Times are changing and things are improving. The technological improvement today is going to a completely different level than it was two decades ago. Engineers created robots gave them wings and named them drones. So what is a drone? A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or an aircraft that flies without a pilot. Even so, a drone would be either remotely controlled by pilots on the ground or they would follow a specific pre-programmed flight plan that was integrated into the system using the GPS (only for drones that have such feature).
In this article, we are going to discuss a specific type of drones, the miniature UAV or more famous as the mini quadcopter. We are going to supply you with a list of the best sold mini quadcopters out there in the market. So what is the thing with these small flying robots and why people love them so much? Well, size matters a lot, according to professionals. The smaller they are, the easier is for them to go through areas that are difficult to reach or climb; they can fly through small gaps and even through the trees.
So what kind of mini-drones or quadcopters are there? For now, we have the quadcopters coming with or without a camera, the racing drones, and the ones used for delivery. The most famous and well-sold are the drones that have cameras on them, as they can serve the user for something more practical than just fun.
For example, you can take amazing high-quality pictures and videos, or use them for surveillance of private properties. They are also those that are strictly for recreational purposes, from beginners just having fun learning how to fly them, to professional racers and not forgetting the ones that are used for delivery of goods.
Here, I give you the top 5 selling quadcopters according to fans and users. Also, since they are quite small, the price won’t get over $50 which makes them great for fun. Their size and small price also place them on the top preferences of gifts for children who love flying. So, if you want to impress your kid and make his/her birthday memorable, one of the models below may be your best choice.
Top 5 small quads on the market
Syma X5c Explorers
Syma is one of the top brands to produce mini-drones in the world, and guess which their top product is? Yes, it’s the Syma X5C Quadcopter! According to Amazon reviews, this is the best-sold quadcopter, which comes with a camera at a very competitive price.
The most noticeable thing about this model was the controller, which is specially made to be used for both left and right-handed people. In terms of remote distance, this model can reach up to 100 meters, which is much more than any other models of this brand. Also, the control is super fast, meaning that there’s no lag between the moment you press the button and the moment the quad reacts.
Given the device is smaller in size, it can move easily through the air and it is stable when there is low or moderate wind. Also, it enables full 360 degrees flips. Since they are very stable, the Syma X5C can be used by people of all ages. The design of the model is ideal because you can change parts very easy, which is good if you are a beginner. As a beginner, you will probably crash the device a couple of times before you get the grip of it.
The camera resolution is set to 1280×720 pixels and the video capacity is 30 frames per Sec, which is quite good for the amount of money that you are paying.
People who own this mini quadcopter seem to be quite pleased with the device. Most of them are amazed at the speed, remote control, and its durability. However, as a negative aspect, they indicated the low battery life which is about 8 minutes. You can find out much more about this model and the rest from this series, by reading our article about the Syma X5 series.
Here’s a video where you can watch the Syma X5C in action:
The UDI U818A is a model that is awesome for beginners and comes ready to fly right from the box. You just need to charge the batteries, which would normally take not more than 2 hours, and you can have tons of fun!
The device can handle mild wind (around 10 mph or less) with good stability. It has two flight modes available where the first one limits turning and climbing speed while the other provides fast turning and climbing speed.
The quad comes fully equipped with a camera that shoots at 640×480 pixels in AVI format. It’s not HD, but still it makes quality videos and pictures. The controller is the only device that you can use to navigate the drone, and the remote distance is around 30 meters.
The flight time of the drone is around 9 minutes, even with a fully charged battery which is kind of a spoiler considering the charging time. The device also doesn’t have a GPS so if it’s not under control, it will not be able to go back to the home central.
The device durability is quite good since it can withstand more crashes, which makes it a good fit for everybody who is flying for the first time. Another thing which is beneficial for beginners is the price. Normally, if it was me I wouldn’t like spending hundreds of dollars on something that I don’t even know how to use it.
In the end, even with the lack of some features, this model is a great choice for beginners and for somebody who doesn’t want to spend a huge amount of money, and if you want to get much more familiar with this model’s features and flight characteristics, we suggest checking out our UDI U818A in-depth review.
See the quadcopter here:
Cheerson Cx-10 Mini
One of the best sellers that had grown very famous between buyers is the mini sized Cheerson CX-10. This is a fun little quadcopter that can easily fit in the palm of your hand.
The device comes with a small controller that is actually quite comfortable to hold and a USB cable that can be used for charging. The awesome part is that it takes around 15 min to charge the battery.
Considering the small size of this thing, it is surprisingly powerful. Comparing it with other quadcopters, this one has a flight life of only 5 minutes, but it has more stability when it`s in the air. The connection with the stick is amazing, so if you are flying for the first time, remember to fly low and slow. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of crashing since it is quite durable and the spare parts come cheap.
The quad has three flight modules for beginners, intermediate, and advanced flyers (use advanced if you need more speed). This model is also amazing for outdoor flying when there is just a little wind. To enable the flip of the device you need to put the stick into the second module.
The Cheerson CX-10 mini is an amazing mini quadcopter for everybody starting with 10 years old and going up to 90 years old. It can be a great idea to give it as a gift to a friend or a loved one since it is very affordable. For a better insight on this model, check out our Cheerson CX-10 Mini review.
Here you can see it in action:
Estes 4606 Proto X Nano
The smallest of them is the Estes 4606 proto X NANO and taking into account its size, it’s probably the best one you can fly in your own home. It is very durable, fun, and quite easy to fly, but it’s not recommended for outdoors since it isn’t stable even when there is just a little wind. The transmitter of the device is quite small, but it is still comfortable to operate with normal sized hands.
One thing that makes it quite interesting is a series of LED lights on the front and back that kind of makes the flying fun, especially if you have kids. When the battery is almost done all the lights go on and off, which can serve as a guide, showing you when it’s time to land.
The drone uses a USB cable to charge, just like your smartphone, and for a complete charge, it will take up to 15 min. With a completely charged battery, it can fly only about 3 to 4 min, which is probably the lowest flying time of all bestsellers. Considering all characteristics, this model would be a great choice for somebody who never used this kind of technology, or it would be a fun toy for you and your kids. To get more familiar with what this model offers, we suggest checking out our Estes 4606 Proto X Nano in-depth review.
Hubsan X4 H107l
Another product that we would like to recommend is the Hubsan X4 H107L which comes at an affordable price and it is great for beginners. The first thing you`ll notice is its small size and interesting design. The device weighs about 28 grams without battery, and this is why you should fly it mostly indoors. Outside, even a small breeze could destabilize it. Otherwise, the quad is quite stable, durable, and it’s very easy to control.
In terms of flight time, this particular model can be in the air for around 9 minutes, which is a lot more, comparing with other models. The complete charging of the battery takes about 40 min.
The transmitter is quite stylish and has an LCD screen on it. As we are talking about transmitters is good to mention that you can send the quad to a distance of up to 30 meters. Another interesting fact is the Anti-flip mode, which disables the drone’s ability to flip on the sides and works only when you fly in the “Expert Mode”.
The last thing you need to know about the Hubsan X4 is its performance. This thing flies and it does it fast! It’s also very durable, responsive, and maneuverable. So if you are looking for a quick, durable quadcopter at a very good price, then you should definitely consider it. It is suitable for all ages and levels of experience.
Why should I buy a mini quadcopter?
Mini UAVs were initially developed as toys for kids. Later, some of them were selected for scientific experimentations. In the olden days, hardly could the older folks imagine that their invention could be the next great advancement in technology and photography. But today, mini quadcopters are penetrating into various industries at an increasing rate. Below are a few selected industries where the bots will become of great use if you are practicing in one.
Photography & video shooting: Drones like the Hubsan X4 H107L and the UDI 818A when used appropriately, are very likely to help you record the best aerial videos and take selfies like never before. Their battery lifespan coupled up with their fairly advanced camera resolution makes them the best in this feature among the small drones. Try them.
Entertainment: The mini quads aren’t just small and awesome, they are also fun to chase around. It is estimated that about eight in every ten buyers purchase these flying toys for fun. Since the mini drones are pretty cheap to acquire, you can opt to buy them as a present for your kid’s birthday.
He/she will definitely love it! However, in such cases the ease of control of the mini UAV and the accident tolerance of the drone is very essential. For instance, buyers of the Cheerson CX-10 and the Estes 4606 proto X NANO are likely to suffer a limited flight time but a relatively longer life-span of the drone since the two are designed to last. These two drones are thus highly recommended if you are seeking a good cheap toy for your kid.
Training: Minis UAVs are increasingly storming various markets. But learning to fly mini drones isn’t always an easy task. This is because most mini drones are driven by the traditional controlling pad that has manual buttons and gears to vary drone movements. Thus, learning to fly these bots requires some trial and error; writing and rubbing before being an expert. Since such experimentation for bigger and advanced drones is quite expensive; these mini drones will surely be a better and cheaper way to learn.
Scientific Research: in all the drone manufacturing industries, the mini drones are still used as prototypes for developing advanced drones with incredibly amazing features.
Activities you can perform with such a quad
The 5 main distinctive activities you will perform with these mini drones include the following:
- Piloting: you can fly them around your home easily.
- Photographing in narrow areas: since they have an incredibly small size, the mini-UAVs are able to pass through very limited spaces and capture images closer and more perfectly. A good example of this is the Estes 4606 proto X
- Entertainment & fun: they are also able to perform airborne acrobatics that will surely thrill you. Some will make the 360 degree turn on air in seconds, some will fly as fast as insects and some (like the UDI U818A) will produce some awesome sounds when flying. Many people buy them for this very reason. In some cases, people even create small drone flying competitions.
- Learning: as explained before you will often need a cheaper option when learning to fly or in scientific experimentations. The mini drones are the cheapest option for that.
- Spying: spying isn’t the best thing to do. Despite that, it is a very amazing thing to try out within your own home. Though is discouraged to peep on people’s activities, momentarily you may need to know what your son/daughter does in his/her study room. The best way to know that is to engage a tiny friendly spy on your behalf. Even so, make sure that in such cases, the drone will have a long flight time.
Mini quad buying guide: features to consider
Here are a few things you may need to consider when buying:
- Battery (flight time): most of the mini drones have a relatively shorter flight time ranging between 2 and 20 minutes which is accompanied with a lengthy charging duration of about 40-60 minutes. Since mini drones are always fun to control, it is better if you purchase one that has a shorter charging period and a longer battery time.
- Cost: When purchasing mini drones, the buying cost is a key aspect to be considered. Then again, some drones may require a few more additional maintenance costs. For instance, the Cheerson CX-10 requires additional propeller blades as the original ones are somewhat fragile. All the rest may require you to buy additional batteries for the drones and the controllers as well as the cost for their repairs.
- The camera quality: a better camera quality will mean a better experience when taking images or recording videos.
- Controlling range: even though all controllers are very similar, the range varies between 20 and 60 meters.
- Ease of controlling: as noted before, most (if not all) mini UAVs are controlled by analog controlling pads. Even so, some of the controllers are easier to learn than others. Thus, it is important to preview the controllers too before buying a drone.
- Accompanying components: these are usually delivered with the drone. E.g. additional batteries, drone guides, goggles, warranty and such like additional.
Keep in mind: If you are buying your drone from an online source, it will be important to consider the buyer reviews of both the drone and the seller.
A low rated drone is likely to be of a low quality. A low rated seller will offer poor selling services and terms. Through crisscrossing the buyer reviews, you will also get to know the likely drawbacks that are attached to the drones.
Is durability an issue?
Generally, the durability of a drone is of the greatest importance. Here are a few aspects you may need to view when buying any of the 5 drones:
- The UDI 818A is the best when it comes to design and durability. It has a welded protective side that covers to propellers and a rigid outer covering. This makes it highly fault tolerant. The Cheerson CX-10 is similarly more durable.
- The SYMA X5C is averagely durable owing to its strong plastic body composition.
- About 3 in 10 buyers of the Estes 4606 Proto X Nano and the Hubsan X4 attributed its drawbacks to its less durability. Most critics are directed to propellers and the cover.
Another great important aspect to consider is the landing gear and protection. Don’t land any of all the 5 drones in wet areas or tall grass with dew. Since the mini drones have a smaller landing gear, tall grass or wet areas may produce electrical malfunction.
Not sure what model to buy?
These drones are indeed incredibly small yet, they are capable of performing just like the bigger options. In addition, our world is advancing towards reduced sizes with more capabilities. Thus, it may be a matter of time before the mini drones rule the airspace. Below are a few advantages and disadvantages of these UAVs.
- They are small in size and are thus portable. You can travel with them easily.
- They are cheaper. The above drones all cost less than $100 thus very affordable to acquire.
- They have easy charging systems. Most of them are easily charged via USB much like smart phones.
- They have awesome designs. Besides being reduced in size, the mini drones also have beautiful designs and can thus be presented as gifts.
- They get the job done! Though they may lack most of the added features and quality found in bigger drones, the mini UAVs have cameras and are able to take shots and videos at a pretty good quality.
- The flight time is very limited. These mini drones only allow you between 3 and 15 minutes of fun when fully charged.
- They are fragile. Mini drone’s durability is actually very limited as most of them are made of plastic.
- Have a poor camera quality. This is perhaps the main hindrance that makes them poor for professional video shoots. Thus, they are only good for fun.
Even though mini quadcopters are small in size and may lack the desired camera quality in most cases, they are surely something to yearn for. You can use them for fun and training and let’s face it: they are cute!