From capturing breathtaking videos and mapping, to search and rescue missions, drones are becoming almost crucial in many sectors.
The thing is though… There is only one type of drone capable of the above: GPS drones.
If you’re looking to do anything other than fly for fun on the weekends, you’re going to need a drone that has GPS, and for several reasons: mainly the ability to fly for extended periods of time, to hover in place, to have the “return home” feature, and to be able to use waypoints… to name a few.
In this article are my top 7 best GPS drones in the market right now, some of them are entry-level drones while others are slightly expensive – but don’t worry, after reading through this you’ll know exactly which type of drone you need!
If you’re tight on time or simply don’t like reading a lot, I got you. Out of all the drones that we’ll cover in detail here, here are my top 3 based on category:
DJI Mini 3 Pro
DJI Mavic Air 2s
You might opt for a GPS drone instead of a normal one for several reasons.
GPS, or Global Positioning System, brings a world of functionalities to drones, from hover stability to return-to-home features. It’s what allows your drone to know where it is, where it's heading, and how to get back to you safely.
These seven are all some of the best GPS drones out there. The cream of the crop…
But how do they compare with each other? You don’t have to dig on the internet as I’ve already compiled the ultimate comparison table for you below:
|Specs||Air 2s||DJI Mini 3 Pro||Autel Evo II Pro||Autel Evo Nano||DJI Avata||Skydio 2||Eachine Ex5|
|Sensor size||1'' CMOS||1/1.3-inch CMOS||1" CMOS||1/2″||1/1.7”||1/2.3” 12.3MP CMOS||-|
|Pixels||20 MP||48MP||20 MP||48MP||48MP||72MP||12MP|
|5k Res||5.4K/30fps||4K 60FPS||(6K video at 30fps)||4K@30fps||4K/60p||4K60||-|
|4k FPS||50 fps||60FPS||(5k at 60fps)||4K@30fps||4K/60p||4K60||4K HD/30fps|
|Battery||31 min||47 min||40 min||28 min||18 min||27 min||30 min|
|Max Hover||30 minutes||47 min||40 min||28 min||18 min||27 min||30 min|
|Range||FCC: 12 km CE: 8 km||FCC: 10 km CE: 8 km||FCC: 10 km CE: 8 km||FCC: 10 km CE: 8 km||FCC: 10 km CE: 8 km||6km||1 km|
|Weight||595 g||249 g||1191 g||249 g||410 g||800 g||229 g|
|Folded Size||180×97×77 mm||145×90×62 mm||230*130*108mm||142×94×55mm||180×180×80mm||229 x 274 x 126 mm||14 x 8.5 x 5.7cm|
|Unfolded Size||183×253×77 mm||171×245×62 mm||457*558*108mm||264x310x50mm||180×180×80mm||229 x 274 x 126 mm||24.9 x 29 x 5.5 cm|
|Obstacle Sensing||Omni w/o lateral||Forward, Backward, Bottom||Omnidirectional||Back/Front/Below||Downward obstacle sensing||360°||none|
|Max Speed||68.4 kph||35.7mph||45 mph||29mph||60 mph||36 mph||-|
|Max Altitude||5 km||6km||6km||6km||500m||500m||120m|
|Wind Resistance||38.5 kph||24mph||Force 8 wind||Level 5||Level 5|
|Temperature||0° to 40° C (32° to 104° F)||14° to 104° F or -10° to 40° C||5~45℃||14°F to 104°F||-10 to 40°C||-5°C to 40°C||0 to 40°C|
|Internal Storage||8 GB||1.2GB||8GB||none||20GB||none||none|
|Image size||3:2: 5472×3648 16:9: 5472×3078||4:3: 8064 x6048 (48 MP), 4032 x3024 (12 MP||5472*3648 (3:2)5472*3076 (16:9)3840*2160 (16:9)||50MP: 4096x3072 (4:3)4K: 3840x2160 (16:9)||(4000 x 3000)||3840x2160 30 fps 3840x2160 60 fps||3840 x 2160|
|Raw Photos||JPEG / DNG (RAW)||JPEG / DNG (RAW)||JPEG / DNG (RAW)||JPEG / DNG (RAW)||JPEG / DNG (RAW)||JPEG, DNG (RAW)||-|
|Battery mAh||3500 mAh||2453 mA||7100 mAh||2250mAh||2420 mAh||5410 mAh||2200mAh|
|Video Transmission||O3||O2||2.4~2.4835GHz||2400-2483.5MHz5725-5850MHz||O3+||5.18-5.24 GHz 5.725-5.85 GHz||2.4GHz|
|Remote Res||1080p/30fps||Full HD 1080p resolution||Full HD 1080p resolution||Up to 2.7k||720p||720p||-|
6K / 8K
The Autel Evo II Pro is known for boasting a 6K@30fps shooting camera which is amazing for its price range.
This gives you a powerful tool to shoot cinematic and professional footage that can be compared to very expensive cameras, even if you don’t choose higher-priced models like say the DJI Inspire 2.
These guys have done a great job comparing it to the very loved DJI Mavic 3, and the results might actually shock you.
As you can see, compared to the DJI Mavic 3 there is almost no difference in the footage. And in some cases, the Autel Evo II pro even came out on top.
Another cool thing about this drone is the 360-degree obstacle-sensing camera (something the Mavic 3 has as well).
This would allow most pilots who like shooting in large cities or in mountainous terrain to be able to fly without the anxiety of their drone crashing into a skyscraper or large tree.
You can check that 360-degree obstacle sensing in action in this video.
47 Minutes – Plus Battery
I’m putting the DJI Mini 2 on this list because it boasts a powerful 4K camera and is priced at only $349.
This gives you the ability to capture breathtaking and cinema-worthy raw footage, while still not putting a strain on your pocket.
As for the camera, most people don’t even notice the difference between the footage of a Mini 2 and a DJi Air 2s, here’s a video of me comparing the two.
Besides the camera, the drone also comes with a 31-minute battery and great wind resistance.
Meaning you can take your ample time planning out those perfect shots mid-air, without worrying about the wind or running out of battery.
I’ve actually personally tested the wind resistance compared to other DJI drones and it’s clearly better than the Mini 1 and very similar to the other larger drones.
The Mavic Air 2S has an exciting feature: its O3 transmission is linked with a Full HD live video feed that stretches up to 12 kilometers.
This is ideal for those passionate about wildlife and national park photography. It allows for extended drone flights, maintaining a solid signal amidst trees and mountains, and helping you capture even more stunning shots.
As is clearly shown in this video.
Another notable feature is the camera's 1-inch sensor which is perfect for low-light performance.
This would allow you to shoot cinematic footage even in low light conditions (night or dusk), which is perfect for most people shooting in cities. Check out this video for a night footage comparison between the Air 2s and the Air 2.
The Skydio 2 is mostly known for its impeccable follow-me feature and strong GPS capabilities.
This makes it perfect for pilots who don’t like to fly too much but need a hands-free drone following them around and shooting their activities.
In fact, it’s so good at keeping track of your movement that you can have it fly behind you as you bike down a mountain, as this guy did in this video here.
All this is made possible with the beacon tool, which is a pill-shaped remote that lets you control the camera through your body signals.
At this price the Autel Evo Nano (and Nano+) are the best DJI Mini 3 and DJI Mini 2 alternatives, with their 4k cameras and light sub-250g build.
This drone gives you the ability to capture breathtaking and cinema-worthy raw footage, while not breaking the bank and while fitting in your pocket.
It also holds its own against the new DJI Mini 3 as you can see in this video comparison.
With its arcade-like controller, the DJI Avata is perhaps the easiest FPV drone to fly out there that also has a GPS.
The joystick allows for easy game-like control, which solves the biggest problem of any FPV drone: being too hard to fly.
You can see the motion controller in action in this video.
Another cool feature about it is the obstacle sensing, which is honestly a lifesaver.
In fact, many pilots claim that the drone is almost crash-proof , and even if it did crash it’s more than durable enough to withstand it.
One of the more impressive features of DJI's newest Air model is the long battery life of up to 46 minutes.
Since chances are you’ll be using the Mavic Air 3 for shooting, this is perfect because it’ll give you ample time to get all the shots you like without worrying about running out of time.
While it requires perfect conditions to fly for 46 minutes, In real-world use, I saw flight times of around 35 minutes before the return-to-home warning went off, depending on flying style and winds. That generally allowed me to fly for a full day with three charged batteries.
Another cool feature is the ActiveTrack 5.0. An upgrade we saw first on the Mavic 3, which is now available on the Air 3!
This is something most “active” pilots who like shooting themselves during activities will appreciate.
I’ve tried it and the upgraded omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and support for APAS 5 allow the Air 3 to glide around trees, poles, fences, or whatever else you put in its path.
The Eachine Ex5 is one of the cheapest GPS drones out there that aren’t one-use toys.
With its $99 price and similar design to known DJI drones, the Eachine Ex5 gives you the perfect dummy drone to learn the basics of flying, without worrying about crashing the drone!
Originally made to be a clone of the Mavic Mini, it really doesn’t leave much to be desired at its extremely low price point.
Although it doesn’t have any image stabilization which hurts the overall footage quality, it does have a follow-me mode which is amazing for its price.
As we’re drawing close to the conclusion of this article, I thought we’d look at what GPS even is and why many drone pilots go for GPS drones (to the point where I think non-GPS drones will go extinct in the coming years).
GPS is a global network of orbiting satellites that send signals which are picked up by a radio receiver. These signals allow the module to determine its position, speed, and time.
Starting to get a picture of how that’s crucial to your drone yet? The GPS helps your drone know exactly its altitude (so it can float in the air), it helps it know its position (so it doesn’t get swept by the wind and can calibrate), and it helps it know YOUR position…
Which is the key to the Return Home feature many drones have!
While I covered 7 of the (what I think) are the best GPS drones on the market right now, there are several other drones that are also good.
I’m talking about drones like the DJI Mini 2, and DJI Mavic 3 to name a few.
In fact, most newer drone models have a GPS feature. So just know exactly what you want out of your drone and what type of flying you’ll be doing to determine which one is good for you.