Drone Alternatives to DJI – These Brands May Surprise You


The hobby of flying drones continues to grow as more and more people are entering this pastime. Not unexpectedly, the market for drones is also growing quickly to keep pace with growing demand. DJI currently holds about 70% of the market with its impressive lineup of drone models. But if you don’t like to just jump on the bandwagon or support the heavyweight leader, there are other spectacular brands out there to consider. If you are looking for a quality drone but don’t want to buy a DJI drone, what other brands are a good alternative?

Alternative brands to DJI that you can go for include names such as Parrot, Syma, Ryze, PowerVision, Geniusidea, and Yuneec. While they may not be as popular as DJI, all these brands have some drones that are good enough to serve as alternatives to the industry-leading models that DJI sells. 

Even though DJI is the undisputed market leader in the drone industry to the point that it nearly monopolizes the market, there are still resilient players out there that produce drones that might be interesting enough for you to consider. And you might end up being surprised by the kind of quality and experience that their drones offer if you are open to trying them out for yourself.

Why does DJI hog the market share in drone sales?

DJI seemingly monopolizes the entire consumer drone industry. While other big brands with a name in the industry don’t even grab a quarter of the market share, put together, DJI controls a whopping 76% of the drone industry share. This means that 76% of the drones that are sold on a regular basis come from DJI even though there are other players in the industry. 

Even when combining their market shares, none of the smaller brands in the drone industry can even reach a third of the power that DJI has over the drone market. This tells you how powerful DJI is in terms of its hold over the drone market as it practically has monopolized the industry.

The fact that DJI controls nearly the entire drone market is something that is quite rare in today’s world especially when you consider that every industry has a lot of different players that are all capable in their own right. For example, as popular as Apple and Samsung are in the smartphone market, their combined hold over the industry doesn’t even reach half. Meanwhile, DJI in the drone market basically controls over three-fourths of the entire industry.

That said, why is it that DJI is so dominant in the drone industry? Let’s check out some of the reasons why it has such a vice grip hold over the drone market.

They have industry-leading tech

The top reason why DJI is the undisputed leader of the pack and the head of the table in the drone wars is that it has technical superiority over its competitors. And this might still surprise people given that there are markets with brands that are downright the leaders in tech but are not as dominant as DJI is. However, let us go into the details of why tech is important when it comes to drones.

Unlike other tech-related industries, the drone industry puts a lot of stress on the importance of technology because a simple mistake or failure in the tech used for the drone can often mean a crash, which can mean a complete waste of money, not to mention the risk to life and property. No one wants to waste money when a drone falls out of the sky due to a technology failure. And they certainly don’t want to injure someone or damage property. 

People tend to trust DJI not only because it comes with the best tech but also because it continues to improve upon its own technology. And we are not only talking about tech that is involved in flight mechanics. This also includes the technology that is involved in photography as well such as the high-tech cameras that DJI uses. It also includes the extra features that their drones come with for better flight experiences.

They have the best apps

Aside from the fact that DJI’s tech is the best, they also have the best apps that are integrated with their drones. These can include commercial apps that can be used for flight planning and for mapping landscapes. All of these different apps can be important for professional and commercial uses. And this is why someone who wants to make money with their drone would rather trust the drone company with the best apps.

They cater to developers 

Another thing that makes DJI the leader in the industry is that they make it easy for independent developers who want to use drones for developing apps and software. DJI even has a drone that specifically caters to developers so that the developers themselves can create different improvements and customizations on the drone to suit their needs. And in a world where developers love customization, DJI is not afraid to share its own technology and to allow independent developers to do what they want with DJI’s tech.

They are not afraid to expand their horizons

Unlike other players that are merely focusing on the consumer drone market, DJI actually is trying to expand its hold over the entire market or industry by diving into different areas that other companies may not be going for. For example, DJI is working to develop agricultural drones that farms can use for crop-spraying so that it becomes more efficient for the big players in the agricultural sector to develop and grow crops.

To that end, DJI is even thinking that they could actually have more drones than tractors on most American farms, as they believe that their drones will prove invaluable when spraying fertilizer or pesticides in most large-scale farms in the country.

There are even markets that DJI is aiming at entering in the future, such as drones that can be used for emergency purposes or maybe even drones that delivery companies can capitalize on. And with DJI’s quick response and ability to develop new drone technology in short timeframes, it won’t be surprising to see how innovative they will be when it comes to the areas or playing fields they want to expand their hold over.

Why go for an alternative brand?

Now that you know why DJI is consistently the undisputed leader of the drone industry, you might be wondering why you would even go for an alternative brand. After all, if DJI is so good, why you should consider buying a drone from an alternative manufacturer?

Everyone has their own reasons, but here are some reasons that you might want to go for an alternative brand instead of buying a DJI drone.

DJI is expensive

Yes, this is something that you will notice in all of DJI’s products. While you cannot argue against the tech and quality that comes with a DJI drone, the fact of the matter is that not all people are able to afford the prices that these drones come with. So, if there is a cheaper alternative that is about half the price of a DJI drone, you might want to go for the alternative instead.

Industry-specific needs

It could be that you are working in an industry that has very specific needs. For example, if you are doing mapping of extremely extensive land areas, the rotor-drone design that is inherent in all of the DJI drone models will not give you the land coverage that you need. You would almost certainly do better with a brand that produces a fixed-wing drone. 

Anti-monopoly, anti-large company sentiments

There are some people that, for some reason, just don’t trust large companies, or want to support a company that holds such a near-monopoly status. It could be perhaps because they are not totally buying into the capitalistic mindset that these large companies have or it could be because there are some underlying issues with these large companies. Whatever the reasons may be, it certainly is better to go for an alternative brand if you are someone who doesn’t trust a company as large as DJI.

Patriotism

For some, the thought of buying an imported brand of drone (DJI is a Chinese company) runs against the grain. In an era when almost all of American electronics come from abroad, it is still possible to find drone makers and manufacturers based in our own country. These brands don’t tend to be as competitive in terms of quality with DJI, but can still soothe the consciences of these ultra-patriotic buyers.

Everyone loves an underdog

Underdog stories are always nice, and that can apply to the drone market. Even though there are some smaller companies that may not be as good as DJI in terms of their products, you might still want to buy their drones precisely because you want to support the underdogs and the few people they have working hard to produce products that they hope to stand up against giants.

Best non-DJI brands to consider 

Here we have listed some of the brands that are worth your consideration if you want a drone that comes from a company other than DJI.

1. Parrot

Other than DJI, Parrot is probably the most well-known brand in the drone market as it has some drones that can stand up to their counterparts in the DJI roster. Parrot is based in Paris, France, and has plenty of supporters in the European and American markets.

Our favorite in Parrot’s drone lineup is the Anafi. The truth is that the Anafi doesn’t have the best specs or the best camera but it does come with a good $500 price tag that is sure to attract people who want a cheaper drone that has a 4K camera and a 180-degree two-axis gimbal. We also love the intuitive controls that the Anafi comes with.

Check out the Parrot Anafi on Amazon.

2. Syma

Syma is actually a drone brand that caters more to those who want drones as toys. That is exactly the reason why Syma drones are very affordable compared to some of the other brands on this list. The reason we like Syma is that this brand is good for beginners who are still trying to learn how to fly a drone. And if you go for a Syma drone for your practice drone, you won’t end up wasting a ton of money if you do indeed break it when it crashes.

Our top choice when it comes to Syma is the X8. This drone is cheap yet incredibly durable. That means that it is going to take a lot of crashes for it to actually break. As such, you are going to have a blast learning how to fly a drone using the Syma X8.

Check out the Syma X8 on Amazon

3. Ryze

Ryze isn’t one of the most popular drone brands on the market as it isn’t even in the top 10 in terms of drone brands and their market share. However, we love the simplicity and the affordability that come with Ryze drones.

The truth is that, as of this writing, Ryze only has one drone called the Tello. What we love about the Tello is that it is one of the simplest and straightforward drones that you can get for a really good price tag. It doesn’t have a lot of standout features but it will cater to those who just want a drone for the simple experience of being able to fly one and take pictures from the air.

Ryze is actually available for sale on the DJI website, so it is a drone that they very much sponsor, but it is in fact a separate company. For those who absolutely want to steer clear of DJI, this may not be the drone for you.

Check out the Ryze Tello on Amazon.

4. Holy Stone

Holy Stone is actually a well-known name among drone hobbyists, especially because of the quality you get for the price. They have quite an impressive lineup of models to choose from, which can be a little dizzying to sort through. 

Our favorite Holy Stone model is the F181. It’s a great choice for beginners, with a comparatively long flying time for drones in its class, and impressive flight performance. Perhaps the best thing about the F181 is its affordability. Priced for beginning hobbyists, it still delivers quality components and a durable and sleek design. 

Check out the Holy Stone F181 on Amazon

5. Yuneec

Yuneec is third overall in terms of its market share in the drone market, and the Hong Kong company is sure to surprise you with how it has been able to compete relatively well with its Mainland China counterpart, the DJI Mavic. That’s because Yuneec also implements great tech in its products and is capable of producing drones that can compete with DJI drones in terms of quality and performance.

Our favorite Yuneec drone is the Breeze 4K. As its name suggests, it comes with a 4K camera that is amazingly crisp and clear. Meanwhile, the reason why it can compete well with the DJI Mavic is the array of features that it has. It comes with a one-touch flight and landing feature and five different automated flight modes that make flying a breeze.  

Check out the Yuneec Breeze 4K on Amazon.

Conclusion

The truth is that these drone brands and models just scratch the surface of what’s available out there if you want an alternative to DJI. It can be overwhelming to search through the options and figure out what’s what. Start your search with one of our recommended brands or drone models, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much drone you can get for the money when you’re not paying for the DJI brand. 

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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