Drones are now more popular and widely available than ever before. Buyers now have a huge range of options, which means finding the best drone for you isn’t always easy.
Drone technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade and they are now used for a wide range of applications. These include professional photography and videography – where drones able to shoot from angles regular cameras can’t – surveying, 3D mapping, and many others.
As such, there are many considerations you need to make when buying a drone. For starters, you need a drone that best suits your needs. That may be a water-resistant drone, a drone with great zoom capabilities, a drone with long flying life, a drone that shoots well in low light and so on.
You also need to consider price. Drones are now more affordable than ever, with several cheap models available for beginners. However, you still need to make sure you’re getting good value for money.
You should also think about usability and portability – is the drone very user-friendly with automatic flight modes, or is it best suited to experienced users? Finally, the specs – camera quality, sensor size, piloting options, battery life, wind resistance, and remote capability, to name just a few.
Luckily, we’re here to help you find the best drone for you. We’ve ranked 2023’s best drones, covering the best drones for beginners as well as for professionals. We reveal each drone’s key specs and what they’re best suited for, so you can easily pick out the drone that best suits your needs.
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Holy Stone HS120D FPV – Best Drone for Kids
Starting with the cheapest drone on our list, the Holy Stone FPV is a great drone for beginners and is one of the best drones under $200.
For starters, this drone has an 18-minute flight time. This may not sound like much, but it’s actually quite a lot more than similarly-priced drones. It also has an impressive 300 meter control range.
It comes equipped with a 2K full HD camera – not quite as impressive as the 4K offered by more expensive drones, but enough if you’re not a specialist photographer. One impressive aspect of the camera is the 120 degree FOV and 75 degree adjustable wide angle that helps capture clearer photos and stable video.
As you’d expect from a beginner-friendly drone, the Holy Stone FPV is very easy to operate. It has a Headless Mode, Altitude Hold and One Key Start/Landing Functions to make the flying process simple.
There’s a Follow Me Mode, which sees the drone automatically follow wherever you move without you having to control it. You can also design the flight path with the Tap-fly feature.
Another benefit is the GPS positioning, which enables the drone to automatically fly home when signal is weak or lost, or if the battery is low.
Finally, this budget drone has a 4.5 star rating from over 300 user reviews on Amazon, so it’s clearly a popular choice. Users have praised its value for money, ease of use and portability.
Overall, the Holy Stone FPV is our pick for the best budget drone.
Altair Aerial Dagger – Best Cheap Drone with 4K
Altair Aerial is a US drone making company that specializes in models costing between $100 and $300, and the Dagger is certainly one of the best drones under $500 on the market.
This is a small, lightweight drone that weighs in at under 250g, so it’s very portable, but it also packs plenty of power. The brushless motors allow it to reach speeds of up to 32 km/h, with a max travel range of 300 meters.
It has an onboard 4K UHD camera which allows you to capture crystal clear images. There’s also the 120 degree wide angle lens that can be manually tilted 90 degrees for more creative options.
The Dagger also has some impressive advanced features that help it stand out. These include the Optical Flow Stabilization System, which uses a lens mounter under the drone to guarantee safer flights.
There’s also the Fail-Safe Return Home function, which means the drone automatically returns home if it ever loses connection with the transmitter.
Overall, the Altair Aerial Dagger is one of the best drones to buy that you can fly without having to register with the FAA.
DJI Mini 2 – Best Mini Drone for Beginners
This is a relatively affordable drone that still guarantees the quality of a DJI model, so it’s a great choice for beginners.
The DJI Mini 2 is an upgrade on the Mavic Mini, and it has some fantastic additional features. For example, unlike its predecessor it can shoot 4K video, thanks to the 12MP camera.
It also comes with a new controller that, thanks to Ocusync 2.0 connectivity, boosts the control range as it can transmit HD video from 6km away. It also delivers a smoother flying experience, thanks to the anti-interference capabilities that allow you to fly further and see clearer.
This is a very small drone – it weighs less than 249g and fits in the palm of your hand. This makes it incredibly portable – in fact, it’s probably the most compact and convenient drone on the market.
In addition to the 40K/30fps video and the three-axis motorized gimbal, the Mini 2 also produces consistently smooth, stunning photos at the click of a button.
The Mini 2 is also a fairly hardy drone despite its small size. It can take off at a max altitude of 4,000 meters and can resist level five winds, producing stable footage across different environments. The max battery life is 31 minutes.
Another impressive feature is the 4x digital zoom. This makes it easier and safer to transition between shots of different distances, allowing you to capture your dream shot without having to get too close.
Finally, this is also a very user-friendly drone, largely due to the selection of quickshot modes. These see the drone perform pre-programmed moves, automatically shooting professional-looking videos. There’s also raw photo shooting for more advanced photographers.
Parrot Anafi FPV – Best Affordable Drone for Immersive Flying
The launch of the Anafi FPV announced Parrot’s emergence in the high-end camera drone market, and it’s certainly one of the best drones to buy.
Parrot claims that the Anafi FPV allows you to “fly your drone as if you were in it”, and it definitely delivers an immersive flying experience.
For example, it comes with Cockpitglasses 3 goggles that are connected directly to the drone camera. These put you into the heart of your own aerial views in full HD streaming.
The Anafi FPV is all about compactness, comfort and portability. The goggles are comfortable to wear and easy to carry, while the drone comes with its own hard-fabric zip case for safe traveling, a nice extra that’s not included with most other drones.
It also comes with a 16GB Micro SD card, USB-A / USB-C cable, a mounting tool and eight additional propellers.
One thing to note, however, is that the goggles aren’t compatible with smartphones with screens larger than 5.5. inches. The drone is also controllable by a foldable long-range remote with a hinged phone grip.
The Antafi FPV has a stabilized 4K HDR camera with 3x zoom, which guarantees very high-quality images. It also has a useful white balance adjustment feature that allows you to customize the color dominance for different lighting conditions.
Another really impressive aspect of the Anafi FPV is the frame, which is one of the best built on the market. It has automatic take-off, landing, and GPS-based return-to-home, so it’s very easy for beginners to operate.
DJI Mavic Air 2 – Best Video Drone That’s Foldable
One of DJI’s flagship models, this is a dramatic improvement on the original Mavic Air and is the best foldable drone on the market.
The Mavic Air 2 was released in 2020 and is quite simply an incredibly technical achievement from DJI. For starters, it offers a much better range than its predecessor and an impressive 34 minutes flying time – longer than most other drones.
The real highlight, however, is the 4K 60fps camera, which has an incredibly 48 MP half-inch sensor. This allows you to capture images with great quality and ultra-clear details. The 3-axis gamble also helps you capture extremely smooth 4K video.
Another benefit is that the Mavic Air 2 supports Hyperlapse in 8K, so you can warp time and space for dynamic footage without complicated post-processing.
It also boasts Spotlight 2.0, which keeps the camera fixed on a subject while you fly, and ActiveTrack 3.0 ensures subjects are kept in the centre of the frame. There’s also POI 3.0 that tracks objects.
In terms of flying capabilities, this drone is very smooth to operate. It has front, downward and rear-facing distance sensors, so it can identify obstacles and automatically plot a course to avoid them.
The Air 2 also comes with a new redesigned controller, which is a step up from the previous one. It comes with Ocusync 2.0 connectivity which increases its range to 10km and also improves signal stability.
The OcuSync also delivers 1080p FHD resolution live stream directly from the drone’s camera. Your smartphone easily slots in above the remote, just like on more expensive drones.
PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard – Best Waterproof Drone
PowerVision is an innovative company that specializes in underwater drones as well as flying ones, and the PowerEgg X Wizard is a great waterproof option.
This drone is an upgrade on the original PowerEgg, though rather than boasting a few enhancements, it’s essentially a completely new machine.
As well as a drone, the Wizard X can be used as a standalone, hand-held or tripod-mounted camcorder. It can make use of the gimbal for stability, but the real highlight is the intelligent AI composition mode for facial recognition with high accuracy for object tracking.
In the optional ‘Wizard’ kit, the Wizard X can be used to land on water or fly in the rain, so this is a brilliantly versatile machine. It’s also wind-resistant up to 10m/s, with 30 minutes of flight and 3.5 hours battery life in the AI camera mode.
The camera itself is 4K UHD with 60fps for capturing dynamic imagery – double the frame rate of most popular DJI drones.
It also boasts FHD 1080p video capture resolution, 1080P to 6KM image transmission, automatic real-time obstacle avoidance within a 20m radius, and accurate landing.
The PowerEgg X Wizard isn’t perfect – there’s no record button in camcorder mode and has a small image sensor. However, if you’re looking for a high quality underwater drone, it’s certainly worth considering.
This is also a user-friendly drone that’s easy to set up thanks to the folding props. The arms are completely removable for easy adaptability.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom – Best Drone on the Market for Zooming
We’ve picked the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom as the overall best drone as we believe it’s the ideal mix of quality, affordability and usability.
For starters, the drone is powered by an incredibly 1/2.3 inch 12-megapixel sensor, with up to 4x zoom – a big improvement on previous Mavic Air models. This includes a 2x optical zoom, so this drone is all about capturing dynamic perspectives and giving a variety of creative options when it comes to lens compression.
As this drone captures pictures with a 24mm equivalent, the camera patches 9 photos with the telephoto lens. The result is 48-mp, super resolution images.
Another standout feature of this drone is the Dolly Zoom quickshot feature, which allows you to zoom during flight. The camera automatically adjusts focus as the drone flies, producing an incredibly intense warping effect to your video footage. The camera also offers 4K video at up to 30fps and 100mbps.
Another great aspect is the HyperLight feature, a low-light setting that enhances your images while reducing noise. There’s also the Hyperlapse, where the drone processes stable aerial shots automatically, so you can create professional-standard timelapses with the tap of a button.
You don’t need to take our word on the 2 Zoom’s quality, either, it’s got a perfect five star rating on Amazon, which shows it’s one of the best drones around.
Autel Evo 2 – Best DJI Drone Alternative
If you’re looking for a high quality alternative to DJI drones, you can’t go wrong with Autel Evo 2.
While it’s not cheap, this drone is certainly worth the price. It comes equipped with a Sony Camera with a 48MP 1/2 inch CMOS Sensor, which guarantees stunning images with rich colour and fantastic detail. The camera supports 1-8x zoom, with a max 4x lossless zoom.
In terms of flying capabilities, it offers up to 40 minutes flight time (longer than most DJI Mavics) and a 45 mph max speed, giving you plenty of power to travel across various landscapes and terrains. It also has a 3-axis camera gimbal to help you capture steady shots during flight.
This drone has the Autel Explorer partner app, which offers all the tracking options you need, even if it’s slightly less polished than the DJI apps. However, there is the benefit of the 3.3-inch OLED screen in the rote, meaning you don’t even need to connect your phone to fly the drone.
Another interesting feature is the Autel Evo 2’s omnidirectional collision sensors that are used in normal flight, whereas Mavic models only use them in some automatic modes. Other functions include hyperlapse recording, dynamic tracking, orbit and waypoints point, and low-noise flight.
Autel regularly provides firmware updates that you can download from the website to help optimize the performance of your drone.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Best Drone for Surveying & Mapping
If you’re really looking to splash out on a top drone, then the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a highly impressive model that more than justifies its expensive price tag.
Where this drone really excels is in the quality of its stills and video, which we’re yet to see beaten by another drone. It comes equipped with a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera which allows you to capture stunning 20 MP aerial shots in incredible color and detail. Still images are 4,000 x 3,000 pixels.
The video is particularly impressive in low light, largely thanks to the new 1 inch, 20MP CMOS sensor. This has an active sensing area, allowing for optimum performance in low-light environments. Plus, thanks to the f/2 8-f/11 adjustable aperture, it also delivers excellent image quality in well lit environments with less need for ND filters.
With 30fps, 4k 10-bit HDR video support, you can plug the Mavic 2 Pro into a 4K TV with HLG and immediately play back footage in the correct color tones.
The high detail that the Mavic 2 Pro captures makes it particularly well suited for surveying and 3D mapping. Another feature that is useful for these applications is that it has Drone Deploy integration and a range of automated flight modes that are easy to learn.
Aside from the camera, this is also one of the best drones to fly thanks to the user-friendly controller and smart flying options. It’s travel-friendly thanks to the portable design.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 – Best Drone Camera for Professional Photographers and Filmmakers
The DJI Phantom V Pro V2.0 is a pretty incredible drone that’s certainly aimed more towards the professional than the casual hobbyist.
The original Phantom was a revolutionary drone, being the first to have a gimbal-stabilized camera. The V Pro V2.0 is also packed with similarly fantastic features, including the best drone camera on the market.
The camera, featuring a 1 inch, 20MP CMOS sensor guarantees professional-grade imagery and video in stunning detail. The advanced video processing system offers footage in Cinema 4K at 100Mbps, so you can capture slow motion shots in high resolution.
It also has a mechanical shutter to eliminate rolling shutter distortion, as well as an optimized f/2.8 wide-angle lens to ensure consistently detailed footage while maintaining color accuracy.
This drone also offers powerful flight performance with a variety of intelligent flight modes. For example, ActiveTrack can automatically recognize and follow people and objects, while the Draw Mode allows you to draw a flight path in real time on the camera screen and the drone will come up with a corresponding route.
The only major downside to the Phantom V Pro V2.0 is it’s somewhat clunky body design that means you can’t fold it and carry it in your backpack like some other drones. However, we still think it’s the overall best drone for photography.
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DJI Inspire 2 – Best DJI Drone for 6K Video
Like so many DJI models the Inspire 1 was a revolution, being the first drone to introduce an integrated HD video transmission system. With the Inspire 2, things just get better.
The image processing of this drone really is something to behold, thanks to the CineCore 2.1 system. This is capable of recording video in 6K 30fps, so you can capture genuinely stunning footage.
The drone has forward and downward facing sensors, allowing it to detect objects up to 30 metres ahead. It also has upward facing infrared sensors that scan objects 5 metres above for added protection in enclosed spaces.
A standout feature of this drone is the Spotlight Pro. This is a powerful tracking mode that uses advanced algorithms to lock onto subjects during flight, regardless of flight directions. Thanks to this, you can capture shots that would otherwise require a dedicated camera operator.
Another extremely impressive feature is the Inspire 2’s flying power, the drone being capable of reaching 58 mph. It descends at 9 m/s, ascends at 6 m/s, and goes from 0 to 50 mph in just five seconds, so it’s perfect for filming fast-paced, intense sequences.
It also has enough power to fly in extreme conditions, including up to 5000 metres above sea level and in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit.
This may be one of the priciest drones on the market, and even the batteries cost upwards of $300 to replace. However, the exceptional quality means it’s one of the best drones available and is certainly worth the cost.