still worth it though if your budget is limited.
The Parrot Anafi has a top speed of 34 mph (54 kph), so you’ll have lots of fun. You can stay airborne for 26 minutes, which is on the low end compared to alternatives.
As the Parrot Anafi FPV is designed by the manufacturer as a VR drone, it makes up for its shortcomings with a range of built-in VR flight modes.
Cinematic mode offers an amazing, silky smooth flying experience, where you can see the horizon tilt as you turn left and right. The effect is astounding! It makes you feel free in the air.
Arcade mode allows you to navigate using the camera. Wherever your camera faces is forward. It is a different way to fly and takes some getting used to but some people prefer it.
You also have racing mode, which is the closest you will get to having racing drone controls. It is fast, responsive and not smooth.
One downside to the Parrot Anafi is it does not have obstacle avoidance features. This is a very worthwhile feature when flying in VR mode as you can’t always see everything, especially when you’re training or flying in racing mode.
VR drones are typically not as fast as FPV racing drones. There is no VR drone racing. VR drones are camera drones with an added VR flight mode feature.
However, a higher top speed allows you space to continue developing as a pilot as you get better. Take it slow to start with and go faster as you get better.
Your battery power regulates your flight time.
There’s nothing worse than finally getting into the VR immersion zone and then having to come back to base because your battery is running out.
This can partially be remedied by packing spare batteries, but the longer your maximum flight time, the further you can go and the more peace of mind you have to enjoy the experience.
It is harder to see obstacles when flying in VR.
Crashes are almost inevitable if you’re starting out and accidents happen even for experienced pilots. But you don’t want any one mishap to spell the end.
It’s always worth checking out the build quality of your drone before investing.
Collision Detection and Obstacle Avoidance
Collision detection is even more valuable to a VR drone pilot because it can be harder to see obstacles.
There is a wide range of obstacle avoidance systems. Any is better than none, but the wider the coverage the sensors provide (downward, upward, forward, backward, 360 degrees) the better.
The best way to pick the right price point for your VR drone is to list all of the things you want to use your drone for before buying.
You may want to do professional photography. You may want to create social media content. You may want to fly at a high altitude in the mountains. These additional capabilities will all add to the cost but it’s worth it.
Save money on avoiding capabilities and levels of performance you don’t need.
Use the Right VR/FPV Goggles
Depending on your budget you may want dedicated goggles like the DJI Goggles.
Otherwise, you can add a VR capability to your drone with a compatible app, a mobile phone and a VR headset case to hold your phone.
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