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Best Overall: Parrot Mambo at Amazon
"Piloted directly with a smartphone, this drone offers simple controls and easy access to tricks."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Ryze Tello at Amazon
"You can toss it into the air and it will begin to fly, or it can take off directly from your hand and land right back on it."
Best Budget: Drocon U31W Navigator at Amazon
"It comes in at a low price and still includes a bunch of great features that can satisfy almost any new drone pilot."
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Syma X21W at Amazon
"Kids can pilot the drone from a first-person perspective with a paired smartphone."
Best for Video: Drocon U818Plus at Amazon
"The rubber damping material and anti-shake feature make it a good choice for amateur videography."
Best Mini: Potensic A20W at Amazon
"The small size and blocked in propellers make this a much safer drone for beginners to fly."
Best for Teens: Holy Stone Drone at Amazon
"The drone can accomplish some advanced maneuvers — including 360-degree flips — with the press of a button."
Best Novelty: Syma X9 at Amazon
"The Syma X9 is a funny little drone that it’s both a quadcopter and an RC car."
Courtesy of Amazon
Overall, the Parrot Mambo is the best drone to get for a child. It has enough features and functionality to be a good pick for younger and older drone pilots, as well as a few customization options to spice it up even more. For safety, this small drone includes guards that can go around each propeller, helping keep the propellers from breaking or hitting people.
The Parrot Mambo can be piloted directly with a smartphone, which offers simple controls and easy access to tricks. Kids learning to code can also program flight paths for the drone. The Mambo FPV bundle includes a controller, Parrot Cockpitglasses and a camera that attaches to the Mambo to provide a first-person flying perspective. The Mambo Mission package offers a small ball launcher and grabber arm that can attach to the drone.
The Parrot Mambo's sensors help it maintain stable, level flight. This makes it ideal for beginners who may take time adjusting to the controls of a drone. It may not be the cheapest drone, but this one was designed with kids in mind by one of the top drone manufacturers.
While most DJI drones are too expensive to recommend for children, the Ryze Tello includes some of the smarts found in DJI drones, and it comes in at a fraction of the price and a fraction of the size. These factors, combined with its easy-to-learn controls, make it a great choice for children.
This isn’t a great pick for younger children, but it can be a great choice if a kid already has some experience with drones. It includes sensors to enable steady hovering, it can perform tricks on command, and it offers plenty of options for takeoff and landing. You can toss it into the air and it will begin to fly, or it can take off directly from your hand and land right back on it.
The Tello drone also has a built-in HD camera on the front for capturing photos, recording video, and enabling first-person flying. The Tello can also fly in a few automatic modes to capture video with ease. With a 13-minute battery life, it’s a great pick.
While the Drocon U31W comes in at a low price, it still includes a bunch of great features that can satisfy almost any new drone pilot, especially children and beginners.
The U31W Navigator has a propeller guard on each side, which can help avoid accidents that damage the drone or cause injuries. However, without 360-degree coverage of the propellers, and due to the size of this drone, we wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids. With altitude hold and headless modes, this should be an easy drone to learn how to fly.
The U31W Navigator also includes a controller and a front-mounted HD camera with a 120-degree wide-angle view. This will allow kids to shoot videos or fly the drone with a first-person perspective. The included battery offers up to seven minutes of flight time, but it’s swappable, so you can buy more batteries to extend the flying sessions.
The Syma X21W comes with a controller and smartphone holder that can attach to the controller. With an HD camera built into the front of the drone, kids can pilot the drone from a first-person perspective with a paired smartphone. The drone also has gyroscope sensors, which allows pilots to control the drone by tilting their phone.
Flying the X21W is simple thanks to the altitude hold mode, which can keep the drone steady, and the six-axis gyro helps keep it stable. Headless mode makes it easy to fly without worrying about the direction it’s facing, and simple controls let pilots easily perform tricks like flips and rolls.
If you have an older child who’s really into shooting home videos the Drocon U818Plus is a great pick for them. This is a larger drone that comes with a controller, and a stabilized 720p camera that enables both first-person flying through a connected smartphone and HD video recording.
The Drocon U818Plus has plenty of features that make it a good drone without the camera, including a long, 15-minute battery life. The altitude hold mode makes it easy to keep the drone hovering in one place, and it also has a headless mode, which makes flying easy, since the direction the drone is facing won’t matter. One-key takeoff and landing along with an emergency motor cut-off make it simple and safe to fly, too.
Though the camera is only 720p, the rubber damping material and anti-shake feature make it a good choice for amateur videography. While some affordable drones may offer higher resolution video, without some form of stabilization, the video can come out too shaky to use in projects.
If you’re buying a drone for a younger kid and are on a budget, then we like the Potensic A20W or A20 mini-drone. This is a palm-sized drone, and all four of the propellers are completely surrounded by propeller guards. The small size and blocked in propellers make this a much safer drone for beginners to fly (however, this is still a zippy little drone with multiple speed settings, so make sure your kid is cautious).
Both versions of the drone are affordable, with the standard Potensic A20 being cheaper and the A20W coming in slightly more expensive but with the inclusion of a camera for first-person flying through a paired smartphone. The A20W can be controlled with a smartphone’s gyroscope sensors and offers one-key takeoff and landing.
The A20W features an altitude hold mode and headless mode, making it easy to fly the drone around without needing to manage the altitude or pay attention to the direction it’s facing. The A20W also includes a controller with a smartphone mount. For a fun little beginner drone, this is a good pick, though the battery life is not as long as many of the larger drones on this list.
The Holy Stone F181C RC Quadcopter Drone is great for older kids with a bit more experience flying. The F181 can reach speeds of 10 mph, which is great for advanced fliers. But it also has slower speed modes for beginners. The drone can accomplish some advanced maneuvers — including 360-degree flips — with the press of a button. For capturing footage, the drone comes outfitted with a 720p camera. A single charge will get you seven to nine minutes of flight with a range of about 160-320 feet, which is standard for an entry-level drone.
For teens, there are still plenty of safety features that make the F181 easy to fly. On each of its four propellers, you have the option of ordering protection frames, so they won’t be in any danger if the drone should happen to crash into something. The drone also comes with Headless Mode, which makes it easier and more intuitive to fly. Plus, all teens have to do is press a single button to summon the drone back, so there’s much less chance of it getting lost.
The Syma X9 is a funny little drone in that it’s both a quadcopter and RC car in one. Keep in mind, this isn’t an extra small drone, and because it lacks propeller guards, we’d still advise choosing this for older children who can take proper precautions when flying, especially since it has both beginner and expert modes.
The Syma X9 drives like a typical RC car when in car mode. When they want to fly, switching to drone mode is easy. While it’s airborne, they can even perform flips with ease.
A controller for the Syma X9 is included in the package, as are extra propeller blades. Perhaps the best extra included in the package is a second battery, giving kids double the flying time. Extra piloting sessions are great for new pilots, as it gives them more time to get familiar with the controls.