The Best Drones for 2016
In 2016 there are more reasons than ever to get a drone. Whether you want to enjoy some stunt flying for fun, you’re aiming to do a little aerial photography or you have a home science project in mind; drones are now more widely available and more functional than ever before.
But with these advancements in technology come difficult choices for would-be buyers. Where do you even begin when there is so much on the market? Let’s take a look at some of the best drones for 2016 that are available now and some of the best that are about to hit the market.
For Aerial Photography: Chroma Flight-Ready Drone With Stabilized CG03 4K Camera and ST-10+ Transmitter
Let’s start with something for the photography oriented drone pilot. This is a great entry point for those who want to get into the world of aerial photography with an in-built 4K camera (no need to mount an expensive GoPro). What’s also great about the camera itself is that it features a no-distortion lens, meaning no fish-eye effect (unless you choose to add it in later!).
The camera is also capable of filming video in 4K, which is possible thanks to advanced stabilization. The video is all streamed right to the controller display too, so you can see exactly what you’re filming and steer with greater precision.
But this isn’t just a dream for those who want to start taking beautiful birds-eye photos. The drone is also incredibly smooth to handle and a lot of fun to fly. It comes with a ‘Smart Mode’ for beginner pilots and a GPS to provide features like ‘return home’ functionality.
That GPS also adds in one more very awesome feature though: ‘autonomous follow me’. That does exactly what it sounds like – meaning that your drone can follow you around like a loyal puppy. And if the camera is on, that means you can capture third person videos of yourself without having your own film crew (which most of us do not have).
And that’s not all. The drone also has an impressive 30 minute flight time and comes with everything you need packaged into one box. All that makes this definitely one of the best drones for 2016.
For Fun With the Kids: Byrobot Drone Fighter GX100
This is a mini quadcopter with 2.4GHz RF 2-way communication on 6 channels. Despite being small and relatively low-cost, it has an optional ‘expert mode’ which simply involves removing the rotor guards to reduce the weight. With this set-up you can then perform flips and other stunts.
What’s also an awesome touch is the inclusion of infrared transmissions and receivers. This makes games of aerial ‘laser tag’ possible. When your drone is ‘hit’ by an infrared blast, the LEDs flash and your controller vibrates. When a player takes six shots, the game is over and that player is out.
Yep, we live in a time when ‘flying laser tag’ is not only a thing, but is actually affordable for everyone!
For Smarts: Dji Phantom 4
This list isn’t just for the drone noob looking for advice on which gadget to buy first. We’re also catering to pros who want to upgrade with the most impressive model possible. The Phantom 4 might just be that model for many of you thanks to its truly revolutionary obstacle avoidance system.
In other words, this can be put onto autopilot without any risk of it crashing. That makes it great for following you while filming, or for returning home and is a step-up from the Chroma. The camera is also a step-up thanks to an incredible 120fps slo-mo option. Like several of the best drones for 2016, this is perfect for extreme sports athletes, rock climbers or amateur film-makers.
And as you might expect, this drone knocks it out the park in just about every other area too. A new ‘sport mode’ lets you fly up to 44mph (read: fast) and you have a ‘pause’ button to hover perfectly in place. Despite all these high end features, you still get 28 minutes of flying time on a single charge.
The Phantom 4 should be launching this month and if it delivers on its impressive promise, then drone fans are in for a real treat with this one!
For Sports: Karma or Hexo+
Okay, so this is something of a mystery and we can’t categorically say that it’s going to be the ‘best’ drone for sports. However, there’s a very good chance that it will be with the pedigree that’s behind it. What pedigree is that you ask? None other than GoPro!
For years now, drone owners have been taking their GoPros and sticking them to their drones. So it only makes sense for the company to offer its own drone with a camera included. Remarkably little is known about the drone – even down to what it looks like – but we know it will be launching some time in 2016. We also know it can record in 4K and probably higher than 30fps. And what’s more, it can be launched while on the move. This latter feature may well be the ‘killer app’ for the device, as it means you can throw it in the air while speeding down the side of a snowy mountain.
This being GoPro you can probably expect the drone to be very durable as well. And it should offer stabilized footage based on a recent teaser video.
Until you learn more about the GoPro drone though, you may want to stick with Hexo+. Hexo+ is on sale right now and has the very same goal of filming you in action. It’s entirely self-flying and has six rotors designed to lift a GoPro. With over 100 camera movements it pretty much replace your cameraman but it’s not cheap once you add in the GoPro. Like the forthcoming Karma, it also offers quick and easy launching. There’s a fair amount of footage on YouTube, so you can check that out before you buy.
For Budget Aerial Photography: Phantom 3 4K
DJI aimed to offer a drone with a great camera for a lower price with the Phantom 3 4K and that’s exactly what they did! This drone uses Wi-Fi rather than the Lightbridge system used by other models and that allows the same kind of performance for a lower budget. In fact, it is currently the cheapest drone you can get right now.
Okay, so it’s not exactly a cheap drone but if you’re looking for something affordable with a 4K camera, it’s probably your best bet. And it also comes with smart flight modes like Follow Me and Point of Interest. With those features at a more accessible price, this is definitely one of the best drones for 2016.
Check out the full review here.
For Overall Budget: Sky Viper Video Drone or Syma X5C
But if you want something that really won’t break the bank, you may want a more basic model like the Sky Viper Video Drone. This is definitely not as much a premium model as some drones on this list but it’s nevertheless a great quadcopter with plenty of appealing features. Those include a resilient body made from polypropylene, easy one-touch stunts and 720pp video and photos.
Another very good option is the Syma X5C. This is available for under a hundred bucks and can be flown indoors and outdoors. It has a 7 minute flight time and a HD camera – not a bad selection of specs for the price and the completely white body looks neat to boot!
For Uniqueness: Lily
Lily’s main selling point is once again its ability to fly itself and follow you around capturing video of your escapades. That’s been a major push with new drones this year as you have probably already figured out, so it’s nothing ‘new’ at this point.
But Lily offers a lot else that’s new. For starters there’s the design, which looks very much like a UFO or something from The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s entirely black and silver with lots of curves and foldable propellers. Also interesting is the waterproof body that allows you to take it on all your adventures and not worry about it getting wet.
You use a ‘tracking device’ to help Lily follow you and it’s completely self-piloted. Unfortunately though, it lacks the obstacle avoidance of something like the Phantom 4 (though you can choose to plot a flight) and there’s no gimbal so all stabilization is digital. Another slight disappointment is that the battery isn’t rechargeable, so you can’t swap them out on the fly.
It’s not out until May but it’s definitely something unique to watch! Only time will tell if this is truly one of the best drones for 2016.
For Indoors: Cheerson CX-10 Mini RC
Finally, if you’re looking for something that fits on the ends of your fingers and can be flown indoors, you might want to check out Cheerson. This is a cheeky and upbeat looking orange quadcopter that offers great stability for its small size thanks to a 6 axis design and comes with 3 level adjustable speed flip functionality.
As you can see then, 2016 really is an awesome year for drones with tons already on the market and more just about to hit the shelves. What’s really exciting though is just how much potential the industry has right now. We have drones with obstacle avoidance, waterproof drones, drones with 4K 120FPS cameras and drones capable of flying over 40mph. Once individual drones start packing all these features, the possibilities will be endless!
To see the best selling drones on Amazon, click here.