Beginners Guide to Buying a Drone

Hints, tips and recommendations for buying a drone.

 Features To Consider When Buying a Drone

Price.  If you are a beginner it is better to stick to the cheap drones for sale until you have got the hang of flying.  Also check out the features of the drone and compare them to what you would like to do with it, to avoid paying a premium for features that are not important to you. For example, do you specifically want a drone camera to take aerial views, or are you just looking to have fun flying a drone?

Ease of Flying.  If you are beginner then you probably need a drone that is easy to fly to start off with, then move on to something a little more challenging once you've got the hang of it.  Drones that have a Hover Mode (are able to hover in one spot) are easier to fly, as you don't have to constantly adjust the controls to maintain your position in the air.  Drones with a Headless feature are also useful, as it stops you getting confused which way the drone is facing and thereby sending it the wrong way. 

Camera Quality.  If you want to take pictures then make sure you choose a drone with a camera, the higher resolution the better (preferably at least 1280x720).  Some drone cameras offer FPV (First Person View) which means it transmits live video to either a screen on the controller, or your smart phone, so you can see what you are filming.  A drone with a good quality camera will add considerably to your budget.

Battery Life and Charging Time.  These vary, and some have a battery life that is very short! It is useful to have at least one spare battery for the drone as they can take a while to charge.  Usual flying time is around 5-8 mins per battery, and with a charge time which can vary from 1-2 hours it is best to have several batteries.

Flight Range.  This is the distance the drone can fly away from you.  Bearing in mind that you need to keep your drone in your line of sight when flying it, for a mini drone or quadcopter a range of 30-50 meters is plenty.

Robustness and Reliability.  Some manufacturers have been making drones longer than others, and this shows in the quality of the build and reliability of parts such as motors and software.  We tend to recommend drones from manufacturers that have been around for a while with a track record of quality products.

Availability of Spares.  Most drones will be supplied with a spare set of rotors, but you will probably get through these pretty quickly so it is better to buy a drone for which spare parts are easily obtained.  It also helps if spare batteries are cheap as you will need several to enjoy a longer flying time.

 Best Drones for BeginnersIdeal beginners drone

If you are buying your first drone, or buying a gift for someone who has never flown a drone before, here is an important piece of advice:

Beginners drones should be cheap drones


Why?  Because while your flying expertise undertakes its upwards learning curve, you will crash your drone.  And due to the fact that gravity is not very forgiving, it may break into several pieces.  There are some fantastic indoor and "toy" drones available which react to controls in exactly the same way as more expensive ones, and these can be used to learn how to fly a drone in the safety and comfort of your own home.  Alternatively there are some great larger drones available with for under £50 which offer features such as Hover Mode and Headless Mode, and can give you a feel of what it is like to fly a more expensive drone.  Check out our section on Best Drones Under £50 for our recommendations on beginner drones.