So many cool new drones have hit the market recently, and that means there are an overwhelming number of drones to potentially give to someone. What’s more, it means that some of the older models of the best RC drones on the market have come down in price so that they’re actually affordable. This means that some of the top names that enthusiasts want are available for a much lower price than their initial MSRP, and that provides an opportunity for great gift-giving this year.
So whether they’ve asked Santa for one of the top drones available, or they’ve had their eye on the new DJI Mavic Pro, there are plenty of options, and if you don’t know a thing about drones, you could end up buying them something they simply don’t want. Here are the top 5 best drones to give in 2017 for every type of hobbyist:
1. DJI Phantom 3 with 2.7K HD Video Camera: The Best Drone on a Budget
One of the best new drones of 2015 was the DJI Phantom 3, which, in typical DJI fashion, took their line of drones to the next level. While the DJI Phantom 4, its successor that released earlier in 2016, is available now, it’s also significantly more expensive; it’s nearly 3x the price of the Phantom 3’s most basic kit! But with the newest model being available, that means that the older model is significantly cheaper than its initial launch price, which was set at $999. Now, it can be picked up for just $399, and even THAT is $100 cheaper than its current MSRP of $499. Even though it’s the previous model, it’s still quite a formidable option, and it’s still even considered an advanced drone for those new to the hobby. The Phantom 3 is LOADED with impressive features, including GPS assisted flight, advanced camera modes, a Follow Me option, and more. It has an impressive flight time of 25 minutes on a single charge (just 3 minutes shorter than the Phantom 4). It also has a top speed of ~ 35 mph, which is only ~9mph less than the Phantom 4 in Sport Mode. When you pair the Phantom 3’s new price with what exactly you AREN’T getting in comparison to the Phantom 4, the option to buy is more attractive than it has ever been, making it one of the best drones to in 2017.
2. Holy Stone U818A: The Best Intermediate Drone
Now, the Phantom 3 might be too advanced for newbies to drone-flying, but there are plenty of impressive beginner drones that make great Christmas gifts. One of the highest-rated drones under $150 is the Holy Stone U818A quadcopter, which has a 4.8 out of 5.0-star rating from over 113 customers, with 97% rating it at 4 stars or above. It has a safe design that allows it to take a bump or two without getting damaged, and it’s incredibly fun to fly. It has a headless mode (which is basically what makes it such a great option for beginners); they’re able to send the drone in the direction they want without having to worry about what direction the front of the drone is actually facing. What’s more, the Holy Stone U818A quadcopter also has a 720P camera that shoots at 30fps, allowing them to capture impressive aerial footage for the price. If they’re looking to step away from toy drones and make their way to something a notch above, the U818A is a great design.
3. Air Wars Battle Drones: The Best New Toy Drone of 2016
I mentioned toy drones above, and obviously, this time of year sees a lot of parents looking to buy their kids drones. But you REALLY have to be careful when you’re choosing drones at the lower end of the spectrum, as you’d be surprised just how different their qualities can actually be. Air Wars is one of the better options we’ve tested, and their Battle Drones 2 Pack is a whole heck of a lot of fun. It comes with two drones that are equipped with plastic weaponry like hooks and “saws” (they’re not sharp at all, for the record) that are intended to help pilots take down their opponents. It’s a unique spin on the toy drone category that’s just starting to take off this year, and, hopefully, we’ll see more great battling drones in the future. For now, the best drones for competitive air battles is the Air Wars Battle Drones. Check out more great toy drones in our list of the best gifts for boys this year.
Price: $87.99 (20 percent off MSRP)
4. DJI Mavic Pro: The Best Top-Tier Option for Portability
The base version of DJI’s newest drone, the DJI Mavic Pro, comes in at $999, making it a top-tier option for gift-giving this year. Obviously, not everyone is willing/able to shell out that much money for a top-notch drone. However, the option has to be noted, because the DJI Mavic Pro is an incredible quadcopter. Its biggest selling point is that it folds down to the size of a small bottle of water, meaning it can be thrown into a backpack or bag without any issue. It has a flight time of up to 27 minutes, and it can hit speeds up to 40mph. It has an impressive transmission range of up to 4.3 miles, and there are a plethora of flight mode options, including ActiveTrack, TapFly, and more. It also shoots in True 4K quality, and thanks to its fully stabilizied gimbal, the resulting footage is always smooth. So whether they’re looking for one of the best camera drones on the market or they’re just looking for something a bit more portable than some of the other top-tier drones on the market, the DJI Mavic Pro is an absolute beast.
5. Parrot BeBop 2 w/ FPV: The Best FPV Drone Kit Under $500
I’ve always favored the Parrot BeBop’s ease of control, as it has a pretty straight forward design that makes the front of the drone easily recognizable in the air. And now, the company has a BeBop 2 FPV Kit that comes with everything you need to get a first person view when flying your BeBop 2. The BeBop 2 has a whopping 7 sensors so that flight is incredibly stable, and it has the capability to shoot in full 1080P HD video and snap 14MP photos. It also has 25 minutes of flight time, making it comparable to the Phantom 3. But the Phantom 3 doesn’t come with an FPV option for the price, and the BeBop 2 does. It also comes with one of the easiest controllers in the biz, the Skycontroller 2. The FPV glasses will fully immerse pilots into their flight, which provides an exhilirating experience for pilots. For this reason, we’ve included it on our list of the best drones to gift in 2016.
Price: $489 (30 percent off MSRP)