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The best drones for fun or professional use (2024)

From cheap and fun to expensive and professional, these drones will keep you flying til the battery dies.

Best drones lined up
Image: KnowTechie

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Drones have quickly become a favorite of casual hobbyists and professionals, offering a new perspective on photography and digital LED display projects.

With this, the market is now saturated with options, from cheap $25 drones to ones that reach upwards of several thousand dollars. So it’s become a bit of a chore to determine what are the best drones just for fun, or for professional application.

Considering all the drone manufacturers on the market, there are two things to remember: Avoid all the cheap toy drones from strange manufacturers unless you want to replace them every third flight.

These drones are good for flying around indoors but usually break fairly quickly.

And second, you’ll see a lot of drones from DJI in the market, and on this list. DJI is one of the most reliable drone manufacturers, with a wide range of drones for all budgets and use.

04/25/2024 07:07 pm GMT

Finding the best drone for you

Operating a drone takes practice and at least a sliver of skill, but it’s a fun way to connect with and observe your environment. Whether that be residential shenanigans or creating a different perspective of the world around us.

Drones are great for adding depth and creativity to translating the world into visual entertainment.

Before looking for a drone, decide what is most important to you. That could be camera quality, or ease-of-use, or automated functions that ease you into learning how to fly.

Also, remember any drone over 249 grams in weight needs to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and before you fly you should take the FAA’s free TRUST test.

When shopping for the best drone, remember that the more you spend, the less it’s a toy, and the more it becomes a piece of professional equipment.

DJI Mini 4 Pro (Best Overall)

dji mini 4 pro drone and controller on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The main highlight of the DJI Mini 4 Pro is that there are four models to choose from in increasing price and functionality.

This is the second of four, offering a view screen embedded in the controller, as well as night video enhancements. Having that view screen offers a better semblance of control, but it still takes some practice.

Additionally, this is a lightweight folding drone, which means you can take it anywhere.

Plus, because it is lightweight, it doesn’t require any form of FAA registration. While not entry-level, the DJI Mini 4 Pro is a great drone to jump-start your aerial photography side hustle.

Best Overall
DJI Mini 4 Pro drone DJI Mini 4 Pro drone
4.6
$959.00

The DJI Mini 4 Pro is a lightweight drone that packs a punch with its high-end features. Equipped with a 4K/60fps HDR video capability, it ensures high-quality shots. The drone has true vertical shooting and omnidirectional obstacle sensing, making it versatile and safe to fly.

What We Like:
  • Extended battery life
  • No registration required
  • Obstacle sensors
  • Works with DJI Goggles
  • 20km FHD video
What We Didn't Like:
  • Gets expensive when adding accessories
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:07 pm GMT

DJI Mavic 3 Pro (Best for Professional Video)

render of a dji mavic 3 pro drone and accessories on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

If your side hustle turns into a legit profession, then you’ll need to step up your drone camera game with the DJI Mavic 3 Pro.

This beast of a drone contains a Hasselblad main camera with a 4/3 CMOS sensor and 4K results. You can keep it in the air for up to 43 minutes on a full charge at up to 15km away.

The controller contains a view screen, and eight vision sensors will pick out and avoid obstacles.

Video capture is also 4K (UHD 2160p), which makes this a great drone camera for shooting high-quality music videos or chase scenes.

The only downside is that the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is nearly $3,000, but it’s worth it for that perfect shot.

Best for Professional Video
DJI Mavic 3 Pro Drone DJI Mavic 3 Pro Drone
4.5
$2,999.00

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro showcases a triple-lens flagship camera with multiple focal lengths. It carries a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad and dual cameras, delivering high-quality images and videos. Compared to other Mavic models, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is classified differently, emphasizing its professional-grade capabilities.

What We Like:
  • 4/3 Hasselblad camera
  • 15km video transmission
  • FAA compliant
  • Triple-camera
  • 43-minute flight time
What We Didn't Like:
  • Expensive
  • Base model only has 8GB onboard storage
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:10 pm GMT

Potensic ATOM SE (Best Casual 4K)

render of a potensic atom se gps drone and its accessories on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The Potensic ATOM SE comes in at under $300 but has some nice features for such a cheap drone.

First, the controller embeds with your smartphone so you can get a bird’s eye view of your video. Next, one charge gives you about an hour of flight time, longer than many other more expensive drones.

There’s a beginner mode if you are just getting started, as well as a video and sport mode. The latter speeds the drone up a bit.

The brushless motor resists level-5 winds and provides stability, while the entire drone can fold up and fit in a pocket. The Potensic ATOM SE is a drone built for fun, without the cost burden of a professional drone.

Best Casual 4K
Potensic ATOM SE GPS Drone Potensic ATOM SE GPS Drone
4.5
$299.99 $249.99

The Potensic ATOM SE is a lightweight GPS drone known for its impressive flight capabilities and high-quality camera. Equipped with a 4K EIS camera, the drone provides stable and crisp aerial footage. It boasts a flight time of approximately 62 minutes, 4KM FPV transmission, and a maximum speed of 16m/s.

What We Like:
  • 4K EIS camera
  • No registration required
  • 62 minutes flight time
  • Foldable
  • Auto return function
What We Didn't Like:
  • Users report battery life drops substantially after a while
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:14 pm GMT

Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ (Best Long-Range)

render of an autel evo lite plus drone and accessories on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

There are plenty of drones with similar range and battery life, but the Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ kicks it up a notch with 6K video at 30 fps (or 4K at 60 fps).

The camera automatically rebalances whether in ultra vision, regular, or night scene mode. The aperture is adjustable, enabling you to regulate depth of field and exposure.

Another solid improvement over other long-range drones is its resistance to level 7 winds at a max altitude of 800 meters, delivering stable video and photo footage.

3-way sensors cap out the feature set of the Autel Robotics EVO Lite+, making it one of the more comprehensive drones on the market.

Best Long-Range
Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ Drone Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ Drone
4.4
$1,399.00

The Autel Robotics EVO Lite+ Drone is a lightweight drone equipped with a blend of power and portability. It promises a flight time of approximately 40 minutes and comes with various cinematic flight modes. It stands out with its Autel SkyLink image transmission system, offering a smooth, clear, and dependable image feed.

What We Like:
  • CMOS sensor
  • 6K HDR digital camera
  • 3-way obstacle avoidance
  • 40 minute flight time
  • Up to 7.4 miles transmission
What We Didn't Like:
  • Need SD card to update firmware
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:18 pm GMT

DJI Mini 3 (Best Budget)

render of a dji mini 3 drone and controller on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Budgets vary, but the DJI Mini 3 coming in at under $500 for one of the most reliable drone brands on the market ain’t too shabby.

Plus, once you get the hang of this drone, DJI offers many more drones at each rung of the professional drone pilot ladder.

It’s a foldable drone that requires no registration, which makes it great for travel and vacations. You can hook up your phone to the controller to see what’s happening, so you aren’t taking pictures or video blind.

The DJI Mini 3 is a fantastic way to get started with drone photography and offers many avenues to increase your expertise.

Best Budget
DJI Mini 3 Drone DJI Mini 3 Drone
4.5
$559.00 $469.00

The DJI Mini 3 is an ultra-lightweight and compact camera drone designed for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. It features detail-rich 4K HDR video capability and extended battery life, providing up to 38 minutes of flight time. Weighing under 249 grams, it combines portability with robust functionalities, enabling users to get creative with their drone flying experience.

What We Like:
  • 4K HDR video
  • Return to home feature
  • 10km video transmission
  • 38 minute flight time
  • Under $500
What We Didn't Like:
  • Gimbal can be sensitive
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:21 pm GMT

DJI FPV Explorer Combo (Best FPV)

render of a dji fps drone on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The DJI FPV Explorer Combo is called such because it comes with the DJI Goggles Integra, which enables users to have a first-person view.

Seeing what the drone sees is the highest level of immersion you can manage with a drone; it’s like you’re flying. And all while shooting video at 120 Mbps.

You can capture crisp HD low-latency video at up to 10 km. At that distance, you’ll be glad for the built-in safety features such as an auxiliary bottom light, smart return to home, and obstacle sensors.

Overall, the DJI FPV Explorer Combo offers an exciting drone flying first-person experience.

Best FPV
DJI FPV Explorer Drone DJI FPV Explorer Drone
4.4
$999.00

The DJI FPV Explorer Drone offers an immersive flying experience with its unique features and robust capabilities. It comes with the DJI Goggles Integra, extending your flight experience with acute precision. The drone can record 4K/60fps video at up to 120 Mbps, capturing precise details for a thrilling viewing experience and safety.

What We Like:
  • 4K video at 60 fps
  • 10km transmission range
  • FAA compliant
  • Truly immersive experience
  • Advanced safety features
What We Didn't Like:
  • Steep learning curve
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:24 pm GMT

DJI Mini 2 SE (Best Entry-Level)

render of a dji mini 2 se drone and controller on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

The DJI Mini 2 SE is a starter drone with simplified operations and a return-to-home function, so there are no worries about it getting lost as you learn to fly.

Flight time is around 31 minutes on a full charge, and you can swap out batteries if you want to be outside a bit longer.

Learning to fly can offer some challenges, especially when it comes to mapping out your flight path.

With the DJI Fly app, you can utilize the shooting templates. The DJI Mini 2 SE will then automatically fly, record, and take photos that you can immediately upload to your socials.

Best Entry-Level
DJI Mini 2 SE, Lightweight Drone DJI Mini 2 SE, Lightweight Drone
4.5
$299.00

The DJI Mini 2 SE is a lightweight, compact drone that's easy to use, making it ideal for beginners and enthusiasts. Weighing less than 249 grams. Its design fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, making it an excellent choice for travel and outdoor use.

What We Like:
  • Affordable
  • QHD video
  • 10 km transmission
  • No registration needed
  • Beginner friendly
What We Didn't Like:
  • App only supports newer devices
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:27 pm GMT

Ruko U11PRO (Best Affordable Foldable)

render of a ruko u11pro drone and accessories on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Where the Ruko U11PRO stands out among other foldable drones is with its flight time. At 52 minutes on a single charge, it’s one of the most energy-efficient drones on the market.

Plus, you can swap out some extra batteries for even more time in the air. It makes a great beginner drone as well, just because of the cost.

The 4K imagery is not real-time, as it only renders in 4K when saved to an SD card, but you can still watch what’s going on by plugging your phone into the controller.

The Ruko U11PRO is a fun little drone that provides an extra level of immersion to your family trips and general excursions.

Best Affordable Foldable
Ruko U11PRO First Drone Ruko U11PRO First Drone
4.3
$305.89 $279.88

The Ruko U11PRO First Drone is designed with adults in mind, offering advanced features. It supports 4K UHD video capture, allowing high-resolution aerial footage. It complies with FAA Remote ID regulations, ensuring legal and safe operations. With a flight time of up to 52 minutes facilitated by two batteries, it provides significant airborne time for capturing desired shots.

What We Like:
  • Under $300
  • 4K UHD video
  • FAA remote compliant
  • Level 5 wind resistance
  • 52 minutes flight time
What We Didn't Like:
  • Slow flight speeds
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:29 pm GMT

Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ (Best Tracking)

render of an autel evo nano plus drone and accessories on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Drones are great for taking pictures on the fly (literally), but sometimes you need a drone like the Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ to track moving objects.

It has a precision autofocus system, using PDAF (phase detection autofocus) and CDAF (contrast detection autofocus) to track and capture moving objects like cars or animals. If you prefer wildlife photography, you’ll need a good tracking camera.

You’ll also find some other familiar features in this drone, like a CMOS sensor, obstacle avoidance, and an easy-to-use application. But really, where the Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ shines is with its tracking technology, enabling you to branch out your aerial photography.

Best Tracking
Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ Drone Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ Drone
4.1
$679.00

The Autel Robotics EVO Nano+ Drone is a lightweight drone that delivers high-quality aerial footage. It has a 1/1.28 inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing up to 50MP photos, using an RYYB color filter array design with a large aperture of f/1.9. Its foldable and compact body weighs only 249 grams, making it extremely portable.

What We Like:
  • PDAF + CDAF autofocus system
  • Lightweight
  • No registration needed
  • User friendly app
  • Large aperture
  • 50 MP photos
What We Didn't Like:
  • Reports of defective batteries
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:36 pm GMT

Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone (Best for Kids)

render of a holy stone hs440 foldable fpv drone on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

With basic starter features, the Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone is the perfect drone for kids looking to get into the hobby. You can use the app to adjust the camera and watch what the drone sees.

And the thing is under $100, which makes it perfect for kids because they will break it.

However, it’s a sturdy little drone that flies up to 20 minutes with an altitude hold, gyroscopic stabilization, and emergency stop.

The Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone might not be the newest drone model, but let’s keep those costs down for the kids.

Best for Kids
Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone
4.1
$129.99 $84.99

The Holy Stone HS440 is a foldable FPV drone with a 1080P WiFi camera. It is designed to be highly portable, providing flexibility to adult beginners and kids. The drone features advanced and intuitive controls, with voice and gesture control options, making it more interactive and user-friendly.

What We Like:
  • Under $100
  • Voice control
  • Auto hover
  • 1080p WiFi camera
What We Didn't Like:
  • Short range for keeping the controller paired
KnowTechie is supported by its audience, so if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale.
04/25/2024 07:38 pm GMT

How to find the best drone for you

The feeling of freedom while flying a drone around can’t be beaten. The unique perspective on life can create some awesome photographs and videos and could lead to a nice side hustle.

When it comes to picking the best drone for your needs, there are some specifications that are more important than others. Things like battery life, stabilization, and strength of the remote control signal are all paramount to a good experience.

Camera quality is also important if you plan to record, and bundles with extra batteries and a charger are a good way to save some cash.

The best drones are the ones that fit both your budget and intended use while staying within the laws around responsible drone flying.

Got a favorite drone that we missed from this list? Prefer to build your own? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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