In recent years, drones have moved from a geek amateur affair to a cultural phenomenon in its own right. The market is absolutely saturated now (including some fantastic models under $ 500), and they are available in just about any shape, size or configuration. The only problem? Such a wealth of choice makes it very difficult to know which drone to buy. Therefore, to help you navigate the ever-widening and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, we've put together this definitive list of the best drones on the planet. So without further ado, here is the cream of the quadricopter crop.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro won our award for the best products of the year. Make sure and check out all our other selections for Best products of 2018.
At a glance
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Best global drone
4.5 out of 5
Best drone for beginners
3.5 out of 5
Best cheap drone
DJI Inspire 2
Best drone for filmmakers
4 of 5 stars
Uvify Draco HD
Best drone for the race
Best drone for kids
Best selfie drone
4 of 5 stars
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: It has all the flight features you need in a drone and Hasselblad knockout camera
Who is he for: Who wants to take very nice pictures of the sky
How much will that cost: $ 1,449
Why did we choose the DJI Mavic 2 Pro:
This drone has it all. It's powerful. It's portable. He can avoid obstacles independently. And to top it off, he owns a camera that produces some of the most beautiful aerial imagery ever seen. Actually, you can get a lot of these features in the original (and still very good) Mavic Pro, but the Mavic 2 Pro just better.
For example, while the first generation of Mavic Pro could only detect obstructions in front of itself, the Mavic 2 Pro is equipped with a complete system of omnidirectional environmental awareness. This means that it can see forward, backward, up, down, and even left and right (although the last two are only lit in certain flight modes ).
The Mavic 2's camera also chases the previous generation of proverbial water (or maybe air?). With its larger 1-inch image sensor and improved processing technology, the Mav 2 Pro can capture 4K videos in 10-bit color, which means it can capture close to 15,000 pixels. a billion colors more than its predecessor. It also has an opening control, which gives you a lot more control over the exposure and the depth of field.
All this, and it is still almost identical to the original in terms of size, shape and weight.
Read our full DJI Mavic 2 Pro review
The best drone for beginners
Rich Shibley / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: Because it is easy to fly, relatively inexpensive, relatively durable and gives you enough room to develop and progress as a pilot
To whom does he address: Novice pilots looking for a durable and easy-to-fly drone with a decent camera and many upgrade options
How much will that cost: $ 200 to $ 230
Why did we choose the Yuneec Breeze:
Some people will tell you that novice pilots should bite their hands on low-end drones, but in our expert opinion, this makes no sense. Why? Crappier drones are more difficult and less reliable to steal, which means you're much more likely to crush and destroy them. We think it's a smarter idea to start with a slightly more enjoyable drone, with reliable and responsive controls, a decent warranty and a design that's easy to repair or upgrade.
With these goals in mind, the Yuneec Breeze is a fantastic choice for any green drone pilot. It is relatively inexpensive, but not so cheap that you will be encouraged to fly without precaution. It also has a pretty decent 4K camera on the landing gear and an ultra-portable form factor that makes transport a good Breeze.
And the best part? You can control it with your smartphone or opt for Yuneec's dedicated controller system if you want more stringent and more responsive controls. In other words, if you start with this drone, you can learn the workings of flying a quadcopter, but most importantly, you can also improve your configuration as your skills evolve and your needs change.
Read our full Review of Yuneec Breeze
The best cheap drone
Why should you buy this: Although it costs only $ 99, this little guy offers all the essential features you need.
Who is he for: Anyone who wants an affordable and easy to fly drone
How much will that cost: $ 99
Why did we choose the Ryze Tello drone:
In general, drones costing less than $ 100 are not worth it. They are fragile, they lack advanced features and they are almost always as raging as possible. But Tello is different. Despite the fact that it only costs $ 99, it offers a host of features and premium features. Under the hood, you'll find a 14-core Intel vision processor chip, DJI's flight stabilization technology, a 5-megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p HD video and a battery that gives you 13 minutes of time flight.
Unfortunately, this one does not come with a controller, which means that you have to drive Tello via virtual joysticks on a smartphone app: a notoriously heavy and imprecise control method. The good news, though, is that Ryze designed the drone with third-party devices in mind. Therefore, if you prefer to fly with physical sticks under your thumbs, you can choose a GameSir T1d Controller and bind it to your bird. We think it's worth the extra $ 30!
DJI Inspire 2
The best drone for filmmakers
Why should you buy this: It's a professional camera drone ready to fly, straight out of the box
Who is he for: Amateur and professional filmmakers who do not want to build a custom camera drone platform
How much will that cost: $ 3000
Why did we choose the DJI Inspire 2:
There's a reason you see DJI's Inspire appear everywhere, from movie sets to Concerts Enrique Iglesias – it's a beast. The Inspire 2 offers really impressive specifications: a controllable range of 4.8 km, a maximum speed of 67 km / h, avoidance of obstacles ahead and all the functions of stabilization and of autopilot that you could ever ask for in a drone. But the camera is definitely the star of the show.
The latest DJI Zenmuse camera, the X5S, is a mirrorless camera. Micro four thirds camera specially designed for aerial photography and cinematography. It rotates at 5.2K at 30 frames per second (or 4K at 60), takes stills of 20.4 megapixels, and displays an extremely wide ISO range of 100 to 25,600. As a bonus, this platform is housed in a 3-axis gimbal damped by vibrations, so that your images are smooth and silky, whatever the speed with which you fly.
The DJI control system is also fantastic. The new version of the DJI Go app puts all the advanced camera controls at your fingertips. The shutter speed, aperture and ISO can be adjusted in a few taps and the focus can be adjusted by simply tapping on the subject. With such a configuration, you do not even need previous cinema experience or driving skills to get professional-looking footage.
Read our full DJI Inspire 2 reviews
Uvify Draco HD
The best drone for the race
Why should you buy this: Because it is ready to fly right away, but also modular and ready for upgrades
Who is he for: Novice and intermediate race drivers
How much will that cost: $ 699
Why we chose the Uvify Draco HD:
Uvify's Draco HD racing drone wins our choice of the best racing drone for several reasons, but the first and most important is that it is modular and customizable. This means that you are free to upgrade or exchange any component (such as camera, engines, video emitters, etc.) to which you are free. Make no mistake, this sucker is incredibly fast and agile, even in stock configuration, but it's essential to be able to upgrade if you do not want your racing device to become obsolete in a year or two.
The other reason we love this drone is that it is not very difficult to steal or maintain, making it a great choice for beginners and pros. Even if you have never piloted a drone in your life, you will probably be able to learn the ropes with a Draco after just a few hours of training. Otherwise, if you already have FPV racing experience, you'll feel at home with this platform.
The best drone for children
Why should you buy thisIt is stable and easy to fly. It comes with a range of fun attachments.
Who is he for: Children and adults who want a drone capable of shooting darts
How much will that cost: $ 120
Why we chose the Mambo parrot:
In fact, you can get a cheaper drone that your child will probably be crazy in the same way, but he can actually fly this one. You can purchase mini drones for under $ 50, but according to our experience, the vast majority of them are too unusual and difficult to master for your average child.
The new Parrot Mambo is different. Unlike most other mini drones, this one is designed specifically for kids. In addition to a set of motion sensors and advanced autopilot software that keeps the drone stable, Mambo also comes with a handful of attachments that make it more fun and more appealing than a basic quadrocopter. In the box you will find a gun accessory, 50 foam cannon balls and a gripping arm who can squeeze and carry small objects.
And the best part? Parrot also offers you the possibility to drive via a smartphone or with a controller dedicated to double joystick. The Flypad, as it's called, is sold separately for $ 40, but it might be worth it if you do not have a smartphone in store and you do not want to give it away. child your new iPhone whenever he / she wants to fly.
The best selfie drone
Why should you buy this: Because you want something portable that you can fly without a controller
For whom is this?: Anyone who wants to take epic selfies
How much will that cost: $ 500
Why did we choose the DJI Spark:
If DJI is a good player, he stuffs a ton of features in drones smaller and smaller – and nothing has enhanced this talent as the Spark. Despite the fact that the hull of the drone is about the size of a Twinkie, DJI still managed to get into the same treats you found under the hood of the Spark brothers larger, larger and more expensive.
Aside from its tiny, hyper-portable design, the biggest feature of the Spark is undoubtedly its plethora of intelligent flight modes. In addition to standard DJI material, the Spark features several new modes, including Rocket, Drone, Circle and Helix (to learn more about them in a moment). The drone also has gesture recognition capabilities that allow it to operate without a smartphone or controller.
Spark's obstacle avoidance system is another important addition. While the ability to detect and avoid objects is usually a feature reserved for large drones, DJI decided to build one in the hull of the Spark. It's not as robust as what you'll find on the Ghost 4, or even the Mavic Probut it still serves its purpose and helps you avoid accidents.
Oh, and do not forget the camera. In addition to a 12-megapixel camera that records 1080p video at 30 frames per second, the Spark is also equipped with a two-axis gimbal. This allows the camera to mechanically stabilize and cancel all jerky and unstable movements – for smoother and better sequences. This also gives it a head start on the competition. most selfie drones only have one-axis mechanical stabilization.
Read our full DJI Spark review
How to test drones
Build quality and design
the first thing we do when we get a new drone is to beat it a bit. We do not throw it down the stairs or anything, but we will give it some kicks, twists and shallow falls to evaluate the quality of the construction and its durability. Do you feel fragile or do you feel that it could survive a crash in the park? We give each control unit a slight beating (and usually two or three accidental accidental landings) before giving you a definitive answer on its durability.
Flight performance, range and range
To evaluate the flight performance, we subjected the drone to a number of tests to see how the manufacturer's claims hold up. We first go to a local football field to see how fast it can clear 100 meters, then we perform calculations to get an objective reading of the speed in miles per hour. After that, we perform a similar test to evaluate the climb and descent speeds and, at the same time, we also take note of the responsiveness of the controls, the stability of the boat, the distance at which it can go before and after. it is out of reach, and what does the overall driving experience look like compared to other drones.
Battery life and charge time
After putting the drone into play for a while and noting some notes on the life of the battery, we put it on the charger and take a stopwatch to determine the cooldown. Then we remove it and do a rollover test. By piloting the drone in the least demanding conditions, we can get an idea of the maximum flight time. Finally, we perform some extra flights to determine the battery life (average) under normal conditions.
Camera, accessories and scalability
If the drone we are testing has a camera capable of recording, we capture as many sequences as possible. We will film in dark places, bright places and places very colorful and contrasting. These images are then compared to all the key scenes that we filmed with other drones, which helps us to get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the camera. We also test all accessories provided with the camera, such as lenses, filters, nacelles or FPV goggles. Finally, we will also tell you if the camera configuration is scalable. You will not be caught with an obsolete shooter in two years.