7 Best Altitude Hold Drones

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Drones today are cheaper, faster, better, and can fly further for longer. The best thing of all is that they never stop improving. The flight features and smart modes on drones are all useful. We can’t say the same for the plethora of unwanted extras found on other electronic devices. This handy guide looks at the most popular altitude hold quadcopters around.

The reviews highlight all standout features, but each drone here has an altitude hold function. Read this short introduction if you want to know how altitude hold works and why it’s so essential.

Budget
best-budget-altitude-hold-quadcopter
Holyton Mini Battle Quads
4.6/5.0
Flight Time: 9 minutes
Flight Range: 164 feet
Easy to fly, headless mode, 1-key takeoff/landing, 3D flips, colorful shells.
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Best Value
best-value-altitude-hold-quadcopter
GAOAG RC Tracker
4.8/5.0
Flight Time: 15 minutes
Flight Range: 984 feet
Easy to pilot, GPS, VR headset ready, nighttime LEDs, flight modes, intuitive RC.
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Top Pick
top-value-altitude-hold-quadcopter
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
4.7/5.0
Flight Time: 25 minutes
Flight Range: 2640 feet
Easy to fly, built-in GPS, live HD video, Automatic Flight Assistant, mobile app.
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How a Drone’s Altitude Hold Mode Works

The simplest explanation is that a drone’s altitude hold keeps the craft at a consistent altitude. Some do a better job than others, but the best drones can hover almost motionless at a set height. Drones achieve altitude hold by evaluating pressure data. The pressure data readings come from a barometric pressure sensor and an ultrasonic sensor if installed.

Barometric and ultrasonic sensors use different methods to gather data to determine the altitude. The best way to simplify this is to use bullet points to illustrate:

  1. The above sensors provide a drone’s controller with essential data
  2. The controller uses the Barometric Pressure Sensor to determine ambient pressure
  3. The controller uses the Ultrasonic Sensor to determine the drone’s distance from the ground
  4. Together, these sensors establish the correct altitude for the drone to hold

There’s more to it than that, but these are the basics of how drones maintain a steady altitude.

The Benefits of Altitude Hold Mode

An altitude mode is perfect for beginners learning how to control a drone for the first time. Some drones go into a steady hover right after takeoff as they await the next command. Another benefit is when taking stills or shooting aerial video as it helps to stabilize the camera.

Better Informed Buying Decisions

You don’t want to buy a drone just because it has altitude hold. There are other crucial areas to consider that can help you make well-informed choices. Think about your budget, skill level, and what you want the drone for—specifically. Check the maximum flight times, battery charging times, the cost of spare batteries and other parts. Camera, gimbals, and control range are others.

Every mini-review covers all the above and more besides. We also list the pros and cons for each model. A drone’s benefits and drawbacks will mean different things to different people.

About this Guide

This guide shows 7 of the best altitude hold quadcopter choices around right now. It has feature-rich toy-grade beginner drones through to hobby-grade models. These picks are the result of personal research but not only that. We also took the opinions of industry experts into consideration along with real user feedback. The first three modes are Best Budget, Best, Value, and the Top Pick.

The table below shows these models as they appear on the page.

Altitude Hold Quadcopters Comparison Table

Make and ModelFlight TimeFlight RangePrice
Holyton Mini RC Battle RTF Kids Quadcopters9 minutes164 feetCheck Price
GAOAG GPS w606-12 RC Tracker Camera Quad15 minutes984 feetCheck Price
DJI Phantom 3 Standard Camera Quadcopter25 minutes2640 feetCheck Price
Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone with Camera15 minutes492 feetCheck Price
Hubsan H501S X4 1080P FPV Camera Quad20 minutes984 feetCheck Price
DJI Spark Portable Camera Quad RC Combo16 minutes1.2 milesCheck Price
DJI Mavic Air Combo 4K Wi-Fi Quadcopter21 minutes2.4 milesCheck Price

1. Holyton Mini RC Battle RTF Kids Quads | Best Budget

Holyton Mini RC Battle RTF Kids QuadsView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The Best Budget goes to a couple of RC toy battle drones for kids. These two quadcopters are ready to fly (RTF) models right out of the box. They’re perfect training drones as well as tremendous fun.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude hold function
  • Best feature 2: Three speed modes
  • Plus points: Easy to fly, headless mode, 1-key takeoff/landing, 3D flips, colorful shells
  • Minus points: Awkward controller short play time

Both these battle drones come equipped with altitude hold to provide stable flying. Hovering at a set height on autopilot is just one of their impressive characteristics.

Mini RC Battle Quad’s Standout Features

These are entertaining rather than serious hobby drones. Holyton target these quads primarily at kids. Still, they can also provide plenty of interactive fun for the whole family. The Headless Mode flies the quads in the direction of the control sticks no matter which way the nose points. Three different speed modes along with one-key takeoffs and landings add further to the appeal of these fighter quads.

Performing 3D flips not only looks impressive, but it also helps to dodge opponents. The game works by using infrared (IR) beams. After four direct hits the loser’s drone comes to a soft landing.

The Not So Good

Some kids may find the remote controller (RC) a tad awkward to use. Everything works fine, it’s just that it has a lot going on for younger users, and thus takes a while to grasp. The battery life (flight time) is short at just 9 minutes, with an average closer to 7 minutes. There is a bonus battery included, and charging time is fast at around 45 minutes.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 11.8 x 6.2 x 3.6
Product Weight: 1.28 oz.
Camera: None
Stabilizing gimbal: N/A
Max Flying Time: 9 minutes
Max Range: 164 ft. (50 meters)
Battery: 3.7 V 250mAh LiPo
Charging Time: 40–90 minutes depending on the power source
The Pros
Altitude hold function
Three speed modes
Easy to fly
Headless mode
1-key takeoff/landing
3D flips
Bonus battery
Colorful shells
The Cons
Awkward controller
short play time

2. GAOAG W606-12 RC Tracker Camera Quad | Best Value

GAOAG W606-12 RC Tracker Camera QuadView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

Our Best Value altitude hold drone goes to the GAOAG W606-12. It has a lot to offer at an affordable price. It’s a capable ready to fly (RTF) quadcopter equipped with a First Person View (FPV) Camera.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude hold
  • Best feature 2: 1080P wide-angle FPV camera
  • Plus points: Easy to pilot, GPS, VR headset ready, nighttime LEDs, flight modes, intuitive RC
  • Minus points: Low average flight time, long charging time, shortish range, no camera gimbal

The altitude hold does a great job at steadying the drone during aerial shoots. The FPV camera is a decent 720/1080P HD model. It has a 110° wide-angle lens and 5G WiFi real-time transmission.

GAOAG RC Tracker Quad’s Standout Features

A streamlined aerodynamic fuselage makes this drone standout in a good way. The built-in GPS assists fixed point spot hovering and the return to home (RTH) accuracy. The quad uses powerful brushless motors to drive it. They’re more powerful, more reliable, quieter, and last longer than brushed alternatives. There’s also a set of soft LED navigation lights to make flying at night safe and fun.

Unfortunately, this drone doesn’t come with a 3D Virtual Reality (VR) Headset. The good news is that it’s VR headset compatible. That means the option for a truly immersive FPV experience is there for those who want it. A few other features worth a mention are the headless mode, intelligent follow, and fixed circle flight. And the quad’s controller is clean and intuitive and sports a smartphone clamp.

The Not So Good

The maximum 15-minute flight time is on the low side of average. However, the biggest letdown is the long 150-minute charging time. The maximum control range is also mediocre at just 984 ft. (300 meters). The GAOAG W606-12 also lacks a stabilizing camera gimbal. That means the aerial footage won’t be as steady as it could otherwise be in blustery conditions.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 15.5 x 15.3 x 4.4
Product Weight: 13.92 oz.
Camera: FPV 1080P Camera
Stabilizing gimbal: None
Max Flying Time: 15 minutes
Max Range: 984 ft. (300m)
Battery: 7.4V 2000mAh Li-ion
Charging Time: 150 minutes
The Pros
Altitude hold function
Decent wide-angle camera
Easy to pilot
GPS (Global Positioning System)
3D VR headset compatible
Nighttime LEDs
Useful flight modes
Intuitive radio controller (RC)
The Cons
Low average flight time
Long charging time
Shortish control range
No camera gimbal

3. DJI Phantom 3 Standard Camera Quad | Top Pick

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Camera QuadView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

DJI’s Phantom 3 Standard camera quadcopter makes the Top Pick. It has a quality built-in camera that shoots stunning 2.7K video at 30fps (frames per second) and stunning 12MP aerial stills.

  • Best feature 1: Ultra-precise altitude hold function
  • Best feature 2: 12-megapixel 2.7K 3-axis gimbal camera
  • Plus points: Easy to fly, built-in GPS, live HD video, Automatic Flight Assistant, mobile app
  • Minus points: Not travel-friendly, exposed motors, flimsy landing gear

The Phantom 3 Standard’s altitude hold is exceptional. A simple pilot command puts this bird into the perfect hover. It then holds steady at both altitude and position as it awaits the next instruction.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard’s Standout Features

There are good reasons why the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is still around and selling. It’s an easy-to-fly and super-stable quality camera quadcopter. That also means it’s an enjoyable experience both for flying and filming. Pilots get to view a live 720P HD real-time video feed on the screen of their mobile device. First-person-view (FPV) works up to half a mile away using the DJI’s free Go app.

The Phantom 3 Standard’s built-in GPS and Automatic Flight Assistant make flights safe and stable. Some of the advanced camera views include Waypoints, Point of Interest (POI), and Follow Me. The maximum flight time is 25 minutes and the battery charging time is a reasonable 1-hour.

The Not So Good

This drone isn’t travel-friendly. It has even less portability since the introduction of pocket-sized foldable camera quads. However, it’s size, design, and technology make it an ultra-stable, reliable bird. The motors on the Phantom 3 Standard seem overly exposed, though. Try to be mindful of this when flying in dirty, sandy, or dusty environments. A little regular maintenance is a good habit to form.

The final con is the drone’s somewhat flimsy landing gear. Some users buy leg stabilizers to make sure they don’t buckle on awkward landings.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 5 x 14 x 8.2
Product Weight: 2.68 lbs.
Camera: Built-in 12MP 2.7K
Stabilizing gimbal: 3-axis
Max Flying Time: 25 minutes
Max Range: 0.5 miles (1km)
Battery: 15.2V 4500mAh LiPo 4S Intelligent Flight
Charging Time: 60+ minutes
The Pros
Ultra-precise altitude hold
Decent quality camera
Easy to fly, reliable
Built-in GPS
Live HD video transmission
Automatic Flight Assistant
DJI mobile app
The Cons
Not travel-friendly
Exposed motors
Flimsy landing gear

4. Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone W/ Camera

Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone W/ CameraView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

Meet the Altair 818 Hornet, a beginner-friendly camera quadcopter you can fly indoors or outside. It has three controller skill settings so that new pilots can develop flying skills at their pace.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude hold function
  • Best feature 2: Three controller skill modes
  • Plus points: 1-key takeoff/landing, headless mode, 720P HD camera, FPV, bonus battery
  • Minus points: Low-average flight time, average camera quality

The 818 Hornet is an incredibly stable flyer for its class even in the wind. One of the main stability features is Altitude Hold. One-touch takeoff/landing and headless modes also add to its steadiness.

Altair 818 Hornet’s Standout Features

The hornet’s lens has a 120-degree wide angle that captures a bird’s eye view from above. Pilots can enjoy First Person View (FPV) from a mobile screen or by wearing an FPV headset (not included). The Auto Orientation Adjustment is a feature that makes light work of viewing and controlling the drone. And the Hornet’s built-in Emergency Landing Function safely brings the bird down in an emergency.

The Not So Good

The flight time is average at 15 minutes. The good news is the bonus battery you get with the package that effectively doubles the flying fun. Even so, it’s important to let the motors cool down for a few minutes between battery swaps. The camera quality won’t blow you away, but then it is a budget-end filming quad. The footage is quite viewable, though, just not awe-inspiring.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 14.4 x 14.2 x 5”
Product Weight: 8.2 oz.
Camera: 2MP 120° 720P HD camera
Stabilizing gimbal: None
Max Flying Time: 15 minutes
Max Range: 492 ft. (150m)
Battery: 7.4V. 1000 mAh LiPo
Charging Time: 60+ minutes
The Pros
Altitude hold function
First-person View (FPV) Camera
Three pilot skill modes
One-key takeoff/landing
Headless mode
Automatic Orientation Adjustment
Automatic Emergency Landing
Bonus battery included
The Cons
Low-average flight time
Average camera quality

5. Hubsan H501S X4 1080P FPV Camera Quad

Hubsan H501S X4 1080P FPV Camera QuadView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The Hubsan H501S X4 is another excellent starter camera quadcopter. It arrives ready to fly (RTF) out of the box. It’s an entirely different design to the previous pick and a lot bigger too.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude hold function
  • Best feature 2: OSD (on-screen display) live data
  • Plus points: Easy to pilot, 1080P HD, Follow Me mode Return-to-Home, low power protection
  • Minus points: Long charging time, no camera gimbal, slow in GPS mode

This drone packs a lot in for the price. It’s GPS position hold & barometer altitude is impressive. It firmly locks and maintains the quad at a set height without any input from the pilot.

Hubsan H501S X4 Standout Features

It’s incredible how feature-rich the H501S X4 is for camera drone in this price category. It has popular functions too, like the built-in GPS and Follow Me mode. That also makes it an ideal selfie-drone. The Headless Mode is perfect for newbies. It lets them fly the drone with the controller no matter which way its nose points. The onboard camera is a 1080P First Person View (FPV) HD model.

The remote control (RC) has a built-in OSD (on-screen display). It means you get to enjoy live data directly onto that screen without the need for a smartphone or tablet. OSD data display includes altitude, flight position, speed, battery power and more. The H501S X4 failsafe features include a return-to-home and low-power protection.

You can expect around 20 minutes of flight time with this puppy and a range of about 300 meters.

The Not So Good

The cons for the H501S X4 are more nitpicks than major drawbacks considering its price. The charging time takes at least 150 minutes (2.5+ hours). Most new owners invest in spare batteries. There isn’t a gimbal to stabilize the camera either. That’s a shame as it means there’s no efficient stabilization for windy days. The only other negative is that the GPS mode slows flying down.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 8.6 x 8.6 x 2.7”
Product Weight: 14.46 oz.
Camera: Built-in 90 1080P HD
Stabilizing gimbal: None
Max Flying Time: 20 minutes
Max Range: 984 ft. (300m)
Battery: 7.4V 2700mAh Lipo
Charging Time: 150 minutes
The Pros
Barometer altitude hold function
Powerful brushless motors
Easy and stable drone to pilot
Controller OSD (on-screen display)
Live data feeds without mobile
Follow Me mode
Return to home
Low power protection
Decent flight time
Decent flight range
The Cons
Long battery charging time
No camera gimbal
Slows in GPS mode

6. DJI Spark Portable Camera Quad RC Combo

DJI Spark Portable Camera Quad RC ComboView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The DJI Spark is affordable, portable, and loveable. Its camera is a little dated compared to newer drones, but don’t let that deter you. This favorite quadcopter has a lot going for it.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude hold function
  • Best feature 2: 12MP 1080p 2-Axis gimbal camera
  • Plus points: Simple to fly, Gesture & TapFly control, obstacle detection, subject tracking, fast
  • Minus points: Low-average flight time, low wind resistance

DJI’s Spark sports a reliable altitude hold function. It’s the perfect drone for close-up work like group shots and selfies. It can even launch from the palm of a hand and go straight into auto hover mode.

DJI Spark’s Standout Features

A 2-Axis mechanical gimbal stabilizes the Spark’s 12MP 1080p camera. There’s no 4K but the stills and video produced by this tiny drone are still very good. Drones don’t get much easier to fly than the Spark either. Control options include hand gestures, facial recognition, and the DJI dedicated remote controller (RC). The RC lets you stream 720p real-time video up to 1.2 miles (2 km).

The four main flight modes of the DJI Spark are TapFly, Gesture, QuickShot, and ActiveTrack. The ActiveTrack has the Follow Me function. It can track the subject in front, from behind, or by circling. The quad’s FlightAutonomy senses and avoids obstacles up to 16 feet (5 meters). And if you need speed, well, this powerful little quad can reach 31mph (50kmh) in Sport Mode.

The Not So Good

The main disappointment is the Spark’s low-average 16-minute flight time. Spare Intelligent Flight batteries for the Spark cost at least $50 a piece at the time of writing. The other downside is the quad’s low wind resistance. It can fly in a breeze, but it’s not as stable as some other drones in its class. Alas, that’s one of the prices we must pay for the tiny size and lightweight.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 5.6 x 5.6 x 2.16”
Product Weight: 10.58 oz.
Camera: 12MP 1080P
Stabilizing gimbal: 2-axis
Max Flying Time: 16 minutes
Max Range: 1.2 miles (1.93km)
Battery: 11.4V 1480mAh
Charging Time: 80 minutes
The Pros
Altitude hold function
Excellent value for money
Decent stabilized camera
Simple to fly at beginner level
Gesture & TapFly controls
Obstacle detection system
Four smart flight modes
Subject tracking
Fast top speed in Sport Mode
The Cons
Low-average flight time
Low wind resistance

7. DJI Mavic Air VR Bundle 4K Wi-Fi Quadcopter

DJI Mavic Air VR Bundle 4K Wi-Fi QuadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The last pick is the much loved DJI Mavic Air. It’s an ultra-portable, foldable, quality 4K Wi-Fi camera quadcopter. This bundle includes VR Goggles for a truly immersive flying experience.

  • Best feature 1: Altitude (GPS) hold
  • Best feature 2: Ultra-portable, foldable design
  • Plus points: 4K camera, built quality, easy to fly, return to home, fast, agile, avoidance system
  • Minus points: Average flight time, restricted device grip

The Mavic Air’s altitude hold (GPS hold) can maintain a steady hover for up to 20 minutes in no wind. It’s stable in winds with an impressive wind speed resistance of up to 23mph (38kph).

DJI Mavic Air’s Standout Features

DJI’s Mavic Air is only slightly bigger than a regular smartphone. This one comes with VR Goggles that provide the ultimate First Person View (FPV) experience. Operators can enjoy incredible panoramas from the virtual pilot’s seat. And the high-quality onboard 12MP 4K gimbal-stabilized camera is a real winner. It produces the most amazing aerial video and stills at the ideal exposures in all kinds of light.

The Air quadcopter boasts an excellent build quality and easy piloting. It has a bunch of pilot-friendly and failsafe flight features including return-to-home (RTH). Users have various ways to control this bird. There’s the dedicated remote controller (RC) and smartphone using the DJI Go 4 app. You can also connect a smartphone to the RC for enhanced control using the app.

Experienced pilots can test the true agility and speed of the Mavic Air. It has a top speed of 42.5mph in Sport Mode and up to 18mph with obstacle avoidance (OA) enabled. This quad is not only for skilled enthusiasts, though. It has enough novice-friendly characteristics to make it an excellent beginner drone too. The Air also features a forward, downward, and rear obstacle detection system.

The Not So Good

The maximum flight time of the Mavic Air is 21 minutes, but 18 minutes is perhaps more realistic. That’s better than a lot of drones, but it’s still only average for a quadcopter in its class. The other letdown is the device grip on the controller which is the same as the DJI Spark. It’s just too small to accommodate the tablets that people like to use these days. Most regular smartphones are okay.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 6.6 x 7.2 x 2.5”
Product Weight: 15.16 oz.
Camera: 85° FOV 12mp 4K
Stabilizing gimbal: 3-axis
Max Flying Time: 21 minutes
Max Range: 2.4 miles (4km)
Battery: 11.55 V 2970mAh LiPo 3S Intelligent Flight
Charging Time: 55 minutes
The Pros
Excellent Altitude (GPS) hold
Ultra-portable, foldable design
Easy to fly at beginner level
3-axis gimbal-stabilized camera
Superb built quality
Return to home feature
Fast top speed in Sport mode
Agile and responsive flier
Forward, downward, and rear obstacle detection technology
The Cons
Average flight time
Restricted device grip on the dedicated controller
0/50 ratings