From military drones to amateur camera drones pestering celebrities, crashing into National Parks or hitting the headlines because of airports – drones are everywhere.
There's never been a better time to buy one because today's drones are extremely capable and brilliant at the basics. Some top drones come with cameras built-in, while some others are able to mount a GoPro.
Whatever your need, there's a drone for it.
And that's why we're here - to run through the best drones you can buy today.
Our pick of the best drones to buy today
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor
- 31 mins maximum flight time
- 4k video 30fps, 3-axis gimbal
- Omnidirectional obstacle sensing
DJI's Mavic 2 Pro is - without doubt - its best consumer drone to date. It takes the high-end performance and camera capabilities of the bigger Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian, but puts it in a package that's foldable, still fits in your backpack and does everything you could possibly need a drone. It's fantastic.
Image and video quality is pretty much unmatched by anything else in its price range, thanks to the use of a large 1-inch CMOS sensor, and optics designed with the help of renowned camera-maker, Hasselblad. It shoots fantastic pictures, thanks to advanced 10-bit HDR processing, as well as great 4K video. What's more, professionals can make use of DJI's Dlog-M profile to give them a raw file that's really great for colour grading and tweaking in the edit suite.
As well as awesome image and video capabilities, the Mavic 2 Pro has all of DJI's latest innovations in obstacle avoidance and pre-programmed flight patterns. It's one of the only drones to feature obstacle sensors on every side, and has the APAS system that - instead of stopping in front of obstacles - can figure out a path through them, providing they're not completely blocking its path.
There's a bunch of QuickShot flight modes enabling you to create stunning cinematic effects by just choosing one of the modes and selecting your subject. Depending on which mode you choose, the drone will then circle, follow or pull away from the object or person it's focussed on.
It has few flaws. Even the 25 mins or so battery we got from a full charge is decent for a drone. It's a little expensive, but it's genuinely brilliant.
DJI Mavic Air
- 3-axis stabiliser
- 3-way obstacle avoidance
- Small enough to fit in a coat pocket
- 12MP stills/4K video
- Up to 21mins flight
If you're after a really small drone with all the power and features of the bigger flagship models, look no further. The Mavic Air is that drone. It's essentially a halfway house between the tiny Spark, and the bigger Mavic 2/Mavic Pro series drones. It's small, fits in the side pocket of a backpack, but still packs some serious punch.
When folded, it's only slightly longer than a big smartphone, sharing similar dimensions to the included remote controller that comes with most Mavic series drones. That means it can comfortably sit on your palm without any issue.
Despite its size, it's a more than capable drone. It has three-way obstacle sensing, and can make use of many Quick Shot flying modes enabled in other drones. What's more, the camera is mounted to a tiny 3-axis stabiliser. it's also surprisingly capable of withstanding wind.
You get 4K video at 30fps and HDR stills from the 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor too, so there's not much compromise in image/video quality.
- Karma controller has built-in 5-inch screen
- 20 minutes flight time
- Fits Hero 5 Black and Hero 4 Black/Silver
- 3km range
After months of teasing, GoPro originally unveiled its Karma drone in September 2016, its launch wasn't without issues. Early production models were literally falling out of the sky, but since then, the drone has been fixed and relaunched and is a must-have accessory for GoPro enthusiasts.
Now, this drone may be technically discontinued, but you can still pick them up, and they're still a lot of fun to fly. Plus, they're not too expensive.
Size-wise, it's small enough to fit easily in to a small backpack (which it ships with), and it's light enough to wear during any activity without getting uncomfortable. What's more, the controller is designed to be as easy to use as a console gamepad and has a built-in touch screen, so you don't need a phone to see footage from the Karma.
As for the camera mounting system, it's a 3-axis stabiliser which can be removed from the Drone and then attached to an included handgrip and used handheld, giving you super smooth handheld footage. In many ways, the Drone is trying to compete with drones and handheld gimbal systems with one product.
- 16 minutes flight time
- Full HD video, 2-axis gimbal
- Obstacle avoidance
- 1.2 mile range with remote, 100m with phone
After the success of its Mavic Pro, DJI surprised us all with its most compact high-end drone to date. The Spark is, essentially, a very small Mavic Pro. It features many of the same flight technology, but in a much more compact and more rigid design.
Unlike the Mavic Pro, the Spark's arms aren't foldable, but the overall footprint is so small it can just sit in your palm fairly comfortably. What's more, it's the first drone that can be controlled completely by hand gestures alone. For those who want a more traditional control system, you can use the DJI remote to fly with a 1.2 mile range at speeds up to 50kmph.
Each battery lasts up to 16 minutes of flight time, and the intelligent flying modes will ensure that time flies by before you even know it. Like the Mavic you can lock on to individual objects or people, and move around in various manually controlled or pre-programmed motions while tracking that person/subject. This all happens while the camera is kept super steady using its 2-axis gimbal and electronic UltraSmooth technology.
Yuneec Mantis Q
- Up to 33 mins flight time
- 168 x 96 x 58 mm (folded)
- 4K video capture (30fps)
- 1.5k video transmission range
From its product range and pricing strategy, it seems Yuneec is going after DJI's features, but at a lower price point. The Mantis Q feels a lot like the Mantis Air in its promise of portable, foldable design, but with high end specifications and features.
As well as this portable design, the Yuneex Mantis Q is equipped with a camera capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, and a number of smart flying features. You can get it to circle around a point of interest, return home automatically using the GPS and GLONASS navigation, as well as command it with your voice.
You can tell it to "wake up", "come back" or "start recording" just by yelling at it, plus, the remote is simple to use, and features a cradle for your smartphone.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian Edition
- 30 mins flight time
- 7km flight range with remote
- 4K video at 60fps
- 5-directional obstacle avoidance
- 20MP 1-inch camera sensor
The Phantom 4 series was the standout drone from DJI up until the Mavic was released. In 2017, the series was grown to include several versions, but none are as impressive as the Pro Obsidian model. If you want the smoothest, most stable flight and footage, as well as the best looking image quality available without going super high-end, the Phantom 4 Pro is the drone for you.
Perhaps the biggest advantage this has over the Mavic is the camera technology. Inside its magnesium alloy chassis, and attached to a gimbal, the camera features a mechanical shutter and a huge 1-inch sensor packed with 20 million pixels. It also has the ability to shoot 4K resolution videos at 60 frames per second. For the video nerds, you can shoot H.265 as well as the usual H.264 codec.
Its battery is more capacious than the older Phantom 4 thanks to increased density, and can now last up to 30 minutes flight time on a single charge.
It has a bunch of flight modes, including the Active Track feature that can track objects, and a new Draw Mode that lets you draw a path for it to follow. Of course, there are many more flight modes, and an almost endless number of settings to dig into, both for recording and flying.
The biggest takeaway from our time with it was how effortless it seemed to fly. It was impressively stable, comfortable and performed very well.
- 4K/30fps + 1080p/60fps
- Lossless zoom
- 3-axis gimbal
- 25 mins flight time
It's not the most well-built drone around. In fact, its lightweight plastic casing makes it feel a bit cheap, but there's no denying the specifications of the Anafi are very good.
It folds up to be really slim, similar in width to a water bottle, making it perfect for storing in the side pocket of a backpack. What's more, it has a camera built on to a 3-axis gimbal on the front that's capable of pointing upwards towards the sky.
It can last up to 25 minutes on a single charge, and fills up quickly again using Type-C connection. It shoots 4K at 30fps, and can survive in wind speeds up to 31mph, and reaches flight speeds of 33mph.
Parrot Bebop 2/Bebop 2 Power
- 25 mins flight time
- HD videos and 14MP stills
- 2km range with SkyController
- Digital stabilisation for smooth video
The Bebop 2 is the follow up to the popular Bebop, which we loved when we reviewed it at the time of its launch. The design has changed quite a lot, but the value for money has increased.
The Bebop 2 can fly over 37mph and resist winds of the same speeds, and an slow down to a stand still within four seconds. It has a Follow Me feature to track you while you're cycling, running, climbing, or whatever else you might be doing, and it uses GPS to track its position and return home again when you're done.
Its camera can shoot in 1080p full HD resolution, and take great pictures with its wide-angle 14-megapixel lens. It can even capture in RAW and DNG image formats, giving you the ability to edit them professionally afterwards.
At £349, it's great value for money, and you can control it with your smartphone. Or, for £499 price point you can also get the brand new Skycontroller 2 control pad and the first person view (FPV) glasses, which let you watch the live stream of the camera's video feed in real time.
Skycontroller 2 gives you an impressive 2km range when piloting the drone, while the glasses can stream 1080p video footage right to your eyes.
There's also the all-new Parrot Bebop 2 Power which comes with 60 minutes battery life thanks to shipping with two batteries. You can buy the Power FPV pack with VR goggles and the physical remote for just £549.
- Dedicated auto-flip control
- 3-axis gyro and 3 accelerometers for stable flight
- 2.4GHz radio control
- 10-12 mins flight time per battery
If you're after a drone that can perform its own stunts, the Dromida XL looks like a lot of fun. Like many modern drones it can take off and land automatically at the press of a button, but its one-press feature list also includes the ability to perform a flip. It also has a front facing 1080p camera, and can fly quickly, close to the ground.
Turbo Ace Matrix S
- Over 40mins flight time
- Up to 60mph speeds
- Fits various cameras, inc. GoPro Hero range
This is the daddy of drones, made for professional grade filming and photography. The Turbo Ace Matrix, with its 1 metre wingspan and triple carbon fibre deck build, has a range of 1.2 miles and can stay in the air for more than 40 minutes thanks to the 22,000mAh battery version. The whole thing even folds down for easy transport. It comes with an 8-inch monitor for viewing what the flight camera feeds back.
But that's just for flying. The unit can have gimbals and cameras plonked on top to carry around for high-definition filming and photography. There are several models of Turbo Ace Matrix, some designed for speed and others for heavy lifting. In short, if you want to spend serious money on a serious drone, the Ace Matrix should be near the top of your list.
Hubsan X4 H107D FPV
- 6-axis gyroscope for stable flight
- Built-in screen on remote
- Up to 100m range
This more affordable drone still manages to cram a camera into its palm-sized body.
The transmitter remote has a built-in screen, allowing you to control the flight from a first-person perspective. Not that you should need it much with a limited 100m range. The camera is a 0.3-megapixel device that manages a 640 x 480 resolution video feed. This can be recorded if an SD card is inserted into the controller. While it might not be high quality, it should be clear thanks to the latest 6-axis gyro sensitivity.
The battery lasts about seven minutes, claims Hubsan, and recharges to full via USB in 30 minutes. For those that want a cheaper option, there's the Hubsan X4 V2 H107L, which doesn't have a camera but manages nine minutes on a half hour charge and costs £28 on Amazon.
- Auto take off and landing
- Up to 19mph speed
- Rotate 90-degrees to fly forwards
- Up to 60m range
This is an affordable fun way to try out drone flying.
The Swing is a relatively unusual form factor for Parrot, and is the first drone to be able to fly with its propellers faced upwards like a regular quadcopter, or turn and fly horizontally like an X-Wing fighter. It's lightweight, easy to fly, and has a camera onboard.
Although its wings are relatively large, they're made from a polystyrene/styrofoam-like material, making the aircraft very lightweight. This means that while it's not exactly sturdy, it's so light it's unlikely to get damaged from dropping to the floor.
You can control it either by using the included gamepad-style controller, or by downloading the app on to your iPhone or Android smartphone.
- First person view glasses
- Up to 45mins flight time
- 1.24 mile/2km range
- Fixed wing design
- Up to 50mph
If you're looking for something entirely different, there's Parrot's fixed-wing beast, the Disco. Unlike most hobby and toy drones, the Disco is fixed wing. That means it looks more like a plane than a quadcopter.
It can fly as fast as 50mph and has a battery that'll get you up to to 45 minutes of flying time, which is pretty remarkable in the drone world. It's got a built in computer/brain called CHUCK, which helps provide its auto-piloting capabilities. Just press the start-up button, hold it until ready, then throw the drone like a frisbee, then the autopilot takes over.
Because of its vast wingspan, it doesn't need four propellers to keep it airborne. Instead, it has one blade at the back to propel it forwards, while the wings ensure it stays in the sky.
It has 1080p video recording which has three axis stabilisation, and 32GB of onboard storage to host all of your captured footage. What's more, you can view all this footage in real-time while flying, using the FPV glasses.