If you are wondering what’s the best drone to buy for distance flying by professionals and enthusiasts alike, then read on. This drone buying guide looks at what to consider in choosing the best long range drone for professional or enthusiast use. Not only does it include drones for sale at the higher end, it also lists some of the best cheap long range drones.
Best Long Range Drone with Camera
The flight range of a drone with a camera is relevant if you are wanting 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? In this drone buying guide, starting with the table, you can compare key features of each long flight drone, rated highly by users. Below the table are more details and specifics on what to look for in a long range drone. You’ll find reviews of each drone next, and if you are interested in the best cheap long range drone, continue scrolling down the page.
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.
No, I’m 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 six factors in a long distance drone.
- Transmission range (or drone distance max)
- Flight time
- Camera specs
Drone Distance Max
How far can a drone go from the pilot depends on the signal strength of the long range drone transmitter. That is, 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.
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.
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.
You need to 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 the regulations of the country where you intend flying the drone. For instance, some countries require that the drone must be in view of the pilot at all times. Rules vary between countries, so refer to the correct authority.
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.
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 – FoldableDJI 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?
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.
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.
It features a 3-directional system of environment sensing.
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.
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.
Cons: Drone is not waterproof.
In the box:
1 Mavic Air Drone + Carrying Case + Remote Controller, 2 Control Stick
1 Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 Power Adapter (Without AC Power Cable)
1 Gimbal Protector
4 Quick-Release Propellers, 1 Propeller Guard
1 Communication Cable-USB 3.0, + 1 USB Adapter, 1 AC Power Cable, 1 RC Cable Lightning Connector, 1 RC Cable Standard Micro USB Connector, 1 Cable USB Type-C Connector
The DJI Mavic Pro Quadcopter Drone Review – FoldableThis 4K camera drone performs somewhat like the Phantom 4 but in a much smaller package (734 g).
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.
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 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.
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 its 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 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.
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.
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.
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)
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 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).
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.
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.
Cons: Gimbal calibration can be tricky. Must be in clear line of sight for good video feed with increasing distance from remote.
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
1 16 GB SD cards
The GoPro Karma Quadcopter Drone ReviewIf 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.
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.
It has a follow me mode. Flight time is up to 20 minutes and the battery takes one hour to charge. Controller battery life: 4 hrs. Transmission range: up to 3 km. Speed: 54 kmh (35 mph). Max flight altitude: 3.2 km (10 500 ft).
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)
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.
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
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Quadcopter Drone ReviewThe 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.
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.
Has dual GPS/Glonass outdoor navigation.
Comes in orange and white and has a free to download Starlink app as a portal to support.
Cons: There is no automatic obstacle sensing with this one but the construct is sturdy if it crashes.
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
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.
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.
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?
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 comparisons on the performance of technology useful for exploring and capturing visuals of the outdoors.