The Best Drones Of 2022
Drones are incredibly neat and can capture breathtaking aerial shots that you just can’t get any other way. While drones used to be reserved for people who could shell out exorbitant amounts of money, there are some relatively affordable models out there that can still shoot crisp, memorable photos and videos. But with so many drones on the market, how do you determine which one is the best?
Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all drone that’s the best option for everyone. You have to consider budget, camera specs, video quality, flight specs, drone size, and overall features you’d like to experiment with. A $500 mini drone might be perfect for someone wanting casual shots on vacation, while a drone over $1,500 might be perfect for someone who needs professional shots, like a photographer or videographer. No matter which drone you end up investing in, you’ll have fun with it and inevitably capture some magnificent photos and videos to show off.
DJI Mavic 3
If you’ve got $2,049 to spare and you’re looking for the best possible drone out there, that’ll be the Mavic 3 from DJI. It has a massive 5,000 mAh battery that allows for a 46-minute max flight time in windless conditions, which is longer than most drones. It also comes with a built-in 8-gigabyte SSD and you can add up to 512 gigabytes of extra storage with a microSD — or you could splurge even more on the Mavic 3 Cine, which comes with a 1-terabyte SSD.
The Mavic 3 can travel up to 30 kilometers, and fight winds of 12 meters per second. At 895 grams, this drone is on the heavier side, but that’s still less than two pounds, which is the same as a quart of water. In S Mode, the Mavic 3 can reach speeds up to 19 meters per second; in N Mode, up to 15 meters per second; and in C mode, up to 5 meters per second. You can fly the drone in temperatures between 14 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and access a ton of useful info and features via the DJI Fly app in the Apple Store or by downloading an Android APK file.
You can snap some amazing pictures with the Mavic 3’s Hasselblad camera, equipped with a 4/3 CMOS sensor, 20 effective megapixels, and an 84-degree field of view. Images shot with the drone’s Hasselblad camera have a max size of 5280×3956 pixels. Then, there’s also a 1/2-inch CMOS tele camera with a 15-degree field of view and 4x digital zoom capabilities.
Videos can be filmed in 5.1K resolution at 50 frames per second using Apple ProRes, or DCI 4K resolution at 120 frames per second. DJI notes that its max frame rates are recording frame rates, but the videos will be played back as slow-motion videos. Live videos are transmitted using DJI’s flagship O3+ system in 1080p resolution at 30 or 60 frames per second, with latency of about 130 milliseconds.
DJI Air 2S
The DJI Air 2S drone is a quality pick for those experienced with drones or entirely new to owning one, available for roughly half the price of the Mavic 3 at $999. The built-in features make for some awesome videos, whether you let the drone’s camera do all the work or you finagle the features to your advantage to create some unique and captivating footage. With MasterShots and Focus Track, the DJI Air 2S can follow or circle your appointed subject and create an effortless cinematic experience. The DJI Fly app helps make all of this possible, and it’s available to download from the Apple Store or as an APK file for Android devices.
Weighing in at 595 grams, DJI’s Air 2S is right in the middle of many drones on the market. For reference, mini drones weigh around 300 grams, and the heaviest options weigh over 800 grams. With no wind, you can fly the DJI Air 2S for up to 31 minutes, or up to 18.5 kilometers in distance, as long as the temperature outside is between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In S Mode, this drone has a max speed of 19 meters per second; in N Mode, max speed is 15 meters per second; and in C Mode, 5 meters per second.
Fitted with a 1-inch CMOS camera sensor with 20 effective megapixels, the DJI Air 2S is able to snap images with a max size of 5472×3648 pixels and film videos in 5.4K resolution at 30 frames per second, or in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. With the drone and a remote controller, live video comes through in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second with latency of about 120 milliseconds. Though there are 8 gigabytes of built-in storage, you can add up to 512 extra gigabytes with a compatible microSD card.
Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
The EVO Lite+ from Autel Robotics is made for the outdoors, especially at night with Autel’s moonlight algorithm that allows for crisp details in the dark. Plus, even if you can’t see anything at night, the drone is equipped with ultra-wide angle obstacle avoidance to prevent any accidental collisions. With the Autel Sky app — available for Android and iOS devices — you can download photos and videos directly to your smartphone and use an entire suite of video templates to make your life easier.
The EVO Lite+, available for $1,549, can be flown in temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and for a max distance of 24 kilometers. Despite its larger size at 835 grams, this drone has a long flight time of 40 minutes and a fast max speed of 18 meters per second in Ludicrous Mode. In Standard Mode, the max speed is 10 meters per second, and in Smooth Mode, it’s 5 meters per second.
The EVO Lite+ has a 1-inch CMOS camera sensor that’s fantastic at taking crisp images in daylight or moonlight, and can record videos in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. You can track fast-moving subjects with the camera’s autofocus feature that locks on using a phase detection and dual focus algorithm. Then, the Dynamic Track 2.1 feature automatically follows whatever subject you want to lock on to. The drone’s three-axis mechanical stabilization gimbal keeps your shot steady, while the wide 150-degree field of view helps capture more of the scene.
DJI Mini 3 Pro
The $759 DJI Mini 3 Pro weighs less than 249 grams and sports a mini form factor, but that certainly doesn’t impact its capabilities. The drone is equipped with a powerful obstacle-sensing system and has a streamlined design that increases its total flight time and makes it more aerodynamic. Plus, the 3-axis mechanical gimbal offers a wider rotation range for the Mini 3 Pro, allowing you to tilt, roll, and pan the drone for the perfect shot. The Mini 3 Pro’s companion app is available in the Apple Store or as a downloadable APK file for Android devices.
With the Intelligent Flight Battery inside the Mini 3 Pro, it has a max flight time of 34 minutes, or for 18 kilometers, with no wind. If you upgrade to the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, you can fly the drone around for up to 47 minutes, or for 25 kilometers, in windless conditions. The Mini 3 Pro can withstand temperatures between 14 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit and Level 5 wind speeds. If there’s no wind, the drone can reach 16 meters per second in S Mode, 10 meters per second in N Mode, and 6 meters per second in C mode.
Then, there’s a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor with 48 effective megapixels, capable of producing a max image size of 8064×6048 pixels and recording video in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Live video can be captured in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, with a latency of about 120 milliseconds, depending on your smartphone and the environmental conditions. As far as storage goes, you can gain up to 512 gigabytes with a separate microSD card purchase.
Autel Robotics EVO Nano+
At 249 grams and $949, the EVO Nano+ is part of the smallest drone series Autel Robotics offers, accompanied only by the EVO Nano drone. If you can’t imagine what 249 grams feels like, it’s about the same weight as a smartphone. The EVO Nano+ can fit in the palm of your hand, or you can slip it into a pocket while you’re traveling to your scenic destination. The companion app for this drone — Autel Sky — is available for both Android and iOS devices.
In between charges, the EVO Nano+ can fly for up to 28 minutes, depending on which mode you’re in and how much wind speed you’re facing. Among the three available modes, you can reach a max speed of 5, 10, and 15 meters per second and travel approximately 16.8 kilometers. You can use the EVO Nano+ in temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and expertly avoid collisions with the drone’s advanced obstacle avoidance system and three-way binocular vision sensors.
The drone’s 0.8-inch CMOS camera sensor is capable of snapping 50-megapixel photos and filming videos in sharp 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, and limits shakiness with its three-axis mechanical gimbal. There’s no built-in storage, but you can add a microSD card with up to 256 gigabytes of space. The drone’s autofocus system, mixed with special features like SkyPortrait and Dynamic Track 2.1, lets you effortlessly track fast-moving subjects and take great group pictures with crisp focus.
DJI Mini 2
DJI is one of the best brands in the drone business, but its products aren’t always the cheapest. While the DJI Mini 2 still costs $449, it’s more affordable than many other drones, both from DJI and from other companies. Plus, it’s incredibly compact. It weighs about as much as an apple — or just under 249 grams — and can fit in the palm of your hand. As with many drones from the company, you can use the DJI Fly app with it, available on iOS or as a downloadable APK file for Android devices.
Despite being such a small drone, the DJI Mini 2 can fly for up to 31 minutes in no wind, though it is capable of withstanding Level 5 winds. It can operate in temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, navigate with GPS + GLONASS + GALILEO technologies, and has three max flight speeds depending on which mode you’re in. In S Mode, max speed is 16 meters per second; in N Mode, 10 meters per second; and in C Mode, 6 meters per second.
For photos and videos, you can add up to 256 gigabytes of UHS-I Speed Class 3 internal storage via a microSD card. There’s a 1/2.3-inch CMOS camera sensor with 12 effective megapixels, an 83-degree field of view, and a max image size of 4000×3000 pixels. Videos can be shot with a max resolution of 4K at 30 frames per second, and there’s a 2x zoom range in 4K resolution. Or, if you want to experiment with live videos, the max quality is 720p resolution at 30 frames per second, with about 200 milliseconds of latency.
FIMI X8SE 2022 V2
The FIMI X8SE 2022 V2 drone is a relatively affordable option at $459. It comes with a rain- and snow-proof design, and a ton of helpful video features like Flight Planning to preset your flight routes and Smart Tracking modes to keep the camera on its target from three unique perspectives. It also has plenty of warnings so your drone is never caught in a bad spot, like a wind warning, excessive power warning, and low-battery alarm return. You can access these features and more with the FIMI Navi app, available on both Android and iOS.
This hefty drone weighs 768 grams with its battery and propeller attached, and is capable of flying for up to 35 minutes at a speed of 8 meters per second, though its max speed with no wind is 18 meters per second. FIMI’s drone can withstand Level 8 wind speeds and can climb to a max altitude of 800 meters.
There’s no microSD card included, but you can add one of your own to gain up to 256 gigabytes of internal storage. That way, you’ll have plenty of local storage for the gorgeous photos you snap with the X8SE 2022 V2’s 1/2-inch CMOS sensor from Sony with 48 megapixels. For videos, there’s a max transmission distance of up to 10 kilometers, and the 3-axis mechanical gimbal helps eliminate shakiness for a smooth finished product
The Skydio 2+ has a stunning autonomy system, which allows the drone to fly itself, capture amazing footage in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, and avoid obstacles from all directions with a super fisheye lens that gives a 360-degree view. When you don’t want to let the drone do all the work, you can use the Skydio app — available on Android and iOS — to launch, fly, and land the drone as well as export recorded content.
The autonomy system is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra X2 SOC as the main processor, a 256-core NVIDIA Pascal GPU, and a dual-core NVIDIA Denver 2 64-bit CPU combined with a quad-core ARM-A57 MPCore. Then, there are 4 gigabytes of LPDDR4 RAM, a microSD slot for storage, and onboard AI that uses nine custom deep networks during flights. With automated online calibration of the drone, object tracking and identification for up to 10 simultaneous objects, and special cinematic skills, your videos will look borderline professional.
Max flight speed for the Skydio 2+ is a speedy 36 miles per hour, and you can fly it in temperatures between 23 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The drone can withstand winds up to 25 miles per hour, reach a max altitude of 1,640 feet, and fly for up to 27 minutes in between charges.
While the autonomous nature of this drone is responsible for getting great shots, the impressive camera specs help out, too. The primary camera system consists of a Sony IMX5771 CMOS sensor with 12.3 active megapixels for photos and a max video resolution of 4K at 60 frames per second. Then, there’s also a navigation camera system with a 1/3-inch 4K Color CMOS sensor from Sony and six total cameras spread across the drone for 360 degrees of coverage. The Skydio 2+ will set you back $1,099.
To say that the $649 DJI Avata drone is compact and lightweight is almost an understatement. It’s palm-sized and able to fit into super tight spaces, helping you get some pretty awesome footage. To go along with the Avata, you can download the DJI Virtual Flight app — available in the Apple Store or as an Android APK file — or buy extra accessories, like DJI’s Goggles 2 or the Motion Controller.
DJI’s Avata drone has three different max flight speeds for each of its available modes. In Normal Mode, the max speed is 8 meters per second; in Sport Mode, 14 meters per second; and in Manual Mode, 27 meters per second. Depending on which mode you’re in, you can get up to 18 minutes of flight time with no wind and travel a distance of 11.6 kilometers. Then, the Avata drone can withstand Level 5 winds and temperatures between 14 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The DJI Avata is equipped with a 1/1.7-inch CMOS camera sensor with a 155-degree super-wide field of view. With this 48-megapixel camera, you can record videos in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second and produce images with a max size of 4000×3000 pixels. If you’re not the best photographer, there are electronic image stabilization features like HorizonSteady and RockSteady 2.0 to help you get the perfect shot regardless of skill.
For live video transmission, this drone boasts DJI’s flagship O3+ video transmission and 2T2R omnidirectional antennas for exceptional stability and responsiveness during flight. For live videos, you can expect a 1080p resolution, max transmission range of 10 kilometers, and latency as low as 30 milliseconds. There are 20 gigabytes of internal storage for photos and videos, and you can add up to 256 extra gigabytes via a microSD card.
While the Ryze Tello drone is a great bargain option for adults at $99, it’s especially wonderful for kids. There are quite a few features that make this drone beginner-friendly, including the Auto Takeoff/Landing feature that allows you to lift off or land with a single tap on the Tello mobile app — available on both Android and iOS devices — and the Throw and Go feature that lets you simply toss the Tello drone into the air to start flying.
Using the Tello app, you can also slide your finger across the screen to perform neat aerial stunts and experiment with Bounce mode, where Tello flies up and down from your hand automatically. If you’re interested in learning more about the coding that makes drones possible, there’s the Tello EDU app — also available on Android and on iOS — where you can drag coding blocks to create commands through Scratch and play games to develop programming skills.
At only 80 grams with the battery and propellers, Ryze’s Tello drone is lightweight and compact, but has a much shorter 13-minute maximum flight time when compared to other drone options. Then, it has a max flight height of 30 meters, max flight speed of 8 meters per second, max flight distance of 100 meters, and live video transmission in 720p resolution.
Recording short videos and snapping scenic photos is an easy process with EZ Shots features that basically take the best shot for you. With an Intel 14-Core processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and 82.6-degree field of view, any aerial picture you take will look pretty dang cool and have a high resolution of 2592×1936 pixels.