If you are planning on buying a drone and you want high altitude drone, then you have come to the right place. Many people overlook this specification or confuse it with the maximum control range. Trust me, they are not the same. Heck, they are not even similar to one another… Well, perhaps they are, a bit…
Anyway, in the list down below, you’ll find how high can drones fly plus some of the highest-flying drones currently available on the market. Also, you’ll get an answer to the frequently asked question: How high can a drone fly? We won’t spoil the fun right away so let’s start off with the list of the best high-altitude drones:
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High Altitude Drones for Enthusiasts
Let’s start off by checking out the five best enthusiast-grade drones that can reach high altitudes without breaking a sweat:
Table: Highest flying drones
|5. MJX Bugs 3
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|4. UpAir Two
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|3. MJX Bugs 5W
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|2. DJI Mavic Mini
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|1. Hubsan Zino
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5. MJX Bugs 3
Bugs 3 by MJX is one of those drones that is not getting nearly enough attention as it deserves. With a solid build quality, cool design and exceptionally affordable price tag to its name, I see no reasons why you should turn your head away from it.
Solid Overall Performance
When it comes to the main specifications, MJX Bugs 3 seems like a great choice for beginners. It has a solid battery with 15 minutes of flight time which is more than the average number in this price range.
Likewise, it also features electronic speed control with a built-in automatic high-temperature lock protection that ensures you don’t damage your brand-new drone due to high temperatures.
When it comes to maximum altitude, you will be happy to know that MJX Bugs 3 can go as high as 300 meters (how high can a drone fly). Additionally, it is important to state that it runs on MT1806 1800KV brushless motors which provides it with great power efficiency and durability.
Unfortunately, it does not come with a camera but supports plenty of popular action cameras out there, including the ever-so-popular GoPros as well as Xiaomi Motions. The camera mount provides decent stabilization and ensures all of your aerial footage is as smooth as possible.
And finally, MJX Bugs 3 provides with approximately 300 meters of operating range. That number is pretty solid and exceeded my expectations by a lot. Everything taken into consideration, MJX Bugs 3 is a great entry-level drone. If equipped with a solid camera, it can serve as quite the aerial photography platform.
4. Upair Two
Next up, we have another hefty model that kind of looks like a DJI Phantom, just like its predecessor, the original Upair One. Upair Two is a similar model, bearing incremental improvements across all segments but radical ones in the key departments. If you’re looking for potent drones that can easily reach high altitudes, look no further than this hefty little bugger!
Nope, that’s not a typo! This thing features not one, not two, but three cameras. Yep, three freakin’ cameras! Together, they allow Upair Two to bring forth 4K at 30fps with impressive smoothness, color fidelity, and sharpness. As you’d come to expect from such a hefty model with a 4K camera, Upair Two packs hardware stabilization ensuring buttery smooth videos time in and time out. The camera is an absolute beast, you won’t be disappointed!
Rest of The Package
The rest of the package is not bad either. Alongside the excessive number of cameras, Upair Two hides a solid all-around performance. The main numbers are brilliant – 22ish minutes of flight time and roughly a kilometer of operating range. As far as high altitude drones go, Upair Two might be your best shot at breaking records. You see, this little bugger has no limits, which means it can go as high as its transmission allows it to. I’ve seen people with modded antennas go beyond the 1-kilometer height mark. Of course, this is a highly dangerous exhibition and is considered illegal in most western countries.
3. MJX Bugs 5W
Next up, we’re going to talk about MJX Bugs 5W. It’s sort of the direct successor of the highly popular Bugs 2W which conquered the market a few years ago. 5W is a fiery drone, bringing forth a ton of awesome features and performance that’s well-worthy of its price tag. That said, let’s roll up our sleeves and see what sort of numbers and overall flying experience we can expect from this thing!
Starting off with the features, MJX Bugs 5W has a great variety that won’t disappoint you! We’re not just talking about altitude hold but more advanced stuff like a return to home and failsafe layers too. Plus, they all possess extreme precision thanks to the fact MJX Bugs 5W’s onboard GPS module.
All these features wouldn’t be all that crazy if they weren’t coupled with an outright ridiculous price tag of less than $200! Yep, typically, you’ll be able to get your hands on this bugger for anywhere from $150 to $200. Needless to say, that’s a proper bargain considering the features this high altitude drone packs in the package.
And that’s not even the best part of the pricing of this little bugger. You see, on top of all those awesome features, MJX Bugs 5W packs pretty stellar hardware too. Starting off with the camera, we’re talking about a solid 4K camera mounted on a mechanical gimbal. It’s not the most ideal solution you can find out there, and I’m pretty sure we’re looking at an upscaled 2.7K or even full HD, but it’s still among the best camera options at this price point.
2. DJI Mavic Mini
The Mavic Mini is the first DJI drone we’re going to take a look at here. Usually, when talking about drones that can reach high altitudes, we’re talking about massive, hefty units. DJI Mavic Mini breaks that stereotype, weighing in at less than 250 grams which brings forth a whole set of benefits with the regulatory bodies. But that’s not the only thing DJI Mavic Mini is good for – let’s take a closer look and explore all of its compact glory!
Whole Lotta Specs
The specifications are the first major part of DJI Mavic Mini we’re going to assess today. Let’s start off with the burning question you all must have at this point – how high can DJI Mavic Mini fly? Well, unfortunately, the same old DJI cap has been installed here as well. 500 meters or 1640 feet is what you can expect. The total range goes much beyond that, capping at 4 kilometers. The battery duration is something else, though, going all the way to 30 minutes in ideal scenario. 25+ is what you can expect most of the time. Crazy, huh?
Now that we’re all done with the specifications, it’s time to say a thing or two about the design. First things first, DJI Mavic Mini is outright gorgeous! On top of that, it’s small, lightweight, foldable, and can easily be carried in bags/backpacks of any size. Long story short – it’s charming!
But it can’t go on with charm alone! DJI Mavic Mini rocks an impressive set of features that allow it to go toe to toe with much pricier models. We’re talking GPS, altitude hold, return to home, and several camera-based features to up your social media game. There’s no obstacle avoidance, but that’s not something you can expect at such a low price point.
1. Hubsan Zino
Lastly, let’s talk about Hubsan Zino, arguably the best high-altitude drone for enthusiasts you can get your hands on at the moment. With Zino 2 on the horizon, the original Zino ought to become even cheaper. That’s going to be just another reason why this little bugger will continue to top the sales charts on Amazon. It’s just too darn good at a highly aggressive price tag. Let’s take a closer look!
No Limit Flying
Let’s start off with the numbers! Hubsan Zino can handle approximately 22 minutes of flight time and reach up to 4 kilometers. The latter works for the Pro version which is, in all honesty, the only Hubsan Zino version you should be looking at.
On top of that, you’ll be happy to know the folks over at Hubsan did their best in terms of the features. Hubsan Zino will make you happy with numerous flight autonomy options, failsafe, and stuff like onboard GPS, altitude hold, and return to home. When it comes to maximum altitude drones, Zino fares quite well with its 500 meters hard cap. That’s roughly 1640 feet for all you US residents reading this.
Excellent Bang for Your Bucks
The Pro version of this sucker goes for roughly $400, which is roughly the same price as the DJI Mavic Mini. And it’s roughly the identical awesome package that packs the aforementioned 4 kilometers of operating range, a great camera and solid battery life.
When talking about the camera, the biggest selling point ought to be the resolution. Hubsan Zino brings forth 4K, bet it at 30fps. There’s no stuttering, but the image sharpness is absolutely phenomenal. That’s practically the biggest advantage Zino has over the similarly priced DJI Mavic Mini.
High Altitude Drones for Professionals
Now that you know what to expect from cheaper models, let’s focus on the big guns and see what sort of improvements they bring to the table!
Table: Highest flying drones
|5. DJI Mavic Air
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|4. Parrot Anafi
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|3. DJI Phantom 4 Pro+
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|2. Autel Robotics EVO
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|1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
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5. DJI Mavic Air
DJI Mavic Air is the first high altitude drone we’re going to talk about here in the “for professionals” section. It’s small, foldable, packs quite the punch in terms of hardware and has DJI-typical set of features that’s going to knock you off your feet. It’s a great package, that we can tell at the very first glance!
Cheapest Obstacle Avoidance Drone
When it comes to the price tag, DJI Mavic Air definitely doesn’t belong to the premium end of the spectrum. That portion of the market is reserved for stuff like DJI Mavic 2, Phantom 4 Pro, Autel’s EVO lineup and so on. Despite that, DJI Mavic Air can boast with a ton of premium-grade features, including advanced stuff like obstacle avoidance, object tracking, and several layers of failsafe.
Yep, it’s true – DJI Mavic Air is the cheapest obstacle avoidance drone out there. Beware, though, it only has sensors on the front, back, and bottom, which wouldn’t be all that bad if most of its features weren’t based on sideward flying. Still, a highly versatile drone that packs a ton of stuff in its features section.
Superb Foldable Performance
Usually, drones that are equipped with great features on the software end lack serious firepower as far as the hardware goes. Luckily, DJI Mavic Air is a packed beast, featuring more than 20 minutes of flight time and close to 4 kilometers of operating range. As for the maximum altitude, we’re looking at the typical DJI hard cap at 1640 feet or cca 500 meters. Still, the overall DJI Mavic Fly More Combo, which gets you two additional batteries and the dedicated controller, is a darn good package!
4. Parrot Anafi
Next up, we’re going to talk about Parrot and their relatively new Anafi Model. Looking a lot like an insect, this foldable drone aims to conquer the upper mid-tier of the market with a superb camera solution coupled with solid all-around performance. Let’s take a closer look and see if Parrot Anafi really is among the best drones that can reach high altitudes!
Surgically Precise Movement
When it comes to movement precision, Anafi is outright superb. I honestly know why this little bugger acts like the most premium drone out there, but it’s just the way it is – if you’re looking for pinpoint accurate flights, Parrot Anafi can provide!
Not only does it fly precisely but it can fly for a long time too. Roughly 22 minutes per battery charge ought to be enough for all of your high-altitude cravings. Talking about altitude, Parrot Anafi is rather strict when it comes to the hardcapped limit. Parrot Anafi users have only 500ish feet of room, which translates to roughly 150 meters. Luckily, the overall range goes much further than that, capping at around 4 kilometers in clear and unobstructed terrain.
Impressive Camera Quality
Camera quality is of crucial importance, no doubt about that! Luckily, Parrot Anafi doesn’t disappoint! There are a bunch of excellent factors that come into play here, especially HDR support which will bring that extra bit of color fidelity to your footage. The resolution isn’t half bad either, coming in at fluid 4K with no stuttering whatsoever. In terms of features, there’s nothing to worry about. Parrot has taken everything you can think of and implemented it into their Parrot Anafi model. It’s a great overall purchase if you’re looking for great high-altitude drones!
3. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Here we have the absolute king among mainstream highest-flying drones – the one and only DJI Phantom 4 Pro. This amazing drone is on top of all charts and is ought to stay there for quite the time. Starting off with the camera, DJI made quite the upgrade by implementing a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor which, in combination with the omnidirectional gimbal stabilization, shoots perfect aerial footage time and time again.
In addition to the awesome camera, Phantom 4 Pro can also brag with the popular obstacle avoidance system. It was brought to fame by Yuneec but, realistically speaking, DJI’s system is much better since it features 4 sensors, 1 on each side. With that being said, Phantom 4 Pro offers a worry-free experience when it comes to accidental crashes.
Moving forward, Phantom 4 Pro offers an amazing 7 kilometers of pitch-perfect operating range with HD PFV capability. Unfortunately, maximum altitude is set at 400 feet (120 meters) by default to cope with FAA’s regulations. Fortunately, it’s possible to change the maximum altitude to 500 meters (1640 feet). Additionally, it’s Lithium P4 smart battery can hold up a 30-minute flight which is leading the charge across the entire industry.
Feature-wise, it comes equipped with GPS+GLONASS, TapFly and a whole plethora of additional smart features that some of you will greatly appreciate. Combine all of the above and you will realize why DJI Phantom 4 Pro is at the very top of the drone market.
2. Autel Robotics EVO
Autel Robotics EVO is a fantastic drone! It has it all-a great camera, a mesmerizing design, powerful hardware, and all the features you could think of. Best of all, it’s now as expensive as DJI Mavic 2 Pro which is, realistically speaking, it’s the biggest competitor. DJI has full control of the drone market, so let’s take a closer look at Autel Robotics EVO and see if it’s worth switching sides…
When it comes to EVO’s photography solution, you’ll notice it’s an absolute champ. We’re talking about a very capable feller here, one that can shoot fully stabilized 4K footage at buttery 60FPS. That’s a lot more than what the most aforementioned models can achieve.
On top of that, Autel Robotics EVO is nicely poised in terms of features too. Yes, it has all the basic stuff like GPS and altitude hold, but it brings forth a ton of reliability features including the much-needed return to home as well as automatic failsafe layers. Obstacle avoidance is present as well, and it ought to keep your EVO safe when flying through demanding terrains.
Superb Numbers Across the Board
As for the numbers, you definitely won’t be let down by what Autel Robotics EVO has to offer. Especially if you’re looking for high altitude drones that don’t put a hard cap on the flying height. Don’t get me wrong, EVO still has a cap, but it’s at 2600 feet, which is a much more lenient number than DJI’s 1640 feet. Total transmission distance goes up to around 7 kilometers (above 4 miles) and you can expect close to 30 minutes of flight time in ideal conditions.
1. DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Now we have come to the best miniature drone currently available on the market. With the only competitor being Karma by GoPro, it is not even surprising that DJI Mavic Pro is still gaining popularity. With superior specifications and outstanding set of top-notch features, this little fella proves to be on par with some of the bigger, fully-fledged drones available on the market.
With an incredibly compact design (11.5 x 7 x 9.5 inches) and foldable arms with propellers, DJI Mavic Pro can be carried in any bag. If it was any smaller it would fit into your jacket pocket for sure! Despite its small size, it can still hover steadily even during the strongest of winds. That’s one of the biggest issues with smaller drones and it is safe to say that DJI addressed it perfectly with their new DJI Mavic Pro.
Additionally, it is also important to mention its awesome built-in camera that can capture 4K footage with ease. FPV capability is there as well, making this little fella an extremely versatile and well-built model. 10 out of 10 for sure!
Specifications and Max Altitude
DJI Mavic 2 Pro specifications are nothing short of brilliant either. With roughly 30 minutes of flight time and close to 8 kilometers of operating range, this thing is quite a beast. Same as P4 Pro, Mavic 2 Pro also has only 400 feet by default. Luckily, by exiting beginner mode and increasing the maximum altitude settings, you can go up to 1640 feet or roughly 500 meters if you’re living outside of US, Liberia, and Myanmar.
Do you want to break the law and risk getting massive fines by flying above the legal limit? Well, I got bad news for you. With the newest update, it’s almost impossible to hack the Mavic into flying above the max altitude.
How High Can a Drone Fly?
This question is actually not as straightforward as most people think. There are several factors that affect the overall height at which a drone can fly, and they are as follows:
Location and Sea Level
If you’re trying to fly a premium drone in a location that’s high above sea level, chances are your drone will only be able to fly low or won’t even start. Why would that be? Well, you see, some drones are hardcoded not to fly above a certain high above sea level. It’s stupid, I know, but that’s just how it is – sea level can play an important role in the max height at which a drone can fly.
The second factor that comes into play with high-altitude drones is their transmission quality. If we’re talking about a solid receiver/transmitter combination, transmission shouldn’t be the bottleneck. If however, we’re talking about a cheaper model here, your drone’s flying height might be heavily limited.
Vertical Signal Issues
Another noteworthy factor is the so-called vertical signal issue. When you’re flying a drone straight above its transmitter, there’s a “signal dead zone” which can be overcome by adjusting the angle of your antennas. Make sure you remember that if you start getting random signal drops right off the bat.
But How High Am I Allowed to Fly?
I already mentioned that the FAA has strict rules when it comes to operating drones. These rules don’t cover all drones (miniature drones still aren’t monitored but that’s because they’re too weak to go over 50 meters, yet alone anything higher than that) but you should still take note of them.
For instance, the most infamous FAA regulation is the one revolving around the line of sight flying. Basically, people living in the USA are only allowed to fly their drones as long as they maintain visual contact with them. If the contact ends, they’re entering the field of BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) and could face fees or even jail time. In addition to that, I’ll also remind you that you should not fly your drone above 400 feet under any circumstances… unless you’re flying for commercial purposes and have obtained written permission from the regulating bodies.
What Is The Difference Between Max Altitude and Max Flight Range?
When talking about drones and the main distances they can achieve, we’re always talking about two things – maximum flight range and maximum altitude. These terms stand for two completely different things yet we still see people think they’re the same.
For starters, the maximum flight range is the relative distance the drone can achieve without losing communication with its transmitter. Max altitude, on the other hand, represents how high a drone can fly above sea level. Some drones are hard-coded not to fly above certain altitudes which makes them impossible to fly in locations that are high above sea level. However, in drone discussion, max altitude is commonly referred to the maximum altitude mainstream drones are coded not to fly above. For instance, DJI’s drones are typically coded to stop at either 400 feet (beginner mode) or roughly 1640 feet, because that’s the legal limit in most countries.
What is LOS and BVLOS?
Moving on, let’s focus on the two commonly mentioned term when talking about drones and their max range/altitude. As you can see, we’re referring to LOS and BVLOS, so let’s jump straight to it! LOS stands for Line of Sight and represents operators flying small unmanned aerial vehicles while maintaining a line of sight with them.
As soon as the line is broken, that flight turns from LOS to BVLOS, which stands for beyond visible line of sight. We’re talking about two completely different things here – they are not to be mistaken! Another thing you should keep in mind is the fact that most countries strictly prohibit flying BVLOS. Make sure you always check the regulations!
Tips for Flying at Higher Altitudes
If you want to capture breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area, then flying at high altitudes is a must. However, you need to know that flying really high is a lot more dangerous than flying at normal height levels. That’s why I’ve prepared a couple of tips for you so you won’t have issues while doing this endeavor. Let’s go through them right away!
STAY AWAY FROM AIRPORTS
You should not fly at excessive heights if you live close to an airport. I suppose it’s OK if you’re living in a rural area that isn’t an aerial connection with frequent flights. However, even if you are living in a rural area, if you’re based in the USA there are laws that oblige you to fly under 400 feet at all times. Come to think of it, many premium drones come with software limitations that prevent them from going higher than 400 feet.
SAFETY OF OTHERS
The higher you fly, the higher is the damage your drone might do if it falls on a person. That’s why you should make sure you are not flying directly above people no matter the altitude you’re thinking of flying on. Accidents happen and you don’t want to be the one that the lawmakers will make an example of.
MANAGE YOUR BATTERY LEVELS
Flying too far away or flying too high away means your battery will have a lot of work to do. That’s why you should always keep an eye out for your battery level in order to land your drone safely back on the ground. In other words, as soon as your battery level goes beneath 40% it is time to stop your recording and head back to safety. You don’t want your drone to fall down from a couple hundred feet high.
Our Two Cents on High-Altitude Flying
Finally, we feel like it’s time for us to share our opinion on flying drones at high altitudes. Of course, if you’re in a remote, rural area and you take all the necessary precautions to avoid interfering with the national airspace, you probably won’t hurt anyone by flying your drone at a high altitude for a few minutes. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s legal!
That said, we can’t recommend you go ahead and break laws. For starters – no matter how safe your flight may be, it’s breaking the law, it’s irresponsible, and there’s always a small chance it might end in a catastrophe.
In other words, stay below your country’s UAV altitude limit. If you are living in the USA, that limit amounts to 400 feet and we recommend you stay below it at all times!
Wrapping Things Up
Well, I’m afraid that’s it, guys. You have come to the end of my highest-flying drones list. I sincerely hope that it was informative because it took quite an effort to come up with it. With this being said, I also hope that it helped you make up your mind about the highest-flying drone for your needs… and that you got yourself a proper drone for those sky-high “missions” … *wink*
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