Technological innovation is a beautiful thing. It makes our lives easier in innumerable ways and it can also translate into more fun. This is especially true for drone pilots. First we were given the ability to buy unmanned aerial vehicles that can entertain us and provide us with videos that were previously impossible to capture, and at affordable prices. Now we have the chance to sync our quadcopters with mobile devices like Apple iPhones and iPads.
Not every drone is equipped with smart phone or tablet syncing capabilities, but dozens of models are able to be programmed and controlled remotely using an iPhone or iPad. Below we’ll discuss the technical specifications of a few of the most popular choices, and we’ll also break down what we like and don’t like about each one. Here are the reviews of the 6 Best Drones for iPhone & iPad:
DJI Phantom 3 Standard
– Value and Performance –
The Phantom 3 series was released in 2015, and has set the standard for other drone companies to follow. The Phantom 3 Standard offers very good value, and a chance for the average consumer to get a professional drone.
The Specs: This drone weighs just under 2.7 pounds and it has a max airspeed of 36 miles per hour. It has a built-in GPS system and can operate in temperatures ranging from 0-40 degrees Celsius. It uses 3-axis stabilization and from -90 degrees to +30 degrees. This drone’s 12-megapixel camera has a 94-degree field of vision and is able to capture images in videos in single shot mode, video mode, burst mode, time lapse mode. Photos and videos are saved on an 8-gigabyte SD card, and this drone can be operated using the DJI GO app on Apple and Android devices.
Pros: I absolutely love how programmable this machine is because it affords you opportunities that you simply don’t get with a lot of other drones. You can get some really cool results with burst mode, in particular. Additionally, the DJI GO app is the definition of user-friendly.
Cons: Its range is somewhat limited, and extra batteries for this model are fairly expensive. Some people have been unhappy with the costumer service at DJI.
The Verdict: This is a solid drone option for both beginners and experienced pilots. The app is easy to use and the drone itself comes with a lot of programmable features, so if you’re someone who loves tinkering with settings then the DJI Phantom 3 might be the way to go.
The Phantom 3 Standard offers great performance at an affordable price, that I feel cannot be beat right now. One of the absolute best drones of 2016 in regards to price for quality, suitable for both beginners and more experienced pilots.
DJI Phantom 4
– Outstanding Technology –
The Specs: The DJI Phantom 4 weighs 3 pounds and can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour. It’s electronically limited to a maximum altitude of 400 feet and it has a flight time of 28 minutes. It’s equipped with a GPS system and a 12-megapixel camera that can snap photos and record videos in 4K Ultra HD. The camera lens has a field of vision of 94 degrees, and the device can function in temperatures ranging from 32-104 degrees Fahrenheit. You can program and fly this drone using the DJI GO app.
Pros: This drone is perfect for large-scale aerial surveying because of its impressive 28-minute flying time. It’s also fast for a drone not designed specifically for racing. DJI drones are known for their ability to handle well and this model doesn’t disappoint in that regard. As mentioned with the Phantom 3 Standard this drone works seamlessly with the mobile DJI GO app.
Cons: If you’re an inexperienced drone pilot you might feel uncomfortable piloting such an advanced piece of equipment. If you are a beginner, but still want a really good drone, a good starting drone might be the DJI Phantom 3 Standard.
The Verdict: Serious drone pilots will probably love this model as much as I did. It’s a real treat to fly. With a flying time of 28 minutes and a top speed of 45mph you can cover a ton of ground (or air) with this model. I wouldn’t recommend it for inexperienced pilots (mainly because of its price, it is actually quite easy to use and get started) but it’s a good fit for intermediate/expert pilots and DJI’s GO app make it easy to configure and maneuver this device.
The Phantom 4 also has one of the most impressive obstacle avoidance features right now, which is especially handy if you want to use the drones follow me function.
3DR Solo Quadcopter
– The Smart Drone –
The Solo from 3DR is marketed as the worlds first smart drone. Powered by twin 1 GHz computers it has some really cool functions for shooting videos. It is an exiting new drone, and a challenger to the DJI Phantom. It is designed totally with GoPro in mind, and you can control the GoPro camera with the gimbal (sold separately).
The Specs: This 3.35-pound drone has a fly time of approximately 20 minutes after charging for 1.5 hours. It can reach a top speed of 55 miles per hour and a maximum altitude of 400 feet. It uses Pixhawk 2 autopilot technology and three-axis stabilization. It can pitch up to 90 degrees and is comprised of a plastic composite. It’s GPS-compatible and works with most GoPro cameras. The 3DR Solo can be operated using a mobile app built specifically for this model.
Pros: This drone is reliable and easy to control, and the exterior design is very appealing. This model’s top speed of 55mph is impressive and makes for a fun flying experience. I was able to get some really sharp video from this drone with very little vibration because it flies so steadily.
The Solo has some cool features, such as “orbit”, where you lock your camera on an object and get wraparound shots moving in a circular track while keeping the camera locked on the target, and cable cam, where you can lock the drone on a virtual cable leaving you to control the camera.
Cons: It’s somewhat heavier than other drones in its class but that doesn’t hinder its speed whatsoever. For a camera without a drone the price might seem a bit steep, but you pay for quality.
The Verdict: It is designed entirely with GoPro cameras in mind, and gives you control of your camera via the gimbal, and you can also use FPV via your iPhone or iPad. Solo has some really great functions for shooting videos, and this one of the best choices for shooting creative and professional video using a GoPro drone.
The IRIS+ has a lot to offer if you want to be able to take great videos and photos with a GoPro camera.
It has a “Follow me” mode, which is perfect for actions sports, walking, running and cycling.
The IRIS has good flight safety features, it returns home when it flies out of range, or if the battery is about to run out.
The Specs: The IRIS+ has a flight time of 16-22 minutes (depending on the payload) and it has “follow me” and mission planning technology. Additional features include flight protection if the battery is running low, autopilot, and geo-fencing capabilities. Additionally, 3DR has worked tirelessly to make using their drones in tandem with smart phones and tablets and their efforts have paid off for pilots.
Pros: The self-stabilization capabilities of this machine are really impressive and they make it easy to get the killer shot you need faster. The 40mph top speed is respectable for a drone of this size, and compared to similar drones the price of the 3DR IRIS+ is a bargain. As an added bonus, 3DR’s mobile apps for using this drone are impressive and advanced, but still really easy to use.
Cons: The IRIS+ is the predecessor to the SOLO, and might not be updated, improved anymore as 3DR seems to focus only on SOLO. I wish the 5100maH battery gave the drone a longer flight time because it can be difficult to do everything you need to do in less than 16 minutes.
The Verdict: You may want to look at other models if you plan to use your drone for serious work, but when it comes to recreational flying the 3DR IRIS+ is a great choice because it’s fast and has good range. It’s fun to fly and if you add a stabilization gimbal your photos and videos will come out even better.
– Fun Budget Flying –
The Specs: This drone is made out of a durable plastic composite and has been christened with multi-color LEDs for nighttime flights. It has a 12 minute flying time, a wingspan of 9.4 inches and it weighs just 4.2 ounces. The camera included with this drone can provide you with 720P resolution videos and you can also capture individual photographs. It has four skill level settings and it can perform flips and rolls with the press of a single button using your iPhone or iPad.
Pros: The FPVCam app is user-friendly and makes a lot of features available that usually aren’t possible for such economically-priced UAVs. This drone gets an A in the acrobatics department and it is versatile since it can be flown indoors or out. The multiple skill modes allow the pilot to do more as they hone their skills and overall this is a great drone for learning how to pilot UAVs.
Cons: This drone isn’t a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, and its flight time is severely limited at just 10-12 minutes. The range is just 100 meters (328 feet) and although it worked just fine with my iPhone 6 some users have reported problems syncing the drone to their mobile devices, and it is relatively fragile.
The Verdict: This is a good starter drone for individuals who want the ability to control their UAV with their tablet or smart phone. You probably won’t create game-changing videos with this drone but it’s easy to use, fun to fly (especially since it is a first-person view drone), and it survives crashes relatively well. For the price it’s hard to beat a drone like the Dromida Ominus FPV.
Parrot Bebop 2
The Specs: The Parrot Bebop 2 drone has a flight time of 25 minutes and an operating range of 100 meters. It has a 14-megapixel camera and records videos in high-definition, 1080P resolution. It has a plastic and carbon fiber body that weighs just 1.1 pounds and can reach a top speed of 18 miles per hour. It comes equipped with return to home, follow me, automatic landing and autonomous flight modes. It has multiple LED lights and is GPS-capable. You can fly the Parrot Bebop 2 with apps such as Free Flight that are available on Parrot’s website.
Pros: This drone is compact but it’s also durable. It’s pretty easy to learn how to do barrel rolls, flips and other tricks with this model and the battery life is almost double that of its predecessor.
Cons: I expected pictures to be a little bit clearer considering the camera is rated as 14 megapixels, but photos and videos are still respectable. Other drones with similar capabilities and prices are a tad faster than the Bebop 2, so that was also somewhat disappointing.
The Verdict: This drone is perfect for children and new pilots. It’s durable and the propellers stop rotating at the first sign of physical interference. It doesn’t have some of the top-of-the-line capabilities of other drones but it can definitely hold its own in terms of advanced features. On top of that, the max flight time of 25 minutes will prove you with more than enough practice time to hone your piloting skills.
Awesome & Useful Mobile Apps for Your Smart Phone/Tablet-Controlled Drone
1. Drone Deploy
This paid mobile app works on virtually all drones, including ones you build yourself. This app allows you to create 3D maps using the pictures you take from the sky. The app performs pre-flight and in-flight checks to ensure your drone is performing properly. Drone Deploy automatically keeps you compliant with drone flying regulations using an advanced form of geo-fencing. You can use this app to map topography and terrain, assess crop health, and even create 3D models of areas you plan to develop.
I really like this app because it’s open-source, meaning you can customize the code to make the app do exactly what you need it to do. The app itself is really useful as-is, however, as it allows you to pre-program flights and it helps you keep a smooth flight around waypoints that you set. It can map large structures and if you input an area you need to survey the app will provide you with the most efficient flight pattern. You can also program the drone to keep the camera focused on you or any other object throughout the duration of the flight.
Get the most out of your iPhone or iPad by syncing it with one of the aforementioned best mobile device-compatible drones today to make programming and piloting your UAV more convenient than ever before. Do you have experience with any of the drones on our list? What do you think about their operation in terms of being connected wirelessly to your smart phone or tablet? Are there any other mobile drones or mobile drone apps you would recommend? We’d love to hear from you regarding this topic in the Comments section below.
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