The best drones of 2019 (Drone Gift Guide)
Looking to buy a drone but have no clue where to begin or start researching? You aren’t alone. There are so many specs to take into consideration such as the size, camera, portability, price, handling, and more. Use this guide to help you navigate.
There are few things as exciting as flying a drone. Since before the invention of the airplane, humans have wanted to take to the skies to get a new perspective on our world. Of course, it’s far more cost-efficient to buy a drone than learn how to fly a plane.
When the first drones hit the consumer market, we were satisfied with any camera it came with, nearly regardless of image quality. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way. Of course, drones were originally developed for use by governments and the military. Similar to other technologies, this opened the floodgates of innovation, putting drones in a position of perpetual improvement.
And we certainly aren’t complaining. From DIY drone building kits to professional drones that cost tens of thousands of dollars (and more), there’s a drone for anything and everything. Like any other consumer technology field, there are multiple options to cater to users of all abilities:
Best drones for beginners
The term “beginner” can refer to a variety of skill levels. Likewise, there are a variety of drone options for beginners. You could go for ultra-beginner, opting for a super small, palm-sized device that comes with its own mini controller. Even if you go for a bigger drone, keeping a lower price might be the best option.
Best drones for tech enthusiasts
This level of drones spans a massive variety. On one hand, you can upgrade to a drone that gives you a little more control than a beginner but doesn’t require an exceptional skill. Or, perhaps you just want a better camera. Tech enthusiasts have so many drone options to choose from, with names like DJI, Parrot, and more.
Best drones for professionals
While having all the bells and whistles is certainly desirable, having such a high-tech drone is probably a bit too much tech for the average consumer. They’re large because they house an impressive amount of technology. As a result, they aren’t really travel-friendly, even if it’s just down the block or for a weekend away. That said, they’re armed with impressive camera gear, letting them produce professional-level footage even in the skies.
Even with an understanding of what drones can offer, there are still plenty of products to navigate. Here are all the best drones of 2019 so you can find a drone for whoever you’re shopping for (including yourself!).
DJI Mavic Mini Compact Handheld Drone
When it comes to the name DJI, you’re probably imagining a hefty drone. But with the Mavic Mini, that’s not the case. This impressively compact drone weighs just 249 grams, just a half a pound. As a result, it doesn’t require registration with the FAA. Perfect for beginners as well as experienced flyers, it captures 12-megapixel photos and 2.7K Quad HD video. When you’re on the go, the entire drone folds down to fit just about anywhere.
Skydio 2 Autonomous Drone
What’s the only thing better than a drone a great camera? A drone with six great cameras. Skydio 2 uses all these cameras to produce a whopping 200-degree field of view so you can truly capture everything around you. Likewise, it offers 45MP of visual sensing. This translates to truly impressive resolution and clarity in all of your photos and videos. To support all this, Skydio 2 comes with the NVIDIA Jetson TX2, a 256-GPU processor. And the drone can communicate with the remote up to 3.5 km away, giving you unprecedented access.
Parrot Mambo FPV Camera Drone
Part of the excitement of having a drone with a camera is that you can capture scenes that most humans don’t get to see. With the Parrot Mambo, you can do that in real-time. This drone has three different modes to suit a variety of users. But it also comes with a headset so you can see what your done sees while it’s happening. Easy mode is great for beginners, while Drift mode is for those with a bit more experience. For those wanting to add some excitement, you can turn on Racing mode for total control of this FPV drone.
Autel Robotics EVO Compact Foldable Drone
Even if you don’t know the exact specs you need in a drone, you know you need a great camera. The EVO Drone, while superbly compact thanks to its foldable design, delivers equally superb photos and videos. It delivers 4K 60fps ultra HD video as well as 12MP photos. You’ll love to take it on all your adventures as it also travels up to 45mph. The remote is complete with a 3.3-inch OLED display so you can easily navigate no matter where you are. This comes in pretty handy considering the drone can go as far as 4.3 miles away while you can still change camera settings.
Krossblade SkyProwler 2 VTOL Transformer UAV
If you’re an experienced drone pilot looking for a little more, check out the SkyProwler 2. It’s a VTOL Transformer UAV. In layman’s terms, it has a single rear-mounted propeller it uses in fixed-wing mode. This instantly tucks the propellers in to reduce wind resistance. In this mode, you can go as fast as 80 miles per hour. Or, if you want to make it even lighter and easier to control, you can remove the rotors and wings altogether. Featuring a carbon fiber body, the SkyProwler 2 gives you up to 60 minutes of flight time in fixed-wing mode.
Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV Drone
Combining power, convenience, and portability is the Bebop 2 Power. An advanced quadcopter from Parrot, this drone comes with two batteries so you can swap them out while you’re on the go. Each battery offers 30 minutes of flying, providing you with a full hour in the air. And swapping is a total breeze so you don’t miss a thing. Featuring a new flight assistance system, the Bebop 2 Power makes it easy to explore the skies and capture the action as you go. And the drone comes with an FPV headset so you can see what your drone sees, all in real-time. In sport mode it can reach 40 miles per hour, giving you a total rush while you wear the headset.
SwellPro Spry Waterproof Drone
One of the most exciting footage to capture with a drone is going where humans can’t: hovering above the water. Of course, along with hovering comes the chance of a big wave or loss of control. Luckily, with the SwellPro Spry, that doesn’t matter. This drone is fully waterproof so it doesn’t matter if a little ocean spray comes its way. Best of all, it even floats so you are sure to be able to retrieve it. Armed with a 4K camera, you’ll love the footage this drone can capture. From those who swim in unchartered waters to those who live on a yacht, the SwellPro Spry delivers the clarity in photos and videos that you crave.
DJI Spark Mini Drone
Want the power of DJI without the price tag that usually comes with it? Check out the DJI Spark Mini Drone. It’s a great drone for those just starting out as it takes just a tap of the button to begin to fly. Along with this, the powerful camera actually tracks the subjects in its view. With this, the drone can follow you anywhere you go, ensuring you’re always in the frame. Likewise, with QuickShot, you can instantly capture a photo while it’s recording and not switching modes. If all of that wasn’t impressive enough, this wonderful drone can respond to your gesture for truly impressive control.
Tello Small Toy Drone
Have zero experience with flying a drone? The Tello Small Toy Drone from DJI is a fantastic place to start. This drone is really easy to use, even for beginners. The controller even holds your smartphone in place so you can get a live view of the camera onboard. In addition, Tello can flip in eight different directions, providing a whole lot of fun for users of all abilities. All of this comes with the flying power of DJI for effortlessly stable flights. For those really wanting to learn, Tello helps you learn about drones and coding for a more thorough understanding.
DJI Mavic Air Folding 4K Drone
The Mavic Air drone from DJI is the brand’s solution to power and affordability. As part of the Mavic line, you get all the professional elements you’d expect such as incredible control, a great camera, and a sleek design to go along with it. The Mavic Air is just a step below the high-end professional Mavic Pro. With SmartCapture technology, it’s easy to fly the drone with just simple hand gestures. Likewise, the DJI app on your smartphone gives you an FPV of the drone. During your 21-minute flight, you can produce breathtaking 32MP panoramas with stunning clarity. Of course, it’s totally portable so you can bring it anywhere and everywhere.
Parrot Anafi Flying 4K HDR Camera
The Parrot Anafi is much less a drone and more like a flying 4K HDR camera. Launching from the palm of your hand, this drone can tilt vertically at 180° to give your footage a whole new perspective. Plus, it achieves a 2.8X lossless zoom so you can capture everything in total clarity. Or, use the Dolly Zoom effect for another layer of exciting footage. Anafi as AI embedded inside so it can even capture footage on an automated flight. Flights last as long as 25 minutes and the controller works up to four kilometers away. When it’s time to pack up for the day, the drone folds down to a truly compact size.
Skydio R1 Self Flying Video Camera
Another fantastic option for those with a focus on photos and videos, the Skydio R1 is a self-flying device. Simply place it in the air and swipe up on the app to let it instantly take off. Using artificial intelligence, Skydio R1 is able to sense, detect, and even avoid obstacles in its path. It’s a great drone for those with active lifestyles, such as cyclists wanting to record their adventures. With several modes to choose from, it gives you a full highlight reel of all the best footage. As soon as it lands, it bundles up the footage for instant online sharing.
Must-have drone accessories:
If you’re already the proud owner of a great drone, there are still ways to make it even better. These accessories will help you fly more smoothly, capture better footage, and keep your drone in great condition.
DJI Smart Drone Controller
Made for DJI drones, the Smart Drone Controller features an ultra-bright 5.5-inch 1080p display. You can see the display in just about any viewing conditions, including direct sunlight. Along with that, it switches transmission from 2.4 and 5.8 GHz as needed so you’ll never deal with interference.
Moment Air Anamorphic Drone Accessories
What’s the point of a great drone if it only captures okay footage? Moment Air is a set of anamorphic drone accessories that will give you better footage. Made for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom, the collection includes a lens, filter, and case that reduces flare and glare.
Lowepro QuadGuard Backpack
With all this gear, you’re going to need a way to carry it all. Enter the Lowepro QuadGuard. Already a well-known brand in the photography world, the QuadGuard has enough space for two drones and all your accessories inside the fully padded backpack.
Piloting a drone gives you an experience like no other device. You can see the world like never before, explore places humans can’t reach, and record your adventures while keeping yourself in the frame. Do you already have a favorite drone? Or do you have any must-have drone accessories? Let us know in the comments!