You’ll see this drone absolutely everywhere. Taking into account its price point, this could very well be the most superior, intelligent, and impressive drone available in the consumer drone marketplace. Naturally, it’s at the top of the Phantom line and for good reason. The Phantom 4 Pro is an aerial photography machine capable of shooting in RAW 4k and hitting speeds up to 45mph. It’s filled with the autonomous tech-guts you’d expect from a Phantom machine (orbit, follow me, position-lock, return home, etc.), except they’re all optimized to create a synchronized, ever more balanced system. The integrated 3-axis gimbal provides stability for the footage, its heavier design proves resilient in windy conditions, it has 360 degree obstacle avoidance, and it focuses with a tap to the screen. When seeing through the ‘eyes’ of the drone, the image is astounding –as it livestreams the first-person-view at 1080p rather than the 780p of the Phantom 4. It flies for nearly 30 minutes (even with all systems go) and can be flown via the DJI application on a smartphone or tablet. The Phantom 4 Pro has solidified its spot as a leader in the market, for good reason. It is sleek, nimble, and optimized for incredible quality aerial footage, and its price is not crazy.
. So everything we just listed regarding the Phantom 4 Pro (including obstacle avoidance, but not 360 degree is basically all consolidated into the Mavic as a smaller, less-expensive, more portable option. The Mavic Pro is newer to the market so it’s not as popular as the Phantom 4 Pro, but side-to-side they are very similar (except for the camera – the Pro wins by a landslide here). It shoots in RAW 4k, has the same autofocus (tap-to-focus), the same autonomous tech guts and features (follow me, orbit, position-lock, active track, etc.), and can literally fold into the size of a water bottle, making it the most sophisticated, compact drone on the market for its capabilities. Like the Phantom 4 Pro, it has two different flight modes (standard and sport, where it can reach 40 mph). What it sacrifices is a bit of the resilience that the Phantom 4 Pro has in the air, since it’s a lighter, smaller machine. Still, many professionals prefer the Mavic Pro to the Phantom 4 Pro because it’s more convenient and produces basically the same image in stable conditions.
We’re not trying to be biased here by placing DJI in the first three spots, but DJI simply out-engineers most other companies (especially when considering price). The Phantom 4 can shoot in RAW 4k, hits speeds up to 45mph, livestreams in HD 720p, has a long list of intelligent autonomous features including obstacle avoidance, flies around 27 minutes, and more. If the Phantom 4 Pro is a bit out of your price range but you want a drone that can accomplish the same feats, without being on steroids, then the Phantom 4 is your machine. It’s been deemed the ‘drone anyone can fly’ due to its intelligence, and when it was first released it set a standard so high for drone consumer drone technology (in the professional grade) that other companies are still struggling to compete.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
Autel Robotics is making strides in the drone marketplace. They’re sticking to a limited, concise roster of products and focusing on creating a customer base before expanding. Their X-Star Premium is basically a Phantom clone, but more affordable. In using the word ‘clone’ we don’t mean to subtract from the originality of this drone, since it’s a compliment to be compared to a Phantom. The X-Star Premium can shoot in 4k (integrated 3-axis gimbal), take 12MB stills, fly for up to 25 minutes (battery charges in an hour), has a decent FOV, and has two separate flight modes (beginner and advanced). It livestreams the FPV at 720p (like the Phantom 4) and its dual frequency channel system allows for little control interference. It’s capable of autonomous components like return home, position-lock, orbit, waypoint following, and more. Best yet, it is ready-to-fly right out of the box. It’s all this for a lot less than the Phantom 4 or Phantom 4 Pro. This is one of those drones that people call a knock-off, which couldn’t be more inaccurate.
Yuneec has been around for nearly two decades now, holding hundreds of patents and producing over a million different units per year. The company is definitely reputable. The Q500 4k is one of their best models. It fare similarly to the abovementioned X-Star Premium and is nearly identical in price. A lot of the specs are similar (except the Q500 is a bit slower) so between the two, it’s truly about personal preference. The Yuneec Q500 4k does exactly what its name suggests: shoots in 4k. Its camera is supported by a 3-axis integrated gimbal and can take 12MB stills. It flies for nearly a half-hour and can fly up to 18mph (if you’re in it for the aerial photography, this speed won’t be a factor for you). The controller sports a built-in LCD screen that features the FPV livestream. It carries enough storage onboard for a surplus of footage and it has been proven to sustain mid-grade weather conditions. It’s an older model, so that’s why the price has dropped, but it’s still a highly capable sUAV.
Compared to the other drones listed, this U818A pales in comparison. The U818A is in a completely different grade of machine. However, measuring the quality of a quadcopter doesn’t just come from capabilities and engineering, but also how they fare in the market place. For around $200, the U818A makes the list because of what it can accomplish at that price. For one, the camera shoots in high-definition 720p and livestreams FPV. It comes with two different flight modes (easing in beginners allowing full-control), can be controlled up to over 100 meters, and sports the return home autonomous features. It comes with a 2.4GHz frequency. In terms of aesthetics, it comes equipped with built-in LED lights which assist in lowlight conditions. To call it a toy would be to underestimate its capabilities. It’s more of a training vehicle that helps beginners learn to pilot while immersed in the entirety of the drone dynamic (first person view, aerial footage, a drone that can perform a full range of flight maneuvers). It’s modern, intelligent, and capable.
This is nearly the high point of aerial photography machines. The DJI Inspire 2 not only looks like it came from the world of Star Wars, but performs like it too. The ingenuity of the Inspire 2 outclasses almost every product on the market place. It’s truly the Zeus of aerial photography. The dual-frequency, dual-camera system is mesmerizing. It has basically been engineered to complete complex aerial maneuvers autonomously, with its own integrated FPV camera livestreaming in 1080p, of course, while you can sit back and take the sticks to control the camera and capture your best shot. The camera, we might add, shoots in 5.2k cinema DNG RAW. The SSD workflow is like none of its crafts’ drives, the autonomous components well exceed the Phantom line, it can fly up to 70mph (not sure why you’d want to fly it this fast, but impressive nonetheless), and it has Apple ProRes Codec integrated. The Inspire 2 is for the professional of the professionals, well exceeding its predecessor the Inspire 1.
if that Inspire 2 is what you’re looking for, but you can’t justify the price, then take a look at the Inspire 1 Pro. After the release of its successor, the 1 Pro will soon experience a hefty price drop. This versatile masterpiece comes equipped with a Zenmuse X5 (a mirrorless camera that shoots in 4k at 24-30fps). Its retractable carbon-fiber arms and black-exterior make this machine look beastly, but in a sleek, sexy, competent way. The 3-axis gimbal can rotate 360 degrees and with retractable landing gear, your field of vision is basically limitless. It can fly up to 15,000 feet – do you realize how high that is? Needless to say, it’s filled with the intelligent tech guts you’d expect from DJI engineering and it is more dynamic, heavier, more powerful, and sports a camera that trumps all others in the DJI arsenal, except for the Inspire 2. This drone is engineered for masterful aerial photography and, crazy enough, it is ready-to-fly right out of the box. Again, wait for the hefty price drop once the Inspire 2 really solidifies its place in the market.
This is the GoPro lovers’ paradise. If you own a GoPro Hero 4, or if you plan on buying one, you might want to consider 3D Robotics Solo. It’s the first drone ever engineered to fully integrate GoPro technology into its design, to the extent that, once attached, the Solo can livestream the FPV of the GoPro directly to a tablet or smartphone. Naturally, since they’re different companies, the GoPro gimbal and the GoPro itself are sold separately from the 3DR – but once the combination is complete, it’s basically an aerial GoPro. As a drone, the Solo is certainly impressive. It clocks in at over 55mph (10 mph faster than the Phantom 4 Pro), has an assortment of integrated autonomous flight systems (selfie, cable cam, orbit, follow, and return home), and it handles flight beautifully. The nice part about this drone is you’re not going to be married to an integrated camera. So if the tech becomes available, you’ll upgrade. For now, it’s a perfect fit for the GoPro since 3DR actually worked with GoPro to develop the gimbal/camera integration system.
DJI Phantom 3 Professional
Yet again, another Phantom machine. We have included this because, again, for the price-point, it’s a highly capable machine (the price dropped dramatically with the success of the Phantom 4/4Pro). Sure, it doesn’t have obstacle avoidance or the intelligence of its successors, but if you don’t need all the extra padding it can still shoot in 4k UHD and livestream HD at 720p (3-axis gimbal integrated). It has multiple flight modes (to ease beginners into learning to pilot) and autonomous features like return home and position lock. Its VPS system still checks out and it flies at around 30mph for 23 minutes. This is a professional machine capable of high quality footage, and it is well worth the price now that the Phantom line has a new king. You’ll see this phenomenon all across the spectrum of drones, since manufactures continue to pump out new and improved products.
2017 is already a fantastic year for those looking to enter the drone space, and for the diehard enthusiasts and the professionals. With such an impressive and intelligent foundation of upper grade drones in the marketplace, the only way is up from here and that is an exciting thought. As more and more companies join the race to lead the industry, we’ll see a surge in impressive new products being developed throughout 2017. We hope you have enjoyed our list of the best quadcopters in the current market.