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The best hobby drones for every budget

What drone?

Drones are available for many purposes and uses, e.g., racing, industrial, agricultural or security drones. We won't cover them here. This article is solely about drones for hobby and photography/video uses.
Here is our choice of the best drones based on design, ease of use, camera quality, durability and flight time. If you are working (semi-)professionally, in many situations, a high-quality quadcopter drone is an easy way to add production value to a film project or get a unique view for your travel vlog.
Even so, the choices and available models are bewildering – from glorified tech toys to serious flying cameras for cinematographers and professional photographers.
If you want to get the best drone for your money, be sure you know what you want to use your drone for: just some hobby fun or the best drone with camera for serious filming and photography? Because in the end you get what you pay for. If it is an aerial video platform that can capture stunning footage that you want then be prepared to spend well above $1000. On the other hand, less than $100 can buy you a lot of fun, for instance with Star Wars X-Wing fighters that can battle and 'shoot down' each other with infrared beams.
Anyway, do your research before you buy. Our guide will help you narrow down your options.

What are the rules for flying a drone?

Beware potential registration requirements, depending on the country you are planning to use your drone. Typically, if your drone weighs 250g (8.8 ounces) or more, you need to register it with authorities and get an identification number before you can fly it outdoors legally – even over your own property. And taking pictures of your neighbors' properties generally is a definite no-no.
If you are in the U.S., register here with the FAA. If you are in the European Union, unless they are certified, drones do not need to be registered, but you, as drone operator/owner, must register yourself with the National Aviation Authority of the EU country you residence in. A drone is certified when it has a certificate of airworthiness (or a restricted certificate of airworthiness) issued by the National Aviation Authority.

Drone flying times

Be realistic when it comes to keeping your exciting new quadcopter in the air. The average hobby drone has batteries that allow for flight times between 10 to 30 minutes, while more advanced (read: more expensive) professional drones can fly for an hour or more. Toy and indoor drones usually achieve flight times anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes before they need to be recharged.
We have compared and analyzed a dozen websites – from Amazon to Wirecutter – for their recommendations and ratings for various kinds of drones and compiled the results into this guide for you.

Our selection of the best hobby drones for all budgets

Best all-rounder drone
DJI Air 2s Drone Quadcopter (w/accessories pack) This drone strikes a nice balance between size, weight, image quality, intelligent features, and price. Although its camera isn't quite as nice as the Mavic 2 Pro (below). This kit includes 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, HardCase, 128GB SD Card, Landing pad, and several other must-have accessories such as cables and adapters.∼$1049
Best drones with camera for aerial photos and videos
DJI Mavic Air 2 Drone Quadcopter UAV Combo The Mavic Air 2 packs impressive value by combining DJI’s reliable obstacle avoidance with a 4K camera and great battery life. This camera drone combines a powerful camera with intelligent shooting modes for stunning results. An impressive flight time of up to 34 minutes allows you to pull off epic, fast-paced shots. Obstacle sensing in three directions makes it extra convenient for beginners and improves safety for your Mavic Air 2. This Combo package includes Mavic Air 2 Quadcopter, Remote Controller, 3x Intelligent Flight Battery, 6x Low-Noise Propellers (Pair), RC Cables (USB Type-C, Lightning, Standard Micro-USB), Control Stick, Gimbal Protector, Battery Charger, Battery Charging Hub, Battery to Power Bank Adapter, Shoulder Bag, ND Filters Set (ND16/64/256), Manuals, AC Power Cable, Type-C Cable ∼$999
DJI Mavic 3 Camera Drone with 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad Camera The DJI Mavic 3 is a luxury drone with camera that takes many of the above Mavic Air 2’s best features and, for 2x the price, tacks on a superior 4/3 image sensor and Hasselblad-branded camera. This model captures 20-megapixel photographs and 5.1K videos that look more colorful than those of the competition. It also has a 46-minute battery life—the longest of any drone we’ve tested. With a new Advanced RTH system, Mavic 3 camera drone can return to its home point on a fast, safe, and optimized route. Whether activated by low battery or the pilot, getting the quadcopter drone back to you during flight is easier than ever. ∼$2049
Best entry-level, low-budget drone
Ryze Tech Tello Entry-level lightweight quadcopter weighing in at only 80g that’s ideal for mastering the basics. It's controllable via your smartphone running the Tello app and Wi-Fi, but you can also use a Bluetooth gaming controller. Flight time is approx. 13 minutes but the range is only 100 meters. 5MP camera solution and HD720 video capture solution. The drone features stability sensors to minimize drifting when it’s supposed to be static and two antennas that make video transmission extra stable.∼$99
Best beginner premium drones
DJI Mini 3 Pro The best drone with camera for beginners with bigger budgets. The Mini 3 Pro's camera is its key feature with a 12.1MP 1/1.3-inch sensor that produces excellent image quality, with very little noise up to its maximum ISO 6400 setting. Good low-light performance thanks to its f/1.7 lens and dual native ISO tech. 4K/60fps video and 48MP photos Weighing less than 249 g, Mini 3 Pro doesn't require registration in most countries and regions. Weighing in at under 250 grams with extended flight time of up to 34 minutes. Features tri-directional obstacle sensing and APAS 4.0. The drone offers an extensive range of intelligent features including FocusTrack, True Vertical Shooting, MasterShots, Timelapse, QuickTransfer, and more. Includes the new DJI RC, which has the DJI Fly App pre-installed and a built-in 5.5-inch HD display for crisp viewing even in direct sunlight. ∼$909
Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ This is a great beginner's mini drone with camera for night and low-light photography in the under 250g weight category. It packs a CMOS sensor capable of 48MP photos and 4K/30fps video. A RYYB color filter array design with a large aperture of f/1.9 offers the power to effortlessly produce quality images even in low- light conditions. Fly continuously for 28 minutes. This bundle includes: Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ Drone (Blazing Red) | 3 x Batteries | Gimbal Cover | Propellers | Remote Controller | Power Adapter | 3 x Pair of Extra Propellers | Multi-Charger | USB Type-C Charging Cable | Lightning Connector | Micro-USB Connector | Shoulder Bag | Deco Gear Backpack | Deco Gear Landing Pad 29.5" | Deco Essentials VR Headset Goggles for 3.5"-6" Smartphones | Lexar 633x microSDXC 64GB Memory Card | Software: AirMagic, GRFX Studio, piZap, MightySkins, Replay Capture.∼$879
Best first-person view drone for beginners
DJI FPV Combo - Quadcopter plus GogglesBuilt-in GPS and collision sensors make flying this DJI quadcopter FPV drone a lot more accessible to beginners. The DJI FPV Goggles V2 and DJI FPV’s super-wide 150° FOV, giving you an ultra-smooth, real-time immersive flight experience. It can record 4K/60fps video at up to 120 Mbps, capturing crisp details. Advanced safety features help ensure a safe flight, even at high speeds: an auxiliary bottom light, Smart Return to Home (RTH), Low Battery RTH, and forward and downward obstacle sensing are all integrated into DJI FPV. The OCUSYNC 3.0 transmission system provides crystal-clear real-time and HD Low-Latency Transmission video, even at distances of up to 10 km. ∼$999
Best indoor drones
DoDoeleph Syma X20 Mini Pocket Drone This 6-Axis gyro quad-rotorcraft is relatively easy to control and suitable for kids or beginners. This mini drone is very suitable for indoor playing. Once the fuselage direction can not be recognized, it can enter headless mode so as to continue the flight. It helps the beginner to get the hang of directional control within several minutes. It features One Key Take off / Landing: one button press automatically taking off or landing, remote control quadcopter will take off or go back to the position where it took off. It helps to protect the drone when it is out of control or low battery power. Auto hovering is an altitude holding technology that lets the flying drone stabilize and suspend in mid-air automatically, even when you let go of the controls. 360° Stunt Flip: A key 360°roll, continuous roll for perfect action and wonderful performance. With the colorful flashing light, keep your aircraft flying excellently at night. ∼$35
Force1 Scoot Pro Hand-Motion Operated Drone The coolest features of this mini UFO drone is that you can fly it with hand gestures thanks to its 360° motion sensors that also detects objects for ultimate flight control and obstacle avoidance. It can be controlled with hands above, below, and on the sides of the flying drone. Simply toss the hand controlled drone to launch the built in altitude hold, fly with your hands, and catch this hand drone “hamburger-style” when you’re done. The crystal dome on top of the mini drone projects a kaleidoscope of LED lights on the ceiling and a full ring of vibrant blue and green LEDs on the side of the drone lights up as it flies around. The kit includes a USB charging cable and built-in rechargeable battery, flies for 6 minutes with every 50 minutes charge, and has a low battery alarm when in flight.∼$25
Best toy and novelty drones
Cheerwing Syma X20 Pocket Drone This very small, toy-grade drone measures only 10.5 x 10.5 x 2.5 cm with the prop guards on and weights only 22g. The X20 flies for 5 minutes with every 50 minutes charge (via the included USB cable). It features a One Key Take-off and Landing function that allows beginners and kids to fly the drone without any skill. One Touch Down function is most important to protect the drone when it is out of control or low battery power, the drone will fly down slowly and land on the ground automatically before the motors stopping. One key 360° roll function. Fitted LED lights for night flights.∼$30
HANVON Go Go Bird And now for something different: If you are sick of all the quadcopters, check out the The Go Go Bird with flapping wings – basically a flapping kite with a tiny motor and a remote controller. A 15 minute charge gives you about 8-10 minutes of flight time. The bird can be tricky to fly at first thanks to the small and one-handed controller. But once you get the hang of it, the Go Go bird is surprisingly maneuverable. ∼$40
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Quadcopter: X Wing Collectors Edition Box This is the drone for Star Wars fans! The best feature is their 'battle mode', that allows you to fight up to 12 other Star Wars Quadcopters (such as the Tie X1 and the 74-Z Speeder Bike) so you can fly against friends and try to shoot them down. With IR battling mode turned on, the infrared transmitters in the front of the ship will send a signal and the infrared receiver beneath the ship will register a hit. Get hit three times with the IR beam and your drone will auto-land. The Star Wars t-65 X-Wing quadcopter can reach flying speeds up to 35mph (56 km H) and offers 3 speed settings that range from beginner to advanced pilots. Each special edition quadcopter is hand painted to hobby quality and is numbered. You'll get 6-8 minutes of flying time out of a 30-40 minute charge. There is a Companion App for Android and iOS where you can create and host virtual battle events, engage with flight simulators, track your stats globally. ∼$170