Yuneec Typhoon H3

Some of the best drones on the market are from the dominating Chinese brand, DJI. Airframes such as the Phantom and Mavic lines of drones have produced many successful and reliable machines, inspiring many similarly designed aircraft from the competition. While DJI may produce the iconic drones most people think of, there are a number of solid alternatives out there.

Let’s dive in, here are some of the best off-the-shelf non-DJI drones on the market today.

Jonathan Feist, Drone PilotJonathan Feist

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.

 

No matter what drone you fly, please follow the drone laws in your area.


Best Non-DJI drones

Yuneec Typhoon H3: Pro hexacopter

Yuneec Typhoon H3
Drone Rush Recommends

The Yuneec Typhoon H3 is simply one of the best consumer camera drones on the market. The large 20Mp 4K camera shoots great images, and those images are dynamic with the full swivel of the camera gimbal. Six propellers make for smoother flight, and adds safety, as you can lose a propeller or two without crashing. This capable drone with powerful remote control has many flight features, and important tools for aerial imagery tasks.

Why we fly the Yuneec Typhoon H3

We can think of no better consumer-grade camera drone outside of the DJI stables. There is a premium for the extra tech on the H3, but as long as you are not looking to haul your own camera up into the sky, and you do not want to invest in the DJI Inspire 2, this is the camera drone for you.

What we like


  • Powerful hexacopter
  • six-propellers for safety and smooth flight
  • Powerful camera
  • Powerful remote control

What we don’t like


  • Below average  flight range
  • Below average flight time

Yuneec Typhoon H3
Yuneec Typhoon H3
  • Professional camera drone
  • Great Leica camera
Leica camera on a hexacopter

Designed with government use in mind, the Yuneec Typhoon H3 is an update to the Typhoon H Plus, packing a powerful Leica camera onto the familiar hexacopter airframe.


Parrot Anafi: Versatile gimbal

Parrot Anafi folding drone announced

The Parrot Anafi has a fun, and potentially very useful party trick, it can point its camera straight up. There are limited times when a hobby pilot would want to see straight up into the clouds, but the ability inspect the underside of a bridge is an invaluable use-case. For the average consumer pilot, the Anafi is an older craft with average, at best, specifications and features. The 4K camera is capable, and was one of the first with a zooming lens, and the ability to point that camera upwards is fun, but a newer Mavic drone might be better bang-for-the-buck.

Why we fly the Parrot Anafi

If you have an inspection business, Parrot offers pro versions of Anafi built more for your needs, look for those instead. If you are a hobby pilot, the Anafi is a perfectly capable aircraft, you’ll not be disappointed.

What we like


  • Can look up
  • Zooming camera
  • Unique folding design is portable

What we don’t like


  • Somewhat average drone
  • Older drone

Parrot Anafi
Parrot Anafi
  • Camera can point straight up
  • Versatile platform
Diverse platform

The Parrot Anafi is one of few drones that looks up as well as it looks down. The 4K front mounted camera is on a long-travel articulating Gimbal, so you can look straight up all the way to straight down.

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Yuneec Typhoon H Plus: Consumer hexicopter

The Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is an exciting iteration of Typhoon line of hexacopters. The H Plus introduced an upgrade in almost every way over the older Typhoon H, particularly in the camera, safety features, and flight capabilities. While the newer H3 exceeds them all, the H Plus was a slight step up from the DJI Phantom series at the time.

Why we fly the Yuneed Typoon H Plus

While the Typhoon H Plus is an older drone, we’d still be happy to put one into our fleet. While we have the highest respect for the airframe, we admit that the camera is now outdated, so we’d be considering custom payloads for this drone.

What we like


  • Hexacopter stability and safety
  • Powerful remote
  • Powerful drone

What we don’t like


  • Older drone
  • Average flight range
  • Average battery life

Yuneec Typhoon H Plus
Yuneec Typhoon H Plus
  • Reliable hexacopter
  • Stable flight
  • Great camera
Stable camera drone

The hexacopter design of the Yuneec Typhoon H Plus offers a reliable and smooth flight experience for the attached 20mp camera.


Autel Robotics Evo Lite: Handy HDMI receiver

Autel Robotics Evo Lite angle

The Autel Robotics Evo Lite is a powerful upgrade from previous Evo drones. You get the same overall airframe formfactor, and the drone easily tackles the same needs in the sky, but newer flight features are welcome.

The new camera options on the Evo Lite and Evo Lite+ are a major upgrade from earlier Evo drones as well. The Evo Lite standard model offers an upgraded, but similar 50MP camera as the Evo II series. The EVO Lite+ rocks a far superior 1-inch camera sensor, set at 20MP, but able to record crisp and smooth 6K video with superb low-light performance.

Why we fly the Autel Robotics Evo Lite

We are genuinely impressed with the Evo lite+ model. The camera produces pleasant media, and the flight features feel as good as most other consumer drones out there.

In recommending the Evo Lite, we suggest that it sits firmly in between the DJI Air 2S and the DJI Mavic 3 in terms of price and capabilities.

What we like


  • 40 minutes of flight time
  • Carbon fiber propeller arms
  • Best Autel drone we’ve flown
  • Good value

What we don’t like


  • Not quite as refined as newer DJI drones

Autel Robotics Evo Lite
Autel Robotics Evo Lite
  • Great flight time
  • Great camera
  • Up to 6K video
The Evo Lite+ is a solid flying night camera.

The Autel Robotics Evo Lite and Evo Lite+ are a welcome addition to the compact, folding camera drone market. Superb flight time, great cameras, great flight range, and a fun set of flight features should keep most pilots happy. Enjoy up to 6K video from the sky.


Skydio 2: Best follow me drone

Skydio 2 front angle

The Skydio 2 is unmatched in the consumer market when it comes to follow-me functions. The multitude of sensors, matched with powerful processing, enable the drone to do more than just safely follow you, it can predict your actions, so that it can keep up even if you disappear behind a tree for a few seconds.

The capable 4K camera shoots solid video of your exploits, but this is not the kind of drone that you would pick up the controller and fly by hand. It’s not a hobby drone as we are familiar with today, it’s a bit of a one-trick-pony.

Why we fly the Skydio 2

If you are desiring a hands-off piloting experience, so that you can capture epic video of you doing fun things, the Skydio 2 is a fantastic choice for you. If you want to pick up the controller and get the most out of piloting the craft, consider something more affordable.

What we like


  • Fantastic object detection
  • Very safe

What we don’t like


  • Limited flight features
  • Limited camera modes

Skydio 2
Skydio 2
  • Superb follow-me drone
  • Powerful AI features
Superior follow-me functionality

The Skydio 2 is a consumer drone with the power of a commercial drone. An array of sensors and a powerful on-board computer make for safe and autonomous flight.


Hubsan H501S: Capable toy-class drone

The Hubsan H501S lives in the realm of the toy drones. While that may be true, it’s also one of the most powerful and capable GPS-enabled drones in the toy-class group. It has a decent camera, but is not fully stabilized for epic aerial video.

Why we fly the Hubsan H501S

The H501S is the drone you get if you want something fast and fun to fly in the park, it is not a camera drone, and I wouldn’t suggest flying it indoors.

What we like


  • GPS-enabled flight assist
  • Fast and fun
  • Very good toy drone

What we don’t like


  • Below average camera
  • Limited flight range

Hubsan H501S
Hubsan H501S
  • Capable toy drone
  • GPS and a decent camera
Great starter drone

The Hubsan H501S was one of the first GPS-enabled drones from Hubsan with brushless motors and a 1080p camera.


Ryze Tello: Educational drone

Ryze Tello DJI toy drone

The Ryze Tello is a superb little drone for education and indoor flight. It’s small and has enough flight assist to be safe. It’s not a great camera drone, but the ability to connect to educational tools for coding tasks in a classroom make it a popular choice.

Why we fly the Ryze Tello

If you are eager to get a start with drones, or into drone education, Tello is a solid choice. If you are looking to launch a full-scale educational program, however, seek out the DJI Robomaster TT instead. Any pilot can enjoy this little drone though.

What we like


  • Easy and fun to fly
  • Great starter drone
  • Educational

What we don’t like


  • Limited functionality
  • Limited range

Ryze Tello
Ryze Tello
  • Educational drone
  • Safe for indoor flight
  • Fun to fly
Educational drone

The Ryze Tello is one of the most capable and versatile mini drones around, enjoy different designs, code your own flight features, or just fly in your living room for fun.


PowerVision PowerEgg X: It’s also a camcorder

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is an interesting piece of camera equipment. It has a fast and flexible camera gimbal that does great at object tracking, it has a waterproof shell to keep it safe in the rain, oh, and you can connect propellers and fly it. That’s right, the PowerEgg X is best described as a camcorder that can fly.

Why we fly the PowerVision PowerEgg X

The PowerEgg X is a very fun machine, and very versatile, however, the camera is about average by the latest standards.

What we like


  • Fun configurations
  • Versatile setups
  • Waterproof

What we don’t like


  • Limited range
  • Limited flight time
  • Decent 4K camera

PowerVision PowerEgg X
PowerVision PowerEgg X
  • Waterproof drone
  • Works as hand-held Camcorder
  • Good object tracking
Versatile waterproof camcorder drone

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is a camcorder and waterproof drone all in one. Fly in the rain, remove the shell to add some flight time, or just use the AI as a handheld camera.


Swellpro Spry: Totally waterproof

Swellpro Spry waterproof drone at CES 2019

Is that drone sitting in a tub of water? It sure is! The Swellpro Spry is totally waterproof, as is the remote control, making for the perfect companion when you’re out on the lake. Not only will the machine float if you tumble to the sea, it places the camera so that you can see under the waves, and then can take-off from the surface when you are ready to fly again. Fly in the rain, or fly at the beach, your choice.

Why we fly the Swellpro Spry

If you need to fly at the water, this is it, this is the drone for you. If you do not need the waterproofing, however, all that extra protective hardware hampers the drone in terms of flight time and camera capabilities.

What we like


  • Totally waterproof
  • Drone and remote float
  • Take-off from water
  • See under the waves when floating

What we don’t like


  • Below average flight time
  • Waterproofing hampers camera a little

Swellpro Spry+
Swellpro Spry+
  • Waterproof drone
  • Floats on water
  • Remote floats
Completely waterproof drone

The Swellpro Spry is one of the most attainable fully waterproof drones; Keep the 4K camera in the sky, or put it just below the surface to see the world under the waves.


DJI and world politics

World politics are inspiring folks to avoid drones from this Chinese based manufacturer. DJI is going to great lengths to ensure that your data is safe and secure, with servers around the world, and even some pre-COVID talk of opening a manufacturing facility to go with their offices in the United States.

For those that are worried, if you follow DJI’s guidelines, with the right settings, your flight data can be properly, and even secured locally. Some account data makes it to DJI servers in China if you have an active account with them, and/or have purchased products directly from their site, but you can operate a drone offline, then download the flight data before you re-connect to the internet to avoid having it sync to DJI servers – even then, those servers are probably based in the U.S. as well, as DJI uses AWS servers, like most websites do.

Should you opt for the US Government approved DJI Government edition drones, this task gets easier. Just remember, manufacturers of non-DJI drones also offer account sync, including flight logs and images, so research is required no matter what drone you purchase.

DJI racing flag

Update: DJI has posted an analysis that attempts to debunk the top five myths about their company and security concerns. It’s always been hard for us to understand why drones that were built to U.S. government specs, and are approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for government use, are now being banned as being a security risk… Read on for more info: Five Common Myths about DJI

DJI is still a very dominant player in the drone market, we are happy to see some competition out there, and we are impressed with the options available, but the options from DJI really are great machines, so the choice can be difficult.


Frequently Asked Questions

Isn’t DJI the best drone manufacturer?

DJI is certainly the top drone manufacturer based on unit sales, and we believe they make superb products, but it’s hard to say that they make the very best drones out there. We’ve yet to encounter a competing consumer-grade drone that is as consistently reliable as a DJI drone, but we have no doubts that many $30,000 commercial machines can outperform the $3,000 drones from DJI that are designed for similar tasks.

An unfair comparison, we know, as DJI does also offer machines that can compete in the $30K price bracket, but if you have $100K or more to spend, you can find better machines than DJI machines.

Sorry, back to the point: If you are looking for a fun camera drone for beginner to entry-level professional gigs, it’s hard to suggest anything other than a DJI drone.

I want an American drone, what are my options?

If you are looking for a hobby-class camera drone, your options are very limited, so much so that we really do not have a recommendation for you. Skydio is worth looking at, the Skydio 2 does have a good camera, but it is still not your typical camera drone.

There are many great commercial drones that are made in the United States, and plenty of parts manufacturers for racing drone components, but we know of no American drone manufacturers that can compete with the likes of DJI, Yuneec, or Parrot in the sub-$1500 price bracket. In the Commercial space, look at Impossible Aerospace, DraganFly, and InstantEye Robotics.

Is DJI banned in the United States?

No, DJI drones are not banned in the United States. If you had read that DJI was banned, that would have been an exaggeration of an order that government entities will not be using DJI drones anymore. For those that have been following along, most U.S. Government entities have been refusing to use DJI drones for a while now. Newer laws are significant, but they do not affect consumers like you and I that buy Mavic drones to fly at home.

Food for thought: The Government Edition drones built by DJI will be removed from service, while similar government edition drones made by Parrot, from France, will be put into service.

Update: DJI has been added to a commerce entity list, this simply means that U.S. companies are not allowed to sell parts to DJI. You can still buy DJI drones just like you could yesterday.


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