Let’s face it guys, Christmas is just around the corner and that means most of you must be looking for great presents. Whether you are buying them for your little ones or your significant others, chances are good that drones for Christmas will be pretty high on your lists.
With that being said, I’m sorry to inform you that the best deals are already behind us with Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming to a close. However, with the Holiday season approaching, I’m sure many online webshops will have awesome drones for Christmas at very affordable price tags.
So, if you are on a hunt for great gift drones, I’m happy to inform you that I’ve come up with a list of the best ones currently available on the market. They’re divided into 3 categories so I’m sure everyone will have something to please their desires.
Drones for kids, hobbyists, and professionals – there’s something for everyone’s cup of tea! So, I don’t see any reason why I should beat around the bushes any longer… let’s head on straight to the lists!
Drones for casual users
1. MJX Bugs 2W
At the top spot, I have placed a drone that might surprise some of you. I am talking about MJX Bugs 2W, a drone that costs significantly less than Parrot Bebop 2 and DJI Spark. But how can it be placed at the top spot above them? Well, if you ask me (and most of my colleagues), MJX has done an amazing work with their Bugs 2W model. It has, by far, the best price/performance ratio in the hobbyist drone niche so I had no other choice but to have it placed as the best one currently available…
Camera and features
Believe it or not, Bugs 2W comes with an integrated mini-camera capable of recording in 1080p resolution. But that’s not even the best part of this section. Nope! You see, Bugs 2W’s camera also sports WiFi FPV. 5G WiFi FPV to be more precise. It works all the way to 500 meters and isn’t nearly as laggy as traditional 2.4Ghz WiFi connection. Furthermore, we are talking about a smart drone here that features altitude hold, GPS/GLONASS connection and even smart return to home protocols. Headless mode is here too, but it’s not nearly as thrilling as those previously mentioned features.
MJX Bugs 2W specifications are bound to leave you breathless. For such a low price tag, you are getting a drone with extremely long range and excellent battery duration. More precisely, this little bugger can reach from 800 to 1000 meters away from its transmitter and fly for around 18 minutes. Don’t forget – you get 2 batteries with this little bugger if you follow the link above… that means around 35 minutes of flight time straight out of the box. Combine those 2 numbers with that outstanding feature set mentioned above and you will come to terms with the fact that MJX Bugs 2W is placed above Parrot Bebop 2 and DJI Spark. Value for money guys… that’s what it’s all about and that’s why I think this is one of the best drones for Christmas !
2. Parrot Bebop 2
At the second spot, we have Parrot Bebop 2, a brilliant mid-tier drone that is well suitable for recreational users. However, you should know that there are several version available out there. It can get quite confusing so pay close attention to what you’re buying. If you want my advice, go for the Parrot Bebop 2 Adventurer package which gets you a bunch of accessories inside the package.
Camera and features
Manly, I am referring to Cockpitglasses, specialized backpack and SkyController 2. The latter is of utmost importance and I will tell you why in the next paragraph. For now, Bebop 2’s camera needs to be mentioned. It sports 3-axis EIS (electronic image stabilization) and can record buttery smooth aerial videos in 1080p resolution. I doubt hobbyists need more from their go-to drone. As far as features are concerned, Parrot Bebop 2 offers FPV (and VR FPV) as well as the standard smart features such as altitude hold and GPS reception. Keep in mind though, if you want fully autonomous functionalities (f.e. Follow Me mode), you will have to make an in-app purchase…
Last but not least, let’s see what does Parrot Bebop 2 has to offer in terms of specifications. If you have SkyController, in terms of range you can expect a significant boost. More precisely, you will be getting it up to 2 kilometers. Battery duration is roughly the same across the board with 20 to 23 minutes of flight time. All in all, Parrot Bebop 2 is a solid contender for the best recreational drone out there… but it falls short to the next one which beats it solely thanks to its highly affordable price tag.
3. DJI Spark
If you’re a casual drone user but you want something sophisticated to fill the role of your go-to drone… then look no further than DJI Spark. I’m sure you have already heard about DJI – the drone giant that has swept the high-end market by storm. Each and every single one of their models are having amazing sales and are leading the entire industry with their groundbreaking performance.
Camera and features
Nothing different can be said about their newest drone called the Spark. We are talking about DJI’s smallest drone ever; it’s as small as a soda can. And I’m not even kidding. Despite that, it boasts an excellent FHD camera that has its own miniature 2-axis gimbal. So, as far as image quality and stabilization are concerned, DJI Spark is as good as it gets. Features are not much different. With the likes of altitude hold, GPS connection, and gesture controls, DJI Spark is bound to leave a great impression on you. But, that sort of thing is completely unsurprising considering its big brothers are the industry leaders as far as various cool features are concerned.
If you want a long range mini-drone with decent battery duration, then DJI Spark is made for you! However, keep in mind that you will have to get the DJI Spark Fly More Combo which costs slightly more than the standard package. Still, you will be getting not just the drone itself but a dedicated controller too. With this controller, DJI Spark can go anywhere from 500 to 2000 meters away from you, breaking the boundaries of what small selfie drones are capable of. Battery duration is no joke either as you can expect more than 15 minutes of flight time per charge. Wicked, don’t you think?!
Drones for kids
3. Holy Stone F181W
If you are looking for a drone that will serve the purpose of a great Christmas gift for a kid, then you cannot go wrong with this one. It goes by the name F181W (yup, pretty generic, I know) and it’s made by Holy Stone. We are talking about a well-known drone brand that mostly deals with low and mid-end drones. However, they are still enjoying a fair share of respect among other brands due to the high quality of their models. Can the same be said about this one? Well, let’s see…
Camera and features
The first thing you should know about HOly stone F181W is that it’s not just one of those cameraless toy grade drones that sell for dirt cheap. Nope! It’s actually a good contender for the best entry-level drone out there. It’s all thanks to its features which include altitude hold, one key flips, and even headless mode. Additionally, you will also find a speed switch on the controller which will do a world of good to beginner pilots. The camera module is pretty good too, being capable of recording in 720p resolution at 30 fps. All in all, as far as camera and features are concerned, I am sure you can all agree with me that Holy Stone F181W is a neat little bugger.
When it comes to specifications, Holy Stone F181W does not fail to impress… Even though its features and camera are its main traits, specifications don’t really fall behind too much. You can expect solid 80 meters of operating range which is not half bad considering its dirt cheap price. Moreover, its 1s 750mAh battery is capable of providing it with roughly 10 minutes of juice… just enough to reach the standard numbers for this price point. Last but not least, Holy Stone F181W also has access to WiFi FPV which can go up to 30 meters.
2. Altair AA108
Mini drones are a big craze in 2017 and it is not surprising at all to see children of all ages going absolutely crazy about them. So, if you want a great (but still somewhat cheap) miniature drone for your kids’ Christmas gift, then Altair AA108 is a pretty good option. We are talking about a relatively new drone that has gained a big followers base ever since it came out. But why is that so? Well, let’s take a closer look and see for ourselves…
Camera and features
Moving onto camera and features, the first thing I would like to mention is the fact that this miniature little bugger sports FPV. Additionally, you will also be nicely surprised by the sheer elegance of the provided controller. As for the camera, you are looking at a mere 720p sensor which can record solid aerial footage and great selfies. There is no sort of stabilization onboard but you can still achieve somewhat of decent quality images. Other features include 3 adjustable flying speeds, altitude hold, and even custom route planning. An extra battery is present too, pumping up the battery duration significantly.
As for the specifications, Altair AA108 is sitting comfortably with roughly the standard numbers that you’d come to expect from entry-level miniature drones. With that said, it’s good for an all-around performance but does not excel at any particular use. If you ask me, it’s best used as a recreational children’s toy for flying easily through the yard. In terms of actual numbers, Altair AA108’s battery can endure for approximately 10 minutes. On the other hand, its operating range goes all the way to 100 meters which is quite nice for such a small drone. And finally, the FPV range of Altair AA108 only extends to 30ish meters. After that, you are going to be on your own.
1. UDI U818Plus
We have reached the best drone for kids that makes up for one hell of a drone for Christmas gift. Of course, I am referring to UDI U818Plus, a marvelous little bugger that greatly exceeds its price point with spectacular all-around performance. Want to know more about this kid-friendly drone here? Well, let’s take a sneak peek at it and see what exactly can it provide us with!
Camera and features
I should probably start off by saying that UDI U818Plus sports a damn fine HD camera. The key is the dampening system as it takes jello free aerial footage each and every time. Plus, we are talking about a highly stable drone too so that must be a factor as well. Features-wise, UDI U818Plus will definitely impress you with its altitude hold. It hovers nicely without too much drift… and you have to admit – that is pretty praiseworthy for a drone of this caliber.
Now we are approaching the section in which UDI U818Plus shines the most. You see, even though it has a great (and immensely stable) camera as well as altitude hold… the best thing about this little bugger are it specifications. UDI U818Plus can fly away from its controller at huge distances. If we are to be more precise here, we are talking about 150 meters of operating range. Furthermore, it sports a pretty decent battery too. It helps it stay in the air for cca 10 to 15 minutes (let’s say 12 on average), placing it among the best ranking drones for Christmas at this price point as far as specifications are concerned.
Drones for professionals
3. Yuneec Typhoon H
Professional grade drones don’t just require great cameras but great feature sets as well as reliability functions that keep its users from worrying about its reliability. Consider that your very own definition of what a true professional grade drone needs to be. And believe it or not, Yuneec Typhoon H has it all… We are talking about a real competitor to DJI’s flagships that can take up a wide variety of industrial purposes. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at it and see what does it bring to the table.
Camera and features
Starting off with camera and features, Yuneec Typhoon H rocks pretty well. It comes equipped with a 3-axis gimbal bearing a camera that records in 4K at 30fps. Furthermore, the features of this bad boy are not to be taken for granted. In addition to the standard ones (for example, altitude hold, GPS, return to home and all that good stuff) Yuneec Typhoon H also has obstacle avoidance. There are 2 versions that come into play here – the better one sporting Intel RealSense Technology which actually performs better than what DJI has to offer.
Moving forward to the specifications, Yuneec Typhoon H is actually standing great. Don’t get me wrong – it cannot go against DJI’s OcuSync transmission technology, but can still go pretty near in terms of battery duration. You are looking at up to 25 minutes of flight time per charge which is somewhere around the same timespan as DJI’s flagship models. Operating range, on the other hand, isn’t exactly its strongest point with only 1.5 kilometers. Still, it doesn’t make it any lesser model. In fact, if we eliminated DJI’s drones from the equation, there are actually on a few more models that can go head to head with Yuneec Typhoon H.
2. DJI Mavic Pro
If you are looking for a professional grade drone that can do all sorts of aerial work but you simply cannot settle for one of those bulky monsters, then DJI Mavic Pro is exactly what you are looking for. This miniature drone is basically a smaller version of DJI Phantom 4 Pro (you can read more about this one down below at the top spot) with just a couple of downsides here and there. But, the biggest upside is definitely that incredibly small form factor that makes DJI Mavic Pro greatly stand out in front of its competitors.
Camera and features
We are talking about a miniature foldable drone that occupies just a fraction of the space required for the likes of Typhoon H and DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Despite that, it has an immense amount of power thanks to its integrated 3-axis gimbal and fully fledged 4K camera. With that being said, as far as video/photo quality is concerned, DJI Mavic Pro can go toe to toe with the best of them. Features were not too far from that either. DJI Mavic Pro incorporates full support for DJI Go app which grants it a whole bunch of smart flying modes and various other cool features. Additionally, DJI Mavic Pro has gesture controls and obstacle avoidance as well, making it a top-flight model no matter the type of usage you’re aiming at.
Technical aspects and corresponding numbers are always of utmost importance for such a promising model. Luckily, DJI Mavic Pro does not fail to deliver. This foldable drone can basically achieve the same exact performance as its big brother DJI Phantom 4 Pro. With that said, you can expect around 27 minutes of flight time and up to 7 kilometers of range. The latter is all thanks to the implementation of OcuSync transmission technology which has provided DJI with a massive boost in popularity.
1. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
At the top spot, we have the best mainstream drone for Christmas money can buy. Of course, I am referring to none other than DJI Phantom 4 Pro, a real masterpiece in the drone industry. This bulky drone delivers groundbreaking performance at all departments, ensuring its spot as the world’s best drone at the moment. However, this will probably change pretty soon as there are rumors of DJI releasing a new drone sometime next year. Until then though, their Phantom 4 Pro model is the best value for money in the high-end market for sure!
Camera and features
It’s all thanks to its marvelous performance further driven by a state of the art camera and brilliant set of features. The imaging solution is nothing short of brilliant, standing proudly with a 20MPX 1-inch sensor that shoots 4K at smooth 60 frames per second. A mechanical shutter is here too, as well as a top-notch 3-axis gimbal that will do you a world of good in terms of image stabilization. Features-wise, DJI Phantom 4 Pro boasts with 5-directional obstacle avoidance as well as GPS, altitude hold, a plethora of autonomous flight modes as well as a ton of failsafe protocols for ultimate in-air safety.
Needless to say, the specifications of this little bugger are not much different than the rest of its display. You are looking at a highly powerful drone that’s capable of delivering high speeds and thrilling in-air stability. When it comes to actual numbers, DJI Phantom 4 Pro can withstand around 25 to 27 minutes in the air and go all the way to 7 kilometers away from its controller. Just think about that for a second and let it settle in… after that, I’m sure you will quickly realize that DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the professional-grade drone of your dreams!
Why are drones for Christmas perfect gifts ?
I am positive that the majority of people reading this know how this story goes… Drones are insanely popular. Their popularity is growing in an exponential fashion and it seems as though nothing can stop it. Picture it this way – what Playstation and XBox consoles were a couple of years ago, drones are now! And that’s pretty much what makes them the perfect Christmas gift – popular demand!
With the rapid technological advancements over the course of last few years, drones have become more mainstream than ever. They are now affordable and come in all price ranges making them turn from luxury gadgets to the first choice presents for every occasion. And they have every right to that since they are well capable of providing its users with a whole heap of fun… again and again…
How many drones were sold for Christmas 2016?
Drones have been rapidly growing in popularity over the course of several years now. It did not come overnight. Just take these next numbers and align them correctly to get a better picture of just what potentials drones have for the future:
Drone sales in the USA for Christmas 2015 were estimated to be close to 1 million products (cca 750,000). Quite frankly, the FAA stated their concern over such a huge number of unmanned aerial vehicles flooding the country. But that’s just 2015…
Drone sales in the USA for Christmas 2016 were estimated to be well over 1 million (cca 1,200,000) which is a significant increase from last year. In 2017, I estimate that number to be closer to 1,500,000 than last year’s results.
Are drones considered as safe Christmas gifts?
If you have a particularly young child you wish to give a drone to… chances are high you might be wondering if they’re 100% safe. Well, truthfully, there is not a single toy in the world that can be both extremely fun and extremely safe… And don’t think of it in a bad way – drones, for example, can range from miniature, fully enclosed ones (that can’t do any damage to people or property) all the way to beefy racing beasts that can chop through soft materials like it’s nothing.
What age groups are drones suitable for?
This is also a rather common question which basically extends the already opened topic above. If you ask me, drones are suitable for all age groups… it just depends on what type of drone you are looking to buy. Basically, you can choose between safer drone with lots of failsafe features and fast, agile ones that are meant for more experienced users.
Of course, if you are aiming for a younger child, it is only logical that you’re going to get the former. So, what I am trying to say here is that you can find different drones suitable for different age groups. All you have to do is look thoroughly and you’ll find your match for sure! Finally, if you are aiming to get a drone to a child, once again, you cannot go wrong with any of the 3 models I featured in the “for kids” section above.