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The best drones for beginners in 2024

Best beginner drones: Quick menu

The best drones for beginners are a mix of low-budget options rising right up to those equipped with collision sensors. Flying a drone, after all, is never risk-free – even the best pilots have accidents. 

This list also covers all the key bases, from photography and video drones to racing/FPV drones, with toys and education in the mix too. Many drones come with built-in safety features such as distance limiters, return-to-home functions, and propellor guards that will help you should you find yourself in a sticky situation, but don’t worry, that’s no reason not to give it a go! 

If you’re looking for the best drones for kids, then remember simple plastic propellor guards are also a simple – and cheap – alternative to sophisticated collision sensors. We’ve selected the best drones for beginners below, but it’s worth keeping in mind that their designs and prices will differ depending on the purpose of the product. 

Most of the drones we recommend weigh under 250g (8.8 ounces), as this means there are fewer drone rules and regulations – making it easier to get started. Heavier drones require registration and (simple) online exams, and a small payment, in the FAA (USA) and CAA (UK) regions (though in the UK the camera can be reason alone for registration) registration. 

On a more straightforward level, lighter drones are simply a lot safer for anyone near them, which is why the rules are weight-based.

Whether you’re investing in a drone for aerial photography or videography, or even drone racing, some of the best drones you can buy don’t cost as much as you think. This guide is aimed at people who haven’t flown before but if you’re thinking of upgrading check out the best indoor drones or the best FPV drones.

The quick list

Adam Juniper

When I built my first drone in the very early 2010s, people thought it was a bit of an odd hobby, but as time passed more and more people have come to me asking which would be the best drone for them. it doesn’t take a lot to start me on a lengthy spiel about tech of any kind – especially drones, cameras, smart home gadgets and anything Apple-related, and I that has not only made me DCW’s resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, but the author of several books on the subject including bestsellers The Complete Guide to Drones and The Drone Pilot’s Handbook.

The best drones for beginners in 2024

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Best Beginner Drone Overall

(Image credit: DJI )

1. DJI Mini 2 SE

A top quality beginners drone with a much improved controller

Specifications

Weight: 246g

Dimensions (folded): 138×81×58mm

Controller: Yes

Video resolution: 2.7K 30fps

Camera resolution: 12MP

Battery life: 31 minutes (2400mAh)

Max Range: 10km / 6 miles

Max Speed: 47kph / 29mph

Reasons to buy

+

Great controller

+

3-axis gimbal for stable video

+

All the features of the DJI Mavic Mini with the looks of the DJI Mini 2

Reasons to avoid

No 4K video

Inflationary price bump

No forward collision sensor

Buy it if:

You want social media clips: This drone can produce 5 automatic selfies and shareable QuickShots
You want to fly outdoors: The Mini 2 SE will survive Level 5 winds

Don’t buy it if:

You need 4K: Unlikely for beginners, but some people insist on 4K video and 2.7K is the limit here.
You want collision sensors: It might look like it has them, but they’re just vents.

This is DJI’s budget drone, created (like the iPhone SE series) by removing features from an established case design – in this case the Mini 2 drone – and keeping the price down. If it weren’t for the name on the arm it’d be hard to distinguish between it and the Mini SE or Mini 2. The camera specs remain the same as the Mini SE, too.

If you follow DJI (which, as a potential beginner, you might not) the big change here from the previous incarnation it uses an updated ‘O2’ radio system, that doubles the bandwidth and increases the range to 10km / 6.2mi in the US (or 6km / 3.7mi in other territories). 

What that means shouldn’t be flying further – that’s just the easiest way to express the radio’s strength – but more reliable preview video on the phone even when you’re flying at more sensible ranges. The new controller design, the RC-N1, is also one of my favourite of all time – chunky and robust with a cunning grip for the phone and great battery life.

This is a great choice as a first-time drone, and while 2.7K video might seem limited, that’s the resolution of most phone screens so for many this will be all you need. More significantly, the camera is 3-axis gimbal-stabilized, making it look very smooth indeed. It is well ahead of the toy brands, plus manual exposure is available (but unlike more expensive DJI models, it can’t shoot RAW).

Read our DJI Mini 2 vs Mini SE comparison for more details 

Best value beginner drone

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)

A lightweight drone perfect for those looking to complete short flights

Specifications

Weight: 235g

Controller: via Phone, ideally with a Bluetooth game controller

Video resolution: 720p, 30fps

Camera resolution: 5MP

Battery life: 13 minutes (1100mAh)

Max Range: 100m

Max Range with controller: 60m

Max Speed: 36kph

Reasons to buy

+

DJI software

+

VR compatible

+

Highly affordable

Buy it if:

You want quality: In the indoor / low-weight category, this is a high-quality product despite the low-weight
You want app control: Controlling via phones and wi-fi provides possibilities

Don’t buy it if:

You want long range: Wi-fi is great indoors and play/learning, but has limited range
Reaching end-of-life: Unlikely to be supported for long

With more than half of the global market, DJI has kept its tech at the serious end of the market.  However, a friendly relationship with neighboring firm Ryze has led to the Tello, a compact drone that doesn’t skimp on tech. It beams 720p video back to a phone in WiFi range (100m), or 5mp photos, which are recorded by the App. 

This data link also provides you with a battery warning, and the drone is capable of taking off and hovering using its 14-core processor and in-built sensors. 

That power makes for fun features like the “Throw & Go” launching and flips, but also supports Scratch, a simple, block-based programming language that means literally anyone (kids included) can have fun ordering the Tello about.

Sadly, while the Tello drone is still on sale, I’ve seen (and written) reports that the drone’s future is limited, as DJI education division is set to close.

Read our full
Ryze Tello review for more details

Best Beginner Drone For Features

(Image credit: Future)

Hard to crash and with a powerful camera, this drone is hard to beat

Specifications

Weight: 249g

Dimensions (folded): 148×94×64mm

Controller: With some options

Video resolution: 4K 60fps / 4K 100fps

Camera resolution: 48MP

Battery life: 34 minutes (or 47 mins Battery Plus)

Max Range: 20km / 12.4 miles

Max Speed: 58kph / 36mph

Reasons to buy

+

All-round collision sensors

+

Excellent video

+

Camera rotates to Portrait/Horizontal

+

Choice of extended battery

Reasons to avoid

Not a budget-friendly option

Not all AI features available in Portrait

The smart tracking can be fooled

Buy it if:

Maximum features at a safe weight: The weight restriction is important for beginners, but that’s no reason not to seek high-spec features.
You want great range: The modern radio system means you get reliable control even where there is interference.

Don’t buy it if:

You’re working on a budget: If you expect to buy another drone later, this is an expensive choice.
You don’t need 4K video: There are cheaper options even from DJI if you don’t need a camera of this spec.

I don’t throw 5-star reviews around, or at least not when the spend is this high. Yes, this isn’t a cheap option, but it might be the only drone you ever need. It has an excellent 4K camera which can capture up to 100fps at that resolution, it stays under the 250g weight threshold, and the stills are striking too.

It is still a great contender for best beginner drone because it has all-round collision sensing so it will do a lot to protect its own existence. It can see objects and stop to avoid them in the air, which can save a lot of money and even minor injuries. It even boasts the ability to fly around obstacles and keep on going – and despite this, it manages to stay below the frustrating weight threshold.

The Mini 4 Pro, like the Mini 3 before it, has a rotating camera that will help capture people and social-media content without any resolution loss or time spent cropping into a horizontal image for vertical social media. For some this might be the feature that sells the drone alone. 

I’m also a big fan of the fact DJI offers a choice of controllers – none (if you already have one), one that uses your phone, or one with a built-in display. There is also the option of ignoring the weight rules and fitting a longer-lasting battery. In other words, although it’s a high price of entry, this drone might be the only one you need for a long time – professional flexibility in the ultra-light category.

Read our full DJI Mini 4 Pro review for more details

Best beginner drone for kids

(Image credit: Future / James Abbott)

The cheapest drone on our list is a great way to get started

Specifications

Weight: 190g

Dimensions: 78x31x88cm

Controller: Supplied

Video resolution:

Reasons to buy

+

Budget-friendly

+

Great for kids

Reasons to avoid

No photography or video capability

Buy it if:

Simple and cheap: The controller is simple, but the same basic layout as a more serious drone.
Safety : The simple cage approach is effective when it comes to safety.

Don’t buy it if:

No camera: You won’t be recording any images or video!
Limited battery life: The 180mAh batteries will last 10 minutes at most.

This Potensic A20 Mini Drone is perfect for kids and beginners, complete with two rechargeable batteries and a controller. I’ve had fun with drones like this, and while the Potensic A20 might not come with any photo or video capabilities, it’s a great option for those looking for a durable and affordable option that won’t be at risk of breakage from small, clumsy hands! 

Featuring Altitude Hold and One Key Taking off/ Landing, every aspect of the Potensic A20 Mini Drone is designed to be simple to use, no matter whether you’re introducing a kid to drones, or you’re a beginner yourself. As our reviewer James Abbot put it, it’s a good example of “less is more.” 

One of my favorite aspects of the drone is its Headless Mode. Ordinarily, the forward direction of a flying drone is the same as the nose direction. However, Headless Mode means that the forward direction will be the same as your transmitter. This is particularly useful for kids or beginners who might not be quite au fait with some of the trickier aspects of piloting a drone. 

Weighing just 190g, not only does the compact and lightweight nature of the Potensic A20 make it easy to carry around or store away, but it also means that you won’t have to register the drone with the FAA in the USA or CAA in the UK.

Read our full Potensic A20 review

Best FPV beginners kit

(Image credit: James Abbott / Digital Camera World)

If you’re after an immersive flying experience, the FPV Cetus kit will deliver exactly that

Specifications

Weight: 35g with battery

Dimensions: 102mm

Controller: Yes

Video resolution: Live-View only

Battery life: 5 minutes

Max Speed: 80kph

Reasons to buy

+

FPV is like a real life video game

+

Includes familiar game-like controller and goggles

+

Include optical flow hover (unusual in FPV)

Reasons to avoid

Goggles do not record video

Goggles don’t allow for glasses

Buy it if:

You’d want a bundle: This is a kit with everything you need to fly.
It’s about the fun: A micro whoop drone with enough power for acrobatic flight.

Don’t buy it if:

You suffer from motion sickness: FPV goggles aren’t for everyone.
You’d like to take aerial photos: You can’t hold the camera still.

Piloting a drone via goggles which give you the virtual cockpit experience is useful for many sub-styles, including racing, stunts, and the cinewhoop. As a beginner (to be honest, even as an experienced drone pilot) the world of FPV can be bewildering; you need a traditional radio controller, goggles (often analog), and most of the time you need to build a drone yourself, which means familiarizing yourself with motor types and manual battery charging. 

You could buy a book, and dive into the message boards. You could find a hobbyist to do it for you. Or you could get a ready-to-fly (RTF) kit. Sure it might not impress some, but it’s cheaper, it works, and the controller will do all the same stuff – and work with your next drone too. 

I say this – the fact you can do it means here is clearly a market for it, and even if you get into the self-build community, why not get the skills down first?

I especially appreciated the addition of a beginner-friendly altitude hold option (hover & auto-land) sensor, which is not usually found in small enthusiast drones (and wasn’t there on my first FPV drone (which, as a result, I crashed a few times!)

Best for visibility

(Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)

Folding super-lightweight drone with anti-collision vision system

Specifications

Weight: 249g

Dimensions (unfolded): 260×325mm

Controller: Yes

Video resolution: 4K 30fps

Camera resolution: 48MP

Battery life: 28 minutes

Max Range: 10km / 6.2mi

Max Speed: 54kph / 33mph

Reasons to buy

+

3-way obstacle avoidance

+

Under 249g registration limit

+

4K video and HDR

Reasons to avoid

Voice alerts in app very irritating 

Slightly plasticky controller

Subject tracking could be better

Buy it if:

You want great features under 250g: The Nano boasts a good feature set, including collision sensors and 4K
You want a comfy controller: Autel’s controller has a great video-game like feel

Don’t buy it if:

You’re looking for the best value: In the folding 4K category, DJI is probably the brand to beat.
Partial collision sensors?: They’re only front and back so you can still crash sideways!

The Autel Nano is cheaper than the very similar Nano Plus, which might be the better first drone of the two since it still offers 4K, though the sensor is 12.7mm across the diagonal (half-inch). Dig deeper into your pocket for the Nano Plus and you get a camera with a higher-quality 19.8mm sensor (0.8-inch).

In either case, the drone is light enough to stay under the registration rules in FAA airspace (in the UK and EU you’ll likely still need to register because of the camera). Moreover, it has front, back, and base collision sensors and the video feedback looks stunning – what Autel call ‘Skylink’ – which provides an amazing 2.7K30 resolution live view on the monitor.

The software includes a number of intelligent flight modes and tracking features, which have improved since launch, though some are less useful (filter-like effects – really?). We did like the ability to record sound from the phone and attach it automatically to the video – i.e. narrate your flight for YouTube, or just as notes.

The SuperDownload feature; wireless transfer of images and videos to a nearby smartphone at 160 MB/s, is also handy, and this drone is a serious alternative to the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

Read our full Autel EVO Nano+ review

Best beginners drone for cheap GPS

(Image credit: Future)

Portable, lightweight, and boasting digitally sthbilized 4K video

Specifications

Weight: 249g

Dimensions: 300 x 242 x 58mm (unfolded)

Controller: Yes

Video resolution: 4K @ 30fps

Battery life: 31 minutes

Range: 4km / 2.5 miles

Max Speed: 16m/s / 35 mph

Reasons to buy

+

GPS-enabled 

+

Camera tilt via remote control

+

Portable with good-quality controller

Reasons to avoid

EIS is stable but not as good as a gimbal

Batteries take a few hours to charge

Buy it if:

You want good value: Beating DJI on features is impressive, and Potensic’s app is mature
Build quality matters: I have very few complaints about the folding drone or the phone-gripping controller

Don’t buy it if:

You want perfect video: Electronic stabilization is good, but not as good as a 3-axis gimbal
You want rapid battery charging: They take a few hours (but you can get multipacks)

This excellent drone for beginners introduces not just the experience of flying, but the basic feature set of a serious photography or videography drone for notable less than the usual cost given how close the quality is to the premium brands. 

Beginners can be confident that the experience is broadly similar to that of a new DJI or other established brand because, with the launch of this drone and its sibling (the Atom, which has a more sophisticated image stabilizer) Potensic have put their feet very much on DJI’s turf.

They include all the same systems; crucially GPS so the drone can hover in place without pilot help, and sensors for landing, as well as a phone app and the means to connect the controller to the phone to use it as a monitor.

There is also an introductory video in the app to assist first-timers in what is a relatively slick app, although has extra features dicretely tucked behind icons if needed. For example there are RAW photo shooting options, 4K video and features DJI withhold from their entry-level consumers like waypoints (which let you plan the drone’s flight path for it).

Since all of this comes for a smaller initial investment, the Atom SE is a very tempting offer, and the electronic image stabilization is surprisingly effective.

Drone FAQs

What features should my first drone have?

Of course it depends on your needs, but these are all desirable:
• Keep it ‘ultralight’ (below 250g)
• GPS return to home
• Radio controller (as opposed to wi-fi)
• A gimbal to stabilize the camera
• Live view video from camera to your phone or monitor

Is learning to fly a drone hard?

Flying a drone is not as hard as you might think. If you’re used to playing video games or using apps on your phone, you should find learning to fly a drone pretty straightforward. 

If you want to impress long-time pilots, however, operate the controls by pinching the sticks on the remote. To them, using only the thumb is a sure sign of game-controller experience, while more subtle movements are possible by using thumb-and-forefinger on each stick. It also helps dissuade you from applying the same force you might on a game controller, though most will cope with it.

Easy as it is, you’ll want to do your homework and make sure you understand all your drone’s features and capabilities, as well as follow any legal regulations in your area. For example, if you buy a drone in the UK or USA that weighs over 250g / 8.8oz, then you’ll need to pay a small registration fee and take an exam online. (Any drone that weighs under 250g is considered a toy and safe to use.)

Rather than rushing into things, start with short and low flights and build up from there. Familiarise yourself with how the drone lands. Otherwise, you may end up crashing your drone or worse, causing an accident.

How does a drone work?

Most camera drones use the two-stick control method (or a touch-based equivalent on your smartphone) where the throttle (up/down) and rotation (yaw) are on the left stick and the direction of flight (roll & pitch) are on the right.

Most drones for beginners or otherwise will have rechargeable batteries, an even number of rotating props, a remote control receiver, and a processor to translate that input into the minor changes in the propeller speed, which is what will ultimately move the drone.

What’s the best drone for beginners?

I think a beginner’s drone should be under 250g, simply because it makes life easier in most places (and is safer). 

With that in mind, the best drone for beginners available today (ignoring budgetary concerns) is the Mini 3 Pro That’s because its light, compact, and easy to fly but also has an excellent camera. You can – but shouldn’t – fly it up to 10km (6.2 miles) away, and it’ll cope with winds of up to 24mph, while the camera gimbal will keep images vibration-free while recording up to 4K video.

It’s also good for flying indoors thanks to downward-facing visual and sonar distance sensing systems which can help it hover even without GPS, and the optional propellor guards.

How do I get started with a drone?

Once you know the controls of your drone and feel more confident flying you can start to experiment with more exciting shots. First, however, we’d strongly recommend just taking off and landing without pushing the controls too far. Take the advice of in-app tutorials, and be sure you know what any pre-programmed modes do before trying them.

How we test drones

Our full drone tests are carried out in the field, allowing us to assess the quadcopter for its flight performance in real-world conditions. We assess the drone for its ease of use, its image quality, and on its ability to cope with windy conditions. All our drone reviews and guides are overseen by on-team Managing Editor Adam Juniper who is one of the UK’s leading experts on drones, a professionally-qualified commercial drone pilot, and who has written several books on flying drones, including The Drone Pilot’s Handbook.

See also our guide to the best accessories for your drone


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