BUYER'S GUIDE

Small Drones: Exploring Mini UAVS’ Potential

Jack Brown
Written by Jack Brown

Originally, drones were mainly used for military purposes, but with the progress of technology, they become available for the general public. Nowadays, we have them in a series of sizes, models, and even types of activities they can perform.

For instance, small drones are the most affordable and popular models on the market. However, the world of drones is not limited to these and there are other models that will definitely charm you (if you have the necessary budget).

The main way to classify drones is by their size:

  • Firstly, there are micro drones, which have sizes ranging from those of insects to about a few centimeters long. These are extremely lightweight objects and can be maneuvered very easily.
  • Next, we have smaller drones, which are slightly larger than the previous category, but are still very lightweight and small.
  • Medium-sized drones, which are much heavier and larger than the others. These are capable of carrying a lot of extra weight. Thus, they are most suitable for carrying bulky cameras.
  • There are also large drones available, but those are mainly used for professional purposes and military commitments.

In this article, let us focus more on small drones. In spite of their small size, they seem to be solid and sturdy, thus giving them the required agility. Read on to discover more on them.

The best 5 drones in small size in the market

Smaller drones could further be categorized based on the number of arms they have. For instance, there are tricopters, quadcopters, hexacopters, octacopters and others. If you too are making up your mind to own a small drone we just hand-picked the best 5 small drones for you.

Walkera QR Y100 Mini HexaCopter

When we talk about drones of small size, one of the best names that come up is the Walkera Y100 hexacopter. It is a smartly designed device that is popular for all the right reasons. What makes it the best is its on-board camera. All thanks to the camera, you could choose to have a live view of the HD videos recorded by the device through Wi-Fi connection to your iOS or Android device.

QR Y100 hexacopter

Talking about interesting facts, here’s another one: this hexacopter can be controlled without using a transmitter. How is that possible? It can be controlled from your smartphone the way you want it to. Cool, right?

Now, coming to the structure, it is lightweight enough to give it the required agility and yet strong enough to make it durable. The molded plastic body gives it a stylish design. In spite of being a lightweight frame, the device is very efficient, thanks to the strong set of propellers.

The lithium polymer batteries are strong enough to provide a flight time of 15 minutes and that is pretty impressive for a drone of this size.

Because of the added stability, it forms the perfect option for FPV uses. Besides, there are some advanced options in the likes of ‘one key take off’ and ‘one key land’ which make it easy for the operators. The stability is also ensured by the 6 axis gyro which enhances the flight characteristics of the drone. This value for money hexacopter has been an instant hit amongst the enthusiasts.

If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can check its price on Amazon.

RC Mini UFO Tricopter

The next product on our list comes from the house of Generic. This is more of a toy drone with three arms. But one must not be fooled by its size because it comes with a 6 axis gyro that gives it some of the most stable flight characteristics.

Talking about the build of the RC Mini UFO, it is made from high-strength engineering plastics which make it sturdy in structure and known for the strong and hard landings. Also, this drone is known for its high resistance that makes it more suitable for outdoor flights. The remote control is capable enough to perform a few functions including the likes of rise, forward and backward movements.

For a drone of this size, a flight range of about 60 to 80 meters is well expected. This is pretty good for a small tricopter!

RC Mini UFO Tricopter

Another exciting addition to this drone is the accelerometer which works towards leveling this drone in mid air conditions. Sensors like these improve the performance of the product and also the user-friendly nature. This is a solid and sturdy device and hence it will hold good even against a few collisions and clashes.

This makes it a very useful device for beginners as they enter the world of flying. Moreover, this product can be flown both indoors and outdoors. The ability of the tricopter to make 350 degree rotation makes it an immediate favorite. Besides, it is also capable of 360 degree position hover. This means you can allow the drone to hover in the air to get a more all-round view of the scenes around.

Like this product? Then you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.

MJX X901 Mini RC Drone Hexacopter

Mini drones find a number of applications and the next one on our list is definitely worth checking out. The MJX X901 is a hexacopter that comes equipped with 6 arms and is a rather strong and sturdy device.

The design of the MJX X901 ensures that it is able to give you a solid performance. This is especially true when there are other drones flying in the air and there might be some interference.

In situations like these, the fact that it is made of a 2.4g technology comes in handy when it works towards providing a flight that is free from interference. The device is also capable of a powerful performance packed with some exciting 3D motion.

MJX X901 in the hand

One of the most attractive features in this drone is the headless mode. This allows you to change and work on the movement based on your position and not on the orientation of the drone. So, even if the hexacopter changes its orientation mid air, it will not be very difficult controlling the device. The stable flight characteristics are ensured by the 6 axis gyro system of the drone.

However, the copter is a little weak when it comes to its flight time. A fully charged battery can give you a flight time of about 5 minutes. But it makes up for this by the range of functions the drone is capable of carrying out. This includes up, down, left and right movements, side flying, 3D flips, rolls and the likes, making the X901 a fun object to play with.

Like this product? Then you can check its price here.

Cheerson CX-10 Mini quad copter

While we are talking about small drones, there is hardly anything that can triumph over mini quadcopters, in terms of their stability, balance and efficient performance. This product from Cheerson justifies that.

To start with, the Cheerson CX 10 has a very solid and classy design. It will give you one of the most stable flights when it comes to smaller drones. This has a 6 axis design that makes it perfect for flying outdoors as well as indoors.

The adjustable gyroscope makes this a very interesting catch. Talking about the flight performance, there are 3 different modes this device can follow. This limits how far the quad can tilt in its flight.

Cheerson CX-10 Mini quad copter

While mode 1 guarantees lowest maneuverability, mode 3 has the highest. You can flip the quad even without making use of the flip mode. This, however, might not be your best call when it comes to durability.

The blades tend to break on slightly powerful impacts. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to charge the batteries and once fully charged, they can power a flight time of about 4-6 minutes, which is acceptable for a drone of this size.

It is thus said to be better for indoor flying that comes at a price that does not threaten the pockets. Initially, it is recommended that you try it on beginner speed and later move on to more adventurous prospects. Overall, this is a nice small drone that gives decent performances and flight time with easy user controls.

Like this product? Then you can check its price on Amazon.

HUBSAN X4 H107 Quadcopter

The last product on our list is probably one of the best you will get in this genre. Coming from the house of Hubsan, a name that is well-known when it comes to quadcopters, this is a small drone that comes with great promise.

It takes about 30 minutes to charge the device and once charged it can hold good for about 8 minutes. Talking about the flight range, it can go as high as 150 meters and maintain a stable performance. Also, the device has the best stable flight characteristics which make it an interesting catch for beginners as well as amateurs.

Hubsan X4 H107

The quad is made from 98% plastic and about 5% metal. This combination works towards keeping it lightweight, all the while giving it the required strength. This is the perfect model for getting some first-hand experience in flying. Although it is ideal for indoor use when you can play around with the small device, it is also suitable for moderate outdoor use.

You can also fly it over water without the drone sustaining any damage. It can be used by the pros with all the superior flying styles and it can also be used by beginners. However, for the latter case, it is best to start off with a rotor guard for best results. Also, another interesting fact is that this device flies equally well forwards and backwards and this makes navigation a lot simpler.

If you interested you can buy it on Amazon.

Exciting applications of such drones

Since more and more people are showing interest in these unmanned aerial vehicles, a number of exciting applications have also come up. Now, the standard uses of a drone could be taking aerial photographs, first person views of the scenes around, playing around or gaining some experience with flying objects and the likes. However, we bring you a whole new set of out-of-the-box applications of such drones.

If these vehicles or devices could be used to their full potential, one would have a lot of work easily done. And here perhaps you’ll find one or the more reasons to own a small drone. Check out!

Delivery jobs

This is one of the most exciting applications of drones. If these devices could be used for delivering goods from the vendor to the customer, a lot of manual labor would be reduced. For instance, Amazon is one of the online stores that hope to use unmanned drones for delivering goods.

Small drone testing delivery

Also, if activities like pizza delivery could work with the help of copters, the work would get done a lot faster and more easily. In fact, in 2014, a mini drone delivered a 12 pack beer for fishing anglers on Lakes Mille Lacs in Minnesota.

News reporting

Using manned helicopters to cover news stories has been in vogue for quite some time. Drones here could give us particular advantages for the same. For instance, mini drones, being smaller in size can reach areas that the larger copter cannot. Also, copters with camera could give us a more focused shot of the actual incident in question.

Flying drones in city

News reporting could get a whole new perspective if we can implement this idea.

Agricultural applications

It is a little difficult to imagine agriculture’s connection with technology in this case.

Drones-agriculture

However, drones with cameras could be used for monitoring crop growth in different agricultural lands. This can be put to use by large scale farmers. This could give us significantly good results.

Surveys & public service

Yes, these mini UAVs could be used for conducting surveys and research in different parts of the country. For instance, these copters could be used for having a population count of animals or birds in a wildlife sanctuary. The best part about these drones is that they can be quiet enough not to alert the resting animals.

Drone aerial surveying

Apart from the usual applications of these small drones, they could also be used for public service operations. For instance, these UAVs could help improve the quality of rescue missions or even for bomb detection services.

3D mapping & weather

Small scale drones, being small and lightweight objects, can help us survey landforms and bring us digital images that can help in 3D mapping. These can replace the satellites in their work and allow the low scale companies to be a part of these projects as well.

Weather drone

Even more, it is said that the NASA, NOAA and Northrop Grumman are working hand in hand to use the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct surveillance of storms and hurricanes and predict their occurrence. This can greatly help us improve the weather forecast on a regular basis.

Aerial photography

This seems like quite a usual application of drones. But it comes with a difference. For instance, drones could help real estate agents take aerial shots of the property to aid in its management. Also, event organizers could turn towards these copters to get a headcount of a particular social gathering and the likes. There can be many such useful applications of drones for photography.

Drone aerial photography

Who should buy mini drones?

There are different kinds of drones in the market, each coming with its set of features, pros and cons. But the main question here is who should buy and use a small drone?

Parrot Mini-Drone Rolling Spider

There are three different groups of people who could be interested in drones, spread across different age groups.

  • RC hobbyists – If you want to purchase a new drone, the chances are highest that you fall under this category. A conventional RC hobbyist is a person who is intrigued by the idea of remote controlled devices including the likes of cars, boats, helicopters, toy robots and the likes. It is natural for such a person to be thrilled by the idea of remote controlled drones.
  • Professional photographers – A photographer who is trying to bring a new and different perspective to his art could also be amused by the concept of drones. Aerial photography gives you one of the clearest views of the earth. Even if you are a photographer by hobby, pursuing your passion, these drones could aid you in the process.
  • Drone technology enthusiasts – Drones are one of the most innovative creations of technology. So, a lot of people are intrigued by this particular application of technology and hope to invest some time in learning the functioning and intricacies of the different unmanned copters in the market.

Not sure what model to buy?

Drones (small or not) come with a number of exciting features. While some have the return to home button that allows the device to come back to its takeoff point, others have a system by which they can hover on their own in mid air. Smaller drones are easier to use, lightweight in structure and form a great way to gain some experience in flying. These might not come with heavy equipments like a camera for capturing pictures from an aerial view, but they definitely give a solid performance with decent flight times.

The first product on our list was the QR Y100 hexacopter from Walkera. This Bind and Fly device is suitable for all types of flyers including the amateurs and the experienced. The fact that it can be controlled by smartphones makes it a very useful build.

However, sometimes it is possible that you lose the connection using your phone. So, for reasons like these, it is always best to use a transmitter. Also, this drone is not suitable for use in moderately windy conditions because of its light frame. In the end, the flight time of about 10 to 15 minutes, it makes up for all the disadvantages.

The next one from Generic gives you a range of 80 to 90 meters in the air, which is pretty good for its size. However, the Invader model is capable of hovering in the air and taking 360 degree rotation videos. This remote controlled device is a sturdy product that has been known for being a secure and stable drone. The stability is also ensured by the 6 axis gyro which is pretty impressive for a small tricopter. The fact that it is made from engineered plastics makes it durable and a few crashes and collisions here and there don’t seem to destroy the device.

Talking about durability, the MJX X901 is nothing less, being made from high-quality plastic. This is a mini hexacopter that comes packed with a range of pros. For starters, the headless mode is probably the first thing one would notice in this product. This makes flying such devices a lot easier. Yes, it might not give you a great flight time or it does not come with features like return to home button, but it is definitely going to ensure you a solid flight each time it takes off. Moreover, it comes at a very reasonable price and is ideal for hobbyists.

Another product that comes at a cheap price is the Cheerson CX 10 mini quadcopter. It is a simple device with some advanced features like allowing the user to toggle between different modes, different speed capacities and the likes.

You might have to be a little careful of collisions since it has been observed that the device does not hold good in front of clashes. It is best flown indoors thus. It gives a stable flight, thanks to the 6 axis gyro. Overall, if you want to try your hand at flying a mini drone without spending too much, yet get efficient flight performances, this is the drone for you.

The Hubsan X4 H107 is the best example for the performance of a small drone. This quadcopter is strong, with efficient batteries giving flight times of about 6 to 8 minutes, smooth navigation facilities, and a super stable flight.

There is more than enough power to get a few flip somersaults and rolls. This makes using this copter a lot more fun. This is a value for money drone and has sometimes proven to be more effective than some of those racing drones. What makes this drone even more popular is its utility for beginners and as well as experienced flyers.

SKEYE Mini Drone

We have learnt about a series of amazing drones, each coming with their own exciting features and problems. Let us now have a look at some of the pros and cons of such devices.

Pros:

  1. Low cost devices – These drones come at prices much lower than those of the standard drones, making them more suitable for use, especially for beginners.
  2. Lower risk – Since the mini drones are smaller in size, there is a significantly lower risk of running it outdoors. These will not collide with larger structures or invade on privacy.
  3. Lightweight – Owing to the fact that these drones are smaller and lightweight in structure, they are more stable to fly. Thus, flying them outdoors will not be a cause for concern.
  4. Easier maneuverability – They are easier to control in air because of their petit appearance. Also, some features like the headless mode add to the advantages offered.
  5. Decent battery life – Most of these drones offer a battery life of about 5 to 8 minutes which is great for taking a quick spin out in the open.

Cons:

  1. Since the mini drones have smaller structures, there is a chance that these might get lost in the air and you might lose control of them.
  2. They come with shorter ranges that limit your flying experiences.
  3. Another problem is that they are fragile in structure and are prone to sustain damage with a few clashes or collisions off the ground.

Whatever it is, small drones at least deserve a try. No? So which one are you going to pick? Do let us know in comments!

About the author
Jack Brown
Jack Brown

Jack is the Chief Pilot at MyDroneLab.com bringing experience, expertise and knowledge in this quite new industry. He is a graduate of the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Besides having all the necessary technical knowledge when it comes to drones, Jack and his team love to spend the time outside by the ocean, working on new features and teaching others how to pilot these amazing and exciting new robots.

  • Andrew Miller

    Using small drones for population count of animals and birds can be a great example of connection between wildlife and modern technologies. The most important thing is to forbid using them for hunting, we still can’t solve problems with poachers in Africa!

  • Correct. With great technology comes an equally big responsibility.

  • timothy smith

    Never tried to control such a small drones. I think, they can be easily used indoors. Are they very noisy? Do I need to register them?

  • If it weighs more than 0.55 pounds, you would have to get it registered. Bu the process is failry simple. Yes, you can use them indoors. Yes, a buzzing noise is always there.

  • Mike Darrell

    The Cheerson CX-10 Mini is the coolest toy helicopter I’ve ever seen. It is only about the size of an Oreo cookie but it can really go. Great cheep quad for beginners, indoor flying, and people who want the smallest flier in the world. I would recommend if you buy this product to also buy a guard cage for the blades.

    • Jack Brown

      This model has brought so many new fans to the drone hobby! 🙂 It really is a perfect little quad for beginners. Easy to control, great price, a perfect model for mastering the piloting skills before moving on to the big boys league 😉

  • Harper Williams

    The MJX X901 is amazing. This drone is one of the best in the nano league. I’ve crashed it countless times and it still works perfectly fine. For the price, it’s awesome.

  • Jack Brown

    And the fact that it is a micro hexacopter, makes it more stable than its competition. A great little drone all in all 🙂

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