Flying was a very expensive thing to do up until recently. Over time, commercial flights have become more affordable, making it possible for people of all economic backgrounds to get on a plane. Most recently, flying a plane – even a tiny one – is even accessible to almost anyone.

Technology has come a long way, and now, all you need to do to become a pilot is buy a drone and go fly it. In this article, we’re going to give you all you need to know about drones and how to buy one. We’ll also include a ranking of the best drones available on the UK market. If you can’t to get your hands on a full-size plane, these devices will allow you to fulfil your dream of flying.

First things first:

  • Most people need a camera on their drone, which is why its quality is extremely important. Nowadays, the most advanced models can offer video image quality up to 4K and very high photo resolution.
  • The autonomy – or flight time – is another important thing.  Budget-friendly drones usually have an autonomy of between 5 and 30 minutes. We’ll discuss this in the next section.
  • The flying distance goes hand in hand with the autonomy. The most basic models cannot fly more than 50 metres from the control point.

Ranking: The best drones in the UK

We’ve had a look at the drones on the market, analysed prices and customer reviews, and come up with this comprehensive list of the best in the UK. You can see each of our favourite drones this selection below, alongside a little description of each product. So we’re certain that by the end of this ranking and this guide, you will have chosen the perfect drone for you!

No. 1: SNAPTAIN WiFi Drone with 720P HD Camera and Live Video (35.4cm x 24.4cm, x 8.6cm)

First up we have this fancy drone by SNAPTAIN, which is Amazon’s Choice for drones. The real time transmission means that the camera relives what the drone captures and relays it back to your phone in the first person view – how cool! Additionally, this drone is easy to fly, you only need to press one button for it to lift off, land or return on your command, so it’s perfect for those who are just starting out in their drone journey.

What’s more, the altitude hold function means that the drone can hold and hover at a certain altitude, so videos and photos can be captured without any shakiness. The best thing about this drone is the 360° function it has – a function that any child or child-at-heart loves! With this fab function, you can make the drone do flips and have it dance in the air!

No. 2: HASAKEE H6 Foldable RC Mini Drone with Altitude Hold and Headless Mode (12.5cm x 10.5cm x 3.6cm)

This drone by HASAKEE is one of the cheapest on the UK market, so it’s perfect if you aren’t sure if you’ll like drones, if you’re on a budget or if you want to buy someone a little gift. This is a mini drone with a long flight time of 10 minutes. With the charge time of only 35 minutes, you know you’re getting the most a drone of good quality with this one.

It has three speeds: low for beginners, medium for those getting to grips with the drone lifestyle, and high for the highly skilled aviators. This means that this drone is great for beginners, since they can measure their progression. How long will it take for you to be able to fly comfortably at high speed? Come on, we’ll challenge you!

No. 3: Holy Stone HS100 GPS RC Drone with 1080P Camera Live Video (50cm x 50cm x 17.5cm)

This fab drone by Holy Stone is for those who are experienced and know all there is to know about drones. One of the most pricey on the market, you can be rest assured that you’re getting your money’s worth, since you have a flight time of up to 15 minutes, a camera which captures high quality video and aerial photos and a high performance battery which gives the drone the capability of reaching up to 500 metres!

Furthermore, this drone features Follow Me mode. This means that the drone will automatically follow you wherever you move. Keeping you in the camera’s frame at all times, this drone will get you a hands-free selfie wherever, whenever! What more could you want?

No. 4: JoyGeek FPV RC Drone with Camera (24cm x 24cm x 9cm)

Next up we have this drone by JoyGeek. This is nearer the lower end of the price scale, so it’s the perfect gift for anyone you know who may be interested in getting into flying drones. The detachable protective frame offers all-round protection for if the drone hits the wall, which is good for those beginners who many not yet have got the hang of flying a drone.

This drone has a feature called trajectory flight, which means that you can draw a trajectory on your phone’s app and the drone will fly the route you design. This is fantastic and makes your experience of flying a drone even more exciting than it already was! You can also do stunts with this drone and wear a virtual reality headset so you can look at the camera real time!

No. 5: HASAKEE H1 RC Drone with HD Live Video WiFi Camera (12cm x 12cm x 6.5cm)

Last but certainly not least, we have this HASAKEE drone, which is Amazon’s Choice for drones. This drone is good for beginners since it has three speed settings, app control and one-key take off and landings. It also has altitude hold and a built in air pressure sensor so the drone will automatically set an appropriate height.

What’s more this colourful yellow bee design is perfect for those who like a bit of colour. It also has a headless security mode which makes flying this drone easy and secure. So no more worries about where the drone is flying – it’s always safe! This truly is the most perfect all-round drone on the market – it’s perfect for everyone!

Buying Guide: Everything you need to know about drones

Now that you’ve discovered our ranking of some of the best drones available in the UK, be it for amateur or professional drone pilots, it’s important for you to have more information in order to make the right choice. In the following section, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions by drone users and potential drone users, so you’ll know all there is to know about these flying devices.

Drones have become a key tool for landscape photography and video.
(Source: Inga Linder Kopiecka: 76976058/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is a drone?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, are remotely operated, unmanned aircraft. They were originally designed by and for the military industry, but drones quickly became of use for many different things, and they’re now key components of the entertainment, photography and video industries.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the importance of drones in the photography and video industries. But that’s not to say that drones are of any less importance in industries such as pipeline or livestock surveillance, firefighting, civil security, and many more.

Amelia EarhartAmerican Aviator

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”

How do I keep my drone in good condition?

The most important care for your drone is to be extra careful when you start flying it. The first few times you take it out and start learning how to handle it, we strongly encourage you to do so in an open space, where there are no obstacles that your drone could come into contact with and cause damage to.

Once you’ve got the hang of piloting, don’t forget to clean the drone regularly, both inside and outside. A good way of cleaning a drone is by using air pressure. This way is especially good for those who fly their drones over land, since a lot of dirt and mud can get on it.

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One of the biggest issues we face with drones is that they can often get lost. This is why a very useful function has been designed: the automatic return to the point of control using GPS technology.

What types of drone are out there?

As you’ve seen from our ranking, drones can greatly vary, generally depending on their price. The most affordable models are purely designed for recreational use and are popular amongst aviation fans. You can even put your own camera on some drones that don’t already have cameras. This is good for it you want lots of control over the price.

The drone market also offers higher performance models – even professional ones. Obviously, these are more expensive than those which are purely for recreational use. These high performance models can can be used for anything from the surveillance of large natural spaces to the production of movies and audiovisual projects.

Drones have quickly gained a real place in the sector of tech products.
(Source: Golubovy: 61529164/ 123rf.com)

What are drones used for?

A drone is used like an aircraft but without a pilot, crew or passengers. They can be used for as many things as a plane can be used for, since the camera that feeds back to the user (this happens with most models), means that you get a view as if you were a pilot. We’ve already touched on this, but drones used to be used exclusively in the military, but now they can be used by anyone of any age, to carry out mountain surveillance, to look at traffic, to create videos about cities, to look at structures, the list goes on.

That being said, the has been a recent surge in demand for drones, and this is down to people who want them and who buy them for leisure purposes, so they can take photos and record videos using them.

Characteristic DJI Spark Hubsan x4 Haoxin F21G DJI Mavic Pro GoPro Karma
Flight time 16 minutes 20 minutes 10 minutes 27 minutes 20 minutes
Size and weight 14.3cm x 14.3cm x 5.5cm – 300 g 22cm x 22cm x 7cm – 440 g 11.2cm x 12.6cm x 3cm – 200 g 36.2cm x 29.1cm x 21cm – 743 g 30.3cm x 41.1cm x 11.7cm – 1 kg
Camera CMOS sensor with 1080p at 12MP 1080p HD camera 720p HD, optical flow sensor 4H Ultra HD video, 12MP photos
GPS Return-to-Home function GPS with auto-return N/A Return-to-Home and autopilot functions GPS with auto-return

Are the images taken with drones of professional quality?

The quality of the images you get with your drone will obviously depend entirely on how good the camera is. Obviously, with any product, the quality varies between models. 4K or Ultra HD cameras will provide excellent image quality, while models with fewer functions will lead to a poorer quality for your videos and photos.

Additionally, the use of drones for professional photographs and videos is a practice that has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays, many series, movies and documentaries – True Detective, Jurassic World and Free Solo, for example – are recorded entirely or partially with drones, as well as several photographic campaigns. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of these devices:

Advantages
  • Offer new perspectives for photography
  • Perfect complement for audiovisual productions
  • 4K
Disadvantages
  • Not all drones come with high quality cameras

Buying Criteria

In the following section, we will talk about the most important criteria that you should consider before making your purchase. The most important thing to think about is what you want to use your drone for. Is it to take photographs? To use in your job? To create videos? Whatever it is, this is the factor which will have the most influence over the characteristics you desire in your drone. Furthermore, there are other things to think about. Read this buying criteria to find out more:

  • Size and weight
  • Camera
  • Flight duration
  • Flight distance
  • Piloting and GPS

Size and weight

The size and weight may be key factors for you. For example, if you like to travel with your drone, having a small model that is easy to fit just about anywhere is best for you. However, if you want a small drone that has a lot of good functions, remember that these tend to be more expensive.

If you want to use your drone for outdoor photography, it is recommended to opt for a model weighing less than 2 kg (4.4lbs), but the ideal would be less than 1 kg (2.2lbs). The DJI Spark, for instance, weighs only 300 grams (10.58 oz)

Remotes come in all shapes and sizes.
(Source: Itle Watthana: 80283431/ 123rf.com)

Camera

Each drone in our ranking has a built-in camera, like the majority of drones on the market. Their quality generally goes hand in hand with the price of the drone: you can find anything from high quality cameras with 4K video, to lower quality video, with a HD image of no more than 2.0 GB. Your choice should depend on what you want to use it for. If recording video and snapping perfect shots isn’t your cup of tea, then there’s not much point in spending lots of money on a drone with 4K video when you can get one better suited to your needs.

Flight duration

As we mentioned before, the flight duration will vary from one model to another. The most professional drones can fly for 20 to 30 minutes, and some will even have an option to automatically return to the starting point. Simpler, cheaper drones won’t fly for longer than five or six minutes. But again, a short flight time may be all you need.

Model Flight time
DJI Spark 16 minutes
Hubsan x4 20 minutes
Haoxin F21G 10 minutes
DJI Mavic Pro 27 minutes
GoPro Karma 20 minutes

Flight distance

In the same vein, the maximum distance between the drone and its control point depends primarily on how much you’re willing to invest in this product. These distances can generally reach up to 500 metres (1640 feet), with cheaper models offering 50-60 metres (164 to 197 feet) of autonomy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.American Human Rights Activist

“We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”

Piloting and GPS

The final thing to think about before buying a drone is how you will manage and use it. Do you want an LED screen? GPS functions? The possibility of redoing the initial route without changes? Or you may even want another special feature, such as Return-to-Home (RTH)? There are drones with lots of different features on, so it’s a good idea to have a think about if you want any special features on your drone. If you do, however, you’ll have to pay a little (or a lot) extra, so bear that in mind.

Summary

Also called unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have very quickly gained a key place in the tech sector. They have had the capacity to evolve out of their original military sphere, reaching civil spaces and the entertainment industry. Aviation lovers, photographers or videographers are all reaping the benefits of these devices.

We’ve done our best to provide you with a broad yet comprehensive overview of what the drone market has to offer, whether you want to use for leisure activities or professional purposes. If you want your very own drone, remember to look at our buying criteria, which highlights factors such as flight time, flight distance, camera quality and drone size, before you buy, to ensure that you buy the best drone to suit your budget and needs.

If you liked our article, feel free to share it on your social media. Leave us a comment with any suggestion or question in the section below! Happy flying!

(Source of featured image: Goce-Risteski: 27709575/ 123rf.com)

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