Aerial shots of vast areas look stunning and having a drone can make photos or videos like that a reality for anyone. They tend to be stable and deliver amazing images and videos.
In addition, they even help with “aerial research;” finding lost kites or wildlife recording has just become easier. Indeed, drones are gradually becoming an integral part of our lives.
However, not all drones perform the same. Some are better than others, yet some aren’t particularly good at all. But which are the best drones out there?
Within this text, we compiled a list of five top-rated models of 2018, according to users.
We get into how fast these drones are, how far they can go, how they can be used, and whether or not anyone should own them based on their characteristics.
Naturally, they all have their flaws, and hopefully, this list will help the potential user decide which drone to purchase.
Our 5 Best Drone With Longest Flight time in 2018
Last update on 2018-12-15 at 13:49 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What to Look For in a “Longest Flying” Drone?
The very term “longest flying” might seem like enough of a reason – “I want it to fly for a long time.” But that’s just part of it. Drones ought to have a multitude of characteristics to be considered high-quality products.
Some of those are listed below. We also recommend that shoppers take into consideration what they’ll use the drone for because not all of the characteristics will apply across the board.
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This characteristic is a no-brainer. Should the drone’s battery run out quickly, leak or malfunction, the drone’s going down. It’s always cheaper to replace a battery than to buy a completely new drone.
The majority of drones can only run for 30 minutes at most. And that’s not even the average time.
If the drone is used for longer periods, we suggest carrying spare batteries, just in case.
However, extra batteries are an added expense, so a user should be ready to pay more.
The absolute majority of people buy drones for the purpose of recording something in the air or taking aerial photos.
For this reason, having a good, thorough research of the camera specs is mandatory.
Of course, this step applies to drones that already have built-in cameras. Others, such as toy drones, don’t have them, but cameras can still be attached to their bodies. Naturally, not every drone has this option, either, so again we stress – a good search is required.
And then there are the gimbals. A gimbal is an attachment that keeps the camera steady during strong winds.
With a gimbal, the footage will look less shaky and, of course, more high-quality. Gimbals are integrated, and they usually go with more expensive models.
GPS (Follow-Me Mode)
Drones can, and often do, get lost during flights. Sometimes they can get stuck in a tree canopy somewhere, unable to move. At other times, the battery can run out of juice and they can drop somewhere, losing signal.
We cannot overstate how important it is to be able to track one’s drone if these things happen. With GPS, a drone can come back to its owner with zero problems, or even hover in one place for a while.
A few drones on the market have something called the Follow-Me Mode. It comes integrated with the GPS system and is a cool way of having the drone record the owner while he or she is off doing something else. In other words, the drone quite literally “follows the leader” from behind. This feature is awesome for
YouTubers who enjoy outdoor activities like biking, windsurfing or hiking. In fact, it can even come in handy for leisure activities such as metal detecting or urban exploring.
The Right Motor Type
When seeking out a good drone, it’s good to look for one with so-called brushless motors.
They’re more durable than regular ones and they operate more quietly.
However, they can cost quite a bit.
Readiness to Fly
What an odd thing to look for – all drones are ready to fly, right?
Well, not exactly. When shopping for a drone, three common acronyms usually rear their heads. Those are RTF, BNF, and ARF.
The first stands for Ready-to-Fly, and its name is self-explanatory. Usually, all an owner has to do is charge the battery, put the propellers on and link up the unit with its controller.
The second acronym stands for Bind-and-Fly. These drones normally don’t come with a controller, which is why we have to bind it to one that we already have. If they aren’t compatible, we have to buy a different controller that is.
The final acronym stands for Almost-Ready-to-Fly. All of the models with this designation require assembly. Sometimes these assembly kits lack crucial parts, such as motors, batteries or even controllers. As such, an ARF drone should be well researched before making a purchase, just in case.
A drone has to be able to avoid bumping into objects. Even minor crashes can cause damage that can cost hundreds of dollars to fix.
So it’s important to find a drone that has a decent level of automatic obstacle avoidance.
It’s not enough for the drone to only HAVE this feature; in fact, it’s paramount that it works properly.
How Long Can the Average Drone Fly?
This should probably be the most important question anyone interested in drones would ask. With the right battery, weight, and motor, the drone will stay in the air longer. Regular maintenance also helps.
But we’re talking about averages here. Before we move on to how long a drone can stay in the air, we should distinguish between different drone types.
Very broadly speaking, they can be divided into regular and high-end drones. Regular drones roughly cover any “cheaper” products, such as miniature toy quadcopters and low-altitude drones.
High-end models usually cost a lot more and have far better performances, such as durability, stability, etc.
Regular drones have an average flight time of 15 minutes. Toy drones usually max out around this time mark, whereas bigger drones can reach a maximum of 20 minutes in the air.
When it comes to high-end drones, their average is anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes. They usually max out after half an hour of use, but some models (for example, those used by the military) can go a little beyond that.
Sadly (or luckily?), those models usually aren’t available to the general public. And even if they were, their price tags would leave most buyers penniless.back to menu ↑
How Far Can a Drone Fly Away From the Controller?
Drones fly where the user wants them to fly as long as they’re within the range of the controller. Any interference with the signal can result in losing control of the quad.
This can happen during windy days or close to an outside source of interference. However, more often than not the signal is lost because the drone goes out of range.
All drones have their maximum ranges listed on the packaging. Based on that, we can divide them into three groups. The smallest range of up to 300 m/984 feet belongs to the first group.
The second group goes up to one kilometer or 0.6 miles. The third group, on the other hand, covers a wide range of drones and, unlike the first two, keeps growing due to technical improvements on new drones.
Some models can reach a staggering 8 km/5 miles of range before losing the controller signal. Imagine that – five whole miles of perfect signal!
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Why is a Long Flight Time Crucial for Aerial Application (Inspection, Surveillance, etc.)?
Normally, when people hear “surveillance,” Big Brother immediately comes to mind and paranoia kicks in.
This is perfectly understandable, as nobody wants others to intrude on their lives and observe them.
However, there is a positive side to using drones for aerial surveillance and inspection.
Let’s focus on inspection first. Some things in our lives require constant inspection, such as tall towers, chimneys, silos, windmills, etc.
Sending maintenance men that high up for checkups works, but it’s very dangerous.
On the other hand, a stable drone with a good camera and a long flight time can stay airborne, stream a live video feed and give an idea of what the problem is to the team standing below.
That way, nobody gets hurt, the job gets done and, with a long enough air time, the drone doesn’t drop onto the ground and shatter into a million pieces.
Drone surveillance can help during difficult missions in times of war. Spotting the enemy with a drone can save soldiers’ lives in more ways than one.
For example, instead of commanders sending individual troopers for recon, they can fire up a drone with a high-power camera and scout the area.
5 Simple Tips on How to Improve Your Drone’s Flight Time
Proper Battery Usage
When we say “proper battery usage,” we don’t necessarily just refer to frequent charging, although that is an important part of it.
Any drone user ought to have a few batteries close by, charged and ready to use. That way, no time is wasted if, for example, someone wants to record an area for more than fifteen minutes.
Disposing of faulty batteries is also a must. We always urge people to make sure the batteries aren’t damaged or leaking before putting them in the drone.
A faulty battery can damage the drone in more ways than one.
Drone Size Reduction
Basic physics stipulates that the more mass an airborne object has, the shorter its flight time. Therefore, it would be a good idea to reduce the weight of the drone as much as possible, given the model specs.
The first thing to go is the camera. Drones often have detachable cameras, and these cameras are often the heaviest thing about them.
Prop guards can also be removed, however, we only advise this step to experienced drone pilots. Anything else that can be removed from the drone should go, too.
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In terms of propellers, each setup works uniquely for different drones. For example, drones with smaller propellers require more effort to stay in the air, but they move a lot faster.
On the other hand, large propellers will guarantee that the drone moves slowly.
However, because of how much lift the drone with large propellers has, it can stay in the air far longer than the one with small propellers. This particular step will require some research.
A lot of users get excited when they fire up their drone for the first time. They want to fly it full throttle, give it a good once-over in their local park or an open street.
However, this will drain the power very quickly, and the drone will drop on the ground like a sack of potatoes. And it’s not just top speeds that make the drone flight time shorter.
Doing stunts like flips, barrel rolls, and dives often strains the motor and the battery. And don’t get us wrong, we understand it’s very tempting to do this with a freshly-bought quad.
However, if a customer aims for staying in the air longer, conserving energy is the key. Wide flights with little to no turbulence will do the drone wonders. It will be just as fun as doing flips and turns, but with almost zero additional strain on the device.
Picking the Right Weather
Of course, this is a pretty cut and dry piece of advice. Nobody in their right mind would fly their drone in a thunderstorm. However, even less dangerous weather conditions, such as wind, rain, and snow, can drain the battery quickly. After all, the drone has more resistance during these conditions.
Wind and snow can also interfere with the controller signal. And if there’s one thing worse than losing or crashing a drone, it’s losing or crashing a drone in rainwater or fresh snow. The wind can also make the drone drift beyond where the controls tell him to go, and this can cause damage.
Finally, there’s the question of moisture. “Waterproof” isn’t exactly an adjective that’s associated with drones in general. Any excess water can get into the device and short-circuit it.
In addition, the metal bits can rust, which would require repairs or replacement. That’s an expensive endeavor, almost as expensive as buying a new drone all over again.
In short, avoid all bad weather, at all costs. Sunny skies and mild wind will always be the preferred time to fly a drone outdoors.
Is it Worth It to Build Your Own Drone Just to Get the Longest Flight Time?
That’s right, building a drone is very much possible. In fact, techies world-wide love doing just that. It’s almost as thrilling as building a battle robot that competes in small circuit robot tournaments.
Naturally, we personally think that building a drone is a bad idea for the Average Joe who just wants to own a quadcopter for various purposes. Before we move on to our reasons why, however, we’ll offer you a few reasons as to why people WANT to build drones.
Pros of Building a Drone
The first obvious benefit of a homebrew drone is upgradability. Every time a motor feels flimsy or not powerful enough, a techie can just replace it with a better model. The same goes for every other part, of course. Most store-bought models don’t have that option. You get what you buy, essentially.
Next, there’s the learning aspect of it. Anyone can learn how drones work, how the machinery can be replaced, repaired, upgraded or even discarded. If we build our own drone, we get to know it inside and out. We pick up on its quirks, tweak the flaws and offer advice to other potential drone builders.
Finally, there’s a somewhat selfish reason known as self-achievement.
What can be more boast-worthy to people than saying “Hey, I built me my own damn drone! Ha!”? But of course, there’s also the non-selfish feeling of self-improvement.
Constructing a flying machine can inspire future projects and give the builder confidence. These feelings can actually lead to these builders getting work with international tech corporations such as Sony or Tesla.
Cons of Building a Drone
Naturally, the negatives trump the positives in this area. When we weigh them down, we see that not only it better to just buy a drone, it’s also safer.
Experience is a Must
Let’s be honest – not everyone can build a drone. In fact, there are barely any people who can build a transistor radio out of scraps, let alone something as complex as an unmanned aerial vehicle.
And this isn’t something that can be learned overnight. Most tech experts require years of constant work to merely learn how to repair a faulty drone.
Building one from scratch is an entirely different story. And if an amateur is to try it, they could experience injuries through electrocution or even battery explosion (yes, those happen).
No amount of self-achievement or inspiration can make up for the fact that the person isn’t capable of building the drone in the first place.
Getting someone else to make it is just as difficult, as not many people have an interest in building tech things.
Factory-Made Drones are, Ironically, Cheaper
On the surface level, it appears as if building a drone might be cheap. All you need are the parts and the know-how, right?
Well, the parts, when sold individually, tend to cost far more.
In fact, if we were, to sum up, the expenses for each individual part (motors, propellers, cameras, etc.), we would see that they can cost nearly twice as much as a commercially sold drone.
Of course, anyone can simply buy cheaper or second-hand parts, but this is dangerous. A loose propeller or a faulty motor can damage the drone. At best, they might simply not get the device that high up.
When making a homebrew drone, original individual parts are the way to go, and we’ve already discussed how expensive they can get.
Even if a store-bought drone crashes or dies, there’s a chance that the owner can get a new one if it’s covered by the warranty. Naturally, not all damage is, but the option is still there.
However, that same option doesn’t exist with homebrew drones. An individual builds the quad with his or her bare hands, after all.
Another flaw with the lack of warranty is the lack of customer support.
Each brand of drones usually has a troubleshooting call center, and if the owner faces a problem, they can give them a call. Alternatively, they can go to the nearest store selling the brand and ask them in person. This is not possible with drones that someone makes at home.
Nobody other than that person knows which parts went into the quad. More importantly, nobody knows how to approach it in case of a malfunction.
It Takes Up Time and Patience
A drone enthusiast can try and build a drone, sure. They can invest time and effort into this project. The problem is the amount of time and effort invested. Building a drone can take weeks, even months. On top of that, there’s no guarantee it would work the moment it’s finished, so any potential troubleshooting can take days, if not weeks or months extra. That’s a lot of man-hours and nerves lost.
A drone enthusiast might also want to get their drone as soon as possible. They will thus Google the best possible drone solutions, compare prices, click on that “buy” button and wait for a few days for the drone to be delivered. They can also just walk to a shop and buy one displayed in the store window.
This particular step might even be easier than online shopping, considering how popular drones are and how often people buy them nowadays. All of that takes up significantly less time than tinkering with parts and trying to make an object fly.back to menu ↑
But How Does All of This Affect Flight Time?
Good question. Both options have their merits, naturally. A homebrew drone can always be upgraded, but even with upgrades, it doesn’t fare much better than a store-bought quad.
Popular brands of drones have products that are proven to have longer flight times. At worst, a customer can buy a faulty model that doesn’t run as well, which they can resolve with a dispute or a new purchase.
Homebrew drones, however, require a LOT of testing, and even after the tests they can malfunction. In other words, even if a drone is made faster with modifications, it’s less durable than a drone from a popular brand.
5 Best (Latest) Drones With Longest Flight Time to Date!
Now that we’ve got the specifics of flight time down, we can discuss the newest drones that stood out in 2018.
Each of them comes with their own set of merits and flaws, but according to popular reviews, they stood out as the best-rated of the bunch.
Dà-Jiāng Innovations often offer quality UAVs, and the latest Phantom Pro is by no means an exception. With its sleek white look and a powerful camera, it’s a decent candidate to be at the top of the pile.
Pros of This Drone
DJI Phantom 4 Pro is a beast. Not only will the user manage to control it from 7km/4.3 miles away, but they can rely on it to come back safely in case it gets lost.
This is thanks to the combination of the Return-to-Home feature and obstacle detecting. In terms of flight time, it can max out at 30 minutes, a perfect length for recording.
And speaking of recording, Phantom 4 Pro comes with a 24mm wide angle lens camera. This beauty is capable of recording 4K 64 fps videos, more than enough to capture some high-quality footage. If we couple that with how steady the DJI is mid-flight, it’s no wonder users recommend this model so often.
Cons of This Drone
Of course, DJI Phantom 4 Pro isn’t perfect. Leaving aside the price (it is a high-end model, after all), the most common complaint customers have had is the need for a tablet or a smartphone to control the camera.
The 4 Pro+ model does come with its own tablet, but the cost goes up as well. And speaking of cost, this drone will probably disappoint users who want to buy additional cameras. Yes, they’re that expensive.
Unlike DJI, Hubsan is not a brand people notice a whole lot. Nevertheless, they provided the customers with an interesting drone.
But of course, it’s not all about the price.
Pros of This Drone
When talking about H109S X4, it’s impossible not to mention how it handles. It comes with both the Return-to-Home option and Headless mode. But by far the most useful feature is its uncontrollable protection.
Namely, when the signal from the controller has a 3-second interruption (or longer), the drone lands automatically. That way the user doesn’t have to worry about it crashing and breaking on the ground.
Of course, H109S X4 was made for video capture and photography. The mighty 1080HD camera responds spectacularly to the controls, capturing clear pictures and steady, high-quality videos. It also comes with a 1-axis gimbal to hold the camera in place for steadier video capture. On top of that, the flight time of H109S X4 is a decent 21 minutes. A lot of good photos can be captured in this time, as it goes beyond the average.
Cons of This Drone
By far the biggest flaw of Hubsan H109S X4 Pro Professional is that it lacks obstacle avoidance. The owner has to take special care when controlling it at longer distances, as it can ram itself into trees and shrubbery more often than other models on the market.
Another, albeit minor flaw, is that it’s not a fast drone. If the user wants a drone that moves fast and performs cool tricks, this isn’t the model for them. However, H109S X4 works perfectly for people who like to take high-quality video and photographic content precisely because it’s not too fast.
Another DJI, another Mavic – it’s hard to go wrong with this choice! With the number of products the DJI have been placing on the market, more than one was bound to end up on this list. And when this particular model is taken into consideration, it’s not difficult to see why.
Pros of This Drone
Mavic 2 Pro is a foldable, fast drone with lots of interesting new features. For example, the obstacle direction of this model happens in literally every direction.
And we’re not just talking about the four sides of the drone – the top gets obstacle detecting sensors as well!
Next, there’s the 20-megapixel camera with its one-inch sensor. This monster can take spectacular HD photos, as well as videos in 30 fps.
There’s also the built-in Quick shot mode that spots people in the drone’s input flight path and snaps photos of them. By far the most exciting of these modes is one where the drone zooms out and forms a miniature “planet” effect. The user will feel like Little Prince with this feature.
In terms of flight time, it performs splendidly at a maximum of 25 minutes. Not only that, but it performs these tasks even during a slight breeze. While we’d never recommend flying a drone while it’s windy outside, we do appreciate when the model does well in unfavorable conditions.
Cons of This Drone
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t have a single major flaw; rather, it has a slew of minor, yet notable ones. For example, its remote doesn’t work unless a smartphone is plugged into it. As impossible as it is to believe, there are people out there who don’t have smartphones, so this can be a massive disadvantage for certain potential customers.
Moreover, even with smartphones, the app crashes from time to time and isn’t particularly user-friendly like others.
Other flaws have a lot to do with recording. The HD footage will look phenomenal, there’s no denying that. However, footage of lower quality will have a very grainy look, which is quite a bother.
After all, a user might want to conserve space and record something in a lower resolution. For this reason alone, casual videographers might skip this drone altogether.
Naturally, like with most models on this list, people have had complaints about Mavic 2 Pro’s price. However, considering that other models on the market cost comparatively the same, this really shouldn’t be an issue with a drone enthusiast.
Much like the Mavic 2 Pro, the ANAFI is foldable, portable and scores lots of high points when it comes to camerawork. While it’s not as popular as other brands, Parrot does strive to bring a little innovation to the market, and it definitely shows with this particular model.
Pros of This Drone
The absolute best feature of ANAFI is the camera. Or, to be precise, anything having to do with the camera. First off, there’s the 4K HDR capability, which will give the user crisp, beautiful videos and equally stunning pictures. Moreover, there’s the 2.8X lossless zoom. Now anyone can take a picture from the sky without losing any quality or ending up with grainy footage.
Yet, the way the camera itself moves is what should get the user’s attention. A 180-degree tilt gimbal allows this drone to take some breathtaking angles of footage, something no other drone on the market can do at the moment. Couple that with the 25-minute top flight time, and we’ve got ourselves an interesting little gadget, to say the least.
Naturally, there are other interesting factors to take into consideration. For example, the connectivity between the drone and the controller is seamless. In addition, it can withstand windy weather and it performs very quietly. It’s like having a pleasant breeze following the user and taking wonderful videos along the way.
Cons of This Drone
It’s always a shame to have a drone that can do amazing things with the camera, yet flies poorly. With no obstacle avoidance and wonky controls, the ANAFI can really be a pain in the neck to control. Sure, the signal is there, but it’s just a bit too clumsy to move about.
And then there’s the design. It is true that one can only go so far with foldable drones, but the uninspired shapes and color choice make this drone look and feel a little boring. For example, the camera looks like it was ripped out of a parking lot and screwed into place poorly.
Finally, there’s the question of additional features. Anything extra that you need for this drone can be bought, but at outrageous prices. Moreover, customer reviews point to these features not working properly, so there’s really no reason to buy them in the first place.
The second and last Parrot model on this list, the non-Cowboy Bebop 2 has a few things going for it. But funnily enough, it almost performs in the exact opposite manner to the prior Parrot mentioned earlier. Let’s delve into it and find out how.
Pros of This Drone
If there’s one thing that can be said about Bebop 2 Power, it’s that it handles like a dream. The controller range is 2 km/1.2 miles, so it can fly a fair distance without the need to “babysit” it. Moreover, it has the Return-to-Home function that operates well enough, and the FPV goggles give the owner a nice view of what the drone sees.
Impressively, the unit can store two batteries, enough for 60 – yes, sixty! – minutes of flight time. That makes the Bebop 2 an ideal choice for anyone wanting to make long, uninterrupted videos and snap hundreds of photos.
Cons of This Drone
Let’s rephrase that last statement a bit. The Bebop 2 MIGHT SEEM an ideal choice for people to make long, uninterrupted videos and snap hundreds of photos. However, that isn’t the case for two very important reasons.
The first is the overall quality of the camera. Unfortunately for Bebop 2, the 1080 HD camera captures footage that doesn’t even remotely resemble HD. Most users took this as the single biggest glaring flaw of this quad. Naturally, every feature that goes with the camera fails equally badly due to its poor image quality.
The second reason why videographers might avoid this drone is the insufficient memory. Only 7 GB with no possibility of an SD card addition make for a very poor choice. And if a user wants to take HD photos that typically take up a lot of space, that 7 GB of memory will be full in a short amount of time.
The Best Drones of 2018 – Which One is the Winner?
Each of the five models mentioned in this top 5 best drones list has had a different set of attributes to offer. A few of them have had camera issues but have moved very fast with no issues.
On the other hand, two or three models have stood out with spectacular video and photo capture capabilities, despite some control kinks.
But every single one had something new to offer.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Parrot Bebop 2 Power both fold away neatly into a backpack, for example. ANAFI’s gimbal alone has earned it points for creativity, and Hubsan H109S X4 has performed admirably with a modest camera and flight features.
And of course, Bebop 2’s battery life has made its own mark, being almost double the maximum time for an average high-end drone.
With all things taken into consideration, our choice for the best drone was clear.back to menu ↑
The Winner – DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Track records speak for themselves. In that respect, DJI has been nothing if not consistent with their quality level, and DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the living proof of that.
It might not have the flight time of Bebop 2 or the gimbal of ANAFI, and it might cost more than Hubsan H109S X4, but it’s worth every penny.
Moreover, the camera performs better than on every other model on this list. That alone ought to put it on the top 5 best drones list, not counting the phenomenal handling and flight performance it also has.
However, it goes beyond performance. The Phantom 4 Pro also won in terms of design, beating out even its “cousin” Mavic 2 Pro. It looks almost as attractive as the videos it records, and almost as smooth as it runs.
Overall, any of the five models listed here are a solid choice when it comes to drone shopping. We enjoyed flying each and every one of them (in varying degrees, of course). It goes without saying that they would be good picks for any drone enthusiast, novice or professional.
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