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.
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 cheap drones compared.
In a hurry? See our pick for the best long distance drone!
Comparison Chart: Top 6 Best Long Distance Drones
Compare popular drones in the 1-5 mile range by way of video quality, flight distance, performance in terms of speed and flight time, price range, and rating. You can check out my reviews further down for more specifics on each long distance drone.
- Drone Buying Guide
- Best Long Range Drone Reviews
- Best Cheap Long Range Drone List
- Tips and FAQs
Drone Buying Guide
This guide is about helping you find the best drone to buy for long distance flying. It starts by comparing the key features of popular long flight drones in a table of the best long range drones. Next you’ll find information on what to look in a long range drone.
Looking for budget buys in long range drones? >> Skip to our list of the Best Cheap Drones for long distance flight.
How to Choose The Best Long Range Drone?
When looking for the best drone to buy for long distance flights, at least consider these main factors.
- Transmission range (or drone distance max)
- Video Transmission
- Flight time
- Imaging system
What’s the Best Long Distance Drone to Buy?
The following expands on the factors you should consider when choosing a long distance drone.
Drone Distance Max
This is also known as ‘transmission range’. It is the flight range of a drone, which matters if you want to use the latest aerial technology for surveying, mapping, data collection, or simply for remote aerial photography.
How far can a drone go from the pilot? This 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. Examples are the DJI Mavic Pro, which has a drone maximum range of 7 kilometers (drone range miles: 4.35) and the DJI Mavic Pro 2 with a max 5-mile (8km) control range. 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. Drones with long battery life will give you longer flight times. So, look for a battery that can endure at least a 20 minute flight time if you are wanting a decent long distance range.
Tip: For less downtime, look for drones with fast charging technology or consider buying extra batteries.
You’ll want a reliable transmission straight to your display in real time — otherwise it will be difficult to maneuvre your drone.
To avoid interference and gain longer transmitting distance, you might want to look for an advanced transmission system that will support dual 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands.
People wanting good drone photography will want at least a 4K video resolution or even 5.2K and RAW, and a 3-axis gimbal stabilization system in their long range drone.
Sensor size, ISO range, shutter speed, and photography modes are relevant. If you are wanting to use your drone camera for professional reasons, look for 1-inch sensors and no less than a 12-megapixel capture ability.
The gimbal is important for smooth footage capture of aerial photography as it provides a stable system to limit the shake that can happen when the drone is in motion. Here, look for at least a 3-axis type.
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?
Apart from the above factors, budget is always something people consider.
Looking for the best long range drone under 1000? We’ve included drones under 1000 dollars as well as those that cost a few hundred more. We’ve also a list of good cheap drones for long range flying, to help you find the best affordable drone.
Other Things to Consider
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 Drones: Long Range Drone Reviews
Here I look at good quality drones for long range use.
1. The DJI Mavic Air Quadcopter Drone Review
DJI is one of the best drone brands for high quality drones currently on the market.
The Mavic Air stands out from other DJI models for a number of reasons. It’s more compact for one. This Mavic Air model is so compact it can fold into a size that fits into your hand. Great for travelling.
It’s also cheaper. Lighter. Faster. And, It is the first to come with 8GB of onboard storage. Although light (430 g), it can withstand winds of up to 10 meters per second (22 miles per hour).
It comes in Onyx Black, Flame Red, and Arctic White and
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 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.
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
Cons: Drone is not waterproof.
2. 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.
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.
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. It also 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.
You can 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.
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)
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.
Cost — Mavic Pro
3. The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Review
The DJI Mavic Pro 2 drones feature Hasselblad cameras, which are crafted in Sweden and known for their ergonomic design and quality of image and craftmanship. The camera in this drone has the unique Hasselblad Natural Color Solution (HNCS) from which you can capture 20MP aerial shots in awesome color detail. It has a 1” CMOS Sensor.
What’s different between this is the original Mavic Pro is that this newer model has a sensor that is 4x more effective, allowing it to capture more information in every pixel.
It supports a 4K 10-bit HDR meaning it can be used with a 4K TV with HLG giving instant high-quality image.
It has an adjustable aperture with focal ratio (f/) 2.8 to 11, which is useful for managing different light conditions.
Cost — Mavic Pro 2
4. 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 second 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.
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
Cons: Gimbal calibration can be tricky. Must be in clear line of sight for good video feed with increasing distance from remote.
5. 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 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).
This drone uses the GPS of Hero6 or 5 Black. The GoPro Karma has a follow me mode.
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
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.
6. 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! Comes in orange and white and has a free to download Starlink app as a portal to support.
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.
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.
This drone has a dual GPS/Glonass outdoor navigation and with the free Starlink app (iOS and Android) you get autonomous flight modes. It has SecureFlyTM magnetic interference protection and you can attached your mobile device to the remote control for first person view (FPV) flight.
The remote controller LCD display shows altitude, range, battery life, gimbal tilt, orientation, and more — useful for knowing when and how to maneuvre your long range drone back home safely.
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
Cons: There is no automatic obstacle sensing with this one but the construct is sturdy if it crashes. Can be unsteady in take off.
Best Cheap Long Range Drone List
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.
|#1. F100 Ghost Drone||HD 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
|#2. Holy Stone HS700||Camera: HD 1080p |
Fly Range: 0.6 miles (1 km)
Fly Time: 16-20 min
Speed: forward thrust
|See Price||★★★★☆ 4.0|
|#3. MJX Bugs 3 RC||Camera: 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
|#4. Altair Aerial Blackhawk Long Range||Camera: not included|
Fly Range: 0.3 miles (0.5 km)
Fly Time: 17 min
Nav: no GPS
GoPro Hero3/4 suited
|#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
Tips and FAQs
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.
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.
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Hi, Jeff Madden here. I’m an enthusiast of the wide open spaces with over 15 years experience in spatial data. I like to research and compare the latest technology available. My writings are about helping others explore and capture visuals of the outdoors.