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Guide to Buying the Best Long Range Drone

What’s the best drone to buy for distance flying? Whether you’re a professional or an enthusiast a long-range drone has its advantages. It can go places that you may not have the time or the capability of going for those great aerial shots. It can save squillions on time if you are monitoring land features or wildlife variables.

drone with camera long flight time, How far can a drone fly max? 
Drone with camera. Long flight time of more than 20 min a recommended criteria in your search for a long range drone.

This drone buying guide compares features of some of the top drones on the market for distance flying. It also aims to give you a good overview of what to look for when buying a long range drone.

Got a tight budget? Looking for the best cheap long range drones? Skip to the bottom and you find several compared.

See my pick for the best affordable drone for long range here.

Best Long Range Drone with Camera

The flight range of a drone with a camera matters if you want to use the latest technology for surveying, mapping, data collection, or simply for remote aerial photography.

What is the best drone to buy for long distance flying?

Start with the table below. It compares the key features of five long flight drone, that are highly rated by users.

Comparison Chart: Top 5 Drones List for Long Range

The following table compares five most popular drones in the 1-5 mile range by video quality, flight distance, performance in terms of speed and flight time, price range, and rating. You can check out my reviews that follow below for more specifics on each long distance drone.

 DroneImageKey DetailsPrice>>Rating<<
#1. DJI Mavic AirCamera: 4K @30fps 12MP
Fly Range: 2.50 miles (4 km)
Fly Time: 21 min
Speed: 42 mph (67 kph)
Nav: 3-directional sensing GPS/Glonass
Compact portable design

See Price

4.1 stars

 

#2. DJI Mavic ProCamera: 4K @30fps 12MP
Fly Range: 4.35 miles (7 km)
Fly Time: 27 min
Speed: 40 mph (65 kph)
Nav: 2-directional sensing GPS/glonass
Compact portable design

See Price

4.3 stars

 

#3. DJI Phantom 4 ProCamera: 4K @60fps 20MP
Fly Range: 4.35 miles (7 km)
Fly Time: 30 min
Speed: 45 mph (72 kph)
Nav: 5-direction sensing GPS/Glonass

See Price

4.4 stars

 

#4. GoPro Karma
w/Hero6 Black
Camera: 4K @60fps 12MP
Fly Range: 1.86 miles (3 km)
Fly Time: 20 min
Speed: 35 mph (56 kph)
Nav: GPS of Hero6/5 Black

See Price

3.9 stars

 

#5. Autel Robotics
X-Star Premium
Camera: 4K @30fps 12MP
Fly Range: 1.24 miles (2 km)
Fly Time: 25 min
Speed: 35 mph (56 kph)
Nav: GPS/Glonass

See Price

4.0 stars

 

 

>> Skip to the reviews of these long range drones.

Are you more interested in the best cheap drones for long range?  >> Skip to our list of the Best Cheap Drones

What’s the Best Long Distance Drone to Buy

Looking for the best drone to buy? I would at least consider these five factors in a long distance drone.

  • Transmission range (or drone distance max)
  • Flight time
  • Camera specs
  • Navigation/Mapping
  • Cost

Drone Distance Max

How far can a drone go from the pilot depends on the signal strength of the long range drone transmitter, or in other words, how far the signal is transmitted from the pilot’s location. And, battery life also counts. Other factors include the atmospheric conditions and design of the drone.

For the consumer, the best long range drones for sale can go up to several kilometers away from the pilot. An example is the DJI Mavic Pro, which has a drone maximum range of 7 kilometers (drone range miles: 4.35). Another farthest flying drone on the list is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, also with a 7-km drone distance max.

Drone Flight Time

Drone flying time will depend on the battery quality. In a remote control drone with camera, batteries are usually lithium.

You need drones with long battery life for longer flight times. A battery that can endure at least 20 minutes of active flight is recommended.

Tip: look for batteries with fast charging technology.

Camera Specs

People wanting good drone photography will want at least a 4K video resolution and a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system in their long range drone.

Navigation

For mapping and recording locations, you will need a drone with GPS and camera. Drones with obstacle avoidance systems help in navigating around objects and avoiding crashing the drone.

Look for systems with a return to base or return to home that are useful as a safety feature for when the battery is running low or the signal fails for a duration.

How Much Does a Drone Cost?

How much is a drone? This will depend on its quality, and the drone flight range and flight time, and other factors.

We’ve included drones under 1000 dollars as well as those that cost a few hundred more. I’ve also a list of good cheap drones for long range flying, below.

Other

Type of controller. You might want control the drone using hand gestures, your smart phone, or a controller/transmitter.

Portability. Will you be traveling with your long-range drone? This might mean you want something light and portable. There’s at least two that are foldable.

Top 5 Drones: Long Range Drone Reviews

Here I look at good quality drones for long range use.

The DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter Drone Review

DJI is one of the best drone brands for high quality drones currently on the market. How does Mavic Air stand out from other DJI models? One is that it’s foldable.

It’s cheaper. Lighter. More portable and faster. It is also the first to come with 8GB of onboard storage.

This Mavic Air model is very impressive and perfect for traveling outdoors, especially with its incredibly compact foldable design.

The DJI Mavic Air fits in your hand, meaning you can have it with you anytime.

Although light (430 g), it can withstand winds of up to 10 meters per second (22 miles per hour).

A novel feature is the hand gesture control option. Not only can you launch and land the drone with a hand gesture, but you can take selfies, record videos, and more with a simple swipe of the hand.

Apart from hand gesture, you can control the drone via your mobile device (to 80 meters) or by remote controller.

DJI Mavic Air Camera Specs

It has a camera that has a stabilization system of 3-Axis Gimbal.

It can shoot videos with 4K resolution at 30 frames per second (fps), recording at 100 Mbps to capture UHD quality video (can obtain high speed capture recording 1080p 120 fps slow motion video), as well as stills of 12 MP.

It features intelligent stitching of 360 32-MP Sphere panoramas. In just an 8-second timeframe it can stitch together 25 photos.

DJI Mavic Air Navigation

It features a 3-directional system of environment sensing. It has vision sensors including GPS and GLONASS.

The obstacle sensors work very well, thanks to its advanced system consisting of forward, back, and downward dual-vision sensors and downward infrared sensing system, and computer cores. The result: precise hovering and enhanced flight performance.

What is the range of a drone like the DJI Mavic Air?

Maximum transmission range is 4 km with a new improved WiFi video transmission for better signal and connection. It supports frequency bands of 2.4/5.8GHz and a 720p live view.

DJI Mavic Air Flight Time

Drone flight time is 21 minutes. It has dual GPS and GLONASS and a reliable return to home feature.

This long range drone comes in Onyx Black, Flame Red, and Arctic White and is possibly the best long range drone under 1000.

In the box:

1 Mavic Air Quadcopter with Remote Controller; 1 Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 Power Adapter (Without AC Power Cable); 1 Gimbal Protector + spare control sticks; 4 pairs of propellers, Propeller Guards; 1 Communication Cable-USB 3.0 type-C, + 1 USB Adapter, Two RC cable slider (large) and two RC cable slider (small), Carrying case

Cost

Click here to see the latest price on the DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter Drone

Cons: Drone is not waterproof.


The DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter Drone Review

This 4K camera drone performs somewhat like the Phantom 4 but in a much smaller package (734 g). This one is also foldable.

The Mavic Pro can fold into a size as small as a water bottle so it is great for moving around much like it’s cousin, the Mavic Air.

Flight Time

It has a longer flight time than its cousin (by 6 mins) and can travel much further (up to 7 km compared to 4 km for the Mavic Air), being a drone with the farthest range listed here.

It can travel at a speed of 65 km/h (40 mph) in sport mode (S-mode) when using the remote controller. Camera resolution is 12 MP and video 4K. Stabilization system: 3-axis.

Navigation

This drone has both GPS and GLONASS for precise positioning in- and outdoors.

You can control the drone with either a mobile device (to 80 meters) or a remote controller. It even has some of the new gesture features featured in the Mavic Air.

It can follow behind, in front, or circle a subject via the ActiveTrack intelligent flight modes that allow it to also fly alongside a subject or keep the camera trained on an object while flying anywhere.

You can also program the drone to travel at the same height above ground while moving along.

It has 2-directional sensing, forward obstacle (0.7 to 15 m) and downward (0.3 to 13 m range).

It has a return-to-home feature for when the battery is low or signal is lost for a duration or when the user wants it to return to base.

Camera Specs

It features seven onboard cameras that are part of the “FlightAutonomy 2.0” sensor system for this obstacle avoidance and this system also allows it to hover perfectly still.

In the box:

1 Dji Mavic Pro Drone + Remote Controller; 1 Battery, charger + USB cables for Lightning, Micro USB, Type C; 1 16 Gigabyte SD Card; 3 Pairs of propellers (6pcs)

Cost

Click here to see the latest offer on the DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter Drone 

Cons: Only comes with an SD card of 16 GB. Could do with a neutral density (ND) filter for the lens. Shoulder bag could be roomier.


The DJI Phantom 4 Pro Professional Drone

Drone with best battery life…

This is one of the top rated drones and possibly one of the best professional drones — offered at a great price for all the features included. It is the longest flying drone on the list and is more advanced, though not as light (1388 g), as the above DJI models.

It comes with an abundance of sensors and can sense obstacles in five directions to the range of 30 m. In positioning mode (P-mode) the stabilization is amazing.

Sports mode (S-mode) is fun, with the drone flying quite fast (you’ll want to stay low). The Phantom drone range is impressive at 7 km (or just over 4 miles). Download a DJI Go App to record your videos on your device where you can edit and share straight from the app.

This drone can fly at a maximum speed of 72 kmh in P-mode. The  5-directional sensing of obstacles means seamless flying without issues of collisions as the sensors will detect and avoid any obstacles in its flight path.

It has a vision system that includes forward, backward, and downward. Its forward and backward obstacle sensing ranges 0.7 to 15 meters. The infrared time of flight (TOF) senses on both sides range 0.2  to 7 meters and allow for accurate distance mapping and 3D imaging. These features possibly place it as a high end drone on the list of the best drone for photography in terms of professional pursuits.

ActiveTrack is also a feature of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and includes New Circle, Parallel, and Spotlight intelligent flight modes.

This drone has a return to home feature that includes route planning, environment mapping and a 300-m long-range obstacle sensing, which makes it useful for research and mapping projects. These are the things that make it viable as the best professional drone for long distance.

Flight Time

Flight time is a good 30 minutes. Camera quality of 4K at 60 fps means it provides smooth cinematic shots and effective pixels with 20 MP max image size.

Other features include a mechanical shutter, dual coding (H.264 and H.265).

Camera Specs

Video transmission system of lightbridge that uses time division multiplexing to transmit signals allows it to send controller signals while receiving video transmission at the same frequency.

Navigation

It has dual GPS and GLONASS for navigation.

The drone is controlled by a 2.4 to 2.483 GHz remote controller only. It also has the gesture mode to take a selfie.

Supports Sandisk Extreme, Samsung PRO, and Panasonic 32/64 GB microSD cards. Patriot EPPRO not recommended.

In the box (standard):

1 drone, Factory foam case, 1 remote controller; 1 high capacity battery, 1 100W battery charger; 8 propellers (2 sets); 1 gimbal holder; Cables; 1 16 GB SD cards

Cost

Click here for the best Phantom drone price on Amazon for the Pro 4

Cons: Gimbal calibration can be tricky.  Must be in clear line of sight for good video feed with increasing distance from remote.


The GoPro Karma Quadcopter Drone Review

If you already have a GoPro, this one may interest you. You can buy this with or without the drone video camera. For this, the Karma uses a GoPro camera, which captures smooth aerial footage. Also foldable.

Of the Hero Models, Hero6 Black is the best video camera with 4K at 60fps. Other Hero models (Black 6, Black 5, or Black/Silver 4) provide good video quality and can be fitted on the Karma.

This 35.5 oz drone (1006 g) folds neatly into its case.

Flight Time

Flight time is up to 20 minutes and the battery takes one hour to charge. Controller battery life: 4 hrs.

Flight Max Distance

Transmission range: up to 3 km. Speed: 54 kmh (35 mph). Max flight altitude: 3.2 km (10 500 ft).

Navigation

This drone uses the GPS of Hero6 or 5 Black.

The GoPro Karma has a follow me mode.

Other

The detachable handle is an advantage and works extremely well.

The harness in the Hero6 Black Karma package also fits a Hero5 Black. (Note: HERO6 Black delivers 2× the performance of HERO5)

In the box:

1 Karma drone, 1 lightweight case, 1 drone controller; 1 Hero6 (in the camera package); 1 battery (+ extra one in the battery package) + charger
1 Karma stabilizer + Karma harness; 1 Karma grip, 1 mounting ring, 6 10-inch propellers

Cost

Click here to see the latest offer on the GoPro Karma with HERO6 Black

Cons: Drone in return-to-home flys in a straight line, so fly carefully to avoid obstacles as the construct is somewhat delicate. You will need to use the controller joysticks to maneuver around obstacles, as there is no automatic obstacle sensing.


Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Quadcopter Drone Review

The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium (1420 g) weighs heaviest of the drones listed above and flys the least max distance, but it is built tough!

What’s good about this drone? The company provides US-based 7-day customer support via phone, email or live chat and there is extensive knowledge on the company website to help you out.

The remote controller has an LCD display showing altitude, range, battery life, gimbal tilt, orientation, and more with one-touch action buttons.

This certainly will help with knowing when to bring your long range drone back home safely.

Camera Specs

Video resolution is 4K with Ultra HD quality and with 12 MP max image size. The outfit includes a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer that is easily removed – a bonus when it comes time to upgrade.

Navigation

Has dual GPS/Glonass outdoor navigation.

Comes in orange and white and has a free to download Starlink app as a portal to support.

In the box:

1 X-Star Premium drone, 1 Hard case, 1 Intuitive remote controller with LCD display; 1 64 GB MicroSD card; 1 Intelligent battery + 1 1-hour fast charger; Spare propellers and small parts

Cost

Click here to see the latest price for the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

Cons: There is no automatic obstacle sensing with this one but the construct is sturdy if it crashes.


Best Cheap Long Range Drone

If you are looking for a cheap long range drone this list may help. The flight range for these long distance drones for sale will be around 1 mile or less. They are at a lower drone price range and so some lack navigation equipment. However, the list does include a remote control drone with camera and GPS. One of the Parrot drones for sale makes this category and is our Editor’s Pick.

 DroneImageKey DetailsPrice>>Rating<<
#1. F100 Ghost DroneHD Camera:  1080p MP
Fly Range:  0.3 miles (0.5 km)
Fly Time:  19 min
Speed:  43 mph (69 kph)
Nav: no GPS
GoPro Hero 3/4 compatible

See Price

★★★★☆ 3.9

 

#2. MJX Bugs 2wCamera: 1080p @30fps
Fly Range: 0.6 miles (1 km)
Fly Time:  16 min
Speed:  high/low mode
Nav: GPS

See Price

★★★★☆ 4.0

 

#3. MJX Bugs 3 RCCamera:  not included
Fly Range:  0.3 miles (0.5 km)
Fly Time:  18 min
Speed:  high/low mode
Nav: no GPS
Gopro 3 3+ 4, SJCAMS SJ4000 SJ7000 compatible

 See Price

★★★★☆ 3.8

 

#4. Altair Aerial Blackhawk Long RangeCamera:  not included
Fly Range:  0.3 miles (0.5 km)
Fly Time:  17 min
Speed:  Fast
Nav: no GPS
GoPro Hero3/4 suited

See Price

★★★★☆3.8

 

#5. Parrot Bebop 2 + Black Skycontroller

Editor’s Pick: Best Affordable Drone

HD Camera:  1080P 14MP
Fly Range:  1.25 miles (2 km)
Fly Time:  25 min
Speed:  35 mph (57 kph)
Nav: GPS & visual tracking

See Price

★★★★ 4.4

 

 

Tips

Make sure your return home is set correctly on models with this feature.

Best to have a spare battery or two and swap them out for more flight time.

Buy spare propellers.

Get 2 × 64GB SD cards. No smaller. Two is better than one 256GB card, just in case the card fails or gets lost. Make sure you have an SD card reader.

Recommended to have a landing pad and possibly a sun hood for the controller.

About Flying Responsible

Check your local rules on where and when you can fly a long range drone. You will want to know: How far can a drone fly from controller or pilot?

This will depend on where you intend flying the drone. The drone might need to be in view of the pilot at all times. Rules can vary between countries and counties.

The US Federal Aviation Administration requires registration of many drones flown in the US, for hobby or commercial purposes.

You can check out this fly responsibly page for more information.

FAQs

How do drones fly?

The drones I write about are quadcopters. You can find out how quadcopters work here.

How fast do drones fly?

The drones listed here fly at speeds up to 45 mph (72 kph) depending on conditions and the flight mode.

How far can you fly a drone?

This not only depends on the ability of the drone but also the regulations that vary with each country. You can check out this fly responsibly page for more information.

Related:

Hi, I’m Jeff Madden. I’m an enthusiast of the wide open spaces. I’ve had over 15 years experience in presenting spatial data and I find it valuable to research and compare the latest technology available. I hope you find my writings useful for exploring and capturing visuals of the outdoors.