You’re looking for the top drones with long battery life because you’re probably looking to buy one, right? Or maybe you are just curious to simply find out what is the drone with the longest flight time in the world… Whatever your interest might be in the battery life of drones, this article will more than cover all aspects.
A typical consumer drone can fly typically between 10 to 30 minutes, while more advanced professional drones can fly for even an hour or more. The typical battery life of toy drones (usually under $100) is on the lower end, averaging at 10 minutes, while camera drones (like DJI ones) have recently been able to consistently fly around 25- 30 minutes.
The longest time a drone can fly has been established by SkyFront, with a flight of 13 hours (13h 3 min 57 seconds), taking off at 06:08 AM and landing at 07:12 PM.
This also wasn’t just hover time, the drone flew for over 205 miles (330 km). The SkyFront is a hybrid electric drone that works both as a gas powered drone as well as an electric one.
In the table below you can find some of the most popular drones sorted by battery life in order. I have many other drones included in this article, but further on.
This is more of a first introduction if you're in a hurry.
Not to brag, but I wrote an article about some easy ways to increase a drone's flight range, if you're interested in more than just battery life.
To be noted that I'm not going to introduce Long Flying Military drones until the very end because those would just blow everything out the water.
Can a DJI Mini 2 actually fly for 31 minutes in real life? Well, the specs presented by drone companies are usually measured in ideal conditions and until the battery is completely drained (Which is not recommended in real life). So, no, the numbers given by the companies aren’t entirely reflective of the real life scenarios.
In real life scenarios, with any drone you’ll fly about 3 to 5 minutes less than what the actual specs say.
In this section I’m going to compare the flight times of some of the most popular models (and ones I would personally recommend myself) and give you a list with pretty much most drones you can buy and how long they can fly.
Here's a chart comparison and a list with the drones I could find that can fly for an hour or more (up to 2 hours or more).
I'm not getting too much in detail here but here's the list of them:
These drones tend to be some of the most affordable, some costing even under $500. Here's a list with the drones that can fly for 30 minutes in no particular order:
Usually more affordable and will less features, drones on this list could be either cheaper or a but outdated, however you'll find that heavier drones like the professional Inspire 2 is around this range even though it's an incredible quadcopter.
In this section we're going to look at each of the drones I would recommend best that have some of the highest battery life from their respective category (either price or utility).
We’ll start in no particular order with the Autel Evo 2 as it’s one of the longest flying professional camera drones that’s still foldable. There are definitely drones that can fly longer than that, but they cost exponentially more and are considerably bigger too.
The Evo 2 is one of the best choices if you’re looking for a really capable photo and video drone with an outstanding 6k or 8k camera (modular) that can fly both for a long time (40 minutes) as well as for quite a long range of 9 km.
From the two versions, the 6k one is actually more professional, coming with a 1 inch sensor, which makes it great for low light scenarios.
Just like the DJI drones, it also comes with 360 degree obstacle avoidance sensors and tracking features.
Not everyone is looking to compromise everything else in a drone to have a long battery life, so that’s why I included a mini drone on this list with an incredibly long battery life: the DJI Mini 2
It’s the longest flying drone under 250 grams too, from what we know now (even though the Hubsan Zino Mini might even surpass it).
Even more, besides the fact that you don’t have to register it, it’s also quite a capable camera drone, coming with a 3 axis gimbal and 4k camera that are very well tuned and really hard to distinguish from more professional models.
It’s pretty much the best travel drone you can buy in my opinion and speaking of battery life it can fly for 31 minutes max, which is a ton!
The Matrice 300 RTK is one of my top recommended commercial drones and for a lot of good reasons, one of them being the impressive 55 minutes flight time.
However, keep in mind that this drone can carry a lot of payload, including 3 entire gimbals with different cameras at the same time (maybe a thermal camera, 23x zoom camera, wide-angle camera etc.) . Having more payloads will considerably decrease the flight time, even down to less than 20 minutes.
Some of the basic payload cameras that can be used with this drone include the Zenmuse H20 or the Zenmuse H20T.
It is made for special operations, including inspections, mapping, search and rescue where long battery life is of utmost importance.
It also has a dual battery setup, which offers some kind of battery redundancy in case of failure as well as the ability to change on battery on the go even without stopping the motors.
This is probably the weirdest looking drone on this list, mainly because it resembles a plane more than the standard multicopter you had in mind. However, this is no standard fixed wing flyer, as it can actually take off like a multirotor drone and then change to plane mode, which is known as a VTOL (vertical takeoff).
Because of this and other optimizations, the Autel Dragonfish is one of the longest flying drones you can fly commercially, being able to stay in the air for 2 entire hours.
Just like the Matrice previously mentioned, it also has a modular camera setup, where it can exchange between multiple setups including a 20x zoom camera, thermal etc.)
The SJRC F11 4k Pro is probably the best camera drone you can buy for under $200 that also happens to have quite a great range for that price category.
I’m saying that because I am actually looking at it while I’m writing these words… and it comes with a 2 axis gimbal and electronic image stabilization which makes it one of the most stable footage drones you can get for the price.
Of course, it also has GPS and return to home and the 25 minute battery life is usually enough to capture most of the stuff you plan to.
The F11 4k Pro comes with brushless motors which are stronger than standard brushed ones sometimes found in cheaper drones. It’s overall a great foldable quadcopter made for people who want a cheap GPS drone and a good set of specs.
Another cheap drone, but now to a more extreme extent, costing well under $100, but with an incredibly solid frame and very durable and powerful brushless motors.
This is great for people who want to stick an action camera or gopro on their drone and still want a flight time of over 15 minutes. This drone is impressive mainly because the typical drone in this price range flies for around 6 to 10 minutes, yet the Bugs 3 can fly for about 16 minutes because it has more efficient brushless motors and a larger battery.
The DJI Air 2s is the newest upgrade from the Mavic Air 2, which was and still is a great drone by itself. The new setup added a more impressive camera of 1 inch, but somehow shaved about 2 minutes of flight time from the previous drone (probably because of the camera weight).
Even so, it can still fly for 31 minutes and I wanted to mention it on this list because the range it can fly at is one of the most impressive (especially for the price).
The 31 minutes combined with a 12 km range is quite impressive, but what good is the range if the battery life is consumed before the 12 km are being met.
I actually tested this in real life, and you can’t reach that range with just that amount of battery life and return safely the entire way, however, keep in mind that this long-range also means the signal is stronger and it can deal much better with interference in the city as well as if there are obstacles between the drone and the transmitter.
Otherwise, the Air 2s excels with its 4 directional sensors and upgraded obstacle avoidance and active track technology, being the best on this list in terms of them.
Probably one of the best consumer camera drones you can get.
The DJI FPV Drone is one of the longest battery life racing drones there are, and even though you could make a slimmed down custom made long range FPV quad, it wouldn’t have all the features you find on this drone. The typical FPV fast flying racing drone can usually last in the air between 4 and 10 minutes, while the DJI FPV drone doubles that most of the time.
It also comes with GPS and can hover in the air on command, which is especially helpful for beginners who want to learn how to fly a fast drone.
This is a completely different experience from the other multicopters on this list, as it can fly up to 140 km/h and reach 100 km/h (60mph) in just 2 seconds.
While we talked about the more recent version, the Mavic Air 2 is still great to buy up to this day and that is because you can probably find it cheaper, and it can fly for longer, up to 33 minutes.
It’s an outstanding camera drone and I would recommend it as one of the best long life consumer drones you can buy under $1000, mainly because of the very well balanced specs and ease of use.
While I presented the Autel Evo 2 before with an even longer flight time, I would not really consider that as close to the “consumer level” model, but more towards more professional uses, also being considerably more expensive than the Air 2.
The best waterproof drone I would recommend buying, the PowerEgg X comes from a drone company with a history in weird but very capable drones.
It also comes with a very good 30-minute battery life and a great build overall. It's also special as it can be used as a handheld camera if you take out the removable modular landing gear.
It isn't waterproof by itself but the casing it comes in is. It comes with a great 3 axis stabilized camera, a solid GPS and follow-me mode.
Here are some frequently asked questions and some recommendations I have for lower priced drones with long flight times.
The MJX Bugs 3, as presented above, is my main choice for drones under $100 in general, and it just so happens that it also comes with a pretty impressive 16 minute battery life for the price you’re paying.
The F11 4k Pro is one of the longest flying drones under $200, being able to fly 25 minutes. However its strength lies in its very well stabilized camera, brushless motors and 4k resolution, making it a great choice for this price.
The DJI mini SE is a newly released DJI drone that is very well priced, considering the specs it comes with, including a 30 minute battery life and 4 km range + a 3 axis stabilized gimbal.
Yes, drones can fly for entire hours if they are professional long endurance ones, and usually fixed wing drones can fly for at least twice as much as normal multirotors. The skyfront Perimeter 8 Drone managed to set a record by flying for 12 hours straight.
Commercial drones can usually stay in the air anything between 20-40 minutes, some exceptions being made for high end drones and fixed wing planes that can fly even for a couple of hours.
Drone batteries don’t last a long time because they have to permanently adjust their stability in the air as well as maintain their lift, unlike a car that can use inertia to move forward or no gas in a ramp.
Cheap drones are especially short on battery life, as the smaller the drone, the less battery life it usually has. Another reason for why drone batteries don’t last long is different types of motors, in which case using more efficient brushless motors will lead to a better long lasting result compared to brushed motors..
There are 3 ways to extend your drone battery life:
Here’s a video showing a way to make a toy drone fly for longer (not recommended to try if you don't know what you’re doing).
The longest flying DJI drone is the Matrice 300 RTK with a maximum flight time of 55 minutes, the next one being the Mavic Air 2 consumer drone with a flight time of 33 minutes
Yes, you can find unlimited flying drones that are linked by a tether to a ground spot which provides continuous supply of energy. An example is the Fotokite Pro Drone which uses a lightweight wire for transmitting the energy through it and here’s a video showing how it’s done:
THe MQ-C Gray Eagle Extended Range is an unmanned aircraft that can be considered the longest flying military drone with a maximum endurance of 42 hours, used in long-endurance surveillance and target acquisition and has a maximum takeoff-weight of 4,200lb.
Drone battery life has steadily increased with time, even though battery technology isn’t improving at the same pace, the Lipo batteries most quadcopters and RC are using these days are pretty much the same as always, yet with more aerodynamic designs, more efficient motors etc.
A good starting point for a beginner drone is somewhere around 20 minutes, while for a more professional one you might want to look past 30 minutes and if indeed used for industrial large scale purposes, there are options that go in the range of hours of flight time.