Drone Buying Guide | First Stop Before You Buy A Drone

So you want to buy yourself a new drone, you’ve seen all those new drones for sale everywhere…you’ve seen that they are taking the world by storm and you want a piece of the fun for yourself. I don’t blame you! As a matter of fact, I salute you for this decision! 🙂 Owning and flying drones has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done for myself in the past few years.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through all the necessary features you need to know, which I’ll explain in a beginner-friendly way and I’ll try to list the best drones for sale in 2021.

In addition, the content below will be nicely divided into separate sections for your convenience, so you can quickly jump to the topic that interests you the most.

What kind of drone are you looking for?

Since you’re here, I’d imagine you’re looking for the best drone possible for your money. But you probably realize there’s plenty of types of drones on the market – racing drones, cheap toy drones, drones for photography, sport drones etc.

So you need to decide for yourself what drone category is the one for your taste. Each model in the following categories is picked based on its features, quality, ease of use, value and user reviews. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but In my opinion those are the best drones you can buy in 2021, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Click on the picture of the category you like and you’ll be taken to that particular part of the guide and you’ll be able to read the quadcopter reviews.

Get familiar with drones

Get familiar with drones - drone buying guide

The most popular consumer drones are the quadcopters. They typically have an X- or H-shaped frame and are lifted by 4 rotors. They generally use 2 sets of identical propellers – two rotating clockwise and two rotating counter-clockwise. They also have a gyroscope and/or accelerometer to measure the aircraft’s roll, pitch and yaw – meaning how the drone is positioned in space. Using this positioning data, the rotors are automatically and individually adjusted, so the drone can hover in one place.

The quadcopters are known for their maneuverability and their safety – It is also possible to fit quadcopters with propeller guards that enclose the rotors, further reducing the potential for damage.

Not all drones are ready to fly out of the box. Often when you shop online you can see the following abbreviations:

  • RTF – Ready to fly. This means your unit comes with everything necessary to get it in the air within minutes from opening the package (if your batteries are charged 🙂 )
  • ARF – Almost Ready to Fly – This would appeal more to the hobbyists and the DIY-lovers out there. An ARF drone does not come in one piece, and often requires a good level of assembly on your end to make it ready to fly.
  • BNF – Bind-N-Fly. BNF products come with everything you need except for a transmitter. With BNF products you can use the transmitter of your choice and bind it to the receiver included with the model.

In this drone buying guide I’ll be listing only RTF models, as I believe they are much easier to get started with. In case you are a hobbyist which loves “DIY-stuff” and you want to learn how to build your own drone, check out this page.

Features to look for in a drone

When it comes to buying a drone for the first time, a lot of people are extremely overwhelmed. They don’t know what to look for and what features are truly important for first-timers. Below I’ll list some of the features all of the best drones possess, and I’ll explain what they do and how useful they are.

  • Flight time – Depending on your aircraft’s type and the size of its battery, the flight time could vary between 5 and 30 minutes. The most beginner drones have flight times of around 5-10 minutes, but their batteries are easy to swap (and much cheaper too). Many people get 3-4 extra batteries, so they simply swap them when they’re out of juice and continue the flight. However, when it comes to bigger and more expensive drones, their accessories become more expensive too. Depending on how serious you take your new hobby, you can get an additional battery (or more), and basically double your airtime. I’ve been in a couple of situations myself with my Phantom 3 when I could almost get the perfect shot that I was going for and then I run out of battery and I have to go home and charge it. This sucks, and since then I’ve learned my lesson and I never go out without a spare battery 🙂
  • Camera – The camera is an extremely common drone accessory. With cheaper drones, it often comes as an add-on part, and it’s up to you if you want to install it or not. Leaving it on the desk helps squeezing a few more minutes of flight time out of your aircraft, due to its lower overall weight, so in case you don’t plan to record/take photos I advise you to leave it on the ground. However, when it comes to aerial photography/videography drones, the cameras are a must (duh). Some drones rely on their own attached-to-the-body cameras, while others are GoPro (or other action camera) ready. Depending on the manufacturer, there are numerous features which could be fine-tuned, such as the ISO, the shutter speed, the size of the photo/video and much more. Take it as a professional photo/video gear that’s flying in the air. You get plenty of freedom and you can record a mind-blowing footage.
  • Headless mode – As we all know, every drone has a front side and a back side. When you and your drone are facing the same direction, pressing the left directional stick of your remote controller should fly your drone to the left. But when your drone turns around and its front is facing you, the controller and your drone front are in the opposite direction. Meaning pressing left will actually send the drone to your right, and vice versa. This could be very confusing, especially for the non-experienced flyers. I think it’s safe to say every drone flyer has experienced an unwanted change of direction (or crashes) because of this. But when Headless mode is activated, this problem is easily solved – as long as you turn on the mode when the remote and the front of the drone face the same direction, it will always go to the left when you press left and it will always go to the right when you press the right stick. This is great when you just want to have fun and don’t want to constantly observe the direction the drone is facing. My recommendation is to try to get used to piloting a drone without Headless mode, as this will help you in the future if you want to pilot bigger and better drones. However, taking the drone for a quick and fun flight in the park without thinking too much is a great option, which is definitely nice to have.
  • Return home function – The return home function does exactly what you think it does – it returns your drone to its home point with the press of a button. This feature works great in situations when you lose the aircraft from your sight, you lose control of it and you panic or simply want to return the drone where it took off. However, there’s a difference between the “Return Home” on a GPS-enabled expensive drone and a “Return Home” on a $50 toy drone.

On a GPS-powered drone, you should first wait for the drone to lock on to GPS satellites. This lets the drone know exactly where it is before takeoff, so when you hit the Return Home button it knows where to go.

On the other hand, using this feature on a cheaper aircraft without a GPS module installed, hitting the Return Home button will cause it to simply go backwards, but only when “Headless mode” is activated. Otherwise you’ll probably have to go chase your drone in the opposite direction.
To summarize – if your drone does not have GPS module installed, always use the Return Home function ONLY in “Headless mode”.

  • 3-axis gimbal – A device that keeps the camera leveled by pivoting around it.The gimbal stabilizes motion in 3 axes: pitch, roll, and yaw. This helps maintaining a stable footage throughout your flight, no matter the drone’s direction and tilt. To best emphasize on the importance of a gimbal, here’s a video demonstrating how a footage looks with gimbal vs. without a gimbal.

  • Range – The range of the aircraft will limit from how far you can control your drone. I advise you to think what you want to achieve with your drone before buying it. The range is very product-specific and can vary from 50-100 meters for beginner quadcopters to 5000 meters for more advanced products such as the DJI Phantom 4.
  • Spare parts – After you pick your first drone, you’d want to make sure you can buy spare parts for it, because very often you’ll get in situations where you’ll need them. Sometimes even a light crash could mean you need to replace your propellers, motors, camera or landing gear. So make sure you pick a model which has plenty of spare parts available. The good news is that most beginner-friendly quads already have tons of spare parts available online.

Words of advice for the beginners

words of advice for beginners - drone buying guide

  • Drones have limited flight times because of their batteries: Most aircrafts will signal you before the battery runs out, but make sure you keep track of your flight time.
  • Because of the limited flight times of most drones, you should invest in a spare battery instead of charging your only battery each time it runs out of juice.
  • You should not expect high-quality video recording and other premium features such as obstacle avoidance from drones under $400- $500. Here goes the saying that you get what you pay for.
  • Always keep your drone in sight – relying solely on the FPV (First-Person-View) is known to cause accidents, as it’s difficult to spot powerlines, incoming birds or other obstacles on your way.
  • If you’re based in the US and your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds you need to register it.

Why should you get a drone?

Well I’m not the one to tell you to get a drone, that’s completely up to you. But there’s something about videos like those two below that makes me want to go outside, fire up my drone and just spend hours with it – that is of course If I had unlimited flight time 🙂 .

On a serious note, the areas in which you can use a drone are rapidly expanding, so there’s plenty of things you can practice with your new hobby. Here’s just a quick teaser of what you can do with your drone:

Amazing aerial shots, filmed by a drone: 

FPV Racing Drone in action: 



Beginner and casual drones

For this category, I’m listing the best drones for beginners. These are reliable, cheap drones which can take some hits (which let’s be honest, they will). The best thing about them is that you can buy a lot of spare parts for them (such as batteries, propellers and motors) and replace them as you go through your learning period. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel a lot more confident and you’ll most probably want to jump to bigger and better aircrafts (such as the other two categories in this guide).

Without further ado, here are some of my best recommendations for beginner/casual quadcopters:

Now that we’ve got them all of the beginner drones listed, let’s get into more details about them:

Ryze Tello

Tello Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera and VR,Powered by DJI Technology and Intel Processor,Coding Education,DIY Accessories,Throw and Fly (Without Controller)
  • Little drone for kids and adults that's a blast to fly and helps users learn about drones with...
  • VR headset compatibility,fly with a breathtaking first-person view.
  • Tello has two antennas that make video transmission extra stable and a high-capacity battery that...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Tello drone is a toy drone that comes after a very successful collaboration between Ryze, DJI and Intel. These three companies have worked together on this drone with the purpose of creating a fun, engaging and educational drone for kids, and they have certainly done a great job.

The Tello drone uses a 5MP/720p camera, capable of taking photos and videos in a relatively good quality. The video is stabilised electronically, so even though the drone does not have a gimbal, you can expect a nice and smooth shots from this drone. On the bottom of the drone you can see one of my favourite features of this drone – the VPS (vision positioning sensors). They allow the drone to hover in place and remain super stable, both when flying indoors and outdoors.

The flight time of the Tello is around 13 minutes, and the maximum flight distance you can get from it is around 100 meters.

In addition, you can use the built-in “EZ shots” – those are automated flight sequences which allow the drone to record some shots automatically without any user input.

On top of that, you have a couple of different flight modes, the most interesting out of which is the “8D Flips” – you can flip the drone in 8 different directions with a simple swipe on the screen, and the drone stays remarkably stable after each flip thanks to the built-in VPS.

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Altair Aerial АА108

Altair #AA108 Camera Drone Great for Kids & Beginners, RC Quadcopter w/ 720p HD FPV Camera VR, Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, 3 Skill Modes, Easy Indoor Drone, 2 Batteries
  • PREMIUM 720P CAMERA DRONE W REALTIME VIDEO: The Aerial AA108 comes with a 120 Degree Wide-Angle 720P...
  • EASY TO FLY - The Altair Quadcopter is easily piloted & has Headless Mode, Altitude Hold & 1-button...
  • STABLE FLIGHT & DURABLE CONSTRUCTION for Long Lasting Fun! The Altair also has Custom Route Modes,...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The АА108 from Altair Aerial is an ambitious drone that aims to please the crowds with its sophisticated design, great set of features and top-notch customer service. Altair Aerial is a USA-based company that strives to fix the errors of the Chinese manufacturers of cheaper quadcopters which often offer half-translated manuals and pretty much non-existent customer support.

And this is where this drone shines – you can’t help but think Altair has put themselves into their consumers’s shoes – you get an extra battery for a total flight time of just under 20 minutes, a cardboard cutout that fits directly onto the remote controller, showing you all of its functions and features and of course gives you plenty of features to play with:

A 720p camera with FPV feed, controls that easy to use by virtually anyone due to 3 different flying modes, a one-touch takeoff/landing button, headless mode and altitude hold, custom route mapping, low battery and out of range alarms and more.

You can read my full review of the Altair Aerial AA108 here.

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Altair АА818 Plus

Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone with Camera, Live Video Drone for Kids & Adults w FPV, 15 Min Flight Time, Altitude Hold, Personal Hobby Starter RC Quadcopter for All Ages & Levels.
  • LONG FLIGHT TIME - The Altair 818 Hornet remote control beginner drone gets 15 minutes of flight...
  • STABLE FLIGHT, DURABLE CONSTRUCTION - This customized 818 Drone for kids and adults is very stable...
  • EASY TO FLY - The 818 Hornet has 3 controller skill settings so you can adjust to the pilot, take...

Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The АА818 Plus from Altair Aerial is a great drone for beginners which comes packed with features at a quite reasonable price.

It is actually a brand-new drone that has just been released, but it will immediately strike you with its black and blue colour scheme and great build quality. It’s relatively cheap, coming up at under $200. The plastic guards around each of the propellers actually make the drone look bulkier than it really is, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – on the contrary, since it’s made for beginners, this will actually help you in the long run, as the guards will keep your drone safe from obstacles or crashes, protecting the arms and the propellers.

The drone comes with a 120 degree Wide-angle 720P rubber damper HD camera, which ensures your photos or videos won’t be blurry or shaky (or at least it will significantly lower the blurriness or shakiness of your shots). One huge advantage of having such camera is the ability to control the drone via FPV (first-person-view) from the screen of your smartphone or via VR goggles, which you should buy separately. You can control the drone with the FlyingSee App by UDI RC, which is available both for Android and iOS devices.

Last but not least, the drone comes equipped with a battery that can last up to 15 minutes in the air, and to top it all off, Altair gives you a bonus battery in the box, so your total flight time comes in at roughly half an hour in the air. Pretty sweet!

You can read my full review of the Altair Aerial AA818 here.

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Syma X5HC

WayIn 2016 New Syma X5HC 2.4G 6-Axis Gyro HD Camera RC Quadcopter with Hovering Height-adjustment Function Green
  • Equipped with HD camera,lets you control the aircraft enjoy taking pictures/video of the pleasue...
  • Perform flips at the press of a button with 360 degree eversion,wind resistant and can be flown...
  • Improved 6 axis gyroscope for precise hovering in the sky, more stable and flexible with 6-Axis gyro...

Last update on 2018-07-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One of the latest entry-level drones from Syma is the X5HC. This little guy is extremely light, sturdy and can definitely take a beating. It features a 2MP detachable camera, capable of taking surprisingly nice and clear shots for a drone from this price range. It also has headless mode and the newly added feature to the Syma X5 range – Hover mode. This mode enables the user to let go of the controller once the drone reaches a certain altitude, and the aircraft will continue to maintain this altitude until the user moves it up/down. The flight distance of this unit is roughly 30-50 meters but during my tests I was able to fly it even further, around 80-100m. You can enjoy flying the Syma X5HC for about 7-9 minutes, which is quite alright for a beginner drone, priced under $100. Check out my extensive review of the Syma X5HC here.

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UDI 818a HD+

Drone with Camera for Kids and Adults - U818A HD Camera Drones RC Quadcopter with Video, 4GB SD Card, LED Lights, Auto Return Home, Extra Battery
  • LIGHT UP THE SKY with this LED CAMERA DRONE for BEGINNERS and PROS: Store hi-res pics and HD video...
  • BE a STUNT DRONE PILOT with 1 KEY FLIPS and TRICKS: Perform a 360 flip with just one push on your...

Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The UDI 818a HD+ is a great beginner quadcopter – it’s easy to control, very accurate and overall the drone is very responsive to the user’s input. The 2MP camera in this unit is clear and sharp. It also supports headless mode, which allows beginners to fly and learn the quadcopter a little bit easier.

If you’re out and about and you lose sight of the drone or you lose control you can press the “return home” button and the drone will fly right back to you.

Inside the box you get plenty of accessories, so you’ll definitely feel the aircraft’s price is worth it. First off, you get an SD Card-reader and a 4GB SD-card in the package. You also have 4 extra propellers in case the regular ones need to be replaced. The unit comes with 2 batteries (500mAh, 3.7V, charging time around 90-120 minutes), which give you flight time of around 7-9 minutes each. In case you drain your batteries quickly, you also get a 2200mAh power bank for free, so you can charge the drone while you’re on the go (you can charge both batteries at the same time). The UDI U818A HD+ has 2 different speed modes: Mode1 is a bit more scaled-down and Mode2 is more aggressive – choose the appropriate one depending on your skills.

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HolyStone F181

Holy Stone F181C RC Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera RTF 4 Channel 2.4GHz 6-Gyro with Altitude Hold Function,Headless Mode and One Key Return Home, Color Black
  • Equipped with one key return & headless security system to assist beginners and help prevent losing...
  • Altitude hold function: powerful air pressure altitude hold function allows the drone to hover at...
  • One key 360° 4-ways flip (left, right, forward, backward), Continuous roll for perfect action and...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Holy Stone F181 is an impressive quadcopter for beginners, and a really great place to start your drone experience, especially if you want a camera quadcopter. This is mainly because of the lower rates of the quadcopter – it has 4 rates, so you can start slow and build your way up as you get better. The aircraft is also great for intermediate and even advanced drone flyers and it never gets boring, because once you get to the fastest rate the drone becomes a lot of fun to play with. It has a 2MP camera, return home key, headless mode, range of around 100 meters, flying time of around 7-9 minutes and 80 minutes charging time.

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Syma X8G

Syma X8G Headless 2.4Ghz 4CH RC Quadcopter with 8MP HD Camera (Silver)
  • 8MP HD Camera Syma X8G also comes with a 8MP HD camera, support HD 720P , 1080P MOV video quality....
  • 6 AXIS GYRO Equipped with the latest 6-axis flight control systems, 3D lock, More scheduled flight,...
  • 360 Degree Eversion One key 360 Degree roll, continuous roll for perfect action and wonderful...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re a member of a drone forum or some type of drone community, there’s a huge chance you’ve seen a topic such as “Buying my 1st drone, what should i get?”. 90% of the answers you see mention the Syma X8G. Why? Well, simply because it’s incredibly solid and feature-rich, and it’s priced at just over $100. The X8G comes with a detachable 8MP camera, which is amazing for a beginner drone such as this one. The camera is capable of filming in Full HD at 30fps or 720p at 60fps, and its holding case is compatible with GoPro cameras, so you can easily swap them for even better quality. This drone also has IOC system, which stands for Intelligent Orientation Control system. By using IOC, you can select which side of the drone you want to be its front, making it even easier to control during flight (take this as an improved version of Headless mode, which by the way is also present here). The X8G is completely RTF and comes with prop guards, SD-card for the camera, landing gear and a set of extra propellers. Overall, this is a fantastic choice for every beginner which likes to mix flying and filming, but does not want to spend a fortune on an aerial photography/videography drone just yet.

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Camera Drones

This is probably the most popular category at the moment for consumers. Drones with camera are easier than ever to grab and capture some stunning aerial footage from around the world, such as this one:

This is mostly due to the fact that the camera drones are getting smarter and easier to use with each new model produced. Currently the top-selling drones have smart features which allow them to return safely to their home point when their battery is low, avoid obstacles on their way, fly around while keeping their camera focused on a selected subject, follow a pre-selected path and many more.

Related: Create Stunning Aerial Videography and Photography Using Drones

I’ll start the list from cheaper to more expensive drones with camera, meaning the further you read, the more feature-rich aircrafts you’ll see. Below each of the drone reviews there’s a button which will send you straight to Amazon, so you can purchase the drone from there (those are affiliate links, thank you in advance for using them!)
Anyway, here’s a list of the best camera drones:

DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom

DJI Mavic 2 PRO Drone Quadcopter with Fly More Kit Combo Bundle
  • See the bigger picture: equipped with a Hasselblad l1d-20c camera with a 20MP 1" CMOS sensor, The...
  • Please Update the firmware version of your Mavic 2 to or above via the app tips or DJI...
  • Up to 31 minutes flight time, 44 mph max speed, 907G takeoff weight, 3-axis gimbal for steady shots,...

Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Mavic 2 Zoom and Pro are the latest addition in DJI’s arsenal of portable, powerful drones. The two different versions are geared towards different type of creators: the Zoom is more suitable for people looking to get closer to an object without actually flying over it (this is especially useful when filming wildlife or when you’re in a busy city area and you don’t want to risk breaking the law), and the Mavic 2 Pro is of course geared towards the videographers and photographers that don’t want to compromise with the camera quality. This is due to the 1″ sensor Hasselblad camera which is DJI’s first ever collaboration with Hasselblad on a consumer drone. The camera makes this drone really unique, but let’s not forget that as the latest DJI drones, both of these quadcopters are also equipped with obstacle avoidance in all directions, giving you the perfect confidence when flying, knowing that the drone will be able to detect any obstacle in its way and not crash into it. On top of that, we’re seeing major improvements in some of the most-useful features we already know from the original Mavic Pro – we now have Active Track 2.0 which has improved a lot over its first version, Occusync 2.0 where the range of the drone has increased up to 8km (yes, you read that right, 8 kilometers on a drone!) as well as the whole new Hyperlapse feature and the Mavic 2 Zoom exclusive “Dolly Zoom” feature.

All in all, a massive step up from the previous iteration of the Mavic series and a great buy!

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DJI Mavic Air

DJI Mavic Air, Fly More Combo, Onyx Black
  • SmartCapture
  • 21-Minute Flight Time
  • Advanced Pilot Assistance System

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The DJI Mavic Air has been recently released by DJI and it brings extreme portability at no expense for power. It is one of the most promising consumer quadcopters on the market right now, and it is probably what 99% of the people are looking for in a drone – it has a 4K camera, shoots slow motion at 120fps in 1080P, has obstacle avoidance in 3 directions – on the front, back and bottom. In addition, it has the same foldable design as the famous Mavic Pro, but in a smaller footprint, which makes it extremely compact and the go-to product for travellers, vloggers and anyone who’s often on the go. The current price of the drone is just under $999 for the FlyMore combo, which comes with plenty of accessories and 2 extra batteries for a total of three. Combining the three batteries together we get a total flight of around 55-60 minutes, which honestly is hard to beat at this price. So the DJI Mavic Air is highly recommended and takes the #1 spot at the best camera drone for its extreme portability and relatively low price.

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DJI Spark

DJI Spark Quadcopter/Mini Drone Fly More Combo & Outdoor Adventure Kit (Alpine White)
  • DJI CP.PT.000731, DJI Spark Palm launch, Intelligent Portable Mini Drone (Alpine White)
  • Top Speed of 31 mph in Sport Mode
  • Control, Edit, Share with DJI GO App

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The DJI Spark is a tiny and very portable drone from DJI, that promises to take over the selfie drone market. With its ridiculously small size and the large list of features, the DJI spark is the next “big” thing. The body of drone is as large as a 5″ smartphone and can easily fit in the palm of your hand.

Speaking of the palm of your hand – that’s exactly what you can use to control this guy – DJI Spark offers advanced gesture controls, which allow you to move the drone with your hand – just raise up your palm in the air, and the drone will follow it around. You can also push the drone back, pull it towards you or wave to it and it will go back in distance so it can take your selfie. It’s really advanced. Although the main camera is 12MP and shoots Full HD 1080P 30 frames per second (no 4K unfortunately), the camera quality is surprisingly good, and in many occasions you won’t feel the need to use a 4k shooter.

The intelligent modes DJI is known for are also present here – you will notice they are so advanced that in many cases the drone feels like it’s flying itself, and requires little to no input from your side to make great shots. Overall, the DJI Spark is a must-have if you’re on the hunt for the best selfie drone. Although it’s priced a bit too high for a drone this size, the advanced features that are packed in its small body definitely make up for it.

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Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon

Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon Quadcopter w/ CGO2-GB 3-Axis Gimbal Camera Dual Battery Bundle
  • YUNEEC Q500+ Typhoon Quadcopter with CGO2-GB Camera (RTF)
  • Propeller / Rotor Blade A, Clockwise Rotation 2pcs. for Q500 Drone
  • Propeller / Rotor Blade B, Counter-Clockwise Rotation 2pcs. for Q500 Drone

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Yuneec is considered one of DJI’s biggest rivals, and rightly so. The Chinese company is producing extremely high-quality drones and it’s known for its amazing customer service. The Q500+ Typhoon is a great choice for anyone who’s on the lookout for a semi-professional/consumer drone with camera. It has the “CGO2+” camera, which has a 16MP sensor and takes Full HD videos in 60fps. In addition, the drone comes with the ST-10+ Ground Station with a built-in 5.5″ Android touch screen. I know for a fact that many people prefer Yuneec’s way of constructing remote controllers, as they have the screen built inside the remote. For many that’s a great advantage, and you also don’t have to buy a separate tablet/phone when flying, which is great. The Q500’s flight time is around 25 minutes, and it even ships with 2 batteries so you get almost an hour flight time, which is insanely good!

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Autel X-Star Premium

VOOCO X-Star Premium Drone with 4K Camera, 1.2-Mile HD Live View & Hard Case (Orange)
  • 4K Ultra HD video camera with quick-release 3-axis gimbal stabilizer
  • HD Live View up to 1.2 miles away and autonomous flight modes via the free Starlink app for iOS or...
  • Dual GPS/GLONASS outdoor navigation, SecureFlyTM magnetic interference protection, and the Starpoint...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The US-based company has made a remarkable camera drone, capable of being a real competition to the DJI Phantom series and the Yuneec Typhoon Q500+. The X-Star Premium has got it all – 4K Ultra HD video camera for stunning shots from above, Live View up to 1.2 miles away (similar to Lightbridge) and autonomous flight modes via the Starlink app (which works both for iOS or Android). The positioning of the drone is taken care of by the Dual GPS/GLONASS outdoor navigation systems, and there’s also a SecureFly magnetic interference protection system, which is quite handy. What I particularly like about this quadcopter is that it comes with a number of bundled accessories: a Premium hard case (which is really rugged and makes you feel like James Bond while you carry your drone), a 64-GB MicroSD card, intelligent battery, 1-hour fast charger, spare propellers and small parts. Last, but definitely not least is the customer support – Autel is known to be one of the best out there when it comes to helping their customers in case of problems. The support team is U.S. based and works seven days a week, providing assistance for every issue you might have.

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Yuneec Typhoon H

Yuneec Typhoon H UHD 4K Collision Avoidance Hexacopter Drone= with Battery and ST16 Controller
  • READY OUT OF THE BOX - Comes with ST16 all-in-one controller (7 inch Android touchscreen), CGO3+ 4K...
  • SAFE TO FLY WITH BUILT-IN COLLISION AVOIDANCE - FAA compliant no-fly zone, 6 rotor safety with 5...
  • EASY TO FLY - GPS stabilized flight control, with 8 smart flight modes, automatic return to home,...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Next in the drones with camera category we have the Typhoon H from Yuneec. This hexacopter (meaning it has 6 rotors) has only been on the market for a month or two now, but it has already established itself as a solid DJI competitor. It’s often compared to the Phantom 4 and when it comes to picking one between the two, it’s an extremely hard task. I’ve often had the question “Which one should I buy?” and honestly, I can’t really give you a straight answer. Just like Android vs. Apple, Windows vs. Mac etc., it all comes down to personal preference, although the Typhoon H is slightly more directed towards more advanced flyers, whereas the Phantom 4 could be picked up and flown by anybody.

Back on topic, the Typhoon H offers smart flying modes, a sonar front obstacle avoidance system, retractable landing gear which allows for 360-degree filming from its 4K camera, “ST16” controller which has a built-in 7” touchscreen that displays live footage of your flight. What’s interesting about the controller is that it could be paired with a second controller, giving you the opportunity to use the one for flying the drone and the other one for controlling the camera. Definitely an advantage over the competition when it comes to taking more professional footage (i.e. for commercial use).

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DJI Mavic Pro

DJI - Mavic Pro Quadcopter with Remote Controller - Gray
  • Fly for miles. From your pocket. Inside the Mavic's pocket-sized remote controller is DJI's brand...
  • No bumps and scrapes When you know what's in front of you, you won't bump into it. The same is true...
  • Absolute Precision Flight Autonomy technology means the Mavic can hover precisely in more...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

One of the most portable drones in the DJI family delivers exceptional results. The biggest advantage of this drone is its super portability – the quadcopter literally fits into any backpack or bag, so you can carry it everywhere with you and not miss shots anymore (I’ve had hundreds of situations when I’d love to shoot something with my drone but I didn’t have it with me at the moment). In addition, this quadcopter is packed with almost everything you might want from similar-sized drone – 12MP camera, folding arms, long flight range (up to 4.3 miles – 7km), obstacle avoidance system with 4 vision sensors (below and in front), gesture control, sport mode, smart modes and much, much more. I personally take it as a minified version of the Phantom 4, which is also upgraded with a few new features, plus it’s extra portable. The Mavic Pro certainly is a true camera drone, since you can unfold it and shoot in a matter of seconds.

You can read my first look at the DJI Mavic Pro, as well as my comparison with the Phantom 4. The Mavic Pro can be ordered from Amazon or the official DJI Store.

In addition, you can also check out the newer improved version of the Mavic Pro, called Mavic Pro Platinum. It offers extended flight time, 60% less noise and a new design of the propellers.

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DJI Phantom 4 Pro

DJI Phantom 4 PRO Drone Quadcopter Bundle Kit with 4K Professional Camera Gimbal and Must Have Accessories
  • ALL ORDERS PLACED AFTER 6/26 WILL RECEIVE V2.0 PHANTOM 4 PRO! The Phantom 4 PRO Series is just the...
  • ALL ORDERS PLACED AFTER 6/26 WILL RECEIVE V2.0 PHANTOM 4 PRO! FIVE Directions of Obstacle Sensing,...
  • ALL ORDERS PLACED AFTER 6/26 WILL RECEIVE V2.0 PHANTOM 4 PRO! 20 Megapixels Camera with HUGE 1"...

Last update on 2020-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The upgraded version of the almighty Phantom 4 has been released, and it’s awesome! This new quadcopter will certainly try to take the crown as the best camera drone in 2021 for consumers. It’s called the Phantom 4 Pro, and it comes with a few really good improvements over its predecessor.

The new camera of the Phantom 4 Professional has a 20MP DNG Raw photo capabilities, F2.8 aperture, mechanical shutter which eliminates rolling shutter bending and large 1-inch sensor, which will lead to brighter and more detailed images than the ones from before. The video capabilities have also been improved, as the video bitrate is higher (100 Mbps), and the dynamic range is wider. Plus, you’ll be now capable to shoot 4K videos in 60fps, allowing for extra buttery slo-mo shots.

One of the most critical points of the Phantom 4 was that the obstacle avoidance sensors worked only when you fly upwards. It seems that DJI has listened to all the complaints, as there are now 2 more obstacle avoidance sensors on the back of the drone, combined with new infrared obstacle sensors on the sides of the aircraft, which means that the Phantom 4 Pro has 5 directions of sensors (front, back, both sides and bottom), which makes it virtually uncrashable (can’t wait to see more real-life tests on that).

There are 2 separate versions of the new Phantom 4 Professional. The first one comes with your regular Phantom 4 controller, so you can fit your phone/tablet.
Here’s where it gets interesting though: the second version has a 5.5 built-in display, which looks just as you’ve mounted your phone on the controller, but with an improved  direct sunlight visibility. DJI promises the display is ultra bright and functions twice as good as most tablets on the market.

Of course, Lightbridge technology is also present, but this time the remote auto-detects signal interference and switches between 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz transmission. The flight time has been increased to 30 minutes (depending on the flying conditions).

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FPV Racing drones

racing quads long

A racing drone is a small quadcopter drone that is purpose-built to compete in FPV (first person view) racing events. Racing drones are completely different animals compared to the aerial photography/videography drones or the beginner quadcopters. These drones typically trade off flight time and ease of use for speed and performance. They race with speeds up to 70-100mph, they are extremely maneuverable and they are insane to control.

It’s important to mention that these quads are NOT for beginners. If flown by a person without experience, they can lead to some significant damage to a person/property, due to their high speeds. I advise you to try one of those after you’ve mastered the basics of controlling a quadcopter.

New to quadcopter flying? Check these suggestions first!

However, if you have flying experience and you do want to jump into a new world of FPV racing drones – please proceed! 🙂

Many people argue that an FPV racing quadcopter is not bought, but it’s built instead. This is great if you are handy enough and you want to build something yourself. Many people say that building the quad is half of the fun. It’s helpful too, because if (or should I say when) something breaks, you’ll have the knowledge to change/repair it.

However, I also believe that not all people share the same interest for building their own drone. If you’re impatient to get your racing drone in the air, there are some good RTF FPV (Ready To Fly, First Person View) Racing drones worth checking out. Generally, they are just a bit more expensive than what you’d normally pay if you gather all the parts yourself, but at least you’ll know the drone is 100% capable of flying.

Let’s see what an FPV racing drone usually consists of:

  • Frame
  • 4 motors
  • 4 propellers
  • 4 ESCs (Electronic Speed Control)
  • Antennas
  • FPV monitor (or goggles)
  • FPV Body Camera
  • Remote Controller
  • Video transmitter & receiver
  • Radio transmitter & receiver
  • Lithium-polymer (Li-Po) battery
  • Battery straps

1. TBS Vendetta

vendettaWe start off with the notorious TBS Vendetta – designed specifically for freestyle flying and FPV racing. This quadcopter is small (size 240), and its body frame is completely made of carbon fiber. This means that not only the Vendetta is very light (just over 400 grams without the battery and camera), but it’s also very strong and crash-resistant.

One of the best things about this race quad is that it doesn’t require a soldering iron when you need to replace components after a crash – thanks to its modular design it has a slideable electronic tray and hot-swappable arms and motors. This gives you a lot of room for upgrades (such as putting bigger motors, larger battery, another set of arms etc.) and also saves you repair time. This pocket rocket can reach a maximum altitude of 1300 meters, flies between 3 to 5 minutes with top speed of over 70mph when racing and can easily break the 100mph barrier when diving down from high above.

2. EACHINE Wizard X220S

This next quad is one of the most popular FPV racers out there, mostly due to its relatively low price and large availability. The Eachine Wizard X220S is RTF and comes with everything you need to get it moving in a matter of minutes. The quadcopter itself operates with a 1500mAh Lipo battery.

The quadcopter itself is equipped with 2300kv Motors, BL Heli 20Amp ESCs, and SP Racing F3 Flight Controller. The Eachine Wizard 220s delivers some jaw-dropping powerful performance if you fly it with a 4S battery. It is equipped with a basic FPV System as well as running a 200mw 5.8ghz Video Transmitter and a 700TVL FPV Camera. Right out of the box, you will have to set it up with a Receiver of your own, tweak the flight controller with Betaflight and if you do it right, this Quadcopter will reward you with an adrenaline-filled powerful performance. Eachine Wizard X220s is built with a tough frame and comes with lots of spare propellers so feel free to give this beast some full throttle freedom because that’s what its built for.

3. ARRIS X-Speed 250B RTF

arrisThe Arris X-speed 250B RTF racing quadcopter offers the same functionality as the “big boys”, but it’s cheaper. However, it does not compromise on quality, and it’s carbon/glass fiber body shows just that. It comes with pretty much everything you need to get in the air, besides battery. Arris recommends using a Lipo 3S (1500-2200mAh) or 4S (1100-1500mAh) battery with this product.

For me, the most impressive part of this drone is the external design of the frame, and more specifically the FPV camera mount design. The camera is separated from the main frame by vibration dampening balls, while on the top plate you can find a slider for adjusting the FPV camera tilt angle by sliding it back.

Check the recommended battery for this drone here.

4. ImmersionRC Vortex 250 Pro

vortexAnother really popular racing quad is the Vortex 250 Pro. Known for its toughness and maneuverability, this aircraft is considered one of the most premium products on the market when it comes to FPV Racing.

The drone comes in a nice foam package, precisely cut for this particular model. As the name suggests, the frame is 25 centimeters long, which is the standard race size.

The Vortex 250 Pro has been nicely upgraded in comparison with its older brother, the Vortex 285. Now, the newer model includes 4mm carbon fiber flat arms, and overall the frame is much stronger and crash-resistant. You can fit an external GoPro camera thanks to the built-in camera mount, and just like the Arris X-speed 250B, the flight camera is surrounded by vibration dampening balls. Of course, the angle of the camera can be adjusted, ensuring a great front view during high speed racing.

5. Lumenier QAV210-RTF Charpu Edition

lumenierThe QAV210 is a larger version of the QAV180 – Lumenier’s smallest FPV quadcopter. The 210 in the name is for the 210mm size of the quadcopter, which again has a carbon fiber frame for extra durability. It comes completely set up, tested and ready to fly, the only remark being that you have to buy your own radio receiver. The quad is a go-to choice and named after Carlos Puertolas – Charpu, one of the most popular professional FPV racers at the moment, which speaks highly of the quality of the drone.

The Lumenier QAV210 also supports HD cameras such as the Mobius or GoPro in addition to its on-board 1080P HD camera.

See it in action and be amazed:

FPV Racing communities

find fpv racing communities

I’ve met some really awesome people thanks to some of these online communities. It never ceases to amaze me me how many helpful and resourceful people are out there, ready to help.

Here are some of my favourite resources for finding new people to race with or simply to communicate with like-minded people who share the same interest:

And there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of suggestions and drone reviews for the best quadcopters you can buy in 2021.
Have I missed something ? Does your favorite drone fit in one of the three categories and it’s not present in the list? Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing back from you!

Also, I’ll be continuously updating this drone buying guide throughout the upcoming months, so make sure to bookmark this page and keep coming back for more fresh content in the very near future..!

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Comments (16)

I clicked your download link. Filled in my name and email address,
received the confirmation email.
clicked the link to confirm…. no download???

How can I download the guide?

Hey Mike, thanks for signing up!

Immediately after you’ve confirmed, you should receive another email with a link to the guide in pdf format. After clicking the link, you’ll have the option to download it to your device.

Please let me know I’d the email didn’t come through so I can give you the link manually.

Thank you!

Awesome information and guide. Thank you for putting this together very helpful. Keep up the good work.

You’re very much welcome, Percy! 🙂

Having done a review on the Syma X8G, I have to say I would not recommend it for beginners, it can easily crash, it’s not light considering how much the camera weighs I would recommend practicing without the camera, don’t fly in a parking lot as the crash will damage it. If you want to see my review search Sim_8_3 on Youtube it’s a video review. I’m just trying to save anyone the grief I went through, seriously the best quad for beginners is one you can fly indoors like the Hubsans or or small Syma. Oh and considering follow me tech is becoming more and more available I would strongly suggest something that can do that versus trying to fly something in your neighborhood that may crash into a neighbor’s house, not that that has happened to me 🙂

I just wanted to ad, that given the new law that requires U.S. owed quads and drones to be registered, if you don’t want to have to, and many feel it’s unconstitutional, if you stick to the lighter models at least for starters and not go out and by an Phantom or X8G you shouldn’t have to register it, at least not yet given the weight, hopefully they won’t change that anytime soon.

Please disregard my terrible grammar I obviously rushed and didn’t proof read. Also to save you time I’m putting a link to my Youtube for the X8G review. Thanks

Sorry, just realized I never uploaded that X8G review to my Youtube I only did it on Amazon, if you wish to see the written and video review check out my link on my name. Thanks

My mistake I didn’t upload the review to my Youtube channel, but if you still would like to see it, click my name on here and it will lead you a review I did both written and video on Amazon. Thanks

Sorry just realized I didn’t upload the video to Youtube , it’s on Amazon and I can’t put the link here, oh well.

Great guide and I have to agree with the TBS Vendetta as #1 FPV choice – I’ve got one and love it!

Well….really great information and guide. Keep up great work. Thanks for share.

Absolutely, the Hubsan is one of the best starter drones you can get 🙂

Very helpfull article, you had the chance to test the Karma Drone from GoPro (2017 relaunch version)? thx.

Thanks for taking the time to explain things in such great detail in a way that is easy to understand!

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