The best drones in the UK: The best quadcopters money can buy
Drone flying is seemingly one of the fastest growing hobbies in the UK. Our beaches, countryside and city parks are awash with mechanical creatures littering the skies. But drone piloting doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.
There are plenty of cheaper options with 1080p cameras so you can take to the air, so on most modern drones will let you capture stunning aerial footage, as well as have fun flying it.
It’s important to choose the right drone, though. The hardware isn’t cheap, and if you’re a beginner, you want a model that’s easy to fly, with plenty of safety features to ensure you don’t crash your new toy – or accidentally fly it off into the blue yonder and lose it for good. Enthusiasts, meanwhile, will value features like camera quality, speed and range.
Other considerations include battery life – these things don’t fly forever – and video streaming capabilities, which can beam live footage straight to your smartphone or even a headset, offering a first-person view from your drone.
Here’s our guide to the best drones, at prices ranging from a few hundred pounds to well over a grand, with a range of features to suit everyone.
The Best drones to buy in the UK:
1. DJI Mavic Air: The best compact drone money can buy
Price: £769 from DJI Store
The DJI Mavic Air takes all that’s great about the DJI Mavic Pro and shrinks it down to an even smaller size while simultaneously improving video quality and adding features. What’s more, it does this without even putting the price up in the process.
What makes the Mavic Air stand out against the competition is its tiny size. Once you fold its rotor arms in against its body for transportation, it’s small enough of a device to fit into a large pocket. The bundled controller also folds down to a similarly neat size, making the whole device incredibly portable for those wanting a lightweight solution.
Size doesn’t mean compromise either, as the Mavic Air flies very much like a professional drone and has support for gesture flight, smartphone flight or via its controller. Its versatility, portability and a deliciously sharp 4K camera should be more than enough reason to sway anyone deliberating purchasing a drone.
2. DJI Mavic Pro: A truly portable professional drone
Price: £899 from DJI Store
The Mavic Pro certainly isn’t the cheapest drone around, but it is one of the best. Not only does it have all the hallmarks of a high-end professional drone, but it’s immensely portable. While not as small as the Mavic Air, the Mavic Pro can fold down and be picked up with one hand and is easily shoved into a rucksack without any need to be disassembled.
As with all DJI drones, the Mavic Pro is blissfully simple to get to grips with. It can be launched with just a single button from the DJI app and there’s a Beginner mode available for those who are just starting out with drones for the first time. In this mode, the Mavic Pro’s speed and altitude are capped and it can’t fly too far away from you at any given time. There’s also built-in sensors that help avoid you from flying it into obstacles and help it track moving objects if you’re trying to lock onto something while shooting film.
It also borrows and improves upon, a lot of features found on the DJI Phantom 4. There’s a high-speed mode capable of hitting 40mph; Tap Fly, which lets you set a course between user-defined points on a map; and a “surveillance mode” that lets it circle objects retaining a fixed view of it at all times.
The Mavic Pro may be pricey, but it’s certainly one of the most impressive drones you can buy.
3. DJI Spark: The best drone under £500
Price: £449 from DJI Store
If size is your main concern, this tried and trusted drone from DJI is an absolute must-have. The DJI Spark is brilliant. At about the size of a plate, and with a price tag at the bottom end of DJI’s offerings, there are few drones better for this price and form factor.
The base price doesn’t include a remote, but you can fly the drone using your smartphone and gestures, so only die-hard drone pilots really need to fork out for one. The Spark also comes with a nose-mounted 12-megapixel camera capable of 1080p video that’s mechanically stabilized for silky-smooth footage.
The only real downside here is that the Spark is limited to just 16 minutes of flight time but, for a drone of this size and price, that’s really to be expected. It’s the perfect, and affordable, starting point for anyone who wants to take using drones seriously.
4. Parrot Anafi: A great lightweight drone with 4K HDR
Price: £630 from Parrot
Like the Mavic Air and Pro, this lightweight drone from Parrot folds away for easy and convenient transport and it’s incredibly small to boot. Unlike its DJI counterparts, however, it’s not quite as fully featured nor does it have the same bonuses like gesture control or as responsive flight.
That’s not to say this isn’t a great drone, however. For its size and form factor, it boasts an impressive 4K camera complete with HDR recording capabilities. It’s also able to point upwards as well as down, giving filmmakers a greater sense of control than they’d otherwise have.
It’s also capable of around 25 minutes of flight, although there’s no object avoidance here, meaning you might want to be a bit more careful of where you’re flying it.
5. Parrot Disco: An innovative fixed-wing drone unlike anything else
Price: £375 on Amazon
The Parrot Disco may no longer be officially sold by Parrot, but it still remains one of the best drones you can buy in the UK. Not only does Parrot opt for a UAV-style winged drone over the quadrocopter norm, but the Disco also opts for a VR viewing system to really immerse pilots in the action.
In terms of its drone credentials, the Disco is capable of flying for a whopping 45 minutes, hitting a maximum speed of 50mph and has a controllable range of 1.24 miles. What’s more, the front-mounted camera captures footage at 1080p and its VR display informs you of speed, altitude and remaining battery.
It’s likely not one for anyone looking for a truly semi-professional drone, but it is immensely fun to fly – even if it does require a lot of space for takeoff and landing.
6. DJI Phantom 4 Pro: The drone with the best camera
Price: £1,589 from DJI Store
As you may have gathered by now, DJI is responsible for some of the best drones available out there right now. While not the pinnacle of DJI’s drone offering, it’s certainly up there in the purely professional market. Not only does its price reflect that – which is considerably higher than anything else on our list – its list of features helps set it apart from what else is out there.
While bulkier than the Mavic Pro, in part because its legs and arms don’t fold away, the Phantom 4 Pro comes with a stabilised camera capable of shooting up to 4K at 60fps. It also boasts a 20-megapixel camera from a sensor that’s double the size of what’s found in the Mavic Pro and Mavic Air. It’s also blisteringly fast and nimble and has front-facing collision avoidance sensors just like the Mavic Air.
Obviously, this is a pretty expensive undertaking for amateur drone pilots but, if you’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to filming, you can’t get better than the Phantom 4 Pro.