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Best Beginner Drones: Which Products Make the Cut?

Buying your first drone can be a bit intimidating. If you’re asking yourself what are the best beginner drones out there, you’re in luck. DARTdrones is here to break down what you need to look for and which drones meet your criteria.

Before buying any drone, you should decide the price you’re willing to pay for a drone and what you actually want to DO with the drone.

Beginner drones can be broken down into two categories:

  • Consumer – made for hobbyist (recreational) pilots
  • Prosumer – halfway point between consumer and commercial (professional) drones. These models are designed for people who want more sophisticated features – better video, longer flight times, navigation, streaming, etc.

We’ll be grading consumer and prosumer drones through six categories: Flight Time, Range, Control Type, Camera, Loss Prevention and Weight/FAA registration. Drones that weigh between .55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA.

So, leaving no drone unturned, here are our suggestions for the best beginner drones on the market.  

The 3 Best Beginner Drones (Consumer)

Beginner consumer drones need to be small and cheap, but tough. They have to withstand a lot of crashes (it happens to us all) and offer replacement parts. Consumer drones are most often below $200, like the ones listed below.

No. 3: Syma X5C-1 Explorers 2.4G 4-CH 60Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter with HD Camera

The SYMA X5C-1 is a well-designed drone from a company that’s respected around the world. It’s tough, simple to learn and won’t break during its initial flight. And the controller is very responsive and easy to use.

  • Flight Time: 7-9 minutes 
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Control Type: Controller
  • Camera: 2MP 720p HD
  • Loss Prevention: Return Function
  • Weight/FAA registration: No FAA

No. 2: DBPOWER MJX X400W FPV Drone with WiFi Camera Live Video Headless Mode


The MJX X400W offers a built in WiFi component so you can watch a live video feed on your mobile phone. It also features a headless mode, and is easily upgradable to 3D Virtual Reality.

  • Flight Time: 8-9 minutes 
  • Range: 100 meters
  • Control Type: Controller
  • Camera: 720p HD
  • Loss Prevention: Return Function
  • Weight/FAA registration: No FAA

No. 1: UDI U818A WiFi FPV RC Quadcopter Drone Headless Mode with HD Camera, VR headset


The U818A features WiFi and First Person View to watch a live video feed of your flight from your iPhone or Android mobile or tablet device. It’s also compatible with VR headsets for a truly amazing experience. The U8181A is more expensive than other drones we reviewed and does require FAA registration to fly. Beginners should also note that the flight range is less than other drones. But if those things don’t bother you, the U818A’s durability, speed and features are second to none.

  • Flight Time: 7-9 minutes 
  • Range: 30 meters
  • Control Type: Controller
  • Camera: 720p HD
  • Loss Prevention: Return Function
  • Weight/FAA registration: Yes FAA

The 3 Best Beginner Drones (Prosumer)

Beginner prosumer drones are mid-size, slightly more expensive and durable, offering more replacement parts and upgradable accessories. Prosumer drones typically range from $200-$500.

No. 3: Chroma Flight-Ready Drone with 3-Axis Brushless Gimbal for GoPro Hero4

Looking for a high-performance aerial platform for your GoPro Camera? The Chroma is the closest thing to a friendly “Plug-and-play” GoPro drone you’ll find.

  • Flight Time: 30 minutes 
  • Range: 300 meters
  • Control Type: Controller
  • Camera: GoPro not included
  • Loss Prevention: GPS, Auto & Key
  • Weight/FAA registration: Yes FAA

No. 2: Parrot Bebop 2


The Bebop 2 is the new version of Parrot’s bestselling drone. It records sharp 1080p HD video and offers a battery life over 25 minutes. The Parrot app is extremely easy to use on your smartphone or tablet.

  • Flight Time: Over 25 minutes 
  • Range: 300 meters
  • Control Type: Smartphones/Tablet app
  • Camera: 1080p, Fisheye
  • Loss Prevention: Return Home, GPS
  • Weight/FAA registration: Yes FAA

No. 1: DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone with 2.7K HD Video Camera


The Phantom 3 is extremely easy to control, packed with features and supported by DJI’s remarkable customer service. The 2K camera can capture Full HD 1080p video and the wide angle f2.8 lens provides distortion-free video and pictures. An all-around terrific entry-level drone! Best of all, it’s been showing up for sale (new online) at $400 and under during the last few months.

  • Flight Time: 25 minutes 
  • Range: 500 meters
  • Control Type: Controller and app
  • Camera: 1080p, wide-angle lens
  • Loss Prevention: GPS, Return, launch and assist
  • Weight/FAA registration: Yes FAA

Glossary of terms for beginners

Accelerometer: An electrical device that measures acceleration for a specific direction of flight.

Almost Ready to Fly (ARF): These drones include everything you need but require some minor assembly.

Gimbal: The device that holds the camera on some drones.  These devices will have small motors that help increase video stability in flight.

Drone: A slang term for a UAV (unmanned aircraft vehicle).

First-person View (FPV): A mountable camera on the drone that allows the pilot to see in real time what the drone is seeing.

Follow Me Mode: This feature locks the drone’s direction and movement on a specific mobile target.  It’s a great option for aerial photography.

Gyroscope: A device that measures angular velocity and helps to keep your drone stable.

Headless Mode: The drone will go to the left when you pull the controller’s left stick and go to the right when you pull the right stick (etc), regardless of the direction your drone is pointing.

Hexacopter: A multirotor vehicle with six rotors for flight.

Multirotor: A drone with multiple rotors used in flight.

One-Key Return: This function will allow your drone to fly back to the take-off position.

Payload: The amount your drone can carry on top of its own weight and batteries.

Quadcopter: A multi-rotor drone with four rotors for flight.

RC: Radio controlled.

Ready to Fly (RTF): Can be flown right out of the box – requires no assembly.

UAV: Industry term for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (aka drone).

VR: Virtual Reality feature.

DARTdrones hopes to help you make informed purchases. We have more than 40 expert drone instructors with a wealth of knowledge about UAVs. Check out some of our drone training courses!

Contributor AJ Cote wrote this post for DARTdrones about what are the best beginner drones.

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