15 Best Long Range Drones in 2020 [by distance and price]

15 Best Long Range Drones in 2020 [by distance and price]

long range drones by price

Long range drones is quite a subjective category, depending on the budget and what you plan to do with it.

I’m thinking that because you’re here, you got tired of piloting cheap toy drones that have a maximum range of like 50m and want something more to satisfy your need to fly.

That’s why even the cheapest drone on this list will start from 300m in range and they go up to 9km, enough to satisfy anyone.

How far can a drone fly?And what's the cost?

long-range-drones-by-price-in-km

Range isn’t everything, but there is indeed a strong correlation between how far a drone can fly and its price and capability.Usually, cheap toy drones that you can find for under $50 or so will have a maximum range of 100m, usually 50m.

Frankly, for quads that don’t have GPS, there’s no need for a longer range, as you need to see the quadcopter permanently and not lose it out of sight.But all the drones on this list can use the Return to home function because they have GPS. Not only that, but they’re also some of my top pics when it comes to drones in general.

Don’t forget, there are some drones that not only fly above the ground, you should also check these underwater drones!

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My top 7 long range camera drones (table)

These are the top choices in terms of camera drones I would pick from my entire list of 15 drone examples.
This doesn't mean that the rest are inferior, but just my personal preference, when judging by quality and how capable their cameras and stabilization is.
 
This table is made for the purpose of quickly choosing in case you don't have the time or energy to go though the rest of the article.

What features should you look for in a long range drone?

  • Battery Life
  • Image Stabilization
  • FPV Range (vs drone range)
  • Ability to increase range (with mods)
  • Size and Portability(foldable)
  • GPS Stability

Cheap long range

Dji Mavic Mini

  • under 250 grams
  • 4km range
  • 30 min flight time

Longest Range Drone

Autel Evo 2

  • 4k 60p/8k camera
  • 9km range
  • 12 obstacle avoidance cameras
autel evo 2 drone
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8KM/5miles (longest range for pros)

THe range of 8km might be an overkill for most people, as in many countries you're limited to fly the drone line of sight.
So why would you look for a drone that can fly this far?
 
The short answer is that such a good signal strength makes it also more reliable in difficult scenarios like when trees are in the way or inside urban areas where there is more interference.
 
You should look for drone in this category if you:
  • have a budget of around $1000
  • want to get a high quality camera drone
  • make money with your drone or plan to
  • are a photographer cinematographer
  • want the most exploration freedom
  • need a strong signal strenght

1.Autel Evo 2 ( 9km range drone)

4k 60FPS and 8k 30p

40min battery

9km

6 sensor cameras

autel evo 2 drone

The Autel Evo 2 is the longest range drone on this list, beating even the DJI Mavic 2 drone by 1km in declared range (although i haven't personally tested the max range as I have with the Mavic 2).

A drone that can go that far doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to reach that type of distance in regular flights, but it's a testament of a better connection in tougher times that might mean city wifi interference or trees or other obstacles in between.

The autel Evo 2 comes in 3 options, and specs some insane cameras and sensors, directly competing with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone.

The autel camera can record in up to 8k 25fps or 4k 60p and fly for 40 minutes (or 35 minutes of hover time) which is more than any foldable drone curently on the market (or any commercial drone).

It's true that the CE(Europe range) is somehwere at 5km, lower than the estimated 9km range for FCC(USA) range (but that's a condition for all drones).

Advantages

  • 4K60p / 8k 30p camera
  • 40min battery life
  • 12 obstacle avoidance cameras
  • interchangeable cameras (modular)
  • internal storage
  • transmitter with screen included

DISAdvantages

  • heavier than most foldable drones on the market

2.DJI Mavic 2 (long range pro camera drone)

4k 30FPS

35min battery

8km

6 direction sensors

mavic 2 pro

The body is exactly the same for both the zoom and the Pro version, featuring specs like:

  • 3 way sensors
  • 68kph (fastest among the 3)
  • follow me mode(quite a few options)
  • 8gb internal storage
  • ISo & shutter speed settings
  • 6 photo modes
  • takes RAW photos
  • 100mbps bitrate
If you want the absolute best in terms of image, build quality and overall features, the mavic 2 is the way to go.
 
Dji Mavic 2 pro has beecome the pinnacle of drone technology, with two versions to choose from, both coming with the same body and same insane range capablity of up to 8km.

As an important note, the maximum range in Europe is 4km(in CE mode) while in FCC mode is 8 km (If you buy it from the US.
More on this range difference in the bottom FAQ.

Mavic 2 Pro advantages

  • Best for low light footage
  • 1 inch Hasselblad sensor
  • changeable apperture
  • more precise colors

Mavic 2 Zoom advantages

  • great for zooming in (up to 2x zoom)
  • 24-48 mm focal length change
  • cheaper
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4KM/2.5miles (long range drones)

4km max range drones
This range is a really good base for anyone wanting a capable drone that can let them explore withot many restrictions. The signal strenght is good enough for most situatios and the range in perfect conditions allows you to explore far away places that you can't reach otherwise.
Make sure that your drone can stay in the air for at least 20 minutes if you want to fly this far.
 
You should look for drone in this category if you:
  • have a budget of around $500
  • want to get a high quality camera drone
  • make money with your drone or plan to
  • want exploration freedom

1.Dji Mavic Mini (long range under $400 and under 250g)

 2.7k

30min battery

4km

No follow me

The Mavic mini is my new favorite drone and I simply can't recommend it enough, especially since being so small and portable makes you want to take it anywhere you travel. It's definitely the best travel and vlogging drone thanks to its portability but it's really allso quite capable in terms of video taking.

It also comes at an incredibly low price for what it can do. I have compared it against the Mavic Air and Fimi x8(its main competitors).

The Mavic mini is my new favorite drone and I simply can't recommend it enough, especially since being so small and portable makes you want to take it anywhere you travel. It's definitely the best travel and vlogging drone thanks to its portability but it's really allso quite capable in terms of video taking.

 

It comes with an extremely good 3 axis gimbal, a 2k camera and an incredible battery life, which sustains its maximum range of 5km so you can actually reach that max range without consuming an entire battery, stay for a while and successfully come back.

Advantages

  • 30 min battery life
  • under 250g
  • super portable
  • 4km range
  • can edit videos in the app

DISAdvantages

  • no obstacle avoidance
  • no settings for iso and shutter speed

2.Xiaomi Fimi x8 (best long range 4k drone under $500)

 4k

33min battery

4km

No obstacle avoidance

xiaomi-fimi-x8-black-package

Probably my favorite low budget camera drone under $500 that's still capable of some professional level shots, the Xiaomi FImi x8 is more than a long distance drone, but also a capable camera quadcopter.

The foldable design, great build quality and super stable 3 axis gimbal make it a favorite of mine, along a great combo of flight range and battery life.

The ability of manually controlling ISO, shutter speed and put ND filters on top of it make it a unique buy for people who want to play with their camera settings but have a lower budget

Advantages

  • 4k camera
  • 2k recording at 60fps
  • 100mps bitrate
  • long flight time
  • great range
  • fast
  • Good GPS Stability
  • Foldable Design
  • 3 axis gimbal

DISAdvantages

  • gimbal clearance quite low
  • no obstacle avoidance

3. Parrot Anafi (great travel drone)

 4k

25min battery

4km

No obstacle avoidance

The parrot anafi is probably the best choice if you're looking for a lower budget drone dedicated to both exploration and high quality video and photo.


The 4k camera and gimbal are top notch, but things like the ability to turn the camera to point up or the zoom function make it great for travel and exploration, as well as for framing more creative shots.
It's a great drone for people on a lower end of the budget who still want something compact with good specs and a realible stabilized camera.

Advantages

  • Really Quiet
  • big battery life
  • 4k camera
  • can film 90 degrees up
  • lossless zoom
  • 21mp photos
  • a lot of flight modes

DISAdvantages

  • card slot must be handled carefully
  • only 2 axis stabilization+EIS
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1km (long range budget drones)

1km max range drones
A range good enough for most people ( that want to keep the drone in their sight).
It'also a great category to look for cheaper items (priced even bellow $200).
  • have a budget of around $300
  • want exploration freedom
  • Want to use it more for fun

1.Hubsan Zino (best long range drone under $300)

 4k

23min battery

1km

No obstacle avoidance

Always my top recommendation for drones under $300, the Hubsan zino is more than a long range drone, coming with stunning 4k video and 3 axis gimbal stabilization. Why is this surprising?

Mainly because this is unheard of at this price. It simply has no competition, and if you are looking for a drone that has the best image quality possible and a reliable range, look no further

Advantages

  • 3 axis gimbal
  • 4k camera
  • flight functions like follow me and waypoint
  • foldable design
  • return to home
  • super smooth gimbal
  • lots of spare parts available

DISAdvantages

  • no obstacle avoidance or position hold sensors
  • No low battery warning on the controller

2.Xiaomi Fimi A3 (Incredibly good quality)

1080p

21min battery

1km

No obstacle avoidance

xiaomi-fimi-a3
The Fimi a3 is something quite different from what we've been used to. The image transmission is made through 5.8ghz transmission, which means way less lag, this makes it so the FPV signal is quite reliable, although you might experience some interference in the video as you get to the max range of 1km.
 
The 2 axis gimbal is stable and the camera records like a pretty good action camera, even for its 1080p. If you appreciate the freedom such a drone gives you and have a lower budget, it's probably one of the best ways to spend your money to enter this hobby.

Advantages

  • great build quality
  • included FPV screen in the remote controller
  • very stable GPS+GLONASS
  • no FPV lag
  • Range can be greatly extended by buying new antennas

DISAdvantages

  • not foldable

3.Hubsan H501s (Best Cheap long range drone?)

1080p

19min battery

1km

No obstacle avoidance

The cheapest drone on this list might actually be exactly what you're looking for, a drone that can go up to 1km by default, and even increase the range up to 2 or 3 km with special antennas, booster and a non interference area.
 
There are a few youtubers who managed to get this drone to even more than 3km and succeeded. To do that, you'd have to buy a booster antenna package from banggood (inexpensive).
 
This drone is great for exploration, and even if it's older, the camera is still quite sharp even for 2020, even though it's not stabilized.

Advantages

  • brushless motors
  • good range
  • great battery life
  • very stable GPS
  • good quality camera
  • can fly faster in altitude hold mode

DISAdvantages

  • no turning in follow me mode
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Bonus long range drones

drone fishing long range
This is a bonus adition to the list with a few quadcopters that make the best choices for certain activities or uses. Things like fishing, gopro drones or infinite range.

Best fishing drone (Autel X Star Premium)

4k camera

23 min

2km

3 axis gimbal

autel-robotics-x-star-drone
When it comes to fishing, I think this is one of the best long range drones for it. Besides the fact that it's a really great camera drone that you can actually use even professionally, it has the very useful Phantom-like format that allows you to get the bait in between it's landing legs and drop it when you turn the camera downwards.
 
The 2km range is way more than enough for fishing purposes, and even more, it can double as a great exploration drone for the area you'll be fishing at so you can show your wife and kids later in what spectacular place you've been.

Advantages

  • perfect image stabilization
  • Modular gimbal and camera
  • Long range
  • Great build quality
  • Good transmitter
  • Slow motion 1080p
  • Good color reproduction

DISAdvantages

  • Pretty big compared to the foldable drones DJI has today (but perfect for fishing)

Best long range action camera drone( Gopro Karma)

4k camera

20 min

3km

3 axis gimbal

gopro karma
The Karma is the only go pro speciffic drone on this list, so if that's what you're looking for, you really dont' have a better choice. A go pro drone like the Karma makes for a lot of versatility, as you'll be using an action cam that can be stripped down and used for other purposes, maybe with a handheld gimbal or other accessories. 
 
Although bulkier than some of the other drones on this list, thanks to its versatility it can make for a great travel companion
The fact that you don't have to connect your phone and it comes with an included on screen display is a big plus in my book.
The fact that you can remove the gimbal and use it on a handheld device for super stable footage is probably the biggest plus I can think of.
 
The 1km control range makes it still a good contender as  a great long range gopro drone.

Advantages

  • easy to use controller
  • gimbal can be removed and used as a handheld
  • camera can be upgraded if new GOpro models appear
  • super stable footage
  • cheaper if you already have an action camera
  • Good color reproduction

DISAdvantages

  • a bit bulkier than other drones in the same price range
  • battery life could be better

Best Long range drone that can carry weight(Dji Matrice 600)

up to 5kg cam

40 min

5km

3 axis gimbal

The DJI Matrice 600 is made for professionals, yet follows the simple to use and intuitive design habits DJI got us used to.
The price range is considerably more than the other drones on this list, but the versatility for professional and industrial work is incredible.
You can view the DJI Matrice 600 as a great mapping and imaging system for land surveying, crop monitoring, inspection and many industrial applications.

This drone can handle most camera setups up to 6kg, which means you can even carry a RED Epic professional camera with it. Because it comes with the legendary lightbridge 2 transmission system from DJI, it can stream HD feed from as far as 5 km away. But this drone isn't made for huge distances, but for reliability and heavy weight carrying of camera equipment. 5km is still a big distance to travel, so if you're a true professional and plan to do industrial inspection, I recommend reading further about this drone.

Ulimited range flying drone(Parrot Disco)

up to 5kg cam

40 min

5km

3 axis gimbal

This is not a standard quadcopter, like the rest on the list, but rather a plane-drone, without vertical takeoff that can fly much farther distances and for longer times, basically made for exploring.
The 45 minute flight time makes it the longest flight time on this list, and that's thanks to the fact that it's gliding more than actually hovering on the spot.
 
The maximum speed is also 80km/h or 50 miles/h which is quite a lot, again compared to standard vertical takeoff drones.
 
The range of the drone is somewhere around 2km or 1.24 miles and it specs a stabilized FULL HD camera.
 
But the most interesting thing I found on the internet is someone who made this fly basically an unlimited range by using 4g LTE and frankly easy.
Dustin Dunhill used this 4g LTE module for his experiment that btw you shuld watch!

Advantages

  • considerable decreased price since launch
  • can make it fly even over 10 miles (or more)
  • super long battery life
  • fun to fly
  • can adjust camera angle
  • good image quality
  • electronically stabilized video
  • the foam body can be repaired easily

DISAdvantages

  • foam body (so if it crashes it migh break easily)

Can drones return to home if they lose signal?

All the drones on this list will return to home if they lose signal. This is the standard for most GPS drones, but remember not all will return precisely in the point you launched them from, some might have a few meters error, so make sure to take manual control if you feel like the automatic landing is not doing a good enough job.
 
A great way to ensure a drone comes back more precisely is by letting it to hover on the spot for a few seconds before flying away.

How far am i allowed to fly a drone legally?

Drone laws are usually different from country to country and that's why you should always check the local regulation so you don't get in trouble.
But as a general rule, most countries agree that you shouldn't fly further than what your eyes can see. Most of the time, this means a range well under 1km ( about 700m max if you have good eyes and the drone is easy to spot).
 
Nobody can say an exact measure, but it's a good rule to follow. The only personal exceptions I make to this rule is when I fly in rural or wild areas where there is no risk to other people if I lose control or the drone. This is also the perfect setup for exploration and seeing nature from a different perspective, so it does have some therapeutic effect, at least for me.

Do range extenders actually work?

There are two types of drone range extenders:
  • reflectors
  • wifi repeaters
 
A signal refletor is basically a screen that's put behind the antennas that reflects more of the signal towards the front of the antenna and therefore improving the drone signal quality. This means you can get a better signal in most situations, and bypass some interference. In my personal experience I have tested this to be true, and I actually got a better signal(even in the city), increased by about 500m or so on a mavic 2.
 
This video can show a better proof of concept and explanation, so you'll leave you to it.

What are the uses for long range drones?

What are the advantages of long-range drones?
  1. You can be more assured you have the space to do your thing and not be stressed about range
  2. Signal strenght in “interference situations” is better
  3. It's easier to follow a car or any object that drives away from you and still get proper signal to your phone.
 
Package delivery
With the long term promises of Amazon to deliver long range packages by drone, we still haven't seen anything put in place so far, but with the improvement of technology (especially battery power), it's obvious that the only factor remaining will be the range of a drone. So expect in a few years from now to receive packages at home, delivered by a trusty long range drone from Amazon.
 
Exploration
The use for exploration and finding new perspectives in different places is quite obvious and can be an awe-inducing experience.
This is why a reliable long range drone can become something that makes you feel like you have wings or simply feel like a child again.
 
Surveillance
Anything from multiple home surveillance to monitoring protests, groups and certain activities, using a long range drone can greatly enhance the existing capabilities. However, you must be assure that spying with a drone is quite hard, as you can't really go unnoticed, as the noise it makes can be pretty obvious most of the time.
 
Agriculture
With the right camera, information like infrared data, heat maps and so on can be used for crop management and to investigate potential weak spots or distressed plants in the area, so that farmers can adjust on the spot.
 
Mapping
Anything from 3d maps of buildings to terrain mapping or forestry can be and is already the main activity of drones in domains like agriculture, archaeology, construction, arhitecture and so on. This allows engineers to analize a 3d map of the respective building or place so they can actually do more precise measurements or aesthetic decisions.

Will I lose the FPV image before I lose drone signal?

It happens in some drones that the FPV signal is the one to give in first. This means that you'll stop seeing the live feed on your phone or monitor, but still be able to control the drone and go much further. Usually, cheaper drones that come with 5.8 ghz 5g wifi technology come with a wifi visual range of somewhere between 300 and 1km, while the actual flight range can be over 1km. This can be a good thing though, as it means you can still blindly control the drone back to you until you regain signal. But with any GPS drone you'll have Return to Home technology, so it does become quite irrelevant.

How to prevent the drone to fly out of range

Many quadcopters have the option to limit the maximum flight range from the app itself, either labeled as a “beginner mode” or as another geofence option where you can actually limit the range yourself, just to be sure you don't go overboard.
 
This helps if you want to make sure to respect local regulation or simply don't want to ever lose signal.

Will the drone return to home if the battery discharges?

Yes, most drones will return to home on low battery alert. Smarter drones(usually more expensive ones) also can calculate how much battery it would take to return to home from the point it is curently. It takes into account the energy necessary to get to a point high enough for a safe return to home and landing too.
 
I sometimes cancel this automatic return to home, as I prefer getting the drone to home manually, but I agree it's safer to listen to what the drone has to tell you than listening to your gut.
drone range in the mountains

Can I  transport objects over long distances using a drone?

As we've seen in the case of the DJI Matrice 600, you can actually carry a lot of weight (up to 6kg) with a reasonably priced drone, but for most other drones on this list, it would not be feasible to carry more than a couple hundred grams at most, as they are mainly made with the purpose of being camera drones.  

What factors affect a drone's range and signal strenght?

Signal strenght and drone range can greately be affected by multiple factors. Probably the most obvious and notable of all is simply having an obstacle between you and the drone, phisically blocking the signal (a tree or a building). The ideal scenario is to fly in an open area where there are no trees in front of the remote.
 
Flying inside a city can also prove a big problem, as besides the buildings themselves messing with the signal, the wifi interference can also considerably decrease the range you can fly at. An example would be my mavic 2 pro that got a range of a few hundred meters instead of 8km before it started losing signal. 
 
Also make sure not to fly next to power lines!

How to find the best drone for your needs

You can check out our drone searching tool and see what drones are for sale, filter them by price and other specs like battery life, range, weight, etc.

You can click the button  bellow to use the tool.

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of DronesGator.com and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

2 Comments
  1. Very interesting and very well done article. I have heard that you have to keep eyes at all time on to your drone, so a range of 8 km is rather devoted to professionnal with a special permit I suppose.

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