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The best drone 2020: DJI, Parrot and more for every kind of drone flier

DJI Mavic Air 2
(Image credit: Future)

Looking for the best drone you can buy? Whether you’re a novice pilot in search of your first flying machine or a seasoned aerial enthusiast looking to upgrade to a pro drone, we’ve reviewed, rated and ranked all of the best drones available in 2020. (If you're searching for the best beginner drone, check out our separate buying guide on that).

Drones have evolved significantly in recent years, with improvements in battery life, connectivity, picture quality and image stabilization. Shots that were once only possible with professional equipment can now be achieved with consumer drones that cost just a few hundred pounds. Even some of the smallest drones, which can fold into a pocket-friendly package, are capable of capturing smooth 4K footage from the sky.

Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, there are several things to think about when looking for the best drone for you. While image quality will always be important, other factors can make a big difference. Usability will be key for first-time flyers, while skills such as obstacle avoidance and autonomous hovering can take the fear out of flying. Experienced pilots might also want manual photography controls and the ability to fly in all weathers.

There are also compromises to consider. Lighter drones are likely to evade registration regulations, giving you more freedom to fly – but they’ll also be trickier to control in breezy conditions. On the other hand, while heavier drones need to be registered with the relevant authorities, they’re likely to offer greater stability, as well as comprehensive shooting skills.

Our top for best drone at the moment is the DJI Mavic Air 2. It’s a fantastic all-rounder that combines impressive image quality, beginner-friendly flying modes and a compact form factor that’s perfect for taking on your travels. But while it’s the best option for most people, there might be a drone out there that’s better suited to your specific needs or budget. The DJI Mavic Mini, for example, is brilliant for beginners, while the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 remains an excellent larger choice for experienced aerial filmmakers.

And although DJI is the clear leader in the drone market, there are several alternative options available – from Parrot’s range of rivals to Powervision’s unique waterproof PowerEgg X. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find the best drone for you in the list below.

What about Black Friday 2020?
If you're looking to buy a drone, you may be able to save some money by waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For example, last year DJI offered a 20% discount on some drones including the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, while retailers offered even bigger savings on older drones like the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum. Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially start on November 27, but look out for the best cheap drone deals starting to roll in from the beginning of November.

The best drone 2020:

DJI Mavic Air 2

(Image credit: Future)

1. DJI Mavic Air 2

The best drone for most people

Weight: 570g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery size: 3,950 mAh | Range: 10km

Very easy to fly
Shoots great 4K/60p video
Strong 34-minute battery life
Camera feed sometimes stutters
No screen on the controller

A dramatic improvement on the original Mavic Air, the Mavic Air 2 is the best all-rounder drone for beginners and hobbyists. Like a mini version of the Mavic 2 Pro, it combines the ability to shoot excellent 4K/60p video, a huge range of shooting features, and an impressive 34-minute flight time. A new 1/2-inch sensor ensures better ISO performance than its predecessor and supports slo-mo 1080p video up to 240fps. The Mavic Air 2's new controller, meanwhile, brings Ocusync 2.0 connectivity, which boosts its range up to 10km and improves the stability of its signal to the DJI Fly app. With subject-tracking and all of the familiar Quickshot automated modes, it's the perfect sweet spot between the more basic DJI Mavic Mini and pricier Mavic 2 series.

Read our in-depth DJI Mavic Air 2 review

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

2. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Still the king of premium drones

Weight: 907g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 20MP | Flight time: 3,950 mAh | Range: 8km

Excellent foldable design
Advanced yet easy to fly
One-inch 20MP sensor
Noise is a problem above ISO 100
No portrait shooting option

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro remains the best premium drone you can buy for a few reasons – it has a large sensor, is a joy to fly, and the foldable design makes it portable and travel-friendly. If you need zoom or serious portability, then the Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic Mini are worth investigating. But otherwise, this is a fine all-rounder for those who need a bit more quality than the Mavic Air 2. Its 20MP one-inch sensor is capable of shooting Raw stills and 4K video at 30fps, while the aperture is adjustable between f/2.8 and f/11, which means less need for ND filters. What’s more, despite its impressive skill set, the Mavic 2 Pro is easy to fly and intuitive to control using its partner app, while a range of intelligent shooting and flight modes make capturing cinematic shots a cinch. It also offers some of the most advanced flight and camera tech currently available, making it capable of delivering pro-grade images, yet still accessible even for beginners. Provided you don’t need optical zoom, this is pretty much the perfect drone for most people, if you can afford it.

Read our in-depth DJI Mavic 2 Pro review

DJI Mavic Mini

(Image credit: Future)

3. DJI Mavic Mini

DJI's smallest, lightest, and cheapest drone is a triumph

Weight: 249g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery size: 2,600 mAh | Range: 5.8 GHz: 4000 m (FCC); 2500 m (SRRC)

Smart, collapsible design
Incredibly stable video capture
No 4K or 60fps 2.7K video
No object tracking

The DJI Mavic Mini is a perfectly timed masterstroke on DJI's part. It tackles drone law changes across the US and UK head-on, while also delivering great video quality in a premium, compact body. 

Laws now state that drones weighing over 250g need to be registered with aviation authorities – the FAA in the US and Civil Aviation Authority in the UK – and before the Mavic Mini launched, there weren't any well-reviewed options in this featherweight category. Which means that, right now, DJI has secured itself a monopoly in the sub-250g premium drone market because, unlike one of its main rivals, the Parrot Anafi, that weighs around 300g, the Mavic Mini doesn't need to be registered.

It isn't quite our dream drone as the absence of 4K, or 2.6K 60fps video recording is felt, but the DJI Mavic Mini is still in a league of its own, pairing a compact, light body with a robust flying experience and decent-quality video capture.

Read our in-depth DJI Mavic Mini review

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

(Image credit: Future)

4. DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

A lightweight flyer with truly useful optical zoom

Weight: 905g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 12MP | Battery size: 3,950 mAh | Range: 8km

Easy to fly and intuitive to control
24-48mm optical zoom lens
Small 12MP sensor
Noise is a problem above ISO 100

The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is largely identical to the Mavic 2 Pro, apart from one crucial difference – its camera system. While both drones are incredibly portable, sharing the same lightweight foldable design, and offer a range of high-spec features, the Zoom pairs a smaller 12MP sensor with an 24-48mm optical zoom lens. That means you can capture close-up shots of subjects like people, while still maintaining the safe and legal distance of 50m. Because of the smaller sensor, image quality doesn’t quite match the Mavic 2 Pro and the f/2.8 aperture is fixed, but photos and videos are still more than good enough for professional use. The real boon is that zoom lens, which unlocks a world of creative shooting potential. Range is good, distortion minimal and control is intuitive via the partner app. On top of that, you get all of the intelligent flight modes you’d expect from a DJI drone, including Active Track and Hyperlapse, as well as a decent 30-minute flight time. If you want a drone with zoom, this is the one for you.

Read our in-depth DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review

Ryze Tello

(Image credit: Future)

5. Ryze Tello

A straightforward flyer that’s affordable and fun

Weight: 80g | Controller: Optional | Camera resolution: 5MP | Flight time: 13 minutes | Range: 100m

Responsive flight controls
Lightweight and compact
Choppy video transmission
Unstable in wind

Simple, lightweight and affordable, the Ryze Tello is designed to be a fun drone for first-time flyers. And despite its budget price tag, the Tello offers plenty: the battery serves up a reasonable 13 minutes of flight time, while downward-facing light sensors allow the Tello to hover in place and perform a handful of automated tricks.

Image quality from the nose-mounted 5MP camera is less impressive, with a limited dynamic range and noticeable compression artifacts when streaming 720p HD video. Because video is beamed directly to your smartphone, the frame rate is affected by any drop in connection strength.

That said, the app is refreshingly simple and makes for a straightforward way to pilot the Tello, with an on-screen twin-stick setup that’s rewardingly responsive. The theoretical range is 100m, but 30-40m is more realistic – which, given how even the slightest breeze can blow the 80g Tello off course, is not necessarily a bad thing.

The Ryze Tello is fundamentally a fun drone to fly on a calm day, zipping along at a rapid chop and reacting nimbly to intuitive inputs. The limited range is somewhat restrictive but, provided you don’t mind choppy video, it’s nevertheless the best starter drone around.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

(Image credit: Future)

6. DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

Still a great option for pros who need a sturdy, powerful quadcopter

Weight: 1375g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 20MP | Battery size: 6000mAh | Range: 8km

Large 1-inch 20MP sensor
Sturdy and fast drone
Shoots 4K/60p video at 100Mbps
Large and bulky
Pricier than Mavic 2 Pro
More complex than foldables

DJI's Phantom range was the series that really took its drones to new heights – and while the Phantom 4 Pro V.20 isn't the newest model in this list, it remains a fine option for professionals who need something sturdy and reliable for windy conditions. Launched in 2018, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 was a big upgrade on the Phantom 4, bringing vastly improved obstacle avoidance and intelligent flight modes like ActiveTrack. Its 20MP 1-inch sensor can also shoot impressive raw stills and 4K/60p video at 100Mbps in the D-log color profile. Of course, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0's size (it weighs 1,375g) means it isn't as convenient as the foldable Mavic 2 Pro, which also has a 20Mp 1-inch sensor. But it does also bring a mechanical shutter (for avoiding rolling shutter) and boasts a higher 4K frame-rate than its smaller sibling. With some excellent handling and 30 minutes of flight time, it's certainly worth considering if you need to shoot high-quality aerial stills and video in challenging weather that might be too much for the Mavic 2 Pro.  

Read our in-depth DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 review

PowerVision PowerEgg X

(Image credit: Future)

7. PowerVision PowerEgg X

An all-weather drone that converts into a handheld camera

Weight: 522g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 12MP | Flight time: 3,800 mAh | Range: 6km

Can fly in rain and land on water
Converts into a handheld camera
Image quality falls short of rivals
Lacks Raw video modes

Ignore the culinary name: the PowerEgg X is a flyer, not a fryer. And in a market dominated by drones that don’t like water, PowerVision’s aerial orb is distinctive in its ability to fly in the rain and land on lakes (with the Wizard bundle). Image quality is affected by the plastic waterproof housing, but being able to operate in – and float upon – the wet stuff opens up a range of creative possibilities.

So, too, does the versatile modular design. The PowerEgg X can also be deployed as a handheld gimbal camera and an autonomous AI camera, which can be mounted to a tripod and controlled with hand-gestures.

The flip-side of the adaptable setup is that it’s slower to deploy. It might be lightweight, but removing the protective casing from the body, adding the propeller arms and setting up the controller takes a few minutes.

Image quality isn’t class-leading, either. The PowerEgg X does produce decent, detailed 4K footage in bright conditions, but the fixed aperture, fixed-focus 12MP 1/2.8-inch CMOS sensor can’t compete with DJI’s Mavic drones. It’s also not currently possible to record in Raw video formats. 

Still, for short, sharp video sequences in bad weather, the PowerEgg X is one of the best options around.

8. Parrot Anafi

A tiny drone with incredible camera range

Weight: 3202g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 21MP | Battery size: 2700mAh

4K UHD video at 60fps
180-degree vertical camera
No obstacle avoidance

This lightweight, bug-like drone might be small, but its photography chops are among the most impressive around.

Its camera has 180 degrees of vertical range, which enables it to take photos directly upwards - a feat no other drone can match. It also has a 2.8x zoomable lens with no image quality reduction.

The Parrot Anafi is a particularly good choice for selfie fans. Its Follow Me mode tracks your movements, adjusting automatically for more photogenic angles, and its SmartDronies modes - Orbit, Parabola, Boomerang and Tornado - cause the drone to fly around you in various circles and arcs.

The main drawback is the Parrot Anafi's lack of obstacle avoidance, which makes it hard to recommend to new users. It's also a shame that a couple of flight modes are locked away as extra in-app purchases after you've paid for the drone.

Read our in-depth Parrot Anafi review

9. DJI Mavic Pro

Still worth considering, if you can find stock

Weight: 734g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 12.35MP | Battery Size: 3830mAh | Range: 4.3 miles

Highly portable
Dedicated remote control
Weak low-light shooting

It's now been superseded by the DJI Mavic 2 Pro (see above), but this is still one of the best consumer drones around – and now it's more affordable too. Until the DJI Spark came along, the Mavic Pro was the smallest drone in DJI's lineup. Don't let its diminutive size fool you though – this pint-sized flyer boasts the kind of performance that DJI's larger drones are famous for.

The camera is mounted on a gimbal, which is unusual for drones of this size. It delivers fantastic results with both photos and video in good lighting, although the small size of the sensor means low-light shooting can sometimes be tricky. The Mavic Pro has a top speed of around 40 mph, so it's no slouch in that department, and the battery is good for around 20 to 25 minutes of aerial action.

As is the case with other DJI drones, the Mavic Pro comes with a dedicated remote control that uses your phone's display to show you exactly what the device is seeing. Range is quoted as being over four miles, giving you the opportunity to capture some amazing stills and video without worrying about the connection dropping.

Read our DJI Mavic Pro review

10. DJI Inspire 2

Perhaps the finest flagship-level drone in existence today

Weight: 3440g | Controller: Yes | Camera resolution: 30MP | Battery Size: 4280mAh | Range: 7 km

Amazing build quality
Good battery life
Plenty of features
Quite pricey

Soundly knocking its predecessor out of this list is the highly impressive Inspire 2. With a sleek metal composite bodywork upgrade, it's a much more attractive piece of kit. What's more, with more advanced object avoidance technology you don't have to worry about that beautiful body getting scratched by you accidentally clipping a tree. 

You get more than 25 minutes of flight time out of the twin-battery arrangement, and the ability to swap camera lenses means that professional photographers and videographers have complete control over their images and 5K video.

The fully-featured smartphone app and dedicated remote control make this drone incredibly easy to control, but make no mistake, this is a professional piece of kit. 

Read our in-depth DJI Inspire 2 review