Here we go again with another drone article, but this time we’ll see about the best indoor drone money can buy. Generally speaking, an indoor drone is viewed as a drone for beginners first and foremost, and that’s due the indoor drone’s inherent features: they are small, light, tough and resilient when abused, cheap, not so feature-rich as others yet perfectly usable as a “driver’s drone”, and obviously awesome for indoor racing.
Needless to say, indoor drones also make for the perfect gift for your kids, regardless of age, as they are great choices for teaching them about technology and hone their pilot skills. Moreover, being relatively cheap, indoor drones are the stepping stone to more expensive models. Basically, start with an affordable indoor drone if you don’t want to end up crushing your new expensive drone.
How to Choose the Best Indoor Drone
Buying an indoor mini-drone is pretty straightforward in our view, and here are the main buying considerations:
First, establish your budget, as in look for the perfect combo of affordability and quality. Even if you’re looking to spend under $100 on an indoor drone, you still have a lot of options, so you’ll still have to balance affordability and quality. Usually speaking, expensive drones are more feature-rich, but that doesn’t necessarily mean extra-performance.
Which brings us to the next issue: select only the features you need. If you buy an indoor drone for a 5-year-old, you don’t require fancy features like integrated GPS, but you’ll have to focus on build quality and safety features, such as propeller guards. If you’re shopping for a higher-end indoor drone, you must take into account premium features, such as obstacle avoidance, and yes, in this regard, expensive drones do it better than others. Integrated gimbals (they keep the camera steady while on the move) are common as indoor drones go up in price, as well as better range, plus relatively advanced features like headless mode, follow me mode, and even integrated GPS or an HD/Full HD camera.
If you’re looking to race your drone indoors, stability, weight (the lighter, the better), and flight time come into play. After all’s said and done, the lesson to be taken home is this: the best indoor drone must be small, light, yet tough as nails, highly maneuverable and ideally speaking, affordable. With all these in mind, let’s take a look at our top picks for today, in no particular order.
Best Indoor Drones
Ryze Tech Tello
The Best Indoor FPV Drone
We’ll start our line-up with one of the most popular mini-drones out there, the Ryze Tech Tello respectively. To begin with, we must tell you that the Ryze Tello is a relatively cheap toy-quadcopter, retailing for a bit less than $100, so if you’re a videographer/photographer searching for the best deal of your life, this is not it. The point being, the Ryze Tello is excellent for beginners/hobbyists looking to perfect their remote flying skills, and in this department, this tiny drone really shines.
Even if the drone comes with a built-in camera, the video quality is nothing to write home about, i.e. the main reason for which the Ryze Tello made it to our top 7 is that it offers a lot of fun for the buck asked. First, this is a tiny and uber-light drone, measuring 6 x 6 x 1.3 inches and weighing less than three ounces, which makes it perfect for indoor use. Another cool thing about the Ryze Tello is that it can be controlled with your smartphone via a dedicated app, or you can program it using an open-source program called Scratch, developed by MIT.
However, it must be said that the flight controller included in the retail package is provided by DJI, which means you’ll get a ton of maneuverability, not to mention the drone can fly for up to 13 minutes on a single charge. Despite its small size, the Ryze Tello is very fast and maneuverable, and even if it lacks advanced features like GPS, the drone can still perform cool midair flips or take-off/landing from your hand. The EZ shots function is great if you need to capture a 360 view of your surroundings, yet the low resolution for today’s standards delivers blocky videos most of the time.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a solidly built and massive fun toy-drone to use indoors, the Ryze Tello would definitely fit the bill.
- Affordable, well built, easy to fly
- Programmable via Scratch, fast, small and light
- No FAA registration required, very stable even outdoors in low-wind
- Takes decent pictures/videos for 2018 standards, comes with EIS (electronic image stabilization)
- Perfect choice for kids and/or anyone new to drones
- Lacks GPS, return-to-home function
- Limited range 100 meters (330 feet)
Potensic A30 Mini Drone
The Best Indoor Mini Drone
Our next pick for today is the Potensic A30, another affordable drone for kids, and an excellent contender for our best indoor drone line-up. Measuring 140x140x43.5mm and weighing merely 63 grams, this tiny drone is exceptionally small and light, which makes it ideal for indoor use.
However, the Potensic A30 can fly for up to 16 minutes on a single charge, and yes, that’s very impressive for such a tiny thing. Moreover, you’ll get one-key take-off and landing, altitude hold, and auto-hove, i.e. all the necessary features for flying your toy drone safely and stably.
Since the Potensic A30 is specifically built for kids, it comes with propeller guards, plus the shell is built using tough plastic, to make sure the drone can withstand use and abuse. In this regard, the A30 looks and feels pretty solid, and giving its exceptionally lightweight chassis, it will definitely survive a few crashes until maintenance is required; speaking of which, the drone comes with double batteries, for helping you enjoy up to 16 minutes of flight time, and a USB cable for safe charging.
The built-in barometer allows it to keep a certain height from the ground (that would be the altitude-hold mode), while the one-key take-off/landing function and the 3-speed adjustable system allow you to control the drone with ease even if you’re a total noob. Bottom line: if you’re not looking for advanced features and high-tech bells and whistles, the Potensic A30 is a great choice for indoor use, making for a perfect birthday or Christmas gift for kids, regardless of age, as it’s easy to fly and tons of fun.
- Great indoor drone for the price
- Solid build quality, well designed, feather-light and compact
- Decent flight time of up to 16 minutes, easy to use
- Can take a ton of abuse, the learning curve is minimal
- Not suited for advanced users
Holy Stone HS210
The Best Indoor Drone Under $50
If you’re looking for a tiny drone, the Holy Stone HS210 has your name on it; also known as a nano-quadcopter, this is one of the best indoor drones for beginners and kids, as it’s dirt cheap, retailing for less than $30, tough as nails and comes with extra batteries and a couple of nice features like headless mode, 3D flip and auto hovering. Basically, as long as you’re on a tight budget and trying to make the most of it, it’s hard to beat the Holy Stone HS210.
Obviously, since we’re talking beer money here, this drone lacks advanced features, including the return-to-home thing, or GPS; however, since today’s topic is the best indoor drone money can buy, the respective feature is hardly a deal-breaker and quasi-useless, as well as an onboard camera, which is also missing in action but we don’t really care.
The Holy Stone HS210 is a no-nonsense indoor drone, and it makes up for its lack of advanced features with reliability, build quality and, most importantly for beginners, ease of use. The drone is as tough as they came and it will definitely survive any number of crashes into floors and walls; if you insist to push it to its breaking point though, don’t worry, as you’ll be able to find cheap replacement parts with ease. By the way, the HS210 comes with a spare set of propellers included in the retail package, which is very nice.
Speaking of which, you’ll also get 3 batteries and a screwdriver; each battery gives you 7 minutes of flight time and if you want more, spare batteries are also dirt cheap. Flight performance is impressive to say the least, as the drone is responsive, stable, and fun to fly.
Besides the usual altitude hold, headless mode, hover and one key take-off/landing feature, you’ll get impressive 3D flips in 4 directions plus a low battery power alarm. The bottom line, the Holy Stone HS210 is an impressive indoor drone for the price asked and comes highly recommended.
- Amazing value for money, durable, affordable
- Impressive build quality for such an inexpensive drone
- Long flight time, super easy to fly, tough as nails
- Spare parts are readily available and cheap
- Professional looking and well-designed remote controller
- Short transmitter range (50 meters tops)
The Best No-Nonsense Indoor Drone
Get ready for the Snaptain SP350, another affordable mini drone that is suitable for beginners and thrives in an indoor environment. Retailing for less than $50 at the time of this writing, this petite drone would make for a kingly gift for your kids, as it features propeller guards and it’s very lightweight, i.e. it will withstand crashes against virtually anything, with minimal damage.
Despite its simplistic design and affordability, the Snaptain SP350 offers all the essential features required for having lots of fun, including two flight modes: one in which the drone flies in circles, and another where you can launch it by throwing it in the air. Moreover, the drone can do tricks (read midair flips) at a push of a button and speaking of buttons, the SP350 comes with headless mode for easier flying and altitude hold.
There’s not much else to be honest, but your expectations should be minimal in a “thirty-ish” toy drone anyway. Flight time is approximately 6 minutes, and we know, that’s not much, but it’s okay for the price asked. The controller is well designed and easy to use, and the good news is that you’ll get 3 batteries in total in the retail package, so you’ll end up with 18 minutes overall flight time on a single charge.
- Great value for money, very easy to fly, loads of fun
- Weighs a mere 25 grams and it’s virtually indestructible
- Excellent “driver’s drone” with no fancy features, just stick, and eyeballs
- Altitude Hold, 3D flips, Circle Fly, Throw and Go mode
- The battery is relatively difficult to install properly
Air Hogs U.S.S Enterprise NCC-1701-A
The Best Indoor Drone for Trekkies
The Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Remote Control Quadcopter by Air Hogs is one of the coolest indoor drones out there, and if coolness is a decisive factor in choosing your next gadget, boy, you’ll have a run for your money and then some! Retailing currently for way less than $100, this drone is a miniature of the legendary Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A starship, and it comes with ten authentic sounds and lights plus a 2.4 GHz remote communication for long-distance control.
To make a long story short, if you’re a Trekkie, this drone is a must-have, especially if you’re looking for a collectible high-tech toy, as this baby celebrates 50 years of Star Trek, or at least it did when it was first launched. On top of that, the Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise RC is a limited edition of sorts, so go get yours while it lasts. One of the main selling points of the NCC-1701-A RC from Air Hogs is the authentic replica design, plus that cool phaser sound effect all Trekkies know and love.
Tech-wise, this is not an advanced drone, so don’t get your hopes too high, but as far as flying movie memorabilia goes, this is as good as it gets, i.e. you’ll end up with an awesome Star Trek ship floating around in your home, which looks very realistic while flying.
- You can actually fly a miniature of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A!
- Approximately 7 minutes of fly-time on a single charge
- The clear plastic display stand also works as a launchpad
- Comes with propeller guards, full-function remote, blue lights and phaser sound effects
- Will make any Star Trek fan happy
- The ship will drop like a rock when the battery is depleted (may get damaged in the process)
Hubsan X4 (H107L)
The Best Drone for Indoor Use
The Hubsan X4 is an astounding beginner drone and especially suited for indoor use. The X4 is very affordable, and it can be flown quickly and aggressively if one so inclined, but since we’re talking indoor use, the drone can be also flown conservatively, being very stable in the air due to its 6-axis gyroscope.
Maximum flight time is respectable for a tiny and lightweight drone (100 grams/3.5 ounces/4.6 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches) at nine minutes, and the remote control works well for up to 30 meters or 100 yards, which is more than enough for beginners. The Hubsan X4 is not much bigger than a regular smartphone and has rubber feet for absorbing harsh landings, plus a well-balanced chassis.
It’s worth mentioning that the Hubsan X4 is an RTF model, i.e. it’s ready to fly out of the box with zero assembly required, and has a 4 channel controller, which is extremely accurate, ergonomic and fits well in your hand (think PS3 comfort). What’s most impressive about this affordable drone is its superb and smooth handling, as well as the rich retail package that contains spare propellers.
- Excellent entry-level drone, sleek design
- 9 minutes of flight time, 30 meters remote distance
- Amazing value for money
- Well balanced chassis, smooth performance
- Above-average charging/flying time ratio (40 minutes for a full charge)
- Doesn’t have propeller guards (goes to durability)
The Best Indoor Drone for Beginners
Our last contender for today is the Snaptain H823H, a mini drone built for kids but suitable for basically anyone. The H823H weighs only 30 grams, measures 2.8*3*1 inches, but it’s built to last, as it comes with protective casings around the propellers.
Due to its tiny size, you won’t have to register the drone with the FAA, but that’s to be expected from an indoor drone. The retail package contains extra propellers (4 of them), which is a nice touch, as well as a screwdriver and 3 batteries.
It’s worth mentioning that the Snaptain H823H is a 4-axis drone, i.e. there’s virtually zero wobble effect, as the drone flies smoothly and has an altitude hold feature that works pretty well. The controls are responsive and easy to understand, though the RC unit itself is incredibly small, just like the drone, and that may feel awkward in the beginning. The 1-button auto-take-off/landing thing is here, and that’s good for beginners, plus an extra button for 360° flips and 3-speed modes, to impress kids and test their flying skills.
Bottom line, the Snaptain H823H is a cheap drone which is great for indoor use; mind you, this is not the best, nor the worst drone you could buy for less than 50 bucks, but if you’re looking for a nice design, a decent set of features and lots of bang for the proverbial buck asked, look no further.
- Well designed, easy to use, sturdy and sleek
- Features altitude hold, one-button take-off/landing, 1-key return, headless mode
- Very responsive and maneuverable little drone
- Affordable, beginner-friendly, gradual and smooth learning curve for kids
- Great value for the money
- The battery bay is poorly designed