Drones are no longer the inaccessible tool of the hobbyist with money to burn. Increases in popularity and research and development mean that there are all kinds of options, for all kinds of needs and budgets.
Large drones with high-tech equipment are a little daunting for some people, and it always helps to get a little flying practice in first. This is where micro quadcopters come in. These little flying machines may not be quite as technical or capable as some other UAVS, but they can provide a great flying lesson for novices.
Below are 10 of the best micro quadcopters currently available on the market. They may vary in cost and style, but they will offer each person enough specifications to find the right one for them.
Important Features in Micro Quadcopters
It helps to understand some basic priorities before comparing and contrasting the different brands and machines available. Those that understand what they truly need can rule out some options from the start.
The first place to start is with the basic hardware of the machine. The look of the shape and design isn’t all that vital. Still, it must have a strong body with crash protection and reliable rotors.
It is also important to decide whether it needs to be suitable for indoor flight or outdoor flight. Not all mini quadcopters can handle windy conditions or long ranges. This can often come down to size. Just how “micro” is this machine and what does this mean for durability and portability?
Then there are the controls. It will surprise many consumers to learn that there are many of these micro UAVs with sophisticated flight controls. For some, this simply means a few more buttons and user-friendly features. For others, there may be smartphone compatibility and FPV (first person view).
The ease of use of the transmitter will make all the difference to first-time flyers. This FPV also relies on the use of a good camera. The cameras and functions will vary between brands and price points. Some offer a very basic system with the bare minimum in MP and image capture. Others may have an HD with video capabilities.
Finally, it pays to take a closer look at the battery offered. Some models have strong batteries with efficient charging and long lives, while others are much weaker. Some offer the chance to replace the battery for more frequent flights or a better model, but this isn’t that common. Once consumers understand what they want most from this machine regarding the features, controls, flight times and look, it is time to browse products.
EACHINE E010 Mini UFO Quad
It is a good idea to start this list with one of the more familiar looking mini quadcopters available. This machine has a classic look, with a choice of red or green for dual flight with two drones. It tries its best with the intelligence of the controls. A headless mode and key return are available, but not that reliable. It also has a short flight time at 5 minutes, but it is a good steady flight, and it is quick to charge up again.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: hard to say. There is nothing here that stands out as that unique over some of the other models mentioned here. However, many appreciate the complexity of the transmitter. There are no modern smartphone features on the basic model, but plenty of controls for good old-fashioned flight. This includes the ability to alter the speed mode.
Syma X5C Quadcopter
There has to be a Syma model in here somewhere because of the popularity of the brand. They are a name that newcomers turn to when testing out drones and micro quadcopters for the first time. Therefore, there is an appeal in this model.
There is a nice, simple shape for a steady, well-controlled flight. This results in 7 minutes of flight and 100 minutes to charge it back up again. This is not a true outdoor model like our next machine, but there is some potential in good conditions.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: the quality of the camera. Many machines in this range of mini quadcopters have minimal capabilities on the camera. Here there is an impressive 720p 30fps camera for great aerial shots. This makes it a nice gateway into drone photography. The only real let down here is the lack of FPV capabilities.
Holy Stone HS170 Predator
There is no doubt that this is a great looking machine with some attention to detail on the parts. This is clear in the use of rotor guards and the LED lighting, with the clear indicators for the front and back. There is also the option to replace the battery with something better, or cheaper depending on budget. This model has an 8 minute flight time and takes 40 minutes to charge with a USB cable.
The unique selling point of this Holly Stone mini quadcopter: the ability to fly outdoors. This is a rarity with these small machines and something that many will pay more for. This means it is tough enough for the job. There is greater stability in the air and a well-designed crash-proof build, for when it is no longer in the air.
Syma X20 Mini Pocket Drone
It is time to go back to Syma for another model for this list. This is inevitable because of their reliability as a brand and great range. This X20 is a curious little device for learner flyers with its use of unusual controls.
There is a pretty standard approach here, right until users get to the one-touch take off and landing. This suggests the main aim here is to practice steady flight or play around in the air, not to learn the art of take-offs and landings with a stick controller.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: obviously the size. This is a tiny little thing. Most would say that it is more of a toy for newcomers to play with than an impressive bit of kit. This means that it is a bit flimsy and fiddly as a result. For example, it is a bit hard to charge with the small USB connection.
HASAKEE H1 FPV RC Drone
This is yet another of the modern micro quadcopters that allow users to view the flight via a smartphone on FPV flight. This includes simple on-screen controls for a simple operation. Unfortunately, there is a questionable choice of battery, with a short flight time and long charge time. This can be up to an hour in some cases.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: the look. The immediate appeal here is that this sort of looks like a strange mechanical bee. The designers did this with little to no regard for the implications on flight and aerodynamics. Still, it is a beautiful, eye-catching design for enthusiasts. Users see this from the color-coded blades to the shape of the wings on the side.
Hubsan X4 H107C Micro Quadcopter
This is yet another simple little machine with hidden depths. One that consumers may gloss over if it weren’t for the name. As with the Syma models, a recognizable name and decent look go far. This model boasts a good camera for recording video onto an SD card and an easy to use the transmitter.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: the power. This is widely regarded as one of the more powerful machines around, with great flight times and acceleration for a more impressive flight. It still proves all this in an accessible model for first-time users. This is, therefore, a great entry-level model to bridge users towards bigger, better machines.
This Tozo drone has a nice clean look with large rotors and a simple black and white design. There are some helpful controls for those novice users, with the headless mode and auto-flipping. A seven-minute flight, with 60 minutes to charge isn’t too bad for this sort of machine. There is also a range of 45m in a good line of sight.
The unique selling point with this machine: one for the beginners. There is a small learning curve here where novices go from zero experience to steady flight in a decent amount of time. Then there is the bonus of great durability and crash-proof components. This is perfect for those that do struggle with the landing or get too enthusiastic as it flies across the room.
EACHINE E52 FPV Selfie Drone
This model is the opposite of the Tozo model above regarding its look. There is a big flashy body, which looks like a sports car or spaceship, and the tiniest little rotors. The specification boasts an 8 minute flight time, 100m range, a basic camera at 0.3mp and the ability to use a smartphone as an FPV receiver.
The Unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: that idea of a selfie drone. Is this a good marketing strategy, or all that possible for newcomers? It takes some steady flight to take a selfie with a camera on a drone. This could be the end goal after a few flying lessons. Either way, it is one to show off to friends rather than drone enthusiasts.
Cheerson CX-10 Mini
This little machine is one that people skim over until they take a second look at the specification and price. There is a normal, decent look to the body that is pretty inoffensive. This is apart from lack of color coordination on the rotors to indicate orientation.
Most would agree that it has a good set of controls, but nothing over the top. There are three control rates, but no headline mode, and a simple enough transmitter. It also has a 40 minute charge time and 120m range.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: the cost. This is one of the cheapest options around. So much so that kids can pick one up with their pocket money and have a play. It is an affordable option for test flights and training. One where you don’t lose much if it crashes and dies. There are some flaws in the design and build at this price point, but nothing that consumers shouldn’t expect.
Rabing Mini FPV RC Drone
The final model to mention here may be a case of leaving the best till last. Still, this all depends on how much you want for your dollar. This is a top of line machine with great features.
Many will turn to this machine because of the live FPV transmission. It is smartphone compatible, but there is also the neat touch of the smartphone holder on the transmitter for best of both worlds. There is also a 10 minute flight time, due to surprisingly large battery capacity, and it is quick to charge. This is for all those that want to play around with the best tech, but can’t afford it.
The unique selling point of this micro quadcopter: the folding design. It is difficult to pick a stand out the feature here because there is so much going on. Few offer this sort of folding design for portability. It is an example of one of those quirky little touches that many operators will appreciate.
Choosing the best micro quadcopter for your needs
There is a lot to think about when choosing the ideal micro copter for test flights. Some of these models focus on the looks more than the functions, and this is fine for those that want to play around. Some offer a great lesson in flight with impressive controls, while others can be a little too simplistic. Once you select your perfect micro quadcopter, remember there are rules in the sky. Please follow all regulations put in place by the FAA, one should be familiar with them.
What is interesting here is that there are some impressive features, controls and battery specs across the board. This is even true for the cheaper, beginner models. Newcomers don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good micro quadcopter to learn to fly. There are more choices than many assume, which makes UAV shopping even more fun.