Sure, state-of-the-art drones sound cool and drool-worthy – but what about spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to get one?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
And you know what? You don’t need one of those hyped-up models to have fun, anyway – the best mini drone can pack just as much fun and excitement but at a fraction of the price.
Besides, drone technology has come a long way these past few years – and despite what you may initially think based on their size, miniature drones have gotten a lot more versatile and sophisticated, too.
There are quite a lot of things you can do with a small Nano, pocket, or micro drone – from improving your piloting skills to performing intricate mid-air stunts and having full-blown indoor drone races.
You see, once you’re confident enough in your skills, no one’s stopping you from getting one of the best drones for under $1000. But if you’re relatively inexperienced, do yourself – and your budget – a favor, and start with something a bit more compact and maneuverable, such as the mini quadcopters I have for you today.
So, are you ready to have your mind blown by these tiny – but mighty – drones? Okay, then, let’s get to it!
What Is a Mini Drone: Basic Features & Overview
Let’s not overcomplicate things:
A mini drone is exactly what it sounds like – a drone that’s miniature, almost like a toy aircraft.
And as I’ve pointed out, they’re considered to be an excellent entry-level option. On that note, they’re highly recommended for those exploring the world of drones for the first time.
They’re not only reasonably priced but a bit more crash-proof, as well, making them a perfect choice for those who’d like to work on their piloting skills before they move onto something bigger – and more expensive, too.
You see, tiny drones are known for their compact, lightweight frames, often constructed entirely out of molded plastic. And while that might not sound as impressive at first, it’s what gives them their resistance to crash-related damage.
And when you do crash one, it won’t cost an arm and a leg to repair it!
Granted, they might not have all the latest bells and whistles of their bigger relatives, but as I hope to show you today, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you keep your expectations in check, you can be amazed by what these little aircraft are capable of doing.
There are several essential features you can typically expect to find on the best mini drones – and these include:
- Pocket drones usually come fully assembled and ready-to-fly out of the box
- The average battery life of the best mini drones offers around six to eight minutes of flight time per full charge, and take about an hour to recharge
- They come with remote controllers which allow you to control their direction and perform mid-air stunts
- They’re mostly designed for indoor use, but some can fly outdoors, too, as long as there’s no wind
- There are mini drones that come equipped with cameras capable of capturing both videos and still photography, as well as providing an FPV experience
Best Mini Drones For All Budgets
And now, let’s get to why you’re genuinely here – to check out my round-up of the best mini drones in 2022!
1. Potensic A20 Tiny Drone – The Best “True” mini drone –
There are three things a starter drone should be – easy to use at all levels, durable enough to survive accidental crashes, and cheap enough to not lose sleep over damaging it. And yes, the Potensic A20 drone checks out all three boxes.
So, if you’re not quite ready to splurge on one of those state-of-the-art models until you’ve worked on your piloting skills a bit, this tiny, toy-grade drone might be perfect for the job!
Design & Performance
The first thing you’ll notice is how small it is – it measures a mere 3.1 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches, and is barely the size of your hand. Surprisingly enough, despite its tiny, toy-like appearance, it feels relatively well-made and sturdy.
The drone uses a detachable battery with an average life of five to six minutes. It’s not something to call home about, but they’re five minutes of pure fun, nonetheless.
You’ll be glad to know that it does come with a backup battery, though. Also, you’ll get low-battery notifications for both the controller and the drone – the former will emit a beeping sound, and the latter will show it’s time to recharge the battery by blinking continuously.
There’s a reason why this drone’s so popular among beginners – and it mostly comes down to its user-friendly operation.
Seriously, it’s so easy to use that even first-time users – I’m talking folks who never owned a drone, let alone operated one – will manage to get it off the ground, and keep it there.
The secret is in its handy features, including the one-key take-off and landing, and the so-called Altitude Hold function. It doesn’t get much simpler than that – push a button for take-off, enable the Altitude Hold mode, and the drone will stay at its current height until you figure out what to do next.
Furthermore, the three-speed adjustments and the Headless Mode feature are there to ensure a smooth, worry-free experience for all skill levels.
And if you ever feel like you’re losing control, you can always turn to the Emergency Stop function for help – it will turn the drone off automatically.
Not bad for a cheap, toy-like drone, huh?
2. DJI Mavic Mini 2
DJI just launched an upgrade to the biggest gamechanger in the drone industry, the Mavic Mini.
The foldable, under 250 g drone, is getting all of it’s specs and features improved with the new Mavic Mini 2.
I’m sure you have already heard, seen or even flown a DJI Mavic drone. It is one of the most recent products by the famous brand DJI.
Well right now the Mavic Mini 2, brings the high quality video resolution and stabilty, plus class leading flight range and duration from the Mavic series to the under $500 price range.
Shipping for the original Mini started on the 11th of November 2019. Moving forward to 2022, this model remains the best drone for the money.
Extremely easy to carry around in a backpack, it’s one of the best for holidays, filming outdoor events, vlogging, or pretty much anything.
Very compact and lightweight, not only it can be carried anywhere, it’s also the almost as good as the Mavic 2 Air, which goes for $1000 and can not be classified as a mini drone due to its size.
Everything you need to truly experience an out of this world performance. From beginners to experts, the Mini 2 is a wonder in any hands. Even a baby can fly this thing.
The Mavic Mini 2 also presents some amazing specs, such as the 10km max control range, an upgrade from the previous 4km. Flight time is also quite impressive if we take into consideration how small the drone is. Per battery, the Mini has a max flight time of 31 minutes.
Housed on the drone’s front is a camera supported by a three-axis motorized gimbal, and fitted with a 1/2.3-inch sensor.
The Mavic Mini 2 camera’s video-capturing capabilities cap out at a 4K HD resolution, with a 30fps frame rate. The alternative here is a 1080p video at 60fps. Moreover, it’s capable of capturing 12MP images, as well.
The drone of course, can also transmit Live Video in high-quality, real-time with 0 latency. The best FPV experience you can get from a drone within this budget.
Another thing it doesn’t lack is safety-oriented features:
For instance, the integrated altitude limit prevents you from getting carried away, and a return home function kicks in automatically when the battery gets critically low – and ensures that your drone comes home safely.
I had my doubts about its mid-air performance, considering its lightweight frame. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong:
It felt stable and precise at all times, partially due to the downward vision sensors that allow it to detect the ground for safer landings, as well as more stable flights and hovering.
It can stay stable at an altitude of 4000 meters while in level 5 winds!
Not to mention its foldable too!
Are there any downsides, though?
The one trade-off that I should mention is that it doesn’t come with object tracking. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this feature added as a part of a future update, though.
For a better comparison between the two, see our in-depth DJI Mavic Mini review here.
3. Altair Falcon AHP Pocket Drone Good all-rounder
Let me introduce you to my absolute favorite mid-sized drone of all – the Altair Falcon AHP Pocket Drone.
Because I can’t wait to show you what this tiny wonder has to offer – that’s why!
Design & Performance
Open up the box, and you’ll be greeted by a compact, fully assembled, all-black drone, complete with a set of pre-installed propeller guards. If you’re confident enough in your piloting skills, feel free to remove them – it’s super easy to do so.
The whole thing measures 10.5 x 9.6 x 2.3 inches, so it’s certainly more substantial than some other miniature drones you’ll see today but is still reasonably lightweight at 5.2 ounces.
As far as battery capacity goes, you can expect to get up to 10 minutes of flight time per charge. But since no one likes to sit around and wait for the battery to charge, the Falcon comes with two batteries, bringing its flight-time total to 20 minutes.
Oh, and did I happen to forget to mention that it comes equipped with a 720p camera with a 120-degree viewing angle, capable of capturing both live video and still shots?
When it comes to the actual mid-air performance, let me start by saying that the Falcon comes with one of those no-nonsense controllers. Intuitive and simple, it’s designed to make flight operation even more straightforward. The added smartphone mount is a nice touch, too – it attaches to the controller for some first-person action.
On that note, the Custom Flight Routing Mode is something you might want to try – you get to decide on a flight route, and then sit back, relax, and watch the Falcon go.
The AHP in its name stands for Autonomous Hover & Positioning, a feature that is unique to Altair drones. This system removes the up-and-down, left-to-right variations out of the equation, and keeps the drone in place mid-air – even when you let go of the controls.
Of course, the list of beginner-oriented features doesn’t end there – the Headless Mode and one-touch take-off and landing also deserve mention here.
It’s all about care-free operation, smooth flights, and ease of use at all levels – and that’s what makes it a perfect fit for any drone pilot, new or experienced!
4. Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini RC – Close Second –
The best way to describe the HS170 would be as a small and lightweight quad-rotor drone – nothing too special, but certainly within reasonable expectations considering its price tag.
Design & Performance
Measuring a mere 5.3 x 1.6 x 5.3 inches, there are but a few places where you wouldn’t be able to bring it. Granted, this can be somewhat of an issue if you decide to take it outside – small and light as it is, it’s highly sensitive to windy conditions.
The drone boasts four rotors, with the front one featuring white propellers, and the back ones having black blades.
In addition to the color-coded propellers, it also comes with LED lights – blue in the front, red in the back. I loved the flexible landing feet, too – their curved design allows them to absorb quite a bit of impact in case of not-so-smooth landings.
The Holy Stone HS170 comes fitted with a removable rechargeable battery, and you’ll get up to eight minutes of continuous flight time on a single charge, with recharge time being approximately 45 to 60 minutes. It’s a shame that it doesn’t come with extra batteries, though.
The 2.4 GHz low-interference controller is ridiculously bulky, and the controls aren’t labeled, at all – you’re left to figure that one out for yourself.
So, what’s it like operating the Holy Stone HS170 Predator?
Well, it comes with three-speed modes, which makes it equally suitable for beginners and more advanced pilots. Also, it’s fitted with 6-Axis Gyro Technology, a stabilization system that adds a layer of flexibility and stability, ensuring that it performs stunts and sudden moves, and recovers pretty quickly, too. It can do cool mid-air flips and rolls, all with a push of a button.
The most significant factor, as far as ease of use goes, has to be the so-called Headless Mode – it keeps the orientation fixed relative to the pilot, regardless of where the actual aircraft is facing. If you’ve never flown a mini drone before, you’ll appreciate the extra boost in confidence that this feature provides.
5. EMAX Tinyhawk RTF Micro Racing Drone – The Fastest Nano Drone –
I was beyond excited to test this one out – and for several reasons, too.
For one, it’s an all-in-one, ready-to-fly FPV kit – it includes everything you might need to start your new FPV hobby off on the right foot.
The second reason why I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this EMAX drone was its speed. Did you know that this miniature thing’s capable of developing speeds of up to 35 miles per hour?
Design & Performance
This drone comes as a part of a full-blown FPV kit, and that means that you’re also getting FPV goggles, a controller, and a small carrying case. You can now bring your drone wherever you go!
The drone’s polypropylene plastic frame measures only 4.3 x 3.7 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs as little as 1.5 ounces – and that’s counting the camera and video transmitter, and the battery, too.
Surprisingly enough, it seems to be long-lasting and durable, with all of its vital components – frame, propellers, and electronics – well protected from crash impact.
The battery life was somewhat disappointing, though. It wouldn’t be fair to expect long flight times from micro drones – especially not in this price range – but only four minutes of air-time leaves a lot to be desired.
In case I haven’t made it clear by now, this is an easy-to-control micro indoor racing drone designed to teach you the basics of flight – all from a first-person point of view. And as such, it brings a few user-oriented features to the table, one of which is the controller being pre-set to three different modes – Level, Horizon, and Full Acrobatic mode.
Choose the last one if you’d like to put your piloting skills to the test with full, hands-on control.
Moreover, it’s stable, responsive, and moves with ease and precision that is rarely seen in drones its size. Plus, it is hands down, the fastest Nano drone out of the bunch.
Oh, and if you happen to lose it somewhere due to an “unintentional landing,” the motor beeper function is there to help you track it down. Trust me; with a drone this small – and this fast – you’ll be using this feature a lot.
6. Mini FPV Drone – For The New Angle Of Fun –
Based on previous examples, you probably think that all FPV drones cost an arm and a leg – but my next choice might change your mind.
What you’re getting here, besides the actual drone and a controller, that is, are mini, three-inch HD VR goggles capable of transmitting real-time live video captured by the built-in wide-angle HD camera.
And that’s where the real fun starts!
Design & Performance
What I have here is the AIRJUGAR Mini FPV Drone, a Nano quadcopter that measures a mere 3.3 x 3.3 x 1.6 inches, but still packs everything you’ll need for a genuine FPV experience.
It’s insane to think that it comes fitted with an HD camera, considering its tiny size – but it does!
The battery life is pretty standard for these mini-sized drones – five to seven minutes of continuous flight time, with a charging period of around 40 or so minutes.
It does, however, come with a total of three removable batteries included in the package, and that means you won’t have to go through the hassle of buying additional battery packs yourself. Plus, combined, they offer up to 20 minutes of flight time.
First of all, I found it to be very beginner-friendly and easy to control. It offers three different speed modes, but more importantly, has a plethora of other user-oriented features, too:
One such feature is the one-key Start/Land, which makes launching and landing the drone as easy as pushing a button – no special operation required.
Furthermore, it boasts the so-called Emergency Stop feature. If you notice you’re losing control of the drone or experience loss of orientation, this function will allow you to shut it off – rather than risk losing it.
Another beginner-friendly function is the auto-hovering mode. Once enabled, it allows the drone to hover at its current height so that there’s one less factor for you to worry about as you’re controlling it.
And thanks to the 6-Axis Gyro Technology, it can flip and roll in all four directions – left, right, forward and backward.
Overall, I’d say that this is a pretty sweet deal for anyone interested in giving first-person flying a shot but doesn’t necessarily have the budget for a more top-of-the-line set.
7. SNAPTAIN H823H RC Nano Quadcopter
– Best Micro Quadcopter –
No products found.
“If Mini is not enough for you”
Whether you’re a beginner interested in getting the best micro quadcopter, or you’re looking to buy something fun – and safe – for the kids to play with, the SNAPTAIN H823H RC Quadcopter is worth considering.
Design & Performance
Measuring a mere 2.8 x 3 x 1 inch, the SNAPTAIN H823H, with its jet-black finish and blue accents, is one of the smallest quadcopters you’ll see today. And right out of the box, it’s clear that it was designed following the “safety first” rule:
Its plastic construction not only feels sturdy and relatively durable for a drone its size but boasts additional safety features, too. That includes fully enclosed propellers – top, bottom, and sides – which protect both your surrounds and the propellers, and a built-in, non-removable battery slot.
You’ll get around seven minutes of flying time per charge, which is pretty much the standard for pocket drones – but as I mentioned previously, there’s no way to remove the battery. Unfortunately, that means that you’ll have to wait quite a bit – up to 45 minutes – between flights, while the battery recharges again.
And as far as design goes, the included LED lights are a nice touch, too.
If you paid attention so far, you probably already have a pretty good idea of what entry-level, toy aircraft have to offer feature-wise. More often than not, it’s all about ensuring a smooth learning curve and providing some assistance with flight control – and the SNAPTAIN H823H is no different.
First off, there are the mandatory three different speed modes, ranging from low to high, along with the one-key take-off and landing, which makes it super easy to control.
It boasts two more beginner-friendly modes, the so-called Altitude Hold and Headless modes. The former lets the pilot focus on the direction without worrying about maintaining aircraft height, and the latter lets you control the unit more comfortably regardless of its orientation.
Plus, it comes with the one-button return function, so that you don’t have to worry about losing it.
Last but not least, it’s capable of performing 360-degree flips, rolls, and other such mid-air stunts, thanks to the included 6-Axis Gyro System – and that’s where the real fun starts.
No products found.
After all is said and done, we recommend:
Okay, it’s time to wrap things up – and if there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this guide, it’s this:
Although my seal of approval goes to the Altair Falcon AHP Pocket Drone as the best mini drone money can buy in 2019, any of the models you’ve seen today would be a worthwhile investment.
Sure, some of them might be better suited for more experienced pilots, while others were undoubtedly designed with newbies in mind. However, all these tiny quadcopters have one thing in common – despite their pocket-sized stature, they can be a ton of fun!
And when you’re buying a mini drone, having fun with it regardless of your piloting skills is what matters the most!
So, what do you think? Have you found the perfect mini drone for your needs? Drop me a line if you’d like – I’d love to hear about your favorite model!