The best drone for kids isn't simply a question of whatever drone is cheapest (although affordability can definitely be a factor!). Depending on whether your kid is a budding photographer or content creator who wants some incredible aerial imagery, whether they want to have the adrenaline rush of racing their drone, or just have a new way to play, we've put together a guide to help you find the best drone for you and your family.
Some of the most important aspects of choosing the best drones for kids are safety features and age-appropriateness. You may find that, while you'd like to keep the price down, the superior functionality and quality of more expensive devices prove persuasive.
In fact, you may even find that drones for kids are sometimes harder to operate, with short battery life and a lack of pilot-assist functions par for the course in many devices.
It's worth noting that many toy drones are actually built on the same 'drone-on-a-chip' platforms that are bought from wholesalers and then superficially branded by toy manufacturers. While this doesn't mean that you will have a bad experience with these products, this does show that many drones for kids come from a different world than prosumer drones.
There are also good STEM reasons for encouraging an interest in drones; the racing and stunt pilots usually get into self-building, which encourages understanding of electronics, computer skills and is a gateway to a global community.
With all of that in mind, we've collated the best drones for kids that are currently available – with different age brackets and budgets in mind.
The best drones for kids & children
Compact and robust, this drone is not especially unique (though available in some nice shell tones), but thanks to in-built pressure sensor is capable of hovering without the operator’s help and flying using the pilot-friendly ‘headless mode.’
In practice, that means the drone can be moved around a room using a single control stick, which is easier than most video games! If you do crash, there are good solid prop guards.
On the down-side, the attempt to protect the battery with a flap is tidy but fiddly, and (as is always the case with tiny drones) don’t be fooled by the claims of 16 minutes' flight time – this is just a doubling of the (optimistic) eight-minute time for one battery since there are two in the box! That is, nevertheless, pretty good value and still a decent flight time.
If you're looking for a super low-cost option, this Holyton HT02 mini drone is a quadcopter that features altitude hold and three different speed modes. With protection guards, a headless mode and the ability to do an 'Emergency Stop', this drone is designed to be as user-friendly as possible to help pilots of any ability have fun flying it.
The Holyton HT02 drone comes with three batteries, which should offer users up to 24 minutes of flight time. Plus, its lightweight and compact build means that not only are you free from having to register the drone with aviation authorities, it's also super easy to transport.
This super-affordable drone comes with a controller, four spare propellors, two guards, two USB chargers and three drone batteries. This will give your kids the complete package needed to enjoy racing their drone. While the Holyton HT02 drone doesn't feature a camera (not that we would expect it to at this price point!), for the price you really can't go wrong!
Taking a mix of inspiration from the pro brands and the other toys, this drone offers the almost expected 3D flips and headless mode, but thanks to the addition of five sensors (front/back/left/right/bottom) it can also be directed by wafting a hand near the hovering drone; it’ll immediately back off. This also has an obvious safety bonus, though it should also be noted that the propellor guards are better than on many drones in this list.
Other features that make this an appealing choice are the circle mode (the drone will make small circles), choice of three speed modes, and the design of the batteries which are much easier to insert and remove without putting stress on delicate cables or lithium battery cells than some other compact drones.
One of the recurring problems with integrating cameras for first-person (FPV) control is providing the screen. Connecting a phone to control a drone means changing the wi-fi settings every time you power on the drone.
Annoying enough with your own drone, but if you’re handing your phone (and passcode) over to the kids every time they fly it can make you want to tear your hair out! The obvious solution? Put a display in the controller.
That is exactly the thinking here – and with a range of around 50m the drone is light enough to be durable, though it’s not for younger kids as the prop guard is a little rudimentary.
The H107D+ is a refresh of the much-loved (and cheaper) H107D, adding headless mode, headlights and a 720P camera.
Insanely easy to operate, we chose this from the several UFO-like designs out there because it boasts a slightly longer battery life – ten minutes over the usual six – and a sensibly positioned charging port. The drone is activated by holding the center and spinning the outside, like a fidget spinner, which is pretty child-friendly, while the ABS frame is definitely going to keep fingers (and hard landings) away from the props. It’s a different kind of drone which can be a lot of fun for short range games of catch (as a boomerang or with a group) but we caution you to be realistic about the tech’s possibilities (we can certainly see the appeal of this to offset jealousy of a pro or enthusiast drone they’re not quite ready for though).
The Tello shares a lot of tech with Ryze’s parent company, DJI, which is great news when it comes to quality and smarts.
The camera is built into the body offering five-megapixel stills or 720P video – this is as good quality as it gets in the toy market.
As well as the standard version, watch out for an Iron-Man branded Tello, and Edu(cational) flavor too (see below).
Naturally, there is the full range of flips and tricks to impress friends, , plus “EZ” video shots, but where it really excels is educational value. That even includes compatibility with Scratch – a block-based visual programming system so computer enthusiasts can learn programming on a phone or tablet in the most fun way possible. This coding capability makes the Ryze a popular choice with STEM educators.
While the robust airframe hasn’t seen an update since 2018, there have been several software updates keeping the app fresh. Other firms have written alternatives, available in phone app stores, which add functions like panoramic photography and FPV flight.
This is the best drone if you want to learn coding as well as flying, as you play with your quadcopter. This has the same specifications as the Ryze Tello and the Ryze Tello Iron Man – but this version allows you to program with commands using multiple languages. The original Ryze Tello will allow you to program Scratch and DroneBlocks – but this EDU version also lets you us Python and Swift programing languages; that's great for would-be coders. If you know others with the same drone, you can even program Tello EDUs to move in a swarm – and put on synchronized aerobatic displays. Another benefit of the EDU is that it comes with Mission Pads – patterned cards, that the drone can be programmed to recognize with its onboard camera, and then perform a precoded maneuver.
OK, strictly speaking, DJI Mavic Mini isn’t a ‘toy’, though there are some who don’t understand the regulations who think ‘lightweight’ and ‘toy’ are interchangeable terms.
This is was DJI’s first stab at a sub-250g drone (the weight which is a cut off for registration in the USA & China, and a tier in the EU and UK). Frankly, it’s a brilliant job. For older kids with smartphones (or adults who haven’t quite grown up), this drone has the same basic components and flight time as more expensive pro drones. It can also record 2.7K video and 4000 x 3000 pixel JPEGs to a MicroSD card and, since the lens is stabilized, the results are streets ahead of other toys.
If you’re buying this, you’re buying a real flying camera as a serious gift; it can even capture automated flights for orbiting video selfies so you might be giving the recipient’s social media a boost too. You can also equip it with all kinds of extra features. In fact there is only one drone better on this list, and they’re closely related…
The Mavic Mini is a great choice for older kids who want to enjoy drones and photography, and is an even more appealing option at the moment if you can find it on discount. The DJI Mini 2 – launched in November 2020 – is the same or better in every respect; DJI have augmented the original drone with 4K video, automated panoramas, and raw mode?
Who’s it for? To be honest, this could serve for some serious users. If you’re buying for someone who loves still photography, or genuinely has a platform to show off 4K video, then the extra features on this machine seem a shame to ignore. Flying will still be as easy as possible, with automatic return-to-home and indoor visual positioning. If you’re buying for someone who simply must have the latest thing, then look no further.
This drone is also very well provided in terms of indoor and outdoor accessories, so whether you’re looking for something you can draw your own design on, hover a message to someone, or even turn into a mantlepiece decoration (no, really), this is a wonderful and generous gift that might well start a torrent.
For what is, compared to other FPV gear, not a very big investment, you can get everything you need to get flying: goggles, a controller and the drone. It might lack a few of the features that devoted FPV hobbyists insist are necessary but this isn’t for them. For older kids (or dads) who have been lusting after the excitement of putting goggles on and remotely piloting their own micro drone this is perfect. Key functionality is there too, for example the remote can also be used with a computer to play drone sims while the battery is charging. Don’t tell them, but some aspects are arguable better than enthusiast gear; the tiny drone can’t do too much harm when it crashes and, unlike most FPV drones, has a hover sensor built in too.
The F181W offers a relatively low-cost route for anyone who wants to take control of a flying camera. Holy Stone have kept the price within reach, meaning there are no luxuries like stabilized video, but the airframe has a built-in 1080p camera with a 120-degree field of view, and it usually ships with two spare batteries which gives a reasonable amount of play time. The take-off weight certainly won’t trouble the FAA/CAA, and we also appreciated the choice of speed modes and auto-hovering facility (and the kid in us enjoyed the auto flip). There are plenty of slightly frivolous features too, like voice control, which extend the drones life as a gift.
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