Finding your right, FIRST drone to get into this hobby especially as a beginner is extremely important. And I will give you my top 3 choices that I absolutely know you cannot go wrong with.
While they are my subjective choices, I will explain why they are great picks, nonetheless.
I personally prefer high quality ones vs cheap ones and usually that means you will have to pay more, but believe me, it is worth it as I will explain in detail later on.
While picking a cheap, low quality model isn’t a mistake, if you screw up (or it screws up which lower end models tend to do), it can affect your future purchases and cause you to spend money on more than 1 model needlessly. It can also cause you to have more worries than happy experiences.
Contrarily, buying the right one can have you enjoying the hobby more than you can possibly comprehend (take it from me) which is why I imagine you’re here right now…
I know full well how confusing, tough and time consuming it can be to choose the “right” model for you to start with and I hope the choices I present you with clarify this problem. I do know for certain you will be happy with any of the 3 options. But I just want to share something:
When I was a beginner, this is what I started with:
My first experience with a drone was with a Karma (GoPro), an experience that quite literally never took off, but after I switched it up for a Mavic Pro, my whole perspective on droning changed and the flight capabilities that model came with shocked me in the most unimaginable ways that to this day, months after, I am still discovering and enjoying.
Followed by that was experiences I had with other higher tier models and other experiences with lower tiered ones which I admit, after flying the Mavic, I just couldn’t see myself working with those, and it also gave me an appreciation for recommending the higher tiered ones. And this taught me a very important thing:
The truth about cheap and expensive drones and where I recommend you steer to:
Whether or not you like the 3 choices I will present you with, I want you to have a very important thought process moving forward in this hobby and it starts with being able to distinguish good quality drones from bad ones:
Lower tiered drones (cheap, no camera, bad cameras, limited flight capabilities, ect…) to me are like used cars you buy when you first get your driver’s license (beginner). They tend to break easier and have limited functions including a lower overall use that increase the likelihood of breaking/crashes which if it does, you will just end up having to buy a new one anyway.
Although if you are careful and have a quick learning curve for flying them, you will improve the odds of nothing bad happening (here are safety guidelines you should read up on), but compare that to this:
Higher tiered drones (a bit more expensive, include cameras, GPS systems, safety mechanisms, ect…) to me are like NEW, high quality cars you get (but you’re still a new driver/flyer anyway).
Even though your flying skills with your first model are limited, the safety mechanisms higher tiered models have prevent unnecessary accidents from happening and they also help you become a better, safer flyer in the process.
-For example, some have sensors to help it stop before it hits something or someone.
-Others have capabilities to fly back to you should you lose connection and you won’t have to worry about looking for it.
-Other capabilities help it follow you, film and take pictures you will be mesmerized by.
Mix all that in with the safety aspect of things and all of a sudden, a little extra spent provides you with a great, happy flying experience you can enjoy over and over. At least that’s my personal take.
If you’re the type who just wants to buy the cheapest model out there JUST to test it out, go for it, but don’t expect great results or think that the way that cheap model flies is a representation of the other models out there. Trust me, there is a HUGE difference.
Anyway, the 3 recommendations I will give you are from the higher tier class:
Everyone has their own subjective meaning of “beginner”. So the 3 options I am giving you have a majority or ALL of the following benefits:
1) They are for responsible kids and adults.
2) They are easy to fly and have a short learning curve.
3) They are safe and have a low probability of crashing/accidents happening.
4) They are a bit more expensive.
5) They are incredibly fun to fly.
6) You can use these models for a LONG period of time.
7) You can take great shots and videos with them.
8) They are easy to set up.
9) They are sturdy (even if they crash, they have a high chance of containing to fly).
10) They have a long battery life and can fly back to you if you lose them.
I like to have as many perks as possible and I believe the above 10 will absolutely serve a beginner flyer in more ways than they can imagine.
Based on that criteria, here are the 3 starter drone models that are excellent choices:
#3: DJI Spark.
The Spark is one of the smallest drones on the market, but at the same time, it has the DJI logo and that means it is high in quality. In terms of the above 10 benefits I’ve listed, I would say it has 8 out of 10 of them. The only things I would say it doesn’t have are an easy set up (it takes a bit longer than most other models) and the battery life is under 15 minutes.
Yet, you will get a high quality flight out of this thing. It can fly far, has great safety features, a good camera (1080p) for filming/taking shots, and safe flying features. I have an entire detailed review on the Spark here that I recommend you check out.
The price for the Spark is currently at $499, with an additional package available for $699 that I personally prefer because it features more accessories that I believe are necessary for it.
My score for the Spark is 55 out of 100 points.
#2: DJI Phantom 3 Standard.
I was debating putting this up as #1 but decided to leave it at #2. The Phantom 3 (standard) is an older DJI model that came out a few years ago (2 I believe), yet to this day, despite the advancement of drones in general, this one still stands as one of the BEST models to get if you’re just a beginner starting out.
It has enough (and I would say more than enough) features to really give you a great flying experience to a beginner, mixed in with a GREAT 12 MP camera that shoots at up to 2.7k, has a flight time of around 20+ minutes and intelligent flight modes to have that safety in mind.
Price wise, you’re looking at about $499 for this baby and honestly, it’s a fantastic choice that I would not discount. You will get great flights out of this.
My score for the Phantom 3 Standard is 80 out of 100 points.
#1: Mavic Pro.
Another DJI model. I used them on this list because they really are fantastic and given the current state of drones and the wide range of models there are, I will say the Mavic is quite possibly the best because of it’s diverse range of benefits.
Although base price for this model is currently at $999, twice as expensive as the other 2 choices, the amount of benefits you get for that in my opinion exceeds the price.
The Mavic is a very portable model drone, and has a camera that can shoot 4k at 30 FPS. I’ve found the footage to be incredible and in many cases, exceeding my own expectations (even though I am not a professional cameraman).
Flight wise, you’re getting a massive, high quality improvement from the other 2 choices in that this model can go as far as 8km in range and fly at an average of 25 minutes, and also at a faster speed than the other 2.
In addition, there are also more safety features on this model than on the other 2. Here is a full breakdown of the Mavic and my experiences with it.
And finally, for beginners, I also think this is a great starter drone, if you’re looking to get into the hobby, but want to really get some great shots and easy flights. With this model, you’re mixing in a high quality, safe flight with exceptionally HIGH camera quality, one of the best in the drone market by far.
My score for the Mavic is 95 out of 100 points.
Which model suites you best?
This is actually an open question I am posing to the readers now. In order to best answer which of the above 3 models will benefit you most, I have to know what you’re looking for so while I will make some recommendations right now, I want to encourage you all to leave a comment below and tell me what YOU personally want in a drone model or if you have questions on it so I can help you pick one out.
In terms of easy flights, I’d say the Spark is best.
In terms of portability, it’s also the Spark because it’s the smallest of the 3.
What about which one is best for kids? I’d honestly say none because kids tend to treat these things irresponsibly so you may just want to get them a lower tier one to play around with. These 3 models are for responsible fliers only.
In terms of getting the most for your money, I think the Phantom 3 Standard would suffice because you do get high quality filming and flying for a good price.
In terms of the best flight experience, a lot of safety features, portability and other benefits, the Mavic is easy at the top, but it is the most expensive, so if your budget limits you to this choice, you really can’t go wrong with the Phantom 3 Standard or Spark.
However, if you seek the highest quality camera experience and aren’t a good flier, the Mavic is also #1 there and I guarantee you that it will impress you in ways you can’t imagine.
So I hope those circumstances and recommendations clear up which drones you decide to buy and if not, again, please leave your comment below and let me know what you want in your model, including things like what your budget is for this.
Update: 3 other cheap and expensive models that are great for beginners…
1) Mavic Air.
If you can spend a few $100 more, I’d advise the Mavic Air over the Spark. It handles better for beginners and everything else about it is superior to the Spark (if you seek to take good footage that is).
2) DJI Tello.
If you can’t afford a drone for $100’s of dollars, then you need something that will still be reliable and the Tello is a pretty good model for it’s price point.
3) Autel Evo.
I think it shoots better than any other drone on this list, but it is $1,000. However, the Autel Evo has great handling and other features are pretty good for beginners.