What are the best high-end drones?

QWhat are the best high-end drones?

The sky is the limit pricing-wise. Maybe we should consider any drone over $1000 to be “high-end”? Is there a better price cut-off than this?

AThe Answer


Consumer Drones:

What is the Standard High End Price?

As always, the concept of “high end” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, budget is relative. Price point is usually something that is personal to an individual, and there are certainly a wide range of consumer drones out there to suit any particular budget. While some might consider $1,000.00 to be a standard jumping off point before delving into high end consumer drones, to some it might be an example of a mid-range product. As a whole, most technology, be it a laptop, a smart phone, or a hobby drone, is generally considered to be more of a luxury product. So it would not be unreasonable to assume that when a consumer decides to purchase a hobby drone, he or she is investing in a luxury product, and that comes with a luxury price tag. While there are some drone options available in the $3,000.00 range, the vast majority of top of the line hobby drones fall within the $1,000.00 range, making that price point a solid example of what constitutes a high end drone.

Despite the availability of $3,000.00 hobby drones, on average they receive less consumer reviews and an overall lower satisfaction rating than hobby drones that fall within the $1,000.00 range. Additionally, consumers are investing in hobby drones that come with a wide, diverse range of features, most of which can be found in standard bundles offered by hobby drones in the $1,000.00 range. So it can be confidently stated that $1,000.00 is a standard example of the price cut off for the high-end drone market.

There are many drones available on the market that run upwards of $1,000.00, and for the serious consumer, or drone hobbyist, purchasing drones that fall in the one thousand dollar range is actually quite common. There is enough of a demand for this more expensive type of drone that there is no shortage of options available. Much like a rare sports memorabilia collector, consumer drone technology is a passion for many tech enthusiasts. And luckily, there is a market and price point for everything and anything in the consumer drone world. For an avid hobbyist, the drone is seen as a collectible worth investing in. Though mostly, consumer drones are purchased to be used in a hobby capacity, rather than as a collectable, and for this wide audience, $1,000.00 is the high end cut off. And while it is currently a relatively exclusive market, the demand is rising as can be seen in the diverse range of high-end options available.

For many drone hobbyists, the drone with the most features or newest technology, or the most add-on capabilities, might be the most appealing, and that type of drone comes with a heftier price tag. While not the norm, there are options on the market for drones that run in the $3,000.00 range. This type of consumer drone is one of the most expensive, with fewer consumer reviews readily available, which indicates that a drone this expensive does not have the same market or sales figures as that of a $1,000.00 drone. drone_dgi

The DGI Inspire 1 is an example of a consumer drone available for $2,800.00 plus tax, one of the most expensive on the market. And depending on the bundle and add-ons desired, it can be up to $3,300.00 plus tax. The standard version comes with a lot of features that make it appealing, and might make additional add-ons unnecessary. Know that bundles may vary depending on retailer, but for the most part these are the features that are included in the standard bundle for $2,800.00 plus tax:

  • It has an unrestricted 360 degree view with carbon fiber arms for strength. This makes is less prone to the usual wear and tear that might occur while flying.
  • It is equipped with a 4k camera, which means you can capture a 4k video (that’s 4,000 frames per second), or capture 12 mega-pixel photos. Also it supports Adobe DNG RAW, which is a software that allows you to convert camera files to software supporters, such as Windows or Mac.
  • A full featured app is included.
  • Dual operation control, which means one that one person can control the flight while another operates the camera. This is an advantageous feature for those hobbyists that want to share their activity with friends and family.
  • Live 720p HD view.
  • Video can be transmitted from up to 2 kilometers away.
  • Features New Vision Positioning technology, which uses sonic waves to fly indoors without GPS.

From here, the price will depend on what, if any, accessories are added to the bundle, which rockets the price up to around $3,300.00. With all these features, the “DGI Inspire 1” seems like a top of the line choice, yet only has an average of 3.5 stars on Amazon. So despite the myriad included features, it might be a slightly more risky investment for the novice or casual hobbyist. drone_dji_phant

As for the above mentioned high price point standard, the DJI Phantom 3 the most popular option for a high-end consumer or hobbyist drone technology. It starts at $1,200.00, and has options available should a buyer want to add more features. After adding specific features, the price of a bundle can be up to approximately $1,600.00. But at $1,200.00 the DGI Phantom 3 comes outfitted with the following features.:

  • Ability to film in 4k or 1080p HD.
  • Flight capabilities of up to 1.2 miles, or 2 kilometers, away.
  • Live 720p HD view.
  • Features a “beginner’s mode” which lets the operator create a GPS enabled “geofense.” This actually prevents the drone from accidentally flying into unwanted areas or obstacles, making it automatically stay inside desired limits. Chances of unnecessary accidents are minimized.
  • Features a comprehensive mobile app.
  • Vision positioning for GPS free areas.
  • It has a fail safe in case the batteries are running low or in case the operator loses connection with his or her remote. In which case, it automatically returns to its original take off point and lands safely.

  • Consumer reviews indicate this basic model gets mostly favorable, praise-filled commentary and a high rate of recommendation, boasting an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon. So while extra add-ons are a nice perk, they’re not necessary in order to get the most from the “DGI Phantom 3.” Plus this model includes a few of the same features offered in the more expensive “DGI Inspire 1.” Also, given the lower price point and the consumer satisfaction, the “DGI Phantom 3” would be a sound investment in order to get the most bang from your buck.

    Another popular high-end drone is the 3D Robotics RTF X8 which starts at $1,200.00. This drone is a good option for consumers that want a more rounded experience from their hobby drone, such as lifting and carrying objects as well as taking photos. A hobbyist who is also a business owner, for example, might choose this particular drone because he or she wants to easily move things around for work. As it can also be hooked up to GoPro, he or she can then also utilize it during personal time and take it on a hiking outing or vacation, capturing photos and film. Standard, inclusive features for the $1,200.00 version are as follows:

  • It features lifting power, enabling it to carry over 1 kilogram with flight time reduction. The recommend load is up to 800 grams.
  • The consumer can unlock options for attaching an array of axels, support systems, professional cameras, and sensors.
  • It can generate highly accurate maps and 3D models, collect ariel data in automated and infinitely repeatable sight pass, gather data beyond the visible spectrum, and generate point clouds for precision survey. It can even be outfitted with magnets for real delivery potential.
  • It has a nice sturdy aluminum frame that is excellent for withstanding potentially harsh elements, as well as regular wear and tear, but is light enough to maximize aerial mobility.
  • It’s GoPro ready.
  • Currently there is not a lot of consumer reviews to rely on for this particular drone, so it would be a factor to consider before investing. Though it has an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon, there are only three customer reviews. Additional features can be added to customize it further depending on any given need, and those bundles run up to $1,350.00. For a hobbyist who wants to purchase a drone for a more multitasking usage, this would be one to consider.

    Aside from these very specific examples, there is also the add-on technology to factor in when considering a high-end price point. Most popularly, the GoPro. GoPro is quickly becoming synonymous with consumer drone technology, and is a common add-on feature for numerous high-end drones. GoPro offers several different mounting options, which adds diversity when considering a camera add-on. The addition of a GoPro camera will also dictate a price point if the goal as a hobbyist is to take advantage of GoPro’s widely used technology. So this is also something to consider before delving into a drone purchase. If a hobby drone features a HD, high frame rate camera in a standard bundle, then the consumer might not need to consider the additional expense of a GoPro.

    To conclude, while pricing is always going to be a subjective concept, it’s safe to say that $1,000.00 is the standard range for the world of high end consumer drone technology. With a few different options in the $1,000.00 range maintaining a solid grip on the market, it will only popularize hobbyist drones further, making way for a wider range of price points and options for the consumer.