2018 Buyer's Guide

The Best Quadcopters of 2018

2018 Buyer's Guide

The Best Quadcopters of 2018

by Will

Quadcopters have become very, very popular in recent years. Whether you just enjoy playing around with remote control aircraft or you want a small drone to observe the local area with, quadcopters are extremely fun and very useful to have. They differ slightly from R/C helicopters. Helicopters have just two rotors whereas quadcopters use four different rotors for enhanced maneuverability. Some are equipped with cameras for snapping pictures of the environment and some even come with HD video cameras to record the entire flying experience in brilliant clarity.

Finding the right quadcopter can be very difficult, though. There are thousands of these little aircraft available on the market today. Some are designed for very casual use by kids while others are meant for more serious hobbyists with more experience. Some models are even designed specifically for professional use. These remote control copters vary in price, features, durability, and more. Picking one out can be super hard. Consumer Essentials is here to help. We’ve flown several dozens of these nifty little gadgets and tested them extensively. Below is a list of our top 5 favorites.

Our Top 5 Quadcopters

Finding the right quadcopter can be a bit of a struggle. There are many different models available, a lot of them have similar features, and picking the perfect one can be tough, especially if you’re just getting started with the hobby. We’ve tested loads of these gadgets and created a list of what we believe to be the five best quadcopters available. Take a look at them and pick the one that fits your needs.

Most Recommended: DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter Drone

The ultimate drone for the dedicated hobbyist.

The Phantom 3 is definitely a drone designed primarily for enthusiasts only. It’s a super high-quality copter that features a 4k resolution video camera, a dedicated app for viewing live in-flight footage via an iOS or Android mobile device, incredible stability, respectable battery life, and a nifty rechargeable controller. It also boasts an incredible range. The company behind the device, DJI, claims that the maximum range is roughly 1.24 miles. Other users, however, have suggested that they have achieved distances of several miles in good flight conditions. This thing flies beautifully, is able to capture excellent video, and even takes great pictures using a top-notch, 12-megapixel camera. The Phantom 3 is seriously the best quadcopter on the market by a long shot.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

#2 – UDI U818A-1 Discovery Quadcopter

An awesome and easy to fly quadcopter with a camera.

If you’re looking for a great starter copter that is a bit more on the affordable side, the UDI U818A-1 is a great choice. This nifty little device has a 6 axis gyro that keeps the aircraft stable even in unfavorable conditions. It’s easy to fly and has great stability in the air. Plus, this version comes equipped with an HD camera that allows the user to snap awesome photos and even create great-looking videos. The U818A-1 requires about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for charging and is then able to fly for about 7 to 9 minutes. It can pull off stunts such as flips and rolls easily, too. The controller is easy to operate as well and features buttons to activate picture-taking, video recording, adjusting the speed of the drone, and displays total battery life remaining while in use.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

#3 – Holy Stone RC Drone

Slick-looking and stunt-ready drone with great range.

Designed with both style and functionality in mind, the Holy Stone drone is a magnificent copter. It is painted jet black which makes it much easier to see while in the air than other drones. This one also features a 6-axis gyro stabilization system to keep the aircraft level while in flight. It works well in both indoor and outdoor environments, has a total range of roughly 50 to 100 meters, and is able to fly for 7 to 9 minutes on a full charge. A full battery charge requires around 80 minutes to obtain. The copter is also outfitted with an HD camera that can record videos at 30 frames per second or take high-resolution photos while airborne. The Holy Stone flies gracefully and is easy to control. It’s a perfect device for beginners or enthusiasts that want an affordable, quality machine.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

#4 – SYMA X5C 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter Drone

An affordable option for beginners; equipped with a camera.

For true beginners that just want a simple copter with a few added features, the SYMA X5C is a viable alternative. This drone has built-in 6-axis stabilization technology that assists newbies while learning to fly to keep the device as stable as possible. The X5C is compact, too, measuring just 12.2 x 12.2 x 3.1 inches and weighing in at only 1.4 pounds. The copter can be charged via the included remote control or via a USB connection. Charging time is roughly 100 minutes. A full charge will allow the user to fly the drone for about 5 to 8 minutes. The maximum range on this device is 50 meters. It is equipped with a 2MP camera that can snap pictures and record videos. The camera isn’t up to par with our top three picks, but it’s decent enough for those that are just getting started with the hobby.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

#5 – Zuzo Drone with Camera

Compact-sized quadcopter with great flying time.

Want something a little cheaper, but still great? The Zuzo may be the best fit for you. This nifty little copter features a 6-axis gyro like most others for great stability, is small enough to fit comfortably in your hand, and has a decent camera for shooting videos and capturing stills. This one charges in just an hour and can fly for up to 10 minutes at a time. Plus, it has a decent range of 80 to 100 meters. It’s super easy to control and even has super-bright LED lights that help you track its position in the night. The Zuzo flies well is actually fairly durable and has great running time.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

The Quadcopter Lover’s Buying Guide

Thinking about getting started with drones or looking to get a new one? Drones have come a very long way in the past few years. They used to be made of cheap materials, have horrible flying capabilities, and cost a small fortune to own. As the years have gone by the technology in these machines has greatly improved. Now, they’re able to maintain stable flight, withstand taking nasty falls, and even come with cameras for capturing stunning photos and videos of the landscape.

Finding the right one for your personal needs and goals can be tough, though. While some people may be looking to use a quadcopter for capturing professional-grade video or stills at great distances, others simply want to enjoy flying a remote-controlled drone in a small, confined area.

There are hundreds of these little devices on the market these days. A lot of them have the same features, but some are made of lesser-quality materials, some are equipped with outdated cameras, and some are just awful for flying.

Don’t let that deter you from picking one up, though! As long as you do proper research you can get your hands on a great copter. Consumer Essentials has gone through all the troubles of trial and error with more than 50 different copters to determine which ones are the best. The five we listed above are the ones we believe are the best to own.

To help you narrow down your selection even further, though, let’s talk about what you should look for in a quality drone. Below we’ve outlined some of the features and aspects of quadcopters you should check out before actually buying one.

Flight Capabilities

The biggest thing is to find a copter that actually flies well. The best ones will have what is known as a 6-axis gyro. This is an internal system that helps automatically align the device while it’s in flight. While experienced R/C enthusiasts may be able to control a unit without much assistance, most drone fliers need great stability regardless in order to capture high-quality images and videos. Beginners will most definitely want a device that has superb auto-stabilization features as it will make learning how to fly the drone much easier.

Most of the mid to high-end quadcopters come equipped with a 6-axis gyro for this purpose. Really, most copters have it in general. Only the super cheap models or Chinese-made varieties don’t have it.

Camera Quality

Again, most drone enthusiasts purchase a copter for the sole purpose of flying around and snapping cool pictures and videos from the environment. For that reason, you’ll definitely want to find a copter that has a decent onboard camera. Most come equipped with HD cameras that can take great stills and decent videos.

Higher-end models, such as the DJI Phantom 3, even have 4k resolution cameras attached. These devices are primarily designed for professionals or dedicated drone enthusiasts, though. The price on these models is often quite high, but the quality of the videos and pictures they can take is unmatched.

Mid-grade options are often more than enough for a beginner or casual flyer. They come with 4 to 8 megapixel cameras that take fantastic photos and decent-quality videos from the sky. They also, like the more expensive models, support the use of SD cards for expanded storage.

Low-quality, cheaper quadcopters often don’t feature a camera at all or have a sub-par camera attached to them. These models often only have a 2 or 3-megapixel camera which, in this day and age, is quite outdated. These can take okay photos and videos, but don’t expect them to be cinema-quality by any means.

Price

Finally, it’s always important to consider your personal budget when buying a drone, or anything for that matter. Luckily, there are decent options available in nearly any price range. For higher-end models, you’ll need to expect to pay $800 to $1,000 or more. Mid-grade options are available for $100 to $200. Entry-level options that are mostly just for having fun flying around in a small space are typically $30 to $60 each.

Our #1 Recommendation: Full Review of the DJI Phantom 3

If you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further than the DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter. This is seriously the best drone on the market that a civilian can get a hold of. The gimbal and camera on this model are spectacular. The drone flies way better and smoother than any other model we’ve tested, too. The camera is really the star of the show here, though. With a 4K Ultra HD video camera and a 12-megapixel resolution for image stills, this thing is perfect for creating professional-grade movies and outstanding pictures. Below is our full review of it.

Unmatched Flying

If you want to fly through the air with the greatest of ease and most ridiculous grace you’ve ever experienced, this is definitely the copter you want to buy. The stability is insane. It can literally float perfectly still up to more than a mile away without any problems. In fact, it can even stay stable in unfavorable weather including gusty winds. It’s really a magnificent design and has more control than any other drone we’ve tested by a long, long, long shot.

We were very impressed with how well it handled. It’s very responsive, even at max range, and the movements are extremely precise. It honestly feels like the most professional equipment. It’s almost like you’re flying a drone made by BMW or Audi as compared to cheaper models that handle more like a Ford or Hyundai. Yes, we’re using terrible comparisons, but you get the point.

Professional-Grade Photography and Videography

If your goal is to capture brilliant images and create stunning cinematography the Phantom 3 won’t disappoint. Capable of shooting 4K video and capturing images with 12-megapixel resolution is a dream come true. The videos are absolutely amazing. Check some of them out on YouTube, you’ll be blown away at how high-quality they are. The pictures are equally breathtaking.

Whether you’re a professional journalist that wants to get the perfect shot of the scenery or you’re just an enthusiast that wants to log exquisite photo and video proof of your flight destinations, the Phantom 3 is well-equipped for the task. You won’t find a quadcopter with a better camera at this price point, guaranteed.

Advanced Technology

As if the amazing handling of this machine and the absurdly awesome camera weren’t enough, the Phantom 3 still has even more awesome features.

These include:

  • Live Streaming Video in 720p
  • Vision Positioning System for Indoor Use
  • Dedicated App for Both iOS and Android Devices
  • GPS Navigation

Using the app you can view the live streaming video in HD (1280×720 resolution) while in the air. The app is available for free and works on most iOS and Android devices including both smartphones and tablets.

The positioning system gives the drone the ability to see objects and obstacles while indoors. This system also helps it maintain great stability while flying around inside, something that a lot of drones struggle with. GPS navigation allows the unit to know where it’s at, even when you don’t. If the copter detects that it has gone out of range, it activates a “return to home” feature that uses the GPS to guide the copter automatically back to your hands.

Excellent Price

Believe it or not, the price tag on this beast is not that bad at all. Similar models are sold on a regular basis for $3,000 to $5,000 each. The Phantom 3 is actually very reasonably priced considering its superior flight capabilities, its incredible camera, and all of the other added features. It’s a steal at the price it’s at right now.

Check the price on Amazon right here.

Affordable All-Rounder Option: Full Review of the Hubsan X4 Quadcopter

If you’re only just trying out drone flying as a hobby you’re probably not looking to spend a ton of money. After all, what happens if you find you’re not that thrilled with it? No one wants to drop a wad of cash on something if it’s only going to be used a couple times.

Never fear, though, we’ve got one more copter you may want to check out! The Hubsan X4 is a microdrone that’s super fun to use. It fits in the palm of your hand, is built for both indoor and outdoor usage, has a 6-axis stability system built-in, and can be flown for up to 10 minutes without needing another charge.

Fun to Fly

The Hubsan X4 is an absolute blast to use. It’s super quick, very agile, and easy to control. That’s well above what’s expected for a copter of this price. Most in this price range are highly unstable, difficult to fly, and are quite slow. Plus, it’s so small it can literally fly anywhere without any issues.

Great for the Price

You can’t beat this little guy when it comes to price. It’s extremely affordable and there aren’t really any other models in this price range that include the onboard stabilization system which is a necessity for first-timers.

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