Our guide to choosing the right drone as a beginner will help you pick the best drone even if you are a complete beginner. Budgeting drones can be good, and knowing what to look for is super important as it can prevent months of frustration later down the road and help you choose the right drone that won’t feel like an overpriced toy.

If there’s one thing that I love about emerging technologies in recent years, it’s the advent of lightweight flying machines that take astounding aerial images. To top it up, the price of these seems to be decreasing yearly. I think that’s one of the reasons I got into drones in the first place.

The craze for drones is probably because you can capture fantastic scenery in vivid resolutions.

Whether you’re looking for options on getting your next drone or just want expert opinions before getting your first drone, I’ve got one of the most comprehensive guides on choosing drones here on the internet. The best thing about choosing a drone is that you don’t need to have a huge budget to get started. You can start with what you have, and still get a good value on your purchase.

The way this article is structured is that I talk about the types of drones first, then I dive into the things you should keep in mind, and later I list some of the best picks for you and pitfalls you should avoid when getting your first drone.

What’s a drone, mate?

You may already know what a drone is, but stick with me- it’s going to be worth it, I promise!

As Wikipedia puts it, a drone is just an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a ground-based controller and a way to control its movement. You would typically use a remote to maneuver your drone to capture scenes in any way you want.

drone flying in the sky- quadcopter aerial footage

There is a wide variety of drones available in the market today, but broadly speaking, these are the types of drones you are most likely to find:

Beginner drones

I am not a fan of cheap drones as these do not have the pro-quality camera resolution and tend to turn off after just about ten minutes or so.

Batteries’ running out quickly isn’t a problem on just beginner drones – it’s a running problem on almost every drone regardless of the price.

toy drone for beginners and kids

If you’ve got a child at home to whom you want to give a toy drone to, a beginner drone will be a perfect choice- as you won’t have to pay much for one of these. A toy drone like Hobbico Dromidia Kodo costs about 100$ and offers good value for that.

I recommend getting a cheap drone to practice flying- as there’s a high chance that you will crash your first drone sooner or later- it’s just inevitable.

I also want a share a personal experience of mine with a beginner drone. When I was just getting into drones, I decided that it would be worthwhile to get a cheap drone to learn how it works.

I did get one, and it did work as I had expected. It lasted about ten minutes (slightly more than that when it was new), and I learned a lot of things about drones thanks to that cheap drone. Somehow, I managed to keep the drone intact, and I still have that in my drawer.

How was my experience? Well. I did feel frustrated at times, and the picture quality wasn’t great but it helped me learn many things about flying drones, and every time I flew that, I remember having fun.

Going small with poor footage vs large with better cameras

You will have a much easier time navigating through the world of drones than you would if you were looking for a guitar or a smartphone, and that’s partly because you can fit the majority of drones into two categories- they would either be large fliers with a high-resolution camera meant for shooting large landscape scenery, or they would be lighter ones with a crappy camera (or without one).

If you want amazing scenery in UHD, you certainly don’t want a cheap light flyer as it would not offer the high resolutions on the footage that you are looking for. It’s a no-brainer really, that a drone that is featuring fantastic footage won’t come for cheap.

But if you just want to fly a drone and experience the thrill of maneuvering a drone in the skies, you will be pretty happy with just a light flyer that has a lower resolution. If you’ve got kids who just want a drone for the sake of having one or want to learn to fly one but you don’t have the budget to afford a premium one, the more affordable options will be great for you!

If there’s one thing that will make the most difference when choosing drones, it’s whether you want to go with the variety of drones that come with a controller or want drones that do not offer controllers. As you might have already guessed, cheaper drones do not come with separate controllers and need to be controlled via an app on your phone. This may not seem like an inconvenience, but trust me, you want to have a separate controller to steer your drone. In some cases, you can also control the drone and camera separately allowing for more options in customizing the footage.

drone flying for aerial footage

You can also see the benefits of investing more in drones, and the most noticeable of these would be the improved battery life and better resolutions on the footage. Bluntly put, a more expensive drone tends to fly for longer periods, shoots in high resolutions, features smoother operation, and some even detect obstacles in the air and have built-in collision detection systems that help the drone avoid them easier.

Having expensive cameras certainly gets you better footage but if you’re limited by budget, you can check out this post I made on how to start a Youtube Channel on a budget.

If you do decide to get a drone with a camera, I would say the GDU Byrd or DJI Mavic Mini is a great choice.

Racing vs Professional drones

If you are serious about your venture with drones, you may have considered getting a premium drone for your needs. While these drones do cost more and certainly aren’t for beginners just getting started with aerial maneuvering, racing and professional drones can add awesome value for drone enthusiasts and filmmakers who need crisp footage.

You also keep in mind that if you decide to opt for a racing drone, you might need to assemble the parts from the kit provided. This may not be the case for some brands, but as far as I know, most racing drones do come as kits- unassembled- and look tricky to make.

If you are a filmmaker or a content creator who constantly needs excellent aerial footage, you cannot go wrong with a professional drone. It does cost more, and you also need to be fairly proficient at maneuvering and handling the drone to get the best out of your drone.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that I am much less likely to choose a crappy model if I already have what I want in mind. Talking about quality drones, I would go for a cheap drone if I just wanted to get one to fly around the house and have fun with it. Getting high-quality footage from the drone would be a different story altogether, and would require me to get an expensive drone fit for the job.

The Unify Draco is an excellent model if you want to go with a good-quality drone with fantastic footage.

Things to look for in a Drone

There is just a handful of things you should keep in mind to save wasting money in the future.


The number on the sticker alone won’t tell you much, but it’s a good estimator of the overall value you will be getting out of it.

It’s usually the case that cheaper drones have shorter flight times, feature lower resolution images, and don’t come with gimbals for stabilization. You also get way fewer features.

Not all drones are created equal, and a price difference is a good estimator of that. An expensive drone can last longer thanks to the higher capacity of batteries, will often have collision-detection built-in, and of course, the cameras are just way better.

The value of the drone you are getting depends on what you are willing to pay. I believe that most things in life aren’t free, and what you pay for them is what you get in return. That applies to a good-quality drone.

So, if you are thinking about getting a drone on a budget, I would strongly advise you to save up a little and invest in a better one unless you have to get a drone now.


GPS, or Global Positioning System if you like things technical- is a convenient way to know the position of any gadget. If you are looking at high-end drones, they will have in-built GPS.

This is one of the things that I love about premium drones- they can return home with a feature called Return-To-Home. (convenient naming there!)

I am certainly not a physics geek, but I do know that having GPS will also help noticeably improve the stability of the drone.

Does it avoid trees?

It might surprise you, but some drones can detect obstacles and avoid them in real-time. This sounds great but works better in theory.

In reality, some drones are good at avoiding collisions while some just fail miserably.

If you want to know whether a certain drone model can avoid obstacles while flying, reading reviews online is a great idea.

Flying headless

There are many configurations that drones offer, and one of the more interesting varieties is the headless mode.

Most drones move according to the controller, and that can be tricky for you- so the headless mode simplifies things for you by moving the drone in a direction relative to you.

It may sound confusing here, but you will find that it feels more intuitive. I don’t like headless mode much but to each their own, I guess.


If there’s one thing that can help you stabilize the camera on your drone, it’s having an integrated gimbal. If you are new to cameras and gimbals in general, it’s just a handy tool to keep your camera smooth and steady despite high altitudes and turbulences.

I also want to mention that most drones that fly at lower altitudes don’t have this feature as having a gimbal can increase the prices.


All drones have propellers, and you might already know that the rotational force on those is provided by the motors that run by drawing power from the batteries.

There are essentially two types of motors, at least that’s what we’re concerned with. The brushed variety is cheaper and lasts less than the brushless motor.

Brushless motors have a longer lifespan and while they do cost more, they cost less in the long run as you won’t have to replace them frequently.

Footage quality

Since you are considering buying a drone and not an RC helicopter, I assume that you want crisp footage from your drone.

aerial drone footage- scenery

Keep in mind that drones have built-in cameras that have a fixed resolution. You can also change the cameras on some drones but we won’t talk about that here. It’s certainly nice to have on a drone.

Speaking of the footage quality, if you’ve ever wondered how to photograph the moon at high resolutions, this post on taking stunning moon photos is just for you!

Effective Signal Range

There is a limit to how far a drone can be before you lose control of it.

Some drones can only be controlled from a few yards away while others can be controlled with no issues across long distances. Just because you can fly a drone far away from you does not mean that you should fly it that far.

The Federal Aviation Administration has also set clear rules that forbid you from flying drones in any way that damages somebody else’s property. Being responsible is a necessary part of owning drones.


You may have noticed that the battery life of smartphones goes up as you bump the price. There are many things that the battery life of a drone depends on, but one of the major things that affect it more than anything else is the price.

Cheaper drones last for about 15-25 minutes in the air, and you need to be mindful of that, as you don’t want your drone losing power mid-air.

You also have the option to get additional batteries, but that will bump up the prices by a bit.

Drone as a Pet?

You may have always wanted a pet to follow you around everywhere you went.

If you get a high-end drone that has a follow-me mode built-in, you can have the drone follow you while you get busy with your adventures. This can be very handy for influencers who just want to film themselves having fun or anybody who just wants to record themselves from an aerial point of view.

You also want to read reviews about drone models to see which ones are better at tracking you. Some drones are just well, and others are just not worth it.


You’re getting a drone that has got great features, and you’re super excited to test it out in the field. It feels great to finally be able to fly your drone, but slowly, you realize that you might have gotten a better deal on the drone considering the quality of the footage.

Has this ever happened to you? I hope not.

In my personal experience, I have faced this numerous times. I mostly shop online, and after years of feeling like I’ve been scammed by shady vendors offering their products at prices that felt too good to be priced, I can finally say that not all deals are worth grabbing.

The drone you are getting may be super cheap and you may feel like it’s a steal for the price, but the hard truth is: if it’s being sold for cheap, it won’t offer excellent resolution or features. There are also some chances that it’s a copy, and you should be wary of such deals and learn to know how to identify those.

Sometimes, the specs themselves can confuse you. If you feel like a seller’s site doesn’t have adequate information about the product, it’s usually a great idea to stay clear of that seller.

Staying clear of scams

It can be super easy to identify fakes and poor-quality drones most of the time, but sadly, that’s not always the case.

There was this one time when I wanted to get a quality mic for recording, and I was thinking that the Boya M1 Mic would be a great fit for what I needed at the moment.

So, as any excited person would do- the first thing I did was read up on that mic. I read the specs from the official site, looked up all the information available online on the sound quality, checked every sound sample that the website provided, and finally, checked many reviews on that model.

I didn’t stick to just one website either- I read reviews made by buyers on Amazon, Quora, and even Reddit threads. You just never know what you might discover while searching for information online. So, gathering information from multiple sites is always a great idea.

There was one more thing that I did that helped me differentiate the original model from all the fakes in the market (there were many). I had watched several Youtube videos on identifying fakes, and while you may not find that many fakes on a budget-range drone, looking up just to be safe is never a bad idea.

If you have decided to get a drone online, it’s always a great idea to check the seller’s reputation. On sites like Amazon, you don’t have that many scams going on like you would if you were shopping on Alibaba, for instance. Just remember to read up as many reviews as you can, and evaluate the value of the drone you are getting based on your needs.

Getting a cheap drone with poor resolution is a terrible idea if you are a professional videographer and would rather prefer a professional drone for shooting high-resolution aerial footage.

You can also ask your friends if they like this particular model. I learned this the hard way- that even drone models from the same brand in a similar price range can have vastly different features.

Keeping people and animals safe

You will quickly find that you are hooked to drones, and will want to fly them as often as possible. The last thing you want is to hit your neighbor with your drone, right?

So, I am also including some tips to keep you (and your neighbor) safe from drones.

  • I know you may feel like this is boring, but you should always take the time to read the full manual. Does it say something about signal range? What about the safety precautions? Just go through it once- nobody has to know!
  • A quick inspection of the propellers can tell you if the drone is not in flying condition. Also, make sure that the battery level is fair before actually flying your drone.
  • You may hate your neighbor (it’s absolutely fine- we all do), but that doesn’t mean that you hit them with your drone. Don’t be that guy.
  • Knowing where you are going to land (before you think about flying the drone) is a great idea. It will help you plan the route you want the drone to fly along.

What else Do I need apart from the drone?

There are many accessories available for drone enthusiasts. But since we are talking about beginners here, we don’t need anything fancy.

You just need to get a drone with a controller, and that’s about it.
If your drone does support an external camera, trying out the camera options is a great idea.

One of the things that I like to keep with me is the batteries. Each battery lasts for about 10-20 minutes, and it can also largely depend on the type of the model.

If you want to prolong the flight time of your drone, you can simply get many batteries and swap the used ones out when you feel like they’re drained. This also helps you get more footage without having to look for chargers or new batteries.

Looking up propeller guards, LED bands (if you want to fly your drone in the dark) and landing gear is also a great idea.

I think the best accessories you can get are the propeller and spares. Accidents, as much as you would like to avoid them, are an essential part of any drone enthusiast and are an unavoidable part of the learning process. Luckily, drone manufacturers know that you will crash someday, so,  the insides of your drone are well-insulated with protective polypropylene foam and Carbon fiber.

drone accessories that you need- choose the right drone

You may also be interested in lens filters if you like adjusting the saturation levels and playing with the options. I don’t recommend getting more gear than you need but I do suggest getting a well-built carrying case to prevent the drone from shocks and water damage while storing/ transporting.

If you think that you will be flying your drone often in rain or foggy environments, DIY waterproofing your drone is also a great idea. It can require some hours to get the ropes, but it’s worth learning. Even if you choose the right drone, if your drone gets damaged by water, it’s no good, right?

Avoiding Trouble With The Law?

The Federal Aviation Administration has strict laws in place that require you to register your drone if it measures over 250g. You can simply visit the FAA website to read about the details.

If your work revolves around shooting large-scale scenery, registering with the FAA is a great idea. After you register, you just need to put a sticker on your drone that says the FAA registration number.

If you just want to fly a light drone to have fun, you don’t need to worry about it.

Have trouble picking a drone?

I know that choosing the right drone for you can be frustrating and confusing, so I have made a shortlist of a few picks just as I promised at the start of the article.

Parrot ANAFI

The ANADI model by Parrot is a huge hit among drone enthusiasts due to its lightweight construction and subject tracking.

The Parrot drone model also features a gimbal-equipped camera that offers fantastic footage at 4k resolutions. The camera itself can rotate on a 180-degree axis and you can safely maneuver it up to a distance of two and a half miles.

The battery life on this thing isn’t too bad either- and you can use it for 25 minutes of continuous use.

Remember the follow-me mode? The ANAFI drone model features automatic subject tracking that will keep you in the frame while you go on your adventures.

What I love about this is that it doesn’t break the bank, and honestly, I have yet to find anybody who has regretted purchasing this. It costs you about $600, and compared to the features it’s providing, I would say it’s worth it.


The Mavic 2 Pro can be considered as an upgrade from the Parrot ANAFI model and features a longer flight time and top speed.

If you are concerned about high-end performance and want eye-catching footage with crisp clarity, go for this one. I will let you know that it costs $1600 which is certainly not cheap but it can be the best fit for you if you are looking for a quality drone that has automatic collision detection built in.

The Mavic Pro 2 by DJI is excellent at avoiding anything in its way, and the top speed of 45mph is certainly a nice thing if you are going to be racing with a friend’s drone in the future.

These are all cool features but what I like about this drone is that it looks slick! Everything from the propellers to the body screams high-end and is a dream come true for any drone enthusiast.

Wingsland S6 Black Mini Pocket Drone 4k Camera

Now, I know that not everybody can go around spending more than a grand on the Mavic Pro 2. You may just be looking for a cheaper drone to start on, and maybe upgrade to a more expensive one with bells and whistles later.

If that’s you, the Wingsland S6 pocket drone (at just 250grams) will be an ideal choice for you as it is super cheap. It costs less than $150, and to top it off, the portable design will make it fit even in your pocket!

Talking about the footage resolution, you get 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps which isn’t the best resolution out there but it’s certainly good enough for beginner-intermediate dabbling in drones on a budget.

Holy Stone HS700D GPS Drone

I know this drone has a strange brand name- Holy Stone but it’s quite good.

The camera on this is full HD 90degrees adjustable which gives you versatility during use- and you also get a controller.

Most drones on a budget do not come with a separate controller and are controlled via an app on your phone. While that can be fine for most people, I prefer to have a separate controller as I might need my phone while I am flying the drone. It’s just more fun and intuitive to have a controller, right?

The aesthetic isn’t up to par with the Mavic Pro 2 but that’s okay considering it only costs about $260.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve got a fairly good idea about drones by now.

As a beginner, I think it’s more important to get a drone and focus on learning the various aspects of drone flying than obsessing over the details. You will have plenty of time to decide on what resolutions will best suit your next project *after* you are done learning the ropes.

Whether you decide to choose a light-flier to learn the ropes or want a professional drone to capture breathtaking footage, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you just want to get a drone on a budget, getting a light-flier is a great idea but I suggest getting one that also has a controller.

Now that you know a bit about drones, you’re ready to get your next (or perhaps, your very first!) drone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add multiple batteries to a drone?

In most circumstances, you cannot add multiple batteries to a drone. However, batteries on a drone can be easily replaced, and if you know electronics and know how the components work- you should be able to add multiple batteries to your drone but that involves a lot of work.

Does a drone work with every smartphone?

Nope. Drone models require specific apps to function smoothly and some phones might not support those apps. For example, if you get a DJI Mavic Mini and it needs an app with a minimum Android Version of 4.4.2 and you were running on Android 4. 3, you cannot install the app.

You can get around this but it’s good to know if your phone is supported. Luckily, this is only an issue if you are using a very old smartphone. Most smartphones these days can run drone apps without any issues at all.

Also, check- out the best Drone For Hunting

Best Drones Under $200 [Reviewed]

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