Traditional RC toys rely on dedicated controllers to operate, but modern technology put an extremely capable smart device in your pocket and many manufacturers look to use it for their new toys. I refer to quadcopter style drones you can control with your smartphone or tablet.
Higher-end drones still rely on a dedicated remote for actual flight controls, but many toy class units fly using nothing more than an app and a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. Let’s take a look at some of the best on the market today.
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.
Drones controlled by smartphone
DJI Air 2S: Best drone under $1,000
The DJI Air 2S is simply our top pick for the best drone under $1,000, which makes it our top pick for any pilot that wants to fly a camera for fun. To be fair, almost all DJI drones can connect directly to a mobile device, and they all offer nearly the same control functionality, so the advantage to this drone is the drone itself not the connectivity. Ignoring the mobile connectivity range, the Air 2S is a class-leader in terms of range, with up to 7.5 miles of connectivity when connected to the remote control.
Should I buy the DJI Air 2S?
If you are looking for the best possible camera drone that can connect directly to a mobile device, the Air 2S is the one for you!
- Great 5.4K camera
- Easy and fun to fly
- Limited controls without the remote
DJI Mini 2: Best drone under $500
The DJI Mini 2 is the best drone under $500. It includes a capable 4K camera, good flight time, and weighs under 250g, so you do not have to register with the FAA before you fly. If portability is your goal, there are few drones that travel as easily as the Mini 2.
Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?
We love the DJI Mini 2 for how portable it is, and we are genuinely impressed with the camera output at this price point and size of drone, however, we use bigger drones for professional video shoots.
- Fun and easy to fly
- Good 4K camera
- Weighs under 250g
- Very portable
- Only a ‘good’ camera
DJI Mavic 2 Pro: Best consumer drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro may be an older drone, but it still ranks as the best consumer drone on the market. The large camera sensor captures great 4K video, and the drone is equipped with multiple obstacle avoidance sensors, making it one of the safest flying hobby craft around.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic 2 Pro?
As the big brother to the Mini and Air series of drones, the Mavic 2 Pro is one of our favorite machines, but we admit that it is the biggest and heaviest Mavic drone around, still easy to transport, but not as easy as the smaller models. If your goal is to get the best possible camera from a mobile controlled drone, we can happily recommend the Mavic 2 Pro.
- Great 4K camera
- Large and powerful hobby drone
- Best consumer drone
- Older drone
- Relatively large and heavy
Skydio 2: Best AI drone
The Skydio 2 is the cream of the crop in terms of flight capabilities when controlled by your mobile device. That being said, there’s not much to flying the Skydio 2, it’s made to lock on to an object and follow it wherever it may go.
Should I buy the Skydio 2?
The Skydio 2 is a tough recommendation, it is unmatched for its ease of use and follow-me modes, but it is otherwise an unremarkable drone. The optional remote control is not packed with flight features like many other drones, this is a follow-me drone through and through.
- Exceptional follow-me modes
- Self-piloted master
- Very safe
- Limited use
Ryze Tello: Fun and educational toy drone
The Ryze Tello is a fantastic starter drone. It was made to fly by mobile device, but there is an optional remote control. before you fly, Ryze can let you code some custom flight routines, making the Tello a cool tool for the classroom.
Should I buy the Ryze Tello?
The Tello is an older drone, and it’s a simple toy craft that isn’t great for outdoor flight or to capture photos and video from the sky, but, it’s easy to fly, and an excellent starter for a pilots of all ages.