Best Drone Reviews 2018

Looking for the best drones? Drones are all the rage these days and on the top of many people’s wish list. Making the news regularly for their high-flying maneuvers, drones are taking fun to an entirely new level. Exciting to fly and now offering great aerial photography, drones are not only a great hobby, but can even take your business to another level. We have selected a wide variety of the best drone brands on the market with products to meet your needs, from novice to expert.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Size
Weight
Distance
Flight Time
Extras
Our Top Choice
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone
In the USA, Autel Robotics is a tech company with a focus on customizable robotics that offers excellent customer service.
Great HD aerial photography with a live view video range of 1.2 miles. Hover & orbit features. Comes with a bonus hard carry case. Available in orange or white.
Great deal for all the high-end features, but still costs several hundred dollars. Ideal for someone who wants a stellar drone under $1K.
19.5 x 19.5 x 8.5”
50.08 ounces
1.2 miles
Up to 25 minutes
GPS & GLONASS navigation
Best Value
Holy Stone Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera
Holy Stone offers a wide array of drones with easy-to-use functions at an affordable price.
Feels like you’re a member of the Air Force with flip and roll features. 720-pixel camera to capture all the action. Easy takeoff and landing. 2 batteries included.
While this drone has limited flight time and distance, it is relatively inexpensive for a drone with an HD camera and one-key homing button.
12.2 x 12.2 x 3.5”
5 ounces
0.03-0.06 miles
7-10 minutes
360 flip-n-roll feature
DJI Mavic Pro Fly Drone Combo Pack
DJI has offices around the globe, where it produces high-end aerial photography devices for professionals and drone enthusiasts.
True 4K video smart drone. Flies up to 40 MPH. Folds into tiny bundle for travel anywhere. Obstacle sensors. Control with phone & Wi-Fi. 27-minute max fly time.
Priced over $1K, but still a good deal for a top-of-the-line drone and worth the investment.
10.5 x 9.5 x 9.5”
25.6 ounces
4.3 miles
Up to 27 minutes
GPS & GLONASS navigation
DBPOWER FPV Drone with Wifi Camera
DBPOWER makes a wide variety of active camera gear including FPV drones, and other products such as gaming keyboards and projectors.
Great for beginners. Wi-Fi with live view video camera. Compatible with 3D VR Headsets. One-key return home. Practice flying with 2 speeds.
Need to purchase the 3D VR Headset separately to enjoy a bird’s-eye virtual reality view while flying.
11.8 x 11.8 x 3”
25.6 ounces
0.06 miles
8-9 minutes
360 flip-n-roll feature
Syma X5C Explorer RC Quadcopter
Syma makes great, affordable, radio-controlled helicopters, FPV drones, and quadcopters for kids.
Fun little mini-quad that’s perfect for beginners. Performs 360-degree rolls with Hi/Low speed switch and a 6-axis gyro for stabilization. 7-minute fly time.
Cannot travel long distances, but definitely touches the sky at a great price.
16.5 x 12.2 x 3.8”
25.6 ounces
0.018 miles
7 minutes
Colorful LED lights

(Updated )
Related Reviews
Best Camcorder
Best Binocular

How Do I Choose the Best Drone?

Getting a new drone is exciting! You might be tempted to pick up the first one you see with a five-star rating and run with it. But fight the urge, just for a few minutes. There are a lot of drones on the market meant to do slightly different things, so look before you leap.

The first thing you want to think about is your overall skill level for handling quadcopters. Chances are if this is your first one, you will probably crash it at least once. If that’s the case, you might want to opt for a drone with a more stable flight controller—the built-in computer chip that determines how agile your UAV will fly. Further, obstacle sensors and headless mode are features that help orient the craft so you can avoid damaging your drone or losing it.

It’s also important to consider where you’ll be flying the drone. Some of the higher-end ones don’t have guards on the spinning blades, because they’re designed to fly fast and far. If you have a younger child or plan to fly it indoors, you can get models that have 360-degree guard rails around each propeller for safe driving.

Drones operate in a legal gray area right now so it’s important to keep in mind if your model needs to be registered with the government. If the model you pick weighs more than 0.55 and less than 55 pounds, which is a large amount of commercially available models, you’ll be required to register it and pay a $5 fee.

Many drones now come compatible with your smartphone via an app that lets you navigate and check out the scenery via an onboard camera. And while you’re visiting Top Products, you may want to check out our other buying guides for nano drones and RC helicopters, as these are also great options for flying toys with cool aerial maneuvers that make great gifts.

One last thing, be sure to read the packaging! There are a few common abbreviations you will see that you need to be aware of:
  • RTF: Stands for “Ready to Fly,” and basically means you have everything you need to hit the ground running. You may need to charge the battery first but it won’t require a degree in mechanical engineering to get your drone flying.
  • BNF: This stands for “Bind and Fly,” and these usually come pre-assembled for you but won’t come with a controller to mate it to. If this is your second drone or beyond, this won’t be an issue.
  • ARF: Finally, this abbreviation stands for “Almost Ready to Fly,” which means a lot of things to different manufacturers. If you see this, read the package contents carefully as you might be missing some crucial pieces such as motors or even the battery.
Okay, now that we have all the preliminary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about a few other things to consider before purchasing a drone.
Price
You don’t need to spend more on your next UAV than you would spend on a mid-sized family sedan to have a great time in your new role as a pilot. There are some affordable drones out there that cost under a hundred dollars, as well as some superior models that are just over a thousand.

Ranging from tiny drones you can hold in your hand all the way up to professional octocopters used in blockbuster movies, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how much you can spend on a drone. On one end of the spectrum, you can find tiny toy drones for less than the cost of a 12-pack of soda cans, but they are usually cheap drones and not worth your time (or money). We skipped over them in our recommendations as they tend to break after only a few uses, and have a short flight time of just a few minutes.

In general, you can get a decent inexpensive drone for anywhere from $40 to $120. The mid-range drones vary widely, from $150 to $800, depending on how advanced the features are. Drones at $500 to $1K can offer advanced features such as GPS satellite navigation and one-touch return home and flight stabilization features.

If you want a top-notch drone but don’t have a Hollywood budget, you can expect to spend around $1K to $1.5K for a stellar drone that offers obstacle avoidance technology, longer flight times of around 30 minutes per battery charge, long-distance fly ranges of several miles, and other add-ons.

On the far end of the spectrum, you have professional-level gear that can cost you upwards of $10,000. These drones come packed with stabilization features and are used by big production companies to do things such< as film the Super Bowl or shoot a documentary.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind that directly affect the price:
  • Size and Weight: As a rule of thumb, the larger and heavier a drone is, the more expensive it’s going to be. The larger frame means the producer could pack in more battery power or safety features.
  • Onboard Camera: Many drones carry a camera around to show you what it’s like to fly in the sky. The inclusion of a camera tends to boost the price, but many inexpensive drones do have a 720-pixel camera onboard and still manage to be pretty cheap. For a true HD camera with 1080 pixels or 4K, you will definitely have to shell out more money.
  • Safety Features: Higher-end models include things such as flight planning, where a drone will follow a set route and return to the sender before the battery dies. You can also purchase a drone with satellite technology that adjusts the flight pattern to avoid obstacles.
Features
One of the first things to keep in mind is the inclusion of a camera or lack thereof. Some drones include video cameras and others have a spot where you can add a GoPro; less-expensive models may not have any camera features or mount at all. If you plan on using your drone to fly around your backyard and get the Jones family jealous, this may not be as important compared to someone who wants to film their neighborhood from 400 feet in the air.

Another important feature to keep in mind is rotor protection. Drones meant for the indoors or used by minors will include this by default, but a lot of the expensive heavy-hitters in the industry have exposed blades. It takes a lot of force to go airborne and the blades are a real hazard—they’ve sent irresponsible enthusiasts to the hospital!

If you do plan on using your drone to take pictures of the neighborhood, you might want to look for a stabilization gimbal. The gimbal is a special mount for your camera that will keep it steady while you’re taking videos or photos. Drones can be a little unsteady; if you duct tape a GoPro to your drone, chances are the film will be shaky to use.

In addition to the physical features of your UAV, there are a few software features you want to keep in mind as well. Drones can be extremely difficult to pilot, so many companies started including safety features to make them easier to fly. After all, the last thing you want is to crash your brand new $500 investment because a gust of wind swept it right through your balcony window. There are a few common features you’ll see:
  • Flight Planning: We briefly touched on this above; it’s the ability to put in a pre-programmed flight path and then the drone will automatically follow the course. Combined with a video camera, you can get some amazing scenery this way without worrying about crashing it into a tree.
  • Return to Home: With the push of a single button, your quadcopter can return home without getting lost.
  • Automatic Landing: Similar to the parallel parking assist in your car, the drone can park itself safely in front of you.
Construction and Design
The construction and design of each drone varies quite a bit depending on the manufacturer and model. There are three main types of drones:
  • Camera Drones: If you’re thinking of purchasing a drone, or have seen one flying around the park, chances are it was a camera drone. These are by far the most popular, and they range from hobby-level equipment to professional-level gear. These tend to have 4 rotor blades, and can be as large as small appliances such as your microwave. Camera drones are usually built to be sturdy; they can take a few minor dings but ramming something solid like a tree or a fence at full speed will usually put them down for good.
  • Racing or FPV Drones: A recent entry, Drone Racing has taken the niche industry by storm in the past few years. Racers strap on goggles and race their machine from a first-person view (FPV). They are usually about the size of the palm of your hand, and aren’t designed to fly very far away from you. Built to provide you the rush of first-person racing, they are meant to be agile and fast, but won’t be able to take too many hits. Racing isn’t the same as bumper cars!
  • Toy Drones: The cheapest category by far, toy drones can be ones you find for under $20 in the discount bin or slightly more expensive ones that actually include tiny cameras. They are the easiest to fly as well, and are great to get experience because many have protection features allowing you to bump them all over without destroying them. They vary in size but are usually not too much larger than racing drones; the least expensive toy drones are even smaller than a one-dollar bill.
Many drones come with cameras these days, which adds a whole other dimension to the fun. While many manufacturers describe their cameras as HD or high-definition, there is a significant variance in the quality between HD and True HD cameras. HD is 720 pixels and True HD is 1080 pixels. Obviously, 1080 pixels provides a lot more clarity, so check out the camera pixel specs when making a purchase.

Take some time to think about what you want to do with your drone. Are you looking to start a new hobby photographing the neighborhood, or do you just want something you can annoy your cat with in your house? If you’re new to piloting, toy drones are the most forgiving of mistakes. They won’t always do great outdoors, especially if you live in a windy area, but they can build your skills and confidence without breaking your bank.
Performance and Ease of Use
Although it’s last in our buying guide, performance and specifically ease of use should be the first thing on your mind when you choose an aerial drone.

If you’re an experienced pilot or drone racer, you may be able to handle your drone like a pro, but there are lots of outside influences that can make a drone hard to handle. For newbies, flight stabilization features are a definite plus as they make the drone much easier to fly.

For better performance, keep an eye out for features such as assisted landing and takeoff. Some drones also come equipped with GPS satellite navigation and electro-magnetic interference protection.

Most people will pick a drone solely on how fast it can fly, falsely assuming a faster drone means more fun for the pilot. While speed is important, you’ll want to take it slow until you get the hang of flying.

You also want to keep an eye out for the drone’s long-distance range and battery life. Most drones have a limited flight time, and you can expect to get between 10 and 30 minutes per charge. If you don’t want to wait around before you can get back up in the air, it’s a good idea to pick up a spare battery.

Drones have widely varying long-distance ranges. Some drones can only travel 50 to 300 feet. Many outdoor drones can travel several hundred feet to several miles; it all depends on the brand and model, so be sure to check out that feature.

What is the Best Drone?

To help you find the most ideal drone for you or a loved one, we’ve gone through the market to find the top five options currently available. These are offered at fair (and varying!) prices and come with different feature sets to meet the needs of its intended user. Go ahead and take a look at our top choices—these are some noteworthy options!
Our Top Choice
Autel Robotics is keeping up with the best of them with this new X-Star Premium Drone with HD live view video. It travels about a mile with a quick 1-hour charge time. Don’t want to wait an hour to re-charge? Then be sure to pick up an extra battery, this one is compatible with X-Star and X-Star Premium drones.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone with 4K Camera, HD Live View, Hard Case, 1 Hour Battery Charge – Available in Orange or White, Extra Battery Bundle Offered

Autel Robotics Drone XSPRMOR – Orange


Features
A tech company with customizable robotics in mind, Autel Robotics is headquartered in Bothell WA. Autel has simplified the process of capturing excellent high-definition aerial photography with its latest round of fun-to-fly drones. It takes pride in great customer service, which is important as drones are known to need a little assistance from time to time, or quite often if you’re a wild-’n-wooly pilot!

The quality and ease of operating this X-Star Premium drone is apparent from the get-go—you’ll absolutely love flying it. Offering outstanding 4K HD video and snapshots, you can easily fly this drone with an LCD remote control that’s easy to manipulate.

Another stand-out feature of this Autel X-Star Premium drone is the fast re-charge time for the battery. Some drones can take hours to re-charge, but the X-Star Premium only takes about an hour. More importantly, if you crash your X-star, no worries as spare propellers and other small parts that can easily get damaged come with this purchase.

Here are some of the other great features:
  • Starpoint Positioning System
  • Takes 12-MP snapshots with HD Live View up to 1.2 miles away
  • Ready-to-fly straight out of the box
  • SecureFlyTM magnetic interference protection
  • Dual GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation
  • SecureFly assists in safely returning your drone home
  • Hover & orbit capabilities
  • Comes with a premium carry case
  • Includes 64-GB microcard
  • Spare propellers and small parts included
This X-Star Premium drone from Autel is a great pick and worth the splurge, as it has 2x the camera range of the original X-Star.
Best Value
Holy Batman! Holy Stone is rocking some cool technology with this F181C Quadcopter Drone with Extra Battery, 360 Flip-n-Roll, Return-home Function, and 720P Camera. Another great option is the Holy Stone U818A Drone for kids with a 360 guard rail for each propeller for added protection, one-key return home feature, and bonus battery.
Holy Stone F181C Quadcopter Drone with Extra Battery, 360 Flip-n-Roll, Return-Home Function and 720P Camera

Holy Stone Quadcopter F181


Features
Holy Stone is headquartered in China, and knows a thing or two about drone technology. It has an impressive list of drone aircraft which are easy on the wallet and kid-friendly. With this F181C quadcopter you can rock some cool stunts thanks to the 6-axis gyro. Navigate through smooth 360-degree flips in any direction for a rush of excitement, and capture the scenery with the 720-pixel camera.

This Holy Stone F181C drone is a great pick for a newbie who is ready for fearless flying, as a few features such as the return-home function and guard rails for the propellers make it easy to operate. Check out some of the other stats:
  • Continuous 360-roll up/down or left/right
  • Easy to take quality snapshots or videos
  • Can hover in mid-air
  • Easy takeoff and landing
  • One-key return home feature
  • 7-9 minutes of flight time per battery
  • Battery charge time of 90 minutes
  • Distance range of 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 feet)
  • 4 GB Micro SD card
  • Cool lights for night flying
This F181C drone comes with a bonus battery for extended flight time. Just be sure to read the user manual for optimum performance.
The DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Quadcopter Drone is an updated model that folds and is fully stabilized for long-distance travel of 4+ miles with ultra-clear 4K video and GPS tracking. Several bundles are available! Another option is the classic DJI Phantom 3 with a Video Position System for safe flying indoors or outside.
DJI Powerful Mavic Pro Fly Quadcopter Drone Portable, Collapsible, Available in 4 Bundle Options and 2 Colors

DJI Drone CP.PT.00000069.01 - Platinum


Features
DJI is a Chinese technology company that has gone global. It is known for its advanced drones which are used by professionals in the filmmaking, agriculture, conservation, search and rescue, and energy infrastructure industries.

This drone is a show-stopper. The Mavic Pro handles professional-level aerial photography with ease thanks to the GPS & GLONASS satellite tracking and Obstacle Avoidance technology. Manage flight patterns with your phone and Wi-Fi, and capture true 4K video over a 4-mile distance.

The Mavic Pro professional-level drone by DJI flies super-fast at up to 40 MPH. This little wonder is selling like hot-cakes too, so be sure to nab one before they’re all gone.

We’ve chosen to highlight the Fly More Bundle, which comes with some nice add-ons. Here’s what you get with this Mavic Pro Drone package:
  • 2 Extra Intelligent batteries
  • 2 extra pairs of propellers
  • 1 charging hub
  • 1 car charger
  • 1 battery-to-powerbank adaptor
  • 1 shoulder bag
  • 16 GB memory card
  • 1 controller
  • Tap Fly & other smart features
  • New OcuSync transmission system
If you don’t want the full Fly More Bundle package with your Mavic Pro, there are other smaller packages available.
DBPOWER knows how to make flying drones fun, shown clearly in its X400W FPV Drone — 360 Flip-n-roll, One Key Return Home, 2 Speeds, Smart Phone Live View w/App. Another great option is the #1 best-selling UDI U842 Predator which comes in a sleek silver design with orange highlights, and includes a spare battery for extended flight time.
DBPOWER X400W FPV RC Quadcopter Drone with Wifi Camera — 360 Flip-n-roll, One Key Return Home, 2 Speeds, Smart Phone Live View App

DBPOWER Drone MJX X400W


Features
DBPOWER is a Chinese company that makes active cameras, DVD players, projectors, gaming keyboards, and drones. It makes popular FPV drones that are less-expensive than many of its competitors.

This FPV RC Quadcopter Drone from DBPOWER is great for kids or beginners as it features guard rails around the propellers, and a slow speed option so you can get the hang of flying before kicking it into high gear. The one-key return home function also makes it easy to land.

Use the MJX H app on your smart phone to get a bird’s-eye view of the flight with this X400W FPV Drone. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes to assemble, and then you’re sky-bound and ready for some cool 360-degree flip-n-roll stunts with a distance range of 100 meters (or about 328 feet).

This drone is fun to fly at night as it comes with cool LED lights. Here are a few more details about the X400W:
  • USB battery charge time of about 120 minutes
  • 8 to 9 minutes of flight time per charge
  • Requires 3 AA batteries for transmitter
  • Works with IOS Android smart phones
  • Includes 4 spare propeller blades
  • 720-pixel camera with live view
  • Transmitter included
  • USB charger included
  • Headless mode feature
The headless mode feature makes it easier to navigate, as the drone will orient to the position of the pilot when they change position, making navigation more intuitive.
The Syma RC Quadcopter is a blast to fly with colorful LED lights and an onboard camera that captures the action of your 360-degree rolls. Want to extend the flight time? Then check out this X5C bundle package that includes the drone with an extra battery that extends your flight time to 15 minutes.
Syma Explorer RC Quadcopter Equipped with HD Camera — 2.0MP Camera, 2.4G 6 Axis Gyro

Syma Drone X5C-W


Features
Syma has 10+ years of experience designing radio-controlled toys that include FPV drones, quadcopters, and helicopters. It aims to provide “Fantasy, fun, and inspiration” to big kids and little kids alike.

This X5C mini quadcopter is nimble, stable, and tons of fun to fly. You should probably stay low to the ground while you’re learning the ropes, as it can take a few test runs to get the hang of navigating the local terrain. It’s a pretty spiffy drone that makes a great starter drone for kids, without breaking the bank.

Here’s what you get with purchase:
  • 6-axis gyro
  • Onboard HD camera
  • 7-minute flight time
  • 100-minute battery charge time
  • 4 blade guards
  • 4 spare propellers
  • 2.4 GHz remote control
  • 3.7-volt battery
  • USB charger
  • Distance range of 30 meters (about 98.5 feet)
  • Screw driver and user manual
Good to know: as this drone does not exceed .55 pounds, you do not have to register it with the FAA.

Get the Best Drone of 2018!

These unmanned aircraft operated by remote control allow you to take the pilot’s seat with a virtual flying experience only available in this modern age of technology. Today's drones can produce aerodynamic maneuvers that are truly breathtaking and offer 360-degree imaging for a bird’s-eye view of the terrain. If you’ve gone through our top choices and still don’t see what you want, we encourage you to take a look at what else our featured brands have to offer—you can be assured of a top-notch purchase through any of them!

Our Top Choice
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone
Best Value
Holy Stone Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera
DJI Mavic Pro Fly Drone Combo Pack
DBPOWER FPV Drone with Wifi Camera
Syma X5C Explorer RC Quadcopter