Best Drones Reviewed & Rated for Personal and Recreational Use
Criteria Used for Evaluation
As we started to think of the different criteria that were most important in picking it out, the functionality of the remote was vital. The reason being is that without a properly built remote, it can get lost, damaged, or will not work. With that, the remote to signal it had to be of the best quality and we had to take into consideration the functionality of the remote. With that, we discovered that many remotes are made with basic functions such as joysticks and on/off buttons.
Specs of The Drone
When taking them into consideration, we knew this would easily become one of the most important criteria to talk about and so, we had to include it. The reason being is that the specs of the device are the primary reason an individual buys it. Whether an individual is just wanting a simple flying machine, or they are hoping for a full out movie making one, the specs define the purpose of the goal.
Electronic Drone and Remote System
This may be somewhat confusing to think about but by electronic unmanned aerial vehicle and remote system, we are taking into consideration the technology behind how the device and the remote function with one another. With that said, the electronic device and remote system are in reference to the program that the brand uses. For example, DJI uses a particular program per design that a user can update using a software upgrade.
Special Features of the Drone
When we started to dive into the best devices in the industry. One major question we asked ourselves was if any brands created any special features when it came to the droning quality. What we realized was the most brands were straightforward about their specs. However, some brands do offer nifty and cool features such as the ability to have LED lights on its propellers, or change the body color of the device. All of this with other special features from more high-end ones, such as the ability to capture an image with motion gesture was important special features we took into consideration.
As the next criteria on the list, of course, we had to include durability. Of course, if it had to go up against a tree, the tree would win. However, we wanted to ensure that each one was built with the best of quality materials for enhanced durability. The durability had to withstand not only the test of time, but slight rain, and maybe or crash or two. With that, we discovered that the highest of brands had a high-tech crash system technology with obstacle detection sensors that could recognize when there was an obstacle in the way
If a user did not opt-in for the most expensive one, well even the lower end ones for beginners would include a crash guard barrier on the propellers as a safety measure for the device and individuals. The most common is that many brands would include extra propellers in case of a crash or a propeller breaks, which only adds to the quality of the brand and their reassurance to help the consumer as much as they can during their trial and error process.
When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles, we had to ensure that the best materials were used per different one. Of course, the ones that are of a lesser cost will have lesser quality materials. An example of this is the DJI brand, that focuses on creating some of the best ones in the industry. Many brands will use other materials such as aluminum hinges and polycarbonate.
With that in mind, the material is meant to withstand the test of time either way. Now, for the common material, it seems that plastic was the most common and so, many different brands will offer plastic types, especially if the price is very cost friendly. Other than that, one of the aspects that we took into consideration when taking the overall material into the review is how the materials correlate to each other. Important aspects that we took into consideration as far as the material design of it includes; body, the remote, the propellers, the inside materials used. (to avoid overheating, etc.)
Speaking of the inside of the device, let’s move towards one of the most important aspects of it. The specs!
Ease of Use
When thinking about flying it, individuals tend to get a bit intimidated by the idea of flying a machine as fast as this. With that said, one of the most important criteria to take into consideration was the ease of use of it and the remote and how users can expect that it will function. Now, as far as of ease of use, we not only wanted to include the flying of the device, but we also wanted to take other factors into consideration.
The factors we took into consideration when thinking about ease of use was also how to use the remote, how to connect it to the remote, how to put the device together, and how to reach the instruction manual. All of this together compiled the criteria that we see now, which was used to evaluate the quality and value of it alongside the many other factors we have talked about. Which leads us to one of the most important areas, one that never skips a beat!
As we talk about cost and value, our goal was to share and showcase the best ones in the industry that ranged in price. As one will see, not all of them are priced the same or in the same bracket. Most of the unmanned aerial vehicles, in fact, are priced differently and offer different levels of value of the cost. As far as value, it all depends on what an individual is looking for. Whether it is a flying one specifically for speed, a specifically for camera shooting, or a recreational one used for fun and games, value has to always be above the cost, so users feel that they are getting their money’s worth. Which leads us to the next criteria, one we added in as an extra criterion to take into consideration.
Top 10 Picks
1. Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV
While more expensive than many of the other ones in this list, the Holy Stone FPV device is feature-laden to make that extra cost worth it. With a flight time of up to 15 minutes, one-key takeoff and landing, altitude hold, headless mode, a 500 meter range, and optimized video, it has all the features most users look for in a personal use device, and the GPS assisted flight and return to home functions ensure you won't ever lose it, either.
The FPV device by Holy Stone simply offers better features and better flight than most other personal use types, including the GPS assist, one-key takeoff, and landing, return to home function, built-in stabilizers, and even a follow me mode so you can take it on the go with you. With the flight time of up to 15 minutes and a range of up to 500 meters, it also lasts longer than most of its competitors.
The optimized 720P 120° FOV FPV wifi camera with a 90° adjustable angle ensures you can capture high-quality video and aerial photos, and the real-time viewing capacity helps ensure you get exactly the shot you want.
Cost and value
The combination of features and video quality means that while this one is more expensive than most of its competitors, it's well worth the bump up in cost.
2. Blade Nano QX
The Blade Nano QX has the capabilities to provide a smooth controlling experience. The construction of this model makes it great for speed and agility. Switching modes will allow those seeking more fun to perform stunts.
Size that increases function
Because the Nano QX is so tiny (it fits in your palm), you can take it anywhere, indoor or out. At less than half of one ounce, you can literally fly it in a closet if you so desire. And that allows you to take the QX places other ones can't go.
Control AND maneuverability
Unlike many other quadcopters, the Nano QX offers both control and maneuverability. The SAFE (Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope) helps ensure it stays steady (simply let go of the controls and it will automatically level out) even as its small size ensures it stays nimble and responsive. That's not something many other personal use ones can say.
Cost and value
Even better, the Nano QX is laden with features that come at no extra cost, including wireless transmission, durability in crashes (helped in part by the rotor cages and its small size), and extra rotors. There may not be a better one for its price point.
3. TOZO Q1012 X8tw Quadcopter
The Tozo Q1012 is definitely one of the best learning devices we tested, with a wide range of features that help first-time drone pilots build up their skills as they gain experience. The maneuverability available once the skills are there to capitalize is likewise quite impressive.
Not only does the Tozo Q1012 X8tw quadcopter offer one-key return AND one-key take-off, but the headless mode, easy flight controls, and three-speed modes also allow introductory pilots to quickly gain experience, comfort, and skill, making this a great device on which to learn. Additionally, the foldable design makes it more durable when it does crash.
This was also one of the most responsive ones for personal use which we tested, meaning that once you are comfortable as a pilot, there's very little you can't get this device to do.
Cost and value
While not the cheapest entry-level personal use device, it's also far from the most expensive, and the range of features that make it such a great learning one make it a great value, both for yourself and for your kid (our nephew, etc).
4. Holy Stone HS170 Predator
As one of the easiest devices on this list for beginners to learn how to fly, the HS 170 Predator Quadcopter is also the best value on this list. Super beginner-friendly, the stability, and control it offers are better even than many more expensive entry-level personal use devices. As such, it's perfect for learning how to fly a drone before then moving up to more feature-laden models.
Headless control and automatic stabilizing
With headless control and automatic stabilizing, it's hard for entry-level and beginning fliers to go wrong with this option, which is incredibly forgiving and easy to learn. With built-in wind resistance and a maximum range of 30-50 meters, it's difficult for this device to get away from you, making it a great learning tool.
Durable for the price point
Because of its limited range, beginner-friendly stability measures, extra propellers, and more, it may take some work to kill this drone—which is exactly what some beginners need. So if you're looking for a device for the kid who manages to break everything, this is a great place to start.
Cost and value
This isn't by any means the best items on this list, nor is it the most feature-laden. It is, however, the best value for its cost and the friendliest to beginner pilots.
5. DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter
While much more expensive than many other devices for personal use, the DJI Phantom 3 offers features that make it quite worth the step up in cost if you already possess the flight skills to capably fly this quadcopter. With up to 25 minutes of flight time, 8 GB of storage, extra propellers, and much more, it simply offers significantly more than most other personal use devices on the market.
Battery life and range
The DJI Phantom 3 can simply do more than most other personal use devices, offering up to 25 minutes of flight time and a range of up to a half-mile, considerably more than most of its competitors. Additionally, GPS-enabled flight helps you maintain a sense of where your device is, so you can readily and quickly fly it back to you when the battery starts getting low.
Vastly superior video
The camera and recording capabilities make this one a fierce competitor and the 8 GB micro SD card means you shouldn't have to worry about data storage while you're out. You can also live stream, so you can see exactly what you're shooting as you shoot it.
Cost and Value
It's true, the DJI Phantom 3 is more expensive than most other personal use devices, especially compared to some of the budget-friendly devices on this list. As such, it isn't a true beginner drone—it's expensive enough that you really don't want to risk crashing it on your first flight. That said, the features are so far above most of the competition that its worth the price if those features are what you're looking for in your device.
6. Force1 UDI HD+ Rc
Incredibly feature-laden, the Force1 UDI is definitely one of our favorite ones, and with nearly twice the flight-time of most comparable models, it's hard to go wrong with the incredible video features.
Compared to many of its competitors, the Force 1 UDI offers a ton of extra features, including more data storage (including an extra 4 GB memory card), an extra power bank, a USB charger, a second battery, and more, such as 4 extra propellers, all of which increase functionality and help you love this one for a long, long time.
Not only do you get better flight time, the increased stability of this one compared to most comparable models means you get absolutely fantastic video quality—which you can also stream in real-time. If you don't want to stream, though, the 4GB memory card means you can shoot a ton of it before you need to clear more data space.
Cost and value
In addition to all the other features, the flight features and added low-battery notice make this one of our favorite ones. It won't break the bank either, so if you're looking for a way to get into the game, this is a great place to both start and finish your search.
7. DbPower Mjx X400W Fpv
This model has something for both the expert and beginner alike. All while keeping your picture quality in mind as well. This version is lighter than others on the list while maintaining the durability of the product.
With a wifi enabled camera, the MJX X400W allows you to watch your video as you shoot it, and stabilizing features help you keep the film steady. The headless mode helps ensure you can get it back quickly, too, when the battery starts running low.
Easy learning curve
With headless mode, one-key return, and two different speed modes, it's easy to gradually increase your skills with this option. Additionally, the varied functionality allows you to fly it both indoors and out, and when you're ready for tricks, the MJX X400W is flip and roll capable in all directions.
Cost and value
While not the cheapest of the entry-level personal use ones, it's also not the most expensive, and the increased access of varied speed functions, headless function, and one-key return make it a great for learning, helping you transition toward bigger and better (but also more expensive) ones in the future.
8. GordVE GV1808 Mini Foldable
Not only is the GordVE GV1808 a foldable, light, and easy to use the personal one, it's featured rich for the price as an entry-level device. In addition, to hover control and one-key automatic return, the adjustable camera, easy steering functions, real-time video, and foldable frame (which keeps it from most major damage upon any collision) make it a great steal and an easy way to introduce yourself to the great ways a personal device can change your life.
Image and video features
Not only does the GV1808 offer real-time video and image transmission via wifi, so you can see exactly what your drone sees as you control it, the combination smartphone app and remote control allow you to get those images in the way that makes the most sense to you. Additionally, the HD wifi camera is adjustable to a full 75 degrees, meaning you can get the shot you need when you want it and how you want it, especially as hover control helps you keep the drone steady.
With built-in hover control and one-key return, you can always feel secure that you have full control of the GV1808. Additionally, 360 rollover and other steering controls like altitude hold help ensure the drone does exactly what you want it to when you want it to. And, should you ever lose control of the device and crash it, the foldable design helps protect it in case of any unintentional impacts, making this one of the sturdier entry-level personal ones on the market.
Cost and value
Not only is the GV1808 one of the most beginner-friendly entry-level personal drones we looked at, but it's also one of the least expensive, meaning it offers great value for the price. You could hardly find a better way to introduce yourself to the world of those devices than with the GV1808.
9. Holy Stone F181C RC Drone
Holy Stone does it again with this quadcopter, which offers a bonus battery for extra flight time, incredible control for the cost, one-key return and altitude hold features. Additionally, it shoots a great video for the price point, and while not the most intuitive ones we tested, is certainly one of the nicest of the entry-level personal devices.
While one-key return and altitude hold are the features you'll notice first, the 360-degree flip (which works in four directions—left, right, forward, backward) and continuous roll features are what really set this item apart.
While an 80-minute charge time is pretty standard for an item at this price point, the ability to swap the first battery out for a second included battery is not—which gives you extra flight time over comparable ones.
Cost and value
For this option, the key features are the bonus battery and the improved flight control. Those are hardly the only reasons to love it, though, as the video quality is also quite impressive for the price point. If you're interested in getting into ones for video use, this is a great place to start.
10. Holy Stone HS160 Shadow
Not only is the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow smartphone app-enabled, but it's also foldable and small enough once folded it can fit in your pocket. Despite its small size, it offers significant bang for the buck, offering 18 minutes of flight time even before a quick change of the batteries, and one-key return, 3d VR compatibility, gravity sensor control, and a fantastic FPV 720P HD camera all make this an ideal device for personal use.
The foldable, flexible blades of the HS160 help make it portable, and its small profile makes it less likely to crash as you learn how to fly. Additionally, when it does crash, the blades aren't easily damaged, meaning this is great for beginner operators.
Not only is the app control (both iOS and Android compatible) super easy for navigation purposes, it also offers a bunch of cool features: real-time image transmission, it also offers one key start, return, and landing, making it perfect for beginners, intermediate, and advanced fliers.
Cost and Value
Even better, the HS160 Shadow offers tremendous value, as it includes an amazing FPV 720P HD camera that shoots both photos and videos, with storage both in the app and a mobile album system AND both modular and bonus battery capabilities, meaning you can get extra flight time out of this bad boy.