If you want to buy a drone but don’t know which one to start with or what the top drones for sale are, then you’ve come to the right place.
Note: Updated for early 2015
This guide will hopefully take you through all of the best ready-to-fly multirotor options. It should also give you a reason to pick one over the other.
There are a lot of spammy websites nowadays, some trying to sell you quadcopters through affiliate links just to make a profit. So I’ve decided to put together a “proper” buyers’ guide for ready-to-fly multirotors.
In my opinion, there are four key factors that make a good ready-to-fly multirotor. Each model was picked based on features, quality, ease of use and value. Although this is a numbered list based on which models I personally like the most, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider all of them when buying your first drone. Everyone has different needs and reasons for wanting one over the other, so just keep that in mind when looking at drone reviews online.
Before we get started, you should know that all of these drones for sale are called multirotors, but most people still call them drones because it’s easier to say. A quadcopter is a type of multirotor aircraft with four rotors.
5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Drone
If this is your first time buying a drone, then you probably don’t understand all of these crazy drone terms. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, then you should click and read “5 Things You Should Know Before You Buy“. After that, you can come back to this page with a lot more drone buying knowledge.
When you’re done reading the info below, and if you think that I’m completely crazy then leave a comment at the end of this article. Let me know what “YOU” think the best quadcopter out there is.
General Specs & Price Chart
Here are some of the general specs. Please note that pricing could change depending on where you buy everything and flight time is estimated.
The best drone for sale right now is the Phantom 2. There’s a few reasons why it’s so great. The first is that it’s the easiest multirotor to fly hands down. Even an 8 year old could learn how to control it within a few minutes. Not only is it a great quadcopter for beginners, when combining it with the H3-3D gimbal it’s one of the best aerial video tools for the price ever made. It also has the longest flight time (about 20 minutes) out of any ready-to-fly (RTF) multirotor that’s under $1000. DJI is also always updating their software to fix bugs and add additional features to their products.
The Phantom 2 is priced at about $680 which isn’t cheap, but at the same time it’s made a lot better than the other quadcopters like the Quanum Nova and it flies a lot better too.
One possible negative thing that actually has nothing to do with the Phantom itself is DJI’s bad customer support, probably because they have so many people buying Phantoms that they can’t keep up with questions and complaints.
On a positive note the amount of YouTube videos, websites and people in general talking about Phantoms is huge. Any questions that you might have, there will always be someone out there who knows the answer. You can also find a massive amount of after market products for sale like carrying cases, upgrade parts and more.
If you really don’t believe that the Phantom 2 can take great quality video, watch this video by Philip Bloom. You might change your mind.
#2 DJI Inspire 1
Let me just start off by saying “you know you want this drone just by looking at it”. I know It may seem like this drone came strait from a movie. That’s because it probably did.
The DJI Inspire 1 is probably one of the most advanced quadcopters I’ve ever seen. There isn’t much that the Inspire 1 “can’t” do. Some of the main features are things like HD video streaming from up to a mile away, 4K video recording, GPS waypoint flying, dual pilot operation, optical flow stabilization, 50MPH top speed and a crazy transforming design.
I can’t cover everything about this quadcopter in this article, but one thing that I will talk about is that this is not something that you would buy your 10 year old son as a gift. The inspire 1 costs about $2900 and is mainly for people who want an amazing tool for aerial photography, videography, search and rescue, or any other professional application. That being said, the inspire 1 is actually one of the easiest drones to use and fly out there. So whether you have a real use for this drone, or you just want something that will impress all of your friends, the Inspire 1 is definitely something worth looking into.
What makes the DJI Inspire so compelling?
[Back to TOP]
#3 Hubsan X4
The Hubsan X4 is personally my favorite (small) beginner drone. It’s about the same size as the Nano QX, but roughly half of the price. There’s 4 different versions of the Hubsan X4.
The cheapest version is about $45 USD (including the controller). It doesn’t have an Agility mode like the Nano QX so you can’t fly with complete manual control, but it’s pretty fast and maneuverable (even with auto leveling). It also has 6 LED lights which can be turned on and off from the controller. Speaking of controllers, the controller that comes with the 3 cheaper Hubsan models is actually pretty nice. I like it better than what comes with the Nano QX and the Proto x).
The next 2 versions of the Hubsan X4 have cameras. They’re slightly bigger and heavier than the cheaper version of the X4, but the flight time is about the same. The H107C is the version with a standard definition camera and the 61170-02 is the one with a 720p camera. The Hubsan X4 with the standard camera is ok, but the 720p camera takes much better video. The only problem with the HD version is that it’s more expensive and the flight time is slightly less.
The most expensive version of the Hubsan X4 is the H107D. It’s mainly for FPV, which allows you to see everything that the drone can see in real time. The design is slightly different from any of the other models and it has a black antenna on the bottom. Although FPV is really cool, This is probably my least favorite version of the Hubsan X4, mainly because the flight time isn’t as good as the other models and the FPV range is only a couple hundred feet. It’s also about 2 times more expensive than the Hubsan with the HD camera.
[Back to TOP]
#4 Blade Nano QX
The nano QX is a lot like the LaTrax Alias but smaller. Because it’s a few inches smaller than the Alias it doesn’t have as much yaw authority, but it’s still a lot better than the tiny Proto X.
It has two flight modes, stability and agility. In agility mode, you have full control over the quadcopter to learn how to fly manually (it will not auto level itself). In stability mode, it will automatically level itself when you let go of the controls.
The nano doesn’t have the auto flipping functions that the Alias does, but that isn’t a problem since you can do flips manually and it’s more fun. Since the Nano QX is smaller than the Alias, it’s only $90 instead of $150. The only annoying thing about having a smaller quadcopter like the Nano QX is that it’s harder to see when flying far away, so it’s easier to lose orientation, but in general, it’s still a good quadcopter to learn with, especially since you can also use it with any DSMX RC transmitter.
[Back to TOP]
#5 Parrot Bebop
The Parrot Bebop is one of the more technologically advanced drones available. It’s the AR Drone’s smaller, smarter, faster and more expensive little brother.
Just like the AR Drone, you can control the Bebop with your iPhone or Android device. But with the Bebop, there’s an optional SkyController which will allow you to have real joystick controls, extended range, HDMI output and a few other cool things.
The Bebop has a lot of improvements over the AR Drone 2.0, but the most interesting feature is the video system. It has a 14 megapixel camera with a 180 degree field-of-view fisheye lens. Since the camera lens has such a wide field-of-view and a really fast processor, the Bebop is able to take the full 14 megapixel image, fix the image distortion (eliminating the fisheye effect), stabilize the image, then send the live video back to your phone. What all that means is that you’ll be getting a digitally stabilized standard definition video feed straight to your phone. At the same time, It also records digitally stabilized 1080p video to the 8GB of onboard memory.
The Parrot Bebop is a really cool drone, but there’s a few issues that I have with it. The first is that the video stream seems to have a lot of lag, making it unusable for really fast and precise FPV (first-person-view) flying.
The second problem is the price. The price for the Bebop is $499 USD. It’s not a bad price, but you have to use your smartphone to fly it, which means that you won’t have precise controls unless you buy the optional $400 SkyController (making it $899 USD total).
Over all, I think that the Bebop will be very popular “as a cool tech gadget”, but I can’t see it being used for professional video in the same way that people use the Phantom 2. On the other hand, it’s a pretty good price (not including the SkyController), so it wouldn’t be a bad gift idea.
[Back to TOP]
#6 TBS GEMINI
The TBS GEMINI is a tiny little hexacopter designed specifically for FPV (first person view) racing. It’s actually one of the only FPV racing drones that comes ready to fly.
The first thing that you’ll notice when watching videos of the GEMINI is the fact that it hovers with the nose tilted up. This is because all of the motors are tilted forward by about 10 degrees. Doing this will actually improve the performance of the drone by decreasing drag and increasing speed in forward flight. Another cool feature of the GEMINI is the modular design. If you were to look on the inside of this little hexacopter, you would notice it’s not like a typical hobby grade drone. Everything has a place. Nothing is just slapped on to the frame and hanging there. Components like the flight controller and ESC’s can even be replaced just by pulling them out of their sockets (kinda like an Arduino shield).
Like the QAV400, the GEMINI isn’t for everyone though. It’s mostly intended for people who want to get into the hobby side of drones (or are already there) and just want something really small and fast for FPV.
As far as price goes, it’s about $600 (which is pretty normal for a drone this size with all of the features that it has). availability for the GEMINI is not the best, but preorders are starting to be shipped out, so you shouldn’t have a super hard time getting one.
[Back to TOP]
#7 Quanum Nova
If you’re on a budget and want a lot of features for your money, the Quanum Nova is probably the best option. It has a similar shell design to the DJI Phantom 2, but it’s running the same software as the 3D Robotics IRIS, which means that it has almost all of the features of the IRIS (with the exception of data telemetry) at a fraction of the cost.
The Quanum Nova is only $300 which is very low for what it can do. You have to buy the battery and charger separately, but even when adding that to the full cost it would only be about $400 for everything ($350 less than the IRIS). Just like the IRIS, the Nova also has an optional brushless gimbal for the GoPro that costs $100 extra.
The main thing to take into consideration with the Quanum Nova is that it’s a very new quadcopter. There aren’t many videos out there or documentation on how to use it, or problems that it could potentially have in the future. So far, all of the reviews I’ve seen have been great, so this is definitely a quadcopter to consider if you’re looking for a super low cost camera platform.
[Back to TOP]
#8 3D Robotics IRIS
Out of all the drones for sale, (other than the AR Drone) the IRIS has the biggest list of features. In a nutshell, the IRIS is for people who have never owned a drone before, but want something that they can tinker with and modify.
It has a lot of auto-pilot features such as auto takeoff and landing, GPS waypoint flight (with a computer or android device), live data telemetry and more. You can also order the IRIS with a brushless gimbal for the GoPro (made by a company called Tarot) for shooting aerial video, although in my opinion, shooting video was just an after thought when 3D Robotics was designing the IRIS.
The IRIS is an interesting quadcopter, especially for people who want to learn about flight controllers and how auto-pilot systems work, but for the rest of us out there it’s a bit hard to justify spending $750 which is how much it costs to have something that isn’t very user friendly.
[Back to TOP]
#9 LaTrax Alias
If you want to learn how to fly a quadcopter manually, the LaTrax Alias is a great way to start. The reason why it’s a good quadcopter to learn with is because it has a full manual flight mode and it’s extremely durable. This means that you can learn how to fly without worrying too much about crashing.
Since it’s about 7 inches wide and has big propellers it also has great yaw authority, so doing bank turns, pirouette maneuvers and more would be no problem. It’s also big enough to carry a small camera like the 808 keychain camera. I’ve even seen people instal video transmitters and do FPV.
The only down side about the Alias is the price which is about $150. It might seem a little bit pricy at first, but at the same time it’s built well and even if you do manage to break it, all of the parts are replaceable. This is not the type of quadcopter where you end up throwing it away after a month of use.
[Back to TOP]
#10 Parrot AR Drone 2.0
When the AR Drone 2.0 first came out, it was one of the coolest quadcopters out there. It has a 1GHz 32 bit processor, 1GB of ram, gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, a pressure sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, 2 cameras and more. Even though it’s over 2 years old, the AR Drone is still one of the most advanced quadcopters available in its price range which is $299.
The biggest feature of the AR Drone is that it can be controlled from your iPhone. You can also see a live video feed from the phone screen and record video. It’s even running Linux and there’s an AR Drone open API platform, so you can program it to do whatever you want.
Like the other multirotors on the list, this is “not” a perfect quadcopter. The biggest feature of this Drone is actually one of it’s biggest problems. The AR drone can only be controlled with your phone, meaning that you can’t use a normal RC controller with real control sticks. That also means that there’s no way to fly manually.
If you’re planning on learning how to fly so you can operate a more advanced model in the future, you won’t learn anything with the AR Drone.
[Back to TOP]
#11 QAV400 ready-to-fly version
The QAV400 is a quadcopter designed for sport flying and FPV (first person view). It’s actually just a frame that’s sold so people can add their own electronics to it, but you can get a ready-to-fly version with all of the electronics installed if you’re willing to pay extra.
The feeling you get when flying FPV with this quadcopter is absolutely amazing. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend buying anything like this unless you already have experience with RC planes or helicopters. This is truly a hobbyist type of multirotor and all of the parts and components are high quality, customizable and made by completely different companies. So getting it set up and fixing it when you crash would be a lot harder than most of the other ready-to-fly options out there.
The price for this quadcopter is $970 which is normal for ready-to-fly multirotors in this category.
[Back to TOP]
#12 Proto X
The Proto X is one of the smallest quadcopters on the planet. It has 3 gyros, 3 accelerometers, 4 motor speed controllers and a radio receiver all shoved into a tiny PCB board about the size of a quarter.
The price for this little drone is only about $38. It’s one of the cheapest quadcopters you can buy (but cheap isn’t necessarily a good thing). It’s vary fast for how small it is, but at the same time since the rotors are so small and close together, people have found that it’s a bit hard to do bank turns with it. Since the Proto X is so cheap, there is a chance that you could buy a defective one, but you can always just send it back.
I can’t really recommend this quadcopter if you’re serious about getting into the hobby, but it’s definitely a good toy if you just want something to bash around the house.
sourse Top Drones For Sale and Why (Early 2015)My First Drone.