A. FAA guidelines state that a pilot must maintain visual contact with the drone at all times. There is also a maximum height restriction of 400 feet. If a drone flies out of controller range, it should have the ability to return to a programmed home location. Some advanced drones can send back real-time video data to the controller, but most consumer-level models don’t have that capability.
While DJI may be the first name you think of when it comes to drones, it isn't the only game in town. You can also look at models from Autel Robotics, Parrot, PowerVision, and Yuneec. Others have dabbled in the consumer drone space and exited quickly—GoPro pulled its Karma after a rocky launch and poor sales, and 3D Robotics tried to get in with the Solo, but also gave up the fight to focus on the industrial and enterprise spaces.

You can pair the Tello with a third-party gamepad controller, but it’s easy enough to fly using the simple, intuitive Tello app. Thanks to its link with DJI (the Tello’s flight controller is made by the drone manufacturer), it’s a great ‘first drone’ for kids or adults looking for a learner model to practice on before moving to a bigger quadcopter like the the DJI Mavic Air.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive drone that’s a little more advanced than the beginner offerings on this list, the Altair Aerial Blackhawk is an excellent choice – the perfect drone for the pilot that already has a GoPro camera or is wanting to customize their quadcopter with an action camera. This drone is extremely stable and durable, which makes it great for aerial photography. However, its best features are a flight time of 15 minutes and a range of 300 meters – otherwise unheard of at this price range. If you already have some experience with quadcopters and want something that’s fast, fun to fly, and offers long range at a low price, the Altair Blackhawk is the perfect drone for you!
While it may be slightly more expensive than the previous drone we've already looked at, the Yanni Syma X5UW is quite possibly a top beginner drone currently on the market. As one of the few cheap drones with FPV capabilities, the Yanni by Syma is a great drone for the tech junkie and VR enthusiast alike. With its downloadable app, "SYMA GO", flying is both simple and fun. By drawing a route on the screen with your fingertips, the drone's autopilot will read it and follow the given path. This is possibly one of the best features of the Yanni Syma, as it is a drone that can be flown without the aid of a transmitter.

It can take aerial shots with the altitude hold function, accessed by releasing the throttle. The drone hovers in place to get the shot. If you’re first starting out, you can operate it in headless mode to get a better idea of what it can do. It has a one-key return, and you can even perform aerial tricks and flips once you’ve mastered necessary controls.
A flight time of 15 minutes or more makes the DROCON Bugs 3 a very attractive proposition. It's not the easiest to learn, but once you've got the hang of it, performance is excellent. So why isn't it in our best five? It's designed to carry GoPro action cameras (or similar). If you've got one, it's worth the investment. If you haven't, it's an expensive toy.
There’s a reason you see DJI’s Inspire showing up everywhere from movie sets to Enrique Iglesias concerts — it’s a beast. The Inspire 2 boasts some seriously impressive specs: a controllable range of up to 4.3 miles, a top speed of 67 miles per hour, forward obstacle avoidance, and all the stabilization and autopilot features you could ever ask for in a drone. But the camera is definitely the star of the show.
Lead camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at retailer B&H... See Full Bio
One of the cheaper options for an autopilot drone is the Hubsan H501S. It doesn’t have as many camera features as some of the more professional drones, but it is still equipped with some great auto features. It comes with a 1080p HD camera and has automatic return, altitude mode, and follow-me capabilities. It’s small, compact size makes it good for traveling and you get an average of 20 minutes of flying which is great for the price you’re paying. While more professional drone features are missing, you’re still getting a nice drone for less than $300.
While DJI may be the first name you think of when it comes to drones, it isn't the only game in town. You can also look at models from Autel Robotics, Parrot, PowerVision, and Yuneec. Others have dabbled in the consumer drone space and exited quickly—GoPro pulled its Karma after a rocky launch and poor sales, and 3D Robotics tried to get in with the Solo, but also gave up the fight to focus on the industrial and enterprise spaces.

The Tello is a brand new quadcopter from the world’s biggest drone company, and it retails for only $99 USD. Technically it’s a joint venture between DJI and Rize, but the important thing is that you’re getting a high-quality product for dirt cheap. A 5 Megapixel camera, 8 dimensional flips, a “throw and go” flight mode, and HD video can all be yours today – learn more by reading our full review here.
Unlike all of the other quadcopters on this list the manufacturer, Blade, has a very strong pedigree in radio controlled aircraft and because of that, Blade uses the DSM2 radio frequency standard. This is a key difference when compared to all the other quads on this list because if you have a DSM2 capable transmitter, you can fly using that rather than a lower quality transmitter the company would throw in.
Many autopilot drones come with multiple flight-modes. Common flight-modes seen in autopilot drones include a follow-me mode, sport mode, and one-touch takeoff and landing modes. They all serve different purposes and create different flight experiences. Follow-me modes allow the drone to follow you as you move and keep you in the frame. This enables you to create complex shots. Sport modes all your autopilot drone to go faster and follow targets such as cars or bikes. One-touch takeoff and landing are important flight modes as they allow for smooth landings and takeoffs with the push of a button. This is a great feature for beginners and pros alike.
Almost all of the models featured here have some safety features. Even the DJI Spark, which isn't built for long-distance flight, includes a GPS and automatic return-to-home functionality. If your control signal is interrupted, or if the battery gets down too low (most drones can only fly for about 25 minutes on a single battery charge), you drone will start to head back to its takeoff point and land.

You can pair the Tello with a third-party gamepad controller, but it’s easy enough to fly using the simple, intuitive Tello app. Thanks to its link with DJI (the Tello’s flight controller is made by the drone manufacturer), it’s a great ‘first drone’ for kids or adults looking for a learner model to practice on before moving to a bigger quadcopter like the the DJI Mavic Air.
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