If you spot a drone out there, no matter what brand it is, chances are its pilot is seeing the video feed through his smartphone.
Almost every drone on the market right now relies on smartphones to transmit their video feed to the pilots and It’s actually not a bad thing, it keeps the price of the drone down since manufacturers will be relying on your smartphone and it also lowers the number of equipment you need for your drone (you always carry your smartphone anyways).
However, for some professional drone pilots, having a screen that comes with the drone is a better choice. That’s because most screens that come with the drone (almost always built in the controller) will have better resolution and be more durable to the elements. Both of which are things professionals need.
Which brings us to the topic of this article, the best drones with screens in the controllers. I’ll review 5 drones that have screens built in their remotes, some of them pricey, some of them budget-friendly. I’ll also discuss which is best, your smartphone and the manufacturer’s screen, so stick around.
Most drones rely on your smartphone and don’t have a built-in screen. Yet some drones, usually high-end ones that are sitting just below “Professional” category (prosumer drones), will have screens built into their remotes.
That’s because that way the manufacturer can have control over the screen’s size, the resolution and its heat/cold resistance. I mean, you wouldn’t want your $13,000 drone to be limited by the capabilities of your smartphone’s screen, after all.
As promised we’ll look at what I think are the best drones with screens on controllers. Some of them are high-end and aren’t exactly entry level, others lack in features and performance but are budget friendly and perfect for beginners.
I’m starting this list with a fun little drone and that’s the HUBSAN H501SS Pro. Now HUBSAN isn’t exactly a well-known brand and highly performant drones aren’t their forte but in the last few years we’ve seen some good stuff coming out of their factories.
This one is one of those things. The H501SS Pro is an affordable drone and relatively large, at 22cm wingspan you can’t exactly call it a toy drone. The camera has no gimbal though I don’t think you’d need one. This drone is made purely for the joy of flying and not for filming purposes.
Though with its 1080p camera you can get some pretty good shots if the drone’s flying still. You can fly the drone for a solid 20 minutes before having to recharge it.
The remote controller comes with a 4.3inch LCD screen, good enough considering the $219 retail price of the HUBSAN H501SS Pro.
DJI Mavic 3
Quite the jump from the HUBSAN we discussed above, I know, but like I said we’re covering all kinds of drones in this article.
The DJI Mavic 3 is also a drone that comes with a built-in screen in its remote controller DJI RC PRO. At a $2099 retail price, it’s a prosumer drone meant for professionals and people willing to spend on their hobby.
With a 15km flight range, a whooping 46 minutes flight time and 4K @60fps camera, the Mavic 3 may just be the best drone at this price range. Not to mention the cutting edge OcuSync 3.0 transmission system making you almost never lose the signal on it. I personally think DJI outdone themselves with this drone.
A lesser known drone that’s great for professionals on a budget or hobbyists exploring options other than DJI.
It offers a 25 flight time that’s below that of the Mavic 3,but also comes with a 4K UHD camera that is great for shooting high quality footage. The $1400 retail price is also incentivizing and is relatively affordable to many professionals.
The drone comes with a screen built in its controller like the Mavic 3, it offers many options for customization through its touch screen (including advanced stuff like waypoints).
This one is the most pricey drone in this selection (can actually be cheaper than the Mavic 3 in some parts of the world). If there is any drone manufacturer out there worthy of being called DJI’s competitor, it’s Autel.
They have been on DJI’s tail for the last few years and the Autel Evo 2 just proves that they’re not that far behind. Many consider this drone a direct competitor of the Mavic 3 and for good reason.
With an impressive 6K camera and 1″ 20MP sensor, the stable 3-axis gimbal that makes for professional looking footage and its 40 minutes flight time, the Autel Evo 2 is perfect for professionals looking to fly for more than just fun.
When it comes to the built-in controller, I think the Autel Evo 2 takes the cake. It has a very sleek design, the thickness of the controller is lower than that of the Mavic’s. It also has a 3.3 inch OLED display with 2000 nits (for your information, the Mavic 3’s built-in screen is 1000 nits), making the Evo 2’s screen extremely bright even if you’re flying on a sunny day. The touch screen is also smooth and very responsive.
The only problem? The controller is considered an accessory and you’ll have to get it separately, which is an added expense.
Not an actual drone per se, but the DJI Smart Controller is a separate controller sold as an accessory. It comes with a 5-inch screen, 1080p display and 8km transmission range. It can also switch from from 2.4 to 5.8GHz for less interference automatically, guaranteeing a good signal most times.
The heat/cold resistance is also present as it can work properly in temperatures from -20 C to +40 C.
Unfortunately production has stopped for the smart controller with no continuation date released from DJI. But you can still get it on Amazon or other retailers. There is also the option of buying it used, just make sure it works by trying it on your drone first.
The DJI drones that are compatible with the Smart Controller are:
You might be wondering whether the added price for getting a drone with built-in screen or simply purchasing a remote controller with screen as an accessory is worth it. After all, you can simply use your smartphone, available in your pocket whenever you need it.
It depends on your goals, professionals will find more use for the built-in controller screens that hobbyists will. That’s because built-in displays are bigger in size and therefore better for filming and surveying activities. They’re also more resistant to the elements.
Not to mention that built-in displays have one mission: Show you the drones live feed. Meaning you won’t be distracted by calls and notifications that would usually annoy you during a flying session if you were using your smartphone.
I hope you learned a thing or two reading this article. Those are my top picks for now but the drone world is moving fast, new and better drones with built-in screens might hit the market and when that happens we’ll be sure to cover them here at Dronesgator.
Personally I prefer to fly using my smartphone, it’s less of a hassle and one less piece of equipment to worry about. But then again I’m just a hobbyist, pros might have need for built-in screens.