The ultimate drone buying guide

From palm-sized quadcopters to huge video rigs, drones come in all shapes and sizes. But which one is right for you? Our drone buying guide will help you find the perfect flyer.

The ultimate drone buying guide
  • How much do drones cost? Anything from $50 to $20,000.
  • Do I need a license to fly a drone? Not in the US, unless you are a commercial pilot.
  • Which drone should I buy? You’ve come to the right place!

There are many reasons to buy a drone. Some pilots simply enjoy controlling a small aircraft. Other people use their drones as racing machines or flying cameras. No matter where your priorities lie — and what your budget might be — our drone buying guide will help you find the perfect match.

What are the best drones under $150?

If you’re just getting started, these budget drones should be on your shopping list.

Parrot Swing Drone with Flypad

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Parrot Swing Drone

Thanks to a unique cross-wing design, Parrot’s Swing Drone can perform awesome stunts at up to 19 mph. It also provides one-touch hover and take-off. (Price: $63.58 USD)

Jetjat Ultra Micro Drone

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Jetjat Ultra micro drone

Drones don’t come much smaller than than the Jetjat Ultra. This tiny quadcopter offers six-axis stabilization, and the built-in camera lets you capture high-quality videos and photos of every flight. (Price: $49.99 USD)

Bionic Bird Biomimetic Drone

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Bionic Bird drone

This beautiful drone looks exactly like a bird in flight, with lift produced by flapping wings. You control the Bionic Bird from your phone, and the drone can keep going for 12 minutes straight. (Price: $74.95 USD)

What are the best drones under $500?

While budget drones are fun, they often lack features such as GPS and HD video. Here are some affordable options that don’t cut corners.

DJI Spark Mini Drone

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DJI Spark drone

This entry model from DJI has a 1080p camera on a two-axis gimbal, with built-in stabilization and 15 minutes of flight time. The Spark also offers intelligent flight modes, gesture controls, and face tracking. (Price: $399 USD)

Yuneec Mantis Q Foldable 4K Travel Drone

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Yuneec Mantis Q

Thanks to a folding design, it’s possible to carry the Mantis Q in your backpack. In the air, this incredible machine offers 33 minutes of flight time and stunning 4K video capture. (Price: $499.99 USD)

What are the best drones under $1000?

Already in love with drones? Stretching your budget a little further opens up many benefits.

Parrot Anafi Flying 4K HDR Camera

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Parrot Anafi flying camera

This powerful quadcopter offers 4K HDR footage, with a 180-degree tilt gimbal and up to 2.8x lossless zoom. It’s also collapsible, with several AI flight modes for hands-free filming. (Price: $699 USD)

DJI Mavic Air Folding 4K Drone

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DJI Mavic Air

Another portable option is the DJI Mavic Air. Like its big brother (see below), this drone takes stunning 4K footage. In addition, the Mavic Air can stitch to get 32 photos for a perfect 32MP panorama. (Price: $799 USD)

What is the best drone available right now?

If money is no object, we would recommend DJI’s new Mavic drones.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro / Zoom Drones

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DJI Mavic 2 Pro

These brand new drones from DJI are fitted with incredible 48MP Hasselblad cameras. In addition, the Zoom version has a 2x optical zoom. They can both fly for 31 minutes with a top speed of 44mph, and you have endless intelligent flight modes to choose from. (Price: $1449 / $1249 USD)

Drone buying guide

We love drones here at the Gadget Flow. If you have taken any aerial photos or videos, we would love to see!

The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe ➜

Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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