1. DJI Phantom 4 – Top Drones 2016
(Click here for detailed review)
It should come as no surprise that DJI – being one of the leading manufacturers of consumer drones – is the company that created our highest ranking drone. As it stands, all those of which we’ve exhausted multiple series of tests, The DJI Phantom 4 Professional Quadcopter reigns supreme for overall performance vs price.
The battle for top drone 2016 this time around was a very close one between The Phantom 4 and The Autel X-Star Premium, however DJI’s long standing dominance in the industry continues to hold strong (for now).
Apart from being at the very top of the game for design, performance and overall specs for its price range, perhaps the primary distinguishing feature of the Phantom 4 is how autonomous it is. It comes out of the box including an array of features that make it incredibly difficult to crash or lose, and is very user-friendly compared to the market median.
Here is an in-depth video review by JRESHOW that goes into great detail about the many pre-existing and additional features available for the Phantom 4. It’s a very thorough and educational watch.
Buy on Amazon here: DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter
2. Autel X-Star Premium – Top Drones 2016
As a relative new name in the industry, Autel has quickly risen to be a prominent name alongside the DJI family when it comes to the mainstream consumer drone market. The Autel X-Star Premium is arguably the best drone to come around in the $700 price range since The Phantom 3, and has a few features that propels it even beyond the once top drone.
Though almost identical in terms of specs and overall performance, upon close examination it soon becomes quite apparent that Autel has paid enormous attention to the finer details when crafting this drone. Everything from the plastic body, rotors, controller and even easy-to-remove gimbal screams “precision to detail.” It’s also very practical in its primary colour being a highly glossy orange – as a common complaint with many other drones (specifically the white ones) is that they become increasingly difficult to spot when reaching significant distances.
The Autel X-Star Premium comes with a few additional features that make it truly stand out from the rest. This includes of course it’s incredibly sturdy carrying case made from solid plastic and handle, which comes with all necessary slots for the drone’s essentials, along with some additional space for extra batteries and propellors. It also has a very easy-to-detach camera feature, which is great should any issues arise with your drone or camera and either needs to be separated from the other in an instant.
Also, in regarding the controller, the X-Star – unlike many of the Phantom Series drones – actually does not require that you attach or sync it to a smart phone unless you wish to. It comes equipped with a mini display monitor at the top of the controller which essentially replaces where many would have their phone or tablet attached. This isn’t a huge deal but it does prove to be convenient should your other devices need charging etc.
Solid review from Armando Ferreira:
Buy on Amazon here: Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone
3. DJI Inspire 1 – Top Drones 2016
(Click here for detailed review)
One can’t bring up the DJI brand without making reference to the undeniable work of mastery that is the Inspire series. DJI Inspire 1 is easily one of the most powerful and luxurious consumer dones on the market short of the $2000 mark.
At over 6.5 lbs and powered by a 6-cell battery at 22 volts, the Inspire 1 is about twice as powerful as the Phantom series, making it incredibly adept at dealing with all sorts of would-be hazardous environments. Its 4k camera housed b a 3-axis gimbal also comes equipped with 360 degree rotation which offers incredibly steady video recording in heavy wind. It does clearly help that this quad is much sturdier all round, being housed by a very solid carbon fibre frame.
Another cool feature which makes the Inspire 1 stand out from the rest is the fact that it is essentially a transformer. By that we are referring to the fact that the “wings” have the capability to lift its propellors up and above the rest of the frame once in flight, taking them completely out of the line of sight of the camera+gimbal, which naturally sits at the bottom centre. This is a fantastic feature for those wanting to get some wild aerial shots without fear of having it ruined with propellors popping up around the edge of the frame.
Best video review from Tested:
Buy on Amazon here: DJI Inspire 1 v2.0 Quadcopter
4. DJI Phantom 3 Professional – Top Drones 2016
(Click here for detailed review)
For the longest time, The Phantom 3 was arguably the best consumer drone on the market – that is, until 2016 rolled around and its more elite sibling, the Phantom 4 came out, along with Autel releasing an equally impressive series for a very modest price tag.
With a 3-axis gimbal control system housing its optimized 4k camera, which subsequently also shoots 12 MP photos, the Phantom 3 is certainly no joke. While it is certainly a less evolved version of the Phantom 4, it does generally boast many of the same features that make its older brother so great, yet with a much more modest price tag.
One of the most appealing features of the DJI Phantom 3 is the deceptiveness of one of the words in its name: “Professional.” Because in no way do you need to be a professional to pilot it. It’s overall an extremely easy to fly quadcopter on any of its mode settings: just make sure you’ve updated the software, calibrated and synced with your tablet or handheld device beforehand, naturally – and get going. It really is meant to appeal for the overall consumer market and does just that.
On the whole, the Phantom 3 drone is definitely a worthwhile purchase and especially great introductory device for any beginner or intermediate flyer/videographer – and it is easily one of the best purchases you can make for under $1000.
Best video review from Tom Antos:
Buy on Amazon here: DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter
5. Yuneec Q500 Typhoon – Top Drones 2016
The Yuneec Q500 Typhoon Quadcopter comes with an array of features that make it a near perfect choice for an intermediate flyer looking to purchase around the $1000 price range. Like the Phantom 3, it flies like a dream right off the bat and boasts a very impressive set of stabilization mechanisms, as well as smooth gimbal control and 720p live stream video recording. The camera itself is capable of 1080p/60fps footage and takes 16mp photos.
As for the aesthetics and flight time, it’s pretty much exactly what one would hope for. Sort of a badass helicopter straight out of Terminator, and can fly for approximate 25 minutes. On paper, one could say it’s the best drone of its category, and they wouldn’t necessarily be right or wrong. When it comes down to it, the subtle differences decide which is a better purchase rely on personal preference. We concluded that the overall feel/responsiveness and image quality (especially around the edges) was slightly inferior to that of the Phantom, hence this is the number 2. However, all things considered, the Yuneec Q500+ Typhoon will certainly not disappoint.
Video review courtesy of Jay SonyAlphaLab:
Buy on Amazon here: Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon Quadcopter