12 of the Best Drones for Beginners in 2020

Last updated: 7th January 2020
DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini

Potensic T25

Potensic T25

Tello Quadcopter

Tello Quadcopter

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Thinking of buying your first drone? You’ve come to the right place.

The fact is that drones are becoming more accessible than ever before. Now, you can get a decent drones for $200 or less, but with the wide range of choices — and when you’re looking for the best — it can become a bit overwhelming.

Don’t fret! We’re here to help you navigate the often crowded and sometimes tricky world of beginner drones.

The Best Beginner Drones

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Contents show hide

DJI Mavic Mini

The Mavic Mini has replaced the hugely popular Spark model and will become one of the most popular drones of all time.

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DJI Mavic Mini
  • Flight Time: ~28 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~90 minutes
  • Range: 3000m / 9842ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 5.4GHz & 2.4Ghz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 3-axis gimbal 2K Camera with 12MP
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 2500m / 8200ft
  • Weight: 249g / 8.78oz
  • Working Temperature: 0°C ~ 40°C
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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The specs on the DJI Mavic Mini are nothing we haven’t seen before from DJI products, but never in this small of a size.

The full diagonal distance of the drone is just above 8 inches, with the base being even smaller. Generally, even a child could hold the Mavic Mini comfortably in their palm. Landing and takeoff from the palm are also the best way to operate it.

Other features follow the DJI standard. The drone is exceptionally easy to operate and has all of the autonomous features as its larger cousins.

The controller does give more range to your device and has that tactile feel. But, if you want to use the Mavic Mini with just your smartphone, that is possible as well. The DJI Fly app is one of the best drone apps available.

What most people will be interested in is the camera, and that is where this model shines. The 2K camera has a 3-axis gimbal and an 83° FOV angle. As the camera can swivel up to 90°, it will give you a wide range of filming options.

The CMOS chip may only have 1/2.3” (6.17mm by 4.55mm) but comes with 12MP effective pixels. This would make the DJI Mavic Mini one of the best smartphone cameras available, but also the one that flies.

Ability to autonomously follow your face, your friends, and any area you designate will allow you to get some genuinely cinematic shots with your drone.

Professional photographers will see the low ISO capability and low frame rate in 2K, but for most other users, there will be no issues. 

The DJI Mavic Mini can become a primary tool of many vloggers, YouTubers, and Instagramers. And, for any experienced drone pilot, they will be a lot of fun and a great experience to fly.

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+ Pros

+ Amazing portability
+ Excellent autonomous options
+ Long battery
+ Excellent camera
+ Long range

- Cons

- Narrow field of view
- Low wind resistance

Potensic T25

The Potensic T25 GPS Drone is a great value drone with a wide range of features including Follow Me and 1080p video.

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Potensic T25
  • Flight Time: 7-8 minutes per battery
  • Charge Time: 1-2 hours
  • Range: 300 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: 1080 HD camera with 120 degrees FOV and 75 degrees wide-angle lens
  • Weight: 2.25 pounds
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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If you have a little extra cash to spare for your first drone, the Potensic T25 GPS Drone is a good, solid pick. It has plenty of pro-level features in its relatively affordable price tag.

The good thing about the T25 is that it’s a drone that will scale well with your skill level. It has nifty beginner-friendly features, yet you’ll still appreciate it even when you reach pro levels.

The T25 is easy to fly and hover, especially with its nine-axis gyroscope. With it, you’ll be able to stabilize the drone’s position with ease, perfect for capturing still photos. It also has GPS enabled features, like Auto Return Home and Follow Me, which will make it less likely that your drone will get lost.

The added controller is also a nice touch, perfect for learning how to pilot a drone properly. You can also practice with FPV mode via the controller. And it even has VR support!

Other super features include the ability to set custom flight paths on a map and the option to attach your own cameras. Oh, and did we mention that it has its own aluminum case as well?

Overall, the Potensic T25 is a fantastic investment. It’s loaded with navigation features and excellent camera quality, at a price that’s actually affordable if you think about it.

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+ Pros

+ Easy to fly
+ Myriad of GPS-enabled features including 'follow me'
+ Dedicated controller with FPV and VR support
+ Excellent camera quality

- Cons

- Short battery life with relatively long charge time
- Not capable of indoor flight
- Not overly wind-resistant despite its weight

Tello Quadcopter

The Tello Quadcopter is our value pick due to great features and a budget-friendly pricepoint.

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Tello Quadcopter
  • Flight Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Charge Time: 75 minutes
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Remote Controller: none included; uses a smartphone app for control
  • Camera: 5 megapixels at 720p HD resolution
  • Weight: 82g
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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The Tello Quadcopter is a small and agile drone that has plenty of flexibility hiding behind its affordable price. It uses components from drone powerhouse DJI, so you can be confident of the quality of this thing.

For maneuverability, the drone is straightforward to fly. Despite the small size, it can stand up pretty well to light gusts of wind when switched to the “fast” setting. For indoor flight, you can opt for the “slow” setting, which affords you better control.

Hovering in place is easy with this drone. However, the sensors it uses to achieve this needs a fair bit of light to operate. In dimly lit room indoors, it might have a problem. And forget about flying at night.

The camera is decent at the price range and shoots 720p HD footage that ain’t so bad. However, don’t expect professional quality; this is really for perfecting your drone photography skills.

What’s unique about the Tello is that it’s fully programmable. Using Scratch code, you can upload flight patterns and other nifty behaviors to your drone.

All in all, the Tello is a good buy. It’s reasonably easy to fly, has a decent camera, and is programmable to boot. It’s also pretty durable and comes with extra propellers as added insurance.

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+ Pros

+ Remarkably lightweight
+ Great for training drone flying skills
+ Completely programmable meaning you can extend the drone's functionality
+ Affordable price
+ HD video recording

- Cons

- Scratch programming language isn't very robust
- Unusable in low-light conditions

DJI Spark

The DJI Spark is our premium pick for the best beginner drone.

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DJI Spark
  • Flight Time: 16 minutes
  • Charge Time: 52 minutes
  • Range: 2 km
  • Remote Controller: not included (sold separately)
  • Camera: 12 MP camera at 1080p HD resolution. 
  • Weight: 1.49 pounds
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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For the ultimate beginner drone, the DJI Spark is one of the finest choices you can make. It comes from one of the best drone manufacturers in the world.

The DJI Spark is the smallest and lightest of DJI’s offerings, and that makes it very easy to fly. It’s quite intuitive with multiple fun ways to control the drone.

The most innovative feature has got to be its hand controls. You can program the DJI Spark to respond to gesture commands, such as putting your palm forward to make it stop. You can also get the drone to launch automatically when it recognizes your face.

With Intelligent Flight Modes, object tracking, and one-tap controls, you’ll be incredibly spoiled when it comes to flying the DJI Spark. We’ll even argue that it’s too easy that it might not teach you fundamental flying skills.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a remote controller. You need to shell out separately for that, on top of the already high cost of the drone itself.

In the end, the DJI Spark is truly a top-notch beginner drone — arguably the very best. It marries ridiculously easy flight controls and excellent camera quality in a durable and compact frame.

The only drawback? It’s more costly than cheap beginner drones. But you truly get what you pay for.

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+ Pros

+ Super easy flight controls that are intuitive and actually fun to use
+ The camera shoots crisp and clear images with no lag
+ Excellent durability with well-made components

- Cons

- Quite expensive for some beginners
- Not ideal for learning drone flight skills

Altair Aerial 818 Hornet

This beginner-friendly quadcopter is great for all ability levels and comes with a spare battery.

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Altair Aerial 818 Hornet
  • Flight Time: ~15 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~120 minutes
  • Range: 150m / 490ft
  • Remote Controller: WiFi 2.4GHz (included in the set)
  • Camera: 120° angle 720p camera
  • Live Video Transmission Range: 60m / 200ft
  • Weight: 520 g / 18.34 oz
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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From all of the DJI Spark alternatives, the Altair Aerial 818 Hornet is by far the easiest to fly. It has large stabilizing blades and a lot of AI assistance that will make your first drone piloting experience a breeze, even if it is windy.

The flight time on this drone is around 15 minutes but it comes with an additional battery to double the time of your fun. And there is no need for you to stop flying, as it takes only a single button to raise the drone off the ground to a flying height.

Pre-set functions will do all of the tricky parts of drone piloting and leave you just to move it where you want. It doesn’t have the hand-gesture features like the DJI Spark, but it has a dedicated button for takeoff and landing, and a GPS hover option that will always keep the drone in the same place.

Finally, there is a detachable 720p HD camera included in the set. With a smartphone, this will give you an FPV of where your drone is heading. But, if you have a VR set for your smartphone it can change to a real flying experience.

And, even if you hit something on the side, the blades will be protected with a plastic casing. This will leave you to simply let your drone land and give it another go.

This drone is not only suitable for novice pilots but children as well. The whole family can have as much fun with this drone as with the Spark, for just a fraction of the price.

However, you do sacrifice the premium build quality that the Spark and some other alternatives offer.

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+ Pros

+ 2 x 15-minute batteries included
+ VR headset compatibility
+ Suitable for kids

- Cons

- Wide frame
- Noisy
- Not compact
- Cheap feel

Force1 F100GP Ghost

This is a GoPro-compatible drone and comes with three shells (black, white and blue) for a customizable design.

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Force1 F100GP Ghost
  • Flight Time: 15 minutes (per battery)
  • Charge Time: ~100 minutes
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: 1080p HD + GoPro compatibility
  • Weight: 82g
  • Outdoor use only

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The Force1 G100GP Ghost gives a lot of customization and we really like that — this is something that the majority of drone manufacturers neglect.

Not only can you detach the 1080p HD camera if you wish to fly it camera-free, you can also mount a GoPro Hero for even higher quality footage. Also included are 2 different colour shells for changing the look of your Ghost.

The included controller is easy to operate in either of the two speed settings that are available and you’ll be able to fly for a prolonged period of time — much longer than typical in this price range — thanks to the two 15-minute batteries that are included.

Whilst its a little prone to damage if you crash it, you’ll get spare landing gear, propellers and propeller guards included, along with a small screwdriver and wrench.

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+ Pros

+ Brushless motors
+ Manual control mode
+ Long battery life
+ Long range
+ Spare battery included
+ 3 color shells included
+ GoPro compatible

- Cons

- Slightly susceptible to damage in crashes

Blade Nano QX BNF

A zippy and fun-to-fly drone that fits in the palm of your hand.

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Blade Nano QX BNF
  • Flight Time: 5-8 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~35 minutes
  • Range: 25 meters
  • Remote Controller: 4+ channel transmitter (not included)
  • Camera: none
  • Weight: 18g
  • Indoor use only

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The aptly named Blade Nano QX is absolutely tiny!

Weighing just 18g, this palm-sized quadcopter is only suitable for inside use — but boy does it really succeed in this area.

Small enough to be flown inside a small office, the drone comes with stability and agility modes. The agility mode makes it slightly trickier to handle but makes it extremely responsive, giving you the ability to zip it around and race once you know what you’re doing.

Despite being durable and able to handle a few crashes, the device is also shipped with spare rotor blades.

The reason we think the Nano QX BNF is one of the best beginner drones is because it’s easy to fly whilst also giving you the ability to make it more difficult with the Agility mode — helping improve your piloting skills. If you lose control, you can quickly re-enter Stability mode to save the situation.

It’s worth noting that the difference between the Nano QX BNF (featured) and the Nano QX RTF is that the latter includes a dedicated controller/transmitter. However, we massively recommend purchasing the BNF model and a separate 4-channel transmitter due to the stock version being very poor, in our opinion.

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+ Pros

+ Brushed motors for smooth and powerful lift
+ Fits in the palm of your hand
+ Highly durable
+ Agile

- Cons

- Lack of features
- No controller included

SNAPTAIN S5C

An FPV drone for beginner pilots that features voice and gesture control at a rock-bottom price. 

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SNAPTAIN S5C
  • Flight Time: 9 minutes (per battery)
  • Charge Time: ~90 minutes
  • Range: 80 meters
  • Remote Controller: controller with smartphone mount included
  • Camera: 720p HD / 0.3MP
  • Weight: 680g
  • Indoor and outdoor use

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The SNAPTAIN S5C offers a variety of different features that you perhaps wouldn’t expect to see in such a budget-friendly offering.

The immersive piloting experience allows you to connect a VR headset and get a birds eye view of the world.

Despite having advanced capabilities like VR functionality, altitude hold, voice and gesture control, and a gravity sensor, this drone keeps things easy for beginners with basics like one button takeoff and landing.

Our favourite feature of this beginner UAV has to be the Trajectory option, where you can draw a flight path via the smartphone app and it will automatically follow it. This is normally only found in higher priced drones.

The main drawback with this product is that to get everything in to such an affordable option, the build quality is quite cheap. It doesn’t feel like a product that will survive any serious crashes.

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+ Pros

+ VR compatibility
+ Voice & gesture control
+ Includes spare battery
+ Variety of flight features
+ LED lighting

- Cons

- Some reports of flying malfunctions, though believed to be fixed by firmware updates
- Cheap build quality

Hubsan X4 H107L

This very cheap drone is ideal for complete beginners.

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Hubsan X4 H107L
  • Flight Time: 7 minutes
  • Charge Time: 30 – 45 minutes
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: no camera
  • Weight: 349g
  • Rated for indoor and outdoor use

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For a great drone that’s both very cheap and easy to fly, the Hubsan H107L X4 comes highly recommended. It’s also produced by one of the more well-known drone manufacturers in the market, so there’s that.

The X4 is small enough to fit in the size of your palm. This makes it extremely light, yet it can surprisingly hold its own outdoors. The drone’s frame is made from one solid piece, which further adds to the durability of the X4. Unfortunately, it has no prop guards, which can make the rotors vulnerable in a crash.

It has features that make it a great training tool for the beginner, including its Beginner mode. LED warning lights also tell you if the batteries are about to get drained, giving you enough time to land it safely.

It’s a joy to fly, but actually misses some beginner-friendly features — teaching you to learn to fly for yourself. And the price will barely make a dent.

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+ Pros

+ Single-frame construction makes the drone quite durable
+ Small and extremely portable
+ LED warning lights to alert you to low battery life

- Cons

- Short flight time
- No prop guards

UDI U818A HD

There’s a 720p / 2MP camera in this easy-to-fly and budget-friendly beginner drone.

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UDI U818A HD
  • Flight Time: ~ 10 minutes
  • Charge Time: 75 minutes
  • Range: 30 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: 720p HD / 2MP
  • Weight: 100g

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The UDI U818A HD is an upgrade on UDI’s previously popular U818A, now including a good quality 720p HD camera that records at 30 FPS.

This super-lightweight drone (100g) is perfect for beginners and, due to its weight and size, does not require FAA registration.

The Headless flight function is perfect for beginner drone pilots as it does not matter which way the nose of the device is pointing, it will also fly in the direction that you direct it to via the included controller.

There’s one thing we’d love to see in this drone — First Person View (FPV) mode, allowing you to see what you’re recording via the controller’s screen. However, at this staggeringly low price, it’s easy to understand why that couldn’t be included.

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+ Pros

+ Easy to fly
+ 720p HD video recording
+ One of the cheapest good drones available
+ Upgradeable storage
+ LEDs for low-light flying

- Cons

- So light that even the gentlest of breeze will move it

Holy Stone HS170

The Holy Stone HS170 is a cheap beginner drone and is great for light entertainment.

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Holy Stone HS170
  • Flight Time: 6-8 minutes
  • Charge Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Range: 50 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: none
  • Weight: 386g
  • Rated for both indoor and outdoor use

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The Holy Stone HS170 is quite possibly one of the most inexpensive beginner drones you can get. At the time of this writing, it’s currently selling for less than $30.

But don’t let the price fool you. This might be a nano-quad, but it’s a serious drone with surprisingly excellent maneuverability. In fact, it’s one of the best first drones to have if you’re looking for something to practice with.

For one, it includes a dedicated remote controller, which is not at all common at this price range. That way, beginners can learn how to handle the drone the way it should be, and not just via a smartphone app.

The HS170 also has flight features that are specially made for the novice. You can turn on Headless Mode, which makes the drone “directionless.” 

What this means is that you don’t need to know the drone’s orientation; pressing on left will make the drone go left. For most beginners, this dramatically simplifies the flying process.

Other “fun” features include three-speed modes you can choose from, and LED lights for night flying.

Overall, this is a great beginner drone to have that’s purely for developing your flying skills. The drone is lightweight and responsive, plus robust enough to survive a crash here and there.

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+ Pros

+ Exceptionally affordable
+ Easy to fly
+ 6-axis gyro technology allows pilots to perform flip rolls with the press of a button
+ Light and nimble

- Cons

- No camera
- Short battery life
- Short range

Altair Aerial AA108

Unlike most drones, the Altair AA108 is for indoor use only.

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Altair Aerial AA108
  • Flight Time: 7 minutes
  • Charge Time: 60 minutes
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: 720p HD camera with a built-in 120-degree wide-angle lens
  • Weight: 1.64 pounds
  • Rated for indoor use only

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For the price, the Altair AA108 offers a great combination of ease of flight and camera quality. If there’s ever a drone that you can operate, as a novice without going through much of the instructions, this is it.

The AA108 offers a full selection of flight modes to help the amateur pilot get up and running. Chief among them is 1-touch takeoff and landing, which makes these operations easy. Although we recommend trying to do these manually after some time to build up your skill.

This drone is solidly built and feels quite durable. The prop guards on either side do an excellent job of protecting your drone from crashes (which is the part most novices bump their drone on). While this a drone for indoor use only, it does hold up pretty well to light wind outdoors — use it outside at your own risk though.

Finishing touches include its safety features, like out-of-range alarm and emergency landing. All in all, the Altair AA108 is a highly recommended beginner drone. The price range is a step up in features, yet is still accessible.

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+ Pros

+ Durable construction can withstand quite a number of crashes
+ Safety features are excellent for keeping you and the drone safe
+ Easy to fly with stability features

- Cons

- The camera feed is decent but has noticeable lag
- Short flight time, though it charges in an hour

Syma X5SW-V3

We’re not sure how Syma have managed to include so many features for a price less than a three-course meal.

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Syma X5SW-V3
  • Flight Time: 5-7 minutes
  • Charge Time: ~90 minutes
  • Range: 50 meters
  • Remote Controller: dedicated controller included
  • Camera: 480p / 0.3MP
  • Weight: 119g

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The Syma X5SW review can be summarised in one simple word: “how?!” That’s the main question we had when we got hands on with this highly beginner-friendly drone. 

Whilst its features are certainly basic, it includes a lot of them.

The standout feature has to be the camera — yes, it only offers 480p recording and 0.3MP photos, but at this price point it beggars belief how they’ve managed to include a camera along with a dedicated controller and optional smartphone connectivity.

For anyone just looking for a quick bit of fun, or perhaps an introduction to drones for their children, this easy-to-fly UAV should be heavily considered.

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+ Pros

+ Incredibly low price
+ Easy to fly
+ Doesn't need to be FAA registered

- Cons

- Not suited to flying in any wind
- Short battery life
- Short range

What Makes A Good Beginner Drone?

If you’re out to buy your very first drone, you might encounter a bit of a snag. You’ll most likely see a dizzying array of choices, features, and models. For the novice, it’s easy enough to buy the wrong drone for your situation.

Fortunately, you don’t need all of these fancy features for now. For your first drone, remember that you’re buying primarily for one purpose – education.

You want a drone that’s affordable and is easy to fly, so you can focus on developing fundamental flight skills. With this in mind, you’re better equipped to buy the best beginner drone for your situation.

To help you further, here are a few things you need to consider for your beginner drone:

Type

There are many types of drones out there, from multi-rotors to fixed-wing. But the best place to start as a beginner is with multi-rotor drones. Specifically, the quadcopter.

Why the quadcopter? Because this is the most stable configuration for a drone. This makes it easier to fly, perfect for aspiring pilots learning the ropes. You’d know a quadcopter by their typical X or H shape, and the presence of four propellers.

Quadcopters make it quite easy to hover in place and maneuver around by adjusting each of its four propellers. The physics of how a drone flies is quite impressive.

There are other configurations (like the octocopter and fixed wings) that have better maneuverability and weight capacity. But these are generally harder to control and much more expensive for newbie drone pilots. For now, best to stick with quads.

Price

When it comes to buying a beginner drone, it’s best to buy the budget ones. There are a lot of advantages to doing so.

One, you won’t spend as much on something that you’ll most likely break. Expect to be continually banging, bumping, and crashing your drone. It’s just part of the learning curve, like how you would always fall when trying to ride a bike.

Blowing $500 on a broken drone is admittedly very painful. But if you just spent less than $100 on it, suddenly it’s not as heart-wrenching.

Two, most of the costlier drones tend to have more complicated flight controls and features. As a beginner, you might not be ready yet for such things. When learning the ropes, it’s best to just focus first on the basics.

But in the end, price is still a subjective thing. When I mentioned blowing $500, some people might actually be okay with that without so much as batting an eyelash.

Our best advice is to buy a drone at a price you’re comfortable with “throwing away.” Ask yourself – if my drone broke down tomorrow, would I be okay with the price I paid for it?

Features

While you’re looking for a basic drone to begin with, that doesn’t mean it has to be completely bare bones. Most of the entry-level drones you see today would have some features that will enhance your flying experience.

For example, a lot of beginner drones would be GPS-enabled. This allows them to hold their position if they are knocked off course via wind.

In addition, some would also have flight modes that can aid student pilots. Some, like novice mode, limit the range a drone can fly from its starting point so you can keep everything contained.

If you’re deciding between two beginner drones at the same price tier, look for the one that has features most appealing to you.

Ease of Use

Ideally, you would want a drone that’s easy to set up right out of the box. The smaller, indoor drones would fall into this category.

As an amateur pilot, ease of flight should also be high up on your beginner drone priority list. At the minimum, look for a drone that can hold its altitude and position, even when you take your hands off the controls.

Camera Quality

While the quality of the camera isn’t much of a priority when it comes to buying a beginner drone, it’s still great to get the best one you can afford.

Fortunately, with today’s low camera costs, it’s relatively cheap to get drones with HD quality cameras. This simply wasn’t the case years ago. 

A good, realistic camera to aim for at this price range is either 1080p or 720p HD. Both of these will be sufficient to take decent practice photos.

Battery Life and Flight Time

Your drone’s flight time is a direct relation to its battery life. The better it is, the longer it can fly in between charge cycles.

As a rule of thumb, the more expensive drones would have a longer battery life and flight time (although it’s not always the case). Your average, mid-range drone will be capable of flight times lasting around 15 – 20 minutes. However, beginner drones, being on the cheaper end, can only do a maximum of 5 – 7 minutes.

For a newbie, this can feel pretty short, especially if you’re busy trying to brush up on your skills.

To compensate, you can always invest in a few extra batteries to continue flying without waiting for the current one to charge. If you can, opt for lithium batteries. These are more expensive but holds a longer charge.

You should also look into some best practices to maximize your battery’s life (check out a few of our tips later in this article).

Range

A drone’s range refers to the maximum distance it can fly relative to the pilot. It depends on several factors, the most important of which is the signal strength of the drone’s and controller’s transmitter. Other things that can affect this include weather conditions and obstruction.

Range, however, only matters for specific applications like surveying and surveillance. For beginners, it’s not as important, since you must have your drone near you at all times.

Speed

Since drones mostly hover, speed isn’t as important a factor as, say, a car (except if you’re looking into racing drones). But since drones are capable of forward movement, it’s still part of any drone’s specs.

The average drone is capable of speeds of up to 30 mph. Your typical beginner drone has rates much slower than that, at around only 12 mph. In comparison, racing drones can clock in at 50 – 70 mph; some even break 100 mph. Of course, this has something to do with a racing drone’s non-symmetrical, aerodynamic design.

For a beginner, it’s much more important to value maneuverability rather than max speed. After all, a newbie flying a drone at faster speeds is just a crash waiting to happen.

Size and Portability

Most beginner drones are smaller and way lighter than a full-sized pro drone. This makes them easier to handle for the newbie flyer. Some larger starter drones also use a foldable design that easily fits in a pocket or a standard backpack.

For aspiring pilots, starting small is a smart move as it’s easier to control. However, do note that lighter drones will be much more susceptible to strong winds when you take it outdoors.

Safety

Since you’ll be crashing a lot, a beginner drone needs to have a few safety features installed. The most common you’ll see are prop guards. Think of these as “training wheels” while you’re learning how to fly.

Prop guards are protective structures that go around your drone’s propellers. They shield your propellers from harmful impact by preventing them from touching walls or obstacles. They also prevent the propellers from touching the ground during improper landing.

As great as they are, prop guards have several drawbacks. The biggest is that they reduce efficiency during flight. So our best advice is to keep them on as you develop your skills. Then, once you’re much more confident, you can remove them.

Remote Controllers

There are two main ways you can control your drones. Most mid to high-end drones feature a dedicated flight controller with standard joystick controls. If you want to really learn how to handle a drone, using one of these remote controllers is essential.

The problem is that some budget drones won’t have a controller included to keep costs low. Instead, you’ll often use your mobile phone to control the drone. While this is convenient, it doesn’t offer the authentic experience and skill of drone flying.

Fortunately, there are plenty of remote controllers from third party manufacturers. If you find one that’s compatible with your drone, we suggest getting it right away.

Indoor or Outdoor?

Drones can be rated for either indoor or outdoor use. 

Indoor drones are generally more straightforward to fly since they don’t need to deal with wind and other outside forces. They use more lightweight materials and hence are usually cheaper.

This is good for mastering flight without any interfering wind. Also, flying drones indoors will make it less likely that you’ll lose the drone before you’ve gained flying experience.

Outdoor drones, on the other hand, are more robust than their indoor counterparts. They are heftier and often have flight stabilization features to counteract the wind. Consequently, they also tend to cost more.

Full-sized, outdoor drones are great to have once you’ve mastered the basics of flight. You’ll get to learn crucial maneuvers like flying against wind and line-of-sight.

As a warning, you mustn’t take an indoor drone and fly it outdoors. It won’t be able to handle the elements, and will inevitably end up crashing.

Ready to Fly

When buying your first drone, you have two options.

You can buy it Ready to Fly (RTF), which means it’s usable right out of the box. This is the option we recommend the most for beginners since it’s the simplest. You get a drone that works right away, so you can focus on your flight skills.

If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can go for option two: building one yourself. This is much more difficult, time-consuming, and actually more expensive. However, it will give you better insight and appreciation of how a drone works. In the end, it might give you more passion and pride when flying your own machine.

But we generally recommend against building your first drone yourself. You can dabble on it once you’ve gained necessary flying skills. RTF is much more straightforward, and you don’t need to deal with troubleshooting.

Beginner Drone Flying Tips

Once you’ve finally gotten your drone, you might be eager to get out and finally take it out for a spin. We totally understand the excitement. 

But before you do, take note of a few best practices to make your first flying experience the best that it could be. Doing these can also extend the operating life of your drone.

Register your drone with the relevant authorities

Drone flying is a regulated activity in most countries. Make sure to register your drone appropriately, and know the relevant ordinances in your area. If you don’t do this, you might get yourself in serious trouble.

In the US, for instance, any drone that’s at least 0.55 lbs must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. And it’s not terribly expensive – $5 is all it takes to avoid any future hassles.

Always maintain a line of sight

If there’s one cardinal rule of drone flying, it’s this: always maintain a line of sight. Remember, it’s hard to control a drone you can’t see. Follow this, and you’ll help prevent your drone from getting lost or bumping into unseen obstacles.

Start by flying in large open spaces

If your drone is rated for both indoor and outdoor flying, start flying it outside your house. Preferably, choose a wide-open, grassy field to act as a cushion in case your drone has to crash. This gives you much more room to maneuver around without hitting anything.

Now, if you absolutely must fly your drone indoors, choose a bare room without any breakables on sight. You can also enclose your drone in a cage or barrier to limit the damage it can do.

Respect drone flying regulations

When flying your drone outdoors, it pays to know where you’re not allowed to do so. Obvious places include airports and military bases. Such sites have a minimum safe distance you need to clear, or you’ll land yourself in serious trouble.

When in doubt, plain common sense is your guide. Always respect other people’s privacy. If you feel you’re already encroaching, simply fly your drone elsewhere.

Learn the basic maneuvers first

Before you go on zipping and doing fancy maneuvers, it pays to master the fundamentals first. The very first thing you need to practice on is takeoff and landing. After that, move on to how to hover your drone.

These two basic moves will let you fine-tune your skills and develop hand-eye coordination. Once you have those down pat, then you can move on to forward/backward movement and rotation.

Tips to extend battery life

Beginner drones have an exceptionally short battery life, which can be a bummer if you’re in the middle of flying. But there are some easy ways to ensure you get as much juice out of your drone’s batteries as you can.

First, avoid extremely hot or cold weather. Both will either discharge your battery quickly or make it overwork. Windy weather will also make your drone work overtime to maintain its position and therefore eat more battery power.

You also need to optimize your drone’s weight. Remove any excess accessories or add-ons, especially if you’re practice flying. You need to devote all energy to flight as opposed to carrying stuff.

Finally, keep your drones from excess moisture. This can damage the batteries and shorten flight time. And this refers not only to rain but to humid conditions as well.

Why Should You Get A Drone?

Simply put, drones are awesome! Apart from real-life applications like photography and surveying, flying one is just plain fun. And it’s just another life skill that you can add to your repertoire – like riding a bike or flying a kite.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are a few reasons why you should get yourself a drone:

It’s a great way to get the hang of flying

Despite how the pros make it appear easy, flying a drone actually takes skill. Even the simple act of hovering it takes a fair bit of experience, never mind flying through obstacles.

Just like trying to learn how to ride a bike, the best way to fly a drone is to just get into it! Nowadays, there are tons of beginner drones at budget prices that will give you the feel of flying one. 

Beginner drones also let you practice without wasting a lot of money when you inevitably crash your drone. And believe me, you’ll bump and scratch your drone A LOT when you’re starting out.

It’s basically a minimum requirement for aspiring photographers

Being able to take aerial photos using a drone used to be reserved for the most hardcore of professional photographers. Now, it’s expected of any pro’s photography toolkit.

If you’re an aspiring photographer, now would be an excellent time to learn how to fly a drone. Having this skill under your belt will allow you to stay relevant and competitive in the industry.

It’s a cool toy for RC hobbyists

For those into the RC world, drones are a natural progression. You’ve had fun with RC cars that roar through the land and RC boats that cruise along the water. Drones give you that same rush, but with the freedom of all three dimensions.

This added dimension also makes drones a tad more challenging to operate than any land or water-based RC vehicle. And RC hobbyists are always up for a good challenge.

And if you really want to take your hobby to the next level, you can get into competitive drone racing. This has the same thrill of car racing, but much more challenging but fulfilling. Most have support for FPV (first-person view), so you’ll feel you’re right in the action.

Drones are increasingly used for work

Various industries and businesses are always discovering new ways to use drones.

Farmers are increasingly using drones to monitor livestock over large fields that might otherwise take hours on foot. Scientists are also utilizing drones to gather data on areas that might be too dangerous for humans to venture into.

If your career or industry is looking into drone technology, now would be an excellent time to add something relevant to your skillset. Who knows, it just might be what you need to open doors for career advancement.

Drones are the way of the future

With the rapid development of drone technology, it won’t be long before they become mainstream. Soon, owning a drone might be as normal as owning a car.

By learning to operate a drone, you’re teaching yourself a skill of the future. 

Final Thoughts

Purchasing your first drone doesn’t need to be complicated.

Remember that the primary purpose of a beginner drone is to learn how to fly one. With this knowledge in mind, you’ll be able to quickly sift through the clutter and find the perfect drone for your needs.

Happy droning, and always remember – safety first!

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