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.
But always keep in mind that you should check the map with all the countries drone laws before you fly too far!
That’s why even the cheapest drone on this list will start from 300m in range and they go up to 10km, enough to satisfy anyone.
In a hurry? Just pick my best recommended drone in this price category and you can't really go wrong!
Before we start, it's good if you have a measure of how far and high drones can actually fly from the remote controller and get a grasp of what ranges different types of drones can allow.
While toy drones can fly between 160 and 330 ft (50-100 meters), more advanced high-end drones can fly between 3 and 7.4 miles(5-12 km) away from the controller and mid-range drones can fly between 0.3 to 1.8 miles(0.5-3 km).
This means that the range is typically very closely tied to how expensive and advanced the drone is, so expect more expensive drones to fly further.
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.
If you're confused about what everything means, I suggest you check my article on drone terminology to get a better clue about what to look for in a quadcopter.
The DJI mini 2 is the newest drone on this list and my favorite to use since it doesn't require any registration and comes with incredible specs like 31-minute battery life and an outstanding 10km range. I compared the DJI mini 2 with the Mavic Air 2 in an article if you want to find out which one is better for you.
It's perfect for people who like to travel a lot as it's one of the most portable drones on the market. It also doesn't compromise in terms of camera quality, being almost indistinguishable from higher-end drones and with perfect 3 axis gimbal stabilization.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 has just made it as the top drone on this list thanks to its low price compared to its specs and amazing specs. It's my personal favorite drone and one of the longest ranges on this list.
The new transmitter is easier to use than with the other mavics from DJI and I feel like it has a better overall grip.
One battery lasts for A LOT (over 30 min) and I haven't even started to talk about the amazing obstacle avoidance system and HDR recording.
If you want to compare it in more detail to the other mavics, I recommend checking this DJI comparison sheet.
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 currently on the market (or any commercial drone).
It's true that the CE(Europe range) is somewhere at 5km, lower than the estimated 9km range for FCC(USA) range (but that's a condition for all drones).
The Mavic 3 is the latest release from DJI in terms of foldable drones and it's by far the most advanced, including in terms of max range.
While the 15 km max range (9.3 miles) is incredible, you'll never really need that much in real life. However, the strong signal provided by the O3+ video transmission system is also more reliable in shorter ranges in cases where there's interference.
Other specs of the drone include an outstand micro 4/3rds sensor with spectacular low light capability, a 7x optical zoom camera and omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors.
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
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 the lower end of the budget who still want something compact with good specs and a reliable stabilized camera.
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).
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.
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 2022, even though it's not stabilized.
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 drones, GoPro drones, or infinite range.
Another category of drones where range is even more important is underwater drones, which are tethered with a cable, and every additional meter matters.
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.
The Karma is the only go pro specific drone on this list, so if that's what you're looking for, you really don't' 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.
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.
This is an initial list of frequently asked questions and bellow this section we'll cover specific questions to help you know the world of long range drones better.
Toy drones and the FAA have a weird connection, as the rules say that weight is all that matters. That means that even if it’s a toy quadcopter if it’s over 250 grams it should be registered to the FAA.
Fortunately, I took that into account and all the drones on the list are indeed under that weight limit.
Otherwise, I recommend you check the list with the drone laws in every country.
Flying responsibly means to not fly over large crowds of people or close to other people's property that can be damaged. Using your common sense can keep you from a lot of trouble.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.