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Today's drones are more advanced than ever thought possible, and they're becoming lighter, slimmer, and more portable, too. You can take advantage of these awesome innovations by snagging one of the best mini drones that the market has to offer. With such compact builds, these unmanned aircraft can be packed in a backpack with room to spare, so you can bring them on hiking excursions, city adventures, and anywhere else you wander.

These are the top mini drones for a range of different purposes. Each has its own advantages, with some models offering extra bang for your buck, some capable of extreme video resolutions, and others meant for kids and newbies to enjoy an easier and safer flying experience.

The best mini drones: Our favorite models in review

DJI Mini 4 Pro for mini drones
DJI Mini 4 Pro
1. Best overall mini drone

Small, yet does it all

The Mini 4 Pro earns the top spot by packing all of DJI’s best cutting-edge tech into a compact and lightweight design.

  • High-res 48MP photos and 4K videos
  • Advanced intelligent flight modes
  • Reliable hardware and stability
  • Less than 249 grams in weight
  • Folded size is small enough to fit in a pocket
  • Extra accessories are proprietary and expensive
  • Few upgrades from its predecessor

The DJI Mini 4 Pro is truly a marvel of modern engineering, and we're not just talking about the tiny size. We compared it to the Mini 3 Pro model to see how they stacked up against one another, and while there aren't a ton of noticeable design differences, the flight control gets a solid upgrade with omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. The Mini 4 Pro was our recommendation between the two to stay on the cutting edge.

With 4K video recording at up to 100fps, high-bit rate codecs, brilliant HDR, and unmatched stabilization technology, it's certainly a viable option for professional videographers. Add to that the 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, which can capture 48MP RAW photos, and it's also a great choice for still photography. This elegant little drone is worth it for the camera alone, even before you take to the skies.

And boy does it take to the skies with grace. Unlike its predecessor, the Mini 4 Pro's new omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system adds the ability to stop on a dime and seems pretty infallible. It is great with avoiding crashes, giving you greater peace of mind when flying in forests, urban areas, and even indoors. This obstacle avoidance is especially useful during the subject tracking mode, which can lock onto cars, people, animals, and just about anything else that warrants attention.

DJI Mini 4 Pro (49)

Although its name might imply otherwise, the Mini 4 Pro isn't just for the professionals. It's easy to use, relatively affordable for hobbyists, and replete with pre-programmed flight modes that send it whizzing around at up to 16 meters per second. You can also enjoy 34 minutes of flight time on a full charge, and the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus bumps that number up to 45 minutes. Needless to say, the Mini 4 Pro is a beast.

Autel Robotics EVO Nano+
Autel Robotics / Pocket-lint 
Autel Robotics EVO Nano+
2. Best multi-functional mini drone

Versatility is king

A professional camera and robust control system place the EVO Nano+ from Autel in the forefront.

  • Exceptionally compact folded size
  • Advanced camera system
  • Fast and clean image processing
  • Reliable RC with 16.8km maximum range
  • Battery only offers 26-minute flights

Although DJI undoubtedly dominates the drone market, the EVO Nano+ from Autel Robotics proves that other top-tier options do exist. Weighing in at just 249 grams, it feels like a feather compared to its competitors. And with a folded size of 5.6in x 3.7in x 2.2in, this aircraft is quite literally pocket-sized. In fact, it's slightly more compact than the DJI Mini 4 Pro, and that's not the only area that it goes head-to-head with the DJI goliath.

Indeed, the EVO Nano+ is an excellent option for aerial photography and videography. It has an awesome 1/1.28-inch CMOS sensor that’s capable of capturing 50MP photos and 4K videos at 30fps. Professionals can take advantage of the H.265 and H.264 codec options, while hobbyists can experiment with the accurate tracking modes to keep their moving subjects front and center.

The only area where the EVO Nano+ lags behind the times is the battery. Although it sports a respectable 26-minute hover time, it can drain faster from high-res video shooting and windy conditions. Plus, it takes up to 90 minutes to fully charge. Fortunately, the premium bundle isn't much more expensive ($800), and it comes with two additional batteries and a charging dock. We recommend paying the extra price to help extend your time in the air.

And so, although the EVO Nano+ may be outshone by other flagships in a couple of areas and prove superior in others, it's still a high-quality competitor in a DJI-dominated market.

mini drone images se 2
DJI / Pocket-lint
DJI Mini 2 SE
3. Best value for specs mini drone

Pro level without pro prices

The Mini 2 SE from DJI offers plenty of bang for your buck, and it doesn't cut corners to do so.

  • Relatively affordable
  • Below the 250-gram FAA limit
  • Capable of 2.7K video and high-res photos
  • Extremely stable hovering, even in wind
  • Lacks a few intelligent flight modes like active tracking
  • RC uses basic WiFi connection

It's certainly not cheap, but the DJI Mini 2 SE is a bargain that budgeters should seriously consider. This one is the "lite" model in the DJI mini drone line, yet it's still a formidable option in its own right. For starters, it can capture 2.7K footage from its 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, and photographers will be pleased with the crispness of the 12MP photo resolution. All that image capture occurs via the high-tech DJI gimbal, which can swivel, tilt, roll, and zoom on its three axes. The result is smooth cinematic footage that pops.

Although it lacks intelligent modes like active track and "follow me," the DJI Mini 2 SE still offers plenty of convenient features that make it a thrill to fly. With "one-tap takeoff" and a reliable return-to-home function, it's a viable option for beginners and veteran fliers alike. Another often-underappreciated strength is the addition of the DJI OcuSync transmission technology, which keeps a stronger connection between the controller and aircraft. This means low latency and reliable signals, even when cruising near interference-prone obstacles like power lines.

Overall, the DJI Mini 2 SE earns its place among the top-tier drones with its powerful camera capabilities, reliable flights, and user-friendly software. Plus, the price is a steal.

mini drone images tello
DJI / Pocket-Lint
DJI Tello
4. Best mini drone for kids

Learning the safe way

Built for fun, the Tello from DJI's partnership with Ryze Tech gives kids and beginners room to learn the ropes of flying.

  • Numerous flight modes
  • Small and lightweight
  • Easy to learn and connect
  • Inexpensive, so it's not a huge loss if your kid crashes it
  • Poor camera quality
  • Only 13-minutes per battery

We teach kids how to ride a bike with training wheels, and we teach them how to fly a drone with propeller guards. That's why we recommend the DJI Tello, which is comparably safer, easier to fly, and cheaper to risk in the hands of a youngster. Its peace of mind features include failsafe protection, propeller guards, and a collision-detection system. Add to that the low maximum speed and light weight, and you have a drone that responsible kids can fly safely.

Youngsters revel in the "Throw & Go" takeoff, which allows you to toss it up from your hand to start flying. The Tello can also perform aerial tricks like 8D flips. There are preprogrammed flight paths called EZ Shots, which send the drone whizzing around on automatic flight paths to capture memorable videos. Most exciting is the VR-headset compatibility, which adds an extra level of immersion and keeps kids engaged for as long as the battery lasts.

At the end of the day, the Tello is a toy. It doesn't boast professional video resolutions, and it can't fly to the moon. But for something that costs about the same as two new video games, the Tello does exactly what we need for a day of fun.

DJI Avata for mini drones
DJI Avata
5. Best FPV mini drone

Fly with your eyes in the skies

Pop on the goggles and grab the controller. The DJI Avata is an FPV mini drone that's capable of pro-level videos, extreme speeds, and thrilling aerial maneuvers.

  • Low transmission latency at around 30ms
  • Insane max speed of about 60mph
  • Intuitive and responsive controls
  • Max hover time of 18 minutes
  • Over 250 grams in weight
  • FPV has greater inherent crash risks

The DJI Avata isn't the smallest on our list, but it's probably the most fun to fly. It weighs in at 410 grams, and it's size clocks in at 7in x 7in x 3.1in - but that still qualifies as mini, as you can carry it in a backpack with plenty of room to spare. But portability aside, this thing is one-of-a-kind when it comes to flying. It's an FPV or first person view drone, which means it's controlled via a head-mounted display and handheld controller. The experience is similar to using a VR headset, but there's nothing virtual about it.

The Avata is also considered a cinewhoop drone, which basically combines FPV controls with a professional-grade camera. Indeed, this little aircraft can capture 48MP photos and 4K60fps video through its 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and f/2.8 lens. Such high resolutions produce absolutely stunning footage as you zip around the skies at up to 60 miles per hour. It can also do full flips and twirls in manual mode, expanding the filmmaking possibilities.

DJI Avata review photo 25

You'll have to decide which controller combo to get, with compatible devices including the DJI FPV Goggles V2, Goggles 2, Goggles Integra, Motion Control, and FPV Remote Control 2. Each piece of gear has its own strengths and weaknesses, and their prices vary considerably. Nonetheless, whichever controller combo you decide on, the Avata responds intuitively and precisely to your inputs. The freedom of flying is an experience worth buying.

The bottom line: Which is the best mini drone?

The best mini drone is the mini drone that serves your needs. For traveling photographers, camera quality is key, so we recommend the DJI Mini 4 Pro for its gorgeous camera system. Even for the non-pros, it's a fantastic gadget with tons of features to explore, including intelligent flight modes that can capture glorious footage with the tap of a button. Versatile and powerful, the Mini 4 Pro wins the crown.

But there are other awesome options to consider, including the Autel Robotics EVO Nano+. This powerful drone is small enough to fit in a pint glass, yet its pro-level specs earn it a place on the list. Folks with tight budgets can also join in on the fun, with models like the DJI Mini 2 SE and DJI Tello.

DJI Mini 4 Pro for mini drones
DJI Mini 4 Pro
Editor's Choice

What to look for when choosing a mini drone

Size and weight: The biggest advantage of mini drones is their portability. Indeed, some jumbo drone kits can fill up an entire camera bag, while mini drones often fold up to the volume of a grapefruit. We recommend prioritizing the dimensions of the drone when folded up, since this will determine how much space it will take up in your bag. Once unfolded, however, many mini drones will expand their dimensions to a much larger size. Most manufacturers include both the folded and unfolded dimensions on their product page. You should also consider the volume occupied by the essential accessories, like the remote controller and the batteries.

Weight is another key factor, especially for adventure-seekers that want to pack light. There are regular-sized drones that reach over a kilogram, while most mini drones weigh less than 250 grams. For backpackers, bringing a drone along is a unique way to capture those gorgeous vistas, but every gram counts during the hike up.

Reliability and safety: When you're flying an unmanned aircraft capable of breaking the city speed limit, safety should be your number one priority. That's why we tout DJI models so much, since it's known for its advanced obstacle avoidance systems. Look for drones with omnidirectional sensors that can detect and avoid obstacles. Some will give warnings, others will alert you with an alarm, and the best ones will do both.

You can also check if a drone has a return-to-home function in the case of a lost connection, something that has saved many drones, people, and structures from damage. Of course, an AWOL drone is an unreliable drone, so consider the strength of the remote controller and the stability of its connection at a distance; if it's not capable of keeping its link to the drone consistently, it's probably not worth the risk.

Camera: At this stage in the game, cameras on drones are practically a given. But if you're a professional photographer, the quality of the camera is worth considering. We won't dive into camera specs here, since pros already know what to look for. However, we will remind those shopping for mini drones that the controller is your monitor, so get something good. Some advanced drones come with built-in displays, while most controllers connect to smart devices like tablets and phones. Look for drone models that are capable of transmitting HD, real-time feeds with high fidelity and low-latency to ensure you're getting a good idea of the final recording.

Drone laws vary considerably across the world, here's our breakdown of the laws in the US and UK. In the United States, for example, some states allow aerial aircraft in their state parks, while others don't. In the United Kingdom, certain labeling regulations apply. We suggest always looking up the laws of your intended flying zone to make sure you're not breaking any laws.

When it comes to mini drones in particular, weight comes into play. The United States requires that any drones over 249 grams in weight be registered with the FAA. Fortunately, the majority of mini drones fall under this weight limit. Nonetheless, to use your mini drone for commercial purposes, like paid photography gigs, you'll have to get a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification, regardless of the drone's weight.

Can I take a mini drone on an airplane?

This is another question without a hard-and-fast answer. Different governments have different rules regarding drones - lithium batteries and remote controllers have potential to cause issues while going through security. Furthermore, the airline itself may also have something to say.