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Best Mini Drones for 2019

Drones, especially drones with cameras, have increase in popularity tenfold in the past couple of years. They are relatively cheap, provide long hours of fun, and with a camera attached, can get unique and powerful photos and video footage. Here are the best mini-sized drones for you and your family to enjoy.

A few years ago, buying a drone wasn't something anyone would have been planning to do. But now, it seems that almost everyone wants a drone: for photographing purposes, racing, getting an aerial view of their surroundings, or just for flying on the weekends as a hobby. 

Drones are functional, useful, and more importantly, fun. There is a lot you can do with a good drone, both recreational and professionally. Finding out the right one for you will require you to decide your reasons for buying one and, of course, your budget. 

How much should I expect to spend on a mini drone?

With so many options around within such a diverse price range, it is not easy to make a decision about which one to buy. You can buy mini drones ranging from $20 to $1000, and any number in between. They can be strong enough for professional use, or light enough for only occasional flying, and most of them come with a lot of other features.  

What features should I consider when buying a mini drone?

  • Flight time. With standard mini drones, you can get the option of a hobby drone that can fly for less than 20 minutes, or more professional drones that can remain in the air for more than 20 minutes. 
  • Headless mode. A headless mode is a special feature which you will find in most drone models, It helps a beginner fly their drone easily at all directions instead of a fixed one. If you are a beginner experimenting with your first drone, the headless mode should definitely be a feature. 
  • Range. You can find a number of options when it comes to flight ranges of drones, from less than 2 km to up to 7 km, depending on quality and price. 
  • Gimbals. You are going to need a gimbal in your drone to keep it steady and horizontal in the air, even when air pressure around is high. A drone with a built-in gimbal will actually be a big help. 
The right drone will be a perfect mixture of features and budget, one that you can use for a hobby as well as for professional purposes. 

What are the more advanced features that I should consider in a high-end mini drone?

  • Camera. If you are using your drone for photography purposes or for surveillance, you are going to need a good camera attached to it. Most drones come with a decent camera or a camera that can take 12 megapixel photos or 4K videos.   
  • Return home function. Also called the auto-return feature, this basically returns your drone back to the location of the controller with the press of a button. This makes it much less likely that you'll lose track of your drone, or have it lose connection to your controller and crash somewhere unknown.
  • Control options You can control your drone with a smart phone or via a standard RC. According to users, it is easier to use a RC to control your drone because there is no chance of your fingers accidentally giving it a wrong command on the touch screen. 
  • Motor. The more powerful the motor, the longer you can fly it, and the more distance it can travel. A drone uses a small DC motor to fly, made of several permanent magnets, or lithium-ion batteries. 

Frequently asked questions

  • Do I need a license to fly a drone?
    You don't need a license to fly a drone indoors for recreation, or if you are flying it in an open space with no power lines. However, you will need to get a license if you are flying one commercially or using it to make money.
  • What are brushed versus brushless motors?
    A brushless motor makes your drone more powerful and helps it to fly longer than a brushed motor. A brushless motor also requires less maintenance because of the fact that it is missing a brush, whereas a brushed motor will require maintenance periodically.  
  • Are mini drones programmable?
    Yes, you can get programmable drones in the market, but they are more expensive than the drones that have to be operated with a RC. With a programmable drone, you can program in a few flight routes, as well as program it to automatically change height, take pictures, etc. 
  • What kind of camera works best with a mini drone?
    You can get built-in cameras with some mini drones, but the ones that are more affordable can't be trusted to take very high-quality pictures. While some expensive and high-quality drones can take 4k videos, the better option would be to purchase a camera-less drone and use a compatible camera with it. Some renowned companies have started to make special drone cameras for this purpose, but a good action camera will work as well. 

1) DJI Mavic Air available for $695 on Amazon

Key features
  • 32-megapixel camera 
  • 8GB storage 
  • Works with hand gestures
  • Takes slow motion videos 
  • Can fly for 21+ minutes 

When it comes to drone technology, DJI is one of the pioneers in this field. The DJI Mavic Air, at over $700, happens to be one of the best and the most expensive drones/quadcopters in the market at the moment. 

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

There is a reason this mini drone costs so much more than other drones on the market. It has all the features you could ever want in a high-quality product. This is the perfect drone for taking HDR photos and videos, as well as slow motion pics. You can fly it for more than 21 minutes, which is actually the highest record so far. It also has a SmartCapture Feature that enables you to take your HDR pictures and videos with simple hand gestures. 

The DJI Mavis Air comes with a 8GB Internal Storage not only for taking your photos, but also for storing your photos/videos. The 32 megapixel camera can take photos/videos horizontally, vertically, and in panorama, too. 

What's not so good about it?

The price is certainly a big deal if you are considering this drone for recreational purposes. For quite a powerful gadget, it has been known to lose connection after an altitude of 200 feet, sometimes, after 150 feet. It is also not very safe to fly around large bodies of water. When the battery falls under 10%, the drone will automatically land anywhere, which can be a risk. 

Pros:
  • 32-megapixel camera takes HDR photos and videos
  • Can fly for more than 21 minutes 
  • SmartCapture can take photos/videos with hand gesture 
  • Can take slow motion videos 
  • Comes with a 8GB memory 
Cons:
  • Emergency landing when battery is under 10% 
  • Loses connection after 150/200 feet of of altitude 
  • Not very safe around water 

2) Yuneec Mantis Q available for $490 on Amazon

Key features
  • Small model, fit to hold in your hands 
  • Standard price 
  • Built-in high resolution camera
  • Records 4k videos 
  • Built-in memory 

Just shy of $500, the Yuneec Mantis Q is actually a pretty small drone, but it's  a powerful one. It too, has all the features you are going to need in such a gadget, and more.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

This is a small, portable, but quite powerful drone that you can use both professionally or as a hobby. Unlike other drones that cannot stay in the air for more than 20 minutes, the Mantis Q can actually fly for 33 minutes, the highest in this category. It weighs only 1 pound, and it also carries a high-quality camera that can take 4k videos and stills. 

Another bonus feature is that the Mantis Q responds to simple commands like "Wake Up", "Record video" or "Take a Selfie", so that you only have to focus on flying and nothing else. You only have to smile at your drone to activate it, even from 13 feet away. 

What's not so good about it?

According to a user, this model does not come with extra batteries which can be a hindrance. Users have to use batteries from another company, which do not always work as well as the original batteries. Also, at a standard price of around $500, it might be a tad expensive for a hobby. Other models at under $100 have some of the important features this model also has. 

Pros:
  • Small, lightweight model 
  • Takes high-quality photos and videos 
  • Works with simple commands 
  • Can be activated by a smile from 13 feet away 
  • Can fly for more than 30 minutes 
Cons:
  • Doesn't come with extra batteries 
  • A little expensive for hobbies 

3) Hasakee H1

Key features
  • Affordable under $100 
  • One-button operation 
  • Stable flying 
  • No camera 

If you are looking for a more affordable model, the Hasakee H1 is actually a decent model under $100. It is a fun drone that looks like a bee when afloat, a model good for beginners. 

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

This is an easy drone to fly for beginners, and the price is just right for hobbies. A 6-axis stabilization system keeps it steady while in the air, while a single button can help it to do a 360-degree flip and lift/return.  You can also change between speed options with a single button; it has a built-in Air Pressure Sensor that will set it to the perfect height when flying. One single button will also make the drone come back to the place it began flying from.

What's not so good about it?

While other drones can fly up to 20+ minutes, the Hasakee H1 can only stay in the air for around five minutes at a time, and travel a distance of 15 feet. This makes it difficult for anyone to roam the surroundings for long. Lastly, the instructions are in German, so for anyone who doesn't speak this language, trial and error are the way to learn this machine.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Single button operation
  • Multiple Speed options
  • Built-in Air Pressure for stabilization
  • Return home button
Cons:
  • Can only fly for 5+ minutes
  • No camera built into the drone
  • Can only travel to 15 feet
  • Instructions are in German
  • Not easy for kids to fly 

4) Realacc H36 Mini Quadcopter

Key features
  • 30mm blades
  • Can travel to a distance of 30 meters

  • Takes around an hour to charge

An even more affordable model, the Realacc H36 costs under $20. This is basically a very simple drone that you can fly both inside the house and outside, perfect for beginners.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

At under $20, you are getting a small, compact quadcopter that can really fly, if only for five minutes at a time. It comes with a “one-button return to home” option that can be quite helpful; a 6-axis gyro keeps it stable. You get two speed options for this: low for beginners and high for more experienced users. The Realacc H36 can also do 360-degree flips and can travel to a distance of 30 meters.

What's not so good about it?

More advanced drones can fly for about 20-25 minutes at a stretch, but the Realacc H36 can only fly for five minutes or so. This is not a very reliable gadget, so don’t be surprised if it stops working after a few times, or if it is nothing more than a toy. Connection with a smartphone can be faulty too.

Pros:
  • Affordable under $20 
  • Small and lightweight
  • Can be connected to a smartphone 
  • One-button return home 
  • Two speed options 
  • 360 degree flip 
Cons:
  • Can fly for only 5 minutes at a time 
  • Not very reliable 
  • Not durable 
  • Needs to be charged for an hour 

5) Tello Quadcopter available for $79 on Amazon

Key features
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in camera 
  • Cleaning and carrying kit 
  • Takes 720p videos
  • 5MP camera 
  • Controlled via smartphone 

The Tello Quadcopter costs somewhat under $100, and it is a decent and standard drone/quadcopter that you can use both professionally or as a hobby with your children, as long as you're the one operating it.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

At quite an affordable price, you get an aircraft, 4 propellers, batteries and battery chargers, as well as a Micro USB Cable, a carrier, and a cleaning kit. It is quite easy to fly, even for beginners. With a built-in camera, you can take videos and photos with this drone. It can be controlled with your smartphone  and saved automatically in the Micro USB Cable. 

It is a lightweight drone that only weighs 4 ounces, and comes with an auto landing/takeoff feature. It can fly for around 13 minutes at a time before coming back to the user. 

What's not so good about it?

Unlike most other drones at similar prices, the camera built into the DJI Tello is not of very high quality. It can only take 720p videos as opposed to 4k videos, and uses a 5MP camera to take photos. The instructions with the drone clearly indicates that it shouldn't be handled by someone younger than 18, which rules out playing with your children. 

Pros:
  • Lightweight at 4 ounces 
  • Standard pricing 
  • Built-in camera 
  • Rechargeable batteries 
  • Comes with carrying and cleaning kits 
Cons:
  • Not suitable to kids 
  • Inferior camera can take 720p videos only 
  • 5MP camera 

6) Dbpower X400W available for $72 on Amazon

Key features
  • Compatible with 3D VR headset 
  • Headless mode 
  • Can be connected to a smartphone 
  • Can be controlled from 100 meter away 
  • 6-axis gyro 
  • Rechargeable battery 

The Dbpower X400W only costs a little over $50, but you get quite a few interesting features with it. Most importantly, it is compatible with a #D VR headset for you to enjoy.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

This is a headless mode drone, which means that it can fly in any direction according to your instructions. It is compatible with a 3D VR headset with a #D split screen display. Unlike many other similar models at this range, you can actually connect this drone to your smartphone and get a real time transmission of what your drone is seeing.

You can control the Dbpower X400W from 100 meters away; it runs on a rechargeable battery that comes with the set. A built-in 6-axis gyro means your view will be stable from this drone, too.

What's not so good about it?

This drone has a tendency to disconnect and “fly off”, according to many previous users. Without a return-home option, it can get stuck anywhere far off from the origin of flight location, and the user will have to go and locate it. The Dbpower X400W can crash a number of times while flying, damaging the product.

Pros:
  • Headless mode 
  • 6-axis gyro 
  • Connect to 3D VR headset 
  • Can be controlled from 100 meters away 
  • Real time transmission 
Cons:
  • Has a tendency to "fly off" 
  • Can disconnect any time and crash 

7) Holy Stone HS170G available for $39 on Amazon

Key features
  • Headless mode
  • Can travel 30 to 50 meters 
  • Flight time: 6-8 minutes 
  • Takes 10 minutes to cool down between flights 
  • 2.4Hz technology 

This is another affordable model under $50 with some of the most important features you need in a beginner drone. Holy Stone produces a wide number of drones starting from $20 to $300, and the HS170 is one of the most affordable ones from this company.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

A headless system lets you fly the Holy Stone HS170 in any direction you want, with a 2.4Hz technology that reduces interference with any other technology around. A 6-axis gyro keeps the drone stable when afloat, too, a feature you won’t get in many models at this price range. It can travel a distance of 30-50 meters at a stretch and is quite easy to handle. If you have teenage children who want to try their hands at flying a drone, this is an inexpensive model for them to start on.

What's not so good about it?

Just like other drones at this price range, you won’t more than 5/6 minutes of flight time with the HS170. After ever 5-minute flight, the drone requires at least 10 minutes to cool down, so this is definitely not something you can play with for a long time. It doesn’t have a camera attached to it, either. This is not a drone for outside use in open spaces or for lengthy times, too.

Pros:
  • Affordable under $50 
  • 6-axis gyro keeps the drone stable when afloat 
  • Can travel 30 to 50 meters 
  • 2.4 Hz technology 
Cons:
  • 5/6 minutes of flight time 
  • No camera 
  • Not suitable for large open spaces 
  • Needs 10 minutes to cool down after each flight 

8) Parrot Mambo available for $119 on Amazon

Key features
  • Suitable for a number of fun activities 
  • Can be Controlled via both smartphone and controller 
  • Can travel up to 65 meters 
  • Has a camera 

Just under $100, the Parrot Mambo looks quite high tech; it is actually quite a fun drone, with separate accessories for a number of activities you can plan with your friends and family members. It is not really a professional drone, but rather a toy that you can have fun with.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

You can plan a number of activities with the Parrot Mambo, all of which will require a separate accessory: a CANNON for shooting balls more than 6 feet away. A GRABBER that can carry, release and catch anything that doesn’t exceed 4 kg, etc. You can control it via both your smart phone or via a controller that comes with the drone; the smartphone can be used for up to 20 meters, and the controller for up to 65 meters. It’s a good enough drone for beginners, quite durable. It can also do a few fun actions like flips and rolls.

What's not so good about it?

There is a built-in camera but the photos and videos produced are adequate at best. This drone comes with a battery but it doesn’t last very long; you need to have extra batteries in hand while using the Parrot Mamba. Since it is a lightweight product at 2.5 ounces, there is a chance it may fly off course or crash in heavy wind.

Pros:
  • Numerous activities with separate attachments 
  • Can travel up to 65 meters 
  • Can grab, carry and release up to 4 kg 
  • Lightweight 
  • Has camera 
Cons:
  • Battery is extremely unreliable 
  • Camera takes low quality photos 
  • Can crash or fly off in heavy wind 

9) Eachine H8

Key features
  • Weighs only 20 grams 
  • Can fly up to 30 meters 
  • Can realize 3D modelling 
  • Headless mode 
  • One-button return home feature 

The Eachine H8 is perhaps one of the most inexpensive drones ever made. Under $30, this drone nevertheless has some important features you will only find in the more expensive models.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

The 6-axis gyro keeps this drone stable and flying even when there is wind blowing, and thanks to the headless mode, it can fly in any direction you want it to. A one-key return home function helps to bring the drone back to where it started from. An important feature that is absent in other models is that the Eachine H8 can actually realize 3D modelling in all four directions with the four LED lights

This model is lightweight at only 20 grams, and it can fly easily in any weather. With a remote controller, it can fly up to 30 meters.

What's not so good about it?

You can fly this drone for only about 5/6 minutes at a time. That too, after charging it for 45 minutes. It doesn’t come with a camera, so you can’t take photos with it. It is not very durable and the blades may break off any time after a few uses.

Pros:
  • Lightweight 
  • Can realize 3D modelling 
  • Return home button 
  • Can fly to 30 meters distance 
  • Headless mode 
Cons:
  • Can fly for about 5/6 minutes only 
  • Takes 45 minutes to charge 
  • No camera 
  • Not very reliable or long-lasting 

10) Rabing Mini Foldable available for $45 on Amazon

Key features
  • Fold-able 4-axis drone

  • Compatible with VR headsets

  • Real time video transmission

  • Built-in Camera

  • Supported with phone

The Rabing Mini Foldable costs less than $50, and is quite a fun drone in white and orange. It also has a built-in camera which is actually not so common in a drone at this price range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other mini drones?

This is actually a mini, pocket-size drone that you can fold and carry with you in your bag or pocket. The headless mode helps in keeping the drone stable in the air, even with light wind. Its one-key return home feature is a helpful one, as is the speed option for beginners. You can control this drone with an app on your smartphone or tablet. With a high-quality, built-in camera, the Rabing Mini Foldable can also take pictures when flying. It can also fly in the night.

With a 30-minute charge, you can fly this drone for around 10 minutes, which is comparatively more than other drones in a similar range. Besides, it can travel for more than 100 meters!

What's not so good about it?

The camera is constant and cannot be moved up or down. Although on paper the Rabing Mini Foldable is said to be compatible with VR headsets, it cannot connect to most of the models out there. If used on lithium batteries, the drone will fly for longer than on normal batteries.

Pros:
  • Costs under $50 
  • Built-in camera 
  • Can fly for 10 minutes 
  • Can travel to 100 meters 
  • Return home key 
  • Option of speed 
Cons:
  • Doesn't run very long on normal batteries 
  • Not compatible with most VR headsets 
  • Camera not very good 

In conclusion...

The decision to buy a drone, and which one you should get, really depends on your purpose for using it. If you are going to use your drone professionally, it is better to choose a more expensive one that has a good camera, stability, durability, and one that contains most of the extra features you are going to need in a good drone. If you want a drone for a hobby, the inexpensive ones are more than fine for occasional flying and fun. Headless mode, 6-axis gyro, built-in camera, memory card, speed options, compatibility with VR headsets, connectivity with your smart phone, real time transmission - these are the features a good and effective drone requires. Of course, the price is varied: from $20 to $1000, so your budget will also be a big factor in choosing the right drone for you! 

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