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Best DJI drone 2021: the 10 best models from the world's top drone maker

DJI Air 2S
(Image credit: Future)

Searching for the best DJI drone you can buy in 2021? You've landed in the right place. From pocket-friendly folding drones to professional flying machines, the world’s top drone maker has something to suit every type of pilot. The real question is how to pick the right one for your needs, budget and skill level.

Luckily, we’ve tested all of the latest and greatest DJI drones, to help you find your ideal option. We’ve comprehensively reviewed every model in DJI’s line-up and ranked them in the list below. So whether you’re a first-time flyer ready to earn your rotors, or a seasoned pilot searching for an aerial upgrade, this buying guide will help you select the right drone from DJI’s fleet.

Despite stiff competition from the likes of Parrot, Skydio and Poweregg, DJI is still the world’s biggest drone maker – and it continues to deliver some of the most advanced yet accessible flying machines on the market. The DJI Mini 2, for example, is a palm-sized 4K drone that’s perfect for beginners, while the DJI FPV offers a uniquely immersive first-person flying experience.

Our top pick for the title of best DJI drone is the DJI Air 2S. Hitting the sweet spot between portability and performance, it’s a foldable drone that’s simple to fly, yet also capable of capturing impressive 4K footage from its 1-Inch sensor – especially with the help of automated flight modes. That said, there might be a better DJI drone for your specific needs.

The original DJI Mavic Mini, for example, is a small and light learner drone that’s ideal for absolute beginners, especially as it’s now more affordable than ever. On the other hand, professionals looking for the ultimate aerial photography tool might find something like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is a better fit for their flying requirements.

Whatever level of flier you are, make sure you look through all of our buying guide below to find the best DJI drone for your aerial photography and videography needs.

The best DJI drones in 2021:

DJI Air 2S

(Image credit: Future)

1. DJI Air 2S

A brilliant all-rounder for all types of flier

Specifications
Weight: 595g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Flight time: 31 minutes
Range: 8km-12km
Reasons to buy
+Large 1-Inch sensor+Small and lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-No adjustable aperture-Controller isn’t foldable

DJI's 'Air' line has long been a sweet spot in its range for anyone who's looking for a good balance of portability and image quality – and the DJI Air 2S takes that concept to the next level. It effectively combines the best parts of our two previous favorite DJI drones, the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic 2 Pro. You get the backpack-friendly, folding design of the former and, crucially, the 20MP 1-Inch sensor of the latter, a mix that makes the Air 2S comfortably our number one drone.

If you're on a tighter budget, the Mavic Air 2 (below) remains a good choice, while the variable aperture offered by the Mavic 2 Pro (which isn't available on the Air 2S) is a handy feature for those who like to regularly use ND filters. But otherwise the Air 2S is an almost faultless all-rounder, offer 5.4K video at 30fps, a handy digital zoom option (even if we'd only use it up to 2x zoom) and some impressive high ISO performance. It's a cocktail that gives this mid-range drone huge appeal for both hobbyists looking for their first drone and pro photographers who want to give their snaps a new aerial dimension.

DJI Mini 2

(Image credit: Future)

2. DJI Mini 2

The perfect palm-sized flyer for beginners

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 2,250mAh
Range: 5.8 GHz: 10 km (FCC); 6 km (SRRC)
Reasons to buy
+Compact and convenient+Intuitive to fly
Reasons to avoid
-No follow mode-Pricier than the original

A very close relation to the DJI Mavic Mini (see below), the second generation of DJI’s ultra-compact drone is the ultimate flying machine for beginners. With the same lightweight folding design, the Mini 2 remains a properly pocketable drone that doesn’t require registration in most regions. New to the mix is a revamped controller that’s streamlined and antenna-free, delivering a smooth and intuitive handling experience which makes the Mini 2 even easier to fly, plus an enhanced range of up to 10km. 

Also fresh is the 4K resolution: though the small sensor struggles when the sun drops, the clarity of 4K/30p footage is respectable in bright conditions. Aerial video is also as stable as you’d expect from a DJI drone and, despite its size, the Mini 2 remains rock-steady in even the windiest conditions. Add a 30-minute flight time and five Quickshots into the mix, and the Mini 2 shapes up as simply the best drone for beginners.

DJI Mavic Air 2

(Image credit: Future)

3. DJI Mavic Air 2

A foldable drone that still offers great value

Specifications
Weight: 570g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 3,950 mAh
Range: 10km
Reasons to buy
+Simple to fly+Shoots impressive 4K/60p video+Decent 34-minute battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Camera feed sometimes stutters-Controller lacks a screen

It's now been succeeded by the DJI Air 2S, but the Mavic Air 2 remains on sale for those who need a foldable, mid-range at a lower price tag. The main difference between the two is that the older Mavic Air 2 has a smaller 48MP 1/2-inch sensor, compared to the 20MP 1-Inch sensor on the Air 2S. Still, if you're a hobbyist flier, the Mavic Air 2 still produces impressive 4K/60p video along with a huge range of shooting features that mean it's still one of the most versatile drones around.

The Mavic Air 2's controller brings Ocusync 2.0 connectivity, which takes its range up to 10km and improves the stability of its signal to the DJI Fly app. You also get a full stack of those beginner-friendly modes that DJI has fine-tuned over the past few years, including the 'Quickshot' automated flying modes and subject-tracking. The DJI Mini 2 remains a better and more affordable choice for complete beginners, but if you're looking for high-quality 4K video in well-lit conditions and don't need a 1-Inch sensor, then the Mavic Air 2 is still well worth considering.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

4. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

A fine premium drone with variable aperture

Specifications
Weight: 907g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Flight time: 3,950 mAh
Range: 8km
Reasons to buy
+Handy foldable design+One-inch 20MP sensor+Advanced, but easy to fly
Reasons to avoid
-No portrait shooting option-Some noise above ISO 100

The arrival of the DJI Air 2S has placed the future of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro in some doubt, as the Air 2S offers a 1-Inch sensor in a smaller, more affordable package. But there is still one reason to consider the Mavic 2 Pro over its newer sibling: variable aperture. This feature is ideal for those who like manual control over their exposure, as it means you can change your f-stop (between f/2.8 and f/11) mid-flight to account for changing light, rather than having to land and change ND filters.

The Mavic 2 Pro does also offer a dynamic range of 14 stops, compared to 12.6 stops on the Air 2S. That's not a huge difference, but it could mean the difference between maintaining sky detail or blowing it out. Aside from these small variations, though, the DJI Air 2S does offer better overall value in a smaller package – so unless variable aperture is a big deal for you, we'd recommend getting the Air 2S before the arrival of the rumored DJI Mavic 3 Pro. 

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

(Image credit: Future)

5. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

A travel-friendly drone with truly useful optical zoom

Specifications
Weight: 905g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 3,950 mAh
Range: 8km
Reasons to buy
+Easy to fly and intuitive to control+24-48mm optical zoom lens
Reasons to avoid
-Small 12MP sensor-Noise is a problem above ISO 100

The almost identical twin of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic 2 Zoom has one key difference – its camera has optical zoom. Rather than the 1-inch 20MP sensor seen on its 'Pro' sibling, this drone pairs a smaller 12MP sensor with an 24-48mm optical zoom lens. This extremely handy, as it means you can capture close-up shots of subjects like people at events, without needing to fly as close as other drones. And with the same lightweight, foldable design as the Mavic 2 Pro, the Zoom is ideal for taking to photogenic locations. 

Because it has a smaller sensor, image quality naturally falls short of the Mavic 2 Pro and Air 2S, but its videos and photos are more than good enough for pro use in the right light. That zoom is particularly useful because distortion is minimal and control is intuitive via the partner app. And it packs in all of the usual intelligent flight modes that you'd expect from a DJI drone, including Active Track and Hyperlapses. With a decent 30-minute flight time too, it's well worth considering if you need a super-versatile drone that can open up new creative possibilities.

Read our in-depth DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

DJI Mavic Mini

(Image credit: Future)

6. DJI Mavic Mini

A little and light learner drone that’s now even cheaper

Specifications
Weight: 249g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 2,600 mAh
Range: 5.8 GHz: 4000 m (FCC); 2500 m (SRRC)
Reasons to buy
+Superb folding design+Impressively stable video
Reasons to avoid
-No object tracking-No 4K or 60fps 2.7K video

The DJI Mini 2 (see no.2) might offer 4K resolution, but the original Mavic Mini is now more affordable than ever. And while it has a few limitations compared to it's newer sibling, it’s still the smallest, cheapest and most accessible DJI drone you can buy. At 249g, the featherweight flyer neatly avoids the need for registration, while its folding design makes it super easy to stash in your jacket pocket. 

It can’t capture 4K or 2K/60p video, but footage is nevertheless punchy and detailed, with decent dynamic range. And while it doesn’t offer object-tracking smarts, the DJI Mavic Mini can still do more than any other drone at this size and price: a 2.5-mile range and 30-minute battery life offer plenty of flexibility, while pairing with the DJI Fly app unlocks those lovely Quickshots for stable and effortless cinematic footage. 

DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

(Image credit: Future)

7. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

A reliable, powerful quadcopter for pros

Specifications
Weight: 1375g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Battery size: 6000mAh
Range: 8km
Reasons to buy
+Large 1-inch 20MP sensor+Sturdy and fast drone+Shoots 4K/60p video at 100Mbps
Reasons to avoid
-Large and bulky-Pricier than Mavic 2 Pro-More complex than foldables

It might not be the newest model in this, having launched back in 2018, but the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the ideal choice for pros who often fly in less-than-ideal conditions. Its superb handling, weight and impressive flight time of 30 minutes mean this Phantom is particularly adept in windier conditions that might blow the smaller models in this list off course – or at least affect the quality of the footage you're able to shoot. 

Talking of which, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 fairs well in the video and stills department too, thanks to its 20MP 1-inch sensor, which lets it shoot flexible raw photos and 4K/60p video at 100Mbps in the D-Log color profile. Of course, it's nowhere near as convenient as tiny folding drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2, but if reliability and the ability to fine-tune your aerial footage in post-production are your priorities, this remains one of the best choices around.

DJI FPV

(Image credit: Future)

8. DJI FPV

A flawed but fun first-person flying machine

Specifications
Weight: 795g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 12MP
Battery size: 2000mAh
Range: 10 km (FCC); 6 km (SRRC)
Reasons to buy
+Easy and fun to fly+Immersive DJI Goggles
Reasons to avoid
-Requires a spotter-10-minute flight time 

Fancy soaring like a bird? The DJI FPV finally makes the fun of first-person flight accessible out of the box. It might not be as polished, convenient or affordable as DJI’s Mavic series, but it does offer an incredibly immersive flying experience for novices and seasoned pilots alike. Shipped with the amazing DJI Goggles, the DJI FPV reliably transmits compelling 4K footage from its front-facing camera to the bundled headset. 

It’s also remarkably easy to fly in ‘Normal’ mode, with GPS and collision sensors reducing the risk of crashing. The result is an exhilarating first-person experience that really feels like flying. Less compelling is the 10-minute flight time, the need for a secondary observer to maintain a visual line of sight and the cost of the accessories you’ll need to get the best from it. Stills quality is average too, while the front propellers are visible in footage. So it’s not the perfect first-person drone, but it is a huge amount of fun to fly.

Read our in-depth DJI FPV review

Ryze Tello

(Image credit: Future)

9. Ryze Tello

The best camera-equipped toy drone you can buy

Specifications
Weight: 3440g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Battery size: 6,000 mAh
Range: 3.5km
Reasons to buy
+Affordable and fun+Shoots 720p video+Programmable moves
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't fly well in a breeze-Best flown indoors

It might not carry the DJI name, but this little 80g flier does contain the company's flight tech and was made in collaboration with both DJI and Intel. A palm-sized drone that's been designed for fly either indoors or outside on very still days, the Tello can shoot 720p video and perform impressive stunts like '8D' flips.

While it's a lot of fun to fly, particularly with your phone acting as the controller, the Ryze Tello is really an educational toy in disguise. That's because it works with the MIT-developed coding tool Scratch, which lets you drag-and-drop blocks to create flight paths and build other tricks. Naturally, the drone's tiny 1/5in sensor and low 4Mbps bitrate mean video quality is strictly for social media, but the Ryze Tello is a fantastic toy drone that can teach you a thing or two about coding in the process.

DJI Inspire 2

(Image credit: Future)

10. DJI Inspire 2

A pro-level drone with the build quality, performance and price tag to match

Specifications
Weight: 3440g
Controller: Yes
Camera resolution: 20MP
Battery size: 6,000 mAh
Range: 3.5km
Reasons to buy
+Incredible build quality+Good battery life+Lots of pro-friendly features
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Demands a powerful computer

While most of the drones in the list are smaller consumer models that are the aerial equivalents of compact mirrorless cameras or premium compacts, the Inspire 2 is a full-blown pro DSLR in the sky. This extends right to its modular design, which allows you to pick the right Zenmuse camera to attach to it. We tested the Inspire 2 with the Zenmuse Z5S, which is a 4K Micro Four Thirds camera, though you can also add a Zenmuse X7 if you need a Super 35 camera with interchangeable lenses. 

It might look like something that Skynet has sent back in time to hunt for John Connor, but the Inspire 2 is a little more friendly than that, particularly if you're a pro filmmaker looking to shoot 5.2K video, albeit at 30 frames per second. Shooting in 4K is also possible at 60 frames per second, while the Inspire 2 also comes with some excellent automated flying modes and solid subject-tracking. If you can afford it, and don't mind its size, this remains one of the finest flying cameras you can buy. 

Read our in-depth DJI Inspire 2 review