We purchased the The 7 Best Drones so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full products reviews.
A drone will give you the wings you need, whether you’re a photographer looking for a unique perspective or simply want to fly through the sky like a bird. The best drones, like the Mavic 2 Pro, come equipped with cutting-edge cameras and obstacle-avoidance technology to give you a clear view of everything you’re surveying while also keeping you safe. While more expensive drones have better image sensors and advanced features, even the most basic models can deliver a satisfying experience.
Look for at least a 12MP sensor and 20 minutes or more of flight time on a single charge in all but the most stripped-down, budget-oriented drones. Higher-end drones have sensors that are comparable to those found in professional mirrorless cameras and have a resolution of more than 20 megapixels.
The range and capabilities of drones have expanded in recent years to fill every conceivable niche. There’s probably a drone out there that’s exactly what you’re looking for, whether you’re just getting into the hobby of flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or you have more experience and want to expand your capabilities as a drone pilot. To assist you in deciding which UAV is right for you, we tested drones from DJI, Autel, and other manufacturers.
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Best Overall: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
For years, DJI’s Mavic series of drones has reigned supreme, and the Mavic 2 Pro () is the crown jewel. This drone is the total package, with the most advanced sensors and software available, as well as professional-grade photo and video quality from its Hasselblad camera’s large, 1-inch sensor. It has a whopping 20 megapixel resolution and Hasselblad’s top-of-the-line color science.
Because of its large sensor size, this drone is one of the best for capturing low-light images in the early morning or at dusk. A variable aperture lens gives you more control over your images, which is a rare feature in drones and will appeal to filmmakers who need to control their shutter speed to capture smooth, cinematic footage.
The camera is the show-stopper, but the rest of the drone is equally impressive. The Mavic 2 Pro uses a wide range of sensors to provide a high level of safety and peace of mind by preventing accidents. It has a sturdy yet compact folding design that makes it easy to transport. The drone is a little on the pricey side, but you’re getting the gold standard in consumer drones for the money. This is the drone I prefer to fly, and it has proven to be reliable over many years and hours in the air.
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Best FPV: DJI FPV Combo
FPV drones have traditionally been a niche hobby with a steep learning curve requiring extensive technical knowledge and DIY skills. DJI’s new FPV drone defies all stereotypes about the genre, bringing the unrivaled thrills of lightning-fast flight to the masses. FPV drones can scream through narrow gaps at blistering racetrack speeds and do flips and barrel rolls in the air, whereas standard photography drones glide through the skies calmly.
With a flight simulator, assisted modes, and sensors to help you avoid collisions, the DJI FPV drone () comes with everything you need to get started—goggles, controller, and drone—and is designed to ease you into the challenging and exhilarating world of FPV. The drone has a camera that can capture 4K video at 60 frames per second. It has a top speed of 89 mph and provides a low-latency video feed so you can stay in control of the drone at all times.
Of course, with FPV, you’re bound to crash now and then, so the drone is built to be repairable by the user. However, parts may be scarce, and the drone’s plastic construction means it won’t last as long as other FPV quadcopters. In addition, unlike traditional drones, when you’re wearing goggles, the law requires you to fly with a spotter to keep an eye on the skies.
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Best Ultra Portable: DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 () is so light at 249 grams that it’s not only easy to carry, but it’s also small enough that, unlike most other drones, you don’t have to register it with the FAA. What’s even more impressive is that DJI was able to achieve such a small size without sacrificing any of the drone’s features. The drone’s camera has a small image sensor, and the supposedly lossless digital zoom isn’t worth bothering with, but it still produces good visual quality.
Most impressive of all, this mean little machine features DJI’s excellent Ocusync transmission technology, which ensures a stable, high-resolution signal with a range far greater than you’ll ever need. To top it off, the Mini 2 costs less than $500, making it a fantastic deal.
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Best 8K Camera: Autel Robotics Evo 2
The Autel Evo II () is a genuine competitor to DJI’s popular Mavic 2 drones, and it outperforms them in some ways. The Evo II’s 48MP sensor with 8K 24fps video capability is the standout feature here, as it packs a surprising amount of resolution into a sensor that measures less than 1 inch across. The Evo II’s excellent 4K 60fps video will be more practical for most users, and the sensor’s high resolution allows for impressive lossless 4x video zoom.
You can get a lot of detail out of 48MP photos as long as it’s sunny outside, and there’s plenty of room for cropping in post-production. This UAV has one of the most advanced and reliable collision avoidance systems available, making it extremely safe to fly. The controller’s built-in display, which allows the drone to be flown without the need for a smartphone, is perhaps even more appealing.
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Best Zoom Lens: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro () are strikingly similar. In fact, the only thing that separates it from the competition is its camera and lower price. This drone has a small 1/2.3” sensor and a zoom lens with a 2x (24mm – 48mm) optical zoom range, rather than a large sensor with a fixed lens. This allows you to capture both wide and telephoto photos or video without sacrificing image quality by cropping in. However, due to the small sensor, overall image quality suffers significantly, especially in low light. Furthermore, the Zoom from DJI lacks a variable lens aperture.
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Best AI: Skydio 2
The Skydio 2 () is the smart drone for you if you want epic aerial shots but don’t want to learn how to fly. The Skydio 2 uses 4K navigation cameras and powerful artificial intelligence (AI) hardware to provide unmatched object tracking and obstacle avoidance. Simply place the beacon control in your pocket, and the drone will adhere to you like glue, navigating through dense forest with ease and homing in on you even if it loses sight of you. Of course, you can use a more traditional controller or connect it to your smartphone to fly it.
It’s also no slouch when it comes to video capture, with a camera capable of 4K 60fps HDR video. To make this drone even more appealing, its starting price is surprisingly low, and the Skydio 2’s only real flaw is its limited range when compared to other drones in its price range. You’re unlikely to notice, though, because its maximum operable distance is 3.5 kilometers.
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Best Splurge: DJI Inspire 2 Zenmuse X7 Kit
With its massive Micro 4/3 sensor, the DJI Inspire 2 Zenmuse X7 Kit () will deliver incredible footage if money is no object and you want to capture the best photo and video quality possible. With the depth of field and low light capability that only a large sensor can provide, it can capture 6K video and 24MP still images. The kit comes with a 16mm f2.8 lens, but you can swap it out for other lenses (sold separately), giving you the flexibility that professional drone photographers demand.
But keep in mind that the cost of the drone isn’t the only thing you’ll have to pay for such a fantastic camera. Because this drone is both heavy and large, it’s not a good choice for carrying into the backcountry. However, just because something is large does not mean it is slow. This flying behemoth has a top speed of 58 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 50 mph in just 4 seconds.
It also has a two-axis stabilized FPV camera that provides a different perspective from which to fly the drone. It also has obstacle avoidance technology and all of the other features that a modern drone should have.
The Final Word
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is without a doubt the best drone on the market right now. Despite being older than its rivals, the Mavic 2 Pro is unrivaled in terms of image quality, obstacle avoidance, and overall performance. The DJI Mini 2 is remarkably competitive if you want something more portable and significantly less expensive.