Hello and welcome to our comprehensive guide for buying drones in 2020! 2019 was a good year for the drone industry, but our focus is on the future, and that’s exactly what we’ll be tacking today.
Yes, I know the shopping season is behind us. I am aware January and February are the central points of the shopping drought. Still, if you’re on the lookout for a new drone for whatever reason, the three lists down below ought to help you out.
Explore the first one if you’re buying a drone for kids, something like a birthday present or similar. The second list is for enthusiasts who want a proper drone with a decent camera to capture their outdoor adventures. And lastly, the crème de la crème of what the drone market offers at the moment. The third list consists of three powerful drones that are not just superb for casual use but also excel at more demanding, commercial tasks.
BEST DRONES IN 2020: TABLE OF CONTENT
Looking for affordable, entry-level drones for kids that can teach them the basics of controlling 3D objects in midair? Well, look no further – the following drones are the best of the bunch for sure!
TABLE: BEST DRONES in 2020 FOR KIDS
|Image||Name||Range||Flight Time||Best Offer|
|3. HStone HS170||50m||5min||See best offer|
|2. DBPower X400W||80m||6min||See best offer|
|1. Snaptain S5C||80m||7min||See best offer|
3. Holy Stone HS170
Let’s start off with the legendary Holy Stone HS170 AKA the Predator. This is a dirt-cheap drone right here, going for under $30, but it’s among the most popular and frequently purchased drones on Amazon. In fact, it features more than 5,500 reviews, most of which are positive, good enough for an overall 4-star rating. What’s so special about it? Let’s see…
Camera and Features
Nope – you are not getting a camera with this one. After all, it’s under $30 and you can’t really expect much at that price. What you can expect, and what you will get with Holy Stone’s Predator is a tiny speedster with prop guards and a durable frame. Your kids can crash this thing all day long yet it will still stay true to its form.
The provided motors are brushed, but they offer quite a bit of power and resilience. If, however, you want your kids to have a lengthier fun time with their new Predator drone, I warmly suggest grabbing a few extra brushed motors. In fact, while you’re at it, throw in an extra battery too. All this will drive the total price up a bit, but it still won’t exceed the $50 mark.
Why should you get an extra battery for this little bugger? Well, it’s simple – Holy Stone HS170 can fly for around 5 to 6 minutes per battery, which takes roughly an hour to charge. The range is just enough for your backyard, squaring off at around 50ish meters. Holy Stone HS170 Predator is one of the “oldest” models on this list, but it’s still one of the best drones to buy in 2020!
2. DBPOWER X400W
Next up, we have DBPOWER X400W. This little bugger often goes under the radar but is actually among the best beginner-friendly drones out there! It sports a camera, propeller guards, and a nice looking controller with a smartphone bracket. That’s right, DBPOWER X400W has FPV! Let’s learn more about it…
Camera and Features
Yep – for slightly over $50 you’re getting a camera drone. It’s not the greatest camera, mind you, a petty SD sensor that’s all shaky and not so easy on the eyes. Still, it does well in terms of FPV, and your kids won’t mind because the immersion will suck them right in!
DBPOWER X400W doesn’t come with a whole lot of features, just the basic ones. Headless mode and one key 3D rolls, to be more precise. They’re okay and will make your kids look all cool with their fancy new toy flipping through the air like crazy.
Around 80 meters is what you can expect from DBPOWER X400W in terms of operating range. It’s not bad, especially knowing this thing has FPV which ups the fun factor by a mile. As for the battery life, X400W can do anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes, depending on your flying habits. Keep in mind, though. If you use prop guards, you can expect your flight duration to be even shorter than that.
1. Snaptain S5C
Arguably, Snaptain S5C is the best drone for kids you can buy these days. It has it all – a sturdy frame, capable motors, solid camera, and an all-around fun feature set that’s bound to sweep your kids off their tiny little feet. It’s cheap too, which just makes it an even better deal. You can get Snaptain S5C for as little as $80!
Camera and Features
Wait, this drone also has a tiny camera, right? Yep, you’re right. And, this time around, we are talking about a fully-fledged HD sensor. 720p is the resolution of this little bugger, but since there’s no stabilization whatsoever, don’t expect smooth aerial footage. There are quite a few features, though, some of which will be of interest to younger audiences. For instance, one key takeoff/landing, voice control, headless mode, and the aforementioned 3D flips.
The specifications of Snaptain S5C are pretty good for a drone of its caliber. You’ll be getting 50 to 80 meters of range, which is fair considering the fact this is a backyard cruiser. Moreover, this little bugger runs on tiny 3.7v LiPos, with approximately 6 to 7 minutes of flight per battery. Let’s finish on a brighter note – Snaptain S5C comes with an extra battery which means 12 to 15ish minutes of flight time right out of the box.
What separates drones for kids from drones for enthusiasts? Well, for starters – the price tag. If we’re going further than that, then we have to mention stuff like superior performance, GPS, precision flying, and outstanding cameras. Most importantly, these drones have Follow Me feature which is all the craze in enthusiasts’ circles these days. Well, that… and foldability.
TABLE: BEST DRONES in 2020 FOR ENTHUSIASTS
|Image||Name||Camera||Range||Flight Time||Best Offer|
|3. HStone HS720||FullHD||0.8km||23min||See best offer|
|2. Hubsan Zino||4K||4km||20min||See best offer|
|1. DJI Mavic Mini||2.7K||4km||30min||See best offer|
3. Holy Stone HS720
If you consider yourself an enthusiast but you’re on a tight budget that’s preventing you from going with Hubsan Zino and DJI Mavic Mini, the next best (cheaper) option is Holy Stone HS720. It does have some downsides, some of which will be deal-breakers for many, but it’s still a decent all-around model that offers great value for money.
Camera and Features
The biggest downside of Holy Stone HS720 is its camera. Well, not so much the camera but the lack of stabilization on it. The camera is solid, capturing footage in full HD resolution. Plus, it possesses FPV that’s lag-free and goes on for quite a bit. Unfortunately, even though the camera quality is decent, the same can’t be said about the footage. There are enough details, but everything is a blurry, shaky mess.
Features-wise, Holy Stone HS720 sports a bunch of handy dandies that ought to improve the overall customer satisfaction. For starters, it sports brushless motors, two-night lights, and a downward sensor for improved altitude hold precision. Additionally, HS720 sports GPS too, as well as the ever so popular return to home that’ll get you out of sticky situations in no time.
Holy Stone HS720 has an exceptional set of hardware that’s well above its price point. The transmission system is awesome, delivering close to 800 meters of operating range and slightly shorter FPV. The battery duration won’t disappoint you either, hovering from 20 to 25 minutes, depending on just how much you push it. All in all, if you can live with the God-awful camera, then Holy Stone HS720 is a no-brainer!
2. Hubsan Zino
Let’s face it – Hubsan Zino has been an absolute hit ever since it hit the market. It sports an aggressive price tag, gorgeous design, and delivers brilliant performance all across the board. Combine that with great aerial photography solutions and you’ll understand why it turned out to be such a highly popular drone out there.
Camera and Features
If you’re looking for an enthusiast-grade drone and you don’t like DJI, then the only other choice in the sub-$500 price point is Hubsan Zino. This thing features a hardware-stabilized 4K camera, a plethora of smart flight options and camera modes, as well as the necessities such as GPS, altitude hold, and return to home. Follow me is present too, something which a lot of you adventurers out there will come to appreciate. While it can’t exactly do demanding commercial tasks, it sure as heck can shoot great aerial selfies and immersive cinematic footage in optimal conditions.
In terms of the specs sheet, Hubsan Zino won’t let you down one bit. It’s not exactly a high-end model, but it still does itself justice with a power-efficient flight controller and potent brushless motors. Hubsan Zino can fly for around 20ish minutes, 22 if you don’t push it too hard. Range-wise, you’ll be going up to 4 kilometers, which is outright phenomenal considering the price tag.
1. DJI Mavic Mini
DJI Mavic Mini is the prime example of what a proper enthusiast-grade drone needs to look like in 2020. It came out in late 2019 and took the market by storm immediately after its release. And it’s nothing surprising, we’re talking about a behemoth of a drone here!
Camera and Features
Best of all, DJI Mavic Mini doesn’t belong to the high-end of the spectrum, price-wise, but sports a wicked 2.7K camera featuring 3-axis gimbal stabilization. It doesn’t get much smoother than this little bugger, trust me. Sure, it’s not 4K, but the difference in resolution is basically non-existent, especially considering the fact most people own full HD TV’s.
As far as features go, DJI Mavic Mini doesn’t have the flight autonomy and proper obstacle avoidance as some of its bigger brothers, f.e. Mavic Air and Mavic 2 Pro. Still, what it does have is a plethora of shooting modes, GPS, precise altitude hold, and a bunch of safety features including return to home.
As mentioned earlier, DJI Mavic Mini is a lot cheaper than the likes of Mavic Air and the big brother Mavic 2 Pro. That said, we can’t really expect top-tier performance from this little bugger. We have to adjust our expectations to the price this fella goes for. Once we do that, the 4 kilometers of operating range won’t seem that bad. To finish on a high note, DJI Mavic Mini is a well-optimized bugger that can fly as long as half an hour. In terms of battery duration, I guess it’s safe to say it’s on par with its two big brethren.
We’ve reached the end of the line. There’s just one more drone category we need to address here, and that would be drones for professional use. As you’d come to expect, these are expensive, high-end drones featuring state-of-the-art-cameras, viable for all sorts of commercial work. If you own a business that can benefit from aerial photography or you need drones for more specific tasks or perhaps surveillance, one of these three musketeers ought to be the perfect fit!
TABLE: BEST DRONES in 2020 FOR PROFESSIONALS
|Image||Name||Camera||Range||Flight Time||Best Offer|
|3. Parrot Anafi||4K||4km||25min||See best offer|
|2. Autel EVO||4K||7km||30min||See best offer|
|1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro||4K||8km||30min||See best offer|
3. Parrot Anafi
Parrot Anafi is the first professional-grade drone we decided to list here. Sure, both Hubsan Zino and DJI Mavic Mini can be used for commercial purposes, but if you’re being serious and dedicated to your work, you’ll like the extras Parrot Anafi has in store for you.
Camera and Features
What makes Parrot Anafi a viable model for all sorts of commercial tasks? Well, the secret lies in its camera design. More precisely, the frame design that allows the camera to rotate vertically by 180 degrees. This means Anafi can shoot straight down and straight up, something which no other mainstream drone is able to do. And the camera itself is no joke either, packing a hefty 4K sensor with HDR capabilities.
As for the features, Parrot went out of their way to ensure customer satisfaction. In other words, their Anafi model packs quite the punch in the features department. A bunch of special photo modes, follow me, advanced autonomous flight planning and more.
Specs-wise, Parrot Anafi isn’t as perfect as Autel Robotics EVO or DJI Mavic 2 Pro. On the bright side, it doesn’t cost as much either. Still, don’t go around thinking Parrot Anafi’s performance is subpar. It’s still good, featuring 25 minutes of battery life and 4 km range, but it’s not on par with the aforementioned premium models.
2. Autel Robotics EVO
Autel Robotics EVO is a fairly good drone. It’s pricey, there’s no doubt about that, going for around $1000. However, not only is it suitable for enthusiastic consumers but prosumers too. This orange chunk of flying tech is as stable as they come, featuring all sorts of smart features that get the job done without breaking a sweat.
Camera and Features
In addition to that, Autel Robotics EVO is foldable too. This adds an extra plus to its overall grade, which would be near-perfect even without it. Features-wise, you’re looking at one of the most well-versed drones out there. GPS, altitude hold, and all the usual stuff are here, duh.
On top of them, there’s also a wide array of photography options to choose from. Whether you’re in it for aerial photography or some other form of industrial use, Autel Robotics EVO will suffice. It’s partially so thanks to the onboard 4K camera. It’s fully stabilized and features a hefty sensor that snaps picture perfect stills and breathtaking cinematics.
As for the specs, Autel Robotics’ EVO delivers the kind of performance we’ve come to expect at this price point. We’re talking roughly 30 minutes of flight time and 7 kilometers of both FPV and operating range. Combine both those numbers with a foldable and gorgeous looking frame, and you’ll realize Autel Robotics EVO is one of the best drones in 2020!
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Here’s the last of the bunch, DJI Mavic 2 Pro. If you’re in it for the big boys that can do all sorts of professional work, then DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the one you should go for. If price is not an issue, that is, because this bugger costs and arm and a leg. On the bright side, it is the most complete mainstream drone out there that’s viable across numerous industries.
Camera and Features
Whether you’re in it for 3D mapping, flight autonomy, surveillance, or whatever, chances are DJI Mavic 2 Pro’s arsenal has something you’ll need. This drone features a vast amount of pro-oriented features, flies precisely, and has excellent hardware that works like a Swiss watch.
The camera is no joke either. 4K HDR at 60FPS all thanks to joint collaboration between DJI and Hasselblad. 3-axis hardware stabilization is here too, but so is software stabilization that adds an extra layer of smoothness for that perfect cinematic experience.
The specs of this little bugger leave nothing to crave for. DJI Mavic 2 Pro has everything you might need from a professional’s perspective. Long flight time, check. The Mavic 2 Pro can fly around for roughly 30 minutes. Of course, that, on its own, won’t be enough for some commercial scenarios, so you’ll have to stack up on batteries. As far as the range is concerned, DJI Mavic 2 Pro extends up to 8 kilometers.
What Types of Drones in 2020 Can We Expect?
To be honest, anything but the continuation of foldable drones’ domination would be a huge surprise in my books. Foldable drones are the bread and butter of the drone market and have been at the top of the food chain ever since the first DJI Mavic Pro clones started popping up.
The second boom came after DJI Mavic Air was released, shaping the mid-tier with impressive performance, and pushing other brands to lower their prices or try to compete with DJI specs-wise.
I believe more brands will enter the foldable mid-tier, around the $400 to $500 mark. At the moment, that portion of the market belongs to the likes of Hubsan Zino and DJI Mavic Mini, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Autel Robotics and Parrot get in the race for their share of the under $500 cake.
Most Important Features on Drones in 2020?
2017, 2018, and 2019 have been all about selfie drones. First, it was the DJI Mavic Pro phase, where contractors and businesses massively invested in fleets of autonomous foldable drones. Then, the enthusiasts market took control over the spectrum with several more affordable models started flooding in. In 2019, driven by fast technological improvements, foldable drones are getting smaller, better, and packing professional-grade cameras at aggressive price points.
As far as drones of 2020 and their features go, I’d say the high-end, commercial tier will continue with autonomy improvements, while enthusiasts’ section will keep getting hand-me-downs and continue with price reductions. It’s the normal market development, signaling a healthy ecosystem of the entire drone market.
What Will DJI Come Up With in 2020?
Now, now, isn’t this the million-dollar question? What will DJI come up with in 2020? In 2019, the China-based drone manufacturer has been busy with a ton of things. The belated DJI Mavic Mini took the market by storm last November, delivering an exceptional set of features packed with a might camera. It’s better than Spark across all departments, and goes for $399.
How can DJI beat that in 2020? Well, what if they don’t? Need I remind you DJI has plenty of other (read commercial) projects at hand. We’re talking both software and hardware endeavors that’ll boost the commercial use of drones in the foreseeable future. Stuff like Manifold, Terra, and more. These sorts of things aren’t targeted at prosumers/consumers, but businesses, so it might seem (from an average Joe’s standpoint) that DJI have been slacking for the last year or so, handing out just one single device.
In reality, it’s far from that. DJI’s business is more than just consumer/prosumer devices, and I for one wouldn’t be surprised if we see 2020 go by without a new mainstream DJI drone…
2019’s Drone Market Recap
2019 is all wrapped up! It paved the way for several excellent drones and further lowered the overall prices of models all across the price range. GPS became the industry standard, switching the focus from high-end models and making its way into the mid-range and even budget-friendly price tiers. The technology developments are still expanding at a rapid pace, and we can expect another price drop in 2020, for sure!
Additionally, the major drone market trends are continuing their impressive growth. Drone market size in 2018 amounted to $14.1 billion, with projections suggesting over $43 billion by 2024. Reports also point out India as the fastest-growing drone market since the country legalized the use of drones in late 2018. The growth pattern is bound to keep growing, pushing India above the USA in the charts.
Unfortunately, the innovation factor was missing last year. The biggest drone manufacturers stuck with stuff that works, and weren’t too keen on drastically mixing things up. Yes, there were a few examples of innovative tech going on, but nothing worth mentioning, really.
[FAQ Section] Best Drones to Buy in Early 2020
What Differentiates the Best 2020 Drones to Buy?
If we’re talking about the best drones for kids in 2020, the most important thing to keep a note of is the price tag. You aren’t getting much of these drones features-wise, but then again, your kids won’t mind. If you’re buying for an enthusiastic teenager, then I’m afraid you’ll have to skip to the next level.
Buying drones for kids and giving them to teens is a no-no. What teens need are sophisticated selfie machines. That’s all the craze these days. Heh, and people thought millennials are crazy…
Anyway, if you’re out there picking a drone for a teen, do yourself a favor and get one with a good camera. They are quite pricey, though. You’ll have to spend upwards of $300 for a proper selfie drone. Close to $500 if you want a foldable, hardware-stabilized machine that can not only shoot selfies but all sorts of cinematic footage as well.
How Much Should I Spend for a Drone in 2020?
At the moment, the sweet spot for most people is around the $500 mark. The best drones in 2020, if we’re talking about price/performance ratio, fit below that price tag, which means you shouldn’t pay more than that. Especially if you’re looking for your first-timer. Buying drones in 2020 can be frustrating, but hopefully, this FAQ section alongside the valuable info we shared earlier, will help you out, at least a bit.
What to Expect from an Under $500 Drone in 2020?
In 2018 and a part of 2019, you couldn’t really get much for $500. Yes, there were models like older Phantom models available for roughly the same money, but they’re old, bulky, and possess software that’s kind of outdated by today’s standards.
With the arrival of DJI Mavic Mini and Hubsan Zino, the under $500 market opened up. These two made quite a few breakthroughs, pumping more juice in the mid-range market. In 2020, I expect more brands to join the under $500 bandwagon. Hopefully, more competition will yield to more aggressive price tags.
If that really does happen, we can expect hardware-stabilized 4K cameras, miniature foldable designs, 4km+ transmission distance and close to half an hour flight duration for well below $500. Yep, it seems to me 2020 is going to be the year of drone enthusiasts!