There’s a good reason why drones under 250 grams are taking over the airspace. UAVs in this category do not require FAA registration, which is good since it takes much of the fun out of flying.
After testing an enviable number of mini drones and scouring the web for reviews, one of the best drones under 250 grams is the DJI Mini 2.
But as a veteran drone pilot with thousands of flight hours under my belt, it’d be remiss if I disregard these mini drones as they offer some of the best flying experiences on any budget.
DJI continues to lead the way in recreational drone technology. The Mini 2 is the closest thing to the perfect lightweight mini drone you can ever find on the market. Different drones offer various functionalities, and while some offer amazing video and photography, others stand out for their portability and range.
This article dives deep to discover the best drones under 250 grams on the market, comparing their features, functions, and overall capabilities.
- DJI Mini 2
- Autel EVO Nano+
- DJI Mini SE
- Holy Stone HS510
- Ryze Tech Tello
- Buying Guide
- Final Thoughts
- Products Reviewed In This Article
The DJI Mini 2 is a compact and reliable drone that offers excellent video and photo quality.
It is under 250 grams and does not require FAA registration, making it ideal for beginners.
The drone also has a powerful battery, three intelligent flight modes, improved remote control, and safety features
It's easy for beginners to use but has enough features for experienced pilots.
It’s no surprise that the DJI Mini 2 comes out as one of the best drones under 250 grams. This UAV leads the way for the next generation of drones as a competent, reliable, portable drone that can take the most fantastic video footage and photos.
This drone comes in just under the limit at 249 grams, ensuring you don’t need to check in with the FAA, thus allowing you to pilot your drone without hiccups.
Still, Part 107 pilots need to register the Mini 2 whether sub-250 grams or not. We appreciate the inclusion of OcuSync 2.0, including the introduction of Type-C ports, improving the overall charging speed and performance.
The Mini 2 hovers in the air for longer than the competition, thanks to a powerful 2,250 mAh battery that gives you over 30 minutes of flying. As is customary with DJI drones, the Mini 2 has three intelligent flight modes: P Mode, CineSmooth Mode, and Sport Mode.
P Mode gives you a balance of speed and camera functionality. CineMode reduces the top speed but enhances camera operations for the most flawless shots.
In contrast, Sport Mode reduces camera functionality but gives you the maximum drone speed – however, this mode is the likeliest to provide you with shaky footage and stills. It will most likely deprive you of the QuickShots feature. The Mini 2 is a significant upgrade from the Mavic Mini, incorporating all that was good in the former and leaving out the bad.
The highlight of the Mini 2 is the 12-megapixel camera and 4k video offering. Besides, it is one of the newer DJI drones using the Fly App. This app makes it easier for newbies to fly their drones and paired with the drones safety features it is the best drone for beginners.
This mini drone also has an improved remote controller with advanced features, offering a richer flying experience and more camera control. The DJI Mini 2 is designed for beginners but with the functionalities to keep the pros occupied.
The only negative is the price, but it’s the best drone under 250 grams and works as advertised.
The Autel Nano+ drone has great privacy features, obstacle avoidance, and many flight modes. It features a 50-megapixel camera that takes great photos and captures 4k video at 30fps.
The drone has a well-designed remote that fits a smartphone in its cradle, but it has a high price tag compared to some other models.
It offers excellent value for money, with features that rival more significant, premium drones beyond its class, and a solid flight time.
A huge reason to opt for this drone is its privacy features. You don’t need to register an account with Autel to fly their drones.
The crowning glory of this drone is the 50-megapixel camera that effortlessly trounced any DJI offering in the same class. This is probably the best drone for camera quality and recording video footage, and you’ll get plenty of flight time (28 minutes) to capture all the footage you need.
It also has a fantastic transmission range of 6.2 miles and captures 4k video at 30fps. You’ll love the 3-way obstacle avoidance feature and an array of flight modes that should occupy even the savviest pilots.
The remote looks eerily similar to an Xbox controller, with a cradle that’s a snug fit for your smartphone. The only negative for the Nano+ is the mega price tag. Even the cheaper model is significantly more expensive than the Mini 2.
Still, it’s an excellent value for money with features to rival more significant, premium drones beyond its class, and you’ll get a solid flight time out of it.
The DJI Mini SE is a lightweight drone that can record HD video and capture 12-megapixel images.
It has a 3-axis gimbal for smooth video and it can fly for 30 minutes and has a 2.5-mile transmission range.
It's easy to carry and wind-resistant, making it a good choice for beginner pilots who want to create content.
DJI again takes the checkered flag as the most reliable drone thanks to the Mini SE, which weighs less than 250 grams. It’s as miniature as they come, with enticing features like HD recording, 12-megapixel image capturing, and 2.7k video.
The 3-axis gimbal offers some of the best video footage with minimal distortion. Moreover, the drone has a MicroSD slot for expanded file storage and includes five QuickShots to create high-quality videos on the fly.
It also has 30 minutes of flight time and a 2.5-mile transmission range. This drone has similar features to the Mavic Mini but shares the same design as the Mini 2. It’s incredibly portable, easy to carry, and more wind-resistant than its predecessor.
It doesn’t compare with the Mini 2 for functionality, but it offers exceptional value at its price point. This combo makes it an interesting choice for beginner pilots who want an aircraft that has a lot of potential for content creation. Using the DJI app you will get access to the intelligent flight modes.
The Holy Stone HS510 is a rugged, durable drone with a 16-minute flight time that can be extended to 32 minutes with an extra battery.
It's foldable, making it easy to take on trips. It's geared towards travelers who want a durable drone with good features at a reasonable price. However, the single-axis gimbal doesn't provide as stable video as a 3-axis gimbal.
The overall design is rugged to withstand environmental hazards. You’ll love the 20-mph average speed that allows the UAV to thrive in moderate winds without issues.
The ABS plastic is durable, providing exceptional protection against substantial impacts, bangs, and crashes.
The 16-minute flight time is an obvious drawback because similar-sized drones have a flight time ranging from 20-31 minutes. Holy Stone compensates for this by including an extra 1500 mAh battery to give the quadcopter a total of 32 minutes of flight time.
Still, waiting 150 minutes to charge up the battery doesn’t impress, but you can always opt for a third battery.
The single-axis gimbal doesn’t perform as effectively as the 3-axis gimbal,so the video footage is slightly shakier than we’d like. The foldable design is hands-down the best in its class, offering a portability other sub-250 drones cannot hope to beat.
The Holy Stone HS510 is geared toward travelers that want a rugged, durable drone with fantastic features at a reasonable price.
The Tello Boost is a small, easy-to-use drone made by Ryze Robotics using DJI flight technology.
It's safe, with features like failsafe protection and low battery protection, and it has a visual positioning system for precise hovering.
It's compatible with mobile VR headsets and has a 13-minute flight time. The Tello App simplifies the flight process and offers a fun Bounce Mode. It's a good value for beginners who want to learn how to fly.
It isn’t a toy, as the build-quality shows. And even with the propeller guards, it is hardly larger than 4” in width. It’s a flying cellphone with a compact airframe that’s mostly housing the battery.
It’s compatible with mobile VR headsets which enhance the flying experience by allowing the pilot to gain a first-person perspective of the drone as it zooms around. The Tello App simplifies the flight process and offers 13 minutes of fantastic flight time. You’ll fall in love with the Bounce Mode that allows the drone to fly up and down your hand like it’s bouncing!
It’s easy to use; toss it into the air and watch it take flight. Moreover, the drone uses a software stabilizer to capture still shots, providing clear images every time.
Why is this drone the best for beginners, you ask?
It’s all about the safety features like failsafe protection to ensure it lands safely even without a connection. It also has low battery protection that notifies you when it’s time to charge up.
Lastly, it features a visual positioning system that enables precise hovering. The 5-megapixel sensor won’t set any industry benchmarks, but the price makes this drone a must-have for beginners looking to cut their teeth in drone piloting.
While the drones above represent the best choices in their market segment, below are features to consider when buying the best drones under 250 Grams.
Why 250 Grams (0.55 pounds)?
Let us take a step back to see why there’s a category for drones under 250 grams. Some drone pilots are under the mistaken belief they can fly their sub-250s anytime and anywhere. However, this isn’t the case, as you’ll likely see below.
The Federal Aviation Administration oversees drone piloting in the United States. The agency concluded drones weighing under 250 grams pose the lowest risk to life, limb, and property.
Consequently, there’s been an uptick in the user base of these drone types because they do not require registration to fly. However, pilots with a Part 107 certificate must register their drones if they are using them for business purposes.
Ease of Portability
Lightweight drones under 250 grams fit into the hand without issues. These drone types are small, but their size doesn’t hamper their rich technological features. Current small drones sport high-resolution cameras and other high-end features in their tiny bodies.
Moreover, the portability of a small drone makes it easier to pilot for newbies. You can fly it in the home without wrecking the furniture.
Furthermore, these drones are the best to carry on road trips and vacations. They offer a fantastic flight experience and can fly through the tightest spaces. They may be compact, but can still give larger drones a run for their money in terms of functionality.
Wind Resistance Ability
It’s a tough task to fly a drone through the wind. Wind and turbulence constitute a significant challenge for all pilots in any aviation discipline. Consequently, you need a drone that can maintain its flight position against solid wind currents. Some intelligent flight modes are ideal for this.
Ensure you get a drone with a high wind resistance number because the higher numbers fare better in stronger winds. For instance, a level 6 drone has better wind resistance than a level 5 drone. Below are the consequences of flying your drone under 250 grams in strong winds:
A mighty wind gust can fling your drone off its flight path, creating unpredictable lateral movements. A strong updraft close to a large geographical body will cause unexpected altitude gain. More powerful wind can cause significant damage to the drone body or crash it.
Shaky Videos and Images
A sensitive gimbal can compensate for unpredictable movement, but a more powerful wind will cause shaky videos and images.
Many drones under 250 grams bank on visual image processing for in-flight positioning and hovering at the correct altitude. A dust storm below the drone will hamper its flight stability or maintaining an accurate flight path.
Consequently, you might get a non-functional Return to Home (RTH) status and may need to retrieve your drone manually.
Manufacturer Warranty and Care Plans
Drones under 250 grams are delicate pieces of equipment. We recommend buying the drone parts from a manufacturer that offers shipping cover and manufacturing defects insurance.
Leading manufacturers like DJI provide a free warranty that ships with your drone and are good when you fly your drone within the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some manufacturers even offer coverage for damage caused by pilot error.
Drone technology is developing at an incredibly rapid pace, and one area where this is particularly evident is in the quality of drones’ cameras. In recent years, drones have gone from having basic cameras to featuring high-definition cameras that can capture stunning, professional-quality images and videos.
One of the biggest advancements in drone camera technology has been the development of the HD camera. These cameras are capable of capturing incredibly detailed and crisp footage, with resolutions up to 1080p or even 4k. This makes them ideal for a wide range of applications, including professional photography and videography, as well as for everyday use by hobbyists and enthusiasts.
The rapid advancement of drone camera technology has made it possible for even entry-level drones to come equipped with high-quality cameras, allowing more people than ever before to capture professional-grade footage with their drones. As technology continues to develop, it’s likely that we’ll see even more impressive cameras being included on drones in the future. We have already seen something similar with our smartphones.
The best drones under 250 grams offer cinema-quality footage, thanks to 4K cameras that offer unlimited possibilities for the hobbyist photographer.
Ensure you opt for a drone with the highest resolution for video recording, even when you scale the quality down to 1080p. Sub-250 drones with a high-quality camera offer the best videos and exceptional images at a reasonable price range.
Image and Video Footage Stabilization
Drones constantly contend with the air current, which in turn affects image quality while you record videos. Without some form of stabilization, video and images will appear blurry. Let’s look at the two ways sub-250 drones achieve image stabilization.
A gimbal is a support structure that allows an object to rotate on its axis, providing stabilized footage while in motion.
Gimbals are popular for drones because they don’t affect the image quality. However, drones incorporating such features are more expensive, and the added weight influences battery drain.
Some of the best drones under 250 grams use software to provide still images even when external forces like wind act upon the drone. This technology’s obvious disadvantage is the loss of resolution, affecting image quality.
However, drones in this category have a longer flight time because they do not include the weight of a gimbal.
Drones under 250 grams, particularly fast flying drones, often have the most efficient batteries due to their small frame. These drones are designed to be lightweight and agile, which allows them to fly faster and more efficiently. As a result, they can often have an increased flight time on a single battery charge.
Lower-quality drones, on the other hand, have a battery life that doesn’t go beyond 10 minutes. This can be frustrating for pilots who want to use their drones for longer periods of time, or who want to capture videos with their drones.
On the other hand, more premium versions of drones will offer you 15 to 30 minutes of flight time. This is a much more reasonable amount of time for most pilots, and allows you to capture videos or use your drone for longer periods of time without worrying about running out of battery.
If you have some questions about the best drones under 250 grams, here are the answers to some common questions.
Why should I own a drone under 250 grams?
There are several benefits to owning a drone under 250 grams, including less stringent regulations in many countries, greater portability and ease of use, lower cost, and the ability to have fun exploring and flying the drone. These smaller drones are often simpler to operate and can be a good choice for beginners or those new to the hobby.
Do I need to register my 250-gram drone?
You don’t need to register your sub-250 drone if you’re flying for fun (also known as a recreational drone pilots). However, you need to register your drone with the FAA if you intend to fly your drone for commercial use, and this rule is regardless of weight.
Can you fly a drone under 250 grams anywhere?
All drones must also be registered, unless the weight is 0.2 pounds or less. A Drone may fly both for cruising pleasure and under part 107.While these drones are exempt from registration with the FAA, you still cannot fly a sub-250 drone just anywhere. All other rules and regulations apply, including those which govern no-fly zones and restricted areas.
Do drones under 250 grams need remote ID?
Recreational drones under 250 grams do not need to comply with remote identification (ID) requirements. In general, the regulations for remote ID apply to drones that weigh more than 250 grams. However, it is always important for drone operators to familiarize themselves with the specific regulations and requirements for drone operation in their location.
The verdict is out on the best drones under 250 grams, and it’s none other than the DJI Mini 2. It offers the longest flight time and has a camera to rival the best video shooters in its class with advanced features.
It has three different flight modes to customize your flying experience. The price is on the high end, but it packs a lot of advanced features to make purchasing this drone money well spent. The drone is easy enough for a first-timer and provides excellent value for the veteran pilot.
Still, the four other choices offer something for everyone, and you won’t regret any of the choices for best drones under 250 grams.