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The best drones for beginners in 2022: drones that keep it safe and simple

Included in this guide:

best drones for beginners - DJI Mini 2
(Image credit: DJI)

The best drones for beginners will be easy to fly, have safety features such as distance limits, will be reliable and most important of all, they won't cost the earth. Flying a drone is never risk-free, so it's good practice to start off with a relatively affordable drone while you get used to the flying experience. That was, you'll know the controls and be more confident when it comes to investing in something more advanced. 

The good news is, whether you're a fan of aerial photography and videography or drone racing, some of the best drones today are very reasonably priced, making them the perfect choice for newbies.

If you're looking the best drones for kids, then a low-cost drone is also a great option. That said, you might want to spend a little more to invest in a drone with collision sensors to help prevent any unfortunate accidents. 

We've selected the best drones for beginners below, but it's worth keeping in mind that their designs and prices will differ depending on the purpose of the product. 

Note that many of these drones weigh under 250g, which makes things easier legally in many countries like the UK, where you'll need to register your drone and take an exam online if it's heavier. Plus, lightweight drones usually mean simplified controls, giving you more room to build your piloting skills as a beginner. 

The best drones for beginners in 2022

Editor's Choice

(Image credit: DJI)

With raw output and 4k video, it's by far the best drone for beginners

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Dimensions (folded): 138×81×58mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 4K 30fps or FHD 60fps
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 31 minutes (2250mAh)
Max Range: 10km / 6.2 miles
Max Speed: 57kph / 35mph
Reasons to buy
+Very portable+No registration cost+Beginner-friendly app+Some prosumer features
Reasons to avoid
-Susceptible to gusts-Price rise from predecessor

The DJI Mini 2 is an excellent drone with some fantastic features. It's under the 250g which is the weight for pilot registration in the USA and China, it has GPS-based return to home and other pilot-assist features, and it includes very share-friendly ‘QuickShots’. In fact, other than all-round object collision systems, the drone has almost everything you’d expect from a folding drone costing more than twice as much.

The accompanying remote control is also completely new, and in FAA areas offers up to 10km (6.2 miles) range via automatic channel switching, meaning you can confidently take the drone out in even 24mph wind and remain confident the drone won’t out of contact. The camera gimbal will keep images horizontal and vibration free while recording up to 4K video, as well as selection of other effects recently only known on DJI’s prosumer models, like panorama (and even sphere panorama). Photographers can choose Raw, manual exposure, exposure bracketing and other features they’d expect on the ground.

If you’re thinking of the Mini 2 as your first drone, but you’re already familiar with cameras, then this is definitely the best choice. It’s also pretty handy indoors thanks to downward-facing visual and sonar distance sensing systems which can help it hover even without GPS, and the optional propellor guards (detachable cages too prevent any accidents while flying near obstacles). The app also makes getting the images to your phone easy if you don’t want to wait until you get home.

(Image credit: DJI)

2. DJI Mini SE

If you're on a tight budget and not bothered about raw photos, this is the drone for you (not available in Europe)

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Dimensions (folded): 138×81×58mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 2.7K 30fps
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 30 minutes (2400mAh)
Max Range: 4km / 2.5 miles
Max Speed: 47kph / 29mph
Reasons to buy
+Super low price+All the features of the DJI Mavic Mini with the looks of the DJI Mini 2
Reasons to avoid
-Not on sale in Europe

The DJI Mini SE is DJI's most affordable drone yet at just $299/£269/AU$459 making it the perfect choice for beginners. It's currently on sale in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Europe but we expect it will be available worldwide before too long. 

While the DJI Mini SE does lack several features found on the DJI Mini 2 such as raw photos, 4K recording and a max range of 6.2 miles, it does undercut it on price by quite a lot. And you can still take really decent images but they'll be output as jpgs instead. 

For consumers not confident learning to fly and shoot video at the same time, the automated QuickShots provide several striking orbiting or other dramatic swooping shots while keeping your subject in frame. The DJI Mini SE makes use of its intelligence to do this from the main camera rather than packing any extra scanners, which probably helps even this beginner model pull off 30 minutes of flight time (as with all drone official times, expect about 20% less).

(Image credit: DJI)

The original mini drone weighing less than 250g

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Dimensions (folded): 140×82×57mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 2.7K 30fps
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery life: 30 minutes (2400mAh)
Max Range: 4km / 2.5 miles
Max Speed: 47kph / 29mph
Reasons to buy
+Very portable+No registration cost+Crisp stabilized video and stills+Beginner-friendly app
Reasons to avoid
-Susceptible to crosswind-Radio susceptible to interference-Noise in low light-Old-fashioned MicroUSB sockets

Released in 2019, the DJI Mavic Mini completely changed the drone game. Aimed specifically at consumers, it weighed just 249g which meant you didn't need a license to fly it. It has now been superseded by the two drones mentioned above but that doesn't mean it still isn't a great bit of kit. It's capable of shooting 2.7K video, it's fitted with GPS, it has a mechanical gimbal and images and video are recorded to a micro SD card. Understandably, it's been really popular and is still on sale at most respectable retailers and if you can forgo raw images, you can save a bit of money. It comes with a great range of safety features including hover, return-to-home, a tutorial mode and geofencing to prevent you from getting into trouble near an airport. 

• See DJI Mini 2 vs Mavic Mini

4. Ryze Tello

A feature packed and fun drone that's also programmable

Specifications
Weight: 80g
Controller: via Phone, ideally with a Bluetooth game controller
Video resolution: 720p, 30fps
Camera resolution: 5MP
Battery life: 13 minutes (1100mAh)
Max Range: 100m
Max Range with controller: 60m
Max Speed: 36kph
Reasons to buy
+DJI software+VR compatible+Highly affordable
Reasons to avoid
-No SD card onboard 

With more than half of the global market, DJI have kept their tech at the serious end of the market.  However, a friendly relationship with neighboring firm Ryze has led to the Tello, a compact drone that doesn’t skimp on the tech. It beams 720p video back to a phone in WiFi range (100m), or 5mp photos, which are recorded by the App. 

This data link also provides you a battery warning, and the drone is capable of taking off and hovering using its 14-core processor and in-built sensors. That power makes for fun features like the “Throw & Go” launching and flips, but also supports Scratch, a simple, block-based programming language that means literally anyone (kids included) can have fun ordering the Tello about.

(Image credit: Parrot)

This brilliant drone kit comes with goggles

Specifications
Weight: 310g
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 4K HDR 30fps
Camera resolution: 21MP
Battery life: 25 minutes (2700mAh)
Max Range: 4km / 2.5mi
Max Speed: 55kph / 35mph
Reasons to buy
+4K camera with HDR+FPV system+Great bag included
Reasons to avoid
-No collision sensors

Parrot did an amazing job of straddling the fun and the functional aspect of the drone market ever since they essentially created it ten years ago, and the Anafi (especially the new FPV kit) epitomizes that. Because the firm is slightly slower to refresh than competitors, it has instead added extras, not least of which is the FPV kit. Also the price has been kept  accessible (while other brands we could mention have inflated with regular new releases). 

All of which is to say the Anafi is a professional drone, with a 4K camera capable of zoom (at least in video mode), with a gimbal-stabilized camera. With the addition of First Person View (FPV) goggles you can also fly it from “inside” the cockpit. Parrot’s goggles are included in the FPV kit; at first they were the only ones supported, but a later software update means you can use other headsets. 

The app is fully featured and great for ‘Arcade mode’ racing or settings-obsessed photographers. The only thing missing from a much more expensive craft (and admittedly this isn’t a cheap drone) is a collision sensing system, but the Anafi is surprisingly robust, especially the FPV version with improved legs. What is good about this drone (what generally makes it well priced) is also something of a worry; Parrot seem more interested in professional platforms than enthusiast and prosumer now, so future support seems open to doubt. It’s a personal choice.

Best drones for beginners - Holy Stone HS100 Navigator

6. Holy Stone HS100 Navigator

A GPS-enabled gimbal with a range of 500 meters

Specifications
Weight: 700g
Dimensions: 500x500x175mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 720p @ 30fps
Battery life: 15 minutes (2500mAh)
Range: 500m
Max Speed: 18.5mph / 30kph
Reasons to buy
+GPS-enabled +Camera tilt via remote control+Control range of up to 500m
Reasons to avoid
-Brushed motors won't last long-720p resolution is disappointing

This excellent drone for beginners introduces not just the experience of flying, but the basic feature set of a serious photography or videography drone for a fraction of the cost. That’s because it includes a GPS positioning system, and control is via a good quality phone app (a phone will clip into the radio controller and serve as a screen). 

Together this gives higher-end features like ‘follow me’ (the drone will follow the location of the phone) as well as making the drone easy to fly – let go of the controls and the drone will just hover, at the same altitude, even in a breeze. It can also return to its launch point at the touch of a button.

The design is clearly inspired by DJI’s Phantom, right up to the 4-light intelligent battery. That said the battery has a Micro USB socket built right in for easy charging - DJI haven’t thought of that yet! 

On the downside, the camera is not gimbal stabilized, so the drone's vibrations are certainly more than visible in the adequate but gloomy video, and, sadly, it sends back its signal via wi-fi, so it tends to drop out after around 100m, but clean video is recorded to the Micro SD card on the drone nonetheless. 

Nice touches are the extra landing legs, prop guards and stylish pilot’s manual notebook in the box.

(Image credit: Holy Stone)

7. Holy Stone HS510

Registration-free video at a low price

Specifications
Weight: 245g
Dimensions: 240x235x55mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 2.7K @ 25fps (4K @ 16fps)
Battery life: 16 minutes (1500mAh)
Range: 300m (FPV) or 800m
Max Speed: 18.5mph / 30kph
Reasons to buy
+Spare battery included+Relatively high build quality+Good price
Reasons to avoid
-Manual camera tilt-720p resolution is disappointing

This is a great little drone and it’s a real shame that, like so many brands, Holy Stone have succumbed to the obsession with adding 4K to marketing materials. In this case the aircraft can actually record 4K video, but only at 16 frames a second; perfectly adequate 2.7K is available at 25fps but that clearly isn’t exciting enough for HS’s sales team.

Ignoring what you’re not getting, the HS is a sturdy but compact folding drone which isn’t meant to offer professional video quality, but does at least offer (via landing and manual tweaking) your choice of camera angle, as well as GPS-bolstered features like orbiting a point of interest or automatic return to home (which it can even do if it loses connection).

It’s not only small enough to experiment with indoors, but includes a so-called ‘optical flow’ sensor – a visual-light sensor which points downward so, in good light, can maintain a reliable hover even when a roof blocks GPS. There are minor irritations – like the 32GB SD card limit – but in all you’re getting a lot of fun, even in bad weather, for not too deep a dip into your pockets.

(Image credit: Simrex)

8. Simrex X20

Budget drone with a camera-stabilizing gimbal

Specifications
Weight: 595g
Dimensions: 200x103x89mm (folded) 445x371x89mm (unfolded)
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: 1280P
Battery life: 30 minutes (3000mAh)
Range: 500m (wi-fi)
Max Speed: 18.5mph / 30kph
Reasons to buy
+Motorized Gimbal+Records to SD Card+Accessible price
Reasons to avoid
-Dubious component quality-USB charging only

With a lower price point than DJI’s Mini, this drone does come with compromises but, unlike so many budget drones, it doesn’t miss out on a mechanical gimbal or a class 10 SD card slot. The former gives you stabilized video and the later means you’re not dependent on a radio connection to your phone to record video, which is essential. It’s also nice to have speed settings and a folding design.

When you’ve seen unstabilized (or – nearly as bad – digitally stabilized) video you’ll understand why those capturing aerial footage with a drone insist on a mechanical gimbal, but getting one at a price point this low is rare. In a decent folding drone even rarer, and here you’ve got all the features (like one-press return-to-home) that come with GPS, useful for safe operation.

The footage isn’t as sharp as the 4K the packaging claims; there is fish-eye distortion and a softness near the centre. Setup could be more elegant, but is broadly the same as pricier products, though the ‘charging cable’ (a USB lead) also highlights the difference between this and a DJI Mini 2. Ultimately you get better video with a Mavic Mini, which doesn’t pretend to be 4K. Nevertheless this is a less expensive route into many of the features – if not the elegant software and pure ease of use – of the bigger brands.

(Image credit: BetaFpv)

9. BetaFpv FPV Cetus Kit

A complete FPV kit for beginners

Specifications
Weight: 35g with battery
Dimensions: 102mm
Controller: Yes
Video resolution: Live-View only
Battery life: 5 minutes
Max Speed: 80kph
Reasons to buy
+FPV is like a real life video game+Includes familiar game-like controller and goggles+Include optical flow hover (unusual in FPV)
Reasons to avoid
-Goggles do not record video-Goggles don’t allow for glasses

Piloting a drone via goggles which give you the virtual cockpit experience is useful for many sub styles, including racing, stunts and the cinewhoop. As a beginner the world can be bewildering; you need a traditional radio controller, goggles (often analog), and often to build a drone yourself, before familiarizing yourself with motor types and manual battery charging. You could buy a book, dive into the message boards, or get a ready-made kit. Sure it might not impress the some, but it’s cheaper, it works, and the controller will do all the same stuff – and work with your next drone too. We especially appreciated the addition of beginner-friendly altitude hold (hover & auto-land) sensor, not usually found in small enthusiast drones.

(Image credit: Potensic)

10. Potensic A20 Mini Drone

A budget-friendly drone ideal for kids or beginners

Specifications
Weight: 190g
Dimensions: 78x31x88cm
Controller: Supplied
Video resolution: 720p @ 30fps
Reasons to buy
+Budget-friendly+Great for kids
Reasons to avoid
-No photography or video capability

This Potensic A20 Mini Drone is perfect for kids and beginners, complete with two rechargeable batteries and a controller. While the Potensic A20 might not come with any photo or video capabilities, it's a great option for those looking for a durable and affordable option that won't be at risk of breakage from small, clumsy hands! 

Featuring Altitude Hold and One Key Taking off/ Landing, every aspect of the Potensic A20 Mini Drone is designed to be simple to use, no matter whether you're introducing a kid to drones, or you're a beginner yourself. 

One of our favorite aspects of the drone is its Headless Mode. Ordinarily, the forward direction of a flying drone is the same as the nose direction. However, Headless Mode means that the forward direction will be the same as your transmitter. This is particularly useful for kids or beginners who might not be quite au fait with some of the trickier aspects of piloting a drone. 

Weighing just 190g, not only does the compact and lightweight nature of the Potensic A20 make it easy to carry around or store away, it also means that you won't have to register the drone with the FAA in the USA. 

Is learning to fly a drone hard?

Flying a drone is not as hard as you might think. If you're used to playing videogames or using apps on your phone, you should find learning to fly a drone pretty straightforward. 

That said, you'll want to do your homework first and make sure you understand all your drone's features and capabilities, as well as following any legal regulations in your area. For example, if you buy a drone in the UK that weighs over 250g / 8.8oz, then you'll need to pay a small registration fee and take an exam online. (Any drone that weighs under 250g is considering a toy and safe to use.)

Rather than rushing into things, start with short and low flights and build up from there. Otherwise you may end up crashing your drone or worse, causing an accident.

How does a drone work?

Most drones use the two-stick control method (or a touch-based equivalent on your smartphone) where the throttle (up/down) and rotation (yaw) are on the left stick and the direction of flight (roll & pitch) are on the right.

Most drones for beginners will have rechargeable batteries, an even number of rotating props, a remote control receiver and a processor to translate that input into the minor changes in the propeller speed, which is what will ultimately move the drone.

What's the best drone for beginners?

Overall, the best drone for beginners available today is the DJI Mini 2. That's because it's light, compact and easy to fly, using its recently revamped controller. You can fly it up to 10km (6.2 miles) away, even in winds of up to 24mph, and the camera gimbal will keep images horizontal and vibration free while recording up to 4K video.

It’s also good for flying indoors thanks to downward-facing visual and sonar distance sensing systems which can help it hover even without GPS, and the optional propellor guards.

How do I choose the best drone?

The best drone for you will entirely depend on what you want to shoot. The more you spend, the better quality photos and videos you will be able to achieve plus you'll probably have a greater range, battery life and advanced features. Racing drones are built for speed and maneuverability but chances are if you're a photographer or videographer, smooth, steady control and the ability to hover will be much more important.

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Adam Juniper

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook