Recently, we published our shopping guide to the best drones for sale in 2021. However, we know that not everyone is ready to invest upward of $1,000 in a professional-quality drone. In this post, SPY editors and e-commerce journalist Jonathan Knoder will review the best drones for beginners.
There are two things you no longer need in order to capture excellent aerial camera footage: a helicopter or a $2,000 drone. There are plenty of drones for beginners that sport the capabilities to capture clear and steady camera footage at an affordable price. And if you’re too nervous to spend even $100 on a drone you feel you’ll crash, there are plenty of beginner drones with easy flight controls and self-landing features. No more throwing money away simply because you’re an inexperienced pilot.
What To Look For In A Drone
Beginners may not know what to look for in a quality drone. If you’re really new to flying drones (like, this is the first time you’ve seen a drone before) we suggest going with inexpensive kids’ models like the Potensic A20 or Holy Stone HS190. This way you can get a feel for flying and not be too devastated if you crash them.
But for those who want the most from a drone for beginners, you’ll want one with a 1080p camera (and hopefully you can upgrade it with your own down the line), so you can catch awesome aerial footage and photos (like seen above). Beginning pilots should also look for the following features:
- Headless Flight – The drone recognizes your controls regardless of the orientation (so, if you press right, the drone will go right)
- Return to Home – The drone will return to where it took off automatically. Some will do this on its own when the battery gets low or if it is out of range from the controller.
- Follow Me – The drone will follow a subject and keep it in frame. This is great for action shots and still frames of moving objects.
- Battery Life – You’ll want a drone with at least 15 minutes of flight time per battery. Anything longer is a plus, but often found in far more expensive drones.
The Best Drones for Beginners for Sale in 2021
Whether you want a drone to capture amazing footage, or you’re just looking for a fun, new hobby, there’s a drone out there for you. As you gain more experience, or if you are looking for something with a bit more professional capability, we have options below that fit that mold, too. It’s time to take flight and get a drone that’s right for you, regardless of skill level and price point. And if you
1. Ryze Tech Tello
For the amount of features and flying capabilities the Ryze Tech Tello offers, it is incredible that this drone is as affordable as it is. This device — part of DJI’s entry-level Tello line — provides the building blocks for novice pilots to learn, but on a premium-style drone. The Tello app supports Scratch, so new pilots can start to learn how to program and code, which will improve your movements and flying. When you’re up in the air, the drone captures steady 720p video for 13-15 minutes of flying time. This is the best drone for beginners that also doesn’t look, feel or fly like a beginner drone.
Ryze Tech Tello
2. Holy Stone HS160 Pro Foldable Drone
Holy Stone has a great arrangement of entry- and mid-level drones that are particularly friendly to beginners. The HS160 perfectly straddles the line between kiddie toy and adult hobbyist machine while not overwhelming you with features and tech you’re not ready for. The 1080p full-HD camera is great for both stills and videos, and you can enjoy the live feed on your smartphone from up to 80 meters away. Foldable and compact, it comes with fun features like voice control and gesture selfies along with one-key takeoffs and landings and headless mode. The Tap Mode lets you chart a custom course on your phone.
Holy Stone HS160 Pro Foldable Drone
3. Holy Stone 2K GPS FPV RC Drone
GREAT FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
This drone has a handful of features that first-time flyers will appreciate. You won’t have to worry about keeping your subject in focus with the follow-me mode that automatically follows the subject and keeps it in frame at all times. Also, if the battery gets low or the signal drops, it will automatically return to the take-off point, so you don’t have to worry about it falling from the sky. It has a wide 120-degree field of view as well as a 90-degree adjustable angle that optimal for capturing great video footage or still pictures.
Holy Stone 2K GPS FPV RC Drone
4. Ruko F11 Pro Drone
NEED FOR SPEED
Been watching the Drone Racing League? Feeling like you’d rather skip the selfies and the leaf-peeping and cut thru the skies at screaming speeds instead? Start here with the Ruko F11 Pro, which is tuned like those DRL models and is a great novice-level entry into the world of fast droning. And it’s not just merely fast – it also has a 4K UHD camera and a great 30-minute flight time per battery. It can also do follow mode and tap flying, and circle a point of interest, all with a GPS auto return in case it drops the signal, or if you just get freaked out at how quickly it vanishes in the sky with its great speed.
Ruko F11 Pro Drone
5. Potensic T25 Drone with 2K Camera
Potensic’s T25 is not just a great step up from pure beginner to novice drone operator, and it isn’t just a drone with an especially great 2K camera which has 75-degree adjustability for amazing stills and video. It’s also not just a quick fun drone which is also small enough to fly indoors, with a great and highly intuitive remote control. What got us fired up about the Potensic T25 is the fact that when you put your smartphone into a (not included) VR headset, you get to experience real-time FPV — Flight Point of View, which is a whole other level of droning. There are headsets available here, and if you decide FPV is the way you want to fly, the Potensic T25 is the perfect entree into that fast and exciting world.
Potensic T25 Drone with 2K Camera
6. Tello Quadcopter
EASY PHONE CONTROL
If you’re brand new to drones, you’re probably not willing to drop a few hundred on one that you might crash into oblivion soon after it takes flight. This beginner drone is inexpensive and easy to handle. All you’ll need is your phone to control the Tello Quadcopter. The accurate controls help novice users keep full and precise command over the drone. With 8D flips, you can easily get your drone to perform aerials, while the bounce mode gets the drone to bounce up and down from your hand. And with VR compatibility, you can feel like you’re sitting in the pilot seat while you fly. It’s a fun option for someone looking to start flying right out of the gate.
7. Potensic A20 Mini Drone
BEST FOR KIDS
The Potensic Mini Drone is easy to fly and can take a bit of punishment, which makes it great for kids earning their pilot wings. The remote looks like a simplified Xbox One controller with two thumbsticks, a take-off and a land button and a power switch. To help kids get oriented, they can use the “headless” flight mode that makes the spot where the pilot is standing the “head” of the drone, so kids won’t have to worry about which direction the drone is facing. It’s a fun, easy and inexpensive option to get kids off the launch pad quickly.
Potensic A20 Mini Drone
8. Altair AA108 Camera Drone
GREAT FOR LEARNING
The Altair AA108 can adjust flight settings for brand new pilots and then switch to more advanced flying options for experienced users, providing a bit more versatility than the average drone for beginners. Once you’re in the air, you have a 100-meter range to play with. If your battery is going dead, the Altair AA108 can land itself during these “emergency situations.” The 720p camera isn’t as great as the Hubsan’s 1080p, but it’s more in line with what you can expect in this price range. That said, the customizable flight controls make it a great option as you learn and get better at flying drones.
Altair AA108 Camera Drone
9. Altair 818 Hornet
Like the AA108, you can adjust flight settings, making it simple for novice users, or you can provide more control for users with more experience. The 150-meter range is a bit better than the AA108, and improved stability provides clearer and steadier camera shots compared to the AA108. Other than that, all the basics are about the same. For more range and better stability, it’s going to cost an extra $40 or so, which might be worth it for some beginning drone users.
Altair 818 Hornet
10. DJI Mavic Mini
GREAT MIDRANGE DRONE
When you find yourself wanting more professional drone features and capabilities, but you’re not quite ready to pay professional prices, the DJI Mavic Mini is a great transition from beginner to pro. When you’re mid-flight, the gimbal stabilization keeps the 2.7K video steady and clear. It also captures 12MP photos while in flight. And you’ll be able to fly longer than entry-level drones with a battery life that lasts up to 25 minutes. When you’re ready to take the next step in your drone piloting career, the DJI Mavic Mini is a solid choice.
DJI Mavic Mini
11. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
If money is no object and you feel confident in your drone piloting skills, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a great professional option. The Mavic 2 Pro captures professional-quality footage with 20MP still imaging and crystal clear 4K video footage. The gimbal stabilization keeps the camera steady as you fly, creating fantastic footage regardless of the conditions. While you’re in the air, you won’t have to worry about crashing into incoming objects with obstacle avoidance sensors. And you’ll be able to fly a long time with the lengthy 30+ minute battery life. There is a steep price tag, but it’s hard to beat the flight and footage quality provided by the Mavic 2 Pro.