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Buyer's Guide

15 Best Drones for Beginners of 2018

Picture of Max von Übel
by Max von Übel
Jun 26, 2018

Looking for a beginner drone? Check out our 2018 buyer's guide to the 15 best drones for beginners on the market right now.

“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.”
-Wilbur Wright

Practice makes perfect when it comes to learning how to pilot a drone, but in the meantime, expect some crashes. Broadly speaking, that comes down to two things: prevention and preparation.

Preventing crashes requires a drone that’s easy to operate. That could mean mastering basic flying techniques with a simple craft and later upgrading to a more advanced model. Alternatively, you might consider a more sophisticated vehicle that adapts to both beginners and experts.

In the event that you should crash, it’s best if your drone is designed to minimize damage. That means no brittle plastic and no guardless propellers! (Even if your device has a little less speed and maneuverability. Better safe than sorry!)

You’ll find aircraft focusing on both prevention and preparation in our list of best drones for beginners! They’re sorted into three categories:

  1. Best drones for beginners under $100
  2. Best drones for beginners between $100 and $500
  3. Best drones for beginners above $500

Later you’ll find a FAQ, for those especially inquisitive minds who want to know all there is to know about the best drones for beginners.

15 Best Drones for Beginners of 2018

Drone Range Flight Time Check Price
Blade Nano QX 12 meters 6-7 minutes Available at Amazon
Force1 F100 Ghost 500 meters 15 minutes Available at Amazon
Force1 U45 Raven 50 meters 7-9 minutes Available at Amazon
Holy Stone F181 100 meters 7-9 minutes Available at Amazon
Syma X5C 30 meters 7-8 minutes Available at Amazon
DJI Phantom 3 Standard 500 meters 25 minutes Available at Amazon
Force1 818A 80 meters 7-8 minutes Available at Amazon
Hubsan H501S 300 meters 20 minutes Available at Amazon
MJX Bugs 3 300 meters 18 minutes Available at Amazon
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 400 meters 27 minutes Available at Amazon
Autel X-Star Premium 2 kilometers 25 minutes Available at Amazon
DJI Mavic Pro 7 kilometers 27 minutes Available at Amazon
DJI Spark 2 kilometers 16 minutes Available at Amazon
GoPro Karma 1000 meters 15 minutes Available at Amazon
Parrot Bebop 2 Adventurer 3 kilometers 25 minutes Available at Amazon

Best drones for beginners under $100

1

Drone for Beginners Blade Nano QX

Image of Drone for Beginners: Blade Nano QX
  • Dimensions: 183 ✕ 160 ✕ 64 mm
  • Weight: 18 grams
  • Flight Time: 6-7 minutes
  • Camera:
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 12 meters
  • Extras: Stability Mode, Agility Mode, Indoor Flight

Best Drones for Beginners: The Nano QX

Small enough to fly indoors, this quadcopter has two flight modes. Stability mode monitors the drone’s inclination in order to provide predictable flight performance. It’s for this that the Nano is one of the best drones for beginners. Once you feel confident in your piloting skills, activate agility mode for better stunts and increased acceleration.

Despite using brushed motors, this drone operates with a smooth and powerful lift. It’s very responsive, reacting to even the slightest touches, making it a great toy to fly indoors. Aspiring to offer the best drone for beginners, the manufacturers in their wisdom provide an assortment of spare rotor blades. The complete package also includes a nano-sized USB charger.

All things considered, the Blade Nano QX is one of the best drones for beginners. It’s perfect for anyone trying out a new hobby and still keeps veteran pilots on the edge of their seats.

2

Drone for Beginners Force1 F100 Ghost

Image of Drone for Beginners: Force1 F100 Ghost
  • Dimensions: 396 ✕ 350 ✕ 165 mm
  • Weight: 1,400 grams
  • Flight Time: 15 minutes
  • Camera: 1080p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Extras: Altitude Hold, Slow Mode, Sports Mode

Best Drone for Beginners: The F100 Ghost

If you’re looking for a fast affordable drone for beginners, take a gander at the Ghost. The brushless motors ensure a faster response time, smooth video footage, and a quiet flight experience. With an impressive flight time of 15 minutes, this model yields comparatively long flights. What’s more, the range is a staggering 500 meters. With numbers like these, the Ghost just might be the best drone for beginners.

Many customer reviews on Amazon applaud the stability of the F100 Ghost. Because the 1080p camera is mounted on a rig, you can remove it in order to shoot videos and still images manually. Just remember, it’s not a gimbal, so don’t expect DJI-grade video quality.

So what are the features that make this one of the best drones for beginners? First and foremost is altitude hold, which allows you to fly at a constant height without worrying about pitch. Add to that slow mode and sport mode, which accommodate your level of piloting — a hallmark of a drone designed for novices.

3

Drone for Beginners Force1 U45 Raven

Image of Drone for Beginners: Force1 U45 Raven
  • Dimensions: 400 ✕ 260 ✕ 89 mm
  • Weight: 117 grams
  • Flight Time: 7-9 minutes
  • Camera: 720p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 50 meters
  • Extras: Altitude Hold, One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing

Best Drones for Beginners: The U45 Raven

It’s thanks to its smart features that the Raven is one of the best drones for beginners. At the forefront of that list is its one-touch-takeoff capability. Though not a necessity, novices will find it to be a huge relief. Next up is altitude hold, which has the drone to hover at its current height, a requirement to be named the best drone for beginners. In this mode of operation, one can ignore the throttle, making easier to maneuver and to shoot stable video footage.

The 50-meter range is sufficient for the list of best drones for beginners. But once you’re more comfortable piloting a quadcopter, you may want to look for something more powerful.

Regardless, the Raven is fun to fly, pure and simple. Looking to awe your friends? Why not show her off with some 360-degree flips?

4

Drone for Beginners Holy Stone F181

Image of Drone for Beginners: Holy Stone F181
  • Dimensions: 365 ✕ 102 ✕ 350 mm
  • Weight: 150 grams
  • Flight Time: 7-9 minutes
  • Camera: 720p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Extras: Altitude Hold, One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, One-Key-Return, 360-Degree Flips

Best Drones for Beginners: The F181

‘F’ stands for fail-safes with this quadcopter — necessary features for any RC vehicle aspiring to be the best drone for beginners. One such feature is the one-key-return, which can be a lifesaver if your drone gets in trouble. Another is the automatic takeoff and landing: one button removes all the risk from these critical maneuvers. Last but not least is altitude hold, which forces the quadcopter to maintain its current height. It’s also great for shooting stable videos. With so many aids, its no wonder this is one of the best drones for beginners.

For all its safety features, the F181 is still a fun drone to pilot. It can flip 360 degrees in any direction and roll continuously. Moreover, this quadcopter can be piloted in headless mode, making for a slightly easier setting. Its 100-meter range and 9-minute flight time are more than enough to be counted among the best drones for beginners.

5

Drone for Beginners Syma X5C

Image of Drone for Beginners: Syma X5C
  • Dimensions: 301 ✕ 301 ✕ 79 mm
  • Weight: 725 grams
  • Flight Time: 7-8 minutes
  • Camera: 720p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 30 meters
  • Extras: Single Button Flips, Indoor Flight

Best Drones for Beginners: The X5C

Among quadcopter enthusiasts, Syma’s X5C is already a classic. Its popular not only for its amazing low price tag, but also for its acrobatic ability, both of which make it one of the best drones for beginners. Single button flips and flying indoors are just two fun activities that await budding hobbyists.

Interested in taking aerial photos and videos? The X5C is ready to oblige. Just note that the camera orientation is fixed, so you’ll have to factor that in when setting up your shots. Thankfully, colored LEDs placed on the bottom of the propellers make it easier to discern the drone’s orientation.

For basic flying practice, this quadcopter is an excellent choice. Is it the number one best drone for beginners? That’s for you to decide.

Best drones for beginners between $100 and $500

6

Drone for Beginners DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Image of Drone for Beginners: DJI Phantom 3 Standard
  • Dimensions: 381 ✕ 356 ✕ 208 mm
  • Weight: 3.7 kg
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Camera: 2.7K
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Extras: Follow-me mode, Video streaming, Return-to-home

Best Drones for Beginners: The Phantom 3 Standard

DJI’s base model, the Phantom 3 Standard, is without a doubt one of the best drones for beginners, more than ideal for learning how to fly. That’s because many of its features automate tasks that would otherwise be challenging for novice pilots. One such smart feature is the follow-me mode, which taps into the GPS on the user’s phone, allowing for easy videos and still images. And on top of that, the drone makes it possible to live stream video.

But what really brings this quadcopter into the list of best drones for beginners is its 500-meter range. And beyond that, the drone automatically returns to the GPS coordinates where it took off. Many users praise the Phantom for its reliability. Fly-aways are not an issue, and the battery can last up to 25 minutes.

In general, DJI drones are known for their quality. Automatic operation and intelligent design — exactly what you expect in the best drone for beginners.

7

Drone for Beginners Force1 818A

Image of Drone for Beginners: Force1 818A
  • Dimensions: 366 ✕ 101 ✕ 350 mm
  • Weight: 154 grams
  • Flight Time: 7-8 minutes
  • Camera: 720p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 80 meters
  • Extras: VR Headset, Smartphone Control App, Altitude Hold, One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, Video Streaming, FPV

Best Drones for Beginners: The 818A

The 818A is an affordable yet versatile drone. It has many smart features that easily make it one of the best drones for beginners. Perhaps the most interesting is the ability to trace a flight path using the accompanying app, a route which the drone will then follow on is own. Apart from that, the vehicle can take off and land with the push of a button. And finally, you can set an altitude that the drone will hold, allowing you to focus on controlling the camera to create amazing footage.

Equipped with a 720p camera, this is a great drone for aerial photography. The recorded video can even be watched live on your iOS or Android device. But what really makes this the best drone for beginners is the first-person view (FPV). The manufacturers included VR headset for an intense user experience. Extending the capabilities, the included controller can be attached to an iOS or Android phone.

Thanks to its broad range of smart and visual features, the 818A is without a doubt one of the best drones for beginners.

8

Drone for Beginners Hubsan H501S

Image of Drone for Beginners: Hubsan H501S
  • Dimensions:
  • Weight: 410 grams
  • Flight Time: 20 minutes
  • Camera: 1080p
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 300 meters
  • Extras: Altitude Hold, One-Touch-Landing, One-Touch-Takeoff, Return-to-Home, Follow-Me Mode, Headless Mode, Basic Mode, Expert Mode, FPV

Best Drones for Beginners: The H501S

The H501S brushless quadcopter, though small enough to be carried in a backpack, is a feature-rich device, and at a competitive price! Features include follow-me mode, headless mode, basic mode, expert mode, and altitude hold. And in case the GPS signal is lost, this candidate for best drone for beginners will automatically return to the location where it took off.

The built-in camera has a maximum resolution of 1080p, which is more than sufficient for hobbyists. Just make sure you keep the drone low while filming, as it doesn’t include a gimbal, meaning you can’t adjust the camera angle.

If you are making videos or still photos the drone should remain relatively low, as the drone does not include a gimbal. That means you cannot adjust the camera’s angle. Impressively, the controller is equipped with a large color display. Y’know, in case first-person view isn’t exciting enough for you.

Propelling this drone into the list of best drones for beginners is its 300-meter range and 20-minute flight time. And don’t worry about the battery. If it runs lows, the vehicle flies straight home.

With so many features, and at such a low price, could this be the best drone for beginners? You decide!

9

Drone for Beginners MJX Bugs 3

Image of Drone for Beginners: MJX Bugs 3
  • Dimensions: 401 ✕ 345 ✕ 163 mm
  • Weight: 1,600 grams
  • Flight Time: 18 minutes
  • Camera:
  • Gimbal: Mount for GoPro
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Extras: Return-to-Home, 360-Degree Flips

Best Drones for Beginners: The Bugs 3

The Bugs 3 is an agile drone powered by brushless motors. As one of the best drones for beginners, MJX Bugs 3 has a gratifying performance: It’s capable of some fun moves like 360-degree flips and rolls. Moreover, its maximum range is 500 meters and it can fly for up to 18 minutes. As the battery runs out, the controller will emit an alarm that gives you ample time to fly the quadcopter home.

The MJX Bugs 3 is also camera drone, at least it has the potential to be. Just attach a GoPro or similar device to the mount and you’ll be ready to start recording your aerial experience! That being said, the controller doesn’t include any buttons to take pictures or start recording, so you’ll have to operate your camera on the ground. Still, at this price, that seems like a legit solution. It’s certainly enough to make the list of best drones for beginners.

10

Drone for Beginners Yuneec Q500 Typhoon

Image of Drone for Beginners: Yuneec Q500 Typhoon
  • Dimensions: 419 ✕ 564 ✕ 239 mm
  • Weight: 1,133 grams
  • Flight Time: 27 minutes
  • Camera: 4K
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis
  • Range: 400 meters
  • Extras: Smartphone Control App, Return-to-Home, Geofencing, Follow-Me Mode

Best Drones for Beginners: The Q500 Typhoon

The Typhoon is the drone you get when you need high performance for a good price — exactly what you’re looking for in the best drone for beginners.

Six distinct flight modes include fail-safes that novices are sure to appreciate. Return-to-home directs the drone not to where it launched, but to the location of the pilot. Another cool feature is watch-me, which prompts the Typhoon to point the camera at the operator. You can record really close, too, because GPS functionality prevents the drone from getting too near. The opposite is true as well: With geofencing, you can set the Typhoon’s designated flight zone

All the of that is already enough to make this one of the best drones for beginners, but wait! There’s more! The designers clearly had aspiring film makers in mind with this drone, as the package comes with a 4K camera and sturdy mount, perfect for steady filming and photograpy. Rubber dampeners enhance video stability and are protected against dirt and debris.

Unlike with many other drones, a smartphone is not required to control the camera, as a large display is built into the controller. Nevertheless, the drone does connect to both iOS and Android devices, allowing two operators to control the vehicle and the camera separately.

Best drones for beginners above $500

11

Drone for Beginners Autel X-Star Premium

Image of Drone for Beginners: Autel X-Star Premium
  • Dimensions: 495 ✕ 495 ✕ 216 mm
  • Weight: 1,451 grams
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Camera: 4K
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis
  • Range: 2 kilometers
  • Extras: One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, Return-to-Home

Best Drones for Beginners: The X-Star Premium

The X-Star is an affordable drone ideal for shooting stunning videos and still images. The package includes a 4K camera and 64 GB micro SD card, which is more than enough storage to get you started. Thanks to the vibration protection of the gimbal, video footage is stable. And should you accidentally damage the detachable camera, it’s easily replaceable. That’s good for any quadcopter aspiring to be the best drone for beginners. (But next time be a little more careful setting up those sick camera angles…)

Like the Typhoon, the X-Star’s controller doesn’t require a smartphone or tablet, as it includes a simple but sufficient display for flight data. That being said, connecting a phone unlocks many additional features such as formatting the SD card remotely and much more.

What really makes this one of the best drones for beginners is its smart features. One of the buttons initiates automatic takeoff and landing, while another tells the drone to return-to-home.

12

Drone for Beginners DJI Mavic Pro

Image of Drone for Beginners: DJI Mavic Pro
  • Dimensions: 289 ✕ 180 ✕ 239 mm
  • Weight: 743 grams
  • Flight Time: 27 minutes
  • Camera: 4K
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis
  • Range: 7 kilometers
  • Extras: Foldable, Return-to-Home, One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, Obstacle Avoidance, Beginner Mode, Expert Mode

Best Drones for Beginners: The Mavic Pro

If you’re looking for a small, sturdy drone with professional flight and camera capabilities, this aircraft is for you. Don’t let the word “Pro” in the name scare you, it’s still one of the best drones for beginners, for several reasons.

The first is beginner mode, which sets a maximum speed and a maximum radius from the takeoff point. Once you’ve mastered piloting the drone in line-of-sight, deactivate this mode after a little practice to begin exploring in earnest.

Under optimal conditions, the Mavic Pro has an awesome range of 7 kilometers. And once the battery strength hits 30%, the drone will return home automatically. But you can always get it to return home with the push of a button. Other smart features include obstacle avoidance and automatic takeoff, launching the Pro to the position of best drone for beginners.

When it comes to hardware, this drone lives up to its name. Unique to the Pro are its foldable arms. Retracting them yields an aircraft compact enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The same goes for the controller and its folding antenna. Last but not least is the integrated camera, which has a 4K resolution and is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal.

While not cheap, the Mavic Pro just might end up saving you some money, since it can adapt to your growing skill set. Unlock advanced capabilities as you become more confident in your piloting. The Pro is not only one of the best drones for beginners, but also for professionals.

13

Drone for Beginners DJI Spark

Image of Drone for Beginners: DJI Spark
  • Dimensions: 143 × 143 × 55 mm
  • Weight: 300 grams
  • Flight Time: 16 minutes
  • Camera: 1080p
  • Gimbal: 2-Axis
  • Range: 2 kilometers
  • Flight Controller: Gestures/Smartphone/Flight controller
  • Extras: Foldable, Gesture Control, Smartphone Control App, Obstacle Avoidance, Follow-Me Mode, FPV

Best Drones for Beginners: The Spark

The Spark is a high quality craft designed for effortless flight and quick shooting. Like its older brother, the Mavic Pro, this whippersnapper features foldable components, allowing it to be easily transported.

The simplest form of piloting requires no equipment at all, relying on the drone’s sensors to interpret hand gestures. This makes it easy to set up group photos, for example. These sensors also come in handy for collision avoidance, an invaluable feature for any vehicle that wants to be the best drone for beginners. For more complicated maneuvers, you can use either a smartphone or the included controller.

So how does this drone compare to the Pro? Unlike its superior, which is designed to accommodate all skill sets, the Spark is directed more toward the beginner. Its range, though impressive, is smaller, and the camera has both a lower resolution and a less capable gimbal.

All things considered, the DJI Spark is an impressive vehicle. Capable and easy to control, it definitely ranks as one of the best drones for beginners.

14

Drone for Beginners GoPro Karma

Image of Drone for Beginners: GoPro Karma
  • Dimensions: 302 ✕ 439 ✕ 150 mm
  • Weight: 5,284 grams
  • Flight Time: 15 minutes
  • Camera: 4K
  • Gimbal: 3-Axis
  • Range: 1000 meters
  • Extras: One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, Return-to-Home

Best Drones for Beginners: The Karma

The Karma is the signature drone coming from action camera manufacturer GoPro. As such, it understandably focuses more on filming and photography and less on smart features than other drones in the same price segment. For example, there are no sensors to guide the vehicle during landing, like there are on the Mavic Pro. Still, it comes with automatic takeoff and landing, and it is very easy to control — necessary features to make the list of best drones for beginners.

At the core of this GoPro product is the famous camera. Both the Hero 5 and Hero 6 are directly compatible with the high quality gimbal, prominently positioned at the head of the aircraft.

Many consider the Karma to be the best drone for beginners. The controller’s user interface is extremely intuitive, and includes a number of smart features. Among them are commands to return the drone to either your position or the takeoff point. Afterward you can transport it, the controller, and any extra parts in the convenient case.

Though a little pricey, the GoPro Karma is without a doubt one of the best drones for beginners, especially those interested in recording their adventures.

15

Drone for Beginners Parrot Bebop 2 Adventurer

Image of Drone for Beginners: Parrot Bebop 2 Adventurer
  • Dimensions: 381 ✕ 328 ✕ 89 mm
  • Weight: 498 grams
  • Flight Time: 25 minutes
  • Camera: Yes
  • Gimbal:
  • Range: 3 kilometers
  • Extras: Altitude Hold, One-Touch-Takeoff, One-Touch-Landing, Return-to-Home, Follow-Me-Mode, Beginner Mode, Expert Mode

Best Drones for Beginners: The Bebop 2 Adventurer

The Bebop 2 Adventurer comes from a long list of Bebop 2’s. This particular model is an inexpensive yet agile camera drone, whose performance can be altered to suit both beginners and experts. Flight settings are adjusted in the app while the vehicle is airborne and include maximum inclination and tilt speed, among others. In its most forgiving mode of operation, the Adventurer is one of the best drones for beginners.

Some indispensable smart features include automatic takeoff and landing. Aided by an ultrasound sensor at its base, this drone is also capable of maintaining a constant height, even on windy days.

A few oddities have been noted with the Adventurer. For example, by default it immediately starts filming on takeoff, though this feature can be turned off in the settings. Another hiccup is the lack of any removable storage.

Nevertheless, Parrot’s Bebop 2 Adventurer is more than capable enough to be one of the best drones for beginners.

FAQ: Best Drones for Beginners

What’s the difference between brushed and brushless motors?

Both brushed and brushless motors work by causing a component to rotate using electromagnets. Where they differ is in their construction and in the way they communicate electric current to the magnets.

Conventional brushed motors are simpler in design and therefore cheaper. On the other hand, they’re also less powerful, noisier, and require more maintenance and replacement.

Brushless motors, though slightly more complex in the way they’re built, offer higher efficiency, are quieter, and last longer. It’s for these properties that the best drones for beginners employ brushless motors.

Do I need a waterproof drone?

Unfavorable weather is one of the most common reasons for crashed or lost drones. Waterproof drones eliminate this risk as they are built to withstand wind and rain. Especially in the price segment above $1000, you’ll find drones that can be immersed in water and carry payloads of up to 2 kg. That makes them suitable for tasks that are otherwise difficult or dangerous to perform, like search and rescue missions at sea.

As you can imagine, such models don’t really belong in a list of the best drones for beginners.

Don’t miss: 10 Best Waterproof Drones You Can Fly

Do I need a camera on my drone?

The answer is “it depends”. If you want to take pictures or make videos then absolutely buy a drone with a built-in camera, or at least a gimbal to which a camera can be attached. And if you want to get into first-person view (FPV), make sure you find a drone that supports that feature. You can find both in our list of best drones for beginners.

Having said that, learning to pilot a drone certainly doesn’t require a camera. Flying a remote controlled aircraft through the air is its own reward.

Can I 3D print a drone?

It is not yet possible to fabricate electrical components like motors, sensors or even electronics. However, 3D printing can be used to fabricate drone parts like the frame, landing gear, and propellers. And these are usually the parts that break easily and need regular replacing.

Don’t miss: 2018 3D Printed Drone Guide - All You Need to Know

What is altitude hold?

Altitude hold is a common feature that makes it a lot easier to pilot a drone. When activated, a drone uses ultrasound sensors to maintain a particular height. This makes it easier to focus on basic flying maneuvers or, if you’re filming, to capture steady aerial footage.

Most of the best drones for beginners already include this feature, as its extremely handy for novices. It’s also not very expensive, so you needn’t spend a fortune to take advantage of an extremely useful tool.

How do I prevent my drone from getting lost?

Many of the best drones for beginners come equipped with a built-in GPS device. Some even know how to automatically return to the pilot, say if they venture too far or they’re running on a low battery.

If your quadcopter lacks these features, stick it with a drone tracker. Two solutions are available:

  1. GPS trackers allow you to locate your drone anywhere in the world, provided there’s GSM reception, of course.
  2. RF trackers broadcast radio waves to be picked up by special receivers. Naturally, their range is limited to only a few miles.

Don’t miss: 5 Best Drone Trackers to Find Lost Drones

License: The text of "15 Best Drones for Beginners of 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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