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Last updated: 12 December 2017

We lab test and review a selection of drones to help you find the best model for you. Our drone buying guide will help you decide which type you need, and how we test explains our testing rigour. Plus, our article on drones and Australian law will help you make sure you and your new toy aren't breaking any aviation rules.

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Our expert testers give every drone a thorough workout to help find the models that are best for:

  • flight performance, including how fast and responsive a drone is to fly
  • ease of use, including the assembly and set-up and how easy it is to fly
  • flight control systems, including the control system and any sensor, camera or GPS controls in addition to the basic gyro level stabilisation 
  • camera control and performance, including quality of footage and ease of recording with onboard cameras (if applicable).

Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which brands are fastest and have the longest control range. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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This is the manufacturer's recommended retail price at the time of purchase (June 2017)

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Type

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Advanced drones: require practice to fly, and will typically have greater speed and range. Recreational drones: designed for quick set-up and simple flight, with less power than higher end models. Toy drones: enjoyment comes from flying the drone rather than capturing good quality photos/video. As such, camera is generally low-quality or not included. Tend to be aimed at beginners and casual users, with cheaper components, slower speeds and short battery life. 

Flight performance score

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Performance assesses: initial lift-off, hover (stability), landing (stability/easiness), ability to cope with wind, slow figures of eight and return to base (operator ordering return manually).

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Test results

Tested flight time (min)

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Camera performance score

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Assesses the static still and video capability of the camera without the effects of flight in standard and reduced lighting conditions (earlier than darkness as drones are not suitable for flying at night). Also assesses the ability of the camera to take stills while filming video. Footage/images captured in flight are assessed as well. Image quality is compared to a colour-correct monitor. Note that the 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter does not ship with a camera (it's designed to support a GoPro which is sold separately). As such, camera performance was not assessed on this model.

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Ease of use score

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Considers set-up, connecting to the app and flight control. Drones with higher scores are easier to set up and fly.

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Portability score

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Assesses ease in transporting the drone to different locations (including size and weight), and whether or not assembly/disassembly is required before and after flight. Some of the drones come with good quality carrying cases but most do not. The transportability of the drones varies with some being able to be folded up with the propellers attached and others requiring disassembly, sometimes involving removing the camera, to aid portability. A potential user should ensure that whichever drone they select meets their portability needs

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Specifications

Claimed maximum horizontal speed (km)

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Manufacturers maximum stated horizontal flight speed in kilometres. Note that you do not have to fly your drone at the maximum allowable speed.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 18 and 88

Maximum image resolution (mp)

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Maximum video resolution (progressive)

Viewing device

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Device used to view live feed from camera attached to drone. Note that it is illegal to wear a first-person VR style headset while piloting a drone in Australia. A direct line of sight must be maintained at all times.

Features

Flight and safety tutorials

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Included flight tutorials and safety guides are very important features for beginners.

Live view

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Many drones can send a live video feed from the camera to your smartphone, controller or first-person VR style headset.

Selfie mode

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Program the drone to face the pilot, hover and take a selfie at optimal height.

GPS

Emergency override control

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Is there a one-touch/tap emergency override control that can be activated if you lose control of the drone? Typically instructs the drone to immediately return to base (launch point).

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Bad points
  • Battery charge time (minutes)
  • Battery score
  • Build quality score
  • Camera performance score
  • Ease of use score
  • Flight control score
  • Flight performance score
  • Good points
  • Other flight and video modes
  • Overall score
  • Portability score
  • Recommended
  • Safety score
  • Tested flight time (min)
  • Type
  • Availability
  • brand
  • Model
  • Android app
  • App account required
  • Auto hover
  • Auto land
  • Auto return to base
  • Automatic camera orientation
  • Battery type
  • Battery weight (g)
  • Battery capacity
  • Claimed flight time (minutes)
  • Claimed maximum horizontal speed (km)
  • Claimed maximum vertical speed KM
  • Comes with camera
  • Control range claim horizontal (m)
  • Custom routes
  • Emergency override control
  • Flight and safety tutorials
  • Follow feature
  • Geofencing
  • GPS
  • Hover when controls are released
  • iOS app
  • Live view
  • Loss of control signal
  • Maximum frame rate (video)
  • Maximum image resolution (mp)
  • Maximum video resolution (progressive)
  • Move relative to user
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Orbit mode
  • Price
  • Zipline mode
  • Primary controls (physical controller or smartphone app)
  • Propeller guards
  • Selfie mode
  • Shoots RAW
  • Spare battery
  • Spare parts supplied
  • Stream to internet
  • Supplied replacement parts
  • Swappable camera
  • Viewing device
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