Best Beginner Drones of 2020

Posted on
3D Insider is ad supported and earns money from clicks, commissions from sales, and other ways.

Drones used to be expensive which limited their appeal to a small group of people. In the last few years, drones have become extremely affordable.

Now any budding pilot can take to the skies and operate their own flying robot. You really can get a lot of fun and features for very little money. You can also dive right in and learn with a higher quality craft with more features.

Beginner drones can be cheap as chips, but they don’t have to be. I include some very affordable drones here, though affordability is not the sole focus. Ease-of-use and fun flying is the main priority.

Welcome to the beginner’s drone guide.

Altair AA818
15 Minute Flight Time
150 Meter Range
Perfect starter drone for kids and people just starting.
Check Amazon
Best Value
DJI Mavic Mini
30 Minute Flight Time
5km (2.5 miles)
Best flight time and good quality camera for the money.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
DJI Mavic Air
21 Minute Flight Time
4 km (2.4 Mile) Range
Ultra-portable drone with a powerful 4k camera.

12 Best Drones for Beginners

Beginner drones are often cheaper because they offer fewer bells and whistles. Some higher-end drones are also suitable for the novice flyer. I include a few of those in this guide too.

The point of this review page is to highlight the best drones available right now for the complete novice and advanced beginner. Each review here follows a simple and familiar format for easy reference.

Under the name of each drone, I introduce the product. I point out the reasons why I think it’s a good buy for beginners. I may also highlight any downsides that I think you should know.

At the end of each review, there’s a simple table. I have included three columns. From left to right: useful technical specs, the major pros, and the major cons.

Beginner Drone Comparison Table

Here’s a table of my 12 best beginner drone picks at a glance (cheapest range to most expensive). I’ve covered something for everyone, starting from $32 to just under $1000 and plenty between:

Beginner Drone Make & ModelCameraFlight TimePrice Check
Sky Viper Scout Video Streaming QuadcopterHi-Def 720p7–9 minutesCheck Price
DROCON Blue Bugs 3 W/ 4K Camera MountAction cam mount only20 minutesCheck Price
UDI 818A HD+720p 2MP7 – 9 minutesCheck Price
Hubsan X4 H107 C0.3MP6 – 9 minutesCheck Price
Syma X5SW-V30.3MP7 minutesCheck Price
Parrot Rolling SpiderLow-Rez7 – 8 minutesCheck Price
Holy Stone F181 RC Quadcopter720p8 – 9 minutesCheck Price
Altair AA818 Hornet (Best Budget)720p15 minutesCheck Price
DJI Mavic Mini Camera Quadcopter12MP, 2.7k video30 minutesCheck Price
Parrot Anafi PF728000 4K Foldable Quadcopter21MP, 4K Zoom25 minutesCheck Price
DJI Mavic Air (Top Pick)4K 12MP21 minutesCheck Price
DJI Mavic Pro4K 12MP28 minutesCheck Price

Beginner Drones By Budget:

Click below to get detailed information on each drone by each price range.

Beginner Drones Under $100

The drones in this category might appear a bit toy-like, but don’t be put off. What you have here are some very capable flying robots that won’t break the bank. They will, however, teach you to fly. This is the largest category with five UAVs in total. The prices range from $32 up to around $90.

Sky Viper Scout Video Streaming Quadcopter

Sky Viper Scout Video Streaming QuadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.2/5

Meet the Scout, a fun and affordable streaming video camera drone by Sky Viper. This is an ideal entry-level quadcopter. It auto-handles flights so that you don’t have to, but that’s not all.

Flying the Sky Viper Scout

A simple throw into the air is all it takes to get the quad airborne. Its Surface Scan and Position Hold then put the drone into Hover Mode as it awaits the next command. The Scout’s 720p camera has a 100° adjustable wide-angle lens for video streaming. You can pivot the tiny camera down if you want to record the scenery below. Or, pivot it in the forward direction to film your flight path.

Take Control

Pilots get to save their footage onto a MicroSD card up to 32GB and play it back at their leisure. There are two flight modes, i.e., Normal and Sport, the latter being the fastest and most versatile. For example, Sport Mode lets you perform one-touch stunts like barrel rolls and flips. You can also customize the flight modes from the Sky Viper’s intuitive Video Viewer 2.0 app.

This drone comes ready-to-fly (RTF) and has a few extras in the box too. They include a USB charging cable, controller, phone mount, a screwdriver, and some extra screws. There are even replacement blades and blade guards. The Scout’s negatives are shared by other quads in its price category. One is the short flight time of 7–9 minutes, the other being average video quality.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Weight: 218g (0.48 lbs.)
Battery: 3.7V 650 mAh LiPo
Charging time: 60 min (1 hour)
Camera: Hi-Def 720p
Gimbal: None
Max flight time: 7–9 minutes
Control range: 150ft (expandable)
Max speed: Not specified
The Pros
Ready-to-fly (RTF) camera quad
Super-easy for entry-level pilots
Live stream video
Memory card slot (card extra)
2 flight modes
Customizable flight modes
One-touch stunts
Fast charging time
Phone mounts
Extra blades and guards
Excellent value
The Cons
Short flight time
Average video quality

DROCON Blue Bugs 3 W/ 4K Camera Mount

DROCON Blue Bugs 3 W/ 4K Camera MountView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The DROCON Blue Bugs 3 is an excellent drone for those learning to fly and film outdoors. It’s a tad powerful for raw pilots, though, but a remarkable flying machine for the advanced-beginner.

Powerful Brushless Motors

This drone uses the costlier brushless motors. They are quieter, more reliable, and longer-lasting than the brushed alternatives. The Blue Bugs 3 also boats a high-capacity 1,800 mAh flight battery. The flight time is 15+ minutes on a single charge—double that of many quads in its class. Pilots can choose between two speed modes, fly at night thanks to bright LEDs, and perform fancy stunts.

You Choose the Camera

One of the drone’s best features is its 4K mount that lets pilots attach a camera of choice. Supported models include a GoPro, Xiami, Xiaoyi, and others. The Blue Bugs 3 is easy to fly and remains stable with a camera attached. However, if you want this quad and are unsure about your camera’s compatibility, then check with the seller first.

Bugs 3 Feature Highlights

DROCON’s Blue Bugs 3 is not short on features. Pilots can maintain control of this bird from 934ft (300m), and further in ideal conditions. The quad’s durable, aerodynamic nylon outer shell keeps flights steady even in blustery conditions. Failsafe features include low-power and weak-signal alarms, so there’s no risk of accidental loss or crash landings.

The only real negatives are the long 3 hour charging time and no altitude hold function. The latter is why I recommend it for advanced beginners rather than the complete novice.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Weight: 1402g (3.09 lbs.)
Battery: 1800mah Li-Po
Charging time: 400 min (3 hours)
Camera: Action cam mount only
Gimbal: None
Max flight time: 20 minutes
Control range: 300m (934ft)
Max speed: 64 km/h (40 mph)
The Pros
Powerful brushless motors
4K action camera mount
2 flying speed modes
Stable flyer, even in the wind
Responsive controls
Long flight time for its class
Failsafe alarms
Bright LEDs for night flying
The Cons
Long charging time
No altitude hold function

UDI 818A HD+

udi-818a-quadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

FAA Registration: No

This is a fun drone to fly at any level, but the makers built it with the beginner firmly in mind. It has good elasticated plastic blade guards to help protect against those inevitable beginner crashes.

The crash-resistant design stands up to collisions with walls, trees, and other objects, as well as hard landings. It’s a perfect first drone for anyone who wants to learn how to pilot a UAV.

All you do is unpack this drone, charge the battery, and then take to the skies. It’s going to give you a memorable first time flying experience. Seriously, this little UAV has “EASY” written all over it.

You won’t suffer from boredom flying this simple-to-maneuver robot either. You have options to flip it 360 degrees in any direction, take photos, and record video with sound. Let’s look at the little camera.

The UDI 818A HD+ comes with a small 2MP, forward facing camera already attached. The quality of the optics is superb for a drone in this price range. I’d say it’s one of the best in its class.

There’s a decent remote control with two joysticks and a roll button for performing those instant 360˚rolls. There’s also a nice LCD screen that shows your current flight status.


The four channel function ensures stable flying and simple operation: Left/Right, Up/Down, Forward/Backward, and 360° flips. There’s nothing confusing about the controller at all.

One annoying flaw with this drone is its user manual. For a beginner drone, I feel they could have written the guide better. Other than that, there’s not much to gripe about, not at around $90. This is the perfect starter quadcopter.



Tech Specs
Weight: 130 g (4.6 oz.)
Battery: 2 x 3.7v 500mAh Li-Po Battery
Charging time: 90+ min (1.5+ hrs.)
Control range: 32 m (98 ft.)
Max flight time: 7 – 9 minutes
Max speed: Not known
Camera: 720p 2MP
The Pros
Great beginner drone
Easy to fly
Very agile and robust
Stable flyer
Includes camera
Includes controller
The Cons
Poorly written manual
Short battery life
Limited flight range
Drone Flying 101: Learn how to fly a drone like a pro with this course.

Hubsan X4 H107 C

hubsan-beginner-easy-droneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5.0

FAA Registration: No

The Hubsan X4 H107 C takes second place. At less than 30 bucks, beginner drones don’t get much cheaper than this. The instruction manual that comes with this craft is also very easy to follow.

The X4 flies amazingly well. It’s quick too. The controller has all the basic flight settings you’d expect with no extras to confuse a newbie pilot (controller batteries not included).

The thing that’ll most likely spoil your fun is the short 9 minute flying time. I always suggest ordering a spare battery or two. It’s the only way to prolong your fun and get more practice in.

The X4 has warning indicators that let you know when the battery’s getting low. And the transmitter offers a safety feature that warns you when the drone is getting out of range.

This is a great drone to practice piloting skills, but that’s about all. It’s small and light and handles crashes pretty well. The camera quality is not great at 0.3 MP, but at least it’s there to play around with.

It’s a great little drone to practice your flying skills indoors and out, but take heed! It sounds like a large swarm of feisty bees. You may want to make sure you’re home alone for indoor practice 😉

A bonus of the Hubsan X4 is its Advanced Flying Mode. Still, you won’t have to worry about advanced flying in those early days. But it’s useful to have once you’ve perfected your flying skills in Basic Mode.


Unlike the UDI 818A HD+ above, there are no blade guards with the X4. This makes the props a bit vulnerable. Then again, it’s easy to buy replacement parts if you do break something on the craft.

A lot of drone enthusiasts are getting into racing quadcopters these days. The X4 H107 C is the perfect mini quadcopter to develop your speed skills if racing drones interests you.

The low cost and tiny size of this quad will probably result in a fairly short lifespan of its motors. If you want to fly it long after you’ve perfected your skills, well… you can always buy new motors.



Tech Specs
Weight: 554 g (1.2 lbs.)
Battery: 240mAh Li-Po Battery
Charging time: 30 – 40 min
Control range: 100 m (328 ft.)
Max flight time: 6 – 9 minutes
Max speed: Not known
Camera: 0.3MP
The Pros
Great beginner drone
Fast charging time
Small and lightweight
Easy to fly and agile
Survives crashes really well
Inexpensive spare parts
The Cons
No blade guards
Short flying time

Cheerwing Syma X5SW-V3

cheap-beginner-droneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.0/5.0

FAA Registration: Yes

Compared to the first two picks, the Syma X5SW-V3 has a few extra features. It’s still a great beginner’s drone at an affordable cost. Keep reading to see if these extra characteristics appeal to you.

Note that this drone is not quite ready to fly out of the box. Don’t worry. The assembly process is quick and easy for anyone—even if you’ve never put a drone together before.

Consider this UAV if you want to hone in on aerial photography and videography skills as well as flying. The WIFI-enabled camera sends photos and live video straight to an Android or iPhone.

The FPV (First Person View) lets you see what the camera sees in flight. First, you need the app. There’s a handy QR code on the side of the box that you simply scan to download the application.

This drone comes with protective propeller guards. Anything that helps to protect against collisions and crash landings has to be a good thing, especially on a beginner’s craft.

You need a special smartphone holder to attach your mobile device to the transmitter (included). Once fixed, start the WiFi and open the Syma FPV app. That’s about it. You’re now ready to take to the sky.

The X5SW-V3 is still incredibly light albeit much bigger than my earlier picks. There’s a lot more for the wind to get hold of, though. That means it’s not the best flyer in breezy conditions.


This is a nice stable flyer that’s easy to get to grips with in calm conditions. Keep the craft at lower altitudes if you want to fly outdoors in a breeze. This way it’ll be much easier to handle.

Make sure you stay in Low-Speed Mode until you’re more competent. It’s easy to get impatient but take heed. Flying too fast too soon will only end in collisions and crash landings.

One complaint is the low battery life, so make sure you order a spare. By the way, you’ll get a little extra flight time without the camera attached. It’s something to think about when you’re not shooting.

This is still a worthy quadcopter despite its few flaws. At around $55 you really can’t go wrong.



Tech Specs
Weight: 635 g (1.4 lbs.)
Battery: 3.7V 500 mAh Li-po
Charging time: 90+ min (1.5+ hrs.)
Control range: 50 m (164 ft.)
Max flight time: 7 minutes
Max speed: Not known
Camera: 0.3MP
The Pros
Good beginner drone
Durable craft
Headless mode
Battery on/off switch
Good for stunts practice
The Cons
Short flying time
Short transmission range
Only Android 4.0 and above
Not so good in the wind

Parrot Rolling Spider

parrot-rolling-spider-droneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.8/5.0

FAA Registration: No

The Parrot Rolling Spider is a palm-sized micro quadcopter. It’s actually quite sophisticated despite its simplistic appeal. Unlike many other drones, there’s no traditional remote control with this one.

You need a low energy Bluetooth connection to fly this tiny craft via Parrot’s smartphone app. No beginner should have any trouble flying the Spider at its most basic settings.

New pilots get to enjoy some simple tap-and-fly modes, like tap to takeoff and tap to land. The drone then does as you command it. These automation features give you a stable, obedient, fun-to-fly craft.

There are plenty of more advanced features to explore once you’ve got some flying time behind you. You can, for example, control acceleration, climbing & turning rates, and height limits.

I like this drone because it’s a very capable independent flyer and hoverer. The odd-looking snap-on wheels help to protect the spinning props. Propeller protection is always a good newbie feature.

The wheels do more than just guard the blades. They protect furniture and vulnerable objects when flying indoors. They also roll the drone across ceilings and up walls. You have to see it to believe it.

When you don’t need the wheels on, keep them off. Anything you can do to lighten the load will increase your flight time—currently around eight minutes per charge.

The Bluetooth connection affects how the Parrot Rolling Spider performs. The nearer you are to the outer limits of the flight range, the more chance there is of a sluggish experience.


If flying was more predictable this UAV would have been further up the list. The secret here is to keep to within around 20 meters. This way you’ll get a more consistent flying experience.

When you become a proficient flyer there’s plenty of opportunity to raise your game. Moreover, the Rolling Spider is surprisingly fast and acrobatic when you customize its flight modes.

Although this drone is equipped with a downward facing camera, it won’t win you any photography or video awards. It’s better than nothing, but its main purpose is for motion detection, not imagery.

Some may argue that this drone is too easy to fly. Don’t be deterred. Remember, there are plenty of customizable options to challenge you, but first you have to develop your flying skills.



Tech Specs
Weight: 55 g (7 oz.)
Battery: 3.7v 550 mAh
Charging time: 90 min (1.5 hr.)
Control range: 20 m (66 ft.)
Max flight time: 7 – 8 minutes (wheels off)
Max speed: 5 m/s (11 mph)
Camera: Low Resolution
The Pros
Nice beginner drone
Great design/build
Easy to set up
Innovative features
Unique wheels feature
The Cons
Limited (Bluetooth) range
Short flight time

Beginner Drones Under $150

Drones in this price range give you a bit more bang for your buck. The first one is an Amazon #1 Best Seller. The second one is also a high seller with plenty of positive user feedback.

Holy Stone F181 RC

holy-stone-f181-droneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0

FAA Registration: Yes

At just over 100 bucks this is yet another affordable drone built from durable elastic plastic. The material’s an important consideration as it helps to protect the craft from all those beginner crashes.

The F181 quadcopter comes with a set of blade guards. Be sure to attach these before you fly. You’ll be grateful for the protection they can provide during a crash.

New users hate the short flight times that plague beginner drones. At around eight minutes the F181 is no exception. The good news is this drone comes with a bonus battery. That’s unusual.

Drones can get quite hot with continuous flying. It’s a good idea to allow 10 minutes of cooling down time before you take off with a replacement battery. This helps to prolong the life of the motors.

The Holy Stone F181 also comes equipped with a 2MP detachable camera. Leave the camera off until you’ve mastered flying the drone. The reduced weight will give you a bit more flight time as well.

The camera resolution is 1280×720. You can take still photos and record reasonable video. The image quality is nothing to get excited about. Still, it’s more than acceptable for a drone at this price.


What sets the Holy Stone F181 apart from some of the cheaper models is the steady performance and great design. It’s easy to fly and has a bunch of great extras like the camera and headless mode.

It’s almost impossible to lose the F181. This is thanks to its headless security and key return features. All you do is flick a button to bring the craft back if it gets out of view or out of range.

These safety features are important considering there’s no GPS. All things considered, this drone is a step up from the cheaper micro options. It’s a great beginner craft for both teenagers and adults. This is the one for you if you are looking for a starter drone with more features than a basic model.



Tech Specs
Weight: 400 g (14.1 oz.)
Battery: 3.7V 750mAh Lipo (includes spare)
Charging time: 90 min (1.5 hr.)
Control range: 100 m (328 ft.)
Max flight time: 8 – 9 minutes
Max speed: 4.4 m/s (10 mph)
Camera: 720p
The Pros
Great beginner drone
Easy to grasp
Includes camera
Intuitive controls
Soft landing pads
The Cons
Short flight time
Motors get very hot

Altair AA818 Hornet (Best Budget)

altair-hornet-beginner-droneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5.0

FAA Registration: Yes

Anyone at any skill level can enjoy the Altair AA818 Hornet Plus Drone. It’s an excellent choice for beginners who want to explore aerial photography and videography.

  • Best feature 1: Durable build
  • Best feature 2: Smartphone ready for FPV experience
  • Plus points: 720p HD camera, 3 skill settings, flight modes, extra props, customer service
  • Minus points: Long charging time, no Return Home, no GPS feature

Not all entry-level users want a toy grade drone. The Altair 818 Hornet is an excellent mid-range quadcopter for enthusiastic beginners. The construction uses durable plastics and rubber to make it as crash-resistant as possible. The landing gear has rubber damping that cushions the impact on touchdown. That alone is significant when you consider most damage occurs from hard landings.

Smartphone Control

You can use the drone with a smartphone, though it’s not required. So why bother? Well, once you mount the 720p HD Camera (included), you can use a smartphone to receive live video. The camera becomes your eye in the sky, and your smart device screen gives you a birds-eye view. Flying in First Person View (FPV) is not something a total beginner should attempt.

Flying the Altair 818 Hornet

One of the main attractions as a beginner drone are the three skill modes. These are Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The different levels allow new pilots to develop their skills with one quad instead of upgrading each time they improve. That’s certainly worth consideration.
There are other impressive features too, including:

  • Headless mode
  • One-touch takeoff/landing
  • Out of range and battery warning alarms
  • Altitude Hold mode

You can expect around 15 minutes of flight time with the AA818 Hornet. That’s on the high side of average. There’s also a bonus battery that effectively doubles the flight time to 30 minutes. The battery charging time is nothing special (see below). The operational range is about 490+ feet (150m), and that’s far enough for a beginner drone. The video range is good for about 197 ft. (60m).

Altair’s Customer Care & Service

Altair includes an extra set of props in the box too. Extras like the bonus battery and spare blades show real attention to customer needs. The AA818 Hornet is an outstanding quadcopter that’s fun and easy to fly at any level. It’s responsive, durable, flexible, and offers a smooth learning curve for newbie pilots. Best of all is Altair’s excellent customer service—should you ever need them.

The Not So Good

There’s no such thing as the perfect beginner drone. However, the 818 Hornet is as close to perfect as you can get for the price category. Still, there are a few negatives that may deter some folks. The 100 minute (1:40) charging time is long. That means gaps between flying times even with the bonus battery unless you buy extras. There’s no GPS or Return to Home safety functions either.



Tech Specs
Weight: 2.82 lbs. (1279g)
Battery: 2 7.4v LiPo Batteries
Charging time: 100 minutes (1:40)
Control range: 150m (490+ ft.)
Max flight time: 15 minutes
Max speed: Not known
Camera: 720p
The Pros
Great value, feature-packed mid-range beginner quadcopter
Durable build quality
Smartphone-ready for FPV
Three skill level settings
Multiple flight modes
Nighttime LEDs
Extra props
Extra battery
Excellent customer service
The Cons
Long charging time
No Return Home
No GPS feature

Beginner Drones Under $500

I hope you enjoyed reading the eight affordable starter drone reviews above. Now it’s time to include a couple of great beginner choices for under $500. Both models are equally priced and equally capable.

The drone makers target these competent flying robots at the more experienced enthusiasts. They’re good for that purpose. But they’re also user-friendly and have some great beginner flying modes.

If you’re willing to spend the money and don’t want to go down the stepping-stone route, consider the two choices here. They’ll serve you well as a tool for learning, and later as a more advanced craft.

DJI Mavic Mini Camera Quadcopter

DJI’s Ultra-Light Mavic Mini Camera QuadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

It’s arrived, but has the all-new DJI Mavic Mini been worth the wait? It’s too early to say. My guess is that DJI fans—both old and new—are going to love it, and this review looks at the reasons why.

Small in Size, Big on Features

There are plenty of portable, take-it-anywhere foldable drones, so what makes the Mavic Mini so unique? Well, it’s small in size but huge on details. You don’t have to register this 8.8 oz. (249g) quad with the FAA, either. Seriously, this thing is not much heavier than a regular smartphone. The Mini set also includes a remote controller, flight battery, spare props, various cables, and a few other bits.

A Novice Pilot’s Dream Quad

The Mavic Mini is an ultra-smooth, stable flying quad that’s easy to control at any level. That’s thanks to the new DJI Fly app, which has an intuitive interface that’s a simple to navigate. Even raw beginners can produce aerial footage of cinematic quality. Users get to activate QuickShot filming modes using simple tap-tap controls. They include Hollywood style Circle, Dronie, Rocket, and Helix effects.

This puppy takes 12MP stills and shoots tack-sharp 2.7K video with its 3-axis gimbal-stabilized camera. Best of all is that DJI’s Mini can stay airborne for up to 30 minutes on a single charge. Another standout feature is to view what the Mini’s camera sees in real-time on a smartphone screen. There’s much to explore with this incredible little quad, all of which has a very gentle learning curve.

The Perfect Portable Quadcopter?

There are no “perfect” camera quadcopters, not yet anyway. As for negatives, well, it’s too early to say. There are bound to be some disgruntled users; there always are. I’ll update this guide later, once we’ve all had more time to put it through stringent consumer tests. My gut says the DJI Mavic Mini is going to be a huge hit, though, and for all the right reasons.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Weight: 249g (0.54 lb.)
Battery: Intelligent Flight
Charging time: 270 minutes (4.5 hrs.)
Camera: 12MP, 2.7k video
Gimbal: 3-axis
Max flight time: 30 minutes
Control range: 5km (2.5 miles)
Max speed: 48 km/h (30 mph)
The Pros
Feature-packed camera quad
Ultra-lightweight and portable
Beautiful, small design
Easy for beginners to fly and film
New DJI Fly app
High-quality gimbal camera
The Cons
Nothing to report—yet

Parrot Anafi PF728000 4K Foldable Quadcopter

Parrot Anafi PF728000 4K Foldable QuadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The Parrot Anafi is a high-quality, ultra-compact, and foldable 4K camera drone. It’s a feature-packed, easy-to-fly quadcopter that unfolds in only 3 seconds. Let’s take a closer look.

The Travel-Friendly Camera Quad

This 4K camera quadcopter is perfect for folks on the move. Its ultra-portable design, foldable arms, and 11.3 oz., lightweight make it the ideal travel companion. USB-C charging adds further to its portable appeal. You can palm-launch this beautiful quad using a smartphone or the Skycontroller.

Flying and Filming with the Parrot Anafi

Flying and filming with the Anafi 4K camera drone is straightforward, even at the entry-level. That’s all thanks to the intuitive FreeFlight 6 app, simple controls, and 25 minutes flying time. The 4K HDR video and 22MP aerial stills produce the kind of footage once reserved for Hollywood. And the 180° tilting gimbal along with a 2.8x lossless zoom gives pilots plenty of creative control.

The Anafi’s other standout features include Geofence, Return to Home (RTH), and fast speeds. The quad comes with a smart and durable protective case to store and carry the precious drone. The biggest drawback is that the Anafi doesn’t have obstacle avoidance. The battery charging time is also quite long at around 3 hours. That means most owners will want to invest in at least one spare.

View on Amazon

Tech Specs
Weight: 454g (1 lb.)
Battery: 7.6V 2700 mAh 2S LiPo
Charging time: 180 min (3 hours)
Camera: 21MP, 4K Zoom
Gimbal: 3-axis Hybrid
Max flight time: 25 minutes
Control range: 4 km (2.5 miles)
Max speed: 55 km/h (27 mph)
The Pros
Easy to fly at any level
Compact, foldable design
Feature-packed Freeflight app
Simple hand launch
Smartphone or remote controller
Parrot Skycontroller 3
Quality, versatile camera
Long flight time
Fast top speed (Sport mode)
USB charging
Smart Return to Home (RTH)
Smart, protective carry case
The Cons
No obstacle avoidance
Quite long charging time

Beginner Drones Under $1000

Most beginner drone pilots don’t want to spend a small fortune learning to fly. But this guide wouldn’t be complete without offering something for those who don’t mind paying the extra.

The two picks below sell for under 1000 bucks. The typical buyer is the prosumer, but there’re also plenty of basic flying features for entry-level users.

DJI Mavic Air (Top Pick)

udi-818a-quadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

FAA Registration: Yes

The Mavic Air sits between the DJI Mavic Pro and the DJI Spark drones. It’s portable, powerful, and a great choice for beginners serious about piloting drones. It’s also a feature-packed quadcopter despite its small size and user-friendly appeal.

Enthusiasts best suited to this incredible flying camera have much in common. They’re outdoorsy types and demand portability, easy functions, flight safety, and quality footage.

Meet the Mavic Air’s Quality Camera

The onboard camera boasts a 12-megapixel 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor. It has a wide-angle lens to capture high-quality 12MP aerial stills. The camera can shoot stunning 4K video at 30fps (frames per second). Ariel photos and vids are free from blur and shake thanks to the effective 3-axis mechanical gimbal.

Another handy feature is the Air’s 8GB internal storage. That means users can save video footage and still images directly to the quad. And if live streaming is your thing, well, you’ve got that too. Many beginner pilots like to stream their footage in real time and upload it to social media.

Ultra-Portable and Feature Packed

The standout feature of the Mavic Air is its ability to fold down to the size of a regular smartphone. That makes it the perfect travel quad for folks on the move. And getting this puppy in the air is quick and easy even for entry-level pilots. Here are its three easy-to-use smart flight features:

  • ActiveTrack (follows moving targets)
  • 6 QuickShots choices; one-tap filming options for epic selfie vids
  • SmartCapture (hand controls)

These things and others are what make complex flights and professional filming easy for beginners. Is it a perfect camera quad? No (see cons below), but it’s near perfect for a drone in its class.



Tech Specs
Weight: 430 g (15.2 oz.)
Battery: 2375 mAh LiPo
Charging time: 55 minutes
Control range: 4 km (2.4 miles)
Max flight time: 21 minutes
Max speed: 15.5 mph (25 km/h)
Camera: X
The Pros
Foldable, ultraportable design
Collapsible remote controller (RC)
Easy flight features for beginners
3-axis stabilizing gimbal
Decent flight time
Long control range
The Cons
Obstacle avoidance lacks sensors on the sides
MicroSD awkward to access
Noisy for such a tiny quad

DJI Mavic Pro

mavic-pro-droneView on

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5.0

FAA Registration: Yes

A few beginners won’t mind spending $1000 on their first drone. My one pick in this higher priced category has to be the DJI Mavic Pro (consider the ‘Fly More Bundle’ for an even better deal).

New pilots want to get as much flying time as possible. Well, the ‘Fly More Bundle‘ gives you two extra batteries and a charging hub. There’re more goodies, but the batteries alone are worth the extra.

The small, high-quality Mavic Pro controller is awesome. It does a lot despite its simple design. It feels as good as it looks too. You just attach your phone or tablet to the controller and you’re good to go.

It won’t take you long to figure out the DJI GO App. As a new flyer, and especially considering the price of the drone, you may want to find a nice wide open space for your maiden flight.

DJI Mavic Pro is very easy to fly despite its high quality and sophistication. My advice is to stay well away from the Sport Mode until you’re comfortable and familiar with all the drone’s basic features.

The makers have designed the Beginner Mode specifically for novice pilots. It has restrictions on how high and how far you can fly. This means you don’t have to worry about losing sight or control.

Once comfortable with Beginner Mode, familiarize yourself with Tripod Mode. Although this drone flies well indoors, my advice is to learn outside first—in windless conditions. After that, the sky’s the limit.

Let’s not forget the portability of the Mavic Pro. This is thanks to its clever retractable legs. With the drone and phone in your bag and a fully-charged battery, you’re always ready to take to the sky.


This is a wonderful drone to pilot, but it’s more than just a capable flyer. It’s also an excellent aerial camera. These impressive optics and recording capabilities contribute to the high price tag.

The camera offers a sharp 4K/24 fps imaging system. It can shoot JPG photos and DNG RAW. Heck, there’s even an option for live streaming to YouTube and Facebook if that’s your thing.

Ideally, the DJI Mavic Pro is a prosumer level UAV. It still works well as a beginner drone for those who don’t want to step-stone through the cheaper models on their way to better things.

Some of the more novice-friendly features include the Beginner Mode, Obstacle Avoidance, and the Return to Home feature, but there’s so much more to explore.

As this is a beginner’s review, I won’t complicate things by looking into the DJI Mavic Pro’s full range of impressive capabilities. Just know that there’s a lot to marvel at once you’ve learned to fly.

At the time of writing, the Mavic Pro is perhaps one of the best small sized drone performers in its class. And its numerous smart features make it one of the top quadcopters on the market today.

As a new flyer, you’ll only run into problems if you become impatient and try to run before you can walk. Don’t attempt to master the more complex features before you’ve had time to grasp the basics.



Tech Specs
Weight: 735g (1.6 lbs.)
Battery: 2970mAh
Charging time: 60+ minutes
Control range: 4.3 mile (7 km)
Max flight time: 27 minutes
Max speed: 18 m/s (40 mph)
Camera: 4K 12MP
The Pros
Great beginner drone
Small and foldable
Long flight time
Quiet for a UAV
Includes safety features
Autonomous features
Fly by phone or over WiFi
The Cons
Narrow field of view (FOV)
Doesn’t launch well from grass
Lots of features (could overwhelm some beginners)

Closing Thoughts

The rapidly evolving beginner’s drone market means there are new models coming out on a fairly regular basis. My 12 picks in this guide give you the most sought after drones available right now.

As and when better models arrive, I’ll update this page. Please check back regularly.
Thank you for reading, and happy flying.

Happy flying.

4.3/5110 ratings