Today’s drones are extremely capable fliers with more impressive cameras than ever before, so, it’s an excellent time to consider one.
Whether you’re a seasoned pilot or are just getting to grips with snapping photos and videos from lofty heights, there are tons of excellent options to choose from.
Plus, with the advancement of battery efficiency, navigation, obstacle avoidance and stabilisation, it’s easier than ever to have a great experience, too.
These days we have more options than ever, whether you’re looking for dynamic sweeping FPV movement or that classic Hollywood stabilised look, there’s a drone out there for you. And that’s why we’re here. In this guide, we’ll run through the best you can buy.
DJI Mini 3 Pro
1. Best drone overall
With the Mini 3 Pro, small and lightweight no longer means entry-level. It’s a creative powerhouse that’s convenient to take anywhere.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Impressive flight performance
- Tri-directional obstacle avoidance and FocusTrack features
- It’s pretty expensive
- Add-ons like the DJI RC controller make it even more expensive
The Mini 3 Pro quickly became our favourite drone. Not only does it offer a lot of the desirable features found on DJI’s larger (and typically more expensive) drones, it does so in a tiny, lightweight form factor that’s handy to take anywhere. It’s also a lot more restriction-friendly, but this can vary from country to country.
Despite its tiny size, it flies well, even in the wind, and produces lovely stable video footage and sharp 48MP photos. The battery life is improved, too, and if you’re not so concerned about the 250-gram weight limit, you can add an even bigger battery for 47-minute epic flights.
It has a few features that you won’t find on other drones, too, like the ability to shoot in a true vertical format for social media. As well as being able to tilt the gimbal higher than ever before for some unique low-angle shots.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro
2. Best drone for professionals
- Unparalleled image quality
- Adjustable aperture and huge main sensor
- Additional 70mm camera
- Very expensive
- Over 900 grams
The Mavic 3 was already the most impressive drone that we’d ever tested, and then DJI one-upped itself by releasing the Mavic 3 Pro. The latest version adds an additional 70mm lens to the camera setup, making it more versatile than ever before.
The only reason it’s not our top pick is that it’s too expensive and intimidating for the majority of consumers, but if you’re looking to step into the professional world, the Mavic 3 Pro is the ideal tool for the job.
It flies wonderfully, even in harsh conditions, and it captures footage with unrivalled image quality. Add to this DJI’s industry-leading tracking features and automated route planning, and you’ve got a serious machine on your hands.
Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
3. A serious DJI alternative
A seriously impressive and well-priced drone that sits comfortably between the Mavic 3 and Air 2S.
- Incredible flight times
- 1-inch sensor with night mode
- Adjustable aperture
- Tracking modes are unreliable
- Less refined than DJI’s models
The Autel Evo Lite+ is confusingly named, as although it sounds like it would be a smaller drone, it’s actually a similar size and weight to the Mavic 3. When it comes to specs, it sits right between the Air 2S and the Mavic 3, and the same is true of the pricing.
The image quality from the Evo Lite+ is stunning, and while it can’t offer the same 10-bit colour as the pricier Mavic 3, the crisp 5.4k videos from the 1-inch sensor are detailed and vibrant. We found the image straight out of the camera to be more impressive than that offered by the Air 2S.
The drone and its accessories feel reassuringly sturdy and the user experience is easy and intuitive. When it comes to software, DJI still has a slight edge but the app and feature set is improving with each update that gets released.
With the Evo Lite+, Autel presents a compelling alternative to DJI and an image quality that simply can’t be ignored.
4. Best FPV drone
If you want to take your flying to the next level, and to new locations, the DJI Avata could be the drone for you.
- Nothing else like it on the market
- Thrilling FPV flying experience
- Perfect for tight spaces and indoor shots
- FPV flying is risky and hard to master
- Doesn’t handle wind as well as other options
If you’re ready to dip your toes into the immersive world of FPV flying, we think the DJI Avata is the best place to start. It’s smaller, safer and less intimidating than the full-fat DJI FPV, but gives much of the same experience, as well as offering some advantages of its own.
The guarded propellers make it ideal for flying indoors and around people, with less risk of chopping things up. And, unlike a traditional FPV drone, it can hold its altitude and stop on the spot, which makes it much easier to learn to fly with.
There’s still a learning curve, especially compared to DJI’s non-FPV options, but the DJI Motion Controller is the simplest way that we’ve come across to get to grips with a more dynamic flying style.
With a lack of obstacle avoidance, though, you’ll need to be careful. FPV flying takes some practice and isn’t for the faint of heart.
DJI Air 2S
5. Best value drone
A superb, smaller drone that’s still very high-quality.
- Impressive size
- Creditable video and stills
- Solid battery life
- Still expensive
- Some cropping in video modes
If you’re after a really small drone with all the power and features of the bigger flagship models, look no further. The Air 2S is that drone. It’s essentially a halfway house between the smaller Mini and the bigger Mavic 3 series drones. It’s small, fits in the side pocket of a backpack, but still packs some serious punch.
When folded, it’s only slightly longer than a big smartphone, sharing similar dimensions to the included remote controller that comes with most Mavic series drones. That means it can comfortably sit on your palm without any issue.
Despite its size, it’s a more than capable drone. It has three-way obstacle sensing, and can make use of many Quick Shot flying modes enabled in other drones. What’s more, the camera is mounted to a tiny 3-axis stabiliser. it’s also surprisingly capable of withstanding wind.
You get 4K video at 60fps and HDR stills from the 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor too, so there’s not much compromise in image/video quality.
How we chose the best drones
We’ve had hands-on experience with every drone on this page and we carefully consider a variety of factors before including a product in our list. This includes the flight performance, camera fidelity, automated flight modes, build quality and, of course, value for money.
There are plenty of great drones that we haven’t included for the sake of brevity, but you can rest assured that out of everything we’ve tried, these are our favourite options. We’ve focused on consumer-friendly options, which means expensive professional solutions like the Inspire 3 weren’t considered, and neither were custom hobbyist drones that require esoteric knowledge to operate.
How to choose a drone
Picking out the right drone for you could be a bit of a challenge, especially given how much you might end up spending. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself to help get things straight.
Have you flown a drone before?
There’s absolutely no shame in being a beginner – everyone has to learn to fly a drone sometime. That said, some systems are easier to get on board with, while others are better for those who already have some familiarity with flight controls and mechanics.
Most of DJI’s current drones, for example, should be fine for beginners to learn on, but you wouldn’t want to buy a first-person view drone, or a pro-quality cinematic drone, if you might just crash it within a few minutes.
What do you want to use it for?
Are you hoping to take nice holiday shots from the air, and do the odd video here and there? Or do you want a drone in order to unlock possibilities in your filmmaking for more professional ends? That should inform how much you’re looking to spend, and how intense the drone you end up with will be.
Frankly, though, as drones have got better and better, the gap between those two tiers of devices has become ever smaller.
Do you want to travel with your drone?
One big variable between drone models is how small they fold down, if they do at all. DJI now offers multiple options that can fold away to fit into even small bags or big pockets, so they’re great choices if you want to take your drone on holiday with you.
However, if you don’t think you’ll be using your drone on the go that much, you shouldn’t worry about its size and weight.
How important is visual quality?
Different models of drones have plenty of big differences, but a huge one comes down to the cameras they pack. If you’re looking for the crispest 4K video at good frame rates and with accurate colours, then you’ll probably end up spending a decent wedge to get it.
However, if you don’t mind 1080p video, since you’re not a professional and just want some nice shots to remember moments by, you’ll be able to cut down on the budget side of things by a respectable margin.