We have reached a point where new drones are easily categorized in several ways, by size, weight, capability and more. In this list, we’re going to explore some of the best mini drones – compact flying machines that may not be as budget friendly as our nano drones list. These machines span a wide range of styles and capabilities, we’re sure at least one will appeal to you.
With many small drones to choose from, we’re trying to find that sweet spot between nano and machines large enough to require FAA registration. It’s a difficult target, as you’ll see more than a few are still above that 0.55 lb mark, but not by much.
Why trust Drone Rush?
I’ve been a fan of flight since a young age; while I’ve had few opportunities at the helm of manned aircraft, the hours on my fleet of drones continue to grow. I enjoy putting cameras into the sky, silky smooth aerial imagery makes me happy. My goal is to help all pilots enjoy flight legally and safely.
Reminder: You still have to follow the rules with drones that don’t need to be registered.
Best Mini drones
DJI Mini 3 Pro: Best mini drone
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is a top-contender drone, it just so happens that it is similarly sized to the DJI Mavic Mini and Mini 2 before it, all of which weigh in at under 250g.
The Mini 3 Pro by far has the best camera in the bunch, and DJI took things to new levels with the optional Battery Plus powerplant. This new battery puts the drone over 250g, but it bumps flight time to a whopping 47 minutes.
Why we fly the DJI Mini 3 Pro
Simply put, the Mini 3 Pro is the very best camera drone available if you need a sub-250g package. We’re not as concerned about that distinction, but the Mini 3 Pro remains one of the best balanced flight packages when you consider how convenient it is to transport, and what you can capture with the 48MP 4K camera.
What we like
- Compact size
- Solid 4K camera
- Optional battery for 47 minutes flight time
- Optional DJI RC remote with display
What we don’t like
- Only avg. flight time with sub-250g battery
- Feels over-priced
DJI Mini 2: Best camera under $500
The DJI Mini 2 is not only the best camera drone for under $500, it’s the best drone overall that we would classify as a mini drone. The drone is small enough to pack away with ease, weighs less than 250g, and yet it packs a 4K camera, solid flight time, and good connectivity range.
Should I buy the DJI Mini 2?
If you are looking to put the best camera into the sky, you’re looking at the wrong list of drones today. The Mini 2 is easily our top pick for a mini drone, and we like the camera output enough for any of our hobby photo and video needs. We’re happy to recommend the DJI Mini 2 to anyone getting started in the hobby, or those that have a superb camera drone, but are looking for a travel companion.
- Best drone under $500
- 4K camera
- Solid connectivity
- Fun to fly
- Great small hobby drone
- Just a small hobby drone
DJI Mavic Mini: Best value camera drone
The DJI Mavic Mini launched DJI into the mini drone market, launching one of very few drones on the market to offer a stabilized camera and GPS with a flight weight of under 250g. The 2.7K camera produces video similar to what you might see from a mid-range smartphone, and flight time is a little shy of average, but this was still the best drone under $500 until the newer version came along.
Should I buy the DJI Mavic Mini?
The DJI Mavic Mini is a bit of a hard sell. If you can get it on sale, we think you’ll love the drone, but if you can splurge a bit more for the Mini 2, the improvements and benefits are well worth the extra cash.
- Silky smooth video capture
- Weighs less than 250g
- Easy to fly
- Fun to fly
- Very portable
- Only 2.7K video capture
- Decent flight time
Hubsan H502S Desire: Great beginner’s drone
The Hubsan H502S Desire is a toy-class drone that offers a solid flight experience, but does not have GPS or a massive camera. For hobby pilots, or those looking to learn how to fly with a simpler machine, the H502S Desire is a solid and reliable option.
Should I buy the Hubsan H502S Desire?
The Hubsan H502S Desire is an older drone at this point. We’ve been flying ours for several years, and we still love it, but the limited battery life and flight range mean we just bop around the backyard with it, little more.
- Easy to fly
- Safe and fun to learn with
- Limited range
- Limited battery life
- No GPS
- FPV camera is low resolution
Yuneec Mantis G: Fun voice operation
The Yuneec Mantis G has a really fun party trick, you can control it by voice commands. The drone itself offers a nice flight experience, and the camera produces decent 4K video, but it is now old enough that newer drones outperform it in many ways.
Should I buy the Yuneec Mantis G?
We were very excited when we first got to put hands on the Mantis G, but by the time it was available for sale in the United States, it was far more expensive than similar drones with similar or better cameras. We look forward to a next generation hobby aircraft from Yuneec, but we’re only going to buy this one ourselves if we find a massive sale on it.
- Voice commands!
- Good flight time
- Fun and reliable drone
- Good flight features
- Decent camera
- Poor availability
Hubsan H107: Perfect starter drone
The Hubsan H107 is a series of drones that differ by the available accessories and options. The very base model is a simple hobby drone, then you can bump up to models with a camera, propeller guards and more. Hubsan’s passion as a toy-maker is evident in this drone, just be aware that their skills with building aircraft have come a long way since the H107 launched several years ago.
Should I buy the Hubsan H107?
Are you looking for your first drone? We think the Hubsan H107, or something similar, should be the first drone that any pilot purchases. We like that the H107 has a range of options, and we respect it as a simple backyard flying machine to learn with.
- Simple drone
- Range of accessories
- Easy to fly
- Great drone for first time pilots
- Just a simple drone
- Older machine
Hubsan H111: Fun indoor nano drone
The Hubsan H111 is the kind of simple toy-class drone that anyone can enjoy in their living room. Or, if you are like me, it sits on the desk to enjoy for a quick flight when I need a little break. The H111 is ideal for indoor flight, and has just a few minutes of flight time. While it is easy to fly, it is hard to master, we’re still honing our piloting skills with this aircraft.
Should I buy the Hubsan H111?
Don’t let us tell you what to do, but yes, you should buy the Hubsan H111. It’s super fun to fly in the house, it’ll help any pilot hone their skills, and it’s super affordable.
- Very small and safe
- Great to learn on
- Very limited range
- Limited flight time
- Not great outside
Walkera Rodeo 110: Little racing drone
The Walkera Rodeo 110 is a little racing drone. While it may be small compared to the average racing drone, and admittedly slower than many as well, it still packs a kick, and is very agile. For those looking to get into the hobby of drone racing, the Rodeo 110 is an affordable starting point.
Should I buy the Walkera Rodeo 110?
Racing drones are a difficult breed of machine to control, they are very fun, and we like the Rodeo 110 for its agility and small size, but all you camera drone pilots that are used to GPS-enabled flight features, get ready to crash, the Rodeo 110 is fast and the controls are a little different than you might be used to.
- Fun to fly
- Great starter racing drone
- Simple FPV camera
- No remote included
- Not a top contender in the racing world
That’s all we have for today folks, thank you for joining us on this exploration of mini drones. Larger than the nano drones out there, and certainly not lacking in features, we think you can find great value in many of these flying options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, there are many drones that are either small enough, or stable enough, to be safe for indoor flight. Be careful with GPS drones, as they may get confused with a weak signal. Also be aware of object avoidance sensors, they may prevent you from getting through doorways.
Yes, no matter what size of drone you fly, you must follow the FAA’s laws for drone flight in the United States. If your drone weights 0.55lbs, 250 grams, or more, then you’ll also have to register before you fly.
Drone cost depends on features. A super basic toy drone, with almost no flight assist features and no camera, will cost about $20 – $30. Add a camera to double that price, add GPS to double that price again.
If you are buying your very first drone, we recommend picking up an entry-level drone for around $30, learn to fly with little financial risk, try not to make these drone mistakes.
Yes, The FAA has mandated that all pilots of any craft must pass the test to acquire either the TRUST certificate for hobby flight, or the Part 107 certificate for commercial flights. Drones under 250g do not need to be registered, but you still need a license to fly.