I am pretty sure you have all heard about or got the chance to handle quadcopter drones at some point in your lives. Before we delve into the details of the best quadcopter drones, it is absolutely necessary for one to know some basic concepts about these drones.
From a lay perspective, a quadcopter is simply a miniature flying helicopter-like thingy. More precisely, quadcopter drones are multi-motor copters with four arms. Each of these arms is equipped with a motor and a propeller at their ends. They share a few similarities with the helicopters though the quadcopters have their lift and thrust coming from the four propellers compared to only one for the helicopters.
For the stabilization of the craft, the helicopters have a pitch or a tail rotor but this is absent in the drones. Another distinct feature that the quadcopter have is that they have two sets of propellers, one set which spins in the clockwise direction while the other in the anticlockwise direction.
The two sets of propellers which spin in different directions enable the drones to hover in a stable formation.
Technological advances, especially in the processors and batteries of these drones, have enabled quadcopters to be available in ready to fly consumer kits at a relatively affordable price.
The recent years have witnessed much modification and simplification of the operation of the drones and anyone can easily and quickly learn how to use them. It is thus not surprising that most of the people can get the quadcopter drones to fly with a good degree of control in a matter of 5 to 10 minutes.
There is a wide range of quadcopters out there, from the $40 mini or simply micro-quadcopters, to the ones which are moderately priced with the inclusion of HD video capabilities. Others are multi-thousand dollar quadcopter drones for professional purposes.
The best quadcopter drones of 2017
DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter 4K UHD Video Camera Drone
With the Phantom 3 Professional you are guaranteed to have an amazing tale which is quite different from your previous quadcopter drone experiences.
The sky is the limit with the incredibly awesome features that come with the Phantom 3 Professional! Starting with a sharp camera, intuitive flight controls as well as HD video streaming, just to name a few. This drone will definitely offer you the possibility to create amazing videos with great resolution and vivid colors that seem almost natural.
The device is designed for both professionals and amateurs as it packs a 4K camera which will let you experience a real-time view of images from far distances reaching up to a staggering 3.1 miles away. All you need to do is use your mobile devices to form a connection and wait to experience a 720p HD view as your flight is streamed in real-time.
All these are possible thanks to the DJI Lightbridge image technology which is designed to serve professionals who only aim for the best during their footage. The long range of view has been made a reality thanks to the new antenna design which is proprietary to DJI.
The key product features of this amazing quadcopter drone are:
- The possibility to record videos in 4K
- A 3-axis gimbal that offers amazing stability possibilities
- Real-time streaming using the Lightbridge technology to enjoy live viewing of 720p videos
- The drone is great at flying indoors as well
- One spare battery
- A rechargeable remote controller
The Phantom 3 comes in four different models and the Phantom 3 Standard happens to be the cheapest of them all going for about $700. These drones are pretty good but one major drawback of using them is the customer support. However, this has been steadily improving with time since 2014. For those who want to find out much more about this series, we suggest checking out our Phantom 3 Series review.
DJI T600 Inspire 1
Just from the look of it, anyone will fall for this quadcopter drone. It is reminiscent of what we encounter in a sci-fi movie and it is absolutely the most professional ready-to-fly drone you can get your hands on.
It has all that you have been looking for in its category of drones. This drone is highly advanced and it comes with all the standard features of the Phantom 3 Professional. However, it has an edge over it due to its much bigger, cooler and higher quality design. It is relatively bigger, about twice the size of the Phantom 3 Professional.
It additionally has a 4K camera on a 360-degree panning gimbal which simply means that one can be in control of the motion of this quadcopter drone’s camera completely independent of the Inspire 1. This makes it suitable for dual pilot operation and you can also get locked in shots even in windy conditions.
Some of the features of the DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter drone are:
- It has a complete Ready-to-fly system. One will thus enjoy a complete aerial filmmaking experience with this drone with only a mobile device or screen to aid in the display of live HD view
- The strong carbon fibers enable this drone to be easily and perfectly lifted off the ground and this has a great impact on the way you will shoot your videos. This implies that you will get an unrestricted 360-degree view.
- The ability to shoot 4K videos and take 12MP photos thanks to the Inspire 1 camera
- Its gimbal, as well as the camera system, can be detached from the drone to ease the transportation as well as to enable updating of the system.
- You can get a real-time feed from this quadcopter drone’s camera this being displayed in your 720p HD screen on your mobile device
For those who intend to use the DJI Inspire for professional video shooting purposes, it usually comes in two variants. These guarantee an even superior image quality. One of these, the Inspire Pro is the version which features a micro four-thirds 4K camera that has unique 13 stops of dynamic range, a sensor which is 8 times larger than the standard as well as interchangeable lenses.
For those who are interested in greater or rather high-end resolution, there is the Inspire 1 Raw. This variant comes with a 500GB SSD as well as 4K raw recording, quite convenient for Post-production professional work.
This drone is what you have been waiting for but the cost, a whopping nearly $2500 is what keeps out of reach for most people. It is best if you get it for professional purposes, and if that is why you need it and want to find out much more about it, we suggest checking our DJI Inspire 1 in-depth review.
The Yuneec Q500 4K
It is good to acknowledge the great work that Yuneec, a relatively new drone manufacturer, is doing given the already existing competition from renowned companies like DJI and Robotics. The Yuneec Q500 4K is the latest drone model from this promising company.
You can tell from the name that the drone is a force to reckon with as it can shoot 4K videos just like the above-mentioned drones. It is not as appealing as other drones but it features what most of us are looking for in quadcopter drones.
For instance, it comes along with 2 batteries and it also has a hand mount. This is quite convenient as you will be able to take the camera and the gimbal off the drone to use the device as a mini, handheld stabilized, camera.
The product features of the Yuneec Q500 4K include:
- It has a personal ground station inbuilt touchscreen
- Features an integrated 3-axis precision gimbal camera
- Has a 4K ultra HD video, 1080p slow motion video
- One can enjoy user controlled video resolution, light exposure as well as some white balance
- 12MP photos without a distortion lens
- It doesn’t contain an Aluminum case
The Yuneec Q500 4K drone goes for about $800 and compared to other quadcopter drones with the same range of features, this is a fair price. It is yet to be popular but this should not be a reason for one to hesitate from acquiring it. It is such a unique drone as it has an android device built in the controller, this means that you don’t have to use a tablet and a smartphone but the quality of the screen is subpar compared to the iOS.
It is recommended that you get the new silver and the black 4k version if you plan on acquiring this amazing and fairly-priced quadcopter drone. We also recommend reading our Yuneec Q5 in-depth review for a much better insight on what this model offers.
The 3DR Solo
This quadcopter drone has great capabilities and it is still an easy-to-use drone. It has many features in common with the Phantom 3 but the striking difference between it and the latter is that this drone makes use of the GoPro Hero 4 instead of a built-in camera. This implies that its camera can be taken off and used for different purposes.
The main difference between the 3DR Solo and any other ready to fly camera drone is that this drone is modular or rather upgradable but still easy to use.
Some of the notable features of the 3DR Solo drone:
- Its video game-style controller is an easy-to-use type, thus very suitable for beginners. One could effortlessly take off, instantly pause midair or land just by a single touch. The pushbutton commands for the both the camera and the quadcopter drone will be right at your fingertips.
- It has a high-quality HDMI port which is directly from the controller. You can thus connect this drone to absolutely any screen.
This quadcopter drone has a gimbal bay as well as an accessory bay enabling third party companies to easily make new gimbals together with other accessories. At the moment neither accessories nor gimbals are available.
This drone goes for around $300, but this is not inclusive of the price for the GoPro as well as the 3 axis gimbal. The total cost will be about $700. With the availability of other cheaper models, one will have to be really into this drone to settle on it. But if you are impressed by its unique features it worth every coin you will spend, and you can find out much more about it by reading our 3DR Solo drone in-depth review.
This is an excellent beginner quadcopter drone that you should consider too. You can compare it to the Nano QX in terms of its size but it’s about half the price. It comes in four different versions. The cheapest version goes for $45 this being inclusive of the controller. This version doesn’t have the agility of the Nano QX as it can’t fly with complete manual control.
However, it is a fast drone with remarkable maneuverability. It also features LED lights which are turned on and off using the controller. The controllers for the cheaper models of the Hubsan X4 are comparably better than those of the Nano QX or the Proto X.
The next cheaper models of this quadcopter drone come with a camera. They are comparably heavier and bigger than the cheapest model. It is worth mentioning that the flight time for all of them is roughly the same.
Among these two cheaper models, the H107C is the one that comes with a standard definition camera, which is okay while the H61170-02 bears a 720p camera that’s much better. The challenge one will face with the model having the HD camera is that they will have to dig deeper into their pockets and their flight time will be slightly less.
The H107D is the most expensive model of the four models. This model is mainly FPV and this implies that one will be able to see everything in real time. It is a bit different from the rest and it has a black antenna on its bottom part. The H107D is the least favorite of all the models since its flight time is the worst of all the models and its FPV range is only a hundred feet away. What is even more discouraging is that it is twice as expensive as the Hubsan that comes with the HD camera.
The outstanding product features of the Hubsan X4 H107 R/C are:
- It’s an amazing little aircraft comparable to the size of one’s palm
- It has a precision 2.4Ghz Control if you consider the included transmitter
- One could undertake precision controlled missions
- Its setup, that is 4 powerful motors, allows for the high-performance vertical climb as well as takeoff.
The Blade Nano QX
The Nano QX features two flight modes; the stability and the agility modes. When one is on the agility mode, he/she will be in full control over the quadcopter drone to learn how to fly manually. During the stability mode, this drone will automatically level itself when you leave the controls.
Although this drone is not able to auto flip, this should not be an issue as doing the flip manually is, even more, fun. Nano QX is priced low going at about $50 which is great. However, the main challenge that can be occasioned by a smaller drone is that it gets really hard to see when you fly it away.
This makes it, unfortunately, easier for one to lose orientation. You could still consider acquiring it as it is easier to learn how to fly using this drone as it will be quite convenient to use it with a DSMX RC transmitter.
The features of this quadcopter drone are:
- SAFE technology – this is great for an improved agility and stability in flight
- The product is quite small so you can actually use it indoors
- The chassis is strong and the blade guards are extremely useful
- This device is capable of a smooth lift due to its brushed motors
- It also has 4 in 1 ESCs
For a much better insight on this model features and flight characteristics, we suggest checking out our Blade Nano QX in-depth review.
This is among the best quadcopter drones and it is more technologically advanced compared to other drones in the market. As with many modern drones, one can control this quad using their iPhone or Android device.
However, if you don’t like this type of control, the Bebop has an optional SkyController which enables the user to have a real joystick-like experience. This drone also has an extended range and an HDMI output among other really nice features.
What is more outstanding about this quadcopter is its video system that features a 14MP camera with a fish-eye lens. This camera has a wide field of view and it is able to fix the image distance, stabilize the image, and send the live video right to your phone. Even more, this drone will also record digitally stabilized 1080p videos on an 8GB memory.
Product features of the Parrot Bebop:
- It easily and swiftly updates to meet FAA requirements
- A 14MP camera with full HD 1080p, an 180-degree field of view
- You can also cruise at your own pace and get back home automatically
- Quick charging and powerful Lithium-ion batteries
- One can control their flight with the Free Flight 3 app for iOS, android as well as Windows 8.1
Although the Parrot Bebop has fancy ultra-modern flag features, the video streaming tends to lag a lot. This makes it unsuitable for very fast and precise flying. One positive aspect is that you will be able to use your mobile device to control this drone.
The TBS Gemini
The TBS Gemini is a tiny quadcopter drone meant for racing. It is among the few best quadcopters that come ready to fly (pretty convenient). The inclination of its motors to about 10 degrees enables this drone to have decreased drag and an accelerated speed in forward flight.
Some of the notable features of this quadcopter drone include:
- Motors that manage to provide smooth flying, even at high speeds
- The built-in camera allows for FPV for long ranges
This drone is sold at about $600 and this is expected due to its tiny design with an array of cool features. This drone will be suitable for people who are so drowning into drone hobbies.
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Who should buy these drones?
Quadcopter drones can be made use of by anyone. Children can use them for fun activities and these can also apply to the age groups. Some people have utilized quadcopter drones for photography as well as video filming.
It is also good to mention that quadcopters have been utilized in disaster management and in various recovery efforts, agricultural applications, and police operations as well as in military engagements. With the robust technological advancement, one can predict a future in which many companies or factories will make use of the best quadcopter drones due to their cost effectiveness and convenience.
However, the future is not just for quadcopters. We also have tri copters, hexacopters, octocopters which have three blades, six blades and eight blades respectively. The multirotors drones which have a high number of blades are generally larger and they are used to ferry heavier packages.
For instance Amazon made an announcement recently that it will make use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or octocopters, to deliver some of their packages. This just speaks volumes about their stability and their ability to carry relatively moderate amounts of weight.
Most popular producers on the market
Due to an increase in the demand of these gadgets it is not surprising that the list of manufacturers is growing by the day. This creates the quagmire of not knowing whom to trust and approach when you want a genuine and durable quadcopter drone.
Most of the consumer drone makers are Chinese drone manufacturers. Just to make sure that you are in safer hands it is good to know the most popular and reliable quadcopter drone manufacturers.
- The most popular of them all is DJI Innovations which is renowned for producing the Phantom series with GPS First Person View. Their products are tailored to meet the needs of both the hobbyists as well as for professional use. Of note is the Phantom 3 which is the best ready to use fly video enabled quadcopter drone on the market. The Phantom 2 is great especially when coupled with a GoPro camera. The newest model to look out for from DJI is the DJI Phantom 4.
- Parrot is a French company based in Paris, France. This has recently made an entry into the drone market but it mainly deals with wireless devices for mobile and automobiles. The company has taken by surprise the hearts of many in the consumer UAV/ quadcopter drone market. The AR.Drone as well as its successor the AR.Drone 2.0, are mid-range hobby drones with integrated FPV systems and can be controlled by a smartphone app. Of note from Parrot is the Bebop drone which is an advanced quadcopter with an array of features.
- Another popular quadcopter drone maker is the 3D Robotics. It’s based in Berkeley, CA but the drones are produced in Tijuana, Mexico with the engineering department being in San Diego. So far their best model was the IRIS Plus model. This company is known for producing drones which have GPS way point planning as well as other features.
- Hubsan is based in Dong, China and it has recently become well known especially for its Hubsan X4 models: Hubsan X4 H107C and the Hubsan H107D FPV X4 Mini RTF quadcopters. The products of this company have made to be a household name particularly in the hobbyist market.
- Blade is another hobby product distributor based in Champaign, Illinois. It is owned by Horizon Hobby, the manufacturer of the Blade range of quadcopters. Their product users enjoy some enhanced features such as SAFE that enables the flying experience to be easier and safer. Its most popular model is the Blade Nano QX, which is a great beginner quadcopter.
Not sure which model to buy?
Having looked some of the best quadcopter drones as well as the notable manufacturers, one has to settle on one drone. There are a number of factors that you need to bear in mind like the cost to be incurred, what the drone is meant for, the product features in comparison to other available drone models as well as your skills and experience in handling drones just to mention a few.
Quads recommended to professionals
The Phantom 3 is a cheaper and fair professional quadcopter drone, but it can also be suitable for drone hobbyists. The pros of this drone include a clear camera, its intuitive flight controls as well as its HD real time video display. One can also have stable flights indoors. The major drawback is the customer support that is offered by this drone’s manufacturer.
On the other hand the DJI T600 Inspire 1 is the best professional drone that you could settle for. It boasts of a cooler and advanced design, an unrestricted 360 degrees view and it is good for dual pilot operation besides enabling images to be taken even in windy conditions. The price tag of this drone makes it to be out of reach to many people.
The Yuneec Q500 4K is a drone that you should also consider for professional use especially considering that it’s averagely priced (compared to the above).
Another professional quadcopter drone you could bank on is the 3DR Solo. It features a GoPro Hero 4 camera that can be taken off and used for other purposes. The presence of an HDMI port enables the user to connect this drone to any screen.
Quads for hobbyists
The Hubsan X4, the Blade Nano QX, the Parrot Bebop and the TBS Gemini are on this list. Of these drones the Hubsan X4 is the cheapest but it has reduced agility compared to the Parrot Bebop. The controller of the Hubsan X4 is however better than that of the Blade Nano QX. The Parrot Bebop is the most expensive of all the hobbyist drones and it features some very advanced aspects.
Pros & cons
In the search for the perfect drone, you must also weigh in the pros and cons of the niche. This way, you’ll know if they are worth your attention, money, and time.
- Quads offer a great way to spend your free time
- They can be used for professional photography and stills
- The price point varies from extremely affordable to very expensive
- It’s a great way to learn more about flying and controlling a vehicle in the air
- You won’t be able to fly them from the first attempt (it takes time to learn)
- It’s quite an expensive hobby
- As a professional, there are just a few models out there that really worth the money
At the end of the day, getting the perfect drone also depends on how deep you can dig into your pocket. Hope this has been useful in helping you settle on the best quadcopter drone, for your needs.