The sheer number of companies and drones you can buy on store shelves today might surprise you. Companies like DJI and Parrot are leading the way in terms of features and breadth of options, but others, like GoPro and Yuneec, also offer compelling options.
That said, buying a drone isn’t necessarily simple. And for beginners, especially, jumping right into a high-end drone like the DJI Phantom 4 could be a big (and costly) mistake. Until you have the opportunity to learn how to fly a drone, control it with either your smartphone or a dedicated remote, and feel you know the laws that govern their flight, you should stick with cheaper options.
But like anything else in the technology world, easily determining which drone would be best for beginners isn’t so simple. And while there are many low-cost and budget-friendly options, the drones below offer the best mix of features, value, and usability for beginners.
Read on to learn more:
DJI makes several drones, but the company’s Spark drone might be its best for beginners.
The Spark is exceedingly small and can fit in your hand, so it’s ideal for portable use and bringing it with you when you travel. Better yet, you don’t need to control it with a remote. Instead, you can simply put up hand gestures and based on how you move your hands and arms, the drone will respond accordingly.
Aside from that, the Spark comes with a camera and can record both high-quality photo and video with its 12-megapixel shooter. It’ll “Return to Home” when your battery starts to run out, can fly for 16 minutes at a time, and at a price of $399, offers a nice value.
The Parrot Anafi is another fine choice for folks who don’t necessarily want to break the bank on their next drone purchase, but still want some features that can work for both beginners and professionals.
The Anafi is a compact drone that features four propellers. It comes with a 4K HDR camera and has an outstanding 180-degree tilt gimbal for it. Surprisingly, the Anafi can deliver up to a whopping 25 minutes of flight time on a single charge and with its artificial intelligence features built-in, you can set it to fly and ensure your subject remains in the shot with a Cameraman feature, among others.
The Anafi ships with a 21-megapixel camera and a remote control that uses your smartphone as its viewfinder.
It costs $699.99.
At first blush, the GoPro Karma’s $1,000 price tag with a bundled Hero6 Black might seem like an expensive option. But if you’re willing to spend a little extra, you’ll find in the Karma a drone that works well for beginners and advanced users, alike.
The Karma is a small drone that features four propellers and an area where you can input a GoPro Hero4, Hero5, or Hero6. The drone can be controlled from a remote that comes with a built-in screen and allows you to follow your subject wherever they go. Better yet, an app that accompanies the drone lets your friend point the camera while you fly.
Since you need to use a GoPro camera separately, your video and stills quality will vary depending on the camera you pick. And although it’s a pain to have two components, it’s nice knowing you can take out the GoPro and use it without your drone whenever you want.
DJI Mavic Pro
If the DJI Spark isn’t the right fit for you, or you simply want something a bit more full-featured, the Mavic Pro offers a nice value for beginners.
The device, which costs $999, comes with a 4K camera and the opportunity to snap downright gorgeous video and stills. It’s a small drone, so you can easily pack it into your bag when you travel, and as long as you can get past its price, you’ll find that its automation features are downright impressive.
For instance, with the Mavic Pro, you can set the drone to track a person and decide at what height and distance from the subject it should fly. And if you really want to learn the ropes and some of its features worry you, turn on Beginner Mode. The feature will help you through the learning process without damaging anything.
Yuneec Breeze 4K
Yuneec’s Breeze 4K is billed as “easy, safe, social.” And there’s good reason for that.
The drone, which costs just $400, is nice and small, so it won’t be too hard for you to keep it away from objects both indoors and outdoors. It comes with five automated flight modes, including a Selfie mode for capturing photos of yourself and an Orbit mode to take an aerial shot.
Perhaps most importantly for beginners, the Breeze 4K has optical flow and infrared positioning sensors that ensure it stays in one position without drifting. And with its 13-megapixel camera, which can capture video in 4K, you’ll be able to take some truly outstanding shots while in the air.
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