Today we take a look at some of the best drones currently available on the market. Everything from the DJI Phantom 3, to the Hubsan X4 mini-quad will be considered when evaluating which drone you should spend your hard earned money on.
Trying to cover every single price point in our comparison.
Before we start, let’s explain our criteria for a good drone. What we’re looking for above all else is value for your money. If you have a $50 drone, that’s fine but if it can’t fly properly or only lasts for a few weeks, then we don’t consider that to be good value.
The best drone we’ve experienced.
If however, you come out with a quadcopter that’s 3 times the price but performs admirably well in tons of different conditions, then it will win our recommendation. The more expensive the drone is, the better is must deliver in order be part of a drone collection.
We start by looking at the current best sellers in each category: The Hubsan X4, Hubsan H107D, the Ei-Hi S911C, the Parrot A.R 2.0 and the DJI Phantom 3. Ultimately, they are all ‘winners’ in their own respective category (price range) but which one really provides the best value for your money?
Well, the Hubsan X4 is a great place to start but it’s more of a toy than anything else. It is VERY inexpensive, and at $50, it’s one of those “get the nephew a gift” kind of drones. You can pick one up without too much thinking and it might get a bit of usage… however, it is unlikely that someone will feel they are really getting the full quadcopter experience with one of these. It is also pretty fragile which means that after numerous crashes, you’re likely to start feeling it when you fly it.
A picture of me adjusting the propellers. Make sure you get spares!
I found myself constantly readjusting the propellers and trying to balance it in order to get it to fly properly after owning it for about 2 weeks. Now don’t get me wrong, the thing can take a beating and keep on going… it’s just that it doesn’t fly as well as it did on day one. (And that’s after changing the propellers and playing around with everything as much as possible to get it stable.) I personally think the frame is damaged and that the little motors are slightly off-angle which is resulting in the drone flying in an awkward manner.
In terms of value, it’s a great starter but because it doesn’t give you a full drone experience and last a relatively short amount of time, I cannot claim it to be the best drone on the market.
The trick is to achieve a proper weight distribution so the quadcopter flies level.
Next up, we have the Hubsan H107D which is the bigger brother of the X4. It’s great and really provides you an extra level of flying features, including better stability, an FPV camera/remote control combo and more. With this drone, you can learn how to fly and truly feel as if you’re in the future. Unfortunately, because the video quality is so poor and the drone suffers from the same durability issues as the X4, I cannot declare it to be the best drone.
First time buyers should definitely consider the Hubsan H107D as one of the better options at this price range… but I would personally spend a bit more if you want the whole package. (And if you want something slightly more durable, check out the Ei-Hi 911c drone. That thing is tough!)
The Parrot A.R.
I hate to say it… but this is exactly what you’d expect to find at stores like Best Buy. It’s built “well enough” and is definitely a step above the Hubsan H107D in terms of quality however it’s double the price. So what do you get for a bit more than double the price? Well you get a drone with a longer range (although there are some connectivity issues), you get a LOT more features and an overall decent drone experience. I can’t help to compare this drone to a mid-range Dell or HP laptop. You get a decent amount for your money but you’re constantly reminded of the money that was cut when you run into weird quirks, bugs and ultimately, you realize that you get what you paid for.
You can customize your drone with lights for cool effects while flying.
Regardless, they put together a solid package for the money and it’s not a bad choice.
The best drone
Now the best drone in our opinion is the DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter. Sure, it’s also the most expensive but when you look at it from an objective point of view, you’re getting the most value out of this package. First off, you get a drone with very high quality components (such a cameras, motors, remote, software, battery) which mean that you’re going to have the best flights out of all the other drones. They’ve added a huge amount of features to the drone, including optical sensors, GPS navigation, streaming output and more. Best of all, you have a huge range and about a 22 minute charge on a single battery! (For everyone that flies drones, getting anything above 15 minutes of flight time per battery is nothing short of amazing.)
On top of that, you’re getting a camera that can take 4k footage, easily making it one of the best purchases even when you consider it’s higher price. For instance, a comparable GoPro camera would be $400 alone! (And with this, you’re getting an entire drone plus the camera). The only thing I wouldn’t recommend doing with the DJI Phantom 3 is acrobatics. There are cheaper drones for that! However, if you’re looking to fly around safely and easily, then the DJI Phantom 3 is by far the best choice. You’ll be able to record amazing footage and look like a pro while you do it which is why we’re crowing it the best drone in our competition.
Update: It appears as if the brand new Phantom is currently out.. and it might win our award for the best quadcopter.
Some high speed flying footage.