Best Drones: 19 You Can Fly in 2016
Drones, long since a critical tool for military and technical operations, have recently become some of the most in-demand tech items on the market today. Outfitted with cameras, sturdy helicopter props, GPS, and enough added features to make any tech junkie drool, the best drones for sale today are also being used for aerial photography, videography, personal pleasure, and even transportation.
In recent years, big companies like Amazon have also taken note of the drone craze and are using the mechanized flying machines to deliver packages. There’s even talk of a personal drone coming shortly, which can be used to transport humans. No matter what the specifics may be, the future of the drone market looks bright.
If you’re looking for the best drones, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed by possibilities. From racing drones to toy drones and drones with built-in cameras or clips to hold a tablet, the options are nearly limitless, and it can be difficult to decide which of the drones for sale is right for you. Luckily, you don’t have to struggle over the decision anymore.
In this list, we’ve compiled 19 of the best drones on the market. Ideal for drone enthusiasts, these 19 best drones offer quality construction, unique functions, and also a whole lot of fun. The drones on this list are suited for a variety of drone pilots, from novice to professional, so it’s important to understand what you’re looking for before you set out to purchase a drone.
If you’re looking for a drone that produces high-quality photos and videos, for example, you’ll be wise to buy a professional model with an integrated camera. If you’re interested in showing off your skills with barrel rolls and backflips, however, a small toy model will work just fine. Regardless of whether you’re looking for drones or quadcopters with cameras, these 19 best drones are sure to please.
19 of the Best Drones in 2016
#1. The Best Consumer Drone: DJI Phantom 4
Recommended for: Consumers who want a simple, easy-to-fly drone that also offers stable visuals and intuitive controls.
- Quality. Stable and easy to fly, the DJI Phantom 4 also offers outstanding obstacle avoidance and simple controls.
- High operating range. The 720p operating range beats that of other drones on the market.
- Automated capabilities. This drone offers “return to home” and also a high-speed sports mode.
- Expense. The price tag of the DJI Phantom 4 is higher than most models on the market.
- Requires an external app. If you want to use mission planning capabilities, you’ll need to install a third-party app to do so.
- FFA registration requirements. Coming in at 3 pounds and 7”x11.5”x11.5”, this drone requires FFA registration before being flown in the U.S.
The most recent in DJI’s consumer series, the DJI Phantom 4 is a sophisticated drone with unique capabilities and functions. Designed for consumer drone aficionados, this best drone is also ideal for the novice drone pilot.
Like the other DJI drones on the market, the DJI Phantom 4 offers a sleek body and a full safety system.
While it’s pricey, this drone is also compact, functional, and sophisticated, which is what makes it the best consumer drone on the market today. While the camera equipment hasn’t changed drastically since the Phantom 4 was originally released, the 20mm lens is capable and also sharp.
If you’d prefer to shoot video, switch over to the cinema 4K resolution setting, which offers a wide frame preferred by professionals.
When using the Phantom 4, all flights taken are logged, which allows you to view virtual flight paths and display routes in accelerated or real-time. Ideal for professionals and novices of all types, this drone is a great all-around model.
#2. Best Professional Drone: DJI Inspire 1
Recommended for: Professionals who want a high-quality, ready-to-fly drone.
- Sturdy. Featuring a well-built body and sturdy quadcopter styling, this is a robust drone that stands up to use.
- High-resolution video. This drone model offers 4K-resolution video.
- Two-controller operation. In the two-controller mode, one person can fly the drone while the other operates the camera.
- Short battery life. Consumers report the batteries in this drone die quickly, and that new batteries are expensive.
- Limited Android integration. Users of the Android system have been disappointed at the limited support offered by this drone.
- The need for two controllers. Most professionals recommend flying this drone in two-controller mode. Unfortunately, this drives the price up exponentially.
From the moment you pick up the Inspire 1, it’s obvious that this best drone is not a toy. Designed with an angular, militaristic look, the Inspire 1 is a professional drone that manages to be easy to fly while also being surprisingly robust and capable.
While the Inspire 1 has the same camera equipment as the Phantom 3, the Inspire 1 also offers more upgrade options for professional videographers or photographers.
What’s more, the gimbal and camera can also be removed or swapped with different camera equipment. One of the main things consumers love about this model is that it also offers the option of tilting the camera 125 degrees and rotating in 360 degrees, which makes it easy for best drone operators to capture perfect images.
This model is also equipped with DJI’s legendary VPS, which allows the Inspire 1 to “hover” indoors. This makes it perfect for operation in the upper reaches of arenas, stadiums, or auditoriums.
This drone also boasts a robust GPS system for precise navigation and accurate geographical data.
#3. Best Phantom Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Recommended for: The everyday drone enthusiast who needs outstanding video quality.
- Easy to fly. Unlike some of the larger best drones, the DJI Phantom 3 Pro is easy to operate. This model remains stable during flight and offers smooth video, even in choppy skies.
- RAW and JPEG images. Between its 4K video capabilities and RAW and JPG images, this drone is a visual professional’s dream.
- Professional-grade live view. Designed to offer a high-quality live view, this model is easy to navigate.
- Short battery life. The battery life can put a cap on flight time, which bothers drone enthusiasts.
- Visual edge distortion. Thanks to the wide-angle lens, it’s not uncommon to see edge distortion in these photographs.
Less expensive than other best drones, The Phantom 3 Professional has the same basic design of the other Phantom models but boasts slightly more features. At 23 inches wide and just below 3 pounds in weight, this drone model remains easy to fly and is ideal for amateurs looking to step up into a more advanced drone model.
One unique trait of this model is that the remote control offers a built-in clip designed to hold a mobile device such as a tablet or iPhone for viewing the in-flight footage. The remote itself is easy to operate and offers an emergency return-to-home feature intended to keep the drone safe. The remote also features video and exposure adjustment buttons and options for adjusting the tilt of the gimbal.
One thing that consumers love about this model is its stabilized 4K footage, which allows for high-quality image capture and doesn’t compromise flying experience in the process. Picked as the Editor’s Choice drone by PC Magazine, the Phantom 3 Professional is every bit as capable as it is exciting.
#4. Best Drone for Photography: DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
Recommended for: Professional photographers who need an agile and capable drone that also offers an unparalleled flight performance.
- High-quality images. Boasting full-HD video and outstanding flight and camera performance, this quality drone is the best drone for professional photographers.
- Stable indoor performance. Thanks to this model’s upgraded navigation abilities and added sensors, it’s better than any of the other Phantoms at indoor flight.
- Follow-me mode. The follow-me mode also allows for simple navigation.
- Short battery life. The DJI Phantom 3 Advanced has a notoriously short battery life, and professionals often have a difficult time with the 20-minute flights
- No option for camera removal. Unlike some other photo drones, you can’t remove or replace the camera on this model.
Unlike the Phantom 3 Professional, the Phantom 3 Advanced offers 4K and 1080p video options. It also provides a 57-watt charger and all of the resolution and power professional photographers need from 4K video.
Aside from that, the Phantom 3 Advanced’s controller is very similar to past Phantom 3 models, which makes it easy to fly (Even for beginners) and also provides a stable in-air experience.
This model’s gimbal features a triple axis, which is designed to help stabilize the camera and provide for smooth video despite choppy air conditions. What’s more, the camera is also capable of tilting 90 degrees, which allows for photo versatility.
Ideal for professional photographers and novice drone operators alike, the DJI Phantom 3 Advances is the best drone for photography.
#5. Best Drone for GoPro: Xiro Xplorer G
Recommended for: GoPro enthusiasts who need a robust, reliable drone that also features advanced handling capabilities.
- Versatile. This model works with GoPro cameras.
- Intuitive. Easy to fly – even for beginners.
- Automatic features. This drone boasts automatic landing and take-off capabilities.
- No tablets. This drone’s built-in clip does not accommodate tablets.
- Stiffness. It can be difficult to maneuver a GoPro to fit into included gimbal.
Designed to be compact, agile, and easy for even a beginner drone pilot to use, the Xiro Xplorer G is a functional drone that offers the added benefit of a small body. Capable of flying at high altitude over long distances, this drone also features security add-ins (such as included GPS-stabilization) common in bigger, more expensive drone models.
In addition to its overall functionality, the drone’s camera gimbal keeps the camera steady and produces clear photos with a GoPro or similar camera. Bear in mind that this drone does not include its camera, but it will accommodate yours nicely.
#6. Best Drone for Beginners: 3D Robotics Solo
Recommended for: Video enthusiasts who are learning about best drones and just getting started with drone photography.
- Simple. Automated handling makes this drone ideal for beginning drone pilots.
- Flexible gimbal. Seamless adjustment and tilt features are built into the gimbal.
- Works with various platforms.This drone is also compatible with both Android and iOS
- Short battery life. Battery life is shorter than many other models. This can lead to short flight times.
- Drift. This drone tends to drift off while in hover mode.
- Weak GPS signal. The GPS system on this model also isn’t as strong as other “beginner” models.
While drones without built-in cameras are often considered sub-par or less capable than their larger counterparts, the 3D Robotics Solo proves that camera-less drones can still be some of the best drones in existence.
Designed to work with a GoPro to capture video and image content, the 3D Robotics Solo drone also offers dozens of automated video and camera functions designed to help a new drone photographer or videographer break into the scene.
Unfortunately, this drone doesn’t provide a very strong GPS signal, and its short battery life makes it tough to enjoy a long flight. For this reason, it’s recommended for beginners, but not more advanced operators.
#7. Best Camera Drones that Follow You: Blade Chroma with CG03 4K Camera
Recommended for: Drone pilots who want a simple, effortless, easy-to-fly drone with a powerful “follow me” mode.
- Small size. This drone’s compact size makes it easy to travel with and take on-location to shoots.
- Simple. This model features an all-in-one controller that’s ideal for beginners.
- Readily available resources. Readily available customer support that’s perfect for helping new drone pilots learn the ropes.
- Poor video quality. The video doesn’t maintain its quality when blown up to large sizes on television screens.
- Limited flight options. Very few advanced flight options such as visual positioning systems.
- Sub-par GPS. Limited GPS functionality
Built by Horizon Hobby, the Blade Chroma with CG03 4K Camera is a simple little drone that’s ideal for people looking for a pared-down drone that also has follow-me capabilities. The controller features a built-in touchscreen, and the drone offers a sturdy and stable camera gimbal which makes it perfect for people looking for
The controller features a built-in touchscreen, and the drone offers a sturdy and stable camera gimbal which makes it perfect for people looking for high-quality image and video content delivered directly to their devices.
One of the smaller drones on this list, the Blade Chroma with CG03 4K Camera is also one of the best drones for people who travel often. Easy to break down and put back together, this 2.9-pound drone is fantastic for urban flight aficionados who want a portable model that doesn’t lack capability. Unfortunately, this model lacks some advanced flight features that professionals may crave, so it’s recommended for beginners.
#8. Best Drones Under $1,000: Blade Chroma with ST10 and 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro Hero
Recommended for: GoPro Hero lovers who want to break into aerial photography.
- Simplicity. Functions seamlessly with GoPro model cameras
- Great controller. Intuitive and beautifully designed remote control, complete with LCD screen
- GPS-enabled. Flight patterns stabilized by GPS capabilities
- Slow gimbal. While the camera gimbal moves nicely, it’s slow and can cost a photographer precious seconds during flight
- Short operating distance. In addition to its slow gimbal, this drone features a minimal operating range that rules it out for high-level photographers and videographers.
- Battery charger gets hot. The battery charger has been known to heat up, causing a slight fire risk.
Affordable, simple, handsome, and capable: those are all words that could be used to describe the Blade Chroma with ST10 and 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro Hero. Built by Horizon Hobby, this simple drone is made for GoPro Hero users who want a way to expand their hobby. Ideal for taking aerial video, this drone is easy to control by the remote control and offers a stable, 3-axis gimbal meant to transmit beautiful, solid video.
While this drone doesn’t compete with larger, more expensive models with integrated cameras, the Blade Chroma with ST10 and 3-Axis Gimbal for GoPro Hero a fantastic choice for GoPro Hero photographers who want to up their game.
#9. Best Drones Under $500: Parrot Bebop
Recommended for: People looking for a simple, affordable drone with a slick integrated camera.
- Durable. Sturdy design holds up to regular use.
- Simple. The user-friendly remote control allows for easy flights.
- High-tech functions. More autonomous features than many drones in this class.
- Short battery life. This drone’s limited battery life has also been known to cut flights short.
- Restricted operating range. Despite its autonomous features, this drone offers minimal flight and operation range.
One of the first good consumer drone companies on the market, Parrot has always been dedicated to offering simple, affordable, user-friendly best drones for the everyman among us. The Parrot BeBop is no different.
While this drone is one of the least expensive on this list, it doesn’t sacrifice quality or fun. Designed to offer many of the same capabilities as larger drones twice its price (including a built-in HD camera and a 3-axis gimbal), this little drone is also ideal for kids, beginners, or hobbyists.
#10. Best Camera Drone for Beginners: Yuneec Typhoon G
Recommended for: Beginning drone photographers that also have limited budgets.
- Sturdy. The stable, durable design that offers smooth flight patterns in addition to solid footage.
- Quiet operation. While many drones whirr or buzz around, this model is quiet during flight.
- Built-in safety features. Return-to-Home and “Follow-me” features for simple operation – even by beginners.
- Size. This is a large drone that’s also difficult to break down for travel.
- Single battery. This drone comes with one battery included, which leads to short flight times.
- Spotty transmission. This drone also has a limited transmission range for video streaming.
While the Yuneec Typhoon G is built very similarly to the Yuneec Q500 4K, this drone model offers a simple camera mount designed to be compatible with GoPro cameras rather than a built-in camera. Compatible with GoPro Hero models, this drone is ideal for beginners who already own GoPros and want to do something new with them.
Perfect for action camera footage, this is a sturdy drone that also has some definite drawbacks. In addition to a limited video range, the charger gets hot while juicing up the battery and the single battery severely limits the flight time. All that aside, however, this can be a fantastic introductory drone for people looking to dabble in the sport of Drone photography.
#11. Best Drone for Filming: Blade 350 QX3 AP Combo RFT
Recommended for: Drone pilots who like the previous best drones in this series, but have been disappointed by shoddy video quality in the past.
- Easy to fly. This drone offers a stable, simple flight pattern.
- Improved camera. This model offers stable video and quick adjustability.
- Additional pieces included in the box. Comes with spare props
- Short battery life. The limited battery life of this model can decrease flight times.
Known throughout the drone community as a formidable rival to the Phantom-series drones, the Blade 350 QX3 AP Combo RFT is also a light, sturdy, user-friendly little drone that offers some of the best-quality video footage of any drone in its class. Ideal for beginning drone pilots that want a simple drone that doesn’t sacrifice quality, this little quadcopter is the perfect tool.
Complete with a built-in “Agility mode,” this drone is also easy to fly and offers SAFE technology – a feature not always seen in smaller drones. Additionally, it provides a self-leveling feature, which helps cut down on camera shake in addition to making the drone ideal for pilots for whom filming is the top priority.
#12. Best Hobby Drones: Yuneec Q500 4K
Recommended for: Non-techie drone pilots who simply want something that flies and offers some fun.
- Ample features. Lots of image and video features, including slow motion and 4K video.
- Great case. This drone comes with included hard case and a spare battery.
- Quiet flight patterns. Flies quietly, which makes it perfect for indoor use.
- Big body. The bulky construction of this drone means that it doesn’t travel easily.
- Stiff gimbal. The slow gimbal adjustment can get in the way of images.
- Low-quality lens. The lens on this drone blurs images at the edges.
The Yuneec Q500 4K is a big drone that also has good intentions. Unfortunately, it falls a bit short of others in its price range. While this model offers a decent number of features, none of them are done well enough to classify this as one of the best drones for commercial or high-level personal use. Luckily, however, it excels as a hobby drone.
The removable camera makes for a flexible video and image experience and consumers who aren’t looking for crystal-clear images won’t mind the slightly blurry camera lens. Ideal for simple video and photography needs, this simple little drone is also a good deal for the price and promises to make hobbyist drone operators happy.
#13. Best Civilian Drone: DJI Phantom 3 4K
Recommended for: Everyone. This best drone is a versatile model that offers quality and functionality for beginners all the way to seasoned professionals.
- Design. This drone features an attractive body design in addition to coveted gold styling.
- Professional-grade video. In addition to its beautiful appearance, this drone offers high-quality video footage that rivals that of the Phantom 3 Professional.
- Short operating range. This drone features a limited operating range.
- Poor video resolution. While this drone is good at many things, the video resolution leaves something to be desired.
One of the newest of DJI’s Phantom drone line, the Phantom 3 4K offers high-quality video and Wi-Fi enabled video transmission in addition to a light, user-friendly body that appeals to virtually everyone. While this drone offers many of the same features as larger, professional drones, it doesn’t offer LightBridge, so it may not be the first choice of discerning, professional photographers.
That said, however, it also offers many of the same features as large, professional drones (such as intelligent flight settings and “Return to Home” capabilities). It also has built-in positioning functions that help it avoid collisions when flying at low elevations.
#14. Best RC Drone for Sale: DJI S1000+
Recommended for: Professional and amateur RC drone enthusiasts looking for a new toy that’s also a serious piece of equipment.
- Agile. Sporty flight applications that allow this drone to be quick and also precise.
- Solid in the air. This drone boasts a stable flight pattern capable of handling the wind.
- Difficult to travel with. The large body of this drone doesn’t pack down easily.
Unlike the other best drones on this list, the DJI S1000+ is an octocopter, which means it has eight propellers that come together in the shape of an octagon around the frame of the drone itself. In addition to its sleek functionality, this drone also boasts a decidedly insect-like design. Moreover, this formidable drone is ideal for professional and amateur drone photographers who demand professional image and video quality.
Additionally, what many drone operators like about this quadcopter model is that it will remain in the air even if one prop fails. This allows for increased peace of mind and additional control over the drone body.
#15. Best Drone for the Price: DJI Phantom 3 Standard
Recommended for: Drone pilots who value simple operation, small body size, and also built-in cameras.
- Stable gimbal. Like many of the best drones on this list, this model also has a 3-axis gimbal that keeps the camera stable during flight, leading to clear images.
- Ready to fly. This drone comes ready-to-fly, which makes it a perfect gift.
- Intelligent flight modes. This drone features built-in intelligent flight modes typically not seen in drones in this price range
- Fixed camera. The camera is built-in and cannot be removed if broken or in need of an upgrade.
- Fixed landing gear. Landing gear does not break down for travel.
- Short operating distance. This drone offers a limited operating range that makes it difficult to enjoy extended flights.
As far as affordable, user-friendly drones go, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is one of the best drones on the market. While it lacks many of the advanced features seen in DJI’s other professional models, it’s a fantastic beginner quadcopter that also offers dozens of intelligent features that make it a steal.
Moreover, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard offers a sporty, compact body and an easy-to-operate flight pattern that makes one of the best drones for the hobbyist, beginner, and also children. Think of this drone as the patient teacher that could get a job at a better school – it’s high-quality and capable, and it’s doing you a benevolent favor by also being so accessible.
#16. Best Drone for Kids: Parrott Bebop Drone 2
Recommended for: Children who want to play with a compact, sturdy drone capable of neat tricks.
- Size. This drone’s small, lightweight body size make it ideal for travel.
- Strength. The Parrott Bebop drone offers a sturdy construction that resists breaks.
- Good battery life. In addition to its many other benefits, this drone’s long-lasting battery allows for extended flights.
- Poor video quality. While the video is fine for novices, it won’t be high-quality enough for professional operators.
This drone was built for young drone pilots. Sufficiently small to cart around in a tote bag yet robust enough to handle a young drone operator, this strong little model is also a ton of fun to fly. Unlike many of the larger models on this list, the Parrott Bebop Drone 2 is capable of executing sporty maneuvers like flips, barrel rolls, and also sky-high banked turns. Moreover, it boasts a stylish body that kids will love.
Ideal for indoor and also outdoor flight, this is one of the most versatile best drones on the market. Moreover, it offers intuitive safety features like propellers that stop when obstructed and stable flight operation capabilities.
#17. Best Racing Drone: TBS Vendetta
Recommended for: Racing drone enthusiasts who want to go fast.
- Size. In addition to making it durable, this drone’s small, 240 mm size also makes it highly portable.
- Weight. This best drone offers a carbon fiber body that’s feather light, robust and sturdy all at once.
- Easy to repair. The modular electronics included in this model make it easy to fix on the go.
- Low-quality images. The camera can be blurry on this drone, and high-quality images are not to be expected.
Built as a formidable racing drone meant for discerning consumers, the TBS Vendetta is also one of the best drones for sale today. A quick little thing that offers maximum maneuverability, sporty design, and lightweight handling, this model is ideal for anyone who wants a racing drone with a built-in camera and doesn’t care so much about additional features or professional-grade image quality, this carbon fiber quadcopter is the ideal solution.
#18. Best Personal Drone: Yuneec Typhoon H
Recommended for: Tech-savvy drone pilots that want one of the best drones on the market
- Full camera tilt. In addition to being sturdy and robust, the camera on this model also tilts 360 degrees.
- Autonomous flight settings. The autonomous flight settings on this drone make it ideal for a wide selection of pilots.
- Slow battery charger. This drone’s battery takes a long time to recharge.
- Poor construction. The body construction on this drone can be flimsy.
In addition to being cool looking, this drone is also equipped with dozens of little features, including landing gear that retracts instantly, a 360-degree camera, a full-service controller with a built-in touchscreen, and also dozens of smart flying modes like “follow me” that allow you to focus on the camera and let the drone fly itself.
Despite its large size, this best drone is ideal for filmmakers who want to utilize two controls, take high-quality video, and also enjoy a highly capable drone across the board.
#19. Best Drone for Aerial Video: DJI Inspire 1 Professional
Recommended for: Aerial video enthusiasts who want quality video and also quiet operation.
- High-quality video. The high-quality video on this drone makes it ideal for anyone who wants to capture aerial images easily.
- Responsive design. Despite its large body, the agile construction of this drone allows for responsive flight.
- Cost. The high cost of this drone makes it price-prohibitive for many people
This drone offers all of the things tech-savvy drone operators will love: a high-quality 15 mm lens, a massive, stable body, and A.I. capabilities. Weighing in at nearly 7 pounds and sporting a 1.5-foot-wide body, this drone is not very portable, but it is fantastic for people who want to use it on-location to achieve great video results.
This drone can also fly as high as 15,000 feet. Additionally, it’s capable of operating even in sub-zero temperatures, which makes it a favorite choice among professional photographers everywhere.
Once this drone lifts off, it’s easy to flick a switch and have all of the landing gear draw up and out of the way, where it won’t interfere with the shot. While this is not a toy or a family-friendly drone, it the go-to for professionals everywhere.
Drone technology has come leaps and bounds in recent years, and today’s best drones combine form, function, unique features, and user-friendly operation into sleek, convenient, and convenient packages. Ideal for drone pilots of all experience levels and persuasions, these 19 best drones of 2016 are exactly what you need to take your flight experience to the next level.