Best Micro Quadcopter: The Complete Buying Guide
What is all this fuss over micro quadcopters? They can navigate limited spaces; think indoors. They are also excellent for perfecting your skills. Or maybe you just need a read-to-fly drone that only needs a little manipulation before you can take off.
Wondering which is the best micro quadcopter for the money? Here’s a buying guide that should help you …
Micro quadcopters have 6 to 12 inch wing spans. They are usually flown indoors (with a light wind, some of them can be flown outside) and for short distances. Due to their agility and low cost, they are mainly used to train new pilots. The novice flyer is able to learn complex maneuvers such as flips, barrel rolls and banks.
Because they are so lightweight, micro quadcopters have a tendency to also be very durable since there isn’t a lot of weight to cause major damage in a crash. Due to their limited lifted capabilities and size, not too many micro quadcopters have a heavy payload like a gimbal.
Therefore, you can’t expect one of them to be able to carry a GoPro camera (although there are some models that have a built-in camera or lightweight add-on).
Whatever your reasons, micro quadcopters are ideal for not only a beginner but also experienced pilots.
What Should You Be Looking For in A Micro Quadcopter?
First things first: features to look out for.
This is certainly the most important aspect. You want a well-built asset that can take a hit and bounce right back. Micros are tiny and easy to maneuver, and so you can be sure that they will take a few dives to the wall. Is the construction sturdy enough to take that?
As much as they are cheap and hence ready to replace, you should get a quad with easily replaceable parts. Some of the many brands on the market are quite difficult to replace, and that would mean having to buy a new one if something happened.
Well, the best micro quadcopter is durable, but it breaks too with time and enough hits. Some brands such as the Hubsan X4 107D come with their own crash packs. This one has multiple propellers, battery, and motors to use just in case something happens to the original.
Granted, these micro quads cannot haul heavy cameras like their nano counterparts, but some have a few impressive add-ons.
Manufacturers have found a way to add to the fun of flying these little guys by adding lightweight cameras, grappling hooks, bubble guns, or even water guns. Why settle for a featureless copter while your peers have much more fun with theirs?
This definitely matters. New brands flood the market, and even renowned manufacturers have made theirs quite affordable. Honestly, $15 will get you an excellent starter quadcopter! While cheapest is certainly not the best, you could compare prices to ensure that you only get the kind that will go with your budget.
Choose The Most Maneuverable Quad
Let’s face it; the reason you are getting the micro instead of a larger copter is most probably for learning. You want to perfect your skill before you go try it out with the big guys. For this reason, it would serve you best to select the most maneuverable quad.
You want a quad that will do somersaults, bank, rolls, figure eights, turn circles and flips and pretty much anything that makes flying a quad fun. If it lacks these capabilities, it is not worth your while. Also, you will be flying it inside, so you want to be sure that it can maneuver small spaces, or you risk bumping into every possible surface.
Check The Brands
The more established brands such as Hubsan, Syma, and Traxxas will never go wrong, but you should check extensively before you settle on the one. If you can get recommendations from users, the better. Also, check reviews from buyers as you will notice users are always quick to point out the mishaps. Reviews could save you the trouble and money.
Start With A Quadcopter Simulator
If you have never ever flown a quadcopter of any kind before, you would want to get yourself a quadcopter simulator and learn the ropes of handling a drone. You would want to learn to fly in a simulated environment before you buy a real drone.
This one step can save you a lot of time and money. You will not crash as often as you otherwise might - avoiding a lot of unnecessary downtime. And you might be able to try the more advanced maneuvers right off the bat.
These Shouldn’t Be Deal Breakers
Most micros will fly for between 5 and 7 minutes. They also charge for 30 minutes or thereabouts. Therefore, as long as it stays in the air this long, you may consider taking it. Besides, you won’t be down for long, seeing that the batteries only need 30 minutes to recharge.
This is equally unimportant because you will be flying indoors most of the time anyway. Again, anything over 100 feet from launching point would cause you to lose your micro.
Those are the most important pointers to consider before going all out. Again, if you know any micro quadcopter owners, it would be best to consult them for some real life experiences.
Hubsan X4 (H107L) 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Quadcopter
Hubsan makes some of the most popular micro quads on the market. This model follows what the manufacturer is known for- high-quality and attention to detail.
This micro quad is palm size and comes in a variety of bright colors. It is sturdy - it's made with a steel body to take a few hits head on.
The manufacturer has upgraded it to 6-axis stabilization, up from 3 in the previous model, which means it has high maneuverability. With this stabilization, you can take this little guy outdoors, and he will not be blown away by the wind. It also makes it quite easy to control it with your remote (that is part of the package).
This quad is quite small, measuring 2.3 x 2.3 x 1 inches, and weighing 1.3 pounds. Of course, this size means it cannot carry a heavy camera and does not come with one, but on the upside, the flips and somersaults are all yours.
One of the things that excite reviewers the most about this quad is the crash pack. Let us admit without shame; you will crash your copter at least once in your practice. The crash pack contains 4 pairs of spare blades, 1 body shell, 1 spare battery, and 2 motor pieces. You can also buy them separately any time you need spares.
It is advisable that you get a protection ring to for your rotors as soon as you buy your quad copter. This will spare them the inevitable damage that you expose them to when you fly; whether indoors or outdoors.
It is Ready To Fly
Most buyers of micro quads are beginners, and you haven’t mastered the art of taking it apart and putting it back together. You may prefer a copter that is ready to go as soon as you take it off the box. This quad is put together and ready to go. As you train, you will certainly learn the tweaks.
Flight Time And Range
First the range: it goes as far as 100 meter, which is pretty decent for a micro quad. This allows you to fly it outdoors as well as indoors. When flying it at night or in low light, you can turn on the 6 LED light to give you enough illumination.
As for flight time, the batteries on this quad will stay on for 6-8 minutes. They take 30-45 minutes to charge fully. Pro Tip: Get about 5 pairs and charge them all fully. That way, you will only need to take a few changing minutes before you get back to having fun!
Overall, the Hubsan X4 (H107L) is a great place to start before moving on to the bigger and more expensive quads. It is well priced but sturdily built so that it can take a few dives into hard surfaces but still come out whole. It has no camera, though, which may be a bummer for those who need a little visibility.
Holy Stone HS170 Predator Mini-RC Helicopter Drone
Holy Stone has shown dominance in making quadcopters for beginners, and so this model is expected to shine, just like the rest of the line.
The Overall Build
This micro quad is 5.3 inches in length and 5.3 inches in width. It weighs a mere 14.1 ounces. It is quite sleek and fits perfectly in the palm. It follows the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations, and so you will not have to register it. It’s ideally a buy and fly!
The manufacturer says this quad is ideal for beginners, which is agreeable. It is the quad you want to start with before messing with the bigger more expensive guys.
It has LED lights for night flying. You have two blue LEDs on the front while two red ones are at the back. This one more feature makes it more appealing to beginners: it is headless, meaning it has no designated front, and will, therefore, follow the direction of the controller.
It is not fitted with a camera, sorry, but them the body could hardly accommodate one. It is too small for those complexities. However, it comes with a 3.7 V 350 mAh Li-Ion battery, four extra blades, a USB cable, and a screwdriver. Oh, and the manual for beginners.
The construction is solid. This quad can take a few falls and hits as is expected of any quad, especially one being flown by a beginner. That being said, it can only take so many hits. One of the main complaints from reviewers is that after a few hard knocks the body could give in.
Tip: When you hit a wall or object, bring it to a stop full throttle. Give it a few seconds to cool before taking it back in the air. Also, try not to make too many mistakes, and it will last longer.
It is light and hence quite agile. It takes off at an alarming pace (thanks to the stabilizer) and stays in the air for quite some time. 50 meters is how far you can take it and thanks to its size, it does well outdoors.
How long does the battery last? Between 6 and 8 minutes, which is quite impressive. The batteries take 60 to 80 minutes to charge fully under 0.5A-1A current input.
The Huge Transmitter
It has a huge transmitter for control that requires 6 AA batteries. It is larger than the micro quad! It is shaped like a gaming controller, with a black switch and two joysticks for controlling the height and direction of the drone.
Holy Stone has upgraded this quad with the low-interference 2.4GHz technology, which adds to its flexibility, as well as a 6-Axis gyro stabilization system for those much-needed stunts. It does reasonably well in the wind.
This drone is affordable, and so you will not have a heart attack each time it takes a crash (which will be a lot).
Braha Hawkeye 3000 2.4 GHZ RC Quadcopter
3.5 x 3.5 x 1.4 inches is what this quad measures and it weighs 1.9lbs, thanks to its capability to accommodate more accessories.
It has an appealing design, with blades all around and with LED lights for night flying. It uses a 3.7V 450mAh Li-Po battery, which charges in about 60-80 minutes.
For flexibility and maneuverability, this drone has a built-in 6 axis gyroscope that enables it to perform flips and unique dives. You will still need rotor protectors if you plan to reduce tour expense on tens of new blades. It is black in color, has a sturdy built with durable material and you can be sure it will take a few falls and knocks with grace.
The one very popular accessory that this drone has is a camera. It is fitted with a 2MP camera, which will not give you very high resolution, but will at least give you visibility when you use it to chase squires in the woods…sigh. It is not meant for professional photography, and so it will do. It takes 720p full HD videos too for a limited amount of time.
Other components of this drone include a transmitter battery, four extra blades a USB cable for charging, and the manual.
It has two large wheels that transform it into an RC car. Yes, that is real! This feature is yet to be replicated by other manufacturers, and so this drone is currently in a class of its own. The two large wheels launch it, while the smaller four give it traction on any terrain.
Flight time and Ability
It is lightweight and able to take off suddenly, thanks to the stabilizing technology. This feature also makes it easy to crash. As you get started, it would be advisable to take it slow, using the controller to get acquainted to the feel of it in the air. As you get used to it, you could learn to let it go full throttle.
Because it is quite light, it can take the outdoors as well as inside. It can go as high as 30 meters and will fly for up to 8 minutes before dropping dead. The batteries take anything from 60-80 minutes to charge fully.
Ready To Fly
This drone is ready to fly straight out of the box. You may need a few tweaks here and there, but that would not be necessary until you have familiarized yourself with it.
This drone is one of its kind as far as accessories go. It s unique especially the part where it turns into an RC car, and the price is great. The camera resolution will disappoint a little, seeing that it is not meant for pro takers, but it would still work well for a beginner.
Inguity Max Speed Personal 3D Stunt Micro-Drone
This mini has one thing undisputed; speed. It is quite agile and handles the wind quite well. For this reason, beginners can fly it both indoors and outdoors.
It is beautifully designed with a brightly colored body that illuminates from a distance. It can be quite noisy, but what drone isn’t? The body is a strong polymer that resists crashes, which is one of the features making it ideal for beginner training. You are prone to fall a few times so you might as well start with a reasonably priced drone that will withstand the drops.
It comes with a 3.7V 350mAh battery, two clockwise replacement blades, one anticlockwise replacement blade, a USB charger, and a pair of optional landing extensions.
It has LED lights for night flying. The blue and red beams are so bright that you will prefer to fly it in total darkness on a lazy indoor night.
Flight Range and Time
First, this drone is agile. It completes banks, 3D flips, somersaults, and figure beautifully. It is not as light as some micro quads, at 1.2lbs, but this weight makes it possible to fly it outside without the fear of losing it in the wind. Add the 6-axis accelerometer to it, and you make one steady drone. The 6-axis gyroscope gives it much maneuverability so that a beginner is able to control it with ease.
It has adjustable blade guards, which are necessary to keep the blades safe during flight. A 2.4 GHz controller range seals this drone as a certified easy-to-fly kind since this technology makes it easy to keep in the air. If you lose this one, even with all the technology in place to make it easy to control, then you need lessons.
When flying it, you can tilt at 45 degrees at full throttle. The pitch allows it to push more air while increasing speed and without gaining altitude. It is a marvel to watch. Flying time is 6-8 minutes depending on the speed and stunts you perform with it. The AAA batteries need 60 minutes to charge fully.
Inguity Max Speed Personal 3D Stunt Micro-Drone is not for just any beginner, but one with a need for speed. Reviewers have said it is the fastest and most agile micro drone yet made. So if speed and insane stunts are your things, you will certainly like it.
Its stability, price, agility, and ability make it one of the greatest micro quads around. The flight time is all right, given the insane capabilities.
Coocheer JJRC H18 Mini Drone
This hexagon is relatively rare, so you may want to hold onto the one you have before they become extinct. It measures 2.85x3.32 inches and fits perfectly in your palm.
This nano hexacopter is headless, as you would expect of a six-sided drone. It is built using crash-resistant polymer, and so your crashes are not going to ruin it. If you take good care of it, this drone will last a long time.
Due to its headless design, his drone is quite easy to control. It moves in the direction of the controller, and a few tricks with the transmitter will give you your bearing.
It features a 6-Axis Gyro System and 2.4GHz, 4 CH which give it the flexibility you need to control it with ease. Because of this technology, you can fly this drone outside, never mind its 5.6-oz body. But before you take it outside, it would be best to run it indoors for a while, just to gain control.
Flight Time and Range
It uses a built-in 3.7V 180MAH Lithium Battery which lasts 5-6 minutes in flight. The battery needs about 40 minutes to charge fully before you can get back to having fun.
It does not fly too high. The best you can do is 20 meters before you lose control.
What it lacks in distance, it makes up for in agility. This drone, which is quite easy to control, is also quite flexible. Banks, insane flips, and figure eights are all possible when controlling it with the humongous transmitter that comes with it. The transmitter, which measures 4.29×2.73×1.56inch, is powered by 2 AAA batteries that you purchase separately.
One more thing about the transmitter: it is shaped like a game controller, which is probably what makes it so easy to use.
Contents Of The Package
This drone is quite small, and it will not come with the bells and whistles, but it makes up for that in its flight ability. The package contains:
- 1x Mini Drone
- 1x Remote Controller
- 4 x Replacement Blades
- 1 x USB Charging Cable
- 1 x English/Chinese User Manual (the English is broken, but not too bad that you will not understand)
It has red LED lights for night flying, and also to indicate the status of the battery. When it is critically low, the LED lights flicker several times to alert you to bring it down. You should be keen, though because the lights change back to a stale red a few seconds into crashing. If you do not bring it down when it starts blinking, it will crash to the ground.
The price is good, material durable and controls easily. This nano Hexa is a winner.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this unbiased buying guide and it helps you choose the best micro quadcopter for yourself or our teenager. Exercise caution when flying your new micro quad and have fun!