Almost all drone pilots agree that DJI drones lead the pack in camera quality, battery life, flying range, and stability – among other specifications. DJI always has a gadget on top, regardless of the feature you pick.
Nevertheless, drone flyers have begun turning their heads toward the best non-DJI drones.
Some cite DJI’s restrictive security systems like the “no-fly zones” and their cost. For others, it’s just a matter of testing the specifications of a DJI alternative.
But what drones compare to DJI?
Autel, Hubsan, Parrot, and Yuneec are the market leaders for drones comparable to DJI. Holystone is another manufacturer that’s practically neck in neck when it comes to DJI, with the differences between their drones being wafer-thin.
Please keep reading to learn more about the various non-DJI drones available on the market, and what features make them the perfect DJI alternative.
- Best Non-DJI Drones
- Buyers Guide: What to Consider When Buying a Non-DJI Drone
- Reasons Why You May Avoid DJI Drones
Best Non-DJI Drones
DJI drones, especially professional ones, have dominated the market for almost a decade.
However, with time other drone companies have emulated the innovative technologies that keep DJI drones at the apex of the consumer market.
So, what is a DJI alternative? It’s a non-DJI drone whose specifications almost match its DJI rivals.
Besides professional drones, the makers of the best non-DJI drones have predominantly focused on toy drones, camera drones, follow-me drones, and mini drones.
Let’s unpack the list.
Best Non-DJI Toy Drone
Due to its immense focus on professional drones, DJI only has a few drones that may make sense to children.
Essentially, a toy drone has easy-to-fly modes and can be used indoors. Such drones are small, lightweight, and can only fly over short distances.
DJI Mini SE is one of the few drones that can be classified as toy drones. It’s the perfect choice for drone pilots who are just starting.
However, it’s a bit sophisticated for a toy drone.
Holystone joins the fray with a stunning and more affordable option—the HS420! It’s the best non-DJI drone in the toy category.
The Holystone HS420 is a tiny toy drone that’s great for entertaining children while taking pictures.
This toy camera has a decent video capture resolution of 720p HD, and its 1280×720 images are solid as well.
The Holystone HS420 breaks from the tradition of fixed cameras for toys. The drone user can tilt the camera at 90 degrees.
With a simple hand motion, children can shoot selfies with the drone without any specialized training.
The HS420 DJI alternative can fly a distance of 100 meters and can go as high as 30 meters.
Most DJI toy drones have you paying for an 8D flip feature, but that can be a bit complex for children.
Instead, the HS420 has a 3D flip feature at the touch of a button, where it can flip the drone 360º in the air for cool tricks – providing an easier training ground for new pilots.
That said you still get cool features like flying via waypoint, altitude hold, and headless mode.
Moreover, safety features like the emergency stop and propeller guards help prevent accidents and collisions, perfect for pilots in training.
Portability is also a plus for this gadget. It’s only 12 ounces in weight and can fit in a tiny space in your bag or pocket.
with HD FPV Camera for Kids Adults Beginners, Pocket RC Quadcopter with 3 Batteries, Toss to Launch, Gesture Selfie, Altitude Hold, Circle Fly, High Speed Rotation
Read more: Latest Top Of The Line Drones for Kids
Best Non-DJI Mini Drones
DJI mini drones are quite famous for their affordability and stunning features.
Even with their small frames, they have powerful software that makes them function more or less like their more prominent and expensive DJI counterparts.
Mini drones appeal to those pilots who are always on the move but need a gadget with high-definition cameras and automatic shot capture.
So what is a good alternative to DJI?
Autel and Exo have stepped up their efforts and delivered great drones comparable to DJI. Our research unearthed two petite powerhouses — the Evo Nano and Exo Mini drones.
Evo Nano and Nano+ – Best Alternative to the DJI Mini Drones
Autel has produced two mini drone masterpieces in the Evo Nano series—the regular Evo Nano and the Evo Nano+.
The Evo Nano+ is best described as the best ultralight DJI alternative for the photography enthusiast.
It’s a perfect replacement for the DJI Mini 3 Pro or the Mini 2, and at a lower price, you get access to almost the same camera features, speed, and flight time.
It’s packed with a 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor and can take 50 Megapixel images.
That, coupled with a large aperture of f/1.9, makes it ideal for high-quality images in poorly lit conditions.
Through a robust autofocus system, it can take images of fast-moving objects with incredible precision.
The main difference between the Nano and the Nano+ is the camera sensor. The Nano has a ½-inch sensor and 48MP resolution, while the Nano+ has a 1/1.28-inch sensor and 50MP resolution.
These two outstanding non-DJI drones can snap numerous images at different exposures and automatically stitch them into a single image with higher contrast and dynamic range.
Weighing a mere quarter kilogram (249 grams), the EVO Nano and the Evo Nano+ have almost the same weight as smartphones.
Furthermore, it can fit on your palm and very conveniently in the side pocket of your travel bag.
Premium Bundle – 249g Mini Professional Drone with 4K RYYB HDR Camera, 50 MP Photos, 1/1.28″ CMOS, 3D Obstacle Avoidance, PDAF + CDAF Focus, 10km 2.7K Video
EXO Mini Drone – A Perfect Replacement for the DJI Mini SE and Mini 2
The EXO Mini is pea-sized but is packed with above-average specifications. First, the camera is capable of 12 Megapixels and runs on a top-range 1/2.6-inch CMOS Sensor.
With such specifications, it fits the bill for stellar photography with highly detailed and vibrant images. Furthermore, the gadget can record 4K Ultra HD 30fps videos.
The EXO Mini also has a 3-axis gimbal that’s electronically stabilized. Thus, the drone can produce clear images like other top-range cameras.
Weighing only a quarter of a kilogram (249g), it can stay in the air for 45 minutes after a 90-minute charging time, and it has a range of 5 miles.
Some users may dislike its lack of internal storage, however, with the accessibility of affordable external data storage devices we don’t see it as much of a weakness.
For the longest time, there lacked a mini drone with follow-me features. DJI had the DJI Mini SE, Mini, and Mini 2, but none of them had it and you had to use workarounds like using Litchi.
And when they finally added the Follow-Me feature in the new Mini 3 Pro, they made it quite expensive.
The Exo Mini includes the follow me feature in addition to camera features matching the DJI Mini drones without increasing the price.
40 Minute Battery Life, 4K Camera, 5 Mile Range, 12MP Photo, Follow-Me, Return to Home, +15 more. Ready to Fly & Case Included. (2 Batteries)
Best Non-DJI Camera Drones
It’s undeniable that DJI has made remarkable innovations in the drone camera space in the last decade. However, other drone companies have innovated great drones comparable to DJI drones.
Autel’s EVO 2 and Parrot’s Anafi top our list as the best non-DJI camera drones, which are even better than DJI drones in some aspects.
Autel Evo 2
The EVO 2 is Autel’s flagship drone. It belongs to the category of drones better than DJI. When drone pilots realize how powerful it is, they are more than willing to stretch their budgets to own one.
Autel EVO 2 became the first consumer drone to offer 8K/25p video resolution two years ago. It’s also capable of 6K/30p and 4K/60p video resolutions.
Running on a 1/2-inch Quad Bayer sensor, it can take top-quality images to a maximum photo resolution of 48MP. It also has an 8x zoom with up to 4x lossless.
Its ability to hover for 35-40 minutes without geofencing makes it an excellent pick for many drone experts.
That’s because geofencing limits where you can fly, and even when you have authorization from local authorities, it may take a long time to be approved by DJI to fly.
But with a drone without geofencing, you can fly anywhere you want as long as you adhere to the local regulations.
In comparison, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has a flight time of around 34 minutes and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro flies for approximately 30 minutes.
The EVO 2 gives you an extra four or five minutes that will matter when it comes to inspections, surveys, and filming.
The 3-axis gimbal ensures a stable flight for the sharpest images, while the transmission system enables it to transmit videos up to 9km.
2022 NEWEST EVO II Pro Rugged Bundle with 1" CMOS Sensor & 6K Ultra HDR Video, F2.8-F11 Aperture, 360° Obstacle Avoidance, 40min Flight Time, No Geo-Fencing
The Parrot ANAFI fits the bill for that professional drone pilot who wants a drone camera that can record videos at 4K for half the price of a DJI Mavic 2 Pro and definitely at a lower price than the Air 2S.
The camera has a wide aperture—f/2.4, coupled with its 2.8x zoom, HDR, and ASPH lens, which means that the drone is capable of spectacular 4K or Full HD videos and 21 MP shots.
While you can get 5.2K with the Air 2S, and an f/2.8 aperture, these extra features are not worth the extra $400 you have to pay and you can effectively produce high-quality footage with what the Parrot ANAFI already offers.
The drone’s burst mode also has a stunning rating of 10 shots per second.
The ANAFI is indeed an average drone and fairly older than its competitors. However, it offers what the best non-DJI drones in its category should offer.
A 180-degree two-axis gimbal makes it stable enough to take clear images. Furthermore, it has a GPS-enabled flight.
The Parrot ANAFI has a unique characteristic that may be useful—the camera can point straight up or down. That complements its gimbal feature to make it ideal for inspection tasks.
The drone has an intelligent Li-Po battery that supports an above-average flight time of 25 minutes and speedy charging.
Its frame is made of light carbon and weighs about 320g. Thus, it can unfold in less than 4 seconds and reach a speed of 50km/h in sport mode.
Ultimately, this DJI alternative is foldable and highly portable. It supports find my drone, SmartRTH, and geofence functions.
Best Non-DJI Follow-Me Drones
Follow me drones are popular with adventuring pilots who want a drone to follow them autonomously. Such drones also make more natural shots, making piloting, photography, and videography a little easier.
Follow me drones do not necessarily follow the pilots but can follow an object.
Giving constant attention to the controller makes photography a little less enjoyable for the pilot.
Skydio 2+ is a name that appears everywhere when experts review follow-me drones.
The Skydio 2+ is the most popular DJI alternative on the market for follow-me drones.
The Skydio 2+ is a direct competitor to the Air 2S since they even cost the same.
The reason the Skydio 2+ is a perfect alternative is it has 360 degrees and 4K sensors, giving a total of seven sensors, allowing the drone to always be mapping where to go next.
This is crucial for a follow-me drone, especially in complex environments like underground tunnels, extreme sports venues, forests, and buildings.
The Air 2S slightly fails in that since it lacks sideways sensors. So it will always be blind on its sides, increasing its chances of crashing in areas with many obstacles.
As shown in this comparison video, the Air 2S sensors don’t always work as expected, and the drone ended up almost crashing into the object it was following, or crashing into trees that are directly in front of the sensors.
The Skydio 2+ produced smoother footage since it was always able to avoid obstacles and keep the subject in view.
Autonomous Cinema Drone with Advanced Cinematic Skills, Unmatched 360° Obstacle Avoidance, 4K60 HDR Camera, 27 Minute Flight Time, with 2 Year Skydio Care Warranty
Read More: Best Follow Me Drones That Follow You
Buyers Guide: What to Consider When Buying a Non-DJI Drone
There are crucial factors to consider before purchasing a non-DJI drone. Besides the hardware and software of the gadget, it’s also crucial to find out whether the company has good reviews and offers after-sale services for their gadgets.
Good quality drones have metallic frames and a shell made from tough plastic that can bear heavy landings. Anything less than this won’t beat the quality of a DJI drone.
It is also vital to check the strength of the movable parts for foldable drones.
For software, since it enables you to interact with the gadget, it’s important to ensure that it’s easy to use and capable of periodic updates to boost its security and usability.
Drones periodically encounter technical issues, and buying from a company with an after-sales customer support program is essential.
A manufacturer with a dedicated forum for sharing solutions for common problems is the best to buy from since you can get solutions for common challenges from fellow users.
Good Brand Reputation
Choosing a non-DJI drone from a company with good customer reviews and impressive drone innovation is essential.
Why? Because, drone technology is always changing, and you will need a drone brand that keeps up with the industry changes or comes up with its own revolutionary innovations.
On the other hand, customer reviews are important since they show what people are saying about the brand.
Most of them are honest, and if a brand can’t maintain a considerable following or they lack good reviews, then it wouldn’t be advisable to buy from them.
Reasons Why You May Avoid DJI Drones
Many drone pilots contend with the idea of buying the best non-DJI drones. “If DJI is at the forefront of drone innovation, why should I buy a DJI alternative?” they ask themselves.
We will take you through several reasons that may make you go for a non-DJI drone.
DJI drones are quite expensive. Although they’re made from top-quality parts, not every drone pilot can afford them. The only alternative would be to go for a cheaper drone.
DJI is a Chinese company, and like with other products, some drone pilots may avoid Chinese-made products due to political issues and personal beliefs that may clash with the company.
Want Something Different
It’s human nature to go against the crowd.
Some drone users prefer looking for drones that many people ignore and go for those drones comparable to DJI. Such buyers are very proud of their “conquests” when they make a notable choice.
Even though DJI is quite popular, some drone pilots may prefer other brands. It may be a personal preference that makes you feel aligned with a particular manufacturer.
Support Local/Anti-corporate or Monopoly
Some drone users feel it’s morally inappropriate to support large companies with a near-monopoly status in the market of a particular commodity.
The instincts may arise from past frustration or an anti-capitalist mindset. Such people may feel it appropriate to support an underdog. In the wake of such, it’s better to go for an alternative.
So, what brand of drone is best for you to buy? The market is now awash with DJI alternatives that may even serve you better than DJI drones.
Looking at the specifications of some of the DJI gadgets concerning what some users are looking for, it’s clear that we have drones better than DJI out there.
You need a keen eye, though. Interestingly, you’ll find our review enough to give you the best non-DJI drones.
However, if you can’t find one here, simply list the specifications of the DJI drone for which you’re looking for an alternative. Then, list the specifications of the competing non-DJI drones and go for the closest rival.