State-of-the-art and drool-worthy drones are cool until you factor in that getting one will cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But you don’t need a hyped-up model to have fun. The best mini quadcopter packs just as much fun and excitement—at a fraction of the price!
Further, drone technology has come a long way over the past few years. Despite their small sizes, the best mini drones are versatile and sophisticated. You can do a lot with a micro, pocket, or nano drone—from participating in indoor quadcopter races to performing intricate mid-air stunts.
I tested 5 mini quadcopters and found DJI Mini 3 Pro to be the best.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is a unit that’s hard to pass up if you’re on the market for a new mini drone. The quadcopter is an excellent place to start for beginners because it offers a simple operating system and a host of advanced settings.
DJI Mini 3 Pro is also perfect for those with advanced drone knowledge. Lightweight construction is one of the biggest selling points of this mini drone. And DJI crams the unit full of pro filming features for those looking to get the most out of it.
However, other noteworthy mini quadcopters require a special mention.
Are you ready to have your mind blown by these tiny but mighty mini drones? Let’s get into it!
Reviews of the Best Mini Quadcopters
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is the third iteration in the DJI Mini series. Adding “Pro” to the device’s name may seem strange for an enthusiast-target product. However, the term is a recognition of the impressive sensor size of the drone.
The drone still keeps the weight below the 250 grams industry mark despite a larger 1/1.3-inch type sensor. This is a significant feature because you’ll meet drone regulations in many territories.
The Mini 3 Pro drone has a 12 MP sensor using a Quad Bayer design, which splits each pixel into four pixels that report together or separately. The result is the drone will shoot 48 MP in JPEG or raw formats, and 12 MP images. Mini 3 Pro’s video front can shoot 4 K, 2.7 K, and Full-HD.
A lighter, smaller drone means you can only take short flights because the batteries deplete quickly. However, the Intelligent Flight Battery in the DJI Mini 3 Pro packs enough juice for flights of up to 34 minutes. The duration seems optimistic but achievable depending on the conditions and flight type you do.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro comes without a controller if you’re upgrading and already have one. However, DJI also sells the drone with a DJI RC-N1 remote control with a clamp and smartphone connection. You can also get the DJI RC, which offers a bright screen for controlling the Mini 3 Pro without a phone.
- A larger sensor than previous DJI Mini series drones
- No ghosting when shooting in 12 or 48 MP because of the Quad Bayer sensor
- 48 MP high-resolution mode can save DNG files
- A longer 34-minute battery life
- A compact design
- Easy to use for beginners
- Many pro options, including Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB), highlight alerts, and RAW
- Can fly in temperatures as low as 14 degrees
- Vertical shooting
- A fixed aperture
- This mini drone doesn’t have an obstacle detection sensor above it
DJI drones are some of the highest-quality consumer-friendly drones available, and in my opinion, the DJI Mini SE is the best choice for those looking to spend less on a top-notch drone.
The Mini SE is another sub-250 g, compact drone from DJI that’s almost as light as your smartphone. This drone is also incredibly affordable compared to other DJI drones and micro quadcopter models.
A precise hovering feature offers a smoother flight and keeps the drone hovering at a set height without manual control. The Mini SE comes with a powerful camera shooting 2.7 k video at 30 frames per second with 60 fps in 1080 p mode.
The long range of the Mini SE is better than what you’ll get in drones of the same size. An enhanced Wi-Fi transmission system allows perfect video transmission from a distance of up to 4 km. The dual 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency system guarantee a reliable signal and smooth flight experiences.
The DJI Fly app helps optimize the user aerial experience. You can fly the DJI Mini SE, capture videos and images, and even edit and share the media. The ultra-intuitive app interface makes it easy to use, even for beginners.
The app comes with comprehensive flight tutorials on how to use the distinct features in the Mini SE.
- A powerful quadcopter at a good price
- Rich video and photo results
- Capable of flying without the phone app
- Offers four quickshots
- Excellent usability
- Comes with manual shutter speed and ISO control
- The sub-250 g weight doesn’t require FAA registration
- 30-minute flight time
- No collision sensors
- No pilot-assist follow functions
The Potensic A20 Mini drone boasts a lightweight, small design that makes it ideal for flying indoors with limited spaces. The small size also makes carrying the drone convenient, while the firm body ensures it survives unsafe landings and crushes.
The A20 Mini is the most basic Potensic drone and is also the only one without a camera. Instead, a white LED sits on the nose and is a handy feature for orientating the quadcopter during flights. The small drone comes with a small controller that’s ideal for small hands, three batteries, a USB charger, and four spare propellers.
Plastic insulation protects a non-removable battery in the A20 to prevent accidental touches. Charging takes about 40 minutes to give you 15 minutes of flying. Controls on the unit are easy and respond quickly, so a user achieves their target and avoids unnecessary crushes.
The A20 comes with several safety features that make it ideal for beginners. Guards protect the propellers to absorb shock and minimize damage. The guards also help increase the drone’s durability. Further, the drone emits alarms before flying and when you’re about to exceed the range.
- An easy-to-use and fly drone
- A robust and compact design
- The unit comes with a controller
- Fairly quiet propellers
- Three speeds to meet user proficiency
- Not ideal for outdoor use
- No camera
If you are looking to purchase your first drone and want to integrate into the drone culture lifestyle easily, then the Ryze Tech Tello is the best option. Not only will this be a great introduction to drones for you, but it can also be for children and teens.
Despite launching in early 2018, the Ryze Tech Tello is among one of the best mini drones in the market. The drone is the best device if you’re starting. It is easy to use, small, and has onboard sensors and propeller guards to prevent expensive damage and make flying a drone enjoyable.
The Tello comes with a lithium polymer battery that supports a maximum speed of 17.9 mph and about 30 minutes of flight time. A small and sleek design makes flying the drone indoors easy. Plus, the Ryze Tech Tello can also make small, tight movements for an accurate, smooth flight.
Built-in safety features such as the propeller guards and sensors are discreet and blend well with the design. The sensors help beginner drone pilots avoid crushes, while propeller guards offer more freedom to attempt risky flight movements.
An onboard 720 p camera allows viewing the world through the eyes of the Tech Tello and shoot videos and photos during flights. The camera neatly integrates into the body and doesn’t protrude, reducing the risk of damaging or scratching the lens.
The Tello also allows users to program it for specific routines. Scratch is the coding platform for the drone, which allows you to program specific directions.
- An impressive number of built-in stunts
- The drone comes with propeller guards for added safety
- Usable with a gamepad
- A 5-megapixel integrated camera
- Easy programming with Scratch
- Built-in collision sensors
- Poor hovering
- Low battery life to charge ratio
This is one of the few drones in the lower price range, that offers 4K UHD footage backed by Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), resulting in smooth and clear images that don't show any shakiness. But the quality camera isn't the only aspect of this drone that makes it well worth the price.
The Holy Stone HS720 is a foldable drone, so you can carry it or travel around. A lightweight and small design means you can fit the drone in a large trouser pocket, but the included carry case is a better travel option.
The HS720 boasts four powerful brushless motors that provide more speed and extra thrust. You get fast speeds even at the lowest speed mode, so be careful if you’re flying a drone for the first time.
You also get a good 2K camera with the Holy Stone HS720 for capturing decent aerial images and taking HD video footage. The camera has a 110-degree wide-angle view for better details and a 1/3 CMOS sensor for better images.
The HS720 comes with multiple intelligent flight modes that make flying easier while taking excellent images and videos. For example, a Follow Me mode locks the drone to yourself and it follows. The mode is helpful as you take videos or photos while riding a bicycle or hiking.
- A one-key return home
- Multiple useful flight modes
- A 900-meter control range
- A beautiful remote controller
- Easy controls
- First-Person View (FPV) video streaming
- 2K camera
- A travel-friendly case
- Charging takes long
- Smartphone app takes up a lot of memory
What to Look for When Buying a Mini Quadcopter
If you’re planning to buy a mini quadcopter and require some guidance on which device will suit your needs, this section is for you. These critical elements will help you choose the best mini quadcopter on the market.
Keeping things small is excellent for children and first-time drone fliers. However, some high-end quadcopters are small but powerful enough to hurt when you’re in the way. Small drones are easy to carry and you can fly them safely indoors.
Many toy-class drones are lightweight, but some come with professional-grade features. A lightweight quadcopter is easy to carry and offers the best flight responses. Also, weight plays a critical role in licensing. You’ll be required to register with the FAA if your drone weighs over 250 grams.
The defining feature of a mini quadcopter is its portability. The entire product, including the drone, batteries, and remote, allows for easy storage and transportation.
Some clever tweaks to improve portable include foldable models. Such models reduce their size for easy transportation. Other models come with dedicated carrying cases to prevent damage to the drone and ease travel.
Like your smartphone, a mini drone will run out of juice. The flight time between charges struggles to surpass half an hour, even on the best models.
A quadcopter’s range tells you how far from you it moves before you lose control. Professional-level, expensive drones offer greater ranges, going beyond the outskirts of your living room. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules require the drone to be within your sight.
The windier it is outdoors, the harder your drone works against the wind. More work means the device uses more energy, which reduces the flight duration significantly and may cause jerky movements with shaky videos and images.
Drones have a wind resistance rating. When you encounter winds over the rating, the wind may carry your drone away.
Here are some frequently asked questions I come across.
Can I use a mini quadcopter indoors?
Yes, but make sure you safely fly your device. Each drone has its specific functions, so review the user manual for any instructions on indoor flights.
Some mini drones have propeller guards that help minimize damage and absorb shock in case of a crash. However, the best drones to fly indoors are nano and micro units that won’t hurt.
Is a mini drone legal?
Drones weighing less than 250 grams are in a separate FAA and Transport Canada. This is because the drones in the class are less likely to cause injury or damage than those weighing more. Flying sub-250 grams drones does not require registration if you’re doing it recreationally.
How much are mini quadcopters?
The cost of mini quadcopters depends on use. Toy mini drones can cost as low as $30 while professional-grade models can run at least $500.
What are mini drones good for?
Mini quadcopters are better for hobbyists because their cameras and other accessories are not as advanced and professional as those of traditional drones. You can use your mini drone for racing or if you’re looking for a fun, safe activity that involves speed.
Small but mighty, the DJI Mini 3 Pro is an impressive drone. It flies in below the weight limit imposed on drone pilots, offers quality imagery, and has an option to rotate the camera for portrait shots. All these and more qualities make it the best mini drone on the market.
If this sounds like a mini drone you can’t do without, get the DJI Mini 3 Pro today!