Best beginner drones 2024: Embark on exciting aerial adventures whatever your budget

A child using one of the best beginner drones
(Image credit: Getty Images and Future)

Drones continue to grow in popularity with more and more beginner-friendly models available than ever before. It's easily the most crowded section of the market, but for newbie drone pilots and even those with some experience, this can only be a good thing.

With so many choices, it can be difficult to make an informed decision, which is why we've compiled a guide covering the best beginner drones available. But if a beginner model isn’t for you, be sure to check out our best camera drones, best beginner drones and best FPV drones guides where you'll be able to find something more suitable.

With prices and features to suit all budgets and requirements, the majority of drones in the beginner category are now sub-250 g models, which is perfect for beginners looking for hassle-free flights. These small and lightweight drones are less restricted than larger models in terms of where you can fly, while in the US pilots don’t require FAA registration or a Remote ID for the drone if it’s being used recreationally.

Amazon Prime Day is taking place on July 16-17 this year, and after last year's $216 off the DJI Mini 3 Pro, we expect to see some tasty beginner drone deals heading your way. There's already a saving available on the Potensic Atom Fly More Bundle, with discounts on more drones expected in the run-up to the two-day event.

The Quick List

Best beginner drones we recommend in 2024

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Best beginner drone overall

Best overall: One of the best beginner drones available in a tiny package

Specifications

Camera: 1/1.3-inch 12MP sensor
Battery: 2453 mAh Li-ion / up to 38 minutes
Video resolution: 4K, 2.7K, 1080p (FHD)
Frame rates: 4K up to 30 fps / 2.7K at up to 60fps / FHD at up to 60 fps
Foldable design: Yes
Weight: 248g
Dimensions: Folded 148 × 90 × 62mm / Unfolded 251 × 362 × 72mm

Reasons to buy

+
Sub 250 g drone
+
Excellent image quality
+
Less expensive than the Mini 3 Pro

Reasons to avoid

-
No collision avoidance
-
Reduced video functionality
-
No subject tracking 
Buy it if

✅ You're a social media content creator: It has excellent image and video quality, plus it can shoot vertically, which is ideal for social media content.

✅ You don't want to register it: It's in the sub-250g category, so no registration needed!

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a tight budget: While it's certainly very affordable for a drone of its caliber, anyone working with a tight budget might need to consider something slightly cheaper.

The bottom line

🔎 With identical image quality to the Mini 3 Pro, the DJI Mini 3 comes with a more beginner-friendly price at the cost of a handful of missing features. ★★★★

If DJI drones are known for anything, it's that they're easy to use and take great photos — and the DJI Mini 3 is among the most affordable models. This 248g drone is designed to be durable and friendly for users who are just starting out — it also benefits from a foldable design, making it portable while also facing much fewer restrictions than larger models. 

The Mini 3 uses the same camera as the more advanced Mini 3 Pro, albeit with some reduced functionality. But the key point here is that image quality and the main features the camera has to offer are identical, as we found in our DJI Mini 3 review. The camera offers a 24mm equivalent focal length, a fixed f/1.7 aperture, a 1/1.3-inch 12MP sensor and the ability to rotate the camera 90° to shoot photos and videos in both landscape and portrait orientations.

You can take photos in both RAW and JPEG formats with this camera, and it can record video at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second using the Normal color profile. However, it doesn't support the flat D-Cinelike profile for video. Unlike the Mini 3 Pro, this model doesn't have collision avoidance, so you need to be careful when flying near things like trees. But it does have Quickshots, which are pre-programmed flight patterns that make it easy to capture professional-looking videos with just a tap, perfect for beginners.

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AttributesNotes
DesignSmall and lightweight folding design.
PerformanceEasy to set up and fly.
FunctionalityUp to 4K 30fps video.

Best premium beginner drone

Best premium beginner drone: Dual cameras provide flexibility alongside excellent overall performance

Specifications

Camera: Dual 48MP 1/1.3-inch sensors / 24mm and 70mm cameras
Battery: 4241 mAh Li-ion / up to 46 minutes
Video resolution: 4K, 1080p (FHD), 2.7K Vertical Shooting, FHD Vertical Shooting
Frame rates: 4K up to 100 fps, 1080p up to 200fps, 2.7K Vertical Shooting up to 60fps, FHD Vertical Shooting up to 60fps
Foldable design: Yes
Weight: 25.4oz / 720g
Dimensions: 8.1 x 3.9 x 3.6-inches / 207 x 100.5 x 91.1mm folded / 10.2 x 12.8 x 4.2-inches / 258.8 x 326 x 105.8mm unfolded

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent dual cameras
+
Pro-spec features
+
Powerful mid-size model

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than ‘mini’ drones
-
You only require a single wide-angle camera
-
More restricted than sub 250g drones
Buy it if

✅ You need multiple focal lengths: With dual cameras offering 24mm and 70mm equivalent focal lengths, this is a versatile drone for photography and video.

You need more power: Sub-250g drones are great for beginners, but they can’t handle winds as strong as more powerful drones such as this.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You need a small and lightweight drone: At 25.4oz / 720g, it's not the lightest option out there.

You'd like the best image quality: Image quality produced by the Air 3 is excellent, but it’s not as good as  Mavic 3 series drones.

The bottom line

🔎 With dual cameras, a mid-size folding design and enough power to handle windier conditions than smaller and lighter mini drones, the DJI Air 3 is an excellent and, indeed, versatile drone for beginners and more experienced drone pilots alike. ★★★★½

The DJI Air 3 is the latest in the Air series and has been improved a great deal since the very first iteration. It includes two high-quality cameras, rather than just one, and they also use the same excellent 1/1.3-inch sensor found in the Mini 3 and Mini 4 Pro. Each camera has its own sensor, offering focal lengths equivalent to 24mm and 70mm, alongside the ability to shoot vertically, record 4K slow-motion footage and capture 48MP photos.

The Air 3 sits within the medium size and weight band with a weight of 25.4oz / 720g and a foldable design that makes it much more compact for transportation and storage. Size and weight will be a negative for some people, but the advantages these bring are more power than smaller drones and a maximum wind resistance of 27mph. Plus, larger batteries provide flight times of around 35 minutes before return to home is automatically initiated when the battery reaches 20%, which we found in our DJI Air 3 review.

You might think all these features are too much for a beginner, but with GPS positioning, collision detection from all sides and advanced return-to-home capability, this drone is incredibly safe and simple to fly. Of course, you still need to be cautious, but it's packed with top-notch safety features. 

On top of that, it captures great photos and videos, tracks subjects well and you won't outgrow it as your skills grow.

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AttributesNotes
DesignClassic DJI folding desgin.
PerformanceUp to 46 min flight time.
FunctionalityQuick shots, Hyperlapse, slow motion video, omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors.

Best cheap beginner drone

Best cheap option: A simple camera and low cost make this a great budget beginner option.

Specifications

Camera: 12MP Sony CMOS sensor
Battery: 2500mAh Li-ion 2S / up to 31 minutes
Video resolution: 4K, 2.7K, 1080p (FHD)
Frame rates: 4K at 30 fps / 2.7K at 30 fps / FHD at up to 60 fps
Foldable design: Yes
Weight: 8.64 oz / 245 g
Dimensions: Folded 88 x 143 x 58mm / Unfolded 210 x 152 x 58mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Easy to use sub-250g drone
+
Good build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic camera control
-
No collision avoidance
-
Sensitive controls
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: This is one of the more affordable beginner drones on this list.

You don't want to register it: It's in the sub-250g category, so it doesn't need registering.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want lots of camera controls: The only camera setting you can control is exposure compensation, everything else is automatic, plus it's FPV style.

You want collision avoidance: This drone doesn't have it, so you'll need to be careful when flying.

The bottom line

🔎 The Potensic Atom SE redefines what inexpensive beginner drone models are capable of alongside great build quality, but camera control is limited despite producing reasonably sharp images. ★★★★

Weighing just 245g and featuring a folding design with a strong build quality, the Potensic Atom SE can be flown much closer to built-up areas and won't be prohibited by as many regulations as some counterparts. It also measures just 3.5 x 5.6 x 2.3 inches (88 x 143 x 58mm) when folded up, so you can transport this compact model when you're on the move. Better yet, it offers fantastic value for money and is ideal if you're starting out  

The controller attaches to your smartphone and is comfortable and straightforward to use. Despite its affordability, you still get some helpful additional features like GPS positioning, Return to Home, and some basic automated flight modes to get you going. During our Potensic Atom SE review, we found the flight controls tended to be a little oversensitive, and this drone doesn't come with any obstacle avoidance technology, so you'll have to be careful when learning how to fly it.

Considering its price, the camera on this drone is pretty good. It uses a 1/3-inch 12MP Sony CMOS sensor with a wide 118-degree field of view. With this setup, you can record 4K video at up to 30FPS and take still photos in both JPEG and RAW formats. However, if you're a more experienced photographer, you might find the camera's settings somewhat limited, as most of them are automatic. Despite this, the pictures generally come out well, with only a slight darkening around the edges in photos and none in videos. Overall, we think most beginners would be satisfied with how well the camera performs on this drone.

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AttributesNotes
DesignSmall folding design (similar to DJI).
PerformanceImage quality ok but not amazing.
FunctionalityLimited controls and flight patterns.

Best cheap 3-axis gimbal drone

Best cheap 3-axis gimbal: The most affordable sub-250g drone with a 3-axis gimbal and 4K video

Specifications

Camera: 12MP 1/3-inch Sony CMOS sensor
Battery: 2330 mAh / up to 32 minutes
Video resolution: 4K, 2.7K, 1080p
Frame rates: 4K up to 30fps, 2.7K up to 30fps, 1080p up to 60fps
Foldable design: Yes
Weight: 8.8 oz / 249g
Dimensions: 3.5 x 5.6 x 2.3-inches / 88 x 143 x 58mm folded / 8.3 x 6.0 x 2.3-inches / 210 x 152 x 58mm unfolded

Reasons to buy

+
Great price for a full kit
+
Up to 4K 30fps video
+
Subject tracking

Reasons to avoid

-
No collision avoidance
-
No ND filters available for video
-
Fixed focus camera
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: This is simply the best inexpensive sub-250g drone available that can capture up to 4K video.

You want a lightweight model: Sub-250g drones that fold for transportation and storage are incredibly comfortable to carry.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You require a flat video profile: Professionals and advanced enthusiasts may want to color grade their video footage, but the Atom doesn’t offer a flat color profile.

You need to fly in strong wind: While every drone has a maximum wind resistance, smaller drones typically have a lower resistance than larger and more powerful models.

The bottom line

🔎The Potensic Atom may not be quite as slick as its DJI Mini counterparts, but it’s the closest inexpensive competitor that blows the other competition out of the water thanks to a 3-axis gimbal, clear 4K video and smooth flight. ★★★★

This is a tad more advanced than some of its counterparts in the Potensic Atom range — and offers total control for users who want to take photos or capture smooth 4K footage with a 3-axis gimbal from above. It's among the most affordable drones we'd recommend for that.

It only measures 3.5 x 5.6 x 2.3 inches (88 x 143 x 58mm) when it's folded up and 8.3 x 6.0 x 2.3 inches (210 x 152 x 58mm) when unfolded — and weighs under 250g (249g), so doesn't need to be registered either. It can also last for a flight time of 25 minutes on a single charge — which is reasonable – and it can handle winds of up to 24mph (level 5 wind resistance).

In use, the Atom is easy to set up and fly, with GPS positioning holding the drone in position when hovering and providing a reliable return to home and subject tracking functionality. There’s no collision avoidance, which is unsurprising given the low cost of the drone. But, with careful flying this won’t be a problem — we found it an absolute breeze to fly in our Potensic Atom review.

The Atom can record video in various resolutions: up to 4K at 30FPS, 2.7K at 30FPS and 1080p at 60FPS, offering beginners both flexibility and simplicity. You can also take photos in both RAW and JPEG formats. In terms of camera features, it sits between the DJI Mini 2 SE and the DJI Mini 3, albeit leaning closer to the latter. We think if you're new to drones and want something affordable but still worthwhile, the Atom could be a good choice for you.

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AttributesNotes
DesignSmall folding design with a 3-axis gimbal.
PerformanceManual control over the camera for photos and video.
FunctionalityQuickShots automated flight patterns.

Best FPV drone for beginners