“Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! No. It’s a plane. No. It’s… It’s… a Mini Quadcopter Drone.”
Generally, these popular flying devices called drones can be just a few inches in size or as huge as an airplane. Because of their diversity and versatility kids, hobbyists, companies, and even the… military can control them.
What is a Drone?
A drone is an unmanned aircraft; without a human being in or controlling it, it can fly. It is also called a UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or an RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems).
The use of drones today in technological fields are more or less common sights. You have also to agree that their use has also expanded further than that.
In the entertainment industry, professionals in videography and even some private individuals use drones as “toys.”
One reason for their seeming prevalence is the way they take the pressure off you. How do I mean?
If for example as a media professional, you’re looking to get the best pictures or videos from heights naturally unattainable, then you might need a drone. Before now, you might have had to take the risk or pay someone to take it for you, to get the specific image or video that you want. A drone can do all that for you and I would suggest you get a mini quadcopter also called a quadcopter.
So, what kind of drones are there?
Several. One of them is the mini quadcopter.
The mini quadcopter drone is a small air vehicle equipped with four rotors. It is also known as a quadcopter. The rotor arms of a quadcopter are arranged in a square or rectangle, and thus allow a stable and steady ascent and flying of the drone.
Is there a difference between a quadcopter and a drone?
Yes. But, not really.
“Drone” is a broad word used to reference any type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
“Quadcopter” specifically refers to a kind of drone that is controlled by four rotors. It is also called a quadrotor or a quadrotor helicopter. The rotors on the quadcopter each consist of a motor and a propeller.
With that said, let’s take a quick run through the features of the mini quadcopter drones.
Features of the Mini Quadcopter
Quadcopters, just like drones in general, can be classed as either personal/hobbyist or commercial/enterprise. This classification indicates its features, which we describe below.
First off, the standout feature of the quadcopter drone is its possession of four helicopter-like rotors. Each rotor produces both lift and torque around its center of rotation, as it drags opposite to the vehicle’s direction of flight. Quadcopters commonly have two of the four rotors spinning clockwise, and the other two counterclockwise.
Camera and Video Resolution
Depending on the type of quadcopter you desire to purchase, the camera type, video resolution, its megapixels and media storage and format will vary.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro has a camera resolution of 20mp, but on the other hand, just like the Blade Nano QX RTF, some may not possess any cameras nor any form of media input or output
Maximum Flight Time
The amount of time your quadcopter will be able to fly in the air is a unique feature of each copter. For instance, the Ryze Tech Tello has a maximum flight time of 5 minutes, which pales when compared to the 31 minutes flight time of the DJI Mavic Air 2.
The world record for the speed of a quadcopter is 163.5 miles per hour. This was set by the DRL Racer X.
The level of speed during ascent, descent, vertical or horizontal movement is part of the blade speed change in quadcopters.
The weight of the quadcopter can be affected by wind and weather conditions. The DJI Mini 2 is susceptible to fairly strong winds. This is unsurprising, as it weighs just 8 ounces.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 has no such problem at 1375 grams in weight.
Obstacle Sensory Range
The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom has 360-degree obstacle avoidance.
Geographic Positional Systems (GPS) are located and fixed in the nose of a quadcopter. The GPS sends its precise position with the controller.
An onboard altimeter communicates altitude information to the quadcopter controller.
The altimeter helps keep the copter at a specific altitude, as communicated by the controller.
Use of Batteries
The use of batteries is advantageous, especially if it is the 6000mAh feature of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0.
The PowerVision PowerEgg X Quadcopter 3800 mAh is not so bad either.
Another major feature, which may not necessarily apply to all mini quadcopters, is foldability.
The DJI Mavic 2 is foldable. It measures 9.97 x 7.2 x 3 when it’s not folded and 7.1 x 3.8 x 3.3 when folded.
Uses and Functions of Quadcopter Drones
From the technical mounting of key military areas to attracting the attention of hobbyists worldwide, drone technology has evolved and hit heights within the last few years.
Professionals and individuals, commercial bodies and governments now realize that drones have several uses, some of which include:
- Aerial photography for journalism and film making
- Services such as express shipping and delivery
- Data and information gathering or supplying essentials for managing disasters
- Thermal sensor drones can be used for search and rescue operations
- For geographic mapping of terrains and locations that are inaccessible
- To perform safety inspections during building
- Precision crop monitoring
- Performing unmanned cargo transport
- It serves for law enforcement and border control surveillance
- Also, for storm tracking and forecasting hurricanes and tornadoes
Types and Models of Quadcopters
When you’re looking for the best models of quadcopters, you have multiple choices.
Thanks to newer technology, quadcopters pretty much fly themselves and can stay stable in the air in all but the most challenging weather conditions.
UAVs have also been improved at catching aerial photos and video. The camera alone is not the only improvement, but the software also.
Quadcopters can now track people and objects, and help you record some truly interesting motion scenes.
Generally, UAVs have become less expensive over the years. A while ago, the best drones cost more than $1,000, but today, you can now find even better models for a fraction of that price.
The Company DJI is known to make some of the most affordable and superb quadcopters.
For many people, the DJI Mini 2 is arguably the best quadcopters in the market. It’s the least expensive and most compact quadcopter offering from the company. It is easy to carry around and fly virtually anywhere. Packed up into a carrying case the size of a lunchbox, its controller fits in extra room for spare parts and additional batteries. At $449, and upgraded to shoot 4K video, the Mini 2 has a 6-mile range and can hover for up to 31 minutes.
For camera quality, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro Quadcopter is a top contender. The quad has a 1/2.3 Hasselblad sensor – significantly larger than found on other drones with built-in cameras.
If something with a zoom lens is what you are looking for, then the Mavic 2 Zoom is your best bet; it has a 2X zoom lens.
If your budget is within one grand, then we suggest the $799 DJI Mavic Air 2.
Let’s have a more detailed view of types and models of Quadcopters and their prices. You can also check out the section on Choosing the right quadcopter for you towards the end of the article.
1. DJI Mini 2
Flight Time: 31 minutes | Camera: 4K/30 fps | Smartphone Controlled: Yes | FAA Registration: Not required | Indoor Use: No | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size (unfolded): 9.6 x 11.4 x 2.1 inches | Weight: 8.8 ounces
The DJI Mini 2 is the perfect quadcopter for most people. It is quite tiny – able to fit in the palm of your hand – it’s easy to fly and can stay aloft for up to 31 minutes.
And, at $449 on Amazon, it’s the cheapest of DJI’s drones, making it more affordable.
The improvement of the Mini 2’s camera resolution over the previous generation is evident. It now shoots at 4K/30 fps.
It is gimbal-stabilized and because of this, it’s just as smooth as ever. Due to its lightweight (249 grams), the Mini 2 does not need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, this also means that this quadcopter is more susceptible to high winds.
Altogether, it’s quite amazing what is packed into the minuscule DJI Mini 2.
Pros of the DJI Mini 2
- It is relatively inexpensive
- It has a long battery life
- It is very easy to fly
Cons of the DJI Mini 2
- Due to its lightweight, it is more susceptible to wind gusts
Check it out on Amazon
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2. DJI Mavic Air 2
Flight Time: 34 minutes | Camera: 4K/60 fps | Smartphone Controlled: Yes | FAA Registration: Required | Indoor Use: No | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size (folded): 7.1 x 3.8 x 3.3 inches | Size (unfolded: 9.96 x 7.2 x 3 inches | Weight: 1.25 pounds.
For the best drone for recording in 4K while keeping within one grand USD budget, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is our pick.
An upgrade of the second edition of the Mavic Air with a much better and improved camera, the Mavic Air 2 is capable of taking 4K videos at 60 frames per second, as well as Super SloMo 240p video at full HD resolutions. It can take super-large 48-megapixel photos, too.
The flight time has also been boosted to an impressive 34 minutes. The quadcopters object tracking has been improved so that it can now maintain a lock, even if you duck behind a tree for a moment.
Also, Mavic Air 2 can receive ADS-B signals, which better allows you to know when an aircraft is approaching.
The only point of bickering is that the Mavic Air 2’s appearance is as dull as the Mavic Mini and Mavic Pro.
But with a performance like this, who really cares?
Pros of Mavic Air 2
- It is a fast and a nimble flier
- It has a treat battery life
- It possesses a comfortable controller
- It is excellent for taking photos and shooting video
Cons of Mavic Air 2
- It has a drab design compared to the previous model
Check it out on Amazon
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3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro/ DJI Mavic 2
Flight Time: 31 minutes | Camera: 4K/30 fps | Smartphone Controlled: Yes | FAA Registration: Required | Indoor Use: No | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size: 12.7 x 9.5 x 3.3 inches | Weight: Pro: 32 ounces| Zoom: 31.9 ounces.
For slightly more complex aerial photography needs, the DJI Mavic 2 quadcopter steps right up to it.
We would say that it is the best drone for videographers and photographers looking for an all-in-one aerial platform.
Obviously, more expensive quadcopters that let you mount DSLRs and other third-party cameras do exist. So, the price is a major factor here.
There are two versions of the Mavic 2:
- the $1,449 Mavic 2 Pro, which offers a 1-inch Hasselblad sensor for capturing high-quality photos and video, and,
- the $1,249 Mavic 2 Zoom features a 2X optical zoom lens.
Both versions are good choices, though the Zoom came out a bit more versatile. Irrespective of the Mavic 2 you tilt towards, you can be assured of an easy-to-fly drone that is characterized by 360-degree obstacle avoidance.
Pros of the Mavic 2 Pro
- It is easy to fly
- It has a long battery life
- The camera quality is excellent
- It has a 360-degree obstacle avoidance
Cons of the Mavic 2 Pro
- It is expensive
- The rotor flickers in sunlight
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4. PowerVision PowerEgg X
Flight Time: 25 minutes | Camera: 4K/30 fps | Smartphone Controlled: Yes | FAA Registration: Required | Indoor Use: No | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size: 18 x 18 inches x 4 inches | Weight: 1.9 pounds
In the water is where most other drones can’t go; however, the PowerVision PowerEgg X can!
With its removable waterproof shell and pontoons, the PowerEgg X allows you to land and take off from ponds, lakes, even the ocean – if it’s calm enough.
The drone’s body can even be used as a camcorder, making it useful even when it’s not in the air.
The PowerEgg X, we discovered, flew well. However, because of the pontoons’ weight, it hovered a bit slowly and could fly for up to 25 minutes or so on a charge. It also has pretty good object tracking.
The video and photo quality is above average but does not measure up to the level of DJI’s drones. On the other hand, landing one of DJI’s quadcopters in the water to see what happens is not advisable.
Pros of the PowerEgg X
- It can land, and also take off on water
- It can fly in poor weather conditions
- It can be used as a camcorder
Cons of the PowerEgg X
- It is a slow flier, especially when using pontoons
- The video quality is not best-in-class
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5. Ryze Tech Tello
Flight Time: 3-5 minutes | Camera: 720p | Smartphone Controlled: Optional | FAA Registration: Not Required | Indoor Use: Yes | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size: 6 x 6 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 3 ounces
Modelled by DJI, and for under $100, the Ryze Tech Tello is a good, inexpensive drone for first-time fliers.
One of the things that place this quadcopter above other inexpensive drones for kids is that it can be programmed using Scratch, thus being able to turn this toy into an educational gadget.
The Ryze Tello also has a 720p camera that records very good video and is easy to fly around.
The major issue highlighted during the testing of the drone was its short flight time – 5-minute flight time. Hence, you should be prepared to stock up on a few batteries if you decide to pick it up.
Pros of the Ryze Tech Tello
- It is a small and fast drone
- It is easy to control
- The Tello has a comfortable remote control
Cons of the Ryze Tech Tello
- Scratch programming language is tricky to set up
- The short battery life of the Tello is an issue
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6. Blade Nano QX RTF
Flight Time: 8 minutes | Camera: No | Smartphone Controlled: No | FAA Registration: Not Required | Indoor Use: Yes | Rotors: four (two blades per rotor, replaceable) | Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 2 inches | Weight: 0.6 ounces
The Blade Nano QX is the recommended drone for learning the basics as well as keeping cost on the low side.
It offers a range of features for the flier who wants more without spending more than $50. The no-frills Blade Nano QX RTF lacks a camera, but it’s fast and maneuverable.
The sturdy blade guards are a great addition, which helps keep it in one piece if it encounters any sort of crash. The Nano also has a short battery life span of fewer than nine minutes. However, through Amazon, for about $20, you can buy a pack of four batteries.
Pros of the Blade Nano QX
- The Blade is fun and responsive
- The controls are simple and basic
- Unpacking the Blade includes spare blades and a canopy
Cons of the Blade Nano QX
- It has a short battery life
- The Blade Nano is quite lightweight and so is very sensitive to wind
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Choosing a Quadcopter for You
Overall, drones are fun to fly and can let you take eye-catching footage, some in high-resolution 4K video. Fortunately, today, they are more affordable than ever, as good quality beginner models can be purchased for less than $60.
For a few hundred dollars, you can get a good camera drone. For more complex UAVs, you can start at less than $1,000, and they offer customizable and programmable features, turning them into truly autonomous devices that can make decisions on their own.
Features to Consider Before Purchasing a Drone
UAVs are not that complicated. However, a few key questions you should consider when you are choosing one include:
- Design: Is it well built, and do you like how it looks? What are the ergonomics of the controllers (if it comes with one)?
- Durability/Reparability: You cannot avoid a crash sometimes while flying, even if it is just once. However, a good model should be able to survive a few accidents without a problem. So, if there is a breakage somewhere (most likely a rotor), would it be easy to repair?
- Flight Performance: Is it easy to fly the device? When hovering, is it stable or is a lot of stickwork required? How does it respond to your commands?
- App: Is the app intuitive enough? What sort of features are available?
- Camera Quality: How good are the photos and videos it takes (if it possesses a camera)?
- Flight Time: Taking into consideration the varying sizes of the drone, how long can it stay in the air before its battery runs out?
- Price: You cannot expect a $50 drone to perform as well as a $1,000 drone. So, how cost-effective is the device?
When all these are answered to your satisfaction, you can go ahead and acquire your preferred quadcopter.