Having a drone basically means having your personal flying camera always at your disposal. Well, technically not always since you can’t carry those bulky drones with you wherever you go… But it’s a completely different story if you own a portable one that can fit in your pocket (a.k.a. pocket drone).
Needless to say, such a compact size eliminates the need for additional or dedicated carrying cases which we are used to seeing with full-sized models.
However, there is a catch – most of these pocket-sized drones aren’t really up to the task of capturing great aerial videos. As a matter of fact, most of them suck with their tiny VGA cameras that do no good in terms of quality. Still, there are models with a better quality camera available, but those will set you back a couple of hundred bucks at least… But if you ask me, they are more than worth it!
Look at it this way – you can spend $50 for a pocket drone with a camera that will outright disappoint you with its aerial photography performance. On the other hand, up the price to $200-$300 and you will be able to get yourself an FHD or even 4K capable pocket drone with camera. And trust me, the difference is significant!
With all that in mind, I have come up with a list of the TOP 5 mini pocket drones for everyone’s taste. The price ranges from $100 all the way to $500 so I’m certain there is something for everyone. So, let’s dig straight into the list and check out these 5 awesome pocket drones!
What is the best pocket drone with camera?
No worries, we will not waste anymore of your precious time! We’ll jump straight to our list of the five best pocket size drones that are available for purchase:
Table: 5 Best Pocket Drones
|Image||Name||Camera||Range||Flight Time||Best Offer|
|5. Zerotech Dobby||1080p||100m||8 min||See price now|
|4. DJI Spark||1080p||2km||16min||See price now|
|3. Hover Camera||4K||20m||10min||See price now|
|2. DJI Mavic Mini||2.7K||4km||30min||See price now|
|1. DJI Mavic Air||4K||4km||22min||See price now|
5. Zerotech Dobby
Zerotech Dobby is an absolutely gorgeous mini pocket drone whose main focus is its foldable design and sleek appearance. But don’t let that fool you – Zerotech Dobby sports great hardware too. It doesn’t fall short in terms of features either. But, let’s take it one thing at a time. Before jumping to the features and all that good stuff, first, we will take a closer look at its performance and see whether or not it suits your needs!
Smart Pocket Drone
Powered by a quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2 gigs of RAM and Adreno 330 GPU, there is no doubt that Zerotech Dobby is a beast. This is further improved by the rest of its hardware as well. Take battery as the perfect example – 970mAh 2S LiPo pack that brings roughly 7 to 9 minutes of airtime. The operating range is not too far off either – up to 100 meters in clear and unobstructed areas.
We should also not forget its highly polished DoFun app (works on both Android and iOS mobile platforms) which incorporates sleek GUI and intuitive controls. All A’s in that department for Zerotech Dobby, there is no doubt about that! But, let’s move onto the camera and features…
Features & Camera
The camera (AKA DOBBY Module) offers unparalleled image quality thanks to its 13MPX CMOS sensor. It sports electronic image stabilization (EIS) which smoothens out videos to an admirable degree. Unfortunately, it works only in FHD. How do I mean only? Oh, I forgot to tell you that Zerotech Dobby’s camera is capable of recording in 4K resolution at a solid 30fps. Lower that to 1080p and you will get buttery smooth 60fps. How about that for a pocket-sized drone, hugh?!
Features are nothing short of brilliant either. GPS+GLONASS coverage, level 4 wind resistance and a nicely foldable design that allows it to be carried everywhere you go. Other features include gravity sensor control, voice control, altitude hold, flips, and the ever so popular follow me mode.
4. DJI Spark
Next up, we have DJI Spark… a massively successful drone that has struck the market by storm and doesn’t seem like it is getting off the throne anytime soon. This marvelous drone offers the best the current technology has at its disposal and manages to cram a whole plethora of features (as well as insanely powerful hardware) in a ridiculously small package! But, enough with the praises, let’s see this little birdie in action!
Starting off with the basics of performance, it is only logical to check out DJI Spark’s battery. It’s a pretty good one, don’t worry… We are talking about a 3S LiPo pack with 1480mAh. In terms of flight time, you are looking at roughly 15 to 16 minutes, depending on the type of use you’re going for. While it’s not exactly on point with full-sized models, it’s the best airtime you can find with pocket-sized drones. Operating range, when used with the dedicated controller, supposedly goes from 500 to 2000 meters. That is, however, depending on whether you get the FCC or CE compliant version.
If you would like to take selfies or aerial videos with DJI Spark, you will be happy to know it rocks a brilliant FHD ready camera mounted on a 2-axis gimbal. By having a hardware stabilization system onboard, DJI Spark really sets the tone for other high-end mini-drones to come.
Last but not least – features! In addition to the active lineup of DJI GO app which includes a whole bunch of autonomous flight modes, DJI Spark can also boast with gesture control and facial recognition. Of course, it is powered by GPS and has all the sensors you can think of. It’s extremely stable in midair and relatively easy to use, especially if you’re not interested in experimenting with a bunch of adjustments.
3. Hover Camera
Hover Camera Passport makes for an interesting pocked sized drone due to its unconventional design with safety as the primary focus. But, in addition to safety, this little birdie can boast with other awesome characteristics such as GPS and an outstanding camera that’s great for recording aerial videos and taking brilliant drone selfies. With all that in mind, let’s cut the introduction short here and check out the performance of this little fella!
First of all, I would like to get the only downside of Hover Camera Passport out of the way… and that would be its operating range. You see, Hover Camera Passport is one of those smartphone-controlled drones, and I am sure most of you know that this type of drones usually doesn’t have the best range. Unfortunately, though, Hover Camera Passport brings that to the extreme with only 20 meters of operating range.
However, don’t be too disappointed since we are talking about a fully autonomous drone created primarily for the purpose of taking selfies. Let’s face it, the optimal distance for taking the perfect selfie is way less than 20 meters. On the bright side, battery duration is standing great with up to 10 minutes of effective airtime. Plus, the standard Hover Camera Passport package will get you 2 batteries which means you will have up to 20 minutes of total flight time per session.
Features-wise, Hover Camera Passport incorporates facial (and body) recognition software further supported by multiple filming modes. If I am to be more precise here, this birdie sports orbit, 360 spin and more. In terms of design, it has a fully enclosed carbon fiber body that is lightweight and durable at the same time. Plus, it folds into half meaning it easily fits in your pockets.
And finally, we are approaching the brightest point of Hover Camera Passport – the imaging solution (AKA camera). We are talking about a 13MPX CMOS sensor whose angle is adjustable on-the-fly. We don’t see that very often with mini drones, don’t you agree? Nevertheless, this seems like a great addition! Furthermore, Hover Camera Passport can record videos in 4K and FHK. More precisely, 4K at 30fps and FHD at 60fps.
2. DJI Mavic Mini
DJI Mavic Mini definitely belongs to the very best pocket size drones out there. In fact, if we’re looking at things from a performance/size/price perspective, DJI Mavic Mini takes the title with a clean swipe across the finish line. DJI Mavic Air might bring forth superior camera performance and obstacle avoidance coupled with image tracking, but the size and price increase just can’t cut it in this particular category.
DJI Mavic Mini’s numbers are absolutely amazing! Thanks to its lightweight design and small form factor, this bugger can fly for as long as 30 minutes. Yep, you’ve read that right! Combine that with more than 3 kilometers of operating range (some users report close to 4km) and you’ll begin to realize what a powerhouse DJI Mavic Mini is.
Features-wise, DJI Mavic Mini has access to several camera-based flight modes as well as all the basics. We’re talking stuff like return to home, GPS, altitude hold, and similar. It’s a truly well-versed drone that can actually fit into your pocket and doesn’t fail to deliver in the specs and features department… But wait, that’s not all – we haven’t even started talking about its camera!
Is 4K Really Necessary?
If there’s one thing that’s constantly pointed out as DJI Mavic Mini’s biggest downside, it’s definitely its camer. Don’t get me the wrong way, we’re talking about a hardware-stabilized CMOS sensor with 2.7K max resolution. That equals to superb crispiness in the still images’ department and butter smooth footage no matter the weather scenarios.
But, what’s the problem then? Well, people want 4K. They’re convinced 4K is a ton better than 2.7K, even though that’s not really the case. Yes, the difference is there, no doubt about that, but even I (and I consider myself a display panel guru) can’t really say it’s notable, let alone massive. So yeah, I don’t see the lack of 4K as a massive downside here… Your mileage may vary though.
1. DJI Mavic Air – the best pocket drone
DJI Mavic Air is, at least in my opinion, the best pocket size drone that’s currently available on the market. Yes, it doesn’t exactly fit into a pocket, but it’s still small and compact, especially when folded. A real backpack material, that’s for sure. DJI Mavic Air brings forth a ton of features and a solid layer of functionalities and reliability that make it suitable for both consumers and prosumers.
Smallest Obstacle Avoidance Drone
The features that are available on DJI Mavic Air are absolutely amazing. Not only does this bugger feature basic stuff you’d come to expect from it (f.e. altitude hold and GPS) but a solid dose of features aimed at more advanced users. By that, I’m primarily referring to obstacle avoidance, object tracking and autonomous modes including the highly popular DJI QuickShots.
Camera-wise, DJI Mavic Air can record 4K resolution at 30fps. The end results are smooth and crystal clear, well worthy of the original DJI Mavic Pro, for sure! The aforementioned camera-based flight modes bring the final mark up a bit. DJI Mavic Air really is the best mini aerial camera you can get your hands on at the moment.
Power Level Over 9000
When it comes to raw performance, there are only a few models that can go head to head with DJI Mavic Air. Thanks to its potent LiPo battery coupled with power efficient brushless motors and lightweight design, DJI Mavic Air can fly for as long as 20 minutes. If you opt for the DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo, not only will you get two extra batteries but a carrying case, extra propellers and a dedicated controller that extends its range to 4 kilometers. That makes DJI Mavic Air fly for roughly an hour and reach more than your typical pocket size drone.
FAQ: POCKET DRONES
What are the benefits of having a pocket drone with camera?
The main benefit of owning a pocket drone is obvious – you can take it virtually anywhere you want without overburdening yourself with extra luggage. Simply take your mini-drone and place it into your pocket and you are basically good to go. On the other hand, for a full-sized drone, you would have to carry an additional backpack solely for the purpose of placing it inside. With the recent advancements in technology, drones that fit into pockets are capable of providing premium features… which leads us to the next Frequently Asked Question…
Does small size mean bad performance?
There is a myth that small drones usually represent toy-grade ones. Realistically speaking, this was the truth until very recently. To be more precise, pocket drones were synonyms to toy-grade ones until the first high-end selfie drones came into play. Mainly, I’m referring to DJI Mavic Air and Mavic Mini, who pretty much created the high-end selfie drone niche all on their own.
In other words, what I’m trying to say here is that pocket-sized drones don’t necessarily mean bad performance. There are still plenty of toy grade ones out there, but the high-end market offers several tiny beasts as well.
Which pocket drone has the longest range?
If you have already gone through the list above but still cannot make a proper decision on which drone to go for, then perhaps these next couple of questions will shed some light on the topic. First off we have DJI Mavic Air – the pocket drone with, by far, the longest range. That is, of course, if you buy DJI Spark Fly More Combo which packs it all into an affordable package. Without it, your Mavic Air’s range won’t be that thrilling.
Which pocket drone has the longest flight time?
As far as the flight time is concerned, DJI Mavic Mini is our champion. As we mentioned above, DJI Mavic Mini sports a lightweight design and a powerful LiPo battery which supposedly allows up to 30 minutes of airtime. However, in realistic scenarios and while recording in 2.7K, you will most likely be looking at roughly 25-27 minutes… which still makes it the best pocket drone out of the bunch.
Which pocket drone has the best camera?
Even though DJI Spark was a tough contender for this section too, it actually falls short due to the fact it is only capable of recording in 1080p. Our winner, on the other hand, is capable of ultra-crisp 4K. But there are several 4K-ready drones in the list above, which one am I referring to? Believe it or not, I’m talking about DJI Mavic Air which not only does buttery smooth 4K but captures HDR content too.
What is the best pocket drone for selfies?
Answering this question is harder than most of you think – mainly due to the fact everyone has different desires and expectations from the perfect selfie drone. Driven by that thought, I won’t give you the name of a single drone out of these 5 featured above. Instead, I’ll have to disappoint you and say that all those pocket drones are equally good in their own right. As far as the price/selfie quality is concerned, I truly believe they offer great value for money. But, here are some general guides for you to avoid nasty comments below:
If you’re aiming for an entry-level selfie drone then DJI Mavic Mini should be your go-to option.
On the other hand, if you want something more advanced but you’re a complete beginner, DJI Mavic Air is the way to go.
What is the best pocket drone for beginners?
Realistically speaking guys, I believe all of these drones are beginner friendly. But then again, if I were to choose the most intuitive and easy to use model out of the bunch, I’d have to go with Zerotech Dobby. It’s the cheapest one of them all and doesn’t come equipped with a whole plethora of features just waiting to confuse you. Nope! Instead, it offers a clean flying experience with an easy learning curve specially designed for first time flyers.
Come to think of it, Zerotech Dobby is so easy to use that even children can use it without any difficulties at all. If that’s not enough for you, then I don’t know what is…
Are there any premium pocket size drones?
If this question had been asked a few years ago, the answer would’ve been a definitive no. However, nowadays, compact premium models do exist. With the release od DJI Mavic Mini, I believe we’ve finally achieved true premier compact monster. Yes, there’s no 4K footage, but 2.7K should suffice at least for another year or so until the upgraded model hits the shelves.
On top of that, the DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo also gets you the dedicated controller which extends the drone’s range to whopping 4 kilometers. Combine that with 20ish minutes of flight time and superb 4K camera and you’ll understand why DJI Mavic Fly More Combo is the perfect package if you’re looking for premium pocket size drones.
Should I buy any accessories for these drones?
Even though all pocket size drones that we featured earlier come as RTF (ready to fly) packages, we always recommend you buy extra batteries. This will drastically improve your overall flight times, even more so if you opt for a charging hub that allows charging multiple batteries at once.
Some drones, such as the DJI Mavic Air, come in the so-called Fly More Combo, which brings forth two extra batteries as well as a charging hub. It doesn’t charge multiple batteries at once but allows charging up to four batteries, one after another, without having to manually change them.
What about FPV racing with pocket drones?
As you can see, neither of the 5 pocket drones featured above isn’t an FPV racing drone? But why is that so? Why haven’t I added at least one representative…
What a blasphemy?!
Well, to my defense, FPV racing drones can’t really be placed in the same basket like the ones featured above. Even though micro FPV racers (both brushless and brushed) are coming up in the world of drones, there’s a reason why they weren’t featured.
You see, for the normal functioning of an FPV racer, the use of FPV goggles (and a dedicated digital transmitter) is an obvious must… and we all know these are quite bulky. So, despite FPV racing drones indeed coming in pocket sizes, their accessories don’t… and that’s the reason why we excluded them from the list above.
That’s about it as fa as our pocket size drones go! Those five compact little buggers ought to have tingled your imagination, at least for a bit. A few of them are absolute budget kings, capable of providing with a decent all-around performance at an incredibly small form factor.
The final two models, DJI Mavic Mini and Mavic Air cost significantly more than the three models featured above them, but have the hardware that justifies the extra price.
All in all, as far as pocket size drones in 2020 are concerned, there’s a ton of variety. You have plenty of good models to choose from which is always a good thing to see…