Best Drones in 2021 (September Reviews)

Written by:Gadget Review Last Updated: 11 Mar 2021

To help you get the best drones for your needs, we compiled a list of the seven top models on the market today. After six weeks of controlled testing, we narrowed down our choices according to user-friendly controls, the durability of design and materials, stability, flight time, camera quality, and battery life.

We eventually chose the SNAPTAIN S5C as our best drone because it just outperformed the rest in terms of operation, responsiveness, and raw power. Read on to find out more about our top seven picks.

Top 7 Best Drones

 #1  SNAPTAIN S5C Drone

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Incredibly responsive and virtually indestructible, this drone is perfect for beginners and experienced flyers alike. It combines smart technology and integrative user interfaces to fly, hover, and operate exactly as you need it to.

Read Full Review: SNAPTAIN S5C

Pros
  • Best budget
  • Multiple intuitive controls
  • Exceptionally durable
Cons
  • Slightly average battery life

What we appreciate most about this SNAPTAIN model is how it’s taken all the intimidation out of operating a drone. It utilizes one-key operations for basic commands: start, take off, and land. Anything more complex can be done using voice commands or gestures via the Snaptain Era App (available for both Apple and Android). The drone itself is highly responsive once synced up with the app, so there aren’t any delays when giving directions.

The SNAPTAIN’s high-quality ABS construction and anti-collision protection add to its durability. We also enjoyed its Altitude-Hold Function—great for steady aerial shooting—and 3D flips. Photos and videos are shot in stunning 720p resolution. Overall, a great drone that seamlessly combines fun and functionality in one high-quality package. And if you need to go beyond the land, and hit the sea, check out our guide on the best underwater drones.

 #2  Holy Stone HS700D Drone

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: This drone features a 1500KV brushless motor that’s near-silent but exceptionally powerful. There isn’t any loud vibration on this drone, making it the best one to use in difficult terrain or nighttime operations.

Read Full Review: Holy Stone HD700D

Pros
  • Powerful yet silent motor
  • Automatically returns home
  • Customizable flight path
Cons
  • Not advisable for beginners

The Holy Stone HS700D is a highly premium drone with a powerful brushless 1500KV motor that’s near silent when launched. It also features a modular battery that manages roughly 20 to 30 minutes of flight and quick-release propellers for efficient storage and setup.

Its software and systems are also quite the treat for drone enthusiasts: a GPS Follow Me feature for hands-free aerial shots, automated Return to Take-off Point during a power or connection loss, and an easy Custom Flight Path option via the app—just to name a few. The 2K FHD camera is also quite impressive for its price point: adjustable up to 90 degrees with a 110-degree FOV lens and 5G-transmitting capabilities. You can even transmit your live videos up to 790m away from origin. And if imagery is important to you, take a look at the best DSLR cameras for beginners, as they’re a nice complement to the top drones.

 #3  Potensic T25 Drone

Award: BEST STABILITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: T25’s 1080p HD and adjustable angles make this the best cheap drone for photography. It comes with a dual GPS and 9-axis gyro that help it stay as steady as possible even when buffeted by substantial wind speeds.

Read Full Review: Potensic T25

Pros
  • Great for photography on a budget
  • Steady despite strong winds
  • Allows for indoor flying
Cons
  • Short battery life

For people interested in learning how to fly a drone, the Potensic T25 is a solid choice. It has a simple setup, straightforward operations, and intuitive controls so you can adjust it as needed. Another reason we highly recommend it for beginners is that it’s operational indoors.

This drone is also capable of adjusting camera angles up to 75 degrees with its 120-degree FOV lens, giving you more diversity to your photos/videos. And with its 9-axis gyro for maximum stability, this drone can easily fly, turn, and hover in tight spaces. Also, be sure to read our guide on the best cameras for filmmaking on a budget, since there is a strong likelihood that it will work well with the products.

 #4  Ruko F11 Pro Drone

Award: BEST FLIGHT TIME

WHY WE LIKE IT: This drone boasts an incredible 2500mAh intelligent battery that’s capable of 30 minutes of flight. Combined with its additional battery, it can give you a full hour of uninterrupted operation.

Read Full Review: Ruko F11 Pro Drone

Pros
  • Best quality
  • Intelligent battery for long flights
  • 4K ultra HD camera
Cons
  • Slightly noisy motor

Aside from its 4K camera, the Ruko F11 Pro also comes with a 2500mAh intelligent battery that can keep it flying for up to 60 minutes. It’s also capable of transmitting live video from up to 500m away from the origin. These features make this drone perfect for surveillance, monitoring, or casual aerial exploration.

The F11 Pro also has simple commands that take the guesswork out of drone operation. Functions like Auto Return, One Key Take Off/Landing, and Tap to Fly make it possible to operate right out of the box. This model even features a level 7 wind resistance for stabler flights and a convenient carrying case. Also, be sure to check out more about cameras if you’re buying a new drone, in particular the best Canon DSLR.

 #5  DJI Mavic Mini Drone

Award: MOST COMPACT

WHY WE LIKE IT: This pick’s 3-axis gimbal makes it the best drone for photography. It functions like a high-performance model despite being a fraction of its size, and its stability is superb for something so lightweight.

Read Full Review: DJI Mavic Mini Drone

Pros
  • Best for photography
  • Compact yet powerful
  • Very beginner-friendly
Cons
  • No collision avoidance sensors

The DJI Mavic Mini only measures 6.3” in length and weighs less than 250g, yet it has powerful features. Under perfect weather conditions, it can reach around 30 minutes of flight time. Meanwhile, its built-in 3-axis motorized gimbal guarantees superior stability. The Mavic Mini’s design is both portable and foldable, with flight speeds reaching up to 29mph.

As for performance, it has a lot to offer. Picture quality is crisp, giving you 2.7K HD videos and 12MP photographs. Its operation is also straightforward thanks to the intuitive DJI Fly App. It even has a Flight Tutorial feature that can teach you how to use it quickly and safely, making the Mavic Mini a tough model to beat.

 #6  Contixo F24 Drone

Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL

WHY WE LIKE IT: This drone’s easy-folding capabilities eliminate the need to uninstall and reinstall the propellers when packing it for travel. Its naturally compact design, additional battery, and carrying case further support its portability and ease-of-storage.

Read Full Review: Contixo F24 Drone Review

Pros
  • Excellent folding design
  • 16-point custom flight path
  • Multiple shot options
Cons
  • Lacks gimbal for extra stability

If you’re constantly bringing your drone on trips, you may want to consider the Contixo F24 as your new go-to model. Its selling point is its easy-folding capabilities, and we’re happy to report that it doesn’t disappoint. The F24 has the standard controls needed for intelligent flights: Auto Return, Follow Me, and One Key Take Off/Landing. This drone’s 2500mAh battery can give you at least 26 minutes of flight time.

Its 1080p 5G camera saves crisp, clear footage. It’s also motorized with a 120° FOV lens and a 90° Vertical Adjustment; perfect for taking shots from multiple perspectives and angles. Plus, its Contixo Drone app allows you to draw a pretty impressive custom path up to 16 points for the drone to follow.

 #7  EACHINE E511S Drone

Award: BEST DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: A good, standard drone with all the expected features for a very affordable price. Its design is intuitive and user-friendly, making it the best drone for beginners.

Read Full Review: EACHINE E511S

Pros
  • Best for beginners
  • 1080p adjustable HD cam
  • Impressive stability for price
Cons
  • Average flight time

The EACHINE E511S is a pretty hefty package. Its three main modes—Follow Me, Orbit, and Waypoint—all perform as specified. The camera boasts 1080p quality with 120° FOV, producing decently crisp footage when flown in ideal weather.

As a beginner, you can fly the E511S right out of the box. Aside from the One-Key Takeoff/Landing, it also comes with an Emergency Stop button and a Low Battery Warning to keep your drone under control. Its Altitude-Hold feature, on the other hand, guarantees that this model can hover more steadily at particular heights. Overall, E511S is a very suitable option for first-time flyers.

How We Decided

In choosing the best drones, we prioritized the user-friendly ones. Any model with controls that were too technical and didn’t offer simpler control alternatives (an app or one-tap/one-key features) were booted from our list.

From there, we moved on to durability. We prioritized drones that had anti-collision tech or propeller protection installed. Drones that didn’t have such safety features were tested again for durability in construction, design, and material.

Next, we looked at stability. We only considered the ones that could fly steadily, capture stable footage, and hold their own against less-than-ideal weather. Bonus points were given to drones that had an exceptional image and video quality, such as 4k and 1080p and those that could auto follow their subjects.

Lastly, we took a look at each one’s battery life. Those with a battery life of under 7 minutes were excluded from our list.

Best Drone Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Durability
    Aside from premium materials and quality construction, other factors that can improve durability include built-in safety features: propeller protection, anti-crash guards, anti-collision technology, and protective casing.
  2. Use Value
    When choosing the best drone, ask yourself: Will you use it for professional or recreational use? Have you operated drones before? What do you want most out of your drone? Great pictures/videos, steady footage, or portability?
  3. Battery Life
    If it’s for professional events, we recommend finding a model capable of lengthy operations. But if you’re planning to use one for purely recreational purposes, you can go for a model with under an hour of flight time.
  4. Image/Video Quality
    Clear image and video transmissions are crucial especially if you’re using your drones for monitoring or videography purposes. Choose those with HD cameras and adjustable angles to gain more control over your shots.
  5. Stability
    If you’re operating your drone, it has to withstand slightly rough weather such as strong winds. Choose one that’s equipped with high-quality gyros for that added stability.

Drones FAQs

What are drones used for?

Drones have a lot of uses. This ranges from surveillance and reconnaissance to shooting aesthetic aerial footage and providing a bird’s eye view of buildings.

How much does a good drone cost?

It honestly depends on preference and use value. Typical recreational drones can range anywhere from $200 to $500. Professional drones, as one might expect, definitely go for much more than $500.

What is the best drone on the market?

Aside from SNAPTAIN’s S5C, our top pick, the DJI drones are also a great contender. A reliable brand and industry leader, DJI consistently delivers drone models that suit every skill level and use value

What is the best drone for beginners?

We’d have to go with our 7th pick for this one: EACHINE E511S. It has a ton of features perfect for a beginner, and it performs well enough for you to fly it right out of the box.

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Learn More About Best Drones

While many people think of drones as government and commercial products, the truth is that there are many consumer drone options available for passionate amateur, and their prices are quickly coming down to more reasonable levels. If you want to learn more about the drone scene, what are the best drones, and how to pick a drone, gadgets for drones check out the drone reviews at Gadget Review for the latest expert information.

Consumer quadcopters are often used for capturing aerial snapshots and video, a lot like a flying GoPro with extra-high definition. Whether you want the perfect HD photo or a 4K video that soars over a valley or desert, drones can offer exactly what you need. If you're worried about piloting, most drones come with extensive training and simulation software to help you get started, along with easy-to-learn controls that often connect to tablet computers so you can see what your drone sees and change commands in real time. If this sounds like something you'd love – or if you just want to upgrade from that boring old model airplane – check out Gadget Review for drone news, new products, and more.