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Non-military drones have emerged as one of the most important technological innovations in the last decade. In many ways, they have reshaped a wide array of industries and radically changed the way we explore the skies and capture aerial images. More importantly, they have democratized a technology that was once reserved for military use and often thought to be too advanced and complex for civilian use. Keep reading as we answer everything you need to know about these devices in our detailed review of the best mini drone on the market.
The rapid expansion of this technology can be seen in the sheer variety of drone types and the wide range of applications in which they can be used. In this article, we will focus on one particular type of drone that seems to be gaining a lot of popularity lately; Mini drones.
What you should know before buying a mini drone
There are several factors that you need to consider before settling on a particular mini drone. Most of these variables impact the performance and maneuverability of the device, and if you don’t take the time to understand each one, you run the risk of purchasing a drone that is not suited for you. To keep things clear and concise, we have narrowed the main factors down to these few digestible points.
Even if your budget allows it, you need to make sure that you are not overpaying for a mini drone. These devices were introduced as a more compact version of large drones and were never intended to rival them on the market. To that extent, the price of mini drones should be considerably lower than that of their bigger counterparts. The excessive price of some mini drones is more often than not predicated on marketing rather than any actual intrinsic value. These products should be avoided at all cost.
Level of experience
This factor is self-evident. It is important to note that the range of complexity between various types of drones is fairly wide. Some units are easy to set up and control whereas others require in-depth knowledge, skill, and experience. You need to have an honest assessment of your own skills and get a cheap mini drone that is easy to use. Consider these affordable models to be your training wheels before you can upgrade to high-end options once you have mastered flying and controlling entry-level drones.
Knowing the flight time before making a purchase will give you a good idea of what to expect from your mini drone. When discussing flight time, there are several moving parts that come into play. The weight of the drone, the quality, and size of the battery, and even the flying style are all factors that contribute to determining flight time. Most entry-level mini drones can provide up to 8 minutes of flight time, while the high-end models can easily exceed the 20 minutes mark.
This factor is only relevant if you are planning to use the drone for image and video purposes. The cameras of mini drones lack the high resolution of their bigger counterparts, but most are capable of delivering decent quality for amateur use. The videos are generally recorded at 30 frames per second, and the image quality is 720P.
The flight range pertains to the area that the drone can cover. This is an important factor because it directly affects the type of activities and maneuvers that you can perform with it. As far as mini drones are concerned, the flight range is situated between 50 to 200 meters.
Frequently asked questions
1 – Are these drones equipped with GPS?
GPS sensors are extremely helpful when it comes to flight control. Unfortunately, most mini drones are not equipped with this function.
2 – Do you I need to buy any extra accessories?
The drones reviewed in this article come in comprehensive packages that include everything you need for flying. However, there are several additional accessories that you can buy if you want to get the most out of your drone. A good example of this would be a light polarizing filter, a tool that can substantially improve the image quality of your camera.
3 – Do I need to register my drone?
No registration is needed with any of the options that we reviewed here. Unlike the larger and more professional drones, mini drones are smaller than the required minimum for registering unmanned aerial vehicles.
4 – What exactly is FPV?
FPV means first person view, and it refers to the drones that allow you to control the device via the feed that is transmitted by the camera. This method allows for easier control and better orientation and it is significantly more convenient than the traditional way of looking up in the sky to and attempting to visually follow the trajectory of the drone.
Mini drone reviews
1 – HOLY STONE F181C
- Equipped with one key return & headless security system to assist beginners and help...
- Altitude hold function: powerful air pressure altitude hold function allows the drone to...
- One key 360° 4-ways flip (left, right, forward, backward), Continuous roll for perfect...
- Come with two batteries (bonus battery) for longer flight time.
It would be impossible to talk about mini drones without mentioning this model from Holy Stone. It is one of the best selling units in this price range and it offers one of the highest quality-to-price ratios on the market. On top of its affordable price, the F181C RC Quadcopter boasts a number of features that make worthy of the consideration of any informed buyer.
Like most products from Holy Stone, the design of the F181C is not particularly eye-catching. In fact, it is fairly generic looking and relatively simplistic. However, it still exudes a high-tech vibe and it does not feel cheap like most similarly-priced products. Design aside, the frame of the drone is made from premium materials and it is remarkably durable. This device was not only designed to withstand exposure to the elements of the outdoors, but it was also specifically built to handle the roughness of inexperienced users.
The number of features that are included in this mini drone is impressive considering the affordable price. It is equipped with LED lights that can change color depending on the motion of the device. This can be really helpful when you are flying the drone at night or in an area with low visibility. Furthermore, the Holy Stone boasts a great 2MP camera that takes high-quality photos and records videos at a decent 30 FPS. While the 720P resolution might not be enough for professional use, you can still use it to take good photos of your adventures.
Flying and controlling this mini drone is really simple and enjoyable. You have the option of choosing which speed mode is best suited for your level of skills and the flying time can reach up to 9 minutes, which significantly longer than the industry average for this type of drone.
- It comes with different speed modes
- It is equipped with LED lights for flying at night
- The controller is well designed
- It is ideal for beginners
- The flight time is decent for the price
- The customer service is great
- It is not designed for windy weather
- Changing the batteries is somewhat difficult
2 – HOLY STONE HS190
- Altitude Hold Function: Powerful air pressure altitude hold function allows you to release...
- Foldable and Easy to Carry: This mini quadcopter can be folded into the controller, which...
- One Key Take off / Landing: Drone automatically hovers at a set altitude after take-off...
- Headless Mode and One Key Return: Enable players of any level to fly and operate the drone...
Due to their ability to engineer high-performing drones across all price ranges, Holy Stone will be represented quite a bit in this list. Few companies can make a sub $50 unit that is still worthy of being considered a great option, and the HS190 is a perfect example of the company’s consistent ability to do just that. It is a palm-sized drone that is ideal for people who want a compact device that is easy to carry and control. Moreover, its design is fully foldable to the point that it can fit in its own controller.
As far as features are concerned, the HS190 compares favorably to a lot of high-end models. It boasts amazing LED lights that can come in really handy when you are trying to identify the drone in the dark. Additionally, the LED lighting goes very well with the color patterns of the unit and contributes to enhancing the overall sleekness of its design. Charging the batteries of the drone is also made convenient thanks to a built-in cable in the controller.
The flight capabilities of this mini drone are without a doubt its biggest selling point. It can perform several aerial maneuvers that encompass a wide range of motions and comes with several modes that are geared toward enhancing control and responsiveness. The altitude hold function allows the drone to hover in a steady fashion regardless of its location while the headless mode enables the users to orient it in accordance with their viewpoint. The HS190 also has different speed modes, which allows you to adjust the flight of the drone depending on your ability and experience.
- The foldable design makes carrying the drone extremely convenient
- It has altitude hold and headless modes
- The one-key button system is perfect for beginners
- The different speed modes give you more control over the flight of the drone
- It does not come with a built-in camera
- The flying range is fairly short
3 – DBPOWER X400W FPV
- HEADLESS MODE: Usually, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor is the same as the...
- 3D SPLIT SCREEN DISPLAY: Compatible with 3D VR HEADSET on MJX FPV APP, use your own VR...
- FPV REAL TIME TRANSMISSION: Connect your phone with the drone and the view will be shown...
- HIGH CAPACITY BATTERY: Control the X400W drone from 100 meters away and with the high...
The X400W fpv mini drone is specifically designed for capturing high-quality photos and videos. It comes with a proprietary app that provides crystal clear 3D videos and it can be connected with a VR headset for a high-resolution view of the images. The quality of the camera is not the only thing that is worth noting in this drone, the ability to instantly share everything that you capture via all your social media accounts sets this mini drone apart from other options in its price range.
The control that is provided by the X400W is a major highlight of this unit’s features. It boasts the 6-axis gyro technology that enables more flexible movement in-flight and allows the drone to pivot in any position even at high speeds. This is crucial when it comes to maintaining a steady flight and is extremely helpful for beginners. Additionally, the drone comes with the headless mode, a technology that handles the orientation of the device for you and keeps it in line with your remote control at all times.
The design of the X400W is not too shabby either and the white color makes it stand out more. Like most models in this guide, it is equipped with a great LED lighting system that helps identify the contours of the drone in the dark. The lights can be easily turned on and off with a switch of a button. One of the additional characteristics that are worth mentioning is the protective guards that engulf the blade of the drone. They are quite effective in protecting the device from the damage that can be sustained after a crash.
- It can be connected with a VR headset for a more interactive view
- It has the 6 axis gyro technology for better flight stability
- It allows live video transmission
- The blade is protected with a set of heavy-duty guards
- The VR set is not included
- The instructions are not very clear
4 – DJI Spark with Remote Control Combo
- DJI spark remote control Combo includes remote controller and standard spark accessory Kit...
- 2-Axis Stabilized Gimbal Camera 12MP Still Photos/ 1080P/30 Video gesture and Tap Fly...
- Flight autonomy with obstacle detection subject tracking from various angles GPS- & vision...
- Top speed of 31 mph in sport mode up to 16 minutes flying time
If you have some basic familiarity with drones, then you are surely aware that the DJI is the undisputed industry leader in non-military unmanned aerial vehicles. The company has earned a reputation for engineering concise and high-performing drones that can be used in a wide range of applications.
The DJI Spark is the high-end pick for this list and currently, it is one of the best mini drone. It is mostly designed for experienced users who know their way around these vehicles and it is substantially pricier than the items reviewed above. The unique thing about the Spark is that it can be controlled without a remote, using a hand or cell controller. Still, we would recommend buying the remote controller since it will help increase the range of flight and it will give you more options such as Sports mode and long-range video transmission.
Another great aspect of this DJI spark mini drone is the quality of its battery. It offers a generously long lying time that can exceed 15 minutes in conservative use and can last up two hours. Moreover, the battery can be recharge surprisingly quickly considering its power and long autonomy. This is especially convenient for on the go use and when you don’t have the time to wait long hours before you can take off.
- It features a number of intelligent flight modes
- It can be controlled using a phone app
- The battery is quite powerful
- It comes with an obstacle avoidance system
- It is the mini drone with live camera
- The quality of the camera is underwhelming relative to the price
- It has very poor wind resistance
5 – Holy Stone HS170
- Headless security system enables players of any level to fly the drone easily
- 2. 4GHz technology adopted for anti-interference
- More stable and flexible with 6-axis gyro stabilization system
- Good PERFORMANCE of wind-resistant control range: About 30-50 meters
This is one of the cheapest quality mini drones on the markets. Is construction is quite solid and the number of features that it comes with make it a tremendous option for people who don’t have the budget to spend on more expensive models. It is one of the few sub $50 options that boast the headless orientation technology that ensures steady and stable flights without the need for any maneuvers from the user.
The ease of use of the HS170 is also owed to its adjustable speed modes. Users of different levels of experience can pick the speed that is best suited for them, which results in a perfectly customized fight experience. Furthermore, the 6 axis gyro technology adds a layer of maneuverability and smoothness to the operation of the drone and enables beginners to perform aerial feats that would have otherwise been impossible for them.
The battery of the Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini RC Helicopter is easily removable and its charge time is relatively quick; a little under 30 minutes. The flight time that it offers is respectable considering the price point. You also have the option of buying an additional battery so that you can continue your flight while the other battery is in charge mode.
- The value for money that this drone offers is great
- It is perfectly tailored to the needs and skills of beginners
- The flight time is decent for the price range
- It comes with 6-axis gyro technology
- It boasts adjustable speed
- It is not designed for flight in bad weather
- The remote is poorly constructed
If you are just getting into drones, a mini drone can be a perfect tool to get you started and familiarized with how these vehicles operate. All the models that we reviewed here are excellent and worthy of your investment. As a final note, go over the reviews again to ensure that you are making the right purchasing decision.
Last update on 2020-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API