We’ve reviewed, rated, and ranked all the top drones in 2023, no matter if you’re a beginner pilot or an experienced aviation enthusiast looking to upgrade to a professional drone.
The range of consumer drones has increased dramatically over the past few years. There have been dramatic improvements in connectivity, quality, and stability of shots. Even the smallest drones can now capture images of the sky at 4K resolution.
There are many factors to consider before purchasing the best drone. Image quality is important, but other factors can also make a difference. For those who are learning to fly, ease of handling is essential. Premium features like obstacle avoidance or autonomous hovering can help build your confidence. Experienced pilots will look for smooth controls to quickly take photos and the ability to fly in all conditions.
There are also trade-offs. You will have more freedom to fly lighter drones, but they will be harder to control in bad weather. However, heavier drones must still be registered with the appropriate authorities. They are more stable and will take better photos.
The DJI Air 2S is currently our best drone. It’s a great all around drone. It has impressive image quality, beginner-friendly flying modes, and a compact size that can be carried in a backpack or suitcase. Although this drone is the best, it may not be the right one for you. DJI is still the market leader in drones, but there are many other competitors, like Autel and FIMI.
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The Air 2S drone is a great drone. It combines the best features from our favorite DJI drones, Mavic Air 2 Pro and Mavic Air 2. The compact, foldable design is combined with the 20MP 1 inch onboard sensor.
This combination is a great choice for both novice pilots and experienced pilots who want to fly a small secondary drone that can go anywhere.
The Mavic Air 2 continues to be a great choice for people on a budget, but the Air 2S offers some practical advantages over its predecessor. You have the option to shoot 5.4K video at 30 frames a second, which allows you to be more creative. It also has a digital zoom option, although we don’t recommend pushing it past 2x.
You get a versatile drone that is far more versatile than its mid-range counterparts.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro drone is the most powerful and the best-selling compact drone. Although the Mini 3 Pro’s price tag is high for such a small drone, it is a significant improvement on the Mini 2.
It has a superior camera, obstacle detection sensors, and a variety of features that are not available on larger drones.
The Mini 3 Pro’s 12.1MP, 1/1.3-inch sensor provided excellent image quality and impressive ISO handling. The Mini 3 Pro’s small size and bright f/1.7 lens make low-light performance remarkable for such a small drone.
The three-way obstacle avoidance function worked well during testing. We especially liked its ability to shoot portrait mode without cropping.
The DJI Mini 2 will offer 4K video. This is a criticism of the DJI Mavic Mini. The Mini 2 retains the same compact design as the DJI Mavic Mini, making it the smallest drone in DJI’s range. However, it offers some additional bonuses.
These include a new remote that provides greater range and Ocusync 2.0 connectivity for a more refined flight experience. The DJI Mini 2 comes with QuickShot modes, which allow the drone’s to perform multiple pre-programmed movements.
Professional photographers will also love the Mini 2. The Mini 2 includes raw mode photography, and 4K video recording has a boosted bitrate at 100 mbps. The Mini 2 is not a significant upgrade from its predecessor, but it is the best compact drone available right now, especially for those who aren’t yet ace pilots.
The Autel Evo Lite+ is directly competing with the DJI Air 2S. It shares a remarkably similar technical specification. It is notable for its 40-minute autonomy and adjustable aperture (f/2.8 – f/11). It can also shoot 5.4K sequences with 30 frames per second using a 1-inch sensor.
Although the Evo Lite+ model is less stable that the Evo Lite, it has larger sensor pixels which allow it to capture light in more difficult conditions. Professional videographers and drone pilots should not use it due to its inability to record 10-bit video and D-Log profile.
The Autel Evo+ Lite+ does not include side sensors to avoid obstacles, but it is a high-quality drone with remarkable versatility. If you’re looking to replace the DJI Air 2S, the 20MP sensor is a great deal for the price.
The Cetus Pro is the best drone for learning to fly in first-person mode. This heavy-duty drone comes with everything you need to test it.
The Cetus Pro comes pre-assembled, unlike other FPV devices, which can be a little difficult to set up. Simply charge the batteries and put on your goggles to start flying.
It comes with 2 batteries and has 3 modes (Normal, Sport and Manual). Each battery has a range of 4 to 5 minutes, which is very fortunate.
The camera can see all that your drone sees but cannot capture photos or videos. It is designed for people who want FPV piloting.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is very comparable to the Mavic 2 Pro. But, there is one important difference: the camera setup. The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom has a smaller 12MP sensor combined with a 24-48mm zoom lens. Both drones are lightweight and foldable.
This well-thought-out combination allows you to take close-up photos and still maintain the 50-meter safety distance. The Mavic 2 Pro’s image quality is not as good as the Mavic 2 Pro’s, and the aperture at f/2.8 remains fixed. However, professional-grade photos and videos are still excellent.
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom’s real star is, as its name implies, the zoom. This opens up a whole new world of creative shooting possibilities. The range is great, distortion is minimal, and the control is intuitive thanks the the mobile app.
All this is on top of a DJI drone’s smart flight modes, including Hyperlapse and Active Track, as well a decent 30-minute flight length.
DJI’s new drone features an FPV mode. This allows you to fly with a first person view, which is much more immersive than the consumer drones. The DJI Avata’s light weight and agility make it easy for you to get a feel in FPV drone piloting.
The DJI Avata only weighs 410 grams so you can easily take it anywhere to capture your most memorable hikes and trips. If you’re familiar with the DJI FPV and its 795g weight, we guarantee that you’ll feel the difference. The Avata is also a better camera than its predecessor.
While the price of the DJI Avata drone alone is €579, you’ll have to shell out up to €1,429 with the new DJI Goggles 2 and the DJI Motion Controller, two almost indispensable accessories. You can’t go wrong if you’re comfortable with the first-person perspective. However, if you’re new to FPV or a drone for the first time, don’t hesitate to try it.
The DJI Mini 2 is an expensive option. We recommend the FIMI X8 Mini drone. This entry-level drone from Xiaomi is compact and lightweight. It can fly for up to 30 minutes and has a range of 8 km (or 100 meters if it uses the WiFi 5.8 Ghz mode).
The Xiaomi drone can fly in windy situations, capture images with stunning sharpness, stability, and folds up to be carried anywhere.
The FIMI X8 Mini comes with a well-designed remote and an intuitive control app that offers a variety of automated flight options.
The FIMI X8 Mini drone isn’t really weak, aside from the lack of front anti-collision sensors, but it is still worth looking into if your goal is to have a high performance drone at a very affordable price.
How do you choose the best drone to buy? Budget is an obvious place to start. This guide will focus on drones with cameras for aerial photography or video, which are more expensive than amateur drones.
Budget at least $400 for 4K video quality. But if you’re looking for a budget drone to improve your piloting skills, rather than to take high-quality images and photos, you can spend a lot less – the Ryze Tello, for example, costs just €99.
What features should you be looking for? If you want a drone that follows you automatically without you having to control it, you can look for a model with a follow me or follow me feature. The DJI Air 2S (US only), DJI Mavic Air 2 (2 US only), and Skydio 2 have this feature.
Beginners should also consider drones with automated flight modes, such as DJI Smart Flight Modes. These modes can perform “set pieces” movements without the need for piloting skills. Most drones can be controlled by your smartphone, which plugs into an provided tablet. While both Android and iOS phones are supported, it’s best that you verify that your drone works with your phone.
It is also worth looking into the local drone laws. Drones less than 250g are not required to register with local civil aviation authorities in many areas. This can help you save a little money. You must keep your drone within easy reach of people.
Photographers should also pay attention to raw photo support. This feature is less common than on cameras but is becoming more common with new drones. For example, the DJI Mini 2 has this feature, while its predecessor, DJI Mavic Mini, doesn’t.