We’ve reviewed the best drones that you can control using your iPhone or Android mobile, including apps which give you a live camera feed and even stream HD video direct to YouTube.
Drones were once a murdery thing of science fiction but now they’re actually affordable (and safe) enough to own, and even operate with your trusty smartphone. Not only that but some are even compact enough to fold down into the palm of your hand and take wherever you travel. As far as portability goes, you can’t ask for more than that.
Despite the prices and sizes of these drones, you still get the ability to capture high quality video – up to 5K resolution – as well as detailed photos with just a tap of your mobile’s screen. This allows you to make your own films, capture your outdoor adventures, make a really high-end holiday video and whatever else your imagination comes up with.
But with a wide variety of drone options out there now, which is best for you? Here’s our favourite drones that can be controlled using your Android device or iPhone.
This is the baby of the drone family, but only as far as size is concerned. The DJI Spark manages to cram some impressively advanced flying and recording tech into a tiny drone that you can control with Jedi-like gestures alone.
The Spark features 1080p video, 12-megapixel photos and uses an integrated gimbal for steady and smooth footage. Control the drone using your smartphone, with features like the ability to return to home automatically, orbit an object and even follow a subject while they move. Then there are those gesture controls that allow you to wave your hand and have the drone respond – ideal for video shots but probably more about showing off your Jedi-like powers to your mates, if we’re honest.
Parrot Bebop 2
If you want an affordable drone that also offers top-end flying smarts then Parrot is the name you want to look out for, specifically the Bebop 2. This offers a 14-megapixel and 1080p camera that uses steady stabilisation software, as well as full smartphone controls with a simple-to-use app.
The Bebop 2 also offers an optional FPV headset that lets you fly the drone as if you were a pilot onboard. If you want the more fun stuff, like a follow me feature, you’ll have to shell out for a paywall breakdown unfortunately.
DJI Mavic Pro
The Mavic Pro is possibly the most perfect blend between professional level features and everyday portability. The Mavic Pro folds down and even the controller that your phone docks into is super portable. Yet this drone still offers a stunning 40mph top speed, 4 mile range and up to 25 minute battery life.
The camera is 12.35-megapixel for stills and up to 4K resolution for video, meaning there really are no compromises here. Plus this drone avoids objects automatically, so even beginners will struggle to crash.
Aerix Black Talon 2.0
This is a racing drone for beginners. That means it’s fast and super maneuverable, yet simple to use. Being a racing drone, it also works with Aerix VR Goggles or Google Cardboard, meaning you can fly and see as if you’ve been miniaturised and are sat onboard. This drone maintains altitude well, so you can focus on flying your route as fast as possible.
The Black Talon also records video in 720p resolution and charges in about 30 minutes.
DJI Phantom 4
This is the drone model that brought flying fun combined with pro-level video into the mainstream. In its fourth generation currently, the features are better than ever and more affordable too.
The Phantom 4 offers 4K video and 12.4-megapixel pics with gimbal stabilisation and a good 20 minute battery life when flying. The Phantom 4 also features lots of smart options like following subjects, following a laid-out route, returning to home and more – all with a hefty three-mile range and packed inside a reassuringly sturdy build.
Parrot Disco FPV
Is it a drone? Is it a plane? It’s both. This drone takes the wing from factor to offer speed and lots of it. But possibly more importantly, the Disco will last a lot, lot longer on a single charge too.
Fling the fixed wing Disco into the air and it’ll circle, waiting for your commands. From the FPV headset you can fly up to 50mph and keep going for a whopping 45 minutes on battery life. The range tops out at 1.2 miles but should be enough to keep you entertained and allow you to capture plenty of 1080p footage while you’re flying.
DJI Inspire 2
Get your second mortgage lined up for this one, as it’s not cheap. But that’s because it offers truly professional quality flying and video skills.
The camera resolution will make your phone and camera both blush, with its 30-megapixel sensor and 5K video capabilities. You can even swap out camera lenses for a truly professional finish. On top of that it’s mounted on a serious gimbal that will result in buttery smooth footage and keep going for a hefty 4.3 mile range. Battery life tops out at 25 minutes, but with the pro features on the remote you should have easily captured what you want, well within that time limit.
Parrot Bebop 2
We’re big fans of the Bebop 2, which offers surprisingly intuitive control using just your smartphone or tablet, plus 25 minutes of flying time between charges. The Freeflight 3 app allows you to pre-plan your route and also records a digital black box of each flight. And best of all, the Bebop’s 13-megapixel camera can shoot stunning aerial snaps.
Read next: Meet the 13 new Parrot mini-drones for land, air and sea
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
Parrot’s AR.Drone 2.0 quadcopter is built to last, with impressive stabilisation for smooth and simple-to-control manoeuvrability. Parrot’s app shows the drone’s battery level, altitude and current speed as well as a live stream direct from the 720p camera, which can take snaps and record HD video throughout each flight.
DJI Phantom 3
DJI’s Phantom 3 has a seriously impressive 5km range, so you can soar up to the clouds and record some truly stunning video with the built-in camera, which can shoot up to 4K. You control the Phantom with a bundled remote, but there’s a clip to attach your tablet so you can check out a live feed from the drone’s camera. The app even allows you to live stream to YouTube, or test your skills before taking to the air with a virtual flight sim.
DJI Phantom Inspire 1
Another DJI drone, the Phantom Inspire 1 is an incredibly advanced aerodynamic device that’s once again well-suited to shooting aerial footage, thanks to the lens’ 360-degree unobstructed view. As with the Phantom 3, you can receive live footage via DJI’s app, as well as updates on remaining battery power and other vital stats.
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