Drone photography has been the domain of professionals for the last decade. The expensive copters with their sharp learning curves were an expense and hassle that most folks wouldn’t want to bother with.
Then came the pocket drones! The more compact designs accessible by amateurs have allowed people of all skill levels to take advantage of this technology.
In this article we will talk about pocket drones, what they are, how they work, and what they can do. We will then look at ten of the top options for anyone looking to dive (or fly) into the world of action photography.
How We Reviewed
We looked at ten of the most popular items in the pocket drones category and compared their various features, accessibility, controls, ease of use, and overall value.
There’s a wide range of pocket drones and accessories on the market, so we’ve broken down the essential information for each of the items we reviewed.
Overall Price Range Of This Product
The pocket drones and accessories we looked at for this review had a wide range of prices. The lowest-priced items were in the $50 range.
At the high end, the products topped out at a little above $800. The variety in the pocket drone category opens users up to an abundance of options and features, which also means a wide range of prices.
1. DJI Mavic Air
- DJI's top priority delivery channeldirect fulfill by DJI
- Foldable & Portable; 32 MP Sphere Panoramas
- 3-Axis Gimbal & 4K Camera
- 3-Directional Environment Sensing,SmartCapture,Advanced Pilot Assistance System
The Mavic Air is the first of several pocket drones we looked at from DJI. While the Mavic Pro, which we look at later in this review, is an accessory-heavy work horse, the Mavic Air is simple and elegant.
The DJI Mavic Air has a three-axis Gimbal system for the camera, delivering professional quality shots from any angle.
Using the built-in Active Track and Smart Capture features, you can control the movement with gestures or other similar commands.
This is a great pocket drone, but maybe not a value for its higher price tag compared to the others on this list.
This item comes with a limited warranty on all parts from the manufacturer.
- Smart Capture works great
- High-quality, 3-axis camera
- Can overheat on long flights
2. DJI Spark Intelligent Portable Mini Drone Quadcopter
- PACKAGE INCLUDES 1- DJI SPARK 2 INTELLIGENT FLIGHT BATTERIES 3- PROPELLER SET 1- Micro USB Cable 1- STORAGE BOX 1- REMOTE CONTROLLER 1- SET PROPELLER GUARDS 1- CHARGER 1- POWER CABLE 1- BATTERY CHARGING HUB 1- SHOULDER BAG 1- 32 GB MICRO SD CARD 1- 3.0 CARD READER 1- MICRO FIBER CLEANING CLOTH
- QUICK LAUNCH - With FaceAware, Spark lifts off from your hand by recognizing your face.1 It takes off and hovers in place within seconds of powering on.
- SIMPLE CONTROL - Take amazing aerial photos using just hand gestures, without a remote controller or mobile device.
- CREATE WITH EASE - Intelligent Flight Modes and intuitive controls help you create cinematic aerial videos with just a few taps.
- EDIT AND SHARE - The DJI GO 4 app features automatic editing templates and an array of filters. Quickly edit videos and share them straight to social media. Gesture - Deep learning gesture recognition allows you to take selfies with simple hand motions. With PalmControl mode, control Spark’s movement by hand
The Spark is something special as it’s a high end quadcopter without the price tag you would expect. This is the perfect transition piece if you are looking to move up from casual drone photography and try your hand at professional style shots.
Its TapFly mode, an included onboard feature, makes it easy to tell your drone where you want to shoot. All you have to do is tap on your screen where you want it to point and the drone will automatically frame the shot to your instructions.
An Active Track system allows the drone to identify people or objects and then tracks them according to your programming. This is a little different from standard facial recognition technology as this technology can interpret and follow things like bikes, cars, and other non-human objects.
This model comes with a two-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.
- Great built-in sensors for autopilot
- Best priced bundle on the list
- Steep learning curve to fly it
3. Baby Elfie
The most inexpensive pocket drone on our list is the Baby Elfie from Engpow. This is definitely a beginner’s model drone with very few features and accessories.
This quadcopter is small, lightweight, and can fold up for easy transport. The dual control system is nice for one-handed flying when using the provided remote.
The picture quality is only 720p for video and 2MP for still photos. Even though those are the lowest quality shots of all the machines on this list, at an average price around $40 this the perfect starter drone for your kids.
This pocket drone comes with a standard limited warranty on parts from the manufacturer.
- Easy to learn to fly
- A value at its average price
- Super-short flight time
4. DJI Mavic Pro
- Up to 27 Minutes Flight Time
- Offers up to 4.3 miles (7km) of transmission range - Fly at up to 40mph (64kmh) or for as long as 27-minutes - True 4K, fully stabilized ensures smooth footage - Fly by Phone over Wi-Fi for even easier flight
- Gimbal-Stabilized 12MP / 4K Camera
- OcuSync Transmission Technology
- See description below for a list of included accessories
This is the cream of the crop on our list- and the average list price agrees with that sentiment. Though we found the average price to be high, we still think the value here is excellent.
This pocket drone shoots in full 4K video with auto-stabilizing lenses and adjustable frame rates of up to 30 FPS. Using patented OcuSync technology to pilot the drone is easy and gives you capabilities most drones can’t match.
This little quadcopter can fly up to 40 miles per hour while maintaining a distance of over 4 miles. This is some of the best speed and longest range available for a drone of this size and price.
This model comes with a standard limited warranty from the manufacturer.
- Professional-grade quality
- Huge collection of accessories included
- Most expensive model
5. Parrot Bebop 2
- Enhanced 14 megapixel fish-eye lens offers 1080p video recording and stunning image capture
- 25 minutes of flight time thanks to a powerful 2700 mAh battery
- Equipped with powerful motors for flight in greater altitudes
- Powerful rear flash LED for better visibility—even in the dark
- Requires registration with FAA. Visit their website for more info on how to register.
The Parrot Bebop 2 is one of the more expensive options on this list, so you would expect a good selection of features to come standard.
The pocket drone can shoot in full 1080p at 30 frames per second, has a great charge time on the battery, and can shoot still photos at over 14 MP.
This model also comes with First-Person goggles for flying. The Cockpit glasses give the sensation of flying from the front of the tiny quadcopter.
This is a neat feature, but it doesn’t seem to explain the high price tag on the Bebop. There are core features missing from this unit, like autonomous flying, movement tracking, or subject chase capability- but don’t worry, you can purchase these features at an additional cost.
This item comes with a standard one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
- Easy to use controls
- Great flight duration
- Extra features cost a fee
6. Xiro Xplorer Mini Discovery Quadcopter
- Integrated 1080p / 13MP Camera, Electronic Image Stabilization
- Automatic Subject Tracking, App-Based Control with 328 ft Range
- 720p Resolution Live Video Feed, Edit and Share Footage with App
- Virtual Stick and Motion-Based Flying, One-key takeoff / landing, One-key return home
- Up to 15 Minute Battery Life, Max Speed 17.9 mph, Max Flight Height 150 ft
The Xiro Xplorer features an integrated 1080p / 13MP camera with electronic image stabilization. It provides automatic subject tracking, and app-based control within its 328-foot range. Video feed is live at 720p resolution and the app provides editing and sharing of footage.
Warranty information was not provided. Please contact the seller directly for warranty information.
- Virtual Stick and Motion-Based Flying
- One-key takeoff/landing
- One-key return home
- Low live video resolution
- Short battery charge
7. ZeroTech Dobby
- Pocket-size rechargeable drone with dual satellite positioning and high definition camera
- Traditional one-button take-off and landing as well as voice control, pat, or throw-and-fly take-off methods
- Easily control with your phone’s swipe function or use phone as a motion controller
- Innovative camera offers facial recognition, digital 3-axis stabilizer, and ability to synchronize photos with one click
- Dimensions: With propellers in – 135mm x 67mm x 36.8mm. With propellers expanded – 135mm x 145mm x 36.8mm. Weight: Only 199g, no FAA registration is requried
The Dobby pocket drone is one of the best values we reviewed for this list. This little white flyer is light in weight but heavy in features.
The autonomous navigation is guided using two separate satellites for positioning, giving you accurate and articulated controls.
This drone has a quad core processor that allows fast and intuitive facial recognition that calculates position and the course on the fly.
The Snapdragon processor in the Dobby allows for intelligent flying that can be used indoors or outdoors to capture selfies like never before.
There is a manufacturer two-year limited warranty on this model.
- Satellite guided positioning
- Onboard face recognition
- Limited battery life
8. Hover Camera Passport Self-Flying Drone
- Auto-Follow: Using face and body detection technology, the Hover Camera can accompany your journey hands-free with video recording and photo taking while cycling, running, surfing, or even hang-gliding
- No FAA Registration Required: Fly confidently and right out of the box without having FAA limitations and restrictions like other drones and operating temperature is 5 degree Celsius-35 degree Celsius (41 degree Fahrenheit-95 degree Fahrenheit)
- Carbon Fiber Cage: Hover Camera is crafted out of carbon fiber making it extra durable to falls and accidents; The Passport’s propellers are enclosed in a cage providing the highest standard of safety
- Gesture Control + Owner Mode: With owner mode you just scan your face into the app and the Passport will automatically find, follow, and record you. You can also snap photos with a quick gesture to the camera
- Ridiculously Portable: Weighing less than 1lb and folding up to the size of a small book, the Hover Camera can be carried with you anywhere. Wi-Fi Frequency Bands: 2.4GHz, 5GHz
The Passport pocket drone is a unique pocket drone made of mostly carbon fiber parts and made for autonomous flight. The Hover Camera Passport has a built-in facial recognition system that targets the user and automatically tracks them in flight.
The small drone can track someone running, biking, or even jumping off of a tall building. Using the tracking and recognition software the machine can capture your most daring stunts and peaceful runs.
This product is covered under a manufacturer limited warranty.
- Has facial recognition software
- Low weight at one pound
- Can only follow using face recognition
9. Wingsland S6 Quadcopter
- Compact, 260g only, can be put in your pocketeasily. Modern and stylish design, 5 colors available
- 4K30P and 1080P60P HD Video, supported with EIS 3-Axis digital stabilization.Internal GPS, Compass, Barometer, 6-Axis Gyro and other parts.
- Equipped with one click Return-To-Home, Course-Lock mode, Home-Lock mode, Orbit, Follow me, Outdoor Auto Hovering and other intelligent functions
- Professional brushless motors and batteries make the outdoor flight easier and longer .The App is equipped with multi-functions of flight control, simulator, editing video, adding subtitles and video composition. 30m-100m Control range by connecting with phone, 7-10min for each flight time.
- Extended accessories choices including Boom Boom Gun, Emoji Display, Search Light and Propellers Guard
The S6 Quadcopter from Wingsland is truly a pocket drone. The phone-sized body and collapsable arms make it an easy fit into a large pocket. The small body and slim design still allow for a 4K camera and built-in stabilization controls.
There are also a handful of neat accessories you can attach to the S6, like an LED emoji display, a powerful but compact searchlight, or try some “mobile assault” with the Boom Boom Gun and outfit your drone with a small Air Soft barrel that actually fires.
This model comes with a standard manufacturer limited warranty.
- 4K camera
- Great accessories
- Buggy control software
10. GoolRC T47 FPV
The GoolRC T47 is a great pocket drone if you’re on a budget. This little rechargeable quadcopter comes with a one-hand remote that acts as the control point and tracking beacon.
The built-in barometer will help stabilize the height automatically while tracking the remote, making it easier than ever to get perfect tracking shots over a certain distance.
This item comes with a standard limited-warranty from the manufacturer.
- Has a barometer for height control
- Has an excellent one-hand remote
- Short battery life
This is a strong category of drones, and many of these little guys made our shopping lists after this review. After looking at each of them against one another, we feel that the Dobby and Spark were the two strongest values.
The DJI Spark was one of the more expensive models we looked at, but when you consider what comes packed in with the drone, it can’t be beat at that price.
Both the hardware and software were dialed in and easy to operate. We really loved this and the other DJI models for this review, and highly recommend you look into these models if you’re ready for the excitement of your very own drone in a pocket.