The entire Drone Rush team are passionate drone pilots, we enjoy all level of multi-rotor machines, and any other style of UAV. We understand that we live this stuff, immersing ourselves in the drones and technology every day, but you may not. Join us today to learn some basics and get a handle on which list of drones is best for you.
Across our site you’ll find dozens of lists of the best drones for a given approach to flight. No matter what type of drone you are looking for, you’ll find the appropriate list below.
Things to know before you fly
What is a Drone?
Before we dive in, I think it’s important to explain a few things, we need to define exactly what is a drone?
In terms of the consumer drones that we buy to fly at home or for commercial use, a drone refers to a flying machine. The definition of the word goes well beyond flying machines, however, as most robots or remote controlled machines, for land, sea or air, are accurately categorized as drones.
When we say UAV, we are limiting our scope within the drone market – an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is exactly what the name implies.
We have a dedicated post on the topic: What is a drone?
Bringing it all together, the FAA states that anything that weighs less than 55 lbs is considered a small UAV. Small UAV, or sUAV, best fits the scope of the majority of what we do here at Drone Rush. These are the drones that we can buy at the store and fly in our backyards.
The main reason we stick to this segment of drones is simple, the FAA, as with many aviation authorities around the globe, require special licensing to operate craft that are 55 lbs or heavier. They require even more certification to operate craft that carry people. In short, anyone can buy the drones in our lists, and with only a few rules to follow, head to their backyard to fly.
Learn more from our drone science of flight series:
There are drone rules!
Update: Fall 2019 – You must acquire airspace authorization before you fly in controlled airspace. Use LAANC to get authorization.
Update: February 2019 – You must affix your drone registration number to the outside of your drone.
No matter where you live, no matter what licensing or registration is required of you and your aircraft, there are rules on what you can and cannot do with your drones. You need to know these rules and abide by them.
We focus on the rules in the United States. They are not the most restrictive in the world, but they have been largely adopted by many countries. Plus, we fly mostly in the United States, sometimes Canada, so these are the rules we are most familiar with.
For the most part, I’m happy to say, the flight rules imposed by the FAA are fairly common-sense and focused on safety. Almost all of the rules are based on the safety of others around you. The primary rule on that is that you cannot fly your drone where it can put passenger aircraft at risk. Then, you cannot fly over people. The remaining rules essentially stem from those.
We explored the FAA rules in-depth in two parts
FAA UAS drone rules explained Part 1
In the United States, the FAA has authority over the air, but other departments may have rules on the ground. For example, you cannot fly in a National Park. Even if the FAA airspace is clear for you to fly, you will have to abide by the ground rules as well. These are serious as well, get caught flying somewhere that violates both ground and air no-fly rules and you could face large fines and even jail time.
Finally, never forget that even when flying by the rules, you may still be subject to civil lawsuit if your craft injures somebody.
I know what you’re thinking, this is just a toy, why so many rules? Those of you that have flown hobby RC aircraft before may especially feel the pain of all these new regulations. Thing is, these flying machines are capable of putting cameras in places they do not belong, which is another consideration altogether.
The most important reason for all these limitations, the FAA does not control the design of your drone, it is on you to stay below 55 lbs. The bottom end of that is 0.55 lbs as far as previous registration goes, but again, anything smaller than that still has to follow the rules. Now, while your palm sized drone would be sucked up and spit out of a large jet engine without notice, a 54 lb metal drone would decimate a smaller manned aircraft. Accidents happen with these things as well, a 54 lb drone dropping out of the sky from a couple hundred feet would kill a person on the ground.
To this end, the only other rule we will speak of here, you should never fly your drone above 400 feet above the ground. In the metric world, they usually limit you to 120 meters. This is to protect the upper airspace for other air traffic, and to assist in one of the most policed FAA rules, you must fly within line-of-sight at all times.
There are a hundred ways you can separate out drones into separate categories. We’re trying to keep things simple, after all, there are only a few hundred drones out there worth buying, and even then, we’d say less than a hundred drones make our best lists. We’re always excited to find new machines.
You will see the same drones on multiple lists on the site. Our approach is to let you know what we think are the best drones in a segment. We don’t pick segments in order to promote a drone. To this end, the best beginner drone may also be the best small drone and one of the best camera drones.
Our lists can be grouped in different segments themselves. We have lists based on price, lists based on your intended use, lists based on your skill level and more. I don’t believe there is anything more to say on the matter, let’s get into the lists.
Best drones overall
No matter what you are doing, what your price is, this is our list of the best drones across all sizes, costs and uses. No limitations, this is our list of the best drones on the market today.
Best drones by price
It’s always about the money, right?
For the most part, the drone photography market and DSLR market are fairly similar right now. $500 is a good starter machine, $1000 is a high-end consumer product, then $2000+ is where the professionals live. You know there are $300,000 drones out there, right?
Best drones by use-case
Your drone needs are different from my drone needs, so what do you need?
Best drones by size
The size of your drone will greatly determine what you can do with your machine. We’ve got a few lists of smaller machines, but the majority of drones fall into the use-case situations we’ve already noted in this article.
There is more to flying than just having a drone, you’ll need all manner of tools to enhance the experience. These tools include things like a lanyard to support your remote, a bag for transport and the best software to ensure safe and legal flight.
Drones by manufacturer
Finally, if you are familiar with a particular drone company, you can think of this as a sort of history for each manufacturer. From Autel Robotics and DJI up to Yuneec and ZeroTech… we only just now thought to organize them all alphabetically, oops.
If you would like to see what drones a particular manufacturer produces, our drone manufacture list can get you started.
Best DJI Mavic drones and DJI Phantom drones
In addition to drones listed by a single manufacturer, there are now lines of drones that warrant their own lists. Two of which are from DJI themselves. Our DJI Phantom drones guide explores all the machines in that iconic drone design, and this newer DJI Mavic drones guide is more popular these days, with smaller drones that still rock great cameras.
Best places to buy a drone
We usually start our search at Amazon, but there are a handful of other great places to go drone shopping. See a few in our slowly evolving list of best places to buy a drone.
We want to take a moment to thank you. It is your support that keeps us going.
Each time you visit the site we are inspired to create more content for you. Each time you leave us a suggestion or constructive comment on an article you help us grow. We are passionate about things that fly, but we are still learning the industry. Finally, we do not want to put advertisements on this site, but we still need to pay the bills. We do receive a small amount of affiliate commission when you use one of the links on our site to purchase a drone. Keeping true to you, we will never ignore a good drone for lack of affiliate eligibility. Your trust is our main goal.
We welcome your ideas and suggestions, we have many more lists in the works, but if you have an idea for a grouping of drones, drop us a comment and we’ll get to work on it.
Thanks again everyone, fly safe out there, and have fun!
Over the years, we have learned that there are many reasons that pilots take to the sky. Some do it for the sheer pleasure of controlling an aircraft, others want to see the world from above and capture great photos, while others fly for work, carefully surveying a job site or working to save lives.
It is true that most drones can handle most tasks, but as with anything, to be good at everything means you’re a master of nothing – simply put, there are specialized machines for certain tasks, and there are full-featured drones that happen to do one thing better than another. A camera drone would not be good on a drone race track, and a race drone would be pretty horrible at surveying a job site.
There is no easy answer to this question. We always recommend that your first drone be a $30 toy drone, something to learn on. From there, if we assume that you’re looking to get your first machine to see how much fun it is to fly, and maybe to capture some photos and video from the sky, we’d like to suggest something like the DJI Mavic Mini or DJI Mavic Air 2. They have a similar flight experience, while the Air 2 is a larger drone with much better camera, and nearly double the price. You do get what you pay for, but either of these is a good starting point for a newer drone pilot.
In the United States, the FAA makes it simple: if you will be compensated for your flight, then you will need a drone license to fly. That is soon to change, as all pilots will need a license to fly within the next couple years. There are similar rules for countries around the globe. Hobby pilots that will not be paid to fly still have to follow the rules of the sky, but at least there are no current license requirements.
Stay tuned to the site for more info, but as we write this in early January, 2021, there is no official start date for the new Remote ID rule. When it does go into effect, check with your manufacturer first, they may have a software update that can enable Remote ID on your existing drone, or a hardware solution to upgrade your drone.
Otherwise, a third-party Remote ID transmission module will work, or, you can find an FAA approved flight field and join that community. Else, you may have to retire your machine and buy something new.