One of the most important features to look at when you’re buying a new drone is its controllable range – that is, how far apart the transmitter and the receiver can be without the connection breaking up. Most commercial drones can only manage a remote distance of 30 meters or so, but what about longer-range drones? After all, one of the biggest benefits of commercial quadcopters is that they’ve given even amateur photographers and videographers the chance to take some amazing aerial shots, and you can’t do that with a paltry 30 meters.
Here’s a short list of some of the best long-range drones on the market today. Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed a personal favorite!
BEST LONG RANGE DRONES
Best Pro $800
Mavic 2 Pro
- Camera:20 MP photo/4K video camera
- Range:18 Kilometers Max
- Time:31 minutes
Budget Choice $279
Altair Aerial Outlaw SE
- Camera:1080p 500+ meters Video Range
- Range:600+ Meters
- Time:18 Minutes
#3 Budget – $129
- Camera:No camera included
- Range:300 Meters
- Time:15 Minutes
The newly released Mavic 2 Pro by DJI has caused a massive amount of excitement for a very good reason. At this time of writing, the new Mavic 2 Pro has a price tag of $1,449 USD. The Fly More Kit, which is an upgrade you can invest in that comes with a number of additional goodies, will cost you an additional $319 USD.
It’s worth mentioning that there are 2 versions – the Mavic Pro 2 and the Mavic 2 Zoom. The most notable specification between these is the fact that it has a maximum transmission range of a whopping 8 miles.
#2. Altair Aerial Outlaw SE
If you’re a first-time flier who’s interested in buying a long-range drone, the Outlaw SE is without a doubt the best choice around. For less than $300, you get a drone with prosumer-grade GPS features that let it automatically return to where it took off from and keep itself stable in the air without any additional input. Plus, it comes with the Altair reputation for durability and quality. The only downside here is the short battery life, but with a drone this cheap, why not buy some extras?
Altair also put together a nice set of how-to videos for the Outlaw SE (click here). If you run into any problems check these out or I’ve found that they are very responsive at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#3. The Blackhawk
For only $119 you’re getting an amazing drone at an amazing price! The Blackhawk is a more advanced level quad with 15-17 Minutes of Flight time and 300-500 Meter Range!
The Altair Aerial Blackhawk is easily the best long-range drone for the money. Sure, it may not boast the impressive numbers of some of the other entries, but with 200-500 meters of range and racing drone speed, this drone won’t leave many pilots unsatisfied. And how many drones can boast a range that’s 60 times that of the average for only $110? Now that’s a bargain.
#4. DJI Mavic Pro
The DJI Mavic Pro is, as the name implies, a professional-grade drone with a $935 price tag that’s gonna be a major problem for most recreational copter fans. But with 27 minutes of flight and a 7000 meter range, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single more impressive piece of hardware in the quadcopter market.
#5. DJI Phantom 4
Someday we’ll be able to go a whole list without mentioning the DJI Phantom 4. Today is not that day. It’s our most expensive option so far and has a “mere” 5000 meter range, so if all you want is to go as far as possible you’re better off sticking with the Mavic Pro. But with its legendary host of impressive features, it’s not hard to see why the Phantom 4 is still a Dronethusiast favorite.
#6. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
At $1,500, the Yuneec Typhoon H Pro with RealSense is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also a fairly delicate instrument and absolutely not a vehicle for beginners. But not only does it come equipped with an impressive 1800 meter range (a full mile, if you can believe it) – it also takes videos and images in gorgeous 4K quality, making this a must-have for serious aerial photographers.
#7. Hubsan H501S X4
And at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have the H501S X4 by Hubsan. For $250 you get only 300 meters of range (less than either of the bugs), but the X4 still deserves a place on this list for the incredible amount of GPS capabilities and functions it offers for the price. Sure, it’s at the low end of long-distance quadcopters, but if you’re looking for a solid camera and a near-professional range of features at an amateur price range, you could do a lot worse.
Long-Range Drone FAQ
If you don’t see your question listed below in our FAQ section, get in touch with us and we’ll help you out.
What are the advantages of long-range drones?
There are many advantages to drones with longer-than-usual ranges. The most obvious of these is safety – the longer the range of your drone, the less likely you are to lose control of the aircraft, even if it’s very fast. For this reason, beginner fliers are especially in need of a very good range.
But where long-range drones like the ones on this list really shine is in the field of aerial photography. They make it possible to get incredible shots from incredibly high up, or to get wide-angle views when the photographer’s far out of sight. It’s also much safer to use a drone to take photos while you’re standing on the ground than traditional aerial photography, which was either accomplished with a prohibitively-expensive helicopter or by taking dangerous positions on tall buildings.
In fact, long-range drones have even been used to capture footage for major feature films, including Captain America: Civil War and Man of Steel
What determines the range of a drone?
The range of a drone is mostly determined by the quality of its radio link – the invisible connection between the transmitter and the aircraft that works the same as a radio or any other RC vehicle. Most drones use a 2.4 gHz radio frequency, which can give you up to 1500 meters in the best possible conditions. Lower frequencies, like 1.2 gHz, give you better range, but are illegal in many states because those are the same frequencies used by commercial aircraft.
However, most drones do not provide those best possible conditions. There’s a few good reasons for this. Firstly, the technology in the highest-quality radio/receivers – like FrSky – is often bulky and can make it hard to easily transport your drone (not to mention the increased power needed to get it airborne.) And secondly – in part because of the bulkier parts – this technology is a lot more expensive.
Can other factors affect a drone’s effective range?
Absolutely! Most notably: putting an obstacle (like a tree or a building) between the transmitter and the drone interferes with the signal and gives you a much lower range than what it says on the box. If you are unable to fly in an open area like a field or a park, you’re going to want to stay well below the maximum range to make sure your aircraft doesn’t fly out of your control.
And for drones that fly in first-person view, cameras have an even less effective range because most 5.8 gHz FPV systems start losing picture after 500 meters. This should make sense even to our less-technically-minded readers: it’s a lot harder to stream video than it is to just transmit simple commands.
The Best Long-Range Drones for Sale
As always, there is no single “best” drone – it depends on what you’re looking for as an individual consumer! Some of these drones simply offer the best value for their money, while others are professional-grade gear perfect for aerial photographers and videographers. Whatever your needs, we hope we’ve helped you find the best long-range drone for you!