Drones have offered a unique way to view the skies. RC aircraft used to be nothing but downscaled aerial vehicles flown as toys by hobby enthusiasts. Now, drones allow us to see through the cockpit (first-person-view) and fly much longer distances. The drone is a machine that offers a more immersive experience, and one that can be used as a utility for both photographers and enterprise pilots alike. Due to the technology that allows FPV live streaming and the enhanced length of the transmission range, a pilot can now have ‘eyes’ where they could never be before. This short compilation of drones is tailored specifically to the machines which can fly the longest distances, and for all of you adventurers/photographers/enterprise pilots who want to truly expand your horizon. We’ll focus on the overall specifications as well, but these are the electric birds that can take you on the longest flights. Hey, thrill seekers out there, read on.
Longest Range Drones
the DJI Mavic Pro can remain in range for up to 7km. If you’re not used to the metric system, that’s approximately 4.3 miles. We’re not just talking about sheer transmission range, but also the FPV downlink (in 1080p). You can fly your Mavic Pro up to 4 miles away from your feet and still see out the proverbial cockpit “window”. This master class of drone engineering offers the intelligence and capabilities of a professional drone all fit into a tiny, portable chassis. It can detect obstacles on its own, has the whole list of DJI autonomous features (Active Track, Return Home, Hover, Follow Me, and more) and it can sustain around 25 minutes of flight per charge. Did we mention it can also take 4k footage stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal, and that it can fly up to 40mph in sports mode? Or that you can have all of this for under $1k? The Mavic Pro, as it stands, is the drone to beat. You’ll have no problem venturing great distances (4.3 miles is a long way away).
the Inspire 2 is in its own class. There are professional machines like the Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro or Advanced or even the Phantom 4 standard model, and then there’s the Michael Jordon of drone photography: the Inspire 2. Not only can it fly a distance of 7 km, it can fly up to 30,000 feet in the air. This is, by all accounts, an aerial photographer’s dream drone. Fit with a dual frequency camera system, the Inspire 2 was engineered to be fully autonomous while allowing the pilot to focus solely on camera control. It can shoot in 5.2k Cinema DNG and Apple Pro Res, all the while keeping a dedicated ‘flight’ camera that allows for FPV streaming and autonomous features. It can fly up to 58mph and for up to 27 minutes. If you’re willing to dish out the coin for a machine that can take your vision to the furthest depths of the skies, the Inspire 2 should be your only consideration.
this is the predecessor of the above drone, yet holds its value even better because of the price drop it experienced (after the Inspire 2 dropped). It can fly up to 5km in distance, shoot in RAW 4k, and fly to distances beyond 20,000 feet. It flies around 50 mph for just under 18 minutes, and features autonomous capabilities like waypoint following, course lock, active track, and more. Again, this is a professional grade drone meant specifically for the most experienced photographers, and if you’re looking for a 1080p live stream (Inspire 1 Pro uses Lightbridge 2 technology), that can tour the skies with virtually no limitations, then the Inspire 1 Pro can certainly take you there.
as of this point, all the machines listed have been DJI-manufactured, and that’s for a reason; they’re simply the best in the game. Their competitors are few and far between. The Phantom 4 Pro is the successor of the Phantom 4, the drone that a lot of enthusiasts claim ‘changed the game’. The market had never seen such a capable drone, nearly autonomous by default, with 360 degree obstacle avoidance and the ability to shoot in 4k, at the stated price point (below $2k). Distance? Similar to the Inspire 2 and the Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro can reach ranges up to 7km and feed the 1080p live stream from that distance as well). It pioneered the Draw feature, basically a flight mode in which you can trace a line on your screen and the drone will automatically follow it, meaning you can literally fly with your finger. It was the first Phantom model to incorporate tap-to-focus rather than autofocus, so if you tap anywhere on the tablet the camera will automatically focus on your desired subject. Quite literally, you can fly the Phantom 4 Pro with your fingertip, and at 45mph in sports mode.
For all of you enterprise pilots or pilots who use industrial machines, the DJI Matrice 600 can fly up to 5km, with a payload capacity of 15kg. Its foldable platform allows for easy storage and makes the DJI Matrice 600 not only simple to use, but also RTF right out of the box. That’s big, since drones of this industrial grade often require an ample amount of assembly before they can be put up in the air. The integrated Lightbridge 2 technology supports the FPV streaming at 1080p at 60fps. The retractable landing gear allows for an unobstructed 360 degree range of vision. This industrial drone can even sustain a gimbal that supports a Red Epic. Since it’s a hexacopter, you’ll have a bit more flexibility in harsher conditions, and you’ll be able to tour the skies in stride.
while this drone can’t reach 7km like its successor, it can still reach 5km and live stream FPV at 720p. Similar to the Mavic Pro, it’s about as good as it gets in the price to capability ratio. It comes equipped with a camera that can shoot in 4k, an obstacle avoidance system, all the autonomous components expected from a Phantom machine (except for Draw), and can fly up to 40mph in sports mode. It flies for around 25 minutes and it comes in a sleek white finish. At the release of the Phantom 4 Pro, the Phantom 4 experienced a large price drop that has made it all the more attractive. This is the drone that ‘anyone can fly’ and that’s because the machine is intelligent and capable enough to assist even the most novice of pilots. And with Lightbridge technology, you’ll have a crystal clear view through your electric bird’s ‘eyes’. Now pair that with a 5km range (3.1 miles), and go where your imagination takes you.
this drone is another hexacopter, and it can fly up to 1.6km. While this is a decent drop from the DJI machines, it is hard to find drones that deliver on their promises better than DJI, especially in the speed and range departments. Despite this, the Typhoon H is a remarkable drone. It livestreams FPV in HD, shoots 4k at 30fps, and has its own range of autonomous features (engineered by Yuneec). While it’s significantly slower (around 15 mph), one nice feature is that for the price, the landing gear is retractable, thus giving the 3-axis gimbal a 360 degree range of rotation. On top of that the controller comes with a 7” LCD screen that the feed streams to, so if you don’t like using a separate tablet or smartphone for FPV, you don’t have to. It’s right there for you. The drone can fly for up to 25 minutes and has its own obstacle avoidance system. A lot of people say the Typhoon H is like the Phantom 4 as a hexacopter. On paper, they’re not wrong (despite speed and range), with each of them having some strengths. Still, an HD live stream (720p) and transmission range of up to a mile, these are fantastic attributes for a drone priced around $1k.
UAV Systems X8 Surveillance Drone
This drone can fly up to 30 miles in distance, at around 60mph, and for three hours at a time. Crazy, right? That’s because it’s a fixed-wing drone developed by UAV systems specifically for enterprise solutions. The wing span alone is seven feet, so this is nowhere near the size of some of the drones we’ve discussed. Of course, it offers FPV and can sustain an extra 5lbs in its payload, but if you’re looking to dish out the money ($4700) to tour the skies in stride, the X8 could certainly be the drone for you. Also, it’s not without autonomy, as it has its own tracking features and can orbit stationary objects for surveillance reasons. That and a whole slew of other features.
another industrial drone, this quadcopter is meant for professional-grade jobs that need heavy lifting, complete flight superiority, longer distance, at faster speeds. We’re not kidding when we say the MD4 can reach up to 50km (over 30 miles). It can fly up to 4,000 meters high, sustain an 11lb pound payload, for up to 45 minutes, and withstand harsh weather condition (it’s pre-certified to fly in wind, snow, or rain). It can fly up to 45 mph and was developed for mapping, aerial surveillance, industrial applications, and more. The MD4-3000 can take you further than any other drone listed.
As you can see, the leading drones in the consumer market which allow for the longest distances (and can hold FPV live streaming) are engineered mostly by DJI, or they’re drones developed exclusively for enterprise solutions. When push comes to shove, they’re worth the money. Whether it’s 4 miles in distance or 30+, the ability to tour the skies with a ‘bird’s-eye-view’ is a reality that everyone should take advantage of. With these drones, that reality is possible.