This guide looks at the appeal of drones without cameras. Not every drone comes with a built-in camera, and not everyone wants one with their drone. There are also those who want a camera but prefer to choose one over the stock options. That’s why some quadcopters come with special mounts and stabilizing gimbals but no camera.

Some people—and especially younger, first-time users—need to learn how to fly before anything else. Modern drones have many autonomous features that make them easy to operate. Even so, learning to fly without the distraction of filming is a sensible approach for the novice pilot. Flying drones is also great fun just as it is with RC planes and helicopters.

It’s possible to buy drones without cameras, and this guide reviews 7 of them.

Budget
best-budget-beginner-drone-without-camera
Holy Stone HS170 Mini
4.5/5.0
Flight Time: 6+ minutes
Flight Range: 164 feet
Ultra-lightweight, 3 speed modes, 360° stunts, colorful LEDs, fast charging time.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-beginner-drone-without-camera
Altair Aerial Blackhawk
4.7/5.0
Flight Time: 18 minutes
Flight Range: 1640 feet
Two speed modes, sturdy shell, wind resistant, fast flier, long range.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-beginner-drone-without-camera
DJI Phantom 2 V2.0
4.6/5.0
Flight Time: 28 minutes
Flight Range: 3281 feet
This is reliable, stable, built to last, long flight time, return to home (RTH).
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Choosing a Camera-less Drone

Choosing a cameraless drone is similar to choosing one with a camera. The only difference is that you have one less thing to think through. All other considerations are the same and include the following:

  1. Budget: decide this from the outset to narrow down your choices
  2. Features and functions that match your needs (make a simple list)
  3. Flight range if it’s important to you
  4. Flight time aka battery life on a single charge
  5. Charging time. Battery charging can vary greatly between models
  6. Cost of extra batteries. Vital if points 4 & 5 falls short

There may be other things that matter to you like the design, materials used, speed, and so on. A simple list is the easiest way to ensure you make the best possible buying decision.

About this Cameraless Drone Guide

I have carefully selected 7 drones without cameras for these reviews. I took the opinions of industry experts and feedback from users as part of the selection process. These are not the only products available, but they are among the current favorites. My mini-reviews highlight all the good—and not so good—points along with camera compatibility if any.

The first three drones are my choices for Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top pick, in that order. The remaining 4 quadcopters are by price order with the least expensive first. The table below gives a snapshot of these popular models as they appear on the page.

Cameraless Drones Comparison Table

Make and ModelFlight TimeFlight RangePrice
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini Training Drone6+ minutes164 feetCheck Price
Altair Aerial Blackhawk W/ Camera Mount18 minutes1640 feetCheck Price
DJI Phantom 2 V2.0 Cameraless Quadcopter28 minutes3281 feetCheck Price
Syma X5A-1 RC Headless Flying Quadcopter7 minutes164 feetCheck Price
Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee Mini Racing Drone7 minutes230 feetCheck Price
JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone W/ Headless Mode8 minutes262 feetCheck Price
Mysterystone Bugs 3 Quad W/ Camera Mount16 minutes1640 feetCheck Price

1. Holy Stone HS170 Mini Training Drone | Best Budget

Holy Stone HS170 Mini Training DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Holy Stone’s HS170 is a mini-drone without a camera. It’s an excellent training drone for novice pilots who want to learn how to fly before they film. It’s also small and lightweight enough to fly indoors.

  • Best feature 1: Excellent first-time training drone
  • Best feature 2: Headless mode (see review)
  • Plus points: Ultra-lightweight, 3 speed modes, 360° stunts, colorful LEDs, fast charging time
  • Minus points: Short flight time, not good in winds

Reasons to Consider the Holy Stone HS170

Holy Stone is a well-known brand that produces lots of affordable, easy-to-fly quadcopters. The HS170 here is a mini training drone that comes with a bunch of novice-friendly features. Its headless mode lets the controller fly the quad whichever way its nose points. Not having to focus on the orientation lets inexperienced pilots concentrate solely on the controls.

The HS170 Mini also comes with three different speed modes. Advanced pilots get to fly this bird at high speed (for a mini-quad) and perform impressive 360° stunts. Nighttime pilots are not disappointed either thanks to the bright, multi-colored LEDs. The fast 45+ minute charging time means a short wait between flights. It’s even sooner for those who invest in extra batteries.

The Not So Good

No mini quad can fly for long on a single charge, and the HS170 is no different. You can expect around 8 minutes in ideal conditions with an average time of 6 minutes. It’s a good idea to buy two or three extra batteries. Pilots should allow a few minutes for the tiny motors to cool down between battery swaps. The light weight of this quadcopter means it can only fly outside on windless days.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.6 x 5.3”
Product Weight: 12.6 oz.
Max Range: 164 ft. (50 meters)
Battery: 3.7V 350mAh Li-ion
Running time: 6+ minutes
Charging time: 45+ minutes
Camera Capable: No
The Pros
Excellent first-time training drone
Headless mode
Ultra-lightweight
3 speed modes
360° stunts
Colorful LEDs
Fast charging time
The Cons
Short flight time
Not good in winds

2. Altair Aerial Blackhawk W/ Camera Mount | Best Value

Altair Aerial Blackhawk W/ Camera MountView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Best Value pick goes to the Altair Aerial Blackhawk. It’s a camera-less quadcopter equipped with a camera mount. The mount can accommodate popular GoPro HERO 3 and HERO 4 action cameras.

  • Best feature 1: GoPro compatible camera mount
  • Best feature 2: High average flight time
  • Plus points: Two speed modes, sturdy shell, wind resistant, fast flier, long range
  • Minus points: Lacks beginner-friendly features, long charging time

Reasons to Consider the Altair Aerial Blackhawk

The Altair Aerial Blackhawk is a superb choice for pilots moving up from tiny toy drones. It fits into the category of advanced-beginners to skilled pilots. The 18 minute flight time on a single charge is on the high side of average. Around 15 minutes is more likely in less than ideal conditions. There are 2 speed modes, High/Low. Speed controls are helpful for new pilots as they sharpen their flying skills.

Altair’s Aerial Blackhawk has a metal body that provides better protection than molded plastics. The heavier shell and powerful brushless motors also make it more wind-resistant than its rivals. A steadier drone results in smoother footage when shooting with an action camera. I couldn’t find an official top speed for this model, but it’s fast, and it has an impressive long 500M range.

The Not So Good

The Altair Aerial Blackhawk is not an ideal first-time drone as it lacks some beginner-friendly features. It doesn’t have GPS, return-to-home, altitude hold, or a headless mode. These things are not essential but are nice to have. They’re especially helpful to novice pilots. The other downside is the long charging time that can take up to 5 hours. Extra LiPos are a wise investment.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 14 x 13 x 6”
Product Weight: 3.1 lbs.
Max Range: 1640 ft. (500 meters)
Battery: 1800mah Li-Po
Running time: 18 minutes
Charging time: 2-5 hours
Camera Capable: Yes
The Pros
GoPro compatible camera mount
High average flight time
Two speed modes
Sturdy metal shell
Wind-resistant
Fast flier
Long flight range
The Cons
Lacks beginner-friendly features
Long charging

3. DJI Phantom 2 V2.0 Camera-less Quad | Top Pick

DJI Phantom 2 V2.0 Camera-less QuadView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

It’s hard to find DJI camera-less quadcopters , other than the Phantom 2 here. It’s an earlier model but don’t let that minor detail deter you. It’s still a remarkable drone and super easy to pilot.

  • Best feature 1: Easy to pilot
  • Best feature 2: Compatible with GoPro Hero2, Hero3/3+, and Hero4
  • Plus points: Reliable, stable, built to last, long flight time, return to home (RTH)
  • Minus points: Needs calibration pre-flight, no GoPro live stream

Reasons to Consider the DJI Phantom 2 V2.0

This drone is an outstanding model even if you only buy it for the fun of flying. It’s fast, but not acrobatic, but then it doesn’t claim to be. What the Phantom 2 is, though, is reliable, stable, and built to last. The quadcopter is so at home in the air that it seems to bolt itself to the sky. The best thing is the extras it can carry while maintaining stable, reliable performance.

DJI’s Phantom 2 can carry popular GoPro action cameras like the HERO 2/3/3+, and 4. It can also accommodate the super-smooth DJI Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal. You need to purchase the camera clamp and gimbal separately, though. The point is there’s an incredible camera drone here if you want it, or a beautiful flying robot if you just want to fly. The Phantom 2 has a flight time of around 28 minutes.

The return-to-home (RTH) lets pilots bring the precious quad back to base with the push of a button. You can see why this older DJI Phantom is still popular even though it’s out of production.

The Not So Good

The Phantom 2 is not ready to fly out of the box. All new owners must calibrate the compass before taking to the sky. Pre-flight calibration isn’t difficult, but it is vital. Anyone who skips this crucial step risks losing the precious quad to the dreaded flyaway. The other downside is that this drone doesn’t come with an FPV system. WiFi streaming is not possible from a GoPro action camera.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 7.1”
Product Weight: 2.43 lbs.
Max Range: 3281 ft. (1000 meters)
Battery: 5200-mAh LiPo
Running time: 28 minutes
Charging time: 60+ minutes
Camera Capable: Yes
The Pros
Super easy to pilot
Compatible with GoPro cameras
Reliable drone
Stable flier
Built to last
Long flight time
Decent range
Return to home (RTH)
The Cons
Needs pre-flight calibration
No GoPro live stream

4. Syma X5A-1 RC Headless Flying Quadcopter

Syma X5A-1 RC Headless Flying QuadcopterView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The Syma X5A-1 is an affordable flying quadcopter. It doesn’t have a camera or camera capability. It’s an ideal training drone for those who only want to fly and improve their piloting skills.

  • Best feature 1: Easy to fly, camera-less drone
  • Best feature 2: High & Low-speed modes
  • Plus points: Headless mode, 360° flips and rolls, colorful flashing LEDs, fast charging time
  • Minus points: Short flight time, not stable in winds

Reasons to Consider the Syma X5A-1 RC Quad

Syma’s X5A-1 RC is a pocket-sized drone that’s easy to fly at the beginner level. It comes with two speed modes for users to select depending on their experience. Other flight assisted features are the 1-key takeoff/landing and headless mode. The headless mode lets the pilot focus on the controls rather than the orientation of the drone. That’s especially useful when the quad’s not easy to see.

The X5A-1 has a risk-free 360° stunt flips and rolls feature. These aerial acrobatics look impressive to onlookers yet only take a button-push to perform. A bright set of colorful, flashing LED lights makes night flying possible and fun. The four propellers each have guards which are not something all toy quads provide. Flight time is a letdown (see next), but the fast charging time compensates for that.

The Not So Good

Battery life is miserable with this drone at just 7 minutes though quite typical for its class. Charging is more impressive and takes only 45 minutes to 1 hour max. It’s still a good idea to invest in a couple of spare batteries to extend the play time. It’s also vital to allow a few minutes for the motors to cool down between flights. And lastly, the drone is too light to handle windy conditions.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 12.2 x 12.2 x 3”
Product Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Max Range: 164 ft. (50 meters)
Battery: 3.7V 350mAh Li-ion
Running time: 7 minutes
Charging time: 45-60 minutes
Camera Capable: No
The Pros
Easy to fly camera-less drone
High & Low-speed modes
Headless mode
Indoor/outdoor capable
360° flips and rolls
Colorful flashing LEDs
Fast charging time
The Cons
Short flight time
Not stable in wind

5. Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee Mini Racing Drone

Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee Mini Racing DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

This next drone is a fast flying, agile racer without a camera. Holy Stone’s HS150 Bolt Bee Mini is a high-speed training quad for advanced beginners.

  • Best feature 1: High-speed racing drone
  • Best feature 2: Headless mode
  • Plus points: 5 speed modes, fast acceleration, wind resistant, 3D flips, bonus battery
  • Minus points: short flight time, not suitable for beginners

Reasons to Consider the Holy Stone HS150

The Holy Stone HS150 Bolt Bee Mini is—as the name suggests—a tiny racing quadcopter. It’s super-lightweight too, weighing only 2.43 oz. (68.9g). It has a top speed of 30 mph and can accelerate from 0–30 in seconds. Its 5 speed modes give new pilots time to get familiar with the quad. The headless mode lets racers focus on the control sticks without knowing the craft’s orientation.

Powerful motors help to make the drone wind-resistant despite the Bolt Bee Mini’s lightweight. Users can also perform 1-button 3D flips and rolls as they race to the finish line. The quad has a low-battery alarm to alert pilots when the drone or its controller gets low on power.

The Not So Good

The 5–7 minute flight time is typical for a lightweight racing quad. That doesn’t make the short battery life any less disappointing. And the 90 minute charging time is on the long side for a mini quadcopter. Holy Stone does include a bonus battery with their HS150. Most users are sure to want a couple more. The high speeds and lack of GPS mean this bird is unsuitable for the complete beginner.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 5.7 x 4.2 x 1.8”
Product Weight: 2.5 oz.
Max Range: 230 ft. (70 meters)
Battery: 3.7V 600Mah Li-Po
Running time: 7 minutes
Charging time: 90 minutes
Camera Capable: No
The Pros
High-speed racing drone
Headless mode
5 speed modes
Fast acceleration
Wind-resistant
1-button 3D flips & rolls
Bonus battery
The Cons
Short flight time
Not suitable for beginners

6. JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone W/ Headless Mode

JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone W/ Headless ModeView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The JJRC H31 is an affordable drone that’s truly waterproof. It has a lot of pilot-friendly flight features as well, but it’s too fast and furious for a first-ever quad.

  • Best feature 1: Almost indestructible
  • Best feature 2: Waterproof camera-less drone
  • Plus points: Headless mode, 1-key return to home (RTH), LED lights, over-charged protection
  • Minus points: Not wind-resistant, short flying time

Reasons to Consider the JJRC H31 Waterproof Drone

Drone pilots from advanced beginners to experts should get a lot of fun flying this bird. One of the biggest concerns for most enthusiasts are the inevitable crashes and collisions. That’s not a problem with this puppy as it’s indestructible—well, almost. It can also crash into the water and still fly right afterwards. The H31 has a headless mode too, so there’s no need to position the craft before flights.

The one-key return to home (RTH) function lets users bring the quad back to base in an instant. Night flying is possible thanks to the colorful LED lights. Charging time is reasonable at around 60 minutes. And the JJRC H31 comes with an overcharge protection feature to safeguard its battery.

The Not So Good

The H31 only weighs 2.2 oz. (64g), which renders it useless in anything above a light breeze. It’s possible to fly indoors on windy days though its size makes it awkward in smaller spaces. The flight time is a poor 8 minutes at best. That’s typical but depressing and requires extra batteries.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 11.4 x 3.5 x 11.4”
Product Weight: 2.2 oz. (64g)
Max Range: 262 ft. (80 meters)
Battery: 3.7V 400mAh LiPo
Running time: 8 minutes
Charging time: 60 minutes
Camera Capable: No
The Pros
Waterproof camera-less drone
Almost indestructible
Headless mode
1-key return to home (RTH)
LED lights
Over-charge protection
The Cons
Not wind-resistant
Short flying time

7. Mysterystone Bugs 3 Quad W/ Camera Mount

Mysterystone Bugs 3 Quad W/ Camera MountView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The last of our top 7 cameraless drone picks goes to the Mysterystone Bugs 3. It’s also a flying camera if you need it to be. The quad comes with a mount that accommodates most action cameras.

  • Best feature 1: Camera mount for action cameras
  • Best feature 2: Low battery warning
  • Plus points: Brushless motors, fast, wind resistant, long range, range alarm, bonus battery
  • Minus points: Average flight time, long charging time

Reasons to Consider the Mysterystone Bugs 3

Sometimes pilots just want to fly for the fun of it. Other times they want to take aerial photos or shoot video. Well, you can do both with the Mysterystone Bugs 3. Its stable camera mount can house most modern action cameras. They include models like the GoPro HERO 3, 3+, 4, SJCAMS, SJ4000, SJ7000a, and similar.

The drone has reliable, powerful brushless motors that make it fast and wind-resistant. Its high speed means it can reach the long outer 1640 feet range—and back—in no time. It also has out-of-range and low power alarms. These alerts make sure pilots keep their bird safe and bring it back home in good time. The Bugs 3 also comes with a bonus battery and an extra set of propellers.

The Not So Good

The 16 minute flight time is average, but expect less with the mount and a camera attached. The bonus battery effectively doubles the flight time. It’s still wise to let the motors cool down for a few minutes between swaps. The long 5 hour charging time is another disappointment. You will want to consider extra batteries if the Bugs 3 makes your short list.

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Tech Specs
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 5”
Shipping Weight: 3.4 lbs.
Max Range: 1640 ft. (500 meters)
Battery: 7.4V 1800mAh Li-Po (x2)
Running time: 16 minutes
Charging time: 5 hours
Camera Capable: Action camera mount
The Pros
Mount for action cameras
Powerful brushless motors
Fast flier
Wind-resistant
Long control range
Low battery warning
Out of range alarm
Bonus battery
The Cons
Average flight time
Long charging time
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