One of the biggest obstacles when flying drones is their fairly short battery life. Early machines were lucky to exceed ten minutes in the sky, which is fairly standard for modern toy-class drones, but the best consumer drones are now exceeding half an hour, and many fixed wing can exceed an hour. Outside of the consumer class drones, there are commercial machines that can fly for multiple hours and even some solar powered units that can fly indefinitely.
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK packs multi-direction obstacle avoidance, advanced airspace awareness and multiple payloads for commercial drone operations.
- 55 - MIN
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 51.5 - MPH
- 9.3 - MILES
2020 marks a new era for drones, the Autel Robotics Evo II (Evo 2) series offers 6K and 8K cameras, and 40 minutes of flight...
- 40 - Minutes
- 8K - 48MP
- 45 - MPH
- 9 - KM
DJI designed the Matrice 200 series to offer a versatile set of inspection capabilities. Choose from various payloads and mounting points to look up, down...
- 38 - MIN
- 6K - 24 FPS
- 50 - MPH
- 5 - MILES
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the first "air" to look like a Mavic drone. It's the perfect midway between the Mini and larger Mavic...
- 34 - MIN
- 4K - 60 FPS
- 42.5 - MPH
- 6.2 - MILES
The Yuneec Mantis G adds a stabilized camera Gimbal to the Mantis Q - exactly the missing piece from the original folding drone. Now you...
- 33 - Minutes
- 4K - 30 FPS
- 45 - MPH
- 2.43 - MILES
Best battery life drones
Today is another list of drones generated from our database. As you may be aware, our database is ever expanding, but does not yet contain all of the drones on the market. We’ll get there! We know full well that there are commercial drones that far exceed what the typical consumer drone can accomplish, but we’re mostly going to stick with the consumer off-the-shelf drones here today. Let’s get started.
How can I improve battery life?
There are many factors that affect battery life in your drone. Most of the factors are absolutely predictable, such as weight, aerodynamics, power consumption from lights or cameras, and fighting wind in the sky. For example, removing the camera and propeller guards from the Syma X5C practically doubles the flight time. If you have unnecessary accessories attached to your machine, consider removing them.
It’s important to note that drones are more efficient when moving than when hovering. This isn’t always true, but the likes of DJI tend to report maximum flight time when constantly moving at a smooth and consistent pace. This is easier to understand with fixed-wing drones — when moving fast enough, the wings create lift, pulling the drone through the air requires far less energy than to hover in place. Explore our science of flight series for more details.
The last piece of advice I can offer is to fly smooth and slow. Ever notice that racing drones, the ones that fly at top speeds and make many rapid direction changes, they rarely exceed 8 minutes of flight, most are rated for about 5 minutes. Camera drones tend to last longer, as you keep them smooth for video capture. Bottom line, it takes a lot of energy for a drone to change direction, the fewer direction changes, including acceleration and deceleration, the longer you’ll fly.
Let’s learn more about those drones:
DJI Matrice 300 RTK
May 2020Release Date
Commercial drone operations are a serious market, and the DJI Matrice 300 RTK is a machine that has promise for many applications. DJI's best obstacle avoidance and aerial awareness tools are included in this platform, making it one of the safest machines in the sky. RTK GPS capability, along with Airsense ADS-B tech and a bunch of Smart tools, ensure the best possible accuracy and safety for your inspection needs. For example, Waypoints 2.0 can manage up to 65,535 points, so you can pre-program a lengthy mission.
The new Ocusync Enterprise offers range up to 15KM, that's almost 10 miles. It also has triple-channel 1080p video transmission. That's one signal to the remote, one to a dedicated recorder and one to flight command or the news truck, or whatever receiver you need.
The new Zenmuse H20 payload is a powerful camera system that comes in two versions, the H20 and H20T. Both have a 20MP sensor with 23x zoom, a 12MP wide angle camera, and a laser range finder. The 30T also includes a thermal camera, for your serious inspection needs. The Matrice 300 RTK supports most older Matrice payloads as well, so you can mount the single or dual camera lower payloads, as well as the top mounted camera, for your upward facing inspection needs.
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is more of a custom order, and shipments will begin later in Q2 of 2020.
Autel Robotics Evo II
January 2020Release Date
The Autel Robotics Evo II (Evo 2) is an exciting update to the initial Evo. Sharing much of the same ideology for form-factor and flight characteristics, the newer machine is an update in almost every way. Primarily, pilots should be excited for 40 minute flight times, extended connectivity range, and an 8K camera. Sure, you can upgrade to a Pro model that has a larger sensor and only a 6K camera, but base model Evo II buyers are getting their hands on one of the first consumer products to shoot 8K video, not just drones, one of the first, period.
This orange folding drone is a machine that satisfies consumers, but also tackles commercial and professional needs. Notably, the top model of the new Evo II line comes with a dual-camera configuration, sporting an 8K sensor and a decent IR camera. The base model and the commercial model each get that 1/2-inch 8K sensor, while the pro model gets a full 1-inch 6K sensor. They can all send the camera feed back to the Autel Robotics Live Deck, for your studio and independent recording needs as well.
The Autel Robotics Evo II will be available in early 2020 starting at $1495. Exact prices and availability yet to be announced.
DJI Matrice 200 series: 200/210/RTK
February 2017Release Date
When DJI re-imagined their commercial drone platform, they had inspection services in mind. Previous drones struggled with looking up, so DJI added a mount to point a camera up. Previous drones struggled with only having room for one payload, so DJI put three mount points, and thus the DJI Matrice 200 series was born. The Matrice 200 is the started machine, a quadcopter that accepts two bottom mounted payloads. The Matrice 210 adds a third mount on top of the drone, for an upward facing camera. The Matrice 210 RTK adds in that crucial GPS performance for demanding environments and precision operations.
These are powerful, fast and weather resistant drones that are almost custom order from DJI. Budget about $6,500 to get started, with a full flight package of the 210 RTK running north of $10,000.
DJI Mavic Air 2
May 2020Release Date
The DJI Mavic Air 2 drone is more than just a successor to the original Mavic Air, it's more of a transition from its own form-factor into a true Mavic drone. The Mavic Air 2 maintains its place as a mid-tier drone in DJI's lineup. In terms of size, price, and capability, the Mavic Air 2 sits almost perfectly in between the Mavic Mini and the Mavic 2 series drones.
In the same way that the Mavic Air stepped up the camera game for small drones, the Mavic Air 2 is an exciting update in the camera department as well. You're looking at a new 1/2-inch sensor that shoots 12MP stills, but does so from a 48MP sensor! You can capture 48MP stills as well, but the 12MP shots are better, using pixel binning managed by Quad Bayer technology. Photos are great, but the new 4K video capture at 60fps, and a data bit rate of 120Mbps, are more exciting to many users.
Check out the DJI Mavic Air 2 for a starting price of $799 for the base package, $988 for the Fly More combo at launch in May 2020.
Yuneec Mantis G
October 2019Release Date
The Yuneec Mantis G is everything we had hoped for in the original Mantis Q. We can't see the difference between these drones, save for the new stabilized camera Gimbal. Superb flight time, easy controls, voice activated features, a compact design that folds small for transport and a 4K camera all sound good to us.
Yuneec understands they have stiff competition in this portion of the drone market. They build mostly for the commercial space, but fun drones like the Mantis line and larger Typhoon hexacopters have a tough battle. The Mantis G is a leap forward for the company. We had a hard time recommending the Mantis Q to users that cared about shooting video, now we can put the DJI Mavic 2 drones and this new Mantis G in the same sentence.
Based on price and camera sensor size, the Yuneec Mantis G best competes with the DJI Mavic Air, which is to say it is a viable option for hobby pilots looking for a reliable drone to fly.
The Yuneec Mantis G is $699 today.
Yuneec Mantis Q
August 2018Release Date
The Yuneec Mantis Q is an easy drone to get excited about, it packs a slim, folding form-factor, it flies for longer than most drones on the market, it has DJI Mavic Air level specifications and it has a cool trick, voice commands. We must admit, the long list of flight features and modes exceeded our needs of a drone, but the things we asked it to do, it did very well. 33 minutes of flight time allows for a lot of action in the air, the voice control features make for a good time as well.
We understand that this is a first generation of the product, we really like it, but the camera is not stabilized. It's obvious that this drone was made for pilots, not for photographers. That about sums up our opinion of the machine: if you are looking for a fun drone to fly, the Mantis Q is fantastic, if you are looking for a flying camera, this isn't the drone you're looking for.
Check out the Yuneec Mantis Q for about $450 on Amazon, down from its original $499 price at launch.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
August 2018Release Date
Introduced in August of 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro instantly became the best consumer-class folding drone that DJI had to offer. A marked upgrade over the original Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 Pro rocks a 1-inch camera sensor for 4K video capture at 100Mbps, multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors for some of the safest drone flight possible, and much more. OcuSync 2.0 enhances connectivity to the remote control and other accessories, now able to transmit 1080p live stream video well beyond the legal line-of-sight.
With an initial launch price of $1449, plus another $319 to get the Fly More kit with extra batteries, there is a barrier to entry with this machine, but if the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is within your budget, we think you will not be disappointed.
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
August 2018Release Date
If you run down the spec sheet, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro are the same machine, with one major exception, the camera. The folding quadcopter design offers great portability, the multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors assist in safe flight, and the new capabilities of OcuSync 2.0 add versatility for control and accessories. That is true for both of the drones, the Mavic 2 Zoom, on the other hand, rocks a 2x optical zoom lens on top of a 12MP camera. It shoots 4K video at 100Mbps and can digitally double that zoom for an impressive close-up.
DJI Mini 2
November 2020Release Date
The original DJI Mavic Mini was a very important machine for the consumer hobby drone market. The DJI Mini 2 is the next generation of super-compact camera drone, it's a solid improvement over the original Mini, especially in terms of the camera and flight capabilities. You still get a sub-250 gram drone, but now get a 4K camera, vastly improved connectivity, a more durable design, and more power.
The newer 1/2.3-inch sensor produces 12MP stills, and 4K video at 30 fps and 100Mbps data rate. For some, the most exciting update is lossless zoom. With up to 4X zoom, you can safely fly at distance from your subject, perfect for those pet photos or to capture shots of a waterfall in the distance.
Notable commercial and fixed-wing drones with superb battery life:
- Insitu ScanEagle – Military style surveillance drone with up to 24 hours flight time
- Parrot Disco – Fixed wing drone with over 45 minutes flight time
- Impossible Aerospace US-1 – Commercial quadcopter with up to 2 hours flight time
- Air Hogs Hoverblade – Toy boomerang with up to 2 hours battery life
How important is battery life to you and your flights?