Selecting the right drone as a beginner can be difficult.
The thing is:
Regardless of your budget you want a starter drone that can deliver a great flying experience, and your probably want a decent camera too.
Here is a list of the 7 Best Drones for Beginners 2020:
|Starter Drone||Camera||Flight Time||Specialty||Price Range|
|DJI Mavic Mini 2||4K||31 min||Ultralight,foldable, long flight time, precise hover, ultra clear 4k video, quickshots, 10k range, 4x zoom||$$$|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||4K Video, 8K Hyperlapse, 48MP Camera||34 min||1/2-inch CMOS sensor, portable, light, great aerial shots, safe flight with obstacle sensing||$$$$|
|Holy Stone HS120D||1080p HD||18 min||Lightweight, Follow Me Mode||$$|
|SNAPTAIN S5C Beginner Drone||720P HD Camera||7-10 min||Voice control, gesture control||$|
|DJI Spark||12 MP shots 1080p video||16 min||Gesture based control, palm launch, follow mode, selfie||$$$|
|DJI/Ryze Tello||5 MP photos, 720p video||13 min||Throw and go, auto takeoff/landing, 8D flips, programmable||$|
|Holy Stone HS 210 Mini Drone||No camera||7 min per battery||3D flip, Auto hover||$|
Scroll down to see all our reviews of the top beginner drones.
#1 DJI Mavic Mini – Best Beginner Drone 2023
Weight: under 250 grams
Imaging: 12MP aerial photos with 2.7K HD videos – features a 3-axis motorized gimbal
Flight Time: 30 minutes max
What We Like
- Loads of functionality for the money
- Super smooth videos
- DJI Quality
The DJI Mavic Mini weighs under 250 grams. It delivers 12MP photos as well as 2.7K HD videos that are stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal that is motorized. It can fly up to 30 minutes with a fully-charged battery, but maybe let it come home after 25 minutes. Better safe than sorry.
The DJI Mavic Mini does not have onboard storage and does not come with a microSD card. You will need to buy one!
The DJI Mavic Mini is Great for an Active Lifestyle
We love to backpack and trek, and this little drone makes it easy to record beautiful moments. The DJI Mavic Mini is good for anyone who is on the move, and wants to have a smart little drone by their side. It is small, light, and portable. Using this little drone is very easy.
The DJI Mavic Mini’s lightweight construction allows it to stay in the air longer than some of its competition. Its camera stability system ensures clear footage, which you will appreciate when you are back home and showing off your latest activities.
DJI Mavic Mini – Rundown
#2 DJI Spark
– The Small Selfie Drone with Big Tech –
|Camera: 12 MP shots 1/23” sensor 1080p video|
|FPV: live HD video feed|
|Gimbal: 2-axis gimbal included|
|Flight time: 16 min|
The DJI Spark features ground breaking technology, such as gesture control and facial recognition. The gesture control allows you to guide the drone around with just your hands, feeling like a Jedi master!
The camera on this little thing is no joke either, you can get some awesome videos out of it. The videos are very easy to edit and share. The DJI Spark is also very easy to fly, even if you have never flown a drone before.
You can also use it with DJI´s drone goggles to get a first person view when you fly.
Norway, shot with the DJI Spark:
If you are interested in a selfie drone, check out our top list here.
#3 Holy Stone HS120D GPS Drone – Best Value Beginner Drone
Camera: HD 1080p Video and Still cam
Flight Time: 30 minutes
What We Like
- Great camera drone for the price
- Lots of great flight features
- Easy to make aerial photos and videos with 1080p cam
The Holy Stone HS120D drone offers experienced pilots a mix of functionality and value. It has a good quality HD 1080p camera that shoots both photos and videos and can fly for more than half an hour under good conditions. We like that it includes a remote that works with iOS and Android devices as well.
One area where the Holy Stone HS120D cuts costs in the camera mounting system. Instead of using a gimbal, it simply uses a shock mount for the camera. This may not be perfect for hardcore videographers, but it does help to keep the overall costs of the drone down.
The Holy Stone HS120D Does a LOT
We were very impressed with the advanced flight control package that Holy Stone built into the HS120D. GPS assistance is an advanced feature, and it does a lot for serious drone pilots. With a 30 minute maximum flight time, and a 300-meter control range, it is helpful to have the return to home feature with this drone.
If the drone loses contact with you, it will automatically return to where it took off. The HS120D also features a tracking mode, and will also allow you to set a custom flight path for the drone with your connected smartphone. This is a valuable feature, and can save you from losing the drone.
Flight Time: 13 minutes
Range: 100 meters
Camera: 720p HD photo and video
What We Like
- Loads of fun features
- Intel processor
- Good camera
There aren’t a lot of inexpensive offerings from drone industry powerhouse DJI. The Tello is a wonderful little drone that is packed with features. If you are just getting into drones or looking for a family drone for your free time, the DJI Tello is a great choice.
There isn’t much of a learning curve with the Tello. In fact, you can throw the drone into the air to launch it. It will start flying when you toss it, and it will also land automatically.
Unlike many budget drones that skimp on the camera, the Tello has a very nice 720p onboard camera that shoots HD video and stills. You can use your smartphone as a part of the controller, or even use VR goggles with the Tello!
The Intel processor that powers the DJI Tello makes it easy to do a number of great things. It has a bounce mode that allows you to ‘bounce’ the drone in your hand, and it also does loads of pre-programmed tricks.
We think that the DJI Tello is a great first drone for anyone who wants to learn how to pilot drones, and isn’t going to be rough on the equipment. While it does have lots of safety features, there are better drones for people that want something they can knock around and forget about.
#5 DJI Phantom 3 Standard
– For Outstanding Performance –
|Camera: Video 2.7K 12MP photos|
|FPV: live HD video feed|
|Gimbal: 3-axis gimbal included|
|Flight time: 25 minutes|
|Check Price on Amazon!|
The Phantom 3 Standard from DJI might seem like a pricey option for a beginner, but considering that it is very easy to control and fly, even difficult to crash, makes it a great choice for any beginner with the budget. The video is excellent and the gimbal stabilized the footage very well.
It has an integrated camera stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal. It takes photos in 12MP and the video is in 2.7K.
Designed for Beginners
This drones has been constructed to be easy to use for beginners, and it has extra safety controls. It has some useful features like live GPS tracking, return home via the press of a button and auto-hover.
You can use the Phantom 3 Standard with the follow me function, having it filming you and following you while you surf, skateboard, bike, run or ski.
One of the Best Beginner Drones
If you have the budget for it I highly recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Standard camera drone for beginners. The quality that it offers is exceptional and as a prosumer drone it has lots of exiting possibilities. With a high safety profile it is great for people just starting out.
#6 SYMA X5C Explorers Drone for Beginners
– Great Flying Experience –
SYMA X5C Explorers
The Syma X5C Camera Drone is an excellent beginner drone, that performs better than what you would expect at the price.
It is really fun to fly, and can perform flips in the air. It can be flown both indoors and outdoors. Dont expect amazing videos, as this is more of a toy drone.
It comes included with a HD camera, and a 2GB memory card. The video can be a bit shaky as it does not have a gimbal, it does however have a gyro stabilization system.
#7 Hubsan X4 (H107L)
– Best Mini Drone –
Hubsan X4 (H107L) Quadcopter
|Flight time: approx 8 minutes|
|Dimensions: 2.3×2.3×1 inches|
The Hubsan X4 is a fun and cheap quadcopter great for beginners. It has no camera, but it is great for practicing flying techniques before buying a higher quality drone.
It is manufactured by Hubsan, a company known for their swift and agile drones that can fly indoors and outdoors.
It is a one-piece, durable mainframe delivered RTF (ready to fly).
The LiPO, high capacity battery produces a flight time of around 8 minutes.
This mini drone is very small, just 2.3×2.3×1 inches, with a weight of just 4 ounces.
You can use it both indoors and outdoors, but it does not fly very good in windy conditions because of its small size.
Fun and Cheap
This is a great choice if you want a cheap mini drone to learn on, and even though it is cheap it provides lots of value.
#8 Ionic Stratus Drone
– Can Carry GoPro Hero Cameras –
This drone is perfect if you already have a GoPro camera you would like to use with your drone. It offers great value, and is fun to use with a GoPro.
It has a flight time of around 10 minutes.
If you want to extend your flying time, there is a battery available you can buy.
Designed for GoPro
The Ionic Stratus does not have a gimbal, and the video can get a bit shaky, so unlike the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, this is more of a toy-drone.
The camera is rubber mounted fixed, to remove vibrations from the quadcopter. You can remove the mount if you want to attach a good gimbal.
It offers a fun flying experience for beginners, but might not fly or land easily when there is a lot of wind.
This video is taken with a Hero3 Black attached.
This is a great beginner drone for GoPro.
#9 Hubsan H501S X4 Drone for Beginners
– A Drone That Follows You –
Hubsan H501S X4
The Hubsan H501S X4 has some really cool features, and the prices makes it friendly for beginners.
On the controller you see the live video feed, so you can see exactly what the camera is seeing.
Follow Me Mode
You can also use the drones follow me mode, and let it follow you when your run, bike, surf etc. Having a drone that can follow you enables you to shoot some really cool action videos. Drones that follow you are usually quite expensive, but this quad is actually affordable.
The flight time is also quite impressive at around 20 minutes.
It has an automatic return to home function for extra safety.
If you love the idea of drones with follow me mode, here is a list of the best drones that follow you.
The Beginners Guide
Want to make your first steps in the exciting world of drones? Are you an extreme sports enthusiast? Do you want to explore the world of aerial photography? Maybe you have a business idea that you need a drone to realize?
Drones for Beginners – Buying the Right Drone
UAVs come in all shapes and sizes from toy-like quadcopters to large, commercial machines. Generally as a beginner you want a cheaper quadcopter that wont break the bank if it crashes or flies away.
The cheap mini drones often come without a camera, and at the price you really dont have much to worry about, but can focus on learning. The flight time is usually less than 10 minutes. They usually dont have any special functions.
If you add a little more money you get the UAVs that are a little bit bigger, and may have a cheap built in camera. They can be an awesome flying experience, and you can take some photos and shoot some video, but you cant expect great video. The flight time is usually quite short, around 10 minutes.
Some of the budget starter drones have features like flips, and 3D rolls, but they usually lack the more advances safety features of the prosumer drones, like return to home, follow me mode, hover, point of interest and often dont have live streaming.
Quality Drones and Prosumer Drones
These quadcopters usually set you back at least $300, but has so much more to offer. The flight time can be up to around 25 minutes, and the camera attached is usually of very good quality. A good example is the DJI Phantom 3, which shoots awesome video, and has features like return to home, follow me and auto-hover.
For this price they should have some kind of live video streaming system, via an app or via the controller.
At the high end of this category you can shoot video that looks quite professional, and have a drone that you can fly for up to 25 minutes. The larger drones handle wind better, and some come equipped with a gimbal that stabilizes the camera.
A few important factors to consider when buying a drone include:
- The controllable range: what’s the distance from which you can control the drone? Some of the most basic models have a control range of only 30 meters.
- Battery life: this is a major problem for some of the more inexpensive drones. A single battery will last anywhere between five and seven minutes. More expensive and better-built varieties have an extended battery life of up to 30 minutes.
- Additional features: there are many other great extras that manufacturers equip their drones with. Live video streaming, automatic return home upon the loss of connection, follow-me functionality, flight pre-programming and the ability to go around obstacles are some of the cool extras.
You may want to consider some extra equipment. It can make the drone easier to control, increase the versatility of the equipment or prolong the flight time.
Some of the top drone accessories and additional equipment to consider buying include:
- Batteries: this one is a no-brainer. Having extra batteries will give you the opportunity to enjoy additional hours of fun. While one of the batteries is charging, you’ll be using the others to fly the drone. Make sure you have at least one additional battery.
- Additional propellers: propellers are likely to break, especially while you’re making those first flight attempts. Buy at least one full set of spare propellers.
- Propeller guards: this one is great for beginners. It will keep your fingers and the propellers safe.
- Landing gear: some quadcopter models are compatible with advanced landing products that are wider and more stable than the original. Customized landing can also help you improve picture/video quality.
- SD cards: having at least a few micro SD cards will give you all of the memory required to shoot beautiful pictures and capture longer videos.
- Carrying case: a quality carrying case will keep your expensive equipment protected while not being in use. It will also simplify the task of carrying your drone and accessories around. Make sure that the carrying case you’re getting has comfortable, padded straps.
Getting Ready to Fly
Always read the instructions thoroughly before getting started. If there are any instructional videos, you should go through those, as well. You may think that flying the drone is a piece of cake but if you’re not careful, you risk damaging a rather expensive gadget. Chances are that you don’t make the first flight your last one. Take your time and prepare yourself before going out there.
Familiarize yourself with the remote control – play around with it, push the switches and practice coordination between the two hands. You should also know how to take off and land the quadcopter gently. Acquaint yourself with indicator lights and what each one of them means.
Assemble the starter drone and check that all of the pieces have been secured together. Find a large open space and test the quadcopter. Don’t go to maximum speed and maximum height immediately. Baby steps are a good idea for the first flight. Once you get a better feel for the controller and how the drone responds to it, you’ll have the freedom to execute some much more daring flight experiments.
Learn Aerial Photography
See this guide: 7 Tips to Master Aerial Photography.
Drone terminology can be confusing for beginners. I have compiled a small drone glossary for beginners.
If your UAS weights more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg) you need to register it online.
It is very easy to register, and you do it here online.
Consider Regulations in Your Country
In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the authority responsible for crafting drone regulations. Currently, FAA has a set of guidelines. The guidelines for flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) state that:
- The UAV should remain at an altitude of below 400 feet AGL
- Flights in an area in a three-mile radius of an airport aren’t permissible
- The UAV should be kept within the pilot’s sight at all times
- The UAV can’t be piloted in NOAA zones
These suggestions apply to hobbyists.
Commercial Drone License
When it comes to commercial use in the US, each individual entity has to seek a permit.
This is called the Remote Pilot Certificate. The process of obtaining this license is not that difficult, and affordable. You need to pass the FAA part 107 test, check out our FAA Part 107 study guide for more info on that test.
You can read more here about all you need for commercial drone licensing.
Things are a bit different in other parts of the world.
In Canada, UAVs that weigh less than 77.2 pounds are considered recreational and they aren’t subjected to particularly strict rules. Special Flight Operation certificates are required for all of the drones that are larger or owned by commercial entities.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the entity that has the authority to craft regulations in many European countries. According to current EASA rules, a certificate is required regardless of the intended use. Just like in the case of US permit requirements, these are handed on a case by case basis.
In some Asian countries, the agricultural use of drones has been fully permitted. In Australia, the commercial use of drones is possible after a relatively simple identification process has been completed.
Keep in mind that such rules are still in the process of being developed. You may want to figure out which authority is responsible for issuing permits in your country. Their website should feature information about the certification requirements and the complexity of the procedure.
For a beginner with a good budget, looking to learn more about the world of UAVs, I recommend the DJI Phantom 3 Standard. It is a great tool you, and has applications beyond just being a beginner drone.
If you want something cheaper, I recommend the Syma X5C for the fun flying experience and the low price. It is well worth the price, and a great starting drone.
For more tips for drone newbies check out our for beginners section.
FAQ about Drones for Beginners
What is the best DJI drone model for beginners?
If you have a decent budget and want a safe but very cool drone I would recommend the Mavic Mini 2.
- Ultralight and foldable 4K drone
- 34 minute flight time
- Obstacle Avoidance and Follow-Me Mode (FocusTrack)
- Weighs about as much as an apple and fits in the palm of your hand
One of the easiest drones to get started with from DJI is the DJI Spark. It has some really cool features like gesture control, collision avoidance, selfie mode and follow me mode. You can even launch it from the palm of your hand. If you run out of range or battery it will return to you.
Which drones are the easiest to fly?
The cheapest drones are not necessarily the easiest to fly. They often lack the kind of stability you might want, and most can not hover in a stable way. The really cheap drones can be fun to learn with, and won´t upset you too much if you crash.
If you want a drone that is really easy to fly, I´d look for quality and stability. I recommend something like the Holy Stone HS120D. A drone like that will automatically return home if the signal drops, you fly out of range or the power runs low. It is also very easy to operate and fun to fly.
How far from the controller can a drone fly?
That depends on the drone, the cheaper starter drones usually only have a range of around 100-150 meters. More mid-level starter drones, like the Holy Stone HS120D, have a range of around 300-500 meters. DJIs Mavic Mini has a range of impressive 4000 meters.
What is the best drone for shooting video?
The best drone for beginners when it comes to video is the DJI Mavic Mini. It shoots 2.7K Quad HD video and is filled with impressive filming features, like dronie, circle and helix. It also has precise hover. If you are serious about filming check out the pricier DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
What happens when your drone goes out of range?
A cheap drone may lose control, resulting in a crash, or a fly-away. To prevent a fly-away, or losing control of your UAV, select a drone that has Return To Home (RTH) feature. That way if you lose signal when you fly to far, or if the battery is running low the drone will return to you.
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