2016 Guide to Drones

Flight Stability

We analyzed the hovering and in-flight stability of each drone by calculating how much unintended movement each showed on its video output over long and short recordings.

Video Quality

Resolution, color, "jello" effects, and in-camera processing artifacts all factored into this score.


How far were we able to get each drone to fly before the controller signal would drop? These ranged from a few hundred feet to about a mile away.

Ease of Flight

How easy is it to make each system do what you want it to do — including the drone's response to speed and direction changes and ability to pan at desired rate, as well as advanced autonomous functions like follow-me and obstacle avoidance.

Control Interface

What types of features does each rig's controller offer? Are they intuitive? Easy to mount your phone or tablet? General build quality?

Battery Life

Scored by flying each drone in a hover from a full charge until they powered themselves down and did an automatic landing. The lowest scores were less than ten minutes; the longest was over 25.