The best drones for beginners are a mix of low-budget options rising right up to those equipped with collision sensors. Flying a drone, after all, is never risk-free - even the best pilots have accidents.
This list also covers all the key bases, from photography and video drones to racing/FPV drones, with toys and educational in the mix too. Many drones come with built-in safety features such as distance limiters, return-to-home functions, and propellor guards that will help you should you find yourself in a sticky situation, but don't worry, that's no reason not to give it a go!
If you're looking for the best drones for kids, then remember simple plastic propellor guards might be more useful – and cheaper – than sophisticated collision sensors. 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.
Most of the drones we recommend weigh under 250g (8.8 ounces), as this means there are fewer drone rules and regulations - making it easier to get started. Heavier drones require FAA (USA) or CAA (UK) registration and online exams. Plus, of course, lighter drones are a lot safer for beginners and anyone near them.
Whether you're investing in a drone for aerial photography or videography, or even drone racing, some of the best drones you can buy don't cost as much as you think. This guide is aimed at people who haven't flown before but if you're thinking of upgrading check out the best indoor drones or the best FPV drones.
Best beginner drone overall
A perfect balance of tech and value with good battery life that takes pictures and video that looks as good as most phones while being easily portable.
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Best beginner drone under $100
Boasting some tech from top-firm DJI, and some from Intel, this tiny lightweight drone can be flown using just a phone as a remote. It's not only fun, but offers loads of educational functions.
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Best beginner drone for features
Lightweight and sporting collision sensors this drone is easy and safe enough for beginners, but powerful enough you might never need to upgrade.
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Best toy drone
Best beginner drone for kids
Cheap and cheerful beginners drone for fun flying in the home, this compact quadcopter has shielded propellors for safety and enough batteries for fun.
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Best FPV Kit
Best FPV drone for beginners
This complete bundle for novices to fly first person, including goggles and controller, might not have digital quality but it feels like a bargain.
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The best drones for beginners in 2023
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Best Beginner Drone Overall
Best value beginner drone
With more than half of the global market, DJI has kept its 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 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 with 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.
Read our full Ryze Tello review for more details
Best Beginner Drone For Features
We don’t throw 5-star reviews around; so long as you don’t mind digging a little further into your pocket than you might want, the Mini 3 Pro is an amazing drone which can be both your first – and last – drone.
It offers enough photographic quality to please a serious creative, all of the intelligent features seen on DJI’s higher-end drones – including the ability to fly around obstacles and keep on going – and despite this, it manages to stay below the frustrating weight threshold.
The Mini 3 Pro even adds a feature not seen on previous ‘copters; a rotating camera that will help capture people without the resolution loss of cropping into a horizontal image for vertical social media – for some this might be the feature that sells the drone alone.
Other big pluses are the choice of the controller (none, standard or with display), and the option of a longer-lasting battery. It really feels like professional flexibility has arrived in the ultra-light category – the only reason it’s not top of this list is the price makes it tricky to suggest as a first drone, but if you’re feeling flush, why not? Those sensors make it hard to crash!
Read our full DJI Mini 3 Pro review for more details
Best beginner drone for kids
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, but it also means that you won't have to register the drone with the FAA in the USA.
Best FPV Beginners Kit
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 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 a beginner-friendly altitude hold (hover & auto-land) sensor, not usually found in small enthusiast drones.
Best for visibility
The Autel Nano is cheaper than the very similar Nano Plus, which might be the better first drone of the two since it still offers 4K, though the sensor is 12.7mm across the diagonal (half-inch). Dig deeper into your pocket for the Nano Plus and you get a camera with a higher-quality 19.8mm sensor (0.8-inch).
In either case, the drone is light enough to stay under the registration rules in FAA airspace (in the UK and EU you’ll likely still need to register because of the camera). Moreover, it has front, back, and base collision sensors and the video feedback looks stunning – what Autel call ‘Skylink’ – which provides an amazing 2.7K30 resolution live view on the monitor.
The software includes a number of intelligent flight modes and tracking features, which have improved since launch, though some are less useful (filter-like effects – really?). We did like the ability to record sound from the phone and attach it automatically to the video – i.e. narrate your flight for YouTube, or just as notes.
The SuperDownload feature; wireless transfer of images and videos to a nearby smartphone at 160 MB/s, is also handy, and this drone is a serious alternative to the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
Read our full Autel EVO Nano+ review
Best beginners drone for Cheap GPS
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 hasn’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 the 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.
What features should my first drone have?
Of course it depends on your needs, but these are all desirable:
• Keep it 'ultralight' (below 250g)
• GPS return to home
• Radio controller (as opposed to wi-fi)
• A gimbal to stabilize the camera
• Live view video from camera to your phone/a monitor
Is learning to fly a drone hard?
Flying a drone is not as hard as you might think. If you're used to playing video games or using apps on your phone, you should find learning to fly a drone pretty straightforward.
If you want to impress long-time pilots, however, operate the controls by pinching the sticks on the remote. To them, using only the thumb is a sure sign of game-controller experience, while more subtle movements are possible by using thumb-and-forefinger on each stick. It also helps dissuade you from applying the same force you might on a game controller, though most will cope with it.
Easy as it is, you'll want to do your homework and make sure you understand all your drone's features and capabilities, as well as follow any legal regulations in your area. For example, if you buy a drone in the UK or USA 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 considered a toy and safe to use.)
Rather than rushing into things, start with short and low flights and build up from there. Familiarise yourself with how the drone lands. Otherwise, you may end up crashing your drone or worse, causing an accident.
How does a drone work?
Most camera 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 or otherwise 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?
I think a beginner's drone should be under 250g, simply because it makes life easier in most places (and is safer).
With that in mind, the best drone for beginners available today (ignoring budgetary concerns) is the Mini 3 Pro That's because its light, compact, and easy to fly but also has an excellent camera. You can – but shouldn’t – fly it up to 10km (6.2 miles) away, and it'll cope with winds of up to 24mph, while the camera gimbal will keep images 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 get started with a drone?
Once you know the controls of your drone and feel more confident flying you can start to experiment with more exciting shots. First, however, we'd strongly recommend just taking off and landing without pushing the controls too far. Take the advice of in-app tutorials, and be sure you know what any pre-programmed modes do before trying them.
How we test drones
Our full drone tests are carried out in the field, allowing us to assess the quadcopter for its flight performance in real-world conditions. We assess the drone for its ease of use, its image quality, and on its ability to cope with windy conditions. All our drone reviews and guides are overseen by on-team Managing Editor Adam Juniper who is one of the UK's leading experts on drones, a professionally-qualified commercial drone pilot, and who has written several books on flying drones, including The Drone Pilot's Handbook.
See also our guide to the best accessories for your drone