Drones are a nifty bit of technology that is growing more refined with every passing year, and if you’re among those planning on converting a childhood hobby of playing with remote-controlled cars into a more grown-up hobby of flying drones, then we might have some suggestions for the best drones available in 2024. Whether you want to use drone footage for more professional work or as a photography hobbyist, there are many variants to consider depending on your requirements and many budget-friendly drone options as well. Top models with long fly times and high megapixel cameras may be the most appealing but depending on your budget some of the best drones available may not be affordable for you.
Especially, if this is set to be your first experience with a drone, it might help to start by looking at some of the best drones for beginners that are the easiest to fly as well, so let’s take a look at some of the recommendations we have for you.
Starting the Year with Some of the Best Drones for 2024
Just like with any other product, there are many facets to consider before you invest in some of the best drones that the market has to offer. While you might think speed and flight range need to be the only considerations, you might end up with a drone that is not the easiest to fly under the weather conditions in the area you live in. Similarly, you might end up with a premium drone that you’re too afraid to test out because you spent too much on the purchase and now you can’t risk damage to it for fear of losing all the money you invested.
When trying to pick from the best drones that are available on the market, you might need to consider aspects like the weight and camera quality of the drone before making a purchase. A heavy drone may be better resistant to windy conditions in the area you live in, but a hefty device may not be ideal if you require it to be quick and responsive. Before making the purchase, have a clear idea of why you need it, what you’re planning to film with it, what your budget is, under what conditions you’re planning to use it, what mode you want to shoot in, and what kind of range you might need from the device. Don’t forget to check in with the local regulations regarding the use of a drone as well. The Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. provides guidelines for drone registrations before use.
All things considered, most lists that summarize the best drones should tell you that you can’t go wrong with a DJI device. The company is among the top producers of camera drones and has something available for everyone. The DJI Air series repeatedly turns up at the top with its many features that make it suited for most customers, but it is among the premium drones that might not be affordable for everyone. Looking at some of the DJI Air alternatives might not hurt for those who want to try something new.
Best Drones for Beginners: Ryze Tello
Weight: 2.8 oz/0.175 lbs/80g
Flight Range: 100m
Fly Time: 13 minutes
Powered by an Intel 14-core processor the Tello drone by Ryze Robotics is likely among the most budget-friendly drones on the market right now. Advertised as a device simple enough for even kids to fly, Ryze Tello is one of the best drones for beginners available right now. The auto takeoff and landing feature as well as the failsafe protection in case you lose connection make the device a safe alternative for those who are nervous about the learning curve that might initially come with the purchase of such new technology. Making the device even more suited for young fliers, the Tellu Edu mobile programming allows students to develop programming skills for their Tello drone as well.
The drone can be operated via any smartphone with the Tello smartphone app or a Bluetooth controller paired with the device. The drone is more suited for indoor flying and the propeller guards add an element of safety if you’re afraid of the damage it might do. Light and buoyant, the Tello is capable of performing a few tricks that its heavier counterparts cannot, making it a fun little investment to have at home. The Tello was a result of the company’s partnership with DJI and uses the DJI flight tech to support more stable flying. Without a gimbal to support the stability and smoothness of the content you record, you might end up with more clunky results, but the device is still the best drone for beginners who just want to learn to fly a drone without investing too heavily in it.
Budget-Friendly Drones: DJI Mini 2 SE
Weight: 8.5 oz/0.53lbs/249g
Camera: 1/2.3-inch CMOS camera with 12MP Quality
Flight Range: 6.2 miles/10 km
Battery: 2250 mAh
Fly Time: 31 minutes
One of the most budget-friendly drones and one that doesn’t compromise on quality, the DJI Mini 2 SE is quite easy to use and offers a 10km video transmission range and 38 kph (Level-5) wind resistance which makes it an efficient device to have handy. With an exceedingly smooth take-off and landing set-up, the compact DJI Mini 2 SE is quite easy to use and familiarize yourself with, putting you at ease with its return-to-home failsafe features as well. With support for wide angles, 180-degree, and sphere panoramas, the device provides quite a bit of control over your recordings, its 3-axis gimbal providing stability even at its comparatively lower price.
Being budget-friendly, there are of course some features that are missing in comparison to the more expensive models like the lack of any sensors for obstacle avoidance. As long as you’re more alert with how you fly your drone though, it shouldn’t be as much of an issue.
Immersive Experience: DJI Avata
Price: $629 ($999 for the Goggles 2 and RC Motion 2 handheld control for the full experience)
Weight: 14.5 oz/0.91lbs/410g
Camera: 1/1.7-inch CMOS 48 MP
Video: 4K 60pfs
Flight Range: 7.2 miles/11.6 km
Battery: 2420 mAh
Fly Time: 18 minutes
Among the list of the best drones for 2024 lies a real gem, the DJI Avata. Unlike the other drones we discussed that allow you to watch where your drone is going on the screen of your phone or controller, the DJI Avata is meant to provide a much more immersive flight experience. When paired with the goggles and the motion controller, you can view what the drone sees up close and navigate more intuitively, making the footage you collect that much more detailed. The remote-controlled drones are often not as responsive and your flight path needs to accommodate enough space to maneuver the device, but the DJI Avata can get in and out of tight spaces a lot more efficiently. The first-person view might take some getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it can be quite a thrilling experience and soon turn into one of the easiest drones to fly.
Even while being compact and lightweight, the propeller guard is a lot more sturdy than the protection other devices provide, making it a very useful tool for navigating through obstacle-packed conditions. The 155-degree super-wide field of view provides quite stunning visuals with its RockSteady 2.0 and HorizonSteady technologies ensuring stable footage while you’re on the move.
Best OverAll Drone: DJI Air 2S
Weight: 21 oz/1.31 lbs
Camera: 1-inch CMOS sensor 20MP
Video: 5.4k/30 fps and 4K/60fps videos
Flight Range: 11.5 miles
Battery: 3750 mAh/3500 mAh
Fly Time: 31 minutes
One of the best drones in 2024 for photography and capturing high-quality videos, the DJI Air 2S is a pretty dynamic drone that offers a decent flight time while you record your content with it. The device offers three profile choices for video capture that allow some level of customizability and promise good footage in low-light settings as well. Capturing a dynamic range of up to 12.6 stops, the drone allows photographers to capture more visual information in diverse lighting conditions, which provides greater flexibility during post-processing, allowing for adjustments to exposure, contrast, and other aspects of the image. With Spotlight 2.0, ActiveTrack 4.0, and Point of Interest 3.0 the drone is quite efficient at focusing on your subject and keeping it centered while you maneuver the device for different angles and shots.
The device is quite efficient at avoiding obstacles as well, something you would need while shooting in dense locations. Its Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems allows it to be wary of its environment in four directions, and the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) flight location information it receives on the app can ensure the device remains safe in the airspace to avoid any collisions. Overall, the DJI Air 2S is one of the best drones you could consider purchasing this year.
DJI Air Alternative: Autel EVO II Pro V3
Weight: 41.92oz/2.62 lbs/1187 g
Camera: 1-inch CMOS 20 MP
Video: 6K 30fps
Flight Range: 9.3miles/15 km
Battery: 7100 mAh
Fly Time: 40 mins
If you’ve already tried DJI products and are looking for something different this time around, the Autel EVO II Pro V3 might be a good DJI Air alternative. With the best battery and flight time on this list, the Autel EVO II Pro V3 stands out as a premium drone that can help you record for much longer and make the most of your device. With its Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing system, the device is quite efficient at protecting itself making the most of its 19 groups of sensors. The Autel Robotics’ Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 supports night photography or low-light recording in general, making it quite a useful device for those who aim to capture high-quality footage through their new drone.
There are many other drones to consider as a DJI Air alternative, from the Zino Pro+ which has a 43-minute fly time, to the small Sony ARS-S1 Airpeak S1 that is designed to carry an Alpha series mirrorless camera on it. These have more specific use cases and may not be suited for beginners. The Airpeak S1 requires further investment in a compatible camera but for those who use these devices professionally, it could be among the best drone investments.
The Skydio 2+ used to be a good option as well but was discontinued for consumers last year. Finding a used edition might be a solution if you’re not particular about having a brand new device but overall the top option for drones appears to be the DJI series and their many offerings.