As you all already know, 99% of drones these days come with a whole heap of extra functions and features just to make a better first impression on the potential buyers. Among these things, people tend to focus on battery duration and control range… But there’s an awesome function that often gets by unnoticed. I am, of course, talking about the altitude hold function.
Drones that have it are able to hover steadily in the air, maintaining their altitude and recording perfect aerial shots. It’s something most of you will greatly appreciate if you are buying your drones for the sake of video recording. If that’s the case, then you should take a look at these top 10 drones with altitude hold function.
They are listed from the cheapest model to the more expensive one. In other words, there is going to be something for everyone, so stick around. I might just help you make up your mind.
Table: Drones with altitude hold function
|10. MJX Bugs 2w||1080p||1km||18 min||See best offer|
|9. Hubsan H501S||1080p||300m||15 min||See best offer|
|8. AEE AP10||1080p||500m||22 min||See best offer|
|7. Parrot Bebop 2||1080p||2km||20 min||See best offer|
|6. DJI Spark||1080p||2km||15 min||See best offer|
|5. Yuneec Typhoon H||4k||1.5km||22 min||See best offer|
|4. DJI Mavic Pro||4k||6km||26 min||See best offer|
|3. Autel XSP||4k||2km||23 min||See best offer|
|2. DJI Phantom 4P||4k||6km||25 min||See best offer|
|1. DJI Inspire 2||4k||6km||25 min||See best offer|
Different types of altitude hold :
Real altitude hold, or how some like to call it, GPS-powered altitude hold is what you want! This technology basically collects data from your drone’s GPS module and reads it to understand at what altitude it’s currently flying. In other words, you don’t have to constantly align your throttle stick to keep your drone in one position – altitude hold does that for you.
Even though this feature comes in handy with drones that have no GPS, it’s still miles below real altitude hold. As such, I hate it when manufacturers refer to it as altitude hold, it’s a nasty trick to deceive potential buyers. That’s why, in the list below, you can be sure all drones have GPS and come equipped with GPS-powered altitude hold feature.
10. MJX Bugs 2W
At 10th spot, we have an awesome entry-level drone that sports GPS, altitude hold and several other features that make it definitely worth purchasing. Best of all, it’s beginner friendly too. With intuitive controls and a great controller to back them up, MJX Bugs 2W makes sure you’ve got everything you need.
When it comes to specifications, this birdie isn’t shy at all. Operating range has received a significant upgrade over MJX Bugs 3 model, featuring awesome 800 (max 1000m) meters of pure fun. Furthermore, MJX Bugs 2W sports a flashy 1800mAh 2S LiPo battery. Some folk suggests that adding a more powerful 3S won’t hurt, but I haven’t tried it just yet. Afraid I might crack the ESCs. Airtime goes around 18 minutes for joyriding and slightly less than that if you’re planning on recording aerial videos.
Yes, this thing comes with a camera. A pretty good one too. It has a 1080p sensor and does a solid job in terms of image smoothness. You can expect a little jello, but nothing too significant to ruin the show. Feature-wise, Bugs 2W doesn’t fail to impress. GPS, telemetry, (distance, altitude, and GPS/signal strength), return to home, altitude hold and Wi-Fi FPV are more than good for this price tag. All things considered, MJX has definitely done a great job with their Bugs 2W model. It looks cool, performs awesome and doesn’t cost a fortune. A no-brainer for sure!
9. HUBSAN X4 H501S
If, in addition to altitude hold quadcopter mode, you are looking for a little bit of extra durability in a drone, then you cannot go wrong with Hubsan’s entry-level model – the X4 H501S. This is a fully-fledged drone with brushless motors (which is what provides it with that extra durability I mentioned) and a whole set of smart features that you can use. Want to know more about this little fella? Keep on reading, then…
Even though this little drone isn’t that big, it can still be considered a fairly good aerial photography solution. That’s because it sports a spectacular full HD camera that creates great images and videos with little to no shakiness. Needless to say, it is bound to make for some amazing aerial shots. Feature-wise, this birdie incorporates GPS, altitude hold, auto return to home and even follow me feature which is rarely seen at such a low price point.
For FPV, Hubsan H501S communicates via 5.8Ghz connection with its integrated FPV display that provide excellent lag-free video for up to 300 meters. With flight duration ranging from 15 to 20 minutes (depending on various factors such as weather conditions, camera status and so on) and its competitive price tag of slightly over $200, this bad boy can also be considered among the best budget drones on the market.
8. AEE AP10
It sports an aggressive price tag and solid build quality… but the problem is not in the drone but in its manufacturers who aren’t exactly doing a good job of promoting it. However, I have this drone and am really satisfied with it… so I decided to list it at the 8th spot of this list. Here is why…
Let’s start off with the numbers so you guys know just how good this birdie is. First, let’s talk about airtime. AEE AP10 is a pretty bulky drone but has enough battery juice to squeeze out around 20 to 25 minutes of airtime. This, of course, heavily depends on your flying and whether or not you are using the camera. Yes, this birdie sports a camera. In fact, it’s a rather good one. We are talking about a solid 16MPX sensor that shoots FHD videos at butter-smooth 60 frames per second. Plus, you’ll have plenty of room for recordings since it can fly as far as 500 meters away from its transmitter.
AEE AP10 packs quite a bit of features too. In addition to altitude hold, this birdie sports GPS (obviously), failsafe protocol, auto return to home and even telemetry data that you’ll definitely grow accustomed to in no time. All things considered, with top-quality performance, decent AP capability, and aggressive price tag, I really don’t see a reason why it’s so unpopular. If the folk over at AEE went a step further in terms of marketing, I reckon AEE AP10 would be an absolute hit.
7. Parrot Bebop 2
Believe it or not, Parrot is an insanely popular brand not just in the USA but everywhere else in the world too. Their distribution channels are going crazy and are effectively increasing their sales. Still, their drones have to be of high quality if they’re selling that good, right? Well, they sure all… and they are all led by Bebop 2, Parrots current gen flagship which is well-worthy of 7th spot on this top altitude hold quadcopter list. Let’s check it out and see what exactly does it have to offer!
Starting off with imaging solution, Parrot Bebop 2 sports a 14MPX wide-angle camera with an integrated 3-axis gimbal stabilization system hidden away inside the frame. It’s a sophisticated aerial photography platform, no doubt about that… but other than that, Parrot Bebop 2 also excels at exploring. That is, once you pair it up with its dedicated Sky Controller.
You see, when paired up with this controller, Parrot Bebop 2 can go as far as 2 kilometers away. Additionally, the airtime of this beauty goes from 18 to 21 minutes which is not half bad considering its price tag and camera capability. With a great design, great build quality and affordable spare parts, it is safe to say the folks over at Parrot weren’t messing around when it came to making Bebop 2.
6. DJI Spark
Undoubtedly, DJI Spark is the best drone in terms of size/performance ration. It’s absolutely crazed when it comes to power, but packs its stuff into a soda can frame which fits into a pocket without any issues.
Needless to say, DJI Spark has pushed the travel-friendly drones up a notch (even with DJI Mavic Pro on the line) and I’m interested to see whether or not there will be an official follow-up drone… perhaps even smaller and more powerful than this little fella. But, for now, we aren’t going to crack our head on that matter. Instead, let’s talk more about this tiny little drone!
First things first, DJI Spark is a fully-fledged drone capable of recording professional-grade aerial footage due to its tiny FHD-capable camera. If you thought DJI Mavic Pro’s gimbal was small… wait until you see this 1-axis model. It’s absurd! But, it gets the job done with image stabilization and at the end of the day, that is all that matters! Specifications are awesome too. With approximately 500 meters (from claimed 2000 m)of range when operated with its dedicated controller and roughly 14 to 16 minutes of airtime, it’s clear that DJI Spark is no pushover.
In features department, DJI Spark can boast with the usual ones such as ActiveTrack aka follow me and TapFly. In addition to them, there are also plenty more autonomous flight modes as well as safety features integrated into this birdie. However, there’s a completely new addition to the features department in the form of Palm gestures. You see, DJI has added two brand new features called PalmControl and PalmLaunch, which allow users to control the Spark with their bare hands. If that’s not enough to sell you this little fella, then you must be a really special snowflake…
5. Yuneec Typhoon H
Typhoon H comes in at the golden middle of this list. It is packed with interesting (and unique) features, which are the main cause of such a huge price tag. That, plus an awesome camera and great warranty plans are what makes Yuneec Typhoon H rank good against its competitors. Want to know more info on this awesome hexacopter? Let’s go, then…
Yuneec Typhoon H has a real collision avoidance system made by Intel. It’s called RealSense and basically detects and avoids obstacles nearby through the built-in sonar sensors.
Moving forward, this huge hexacopter also has a 3-axis motorized gimbal topped off with a 4K camera. Specifications aren’t half bad either. Even though it cannot compare to DJI drones in terms of range (only 1500m), in terms of camera quality, airtime (25 minutes) and features the battle is pretty much a stalemate.
Another very important thing about this drone is that it comes with a ST16 controller which has a dedicated 7 inch Android touch screen that shows live footage of your drone’s view. Controlling schematic is not only smooth and intuitive but, best of all, highly responsive, making every flying session an enjoyable experience. Kudos to Yuneec for this one!
4. DJI Mavic Pro
DJI Mavic Pro is an amazing foldable drone, there’s no doubt in that. It managed to achieve basically the same exact performance as its big brother DJI Phantom 4, but packed in a much smaller, travel-friendly package. And that’s exactly what DJI Mavic Pro is – an amazingly powerful travel-friendly drone for the masses. So, if you are interested in something like this, make sure you read carefully the next 2 paragraphs!
Features are always a huge strength when it comes to DJI drones. With recent updates to their DJI GO app (which is not more intuitive and responsive), they’ve outdid themselves and polished it to perfection. Now, DJI Mavic Pro has seamless access to a dozen autonomous flight modes as well as safety features such as auto return to home and obstacle avoidance system, all at the reach of your fingers via the beautiful design controller.
In terms of specifications, DJI Mavic Pro performs as good as Phantom 4 in both operating range and airtime. You see, it’s much lighter than P4 so it does not need such a powerful battery to keep it in the air for the same amount of time. Of course, we are talking somewhere between 25 and 27 minutes, depending on if you’re using the camera or not. Range, as usual, goes up to 7000 meters which is the pinnacle of modern-day drone technology thanks to DJI’s OcuSync. Last but not least, DJI Mavic Pro incorporates a 4K camera with integrated 3-axis gimbal stabilization system (the smallest one I’ve ever seen), making up for brilliant aerial footage time and time again.
3. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
Even though it has a similar design to DJI’s Phantom series, it’s sports completely different hardware which is, quite frankly, on point with the Chinese giant. Want to know more things about this birdie? Well, keep on reading then!
First thing I’d like to point out is the included 4S 4900mAh LiPo battery which gives X-Star Premium roughly 25 minutes of flight time. That, in combination with powerful brushless drones and independent ESCs give Autel Robotic X-Star Premium quite a lot of power. Operating range, however, isn’t exactly on par with DJI’s flagships with only 2000 meters. It’s a good number, don’t get me wrong… a lot better than the majority of drones out there, but still not good enough to be on point with DJI’s current-gen flagships.
Autel Robotic X-Star Premium sports a hefty 4K camera mounted on its dedicated 3-axis gimbal. Needless to say, this combination provides with excellent image quality no matter the conditions you are recording in. I would also like to add that flying this thing is a breeze. Not surprising considering it sports dual navigation modules (GPS and GLONASS) and more than couple of autonomous flight modes that will let you concentrate on taking the perfect aerial shot each and every time you try.
2. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
When it comes to DJI Phantom 4 Pro, there is so much information about it available online that I find this brief explanation completely unnecessary. Still, It’s only fair to give P4 Pro the coverage that all other drones had. So, without much further adue, let’s see what’s this beauty all about.
In terms of specifications, you can rest assured DJI Phantom 4 Pro is among the best ones out there on the market. Scratch that – it is the best one on the market. With 7000 meters of operating range and roughly 27 minutes of flight time, only other similar DJI flagships have similar numbers. Especially considering the price range, that’s where all other models fall by a long shot.
Features-wise, Phantom 4 Pro sports full DJI GO app support where you are able to choose from several smart flight modes that will improve the effectiveness of this high-tech toy. Among others, the obstacle avoidance system is probably the most important factor as you will not have to stress yourself about potentially endangering your expensive investment.
Continuing forward to the camera, DJI Phantom 4 Pro features a 1-inch CMOS sensor with effective 20MPX of pure photography brilliance. As always, this brilliant camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal for ultimate image stability. Needless to say, it shoots 4K and even slow motion at lower resolutions.
1. DJI Inspire 2
Finally, we have reached the final drone on our list of best drones with altitude hold function. The ultimate altitude hold drone title goes to none other than DJI Inspire 2, a magnificent quadcopter with brilliant aerial photography capabilities. That’s partially due to a sick camera/gimbal combination with the help of precise altitude hold option that opens the door for breathtaking footage. Are you ready for the rest of its specifications and features? They’ll blow your mind, I promise!
Starting off with the specifications, this thing packs a serious amount of war power. If you want more precise measurements, you’ll get roughly 25-27 minutes of flight time (perhaps a bit less if you record for the entire flight duration) and reach up to 5000 meters in urban areas. However, if you’re flying it in a completely unobstructed area, chances are that number will go even higher to roughly 7000 meters.
In terms of photography solution, DJI Inspire 2 comes with several different option, but the best one is clearly Zenmuse X5S. Not only does this camera have zoom feature (check out other zoom drones here), but it can also shoot in Raw format in aesthetically pleasing 4K.
Moving onto the features, DJI Inspire 2 still isn’t shying away from being completely brilliant. First off you have the intelligent sense and avoid system which does wonderful in terms of obstacle avoidance. Furthermore, Inspire 2 also has several smart flight modes and actually supports 2 controllers at the same time. One used for flying and second used for gimbal/camera controls. So yeah, with that said, I don’t think I should add anything else. I’m sure you all realize what an aerial photography beast this is!
What can you achieve with this feature?
As I’ve already mentioned above, altitude hold brings a huge dose of extra functionality to drones. It creates a worry-free experience for pilots, allowing them to concentrate more on the task at hand, without the need of manually adjusting drone’s altitude every few seconds. Basically, it’s what makes them so useful for various commercial purposes such a real estate aerial photography. With that said, here are a few examples of what precise altitude hold feature allows drones to do:
This goes without arguing – altitude hold is the essential thing every good aerial photography drone needs to have. Without altitude hold quadcopter, any sort of professional aerial photography would be extremely difficult to achieve. This in combination with a hardware stabilization system ensures optimal image stability.
Protest monitoring is much more sophisticated than most people think. It requires drones to be equipped with professional camera equipment and GPS powered altitude hold so it’s easier to navigate in narrow, urban areas.
Mapping requires precision, stability and preset waypoints, and it’s safe to say it would greatly suffer without altitude hold. Not only does it provide the comfort of being at a constant altitude, but it also helps with precision which is of crucial importance for a good mapping process.
And there you have it guys! What’s your favorite high altitude drone?. If you still can’t make up your mind, then I rest my case. Jokes aside, I really do hope I managed to help you make your decision. Buying your first drone is a tough job because you can easily make a mistake if you’re not well informed. With this being said, keep in mind that these drones are just my humble opinion. But go ahead, check them out on Amazon and you’ll see that they have a whole heap of satisfied customers backing me up.
Finally, I’d like to thank you guys for reading this article and sincerely hope that it shed some light on the topic.
Until next time,
Altitude hold drones review
- Aerial photography friendly
- Flight time
- Flight range