The Best Nano & Mini Drones To Conquer The Skyes
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to drones nowadays, especially when it comes to mini and nano drones.
Most people think they are the same thing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as there is quite a big difference. You need to know the difference between nano and mini drones unless you want to risk buying the wrong machine.
Let’s say you want to buy a drone for your kids. In this case, you’d want a nano drone. While if you wanted to buy a drone for yourself, and you wanted a quadcopter that’s a bit more powerful, you’d steer towards mini drones.
So what’s the difference between nano and mini drones? Let’s look at the critical differences in the following few lines.
What Are Nano Drones?
Nano drones are the cheaper, smaller, and more portable of the two. Nano drones can easily fit in the palm of your hand, and due to their size, they often have a tiny battery, and it’s practically impossible to insert a great camera in them.
These nanomachines are made for beginners who want to learn to fly indoors, as they have a size of around 7cm (or even less.) Nano drones are also ideal for people on a very low budget, as they usually go for less than $50 on the market, and they are also perfect if you want to buy a simple quadcopter for your kids.
Another good thing about nano drones is that they all weigh well under the 250g limit for FAA registration. Although registering your drone isn’t a hard process, it’s still a hassle many want to avoid.
Buying such a tiny drone comes with its pros and cons. Here are some of them:
- Beginner friendly
- The cheapest drones you can find on the market
- Perfect as a first learning experience
- Safe for indoor flying
- Fun to play with
- Don’t need to be registered
- Extremely short battery
- Can’t really fly outdoors
- Camera is non existent
- Damages easily
What Are Mini Drones?
Mini drones are the bigger brother of the two. There are multiple differences between the two, but the main ones are in size, price, and technical characteristics.
Mini quadcopters often have fantastic cameras comparable to professional ones, have long-lasting batteries, and are more durable. However, they are also bigger, heavier, and have a much larger price.
It is worth mentioning that a lot of mini drones also need an FAA registration to fly. It’s an easy and inexpensive procedure but you’re obliged to do it if you want to fly a drone that’s over the 250g weight limit.
Buying a mini drone also comes with its pros and cons. Let’s look at some of them when compared to nano drones:
- Amazing camera
- Fun for outdoor flights
- Extremely sturdy and durable
- Long-lasting battery
- Higher cost
- Most need to be registered
- Some aren’t beginner friendly
- Not as safe indoors
As you can see, there isn’t the best type of drone overall, and you have to choose one based on your needs. Once you’ve chosen whether you need a mini or a nano drone, we’ve made a list of the best ones for each category so that you don’t have to go through all the drones available on the market.
The Best Nano Drones
Our Top Pick: Eachine E010
The Eachine E010 is our top pick for multiple reasons, but that doesn’t mean that the other nano drones on this list are bad. As with everything, all the machines on this list have their pros and cons, and you need to consider everything and choose the best drone for your needs.
However, the Eachine is one of the best overall, as you’ll soon see.
First, it’s highly uncommon for nano drones to have propeller guards that come natively with the model. This alone makes the Eachine one of the best drones for indoor use, as the chances of breaking it are close to zero. Although toy-class drones don’t usually fly fast, they go fast enough that if you hit something, it will get damaged. But with the Eachine you won’t ever have this issue.
Secondly, the E010 is very safe since the propellers are encased in circular prop guards, making it perfect for kids. Lastly, the Eachine has excellent aesthetics and built quality overall.
The battery of the Eachine will last about 5 minutes if you’re lucky and comes for $23.99. This nano drone also comes with three different speed modes, has a maximum range of 30 meters, and measures only 9.5×9.5×5 cm.
- Return to home feature
- Compass mode (the drone will change direction as you move the controller
- Propeller guards
- Tiny and easy to fly
- Has a cool design for kids
- Battery runs out quickly
- No camera
The Cheerson is arguably one of the most popular mini drones on this list, thanks to a video from the YouTube channel UnboxThrapy that featured the CX-10 in a review.
This is the drone that made nano drones famous, and it has a set of fantastic features.
It has a 6-axis gyro, so you can fly it with excellent stability indoors, but you still have to adjust the direction occasionally as it doesn’t come with a GPS. The CX-10 is durable, but because it doesn’t have propeller guards, they tend to break quite easily if you crash often.
There’s no camera on this nano drone, too; the battery lasts about 5-7 minutes and measures 4x4x2 cm. Lastly, the Cheerson CX-10 comes at possibly one of the lowest prices for good nano drones, $22.99.
- Fun design
- Truly nano-sized
- Easy to use
- Propeller guards
- Comes in multiple colors
- Super cheap
- Is not very durable
- Not as safe as other nano drones
- Battery isn’t removable
Original JJRC H20
One of the best features of this nano drone, which is why it is on the list, is that it looks sick.
The JJRC has a total of 6 propellers and has an aggressive look that your kids will likely love. This hexacopter has a 6-motor design, three different speed rates, and even a 720p onboard camera.
Battery isn’t great as with all nano drones, it lasts for about 5 minutes total, and the size of the JJRC is 10x10x2cm. The camera quality is mediocre and doesn’t allow angle adjustment, but for the price of $40, it’s more than enough, in our opinion.
- Small sized hexacopter
- Truly nano-sized
- Easy to use
- Onboard camera
- Cool looking
- Small battery
- Mediocre camera quality
- A bit more expensive than the average nano drones
Holy Stone HS190
Holy Stone is one of the best nano drone manufacturers, and it packs a few features that none of the previous quadcopters have.
First of all, the HS190 can fold, which is uncommon for a nano drone. Also, when you fold the HS, it fits inside the controller, which is neat. The quadcopter also has an altitude hold feature which is uncommon for a drone of this size.
The Holy Stone also has an automatic takeoff and landing feature and a return to home button that works pretty well.
It weighs 23.2g and has a size of 9.1×5.5×2.9 cm. The flight time is in line with other nano drones at around 5-7 minutes but has a longer range of up to 50m.
The Holy Stone HS190 is priced at $29.99.
- The controller is big and comfortable and is also a case for the drone
- Cool design
- Built-in fan guards
- Great range
- Not as tiny when unfolded
- A tad bit more expensive than other drones
- No camera
Hubsan Q4 Nano H111
This ninja-looking drone is extremely popular among nano drones enthusiast.
The Hubsan looks cool and is a tiny drone, similar to the Cheerson. The Q4 Nano measure 5x5x5cm is exceptionally light, and is faster than the other drones on this list.
Unfortunately, the Hubsan doesn’t include propeller guards, which can be an issue considering how fast this drone can fly, making it very flimsy if you’re not careful enough. Besides that, the Hubsan is a pretty standard quadcopter nano drone with few features that make it stand out above the competition.
Affordability is also a key strength of this nano drone, priced at $25.99.
- Lightweight and fast
- Unique design
- Available in multiple colors
- Super affordable
- Comes with a great controller
- Not very durable
- No return home feature
- No camera
Sky Viper M500
We also wanted to include a drone that isn’t as popular as the others on this list because Sky Viper is a pretty unknown drone manufacturer that gets a lot of the basics right and even includes some unexpected features that you might find interesting.
First of all, the Viper is remarkably cheap at $25.99 and looks great. This is one of those nano drones that your kids will love just based on pure looks.
Surprisingly, the Sky Viper also includes a 720p 20FPS camera which is pretty decent for a beginner nano drone. The battery can last up to 8 minutes, so it is one of the most durable batteries for nano drones.
Secondly, the drone is exceptionally well-built, compact, and has four LED lights to make it visible at night.
- Small and fast
- Easy to maneuver
- Solid battery
- Headless mode
- Looks cool
- Comes with a camera
- The remote is complicated
- No propeller guards
- The camera is mediocre
- Can’t fly it outdoors due to its weight
Syma is another great and well-known nano drone manufacturer offering many features similar to the Eachine E010.
The X12 is a fantastic drone for beginners due to its small size (7.7×7.7×2.7cm), making it easy to move around and safer in case of crashes. The Syma isn’t our top pick because it doesn’t have the same blade protection quality that the Eachine has.
One of the best features of this nano drone is its price, $21.99, which is one of the lowest on the market. In all honesty, for the price and what it offers, the Syma X12 is a bargain, and if you want a little toy to have with you or you’re looking for a fantastic gift for your kids, the Syma is just great.
- Good built quality
- Great design
- Comes in different colours
- Very affordable
- Pretty bad propeller guards
- No Headless mode
- Extremely bare.bones drone with just the essential stuff
The Best Mini Drones
Let’s now switch to the big guys.
These drones are much bigger, heavier, and pricier than what you saw with nano drones, but if you want a fantastic flight and camera experience, mini drones are the way to go. Let’s look at some of the best available on the market today.
Our Top Pick: DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 is the best drone you can get for less than $500. It has a stabilized, three-axis gimbal with a 4K video camera that can also snap 12MP pictures. On top of that, it includes GPS and Find My Drone functions.
Also, it weighs just under 250g, so you won’t have to register the Mini 2 before flying it. Battery life is also incredible, with nearly half-hour flight times, though we wish DJI had put obstacle detection into this model.
The Mini 2 is impressive if you’re just starting out and want a fantastic machine with a staggering camera without breaking the bank.
- Stabilized 4K camera
- Raw and JPG photo modes
- Long-lasting battery
- No FAA registration required
- No obstacle detection features
- No ActiveTrack or Hyperlapse
- No colour profiles for JPGs and video
DJI Mini 3 Pro
The Mini 3 Pro is one of the most capable ultralight drones on the market. With its 249g of weight, you can get around FAA regulations, and it has a great battery that will last for about 34 minutes of flight.
Compared to the Mini 2, it has obstacle sensors, automated flight modes, and 4K60FPS video. We particularly liked the APAS functions, an autopilot mode that can navigate through complex spaces all by itself.
This is a mini drone for someone who wants a bit more than the Mini 2, as the Mini 3 is a direct upgrade. Drone enthusiasts and professionals will love the Mini 3 for its excellent camera quality but all that comes obviously at a much higher price point than its predecessor.
The Mini 3 has a price point of $759.
There’s much more to this incredible drone and if you want to know more, check out our complete review of the DJI Mini 3 Pro.
- Portable design
- 4K60FPS with digital zoom
- Vertical video and photo support
- Upward-tilting camera
- Three-way obstacle sensor
- Extremely safe
- A bit expensive
- GPS lock.on takes some time
- No AirSense ADS-B system
The Anafi debuted before ultralight drones took over the market, but we liked it despite its need for FAA registration (weighing over 250g). The long, skinny form of the Parrot is a critical factor for handiness as it’s easy to squeeze the Anafi in a rucksack, and you can charge it with the same USB-C adapter you use for your smartphone.
The camera is nothing to laugh about, too, with 4K HDR video support and a gimbal that enables some upward tilt. So if you’re a creator looking for a small drone with capable 4K video, this might be the best drone for you.
As for the price, it comes a bit cheaper than the Mini 3 but still more expensive than the Mini 2, at around $600.
The Parrot is our top pick for casual flyers who don’t need a high-powered model with pro features, and it’s especially great for travelers who don’t want to be bothered to pack yet another battery charger. The Anafi is one of the smallest 4K camera, and gimbal stabilization drone there is on the market, and it seems like it was designed with world travel in mind.
- Very small and portable
- Charged via USB-C
- 4K video with HDR
- 3X digital zoom
- Upward gimbal tilt
- Great 25-minute battery
- No obstacle detection sensor
- Digital zoom cuts the 4K video quality
- Requires a smartphone to fly
- Construction quality isn’t the best
Autel Evo Lite+
Autel’s key factor is its camera which competes with some of the best drones available on the market with much higher price points. With a camera capable of 6K videos and a 1-inch sensor, it’s a worthy contender, although the price may deter some pilots.
The Autel Evo comes for $1549, and although it may seem expensive, the camera and the 40 minutes of flight time make up for it. The mini drone also comes with automated camera moves and a 20MP camera. However, the Autel features only 6GB of internal storage, which is nowhere near enough for 6K videos, and we recommend t least a 64GB microSD card for this drone.
Photographers and video specialists who want a quality camera drone don’t have too many brand options, and the Autel Evo is one of the best.
Safety features are good but not quite as refined as what you get with a DJI drone. The obstacle sensors stop the drone in its place, but the Evo isn’t smart enough to navigate around the obstacles like the Mini 3 Pro.
One key thing to remember is that your ethics may also play a role in your drone choice. DJI has been flagged by the US Treasury as a bad actor in the Uyghur minority genocide in China. DJI denies these allegations, but it’s worth mentioning as it may affect your buying decision.
- Stabilized 6K30FPS and 4K60FPS video
- 20MP stills in Raw or JPG
- 1-inch camera with variable aperture
- Great battery for up to 40 minutes of flight
- Three-ways obstacle sensors
- Automated camera moves and Hyperlapse
- GPS and return-home feature
- 8-bit flat video profile
- Color video profile isn’t configurable
- Screenless remote is weird for such a high-priced drone
We picked yet another DJI, but this one differs greatly from the rest.
The main difference is that it’s an FPV drone, which means you can see the camera view through a set of VR goggles. The first-person view is an incredible experience as you’ll feel like an eagle flying in the sky with the bird view the Avata provides.
With its nose-mounted camera, motion-sensitive remote, and 30mph Sport mode, this drone is for thrill seekers.
The Avata also comes with propeller guards because this mini drone doesn’t have many obstacle detection sensors to make the first-person flight experience as smooth as possible. The Avata is a drone for those who want fast-paced, close-to-the-ground, and elaborately choreographed footage. We also liked that although it’s a niche drone, it is easy to pick up and fly, but we’re also put off by how easy it is to crash.
There’s a big difference between flying a drone with a third-person point of view and a first-person one. It’s much harder to calculate distances, and you’ll often find yourself crashing due to miscalculations.
It comes at $1168 with the controller and goggles included.
If you want to know more about the best first-person view drone, check out our complete review of the Avata Pro.
- Incredibly easy and fun to fly
- Sharp FPV goggles with diopter adjustment
- One-handed control is super handy
- Great for POV shots
- A wide-angle lens and 4K60FPS video convey a sense of motion
- Pretty expensive
- Potentially dangerous
- Unusable in small, crowded areas
- Requires an FAA registration
- Easy to crash
Whether you want a nano or mini drone that’s up to you. You must consider your needs and compare them with the sea of options available today in the drone market.
Buying a new drone is an exciting moment because you’re essentially buying a flying camera that will allow you to discover new and exciting world views. And whether you’re on a tight budget or can afford the best models, drone technology has come a long way in the past few years.
Remember that if you’re buying a drone weighing more than 249g, you must register as a pilot with FAA or CAA. The registration is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but it can be a hassle some pilots may want to avoid.