Drones are pretty amazing, no matter which way you look at them. They’ve taken the relatively niche activity of radio-controlled flight and turned it into a mainstream technology. Thanks to sophisticated flight systems and multi-rotor stability, it’s pretty easy to get into the drone addiction.
If you’re new to drones, one of the first things you’ll wonder is where to start when it comes to buying your own units. In other words, which are the best drones for beginners?
My advice is always to go out and buy any of the cheap nano-drones sold at most toy and electronics stores. The sort of drone that goes for $20 and only offers fully manual flight. Something like the Hubsan Q4 is perfect for learning the basics of flight. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can look to one of these drones that are friendly to beginners and offer different value propositions depending on what it is you’re looking to get out of your personal drone experience.
DJI/Ryze Tech Tello
Right off the bat, you should know that the Tello is pretty much the most advanced drone you can buy for $100. While the hardware is designed and built by a company called Ryze, the software acting as the brains of the Tello is made by DJI. The market leader when it comes to commercial drone technology.
As standard, the Tello does not come with a controller, although you can buy one separately. It’s designed to be controlled from a smartphone app and has enough intelligence to perform tasks like hovering, landing and taking off without your intervention. Although it only has a front-facing 720p camera, the Intel processor and vision technology from DJI helps it position itself pretty accurately. The Tello is a sophisticated little drone in its own right, but it’s also designed for education. You can program it with custom code right out of the box, making this little guy bunch way above its weight.
Unlike the Tello, the Spark is wholly a DJI product and represents the entry level of their drone range. Don’t let that fool you however, the Spark is an incredibly capable little machine that is nonetheless designed from the ground up to be usable by anyone.
It features a 2-axis gimbal and 1080p camera. It’s vision system allows it to avoid flying into obstacles and can recognize people and objects for some pretty amazing automated shots. The Spark does not ship with a manual controller as standard, but of course you can buy one. Instead you can control it from an app, but also by using gestures. As long as the drone can see you, you can beckon it closer or tell it when to take a picture. Much of the technology in the Spark has trickled down from DJI’s muc much more expensive professional drones and now we mere mortals can also enjoy it. With the Spark, DJI have found an almost perfect balance between user-friendliness and features.
Parrot is one of the oldest names in commercial drones, made famous by their AR Drone product back in the day. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t really been on the lips of drone enthusiasts for years, but the Anafi marks a welcome return to form for a pioneering brand.
Make no mistake, although we recommend this for drone beginners, this is the entry-level of the professional flyers. The Anafi has a 4K HDR camera, proper manual controller in the box and unique gimbal that can look up letting you film things from below. Something we have yet to see in another drone. Yet, thanks to the FreeFlight 6 app and AI-powered shooting functions, it’s a very approachable system. At this price point, it’s hard to think of something that can compete on specs or novelty, while still being suitable for pilot who are still finding their feet. Think of it as the beginner professional drone pilots best choice in today’s market.