There are a few drones that have paved the way for all others on the market, machines that many people identify at a glance, or are what people think of when they think of the word “drone.” We believe the DJI Phantom line is perhaps the most iconic drone around, but it is hard to ignore the presence of the Inspire, the multitude of props on the Typhoon and the extremely popular folding design of the Mavic Pro.
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For now, let’s first dive into the drones that everyone knows, and then we’ll explore the newer drones that have all but replaced these iconic beasts over the years.
Original iconic drones
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Updates and replacements for the iconic drones
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Fun new entry: DJI FPV
This new drone is far from iconic at this point, but it is a totally new flight concept from DJI, a hybrid-racing drone that takes the best of a camera drones and blends it with the thrill of a racing drone. If you’re shopping for a new machine, this is an enticing option.
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When you hear the word “drone” what is the first machine that comes to mind for you?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are iconic drones the best drones?
In most cases, the iconic drones are no longer the best drones you should be buying. They may have been the market leaders in their time, but newer machines have outpaced older drones in many ways. The DJI Mavic Mini, for example, is a more capable aircraft, with a better camera, than the first few generations of Phantom drones. Considering the Phantom drones hit the market at around three times the price, it’s easy to see the value of the newer machines. However, the best Phantom drone is still a superb machine, the best Mavic drones also offer superb value for the money, and the Inspire 2, despite its age, is still one of the very best drones on the market.
Should I buy an older drone?
The short answer is always that if a drone meets your needs, and is priced right, it does not matter how old it is. Many older craft are still superb flying platforms, they just won’t offer the latest in features and sensors, and will likely have a lower quality camera than some would hope for. If you do not need these things, take the Phantom line of drones as your example, the overall airframe has changed very little over the years, proving there is nothing wrong with the ‘old’ airframe.
Should I keep my iconic drone as a collector’s item?
This is a tough question, we’d like to believe that drones, like cars, will eventually raise in value. However, our best advice is to think of drones like you do smartphones. They will have some residual value over the years, they may offer some nostalgia, and they will always be able to handle some of the tasks you throw at them, but they’ll always be a depreciating asset in terms of their value as a flying machine. I have plenty of old phones that make great MP3 players, that’s reason enough for me to keep them around, but I wouldn’t try to install a modern game on them, or take photos with them.
Will remote ID make my drone obsolete?
Sorry to say, but there is a good chance that Remote ID will force many drones out of the sky. The FAA has outlined what is required of the broadcast from your drone, and slated April 21, 2021 as the official start date for the new rules, but they have not yet approved any industry tech as being compliant. It is possible that the information already being broadcast from your DJI drone will be enough for the FAA’s requirements, or we might have to look at attaching a third-party broadcast module. We’ll know more soon, we hope.