Drones have never been as popular as they are nowadays and that is only going to change for the better. But, what most people don’t realize is that you can’t just buy the most high-end model like, for example, the Phantom 4 and start making awesome videos after the first 5 minutes of flight. Or, opt for the most expensive racing FPV model, like the Walkera F210, and expect to instantly do flips and fly under bridges at insane speeds.
The chances are that you will first get stuck with calibrating the damn thing, or programming the transmitter, or burning the $100 battery because you overcharged it. Even if you manage to get through that painful initial setup process, once you are in the air for the first time, you can easily lose orientation and panic, and land your $1000 toy straight on the nose, full speed…
So, what are your options? It’s easy… Buy a cheap model that is praised by everyone and learn how to control it. Even if you crash it, which you definitely will in the beginning, the spare parts are cheap or you can simply buy a new one. If you manage to find one that even comes with a camera, even better. But don’t expect the footage to be 4K quality for that price. The best you will find is a camera that records 720p, which is more than enough to record the funny moments of your initiation in the world of drones. You can check out some reviews of cheap drones with a camera, to find the one that best suits you.
Only after you get really comfortable with your bird, and have a decent amount of flight time under your “Wings” (or propellers in this case), only then can you start thinking about a serious, high-end drone model.
Luckily for you, the Chinese manufacturers have taken the job of making all kinds of cheap drones, seriously, and in that sea of models, we have picked a few that are simply among the best for a beginner drone pilot. But, before we start naming them, let’s see what are the most important things that you need to keep an eye when looking for a drone that is suitable for beginners.
The main features that matter for a beginner
Just like when looking for a new car, you need to know what you want, and what to pay attention to. So, pay attention to what you are about to read.
Before you buy a certain model, you need to get more familiar how it behaves in the air. This is where the user reviews come in handy. Check what other people say about the model that seems interesting to you. If most reviews are like “Too sensitive, can’t control it”, or “Drifts sideways even after trimming”, skip that one and move on to the next. The ideal choice would be a model that is not too sensitive on the commands, and, on the other hand, not too soft and slow as you would have a hard time controlling it and going in the direction you want it to go.
All beginner drones are not known for their long flight times. In fact, the most you will get on a single battery charge is some 7 to 10 minutes. But, when looking for your first drone, pay attention to its battery capacity. The higher the mAh, the longer it will stay in the air, simple as that. Also, ordering a few more spare batteries is never a bad idea because it really isn’t fun when you fly for 7 minutes and then wait for an hour or so while the battery recharges. With a few more full, spare batteries in your pocket, the fun lasts longer.
You might hear from other “Experts” that, you need a drone that has a great range, powerful motors, and modes like Follow me, Point of Interest, and Return to Home. The truth is, none of these things matter when you haven’t flown a drone before. What you need is a cheap, durable model that won’t break into thousand pieces the first time you hit a wall or the ground with it, because even though your wallet won’t complain about you ordering a new one, you will have to wait for it to be delivered to you and that is a bummer.
The Best Quads for Beginners
The ‘fresh out of the oven’ X5UW is by many, the sexiest ever model of the Syma’s X5 series. It is also their most well-rounded toy-grade model, and not just theirs actually! The design is sleek and durable, and it offers great flight performance as well.
This little drone even has altitude hold, and, unlike other Alt-Hold models, it performs flips exceptionally well. You will even get a not so bad camera with it, in fact, the best ever camera from the X5 series, shooting HD 720p videos (real 720p). Even though the transmitter doesn’t have an LCD status screen, it feels nice in your hands and we definitely love the design.
The successor of the 509G model, the 510G is pretty much a carryover, but with a slightly redesigned body and added barometer for altitude hold, which makes controlling it much easier. With a price of under $100, this quad had quickly become one of the most wanted beginner drone models on the market. Oh, one more thing, it comes with a camera that allows you to fly in FPV on 5.8G, which is awesome if you pair it with a pair of cheap FPV goggles.
This is an amazing little speedster with protected 3-blade propellers. This means that you don’t have to think about spare props and you can hit all the walls you want, and you can’t hurt anyone. Most users claim that it’s easy to control and goes really fast in High-Speed mode. You can also turn it into a micro FPV racer by adding a 5.8G camera on it.
The 90mm busy little bee is the most advanced beginner model on our list and even comes with its own 5.8G wide angle FPV camera. But, the most interesting feature that it comes with is its SP Racing F3 Evo flight controller for brushed motors. If you are not that familiar with what you just read, ask any experienced drone racer and he will tell you that they all started with that “Drone Brain”. Even though this model will bring you hours and hours of fun around the house if you pair it with an FPV headset, we need to let you know that it isn’t quite an RTF model because you need to buy a compatible transmitter separately and bind it with the drone. This might slow down your fun for a half an hour or so while you find the tutorial on YouTube, but once you do that, the real fun starts!
There you have it, now you know what to keep an eye on when choosing, and you have a few of the best 2017 beginner drone models to choose from. It’s all up to you. And remember, you can’t become a pro after a few days, and don’t get discouraged if you hit the walls some 28 times on your first day. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better before you know it!
Jack is a true drone passionate and he focused his education on this amazing field. Thus, he graduated the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and now he’s a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. His main purpose right now is to find and develop new features and help others discover the wonderful experience of flying a drone. For this, he is the main editor and content creator at MyDroneLab Blog where you can find everything you want to know about drones.