When the AR Drone fist came out, it packed a lot of features that were never seen before on a drone, but now it's more of a toy compared to all of the camera drones you can find. As a toy drone, it's still impressive, but with a price higher than any other toy drone, it isn't for everyone. If you want a nice toy drone with some cool features and lower price tag, I would look at the Mambo or Mambo FPV.
The Vortex 285 is another drone from ImmersionRC. It’s actually one of the first ready-to-fly FPV racing drones that came to market back in 2015, but because of the features it has and the price, it’s still very relevant even today. It runs similar firmware to the Vortex 250 Pro, but the hardware is just slightly slower which means that it shouldn’t be as responsive.
You might not be able to spend so much on a drone like the Mavic Air 2, but its great collision-avoidance tech is why we made it our top pick. For a more affordable option, the Mavic Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) from DJI is also a great choice (and our previous favorite). It flies nearly as well as its larger siblings, though wind gusts that wouldn't faze the Mavic 2 Pro will ground the Mini. There's also no 4K video and no front and rear collision-avoidance sensors like you'll find in more expensive drones.
A true legend among cheap fast drones, AKASO offers an amazing drone without the hefty price tag. It even comes with a foldable quadcopter design. This helps you keep your drone protected while in transit and makes it easy to take it with you anywhere. This drone comes with the one key return feature that allows you to call your drone back with the press of 1 button. It also comes with a 720P HD camera. This allows you to record high-quality video or take clear photos from the air. It also has a powerful air pressure altitude hold function that allows you to keep your drone hovering at a certain height, a great feature in cheap drones. This can be useful for beginners learning how to fly drones or for just taking a picture of yourself from the air. It also has 6-axis gyro flying control that offers strong stability. You can get it to do many different tricks by changing the directions- up/down, left/right, and even 360-degree rolls.
That said, price is a key consideration for most people, and luckily there are a lot of excellent budget options out there now for those that don't want to spend as much on their new toy as on a used car. Beyond that, there's camera integration and quality, as well as how compatible each drone is with the best drone accessories. We selected the best options across a wide range of budgets and use cases, to spare you some shopping headaches and get you flying ASAP.
It’s a great drone if you want something to take fast selfies on the go. The biggest selling point for the Hover Camera is the compact cage design. All four propellers are fully protected, making it great for indoor flying, where you’ll find lots of obstacles like walls, people, pets, and who knows what else! The cages are a great feature, but what’s equally as nice is the folding design. When you’re done flying, the Hover Camera can fold up into small black rectangle, allowing you to easily fit it in all kinds of bags and cases.
The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 also comes with an option to purchase the remote controller with an in-built screen. The ultra-bright 5.5-inch screen is easily visible in direct sunlight. The DJI Go 4 app is in-built into the screen, so you don't need a smartphone to operate the aircraft. The remote control has up to five hours of battery life, which gives you a comprehensive camera drone suitable for advanced aerial photography
A lot of people also asked about the charger and whether or not they would need to buy one, but the drone comes with a USB charger that connects the drone to the remote. One user even commented saying that they were using a phone charger cord, which is a great replacement if the original cord breaks. You will need 6 AA batteries for the remote itself, so make sure you stock up!
There are a lot of things I haven’t mentioned, like the quick release arms that come off for easy transportation, or the included battery charger, but overall I think the Falcore is a great drone for beginners and it’s amazing that they were able to put such an expensive video transmission system in an affordable ready-to-fly racing drone. With the tilted motor design, I wouldn’t recommend the Falcore for freestyle stunt flying (get a Vortex 180 or build your own drone for freestyle), but as a racing drone for intermediate pilots and especially beginners, this quad is a great option.
Jim Fisher is our lead analyst for cameras, drones, and digital imaging. He studied at RPI and worked on the retail side of the industry at B&H before landing at PCMag. He has a thing for old lenses, boneyards, and waterfowl. When he’s not out with his camera, Jim enjoys watching bad and good television, playing video games (poorly), and reading. You can find him on Instagram @jamespfisher
There are many different kinds of drones available today. The typical cost for a toy drone ranges from about $20 to $250. Camera Drones start at around $300 and go up from there. The DJI Mavic Pro (the best drone we’ve tested) retails for just under $1,000. Professional drone users will spend tens of thousands of dollars to get the best image quality and flight time.
The Mambo FPV is a cool drone. It comes with everything you need (other than a smartphone) to start doing FPV. Although Parrot advertises the Mambo as an FPV racing drone, it’s not a real FPV racing drone like the ones in our FPV Racing section. It’s more of a cool FPV toy made for beginners and kids. In any case, I’m sure it will be a lot of fun around the holidays!
With an average flight time of 34 minutes, you’ve got plenty of time to set up shots and capture epic video. The specs are impressive too, with the Mavic Air 2 delivering 4K/60fps video on a three-axis gimbal for stability. Photos are crisp and clear, at 48MP resolution. It’s also the first drone with 8K HyperLapse capabilities. Although the footage isn’t as great in low-light, most of us are flying in daylight hours anyway.
The camera is a 120-degree wide-angle HD camera, whereby you can view clear aerial images in real-time transmission. The camera has a resolution of 1080 pixels with a 90-degree adjustable lens to take different types of photographs. Commercial users can plot a precise course with the assistance of GPS for filming videos. The GPS helps record the flight trajectory, so it is possible to find the location that has been filmed. All modes like Follow-Me, Orbit flight, and Draw-the-dots are available. Other useful features are the auto-return home, in case of lost signals, low voltage and so on. Users can select 3-speed modes, with low speed for beginners, medium for adults and high speed for skilled professionals. All basic functions are easy to perform.
The biggest competitor for the Bebop 2 is the DJI Spark. Although you can’t use hand gestures to control the Bebop 2 and there’s no obstacle avoidance, you do get features like follow me and visual subject tracking. For $599, it also comes with the controller, two batteries, and goggles that work with most smartphones. If you really want to shoot good videos, the Spark might be a better option because of the 2 axis gimbal, but the digital stabilization of the Bebop 2 is almost just as good.
The Anafi is a great drone for the price, but the biggest complaint I have by far is the lack of any sensors for obstacle avoidance. The only obstacle that this drone will stop you from hitting is the ground, that is, as long as you don’t hit a tree first. All of the other drones in this price range have some kind of obstacle avoidance, so why they couldn’t even add some IR sensors is beyond me.
Speaking of processing things, did you know the Mambo is fully programmable? If you or your kids want to learn how to program, the Mambo is fully programmable using Parrot’s SDK, Apple’s Swift programming language, or Tynker. You can make the Mambo do things like takeoff fly in a direction, do a flip, and then land all without you touching the controls!
One thing that people overlook when searching for toy drones is the controller. Some come with tiny controllers and others like this one come with a larger controller. You might prefer the smaller controller for convenience, however the larger controller will make the drone easier to control. It will also make transitioning to more expensive drones like the Spark and Mavic Pro seem more familiar.
Can you believe a drone this small actually has an HD camera? Well, it does! Even though it’s 2MP it still gets some decent shots paired with the 4GB Micro SD card, which is included with the drone itself. There are even a few features, such as the Headless Flight System, which orients the flight capability on the actual controller, so it’s easier to get the hang of. That feature alone is great for kids.
If you’ve heard of the Mavic Pro, you should already know that this is an amazing little drone. The design is great. The Mavic Air was made to be functional, but also look the part. With lines that resemble a high end sports car, there’s no other drone out there with a design this good, but looks aren’t what make this drone so great. At the end of the day, people want drones that are small, and the Mavic Air is beyond small; it’s tiny. It’s smaller than the Spark. Pictures don’t do justice. Some would even go as far as saying the Mavic Air is pocketable.
Pairing the remote with the drone is quite simple and works well. Like many other toy drones it has a 360° ROLL-OVER feature so even if you’re not a stunt flyer, your friends will think you are. It has two bright LED lights, one red and one blue which makes seeing it at night much easier. This quad comes with a spare set of blades which makes it great for giving as a gift to a small child who has never flown one before.
Flight speed on some models can reach 35 mph. You should use limited flight mode as a beginner to prevent crashes until you become more comfortable flying the drone at faster speeds. A fast maximum flight speed is a good feature to look for if you want to explore with the drone. It helps make up for the low battery life. Flight speed won't matter much if you use the drone for inspections and recording memories.
It can take 4K videos at 30 fps and 60 Mbps data rate. The quadcopter has a speed of 22 MPH and its range is 2.5 miles. Video transmission is possible up to 4 km. It makes use of a brushless motor and has a button for auto-return to home. The camera is mounted on a three-axis gimbal stabilizer that helps it to take smooth videos and sharp photographs even while in motion.