You’ve heard about them. You’ve seen them in action, like when animals got really pissed off at them and tried to destroy them. You want one for yourself, or at least have seen it do awesome things like deliver Amazon purchases directly to your house. And before you think that they’re made only for play, they can also help out in other industries, and can even be used for humanitarian missions and infrastructure projects.
We’re talking about drones, specifically remote-controlled drones able to shoot high-quality aerial videos that you can brag about to your non-drone-owning friends. If you’ve been a good boy this year, forget about Santa and treat yourself to one of these 10 high-flying toys!
Just remember: respect other people’s privacy, don’t let your drones get in the way of wildlife, know where you are legally allowed to use them, and review the rules set by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), especially if you want to use them for work.
The New Kid on the Block
Announced back in September, DJI’s Mavic Pro quickly got everyone’s attention. It is foldable, follows you around without a wirelessly connected accessory, is armed with 24 cores and five cameras (including a 4K stabilized camera with RAW capability), avoids obstacles with FlightAutomony, goes airborne for up to 27 minutes and flies up to 65kph, and can be as far away as 7 kilometers from you. Also, it folds into a more compact size for small bags. Yes, we just had to say that again.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a while to get your own Mavic Pro. DJI issued an update last month regarding shipping and production problems, and right now you can only pre-order your own personal drone through the DJI website. If you’re buying through there, you can get only the drone for US$999 (around PhP49,700 without shipping fee), or both the drone and Fly More combo for US$1,299 (around PhP64,600 without shipping fee). Unbox also stated in September that Henry’s Professional will sell the Mavic Pro for PhP56,700, and the drone and Fly More combo for PhP73,700.
The fourth Phantom
If you want your drone bigger, slightly older, and semi-meaner, the DJI Phantom 4 may be the one for you. It doesn’t have the Mavic Pro’s ability to get smaller, but touts all the traits drone owners want and need: precision hovering even sans GPS, the ability to avoid aerial obstacles, 28 minutes of hang time, excellent visual tracking even for moving subjects, multiple flight modes, and a 5-km range. Lastly, the Phantom 4’s 12MP camera can do ultra high-def footage from above, and shoot in RAW format.
The third and last DJI drone in this lineup, the Phantom 3 Standard is older than the Phantom 4 and the newborn Mavic Pro, but still comes highly recommended by drone owners. Why? It is extremely friendly to beginners, has a much lower retail price, does up to 2.7K video and 12MP shots (enough for most users, actually), is much lighter in terms of weight, and can stay airborne for up to 25 minutes. Not bad at all, if you ask us.
For those looking for a proper introduction to drone ownership and operation, you can call the Phantom 3 Standard yours by visiting CameraHaus and forking over PhP26,000 for it.
It ain’t Cowboy Bebop, but for now the Parrot Bebop 2 will do just fine in helping us achieve our quest for jawdropping aerial shots. It can shoot continuously for 25 minutes in full HD with its 14MP camera, and do 180° photos as well. It’s a speedy drone too, going for up to 60kph horizontally and 21kph vertically, taking a mere 14 seconds to reach top speed. And this drone can follow you around like an adoring puppy while you do your thing, thanks to Parrot’s Follow Me feature (mobile GPS tracking and visual tracking from the drone).
The Bebop 2 is available through Parrot’s website, and for US$399 (around PhP20,000 without shipping fee). You can also check out the Bebop 2’s product page for the total prices for accessories and bundles, as well as video tutorials on how to setup and record footage with the drone.
We remember seeing the very first Parrot AR.DRONE a few years ago and saying to ourselves “damn, we want one”. The upgraded Parrot AR.DRONE 2.0 Power Edition makes us grateful we held off on getting the first model. This baby racks up to 36 minutes of fly-and-shoot time (via 2 1500mAh HD batteries), and comes with interchangeable colored propellers. While it doesn’t have the full HD shooting capability of the other drones on the list, we’re still good with 720p/30fps HD video quality and wide-angle footage that we can instantly share on social media. Sometimes, we’ll take endurance over glitz, no questions asked.
This drone is also cheaper than the Bebop 2 at US$169.99 (around PhP8,500 without shipping fee). If you want a drone to get you started but you’re not too keen on shelling out, this could be the drone you’re looking for.
Coming right at you
The aggressive-looking Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K won our hearts in record time. First, it doesn’t require you to use your smartphone with it; it ships with its own Android-powered controller, so you can go chase some aerial action more quickly and with minimal fuss. It does stable 4K video, 12MP photos and slow-motion capture, so you won’t miss a thing while this drone’s airborne. And with up to 25 minutes of flight time, you’ll have more than enough time to get the footage you need!
The Typhoon 4K is available at Yuneec’s US website for US$699.99 (around PhP35,000 without shipping fees). If you want the drone plus accessories and aluminum trolley case, the total expense goes up to US$799.99 (around PhP40,000 without shipping fees). CameraHaus also has a listing for this drone model, but the tag goes up to PhP49,999 and you get only a backpack with it.
Shoot the breeze
If the Typhoon 4K has too much power and aggressiveness for you, go for the friendlier-looking Yuneec Breeze. It teams up with your iOS or Android smartphone for drone control, takes the stress off you with its five flight modes, and automatically follows you or returns home when you want it to. It can also do 4K video capture, 13MP photos, and even 720p livestreaming, as well as share your footage on social media.
Get the Yuneec Breeze from Yuneec’s US online store for US$399.99 (around PhP20,000 without shipping fees).
The go-to brand for action cameras has officially gotten into the drone wars! GoPro has added the Karma Drone to its product line, taking away the lens from your body and gear to right up in the air. Like the aforementioned DJI Mavic Pro, the frame is foldable, making the Karma easy to bring around and store. It’s also beginner-friendly, and works with existing GoPro cameras like the Hero 4 and Hero 5. But the clincher for us is the seamless way the Karma goes from aerial capture to ground footage with its removable camera rig and included Karma Grip.
All these things make it real painful that the Karma isn’t widely available yet. But once it is, prepare US$799.99 (around PhP40,000 without shipping fees) for your own “full life capture system”.
One of the things first-time drone owners (or all?) worry about is their flyers’ durability, and ability to avoid anything they can bump into while in the air. The UDI U181A-HD drone’s blade guards and six-axis gyro system make it crash-free, while its Headless Mode and 360° Flip capability makes it even more fun to fly and shoot. While the 6 to 8-minute flight time can get very frustrating, you can maximize it by shooting 720p videos per flight, and storing those in a removable 4GB card good for several flights’ worth of footage.
The 3DR Solo Drone is the only drone on this list that gives you an option on which camera to use. You can take the GoPro route, or go high-end/enterprise with a Sony R10C camera. 3DR also goes the same way as GoPro, and makes a drone controller modeled after a game controller. You can put this Solo on Selfie, Cable Cam, and Orbit mode; and make it follow you wherever you go for hassle-free aerial recording. We also love that its modular design makes parts replacements super-easy. The 20-minute maximum flight time’s a bit of a downer, though.
Get the 3DR Solo online through retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. Amazon’s out of stock right now though, but Best Buy can pull through for you with a US$399.99 (around PhP20,000 without shipping fee) tag. Do note that Best Buy doesn’t ship directly to the Philippines, so you’ll need to use services like Johnny Air to get your new drone to your doorstep.
The Lily personal drone didn’t make our list, but oh man, do we want it now! All you need to do is throw it up into the air and start moving, and it’ll follow you and record your every move. It can also do 1080p video recording, do slow-motion capture at 720p, and take 12MP photos for you. And you don’t have to worry about Lily’s durability, since it’s designed to be waterproof and portable!