With UAV technology making giant strides in the last couple of decades, the best mini drones are no more the exclusive preserve of professionals. Not only has the price of these miniature flying machines dropped hugely but they also come equipped with great features, rendering them easy to operate. You’ll come across a wide range of mini, nano, micro or small quadcopter or multirotor drones reinforced with highly advanced features.
Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a veteran drone pilot, you can bet you’ll derive immense pleasure flying and maneuvering these mini drones. The best mini or nano drones that fit comfortably in your palm have heavy-duty frames as well as feature state-of-the-art technologies. Since they are small, you can fly them indoors and also make them perform eye-popping stunts and maneuvers.
Read more: Best Drones for Beginners
Why Opt for a Mini Drone?
Mini or nano drones have become increasingly popular in the past few years, thanks to a sharp plummeting of their price. The best mini drones, these days, are not only quite affordable but come equipped with some versatile features and functionalities. Another good reason why mini drones have soared in popularity is that they can easily fit into your hand.
As a matter of fact, you can hold the best nano drones in the palm of your hand or put them comfortably inside your pocket. You can also conveniently pack and carry some models along with you nearly anywhere you want to as they are foldable. You will really enjoy flying these mini or nano drones both outdoors and indoors as you will be able to take eye-catching selfies, capture captivating images and footages, and unleash FPV racing.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll simply warm up to some awesome features such as LED lights, HD camera, and trim buttons (for mid-air spins). Most importantly, mini drones come in perfectly handy when it comes to honing your piloting or flying skills. The fact that you can conveniently control and maneuver a mini drone throughout its flight period makes it ideal for operators starting on the learning curve.
Since these drones cost quite less than professional or commercial models, they make wonderful gifts, especially for children, and youngsters.
What to Consider Before Choosing the Best Mini Drones?
The best mini drones now not only pack in an array of handy features but also are within reach of most individuals. Depending on the model you buy, the mini drone could feature HD camera, FPV capability, and highly advanced control functions. In case you are a novice, you’ll find many mini drones and quadcopters featuring high-resolution cameras, apt for recording short, quality videos and capturing impressive pictures.
You can also fly these drones inside your home or in tight enclosures that larger commercial UAVs cannot access. Moreover, most of the mini drones models can remain airborne for a minimum 5-10 minutes allowing you sufficient time to shoot footages or capture breathtaking images. Keep the following aspects in mind while you decide on which mini drone model to buy:-
If you wish to make the most of your drone flying experience, ensure that the quadcopter comes with superior control features. These days, majority of the mini drones can be maneuvered through a mobile app installed on your smartphone. The app establishes a connection with the drone via the phone’s GPS, enabling you to make the UAV fly and hover in a 360˚ angle.
Additionally, the sophisticated controls let you fly the drone high enough for facilitating aerial photography and videography. Furthermore, some models enable you to maneuver the flying machine from your smartphone with the help of FPV headset or goggles and a videogame-type controller.
Currently, several mini drone brands feature sophisticated camera functionalities that are generally found in larger, high-end commercial drones. Many quadcopters and multirotor drones have built-in 12-megapixel or 14-megapixel cameras with matching gimbals and lenses for capturing and recording vivid and riveting videos and images. Then again, there are various mini and nano drone models featuring cameras equipped with QuickShot technology, UltraSmooth, FaceAware technology, ActiveTrack technology, and numerous other high-resolution camera technologies.
Availability of spare parts
Mini drones, like their bigger counterparts more often than not develop operational issues which render them unusable. Therefore, you should ensure that the manufacturer stocks spare parts including rotors and batteries that serve as replacements. Rotors of mini quadcopters are highly vulnerable to breaking, and having spare blades ensure that your drone flying experience stays uninterrupted.
Make sure you buy a mini drone that has a functional or modular design. Simply put, a modularly designed mini drone comprises of discrete, prefabricated components that can be separately produced, altered, and replaced. By and large, the majority of modular mini drones are RTF (ready-to-fly) models that you can fly instantly without having to assemble the parts.
Additionally, if one or more rotors snaps or the motor of the RTF drone breaks down, you can easily the damaged or broken part.
Reviewing The Best Mini Drones 2020
|1. DBPower X 400W||4.3|
|2. Holy Stone F181C||4.2|
|3. Syma X5C||3.8|
|4. Altair Aerial 818 Hornet||4.3|
|5. UDI U818A HD Starter Drone||3.9|
|6. Contixo F3||3.3|
|7. Parrot Airborne Cargo MiniDrone –Mars||3.7|
|8. Holy Stone HS100 GPS FPV||4.5|
|9. Cheerson CX-10WD||3.8|
The DBPower X 400W, as per the amazon.com review, is “safe, easy and fun to fly” making “it possible for everyone to reach for the sky”. For a star, the DBPower MJXX400W comes equipped with an inbuilt #C4005 FPV high-resolution camera that facilitates the capturing of awe-inspiring aerial snapshots and videos. Taking advantage of the HD camera entails a very simple process.
You’ll first need to download the app “MJX H” on your smartphone and then link it with your drone’s camera. Thereafter, you’ll have to key in the smartphone settings, and make sure the Wi-Fi is activated for connecting to the Wi-Fi signal “MJX H”. After the camera is connected, you’ll be able to view the same images and footages that the UAV’s camera views through a real-time video feed to your phone via the app.
The ‘headless mode’ functionality makes for comfortable and trouble-free operation as the feature relieves you from worrying about orientation issues. Users, especially novice flyers and kids will find this feature very useful as the attribute allows controlling the drone’s direction. You’ll also enjoy making the DBPower X 400W flip and toss simply by pressing the trim or stunt button, and pushing the joystick in any direction or side.
And you’ll just have to press the ‘return’ button (while in headless mode) for making the drone fly back in the transmitter’s direction.
- Single key return and 3D flip
- Heavy-duty battery
- Real-time FPV transmission
- Companionable with 3D VR headset
- Headless mode
- Steady and smooth flight
- Minimal flying time
- FPV could lag slightly
- No gimbal for camera
The Holy Stone F181C is surely one of the best mini drones that you can operate as a beginner. The Holy Stone F181C is outfitted with HD camera and a host of other sophisticated features, and is also immensely affordable. You’ll simply love to fly this mini drone owing to its additional flight time, made possible because of a spare battery.
The extra battery is supplied to you free of cost and included in the package. You’ll find the additional battery handy as it takes about an hour and a half to fully recharge the battery. The drone’s LCD screen clearly displays the telemetry specifics including battery life, trim adjustments, and the range.
A simple pressing of the function button returns the mini drone to its base. You may not find this feature on other mini UAVs, particularly the inexpensive models. The high-resolution 2MP camera is capable of recording videos at a resolution of 720fps and capturing images of 1280 x 720 resolution.
The headless mode frees you from the worry of losing your drone and the altitude hold function ensures that the machine drifts at a constant height. You can make the drone flip to its right and left as well as forward and backward by pushing a knob. You can also make the flying machine roll continuously for a long time, thanks to the extra flying time offered by the two batteries.
The F181C has a range varying from 50m to 100m and a flight time of about 7-9 minutes.
- Ideal for aerial photography and videography
- Robustly built
- Flip function
- Return key
- Dual battery
- Efficient controller
- Somewhat noisy
- Camera gimbal is absent
- Flight time is not good
3. Syma X5C
The Syma X5C Quadcopter Drone with HD Camera is one of the most affordable mini drones that you will find. This mini drone can be flown both indoors and outdoors and is perfect for all age groups. One of the striking features of the X5C is the prop guard that keeps the drone perfectly safe during flight.
You also get a spare battery (500mAh, 3.7v) which together with the installed battery offers you 8 minutes of flying time. The drone features a 2MP HD camera that captures amazing aerial photographs and footages in bird’s eye view. The X5C also comes integrated with a 6-axis gyro stabilization mechanism that helps in sustaining flight stability and versatility.
The drone has a simple yet aesthetically appealing design and comes with advanced features for aerial videography and photography. The X5C from Syma has a range of approximately 30 meters with a battery life and charging time of 7minutes and 1 hour respectively. The robust built of the drone means it can stomach some intense hits and tolerate rough performance.
Another aspect that you’ll definitely like about the X5C is that it flies smoothly and quietly. You get a spare set of propellers, 4GB SD card, operation manual, micro-SD card reader, transmitter, screwdriver, and a 500mAh battery with a USB charger.
- Silent operation
- Stable flight
- Supremely affordable
- Extra battery and propellers
- Easy to operate
- Solid construction
- Low flight time
- Controller is not robustly built
- Battery flap or door is not durable
You get two batteries with Altair Aerial 818 Hornet which means you can fly the drone for a full 15 minutes. Most mini drones offer you a flight time of 5-7 minutes which makes this drone stand out. The altitude hold functionality which enables to drone to maintain a steady flight is a feature that kids will definitely like.
On the other hand, single key take off and landing makes the drone easy to operate. The 818 Hornet comes with three distinct controller settings which helps pilots at various levels of the learning curve, comfortably maneuver the drone. Its puny size also makes it ideal for flying indoors and in tight spaces.
The HD camera allows you to clearly view everything in FPV mode that the drone sees. The high-resolution camera with a 120˚ wide-angled lens lets you capture stunning videos and photos. The ‘headless mode’ makes sure that you do not need to worry about the drone’s orientation.
- Highly effective HD camera perfect for shooting footages and taking pictures
- Hard-wearing and extremely capable of taking some hits
- Three levels of speed- beginner, medium, and advanced
- The drone’s price plummeted to a considerable extent recently
- Outstanding customer service
- Battery life is limited (however, the inclusion of a free spare battery helps you get around the problem)
- Low flight time
If you’re looking for a mini drone that does not burn a hole in your pocket, then the UDI RCU818A is your best. Priced under $60, the UDI RC U818A is one of the best starter drones that both kids and amateur adult operators can make good use of. The drone comes with dual batteries, 4GB micro-SD card, and a power bank-versatile features missing in most low priced mini UAVs.
The U818A Discovery RC Drone comes with a built-in 720p HD camera, eminently suitable for capturing striking pictures and footages in bird’s eye view. It features a 6-axis gyroscope that keeps the drone steady while it captures photos and videos. This starter or beginner drone for adults and kids features a headless functionality which adjusts the machine as per the operator’s position.
The camera drone has inbuilt LED lights that flash and glow automatically when the battery charge is low. The controller allows you to maintain two different speed levels. The drone flies for an incredible 18 minutes when the batteries are fully charged; another unique feature that majority of cheap drones do not offer.
- Stable flight
- Heavy-duty motor
- Can resist and tolerate hits
- Ideal for amateur drone pilots
- Vulnerable to drifts during cyclones or hurricanes
- Unwieldy size: You’ll need a backpack or appropriate carry case for carrying the drone
6. Contixo F3
You’ll instantly fall for the Contixo F3 mini drone for one good reason. The manufacturer of this drone promotes it as the world’s easiest quadcopter to fly. This mini video streaming, track-controlled drone, featuring G-sensor control functions is incredibly easy to operate and control. You can use your smartphone or tab for maneuvering this drone as well as map the route on the device’s screen which will send the flying machine to your desired target.
The touch-screen display of your smartphone also lets you control the route or path of the drone via the G-sensor control. You can use hand gestures for controlling the drone’s direction, and the altitude hold functionality keeps the flying machine hovering at your desired height. As you need to keep the drone stable while it takes quality photos and footages, this feature comes in perfectly handy.
Another feature that beginners will definitely like is the HD FPV video camera that offers first-person view and records aerial photos and videos in 720p. The 2.4G four channel 6-axis gyro facilitates the flying of multiple Contixo F3s in formation. A simple single touch of a button makes for smooth take offs and landings.
- Advanced flight features
- Both adults and kids can easily operate the drone
- Robust built
- Breathtaking aesthetics
- A tad noisy
- App can get buggy
- Wind tolerance capacity is low
Of all the mini drones reviewed in this article, the Parrot Airborne Cargo MiniDrone was found to be the most affordable. This mini drone costs less than $20; though it’s sound unbelievable but it’s a fact. One benefit of opting for this drone that you’ll surely warm up to is that you’ll not require FAA registration for owning or flying it.
The Parrot Airborne Cargo appears pleasing to the eyes and is nimble enough to carry a payload of VGA mini camera with 480×640 resolutions. The drone’s sturdy design makes it highly shock and impact resistant, allowing it to perform stunts and acrobatics. It comes with built-in compartments that allow it to carry small items and objects as well as has a platform for tethering objects such as blocks.
You can maneuver and control the drone’s flight from start to end by downloading the free Flight Mini app to your tab or smartphone. The detachable lithium-polymer 550mAh battery recharges in just 25 minutes and offers a flight time of 9 minutes.
- Advanced flight features
- Easy to use: Can be conveniently operated by both children and adults
- Attractively designed
- Wind tolerance is an issue
- Low quality camera
- Flight time is nothing to write home about
The HS100 GPS FPV RC Drone with 1080p HD camera is one of the best mini drones, offering an amazing flight time of 15 minutes. The HS100 from Holy Stone is not only visually appealing but also packs in a host of versatile features. For a start, the GPS feature furnishes you with accurate details of your drone’s location.
Then again, the optimized 1080p 120˚ wide-angled FPV, FOV, Wi-Fi camera can be moved in 90˚ arcs for freezing awesome aerial snaps and videos. You take pleasure in viewing striking images and footages in real-time on your smartphone or tab that can be used to control the drone. The inbuilt RTH (return to home) feature ensures that your HS 100 always comes back to you even if it is out of range.
The drone automatically flies back home when signal is faint or battery charge is low. The follow-me mode makes the drone pursue you mechanically always keeping you under its watch. You can exploit this function for capturing selfies as well as for hands-free flying.
The ultra-powerful 2500mAh battery enables the mini drone to fly and hover up to a height of 500m for an incredible 15 minutes at a stretch. Other noteworthy features
- Comes with spares for almost every component (except battery)
- RTH capability
- Powerful 1080p HD camera with FPV, FOV
- 15 minutes flying time
- Flying range: 500m
- Built-in altitude stabilizing function
- Follow-me mode
- App and 3D VR compatible
- Battery takes an inordinately long time to charge
- Not quite user-friendly
- Synching and pairing the drone can tire you out
The Cheerson CX-10WD-TX Mini Drone is another supremely affordable flying machine that is extremely small yet packs in a host of functional features. Talking about its size, it is so tiny that you can fit in at least a couple in the palm of your hand. You can effortlessly control the CX-10WD from your Apple or Android phone.
You can push the throttle stick or joystick either to your right or left and make the drone fly at two different speeds. As you let go of the throttle once you have used it, the drone adjusts its height automatically and hovers at the adjusted height. Beginners will find the single key take-off and landing as well as the 6-axis gyro stabilizing system extremely convenient.
The drone exploits 2.4 GHz RC (radio control) technology which reinforces it with potent anti-interference capability.
- Comes with 4 extra blades
- Single touch take off and landing
- 6-axis gyro
- Height-holding capability
- Comes in an attractive carry case
- Fully compatible with state-of-the-art smartphones
- Low quality camera with poor resolution
- Average flying time
- Non-detachable battery
In case you’re a beginner, seriously considering purchasing your first mini, micro or nano drone, you could be spoilt for choice. On one hand, you’ll find that the best mini drones come equipped with some highly versatile features like HD camera, gyroscope, single key take off and landing. And on the other, you’ll have a hard time deciding which model to choose that will be in consonance with your needs and preferences.
In order to have it easy choosing the mini drone that best serves your purpose, go for a preassembled or RTF model. Selecting a RTF model ensures that you can operate the drone straightaway without having to assemble any component or part. Additionally, make sure the drone comes with features that enable you to smoothly control the device from your phone or tablet. To say the last but not the least, buy a model for which spare parts are easily available with the OEM or third-parties.