Those miniature flying machines, aka UAVs or drones that you see hovering all around, have captured the public imagination in an unprecedented manner. There’s hardly any commercial or industrial segment left that is yet to take advantage of drones. From the agriculture to the insurance sector and from the firefighting to the real estate industry, nearly all commercial segments have taken to drones in a big way.
There are a good number of reasons why drones have become immensely popular with the different sectors of the economy. Drones, like their bigger brethren, including helicopters and airplanes, are fully capable of carrying hi-tech payloads such as infrared cameras, gyroscope, and accelerometer, and so on. Drone technology has made rapid strides in the past few years and is evolving at a fast pace, thereby enabling businesses to accomplish tasks that were hitherto done by humans.
The fact that high-end commercial drones can quickly capture high-quality aerial photos and footages of a vast area comes in handy for professionals engaged in different trades. So, if you’re thinking of buying a drone, you’ll come across near-endless models suitable for commercial or recreational use. And be in the know that there is a learning curve associated with operating drones, i.e., you’ll need to have sufficient professional experience for taking advantage of a commercial drone.
Therefore, if you’re purchasing a drone for the first time, you’d be better choosing a model for beginners. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that drones for beginners, nowadays not only come equipped with versatile features but are also easy to operate and eminently affordable. But as a novice, you might be at your wits’ end in figuring out which model would be apt for you.
How to Choose the Best Drones for Beginners
Drones may appear simple, apparently speaking, but the technology associated with these miniature flying machines is remarkably complex. The majority of commercial drones that you’ll come across tend to be multirotor or quadcopters. That is, they have more than two blades or rotors. Even the best toy drones or beginner drones these days feature at least two pairs of rotors.
You’ll find many toy quadcopters or multirotor that are very much within your budget and capable of being operated out-of-the-box. There are specific factors that you should keep in mind while you’re in the process of picking and choosing a product suitable for a novice. Bear in mind the following aspects before you finally make up your mind to buy a drone that would be ideal for a beginner.
Ensure whether you’d have to register your UAV with the FAA
You’d surely want to get a kick out of flying your toy drone. Now, as long as your drone hovers or flies indoors, you enjoy complete peace of mind. It is when you take your drone outdoors to fly it like a pro that all kinds of troubles crop up.
Presumably, there will be many others like you operating or flying their UAVs or drones. You’d have to keep your drone out of the harm’s way, which implies that you will have to abide by safe flying rules and regulations. To be precise, you’ll have to be very careful about not contravening or breaching your country’s airspace regulations.
You’ll also have to see to it that your flying machine does not send your neighbors or onlookers scurrying for safety. You may have to consider registering with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) if you stay in the US. You can look up the regulatory body or authority that frames aviation rules in your home country.
FAA policy requires that you’d need to register your aircraft or flying machine if it weighs over 250g (0.55lbs) and within 25kg (55lbs). However, if you’re opting for a low-priced toy drone (that generally does not include advanced features), you may not have to register the same. The reason is that most drones for beginners, by and large, weigh under 0.55lbs
Always go for an RTF model
Always go for an RTF or ready-to-fly drone when it comes to buying a beginner model. RTF models come in packages that are ready to fly out of the box. In other words, you would not need to assemble any parts or components before your drone is ready to take off.
You’d have to charge the battery fully and then switch on the craft for making it fly. Steer clear of the ARF (almost ready to fly) and BNF (bind-and-fly) models that call for having a good level of experience for operating.
Should be easy to operate and handle
Manufacturers of toy drones design their products in an innovative manner, which makes it supremely easy for you to operate them. Not only do the beginner drones take off soon after you use the transmitter, but they also maintain a stable flight. Toy drones are remarkably maneuverable, rendering it easy for operators to control them.
Should be durable
The terminology ‘toy drones’ or beginner drones should not trick you into believing that they’re flimsy. The construction of premium models is from hardy materials that enable them to withstand wear and tear and the vagaries of weather. Yes, these models are a tad expensive, but they’re worth investing your money in, particularly if you’re looking to put the drone to a good advantage. After all, you get what you pay for.
Spare parts should be readily available
One significant aspect you should keep in mind is that your toy drone’s parts could suffer damage or may break during your practice sessions. You’ll have to take it for granted that there will be minor mishaps and disasters while you’re on your way to become a professional operator.
The components of a drone that are most vulnerable to damage or breaking are the rotors and battery. Hence, make sure that you choose a model whose manufacturer is promoting the product or products with the assurance that spares will be easily available from OEM or third-parties.
If you’re expecting your beginner drone to fly as long as the large, commercial drones, then you are in for a rude shock.
Outdoors or indoors?
While the majority of drones for beginners have been designed to fly and hover indoors (for safety), some models can soar outdoors as well. The structure and size of drones built for indoors obviously differ from those designed for flying in the open. Now, whether you’d go for drones made exclusively for flying indoors or both in enclosed spaces and outdoors is a matter of personal preference.
Best Drones for Beginners – Top 5 Product Reviews
The Syma X5C-1, an upgraded and more advanced version of the X5C quadcopter drone, is surely one of the best drones for beginners. The X5C-1 is not only loaded with a range of unbeatable features but also eminently affordable, costing under US$45.00. This hi-tech drone comes outfitted with an HD camera that enables us to capture breathtaking aerial photos and videos.
The UAV also features a 6-axis gyroscope that allows it to soar smoothly and hover steadily for the entire duration of its flight. You can maneuver the Syma X5C-1 in the left, right, upwards, downwards, forward and backward directions. The drone is reinforced with spread spectrum technology that makes it respond to the transmitter even when it is at a good distance from you.
The technology also enables the drone to consume minimal power while it is in operation. Another feature you’ll surely warm up to is its 360˚ rolling capability.
- Equipped with high-resolution HD camera; fully capable of capturing aerial images and footages with a bird’s eye view
- 6-axis gyroscope comes in handy for keeping the drone steady during flights
- Highly resistant to strong winds and gusts
- Capable of flying both indoors and outdoors
- You can make the drone rotate in any direction in a 360˚ arc
- The modular structure of the drone means it can be disassembled easily for maintaining the components as well as assembled conveniently
- The transmitter allows you to control the drone using your right or left hand
- Battery life is poor, and it takes an inordinately long time to charge
- Users will feel the absence of extra flight modes
- Flight time is nothing to write home about; 5-7 minutes
- The absence of altitude control function implies that you have to keep your hand on the throttle for height stabilization
The Holy Stone HS 100 GPS FPV comes at a price but then offers good value for money. The HS 100 GPS FPV drone is packed to the hilt with a host of useful features that novice operators will simply love to take advantage of. For instance, the UAV comes equipped with an optimized 1080P 120˚ FOP FPV Wi-Fi Camera that can be adjusted perpendicularly.
The camera is competent in freezing and recording high quality aerial snapshots and videos with a bird’s eye view. FPV functionality means you can view the images and footages in real-time just as the drone views it. GPS capability lets you know your drone’s exact position or location throughout the flight period. FOV (Field of View) feature comes to your aid when you need to capture the best moments of your holiday or vacation.
The Holy Stone HS 100 will follow you like your shadow wherever you go and record your every moment, thanks to the ‘Follow Me’ mechanism. Unlike most other beginner drones, the HS100 GPS FPV offers you a flight time of 15 minutes. The drone also comes with an extremely powerful battery, allowing you to retain full control up to a distance of 500m.
- GPS lets you know the drone’s exact location; you don’t need to worry about losing your drone
- The drone returns to base automatically when battery power is low or does not receive signal
- 1080P HD camera lets you view crystal clear pictures and footages in real-time
- The altitude hold function lets the drone hover at a fixed altitude or height
- You can make the drone take off or land simply by pressing a button
- The drone can be controlled smoothly from your smartphone or tablet
- It takes about 3-5 hours for fully charging the battery which could discourage many enthusiastic operators
- An extra or spare battery would have made the HS 100 more popular
The Z1 Foldable Drone from the renowned drone manufacturer SYMA is another premium toy drone that novice operators will love to fly. The drone features a robust 720P HD camera that can be rotated at 90˚ angles, which in turn enables it to click top-quality footages and photographs, including selfies. The first-person-view transmission system means you can view images on your control device’s screen at the same time as the drone.
The Syma Fly app allows you smooth and effective control over the Z1. The App also lets you make the drone perform acrobats and stunts-all you need to do is simply press a button. Another practical feature of the Z1 you will certainly find remarkably handy is its innovative design. The entire Z1 can be folded along with its propellers, thereby enabling you to carry the UAV with ease.
Its foldability means that you can even put it inside your trouser pocket if you so wish. The ‘Syma Fly’ app lets you create the drone’s flight path or route on the controller’s screen just with your fingertips. Once you map out the route, the drone will automatically follow that path, thereby making hands-free operation possible.
- 720P HD Camera together with FPV live streaming allows you to view real-time representations and footages
- The exclusive apps control functionality (compatible with both Android and iOS) lets you make the most of RC flying
- Optical flow positioning feature lets you establish the exact position of the drone
- Gravity sensor mode allows you to swing and fly the drone in various directions
- Headless mode function makes the drone fully operable via the remote
- Low flight time
- Not very resistant to strong winds
- May not remain stable at low altitudes
The DJI Mavic Mini, as its name indicates, is a small and compact toy drone packed with practical features, which makes it immensely powerful. The Mavic Mini features a versatile built-in 12MP camera that clicks high quality pictures and 2.7k Quad HD footages. The drone comes with a brand new and innovative DJI Fly app that lets you develop movie-style shots simply by tapping a few times.
The Mavic Mini also offers you a flight tutorial that enables you to pick up the basics of operating the drone safely and speedily. The camera is tethered to a 3-axis mechanical gimbal that keeps the former steady, thereby facilitating the capturing of high-quality footages and snaps. The GPS, together with the downward vision receptive mechanism, lets the drone hover and soar smoothly both outdoors and indoors.
The extremely intuitive remote controller is capable of displaying footages captured by the drone up to a distance of 4km. You can remove the control sticks and store them safely inside the controller while you carry the contraption.
- Comes with a two-way charging console that can charge up to three batteries simultaneously
- The charging hub can also be used for storing and transporting batteries
- The Mavic Mini is delivered to you in a sturdy mini bag
- Weighs less than 250g; registering with FAA is not mandatory
- Exceptional flight time of up to 30 minutes
- QuickShot picture and video capturing modes lending illustrations a cinematic quality
- Does not have object tracking
- Video enthusiasts will feel the absence of 2.6 k or 4k 60fps video recording functionality
The Eachine E33W Wi-Fi FPV Quadcopter Drone comes in perfectly handy for those who wish to hone their UAV flying skills. This quadcopter from Eachine has a built-in HD FPV camera that captures striking aerial photographs and footages, allowing you to see the same in real-time. The headless mode automatically adjusts the craft’s position before takeoff, thus freeing you from the need to do it manually.
The one-key return capability makes the drone return to base on its own, thereby relieving you from the worry of losing your aircraft. The 6-axis gyro stabilization system offers you full control over the drone, and also helps maintain flight stability. You can make the UAV go forward, backward, hover it up and down, and let it move leftward and rightward.
You also make the aircraft roll 360˚simply by pressing a button on the controller. The Eachine E33W comes with bright LED lights that enable you to see your drone at night even from a good distance.
- Built-in HD camera that can be adjusted for capturing FPV images and videos
- Three levels of flight velocity
- Single-key return ensures that you never lose track of your drone
- Headless mode lets you control the aircraft with the remote
- 6-axis gyro for flight stability
- Weighs 396 g; registration with FAA compulsory
- Takes about an hour to fully charge the battery for getting a flight time of 8 minutes
- No spare battery
The Altair Aerial 818 Hornet Beginner Drone offers you a full 15 minutes of flight time that very few toy drones can match. Altair Aerial is supplying two extra batteries with the package, thereby ensuring your additional flight time. The altitude hold function ensures that the drone remains stable at a preset height. The single button takeoff and landing makes that sure kids have it easy while controlling and maneuvering the drone.
The Aerial 818 Hornet Beginner Drone comes with three levels of control which helps operators at different stages of the learning curve, maneuver the craft. Headless mode lets you supervise the drone with the remote control.
- The 120˚ wide-angle 720p HD camera can capture awe-inspiring videos and photos with bird’s eye-view
- 30 minutes of flight time with additional batteries
- One-touch takeoff and landing
- Headless mode
- Altitude hold
- Battery life is limited, but it has been more than compensated for with additional batteries
- Skill level selector and trim buttons embedded at the controller’s back could make operating the craft somewhat problematic
Those who are just starting with flying a drone will surely warm up to the Holy Stone HS170 Predator, thanks to its resourceful features. For a start, the HS170 Predator allows beginners to control the UAV at three distinct speed levels. This functionality enables them to graduate smoothly from one level of the learning curve to another with ease.
The headless mode offers huge confidence to children and beginners as they can manage the flight and movements of the craft easily with the remote. The 6-axis gyroscope stabilization system makes the drone perform stunts and acrobats with effectiveness. The colorful and bright LED lights keep the drone fully visible at nighttime.
- Headless mode helps operators at different stages of learning, fly the drone with confidence
- 6-axis gyro keeps the UAV stable, especially when it is performing acrobatics
- 4Ghz technology supports anti-inference
- Wind resistant
- LED lights to keep the drone visible in the dark or at night
- Does not have a camera for taking pictures and recording footages
- Low flight time
- Low battery life
If you are new to flying drones and wish to sharpen your UAV operation skills, then look no further than the Altair Aerial AA108 Camera Drone. The Aerial AA108 has a powerful 720P camera capable of capturing pictures at 120˚ wide angles. Single-key takeoff and landing, altitude hold, and headless mode features help the operator to supervise the UAV comfortably. The drone comes with a ‘custom route mode’ functionality that lets you chart the craft’s flight path on the controller’s (smartphone or tab) screen.
Once you have charted the route, the drone will automatically stick to your designated flight path.
- Ready to fly out of the box
- Single touch takeoff and landing
- Altitude control function
- Headless mode makes flying the drone easy
- Powerful HD camera
- Additional flight time, thanks to the extra batteries
- Hardy construction
- The port or slot for the micro SD card is somewhat fiddly, making it troublesome to insert or pull out the card
- The battery charging cable is a tad short
So, there you have it-eight of the best drones suitable for those who are new to flying UAVs. All the toy or beginner drones reviewed in this guide, have the basic features while some of them come equipped with advanced features like high-resolution cameras, gyroscope, and extended flight time. At the same time, most of these drones are supremely affordable (except 2-3 models), and their manufacturers supply spare parts.
Another aspect you’ll surely like is that the majority of the drones weigh below 250g, which relieves you from the hassle of having to register your drone with FAA or other aviation authorities.