Best Drones 2018: 5 of the best for new pilots, advanced flyers and videographers

Whether you’re just starting out on your drone-flying adventure, or are already a dab hand in the skies, we’ve rounded up some of the best drones you can buy.

Drones have really advanced over the past few years, with anyone now able to try their hands at piloting a device. Mini-drones are a great first dip in the water, with plenty of fun to be had piloting and racing. Larger quadcopters practically fly themselves these days, with a raft of automated flight modes featuring on models.

Not only are drones great fun to fly, many are equipped with fantastic cameras to capture stunning aerial views that would be impossible to achieve via any other device. Some are even capable of recording 4K video. For those who are after a truly immersive experience, there are even drones that support First Person View (FPV) goggles, allowing you a bird’s eye view of the world.

Related: Best action cameras

However, you need to fly sensibly, so be sure to read the Drone Code that provides all the information you need to fly safely. Below you’ll find some of the best drones available on the market right now, from palm-sized mini-drones to 4K-recording advanced quadcopters.

Related: Best cameras

Upcoming Drones

DJI Mavic Air

DJI recently announced the DJI Mavic Air, the follow-up to the excellent DJI Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air is more compact, folding down to almost the size of a large smartphone, meaning you can pop it in a pocket for transportation. It features the automated flight modes of the DJI Spark and also the 4K video capabilities of the Mavic Pro. We took it for a test flight and came away seriously impressed. Be sure to check back for a full review once we can spend more time in the skies with this new diminutive folding drone.

DJI Mavic Pro

1 of 5

Score:

Key features

  • Compact, foldable design
  • 4K video/12MP images
  • 40mph top speed
  • Front collision detection
  • 27-minute flight time

The DJI Mavic Pro is simply one of the best and most approachable drones to be released so far.

It’s incredibly convenient to carry around thanks to a flexible design. Its arms and propellers fold down, making it barely the size of a water bottle. This means it’s no hassle at all to throw into a backpack for a day’s adventures.

Top that all off with some advanced automated flight modes that let you capture some seriously stunning cinematic shots, plus fantastic quality 4K video and 12-megapixel still images.

Battery life of around 27 minutes is also very respectable. If you want a combination of nimble flight and fantastic image quality then the DJI Mavic Pro is the best drone out there right now.

Read the full DJI Mavic Pro review

Score:

Key features

  • Includes Remote Control and FPV Cockpitglasses
  • 30-minute battery life with 2 batteries included
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • 1080P video/14MP images
  • 30-minute flight time (2 batteries included)

The Parrot Bebop 2 Power is more of an update to the original Bebop 2 than a direct follow-up. The ‘Power’ in its name is demonstrative of the fact that its battery performance has improved, with an excellent 30 minutes of flight per battery.

Two batteries are included, giving an hour of flight in total. Parrot has been generous with other accessories for the price, too, with a remote control and FPV goggles included. The Cockpitglasses really make for an immersive experience as you get a view from above.

There are also automated shot modes, including ‘Follow’ object tracking, which provides a more hands-off experience when you want it.

Unfortunately, image quality isn’t as good as other drones – but the Bebop 2 Power is still a great value package overall.

Read the full Parrot Bebop 2 Power FPV review

DJI Spark

3 of 5

Score:

Key features

  • Palm take-off
  • Gesture controls and quick shots
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • 1080P video
  • 13-minute flight time

DJI has become somewhat adept at making diminutive drones, as the earlier mentioned DJI Mavic Pro can attest. The DJI Spark is technically the company’s smallest drone, but this is only when compared to the unfolded Mavic Pro.

Its small size and light weight means it can take flight from the palm of your hand, so there’s no need to find a suitable take-off point. It also has return-to-home functions that will bring it back at the end of a session.

To make controlling the device even easier, you can use gesture controls to trigger actions such as ‘dronies’ for taking a photo. It’s like controlling a drone with Jedi abilities. There are plenty of other automated shots for capturing awesome footage with minimal effort.

Disappointingly, the standard DJI Spark package doesn’t come with a remote control, so you’ll need to use your phone for piloting. There’s a ‘Fly More’ combo pack that includes a controller and other accessories, which is worth stretching to for the best experience.

Read the full DJI Spark review

Parrot Mambo

4 of 5

Score:

Key features

  • Mini-drone
  • Grabber and launcher accessories
  • Bluetooth control from a smartphone
  • 9-minute flight time

While there are plenty of cheap mini-drones on the market from no-name brands, you know you’re getting a quality device from Parrot.

The Mambo is tiny and lightweight, making it great for indoor fun – but it will happily fly outdoors as long as it isn’t too windy. There are two accessories included: a grabber claw and a pellet firing cannon.

It’s up to you how you want to use these; you can come up with plenty of fun games to keep entertained. Flight is controlled via your smartphone, with the remote controller being an optional accessory.

Battery life of around 9 minutes is reasonably short, but it takes only 30 minutes for a full charge of the device. There’s a 0.3-megapixel camera that points downwards – although this isn’t really a drone for photography.

Read the full Parrot Mambo review

GoPro Karma

5 of 5

Score:

Key features

  • Includes Karma drone, GoPro camera and Karma Grip gimbal
  • 4K video/12MP still images
  • 20-minute flight time
  • 35MPH top speed

GoPro’s first foray into drones wasn’t without its hiccups. Fortunately, however, the company has ironed out the kinks. A number of updates have also improved the flight, including the addition of a greater number of automated flight modes.

The GoPro Karma comes not only with the drone, but now also the newest GoPro Hero 6 Black action camera (it was the Hero 5 Black when we first reviewed the Karma). The Hero 6 Black alone is the best action camera going, so this device is capable of capturing some fantastic video and still images.

There’s also the detachable Karma Grip gimbal for rock-steady footage that you can use separate from the drone. It’s taken a while, but GoPro has finally caught up to offer features seen on other similarly priced drones.

Read the full GoPro Karma review