All of these multirotors include the essentials; a battery, charger, remote (more commonly referred to as a transmitter), and of course the quadcopter itself. All of these are controlled using a standard mode 2 style transmitter with the throttle on the left and adjustable trim settings. They all also handle using the same basic control scheme and the same basic auto-leveling flight mode, but much like a car, they all feel distinctly different to control.
The best drone that you can get right now is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Aside from the very similar Mavic 2 Zoom, no other drone on the market offers a better mix of performance and portability. Despite being highly compact and easy to throw in a backpack, the Mavic 2 Pro boasts some of the best specs and features in the biz — including a Hasselblad camera, omni-directional obstacle avoidance, and a flurry of automated flight modes. If you’re looking for a go-anywhere, film-anything drone that you can fit inside a backpack, then look no further.
This is the drone you start with if you're worried about crashing. Thanks to flexible plastic and propellor protectors, you could drop this on the ground or fly into a wall without too much damage. It has a camera if you are just getting into drone photography, but we prefer this model as a starter quadcopter. Beware: when it has low battery, the drone tends to lose connection with the controller. This could become tragic if you've flown the drone over water.
Naturally, there are a couple of downsides to a drone being this small – it’s not particularly happy when flying in breezy conditions and the battery life is barely longer than ten minutes. Still, while the body is made of plastic, it’s tough enough so survive some crashes and, in the right conditions, the Tello is an impressively stable and responsive flyer.
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.
DJI’s latest Zenmuse cam, the X5S, is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera made specifically for aerial photography and cinematography. It shoots in 5.2K at 30 frames per second (or 4K at 60), takes 20.4 megapixel stills, and boasts a ridiculously wide ISO range of 100 – 25,600. As an added bonus, this rig is cradled inside a vibration dampened 3-axis gimbal, so your footage comes out silky smooth no matter how crazily you fly.
Despite the DJI Phantom 4 Pro being a few years old, it’s still one of the most popular auto-pilot drones amongst professional aerial photographers. The 1080p camera is great for capturing brilliant imagery. It’s larger than the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, and missing some of the extra camera features, but it’s still a solid professional autopilot drone. The Phantom has three flight modes that are easy to switch between. In Position Mode offers obstacle sensing, Sport Mode adds extra agility and higher speed. While in Sport Mode, the Phantom can reach 45mph speeds. Atti Mode is ideal for the most experienced pilots. It switches off satellite stabilization and hold’s the drone’s altitude, making for smoother footage. This a top choice for professional pilots.
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.