The Best Drones for Beginners – TOP 5

Quadcopters have taken over our skies as well as our imagination. Whether you’re looking for something to play with, or a quadcopter that can execute more sophisticated tasks, you’ll definitely find what you need among the various models currently on the market. However, if you’re a beginner, it might be more useful to get a bit familiar with what to look for when picking your first drone. We are here to help you how to choose best drone for a beginner.

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QUICK COMPARISON: TOP DRONES FOR BEGINNERS

Drone

Camera

Flight Time

Range

Weight

DN Rating *

JJRC H16 Tarantula X6

1080 p

20 minutes

200 m

435 g

50

Crazyflie 2.0

720 p

12 minutes

150 m

420 g

86

Hubsan X4 (H107L)

Optional

15 minutes

500 m

447 g

87

JJRC H16

2 mp

7 minutes

50 m

150 g

87

UDI U818A

1080p

10 minutes

100 m

339 g

65

Do I need a special permission to fly a quadcopter?

Yes. If your craft weights more then 0.55lbs or 250 grams you must obtain FAA registration. If it weights less you don't need any permission. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no consequences if something bad happens while you fly them. Think of it as riding your bicycle, there is nothing preventing you from driving your bike, let’s say, on the highway. But, would you really do it? Probably not.

faa-weight-applicibility
drone pilot certification

Common sense is key here. There are some notions in many countries that promote the registration of quadcopters and giving out licenses, like we have for cars, but that’s to a large extent planned for bigger commercial quadcopters.

Quadcopters are relatively new, and the rules regarding them have yet to be defined. Until then, listen to your common sense when operating a quadcopter in the open.

BEST DRONES FOR BEGINNERS

JJRC H16 Tarantula X6 drone 

A quadcopter model that lets you dive into the FPV experience, even if you’re not used to it by now. It offers a great power efficiency ratio and will make the most of your time, without a doubt. If you get a spare battery with this model, there’s almost no reason why this model couldn’t be a long-time friend of yours.

PROS

> Very power efficient. Flying time of 8 minutes; charging time: 90 minutes

> A lot of spare parts which will help extend the live-span of this model

> High-intensity LED lights that help you orient yourself even in low-light conditions

> A 5MP 1080p camera will get you into the FPV experience faster than any other model a similar category

CONS

> The battery compartment has to be screwed off in order for you to change the batteries, but in the end not such big hassle.

> There’s no on/off button

> Eccentric design choices of the drone’s body

Crazyflie 2.0 Nano Quadcopter

This lightweight quadcopter is a great entry model that can give you great pleasure for a long time. The sturdy built frame is great for making beginner mistakes, as it can handle even unexperienced pilots very well. I’m not saying that it can withstand things like more professional models are able to, but in the domain of beginner drones, it is fairly sturdy and will compensate for any beginner mistakes almost everyone makes.

PROS

> LED strips on this model help keep      orientation while flying in the LOS mode

> The radio range LOS is tested and works for over 1 km of range

> The quadcopter is easy to assemble and there’s no soldering necessary

> Android and iOS compatibility via Bluetooth enable this drone to be operated from your smartphone through Crazyradio

> Extra parts are included in the package in case that you need to repair something

CONS

> The flight time of this model with the stock battery is 7 minutes, which is not bad for a model of this category, but it may still be problematic for beginners as it grants a very short span for practicing.

> The payload for this model is 15g, which is also unfortunate if you’re a beginner as any mistake can lead to an overload.

Hubsan X4 (H107L) 

This indoor quadcopter provides excellent balance. The sturdy built body can endure a lot if you stick to the given flight environment. Flying it outside may cause some problems as it is designed specifically for indoors. The motor and the rotors of this model are exposed, which makes this model very delicate if used outside. If you stick to the instructions, however, you will have a nice model on your hands for a long time to come.

PROS

> The good balance makes this model a great entry quadcopter for learning and developing new flying skills

> The charging time of 40 minutes and the flying time of 6-8 minutes makes a fairly standard ratio, and gives beginners the opportunity to have enough flying sessions to develop their skills

> Affordable for many beginners who are looking for a model that will get them interested in drones

CONS

> The control range is 50-100 meters, which indoors makes a lot of sense, but if you want to take it in your yard, it may be a bit problematic

> This model is not equipped with a camera, which makes it able to fly in LOS mode only. There’s another version of this model that comes with a camera, although it comes at a cost of reduced flying time, which is not so great for beginners

No replacement parts whatsoever

JJRC H16 Tarantula X6  with Hyper IOC

This quadcopter model is extremely user friendly and therefore makes a great example of a reliant entry level drone for beginners. However, the quadcopter comes with a larger motor that results in a higher volume of noise. The motors are needed to lift the somewhat heavy model (280g) from the ground. If you’re not bothered by the sound of your drone, this model makes a great rendition for a beginner drone.

PROS

> LED lights, which will help you position yourself with this model

> The drone is suited for indoor as well as outdoor activities

> Handling it in mid-air and maneuvering even more complicated stunts is rather easy with this model, which makes it great for beginners

> A flight time of 8 minutes is quiet alright for a model of this kind and will give beginners enough time to get accustomed to the concept of flying a quadcopter

> Comes with a lot of spare parts

CONS

> The charging time of this model is a staggering 1 hour 30 minutes. This makes buying a second battery almost unavoidable if you want to use it in an appropriate fashion

> The design of the copter’s body may not be to everyone’s taste

> There's no on/off button on this model, which can be rather annoying. Even if you have a spare battery. You have to unscrew the battery comparment with screwdriver, making it quite a hassle to have regular flying sessions.

UDI U818A 

This quadcopter model is equipped with a HD camera that will let you shoot high-quality videos and photos, while performing amazing maneuvers. The drone has an incredible balance to it, and lets beginners learn even more complicated stunts in a matter of a few flying sessions. The intuitive learning curve this model provides is simply one of the best in its category.

PROS

> High capacity battery that makes this model very power efficient

> 4 channel function enables the user to have a stable flying experience

> A flight time of 7-9 minutes makes this model great for everyone who wants to spend as much time as possible in the air

> The decent charging time of about 90-120 minutes is excellent in regards to the flight time

> High-quality HD camera

> 3D maneuvers are incredibly easy to grasp with this model

CONS

> Might be overwhelming at first for beginners, although it’s promoted as being an entry level drone

> There might be some camera issues when flying in FPV mode

> The complexity of the model makes it almost necessary to have at least a couple of spare batteries

What are quadcopters?

Of course you already know what quadcopters are, but it doesn’t hurt to get a bit more knowledgeable about them anyways. Drones or quadcopters have commercially not been around for too long, so every bit of information could be helpful when picking your starter drone.

Quadcopters are technically defined as so called rotorcrafts. They work on the same principle as helicopters do, except they use (usually) four smaller, instead of one big rotor, to lift off of the ground.

Why would I need one?

Why wouldn’t you? They’re fun. Jokes aside, quadcopters can be great for recreational use. Many of the quadcopters currently flying around are used for exactly that. Playing around with them is great fun, and, in the technology consumed world we live today, it’s always a good idea to find something you can do outside. And they sound awesome 🙂

Besides this fun aspect of quadcopters, they’re also a great tool for many creative people. Furthermore, many models currently available on the market come with a camera already in the package. They’re used to take great shots of landscapes, events or anything else you can think of.

This is done from a perspective that until a few years ago was only reserved for those who could afford a helicopter to hover over their subjects. So, if you’re passionate about photography or videography, a quadcopter could get you a fresh perspective and inspire you to new milestones in your art.

Where can I fly quadcopters?

As we mentioned before, you have to let your common sense guide you for now. Sure, there are strict NO DRONE FLY ZONES which you have to consider. If you’re outside flying your drone, keep in mind that it’s best to find a big open space where your device will pose no threat to anyone’s safety.

This brings us to two major distinctions of all quadcopter models. Indoor and outdoor capabilities. If you’re restricted to the four walls of your apartment or house, but still want to buy a drone, you have to make sure to pick one that has indoors capabilities. These are usually smaller ones that are safe for indoor use.

However, if you intend to use your drone only for outside, you don’t have to take into account any indoors abilities. It all depends on the circumstances in which the drone is going to be used, so keep that in mind.

Do I need special skills to assemble my new quadcopter?

My recommendation with every new technological device is to spend first some time reading through the manual the manufacturer provided with the model. There are drone models out there marked with an RTF feature. RTF stands for ready to fly, and basically means that there is nothing that prevents you from flying your drone right after unpacking it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be charged first.

These RTF drones, are great for beginners as they don’t demand much attention at the start. Other, mostly professional drones, will often require a bit more attention and skill to make them ready for flying. That’s why I would recommend, if you’re a beginner, to look out for models that are marked as RTF.

How do I operate the drone?

Drones are usually controlled through a transmitter. However, some drones don’t come with a transmitter, but rely on an app for your smartphone. This is sometimes a great way of keeping everything in one place, but for beginners it is not so wise to buy a drone without a transmitter.

Having the transmitter will teach you everything you need to know about how the drone operates and how it feels in the air. The basics of all drone transmitters is the same. You have two sticks (one left stick and one right stick). The left stick controls the throttle (up/down movement of the drone) and the yaw for rotating left and right. The right stick controls the pitch (forward/backward movement of the quadcopter) and the roll (side to side movement of the quadcopter).

If you want to know more about operating your drone, we made a step by step guide just for that.

How long do the batteries last?

This is different from model to model. Usually the flight time of drones is 10-20 minutes. The most important thing here is to find a model with a longer battery life in order to give you enough time to practice your maneuvers in the beginning. There are not a lot of drones which offer more than 20 minutes flying time, so another good tip here would be considering to buy a spare battery for your drone.

FPV vs. Line of Sight

LOS and FPV are basically two modes in which you can fly your quadcopter. LOS stands for Line of Sight. As the name suggests, it is a mode which requires you to operate your quadcopter by watching it from the ground as it ascends into the air. The LOS mode of flying your quadcopter is considered the standard way to control your quadcopter.

FPV stands for First Person View, and obviously gives you the possibility to watch through the camera attached to your quadcopter like through an airplane cockpit. In order to fly in LOS mode, you have to have a quadcopter that already has a camera or the possibility to have a camera attached to it. Of course, if you have such a quadcopter with a camera, you still can fly simply in the LOS mode.

CONCLUSION

While comparing these entry level beginner quadcopter models, we invested a lot of time into figuring out all the aspects a beginner pilot needs. My own experience played a great role, and I tried to put myself in the position of a beginner.

In the end, I was left with a difficult choice of choosing the clear winner in this category. I can safely say that the JJRC H16 Tarantula X6 drone 4CH RC Quadcopter model with Wide-Angle 5MP camera  is our recommendation for beginners on this list.

Why? Not only does it provide everything a drone has to offer to all kinds of pilots, but it manages to keep it at a very basic level as well. The great power efficiency of this model makes it simply wonderful in regards of flying hours, which are desperately needed and crucial for beginners.

The other models on this list are also great and would definitely come in handy for learning the basics, but when compared to the JJRC H16 Tarantula X6 drone with Wide-Angle 5MP camera, they’re just a tiny bit below it in terms of providing an acceptable learning curve for amateurs and beginners.

If I was to start out my drone piloting experience right now, but with the knowledge I have now as a more experienced pilot, I would have no doubts in choosing this model as my first drone. Hopefully, my experience can shed some light on this matter for future drone pilots that are having a hard time in choosing their entry level model.

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Nathan Mayer
 

When not thinkering around drones, you’ll find me researching latest technology insights from UAV industry.

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