As with every year, the best drones of 2021 worth buying include some of the best machines from previous years as well. DJI remains a global leader in the market, particularly in the consumer drone segment.
There are some amazing drones out there, everything from nano machines for the living room pilot, carbon fiber beasts for the commercial market and Hollywood, plus some amazing consumer rigs designed to put a camera into the sky. Here is our short list of the best of the best drones in 2021.
Note: We will update this list every month, or when new drones make the list. No changes to the list this month, the DJI Air 2S remains our top pick!
Important: The FAA has mandated the need for a drone license for all flights. Hobby pilots now need a TRUST certificate before they fly!
Why trust Drone Rush?
I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
Let’s explore the best drones on the market today!
DJI Air 2S: Best value camera drone
The DJI Air 2S is the culmination of every lesson DJI has learned with their Mavic series to date. This flying 5.4K camera has efficient flight, solid speeds, superb stability, reliable safety features, and the entirely familiar folding design and flight features many of us have come to know from other DJI drones. Considering that the Air 2S packs a camera and features that compete with drones twice the price, this is a winner for most pilots.
This is the first viable drone we’ve seen that packs a 1-inch, 20MP camera for under $1,000, and the new flight range is a class-leader at any price. 12KM of HD connectivity is more than most pilots can fly, but ensures an excellent connection at close range. Battery life is on par with the best consumer drones out there, offering up to 31 minutes of flight time.
Should I buy the DJI Air 2S?
Considering the available drones on the market today, we are happy to recommend the DJI Air 2S to any hobby pilot whose goal is to put a camera into the sky. Make no mistake, there are better camera drones available for higher prices, and there are more affordable drones for those that do not care about the camera as much, but the value for the price is hard to beat with this little drone; We’re packing the Air 2S in our backpack the next time we go hiking.
- 5.4K camera
- 31 minute flight time
- Upgraded flight features
- Huge 7.5 mile connectivity
- No display on remote
- Fewer safety features than larger drones
DJI Mavic 2 Pro: Best overall consumer drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro has been the best consumer drone on the market since it launched back in 2018 a powerful array of obstacle avoidance sensors make this one of the safest drones to fly as well. The 20MP camera with 1-inch sensor is still one of the best around, even though it only shoots 4K video. The price tag remains a deterrent to many hobby pilots, but I’ve never met a Mavic 2 Pro owner that regrets their purchase. That said, it’s probably time to start thinking about what a Mavic 3 could look like. 2018 was a long time ago.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 2 Pro?
If you are looking for the best possible camera and your budget is around $1,500, yes, you should buy the Mavic 2 Pro. Despite its age, we still love the Mavic 2 platform. It offers more safety than the average drone, and the camera options remain some of the best aerial shooters in the sky.
- Powerful drone
- Superb 4K camera
- Has a telemetry display in the remote
- All-direction obstacle avoidance
- Getting old
- Biggest and heaviest Mavic drone
DJI Inspire 2: Best professional drone
The DJI Inspire 2 is the kind of drone that was made with Hollywood action shots in mind. This high-speed drone is powerful, stable, and can carry multiple payloads. The Zenmuse series of cameras can go up to 6K video recording, the dual hot-swappable batteries mean minimal down-time during shooting, and the dual-operator controls make it possible for the pilot and a camera operator to work together to get the best shots possible. Further, the retractable landing gear with 360-swivel camera gimbal better allow for shots from any angle.
Should I buy the DJI Inspire 2?
Let’s be honest, this is still the best camera drone you can get for around $5,000. It is really old, as far as drones go, but it was so well built that newer machines are still trying to catch up. It is a larger drone, making it tough to transport, but if convenience is not of concern, and you need a great camera drone, the Inspire 2 is still leaps and bounds better than the smaller hobby drones on the market today.
- Best pro camera around!
- Great camera options
- Fast and reliable
- Easy to operate
- Full flight kit is expensive
- Very large drone
DJI Mini 2: Most affordable 4K drone
For a long time after it launched, the DJI Mini 2 was the only 4K camera drone under $500 that we would consider for our personal fleet. The Mini 2 remains one of our favorite drones, capturing the allure of the Mavic series, delivering a solid camera experience, and clocking in at under 250 grams, all with an attractive price tag for what we’ve come to expect of a machine of this caliber.
Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?
While we really like the output of the 4K camera on the Mini 2, we fully recognize that it does not keep up with the more expensive camera drones out there. However, that’s not the point, the point is that we think the Mini 2 is the absolute best drone you can get for under $500. It can do everything that the more expensive drone can do, just not quite as well, and we think that’s a worthy trade-off. Regardless your budget and needs, the Mini 2 is one of the most portable drones around, making a smart choice for those that travel.
- Under 250g
- Super compact for portability
- Reasonably fast, and fun
- Easy to operate
- 4K camera for a great price
- Very small, not very powerful
- Not as tough as larger Mavic drones
- No object avoidance sensors
DJI Matrice 300 series: Best commercial drone
If you have an inspection task to perform, the DJI Matrice 3oo series may be the best machine for the job. This powerful, weather resistant, monster of a drone can carry multiple payloads, including RTK GPS, infrared cameras, and more. This isn’t the sort of drone you’re likely to fly in your backyard, but don’t be surprised to see one flying around a construction site or in use by local law enforcement in place of a full helicopter.
Should I buy the DJI Matrice 300?
Make no mistake, the M300 is a big and powerful commercial drone. RTK precision is overkill for anything but the most strenuous of inspection task, and the multi-payload configurations would rarely be fully utilized by a hobby pilot, but, the drone is super fun to work with, there are so many great things you could make it do, if you can justify the premium.
- Powerful and capable inspection drone
- Multiple payloads
- Dual-operator capable
- Weather resistant
- Large drone, tough to transport
- Quite expensive
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise: Best search & rescue drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise takes everything great about the consumer-class Mavic 2 series drones, and makes it better! Flight and safety features are about the same, and the RGB camera is the same as on the Mavic 2 Zoom, but the added accessories port converts the drone into a superb search & rescue tool Lights, speakers, GPS beacons and more help you find and communicate with those that are in need.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise?
For a hobby pilot, the Mavic 2 Enterprise is a reasonably affordable option to get an infrared camera into the sky, and the attachments can be used for more than just search & rescue efforts, but, to be honest, if you are not sure you need the extras, consider the hobby-focused Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom instead.
- Data encryption
- Best of the Mavic 2 series
- Accessories enable many uses
- Different camera options
- Pricey, for an upgraded Mavic 2 drone
- Good flight time, but would like more