Drones: A buyer’s guide

Looking to get your dreams of drone-ownership off the ground?

With Amazon adopting the technology for their ‘Prime Air’ scheme, and multiple food delivery companies using the airborne gadgets to transport everything from pizza to burritos, it seems as though drones are here to stay.

Yet, whereas these large corporations are using heavy duty machines that can sustain day upon day of damage and work, drones have also become increasingly popular in the home – and are now used leisurely for filming, racing or just for fun.

‘But how do I know which of these multi-rotored motors is right for me?’ We hear your cry. ‘What range should it have? How tough should it be? How fast should it be able to travel?’

The GoPro Karma

Stop droning on. If you’re looking to get your dreams of drone-ownership off the ground, read this simple guide and your understanding of the tech will be taken to new heights.

Racing, Camera or Fun?

Drones fall into three very distinct categories: Racing, Camera and Fun. The racing drones should be streamlined, easily-controlled and fast. Camera drones are technical, steady and smooth. And fun drones are simply that – exciting, hectic and easily-manoeuvrable.

This is the first decision you have to make – and it will whittle down your choice by two thirds. What are you planning to do with your drone? If you’re looking to capture panoramas or dynamic sports shots, you will need a drone with a camera – simple. If you want to just have fun flying, go for a hardy, leisurely machine. And if you want to race against friends, or seriously compete, go for a proper racing drone.


Forget speed or camera quality, this is the big one. Whatever their purpose, drones are small machines that get thrown into the air and, at some point, have to come back down. As a result, there is always going to be a degree of damage and risk of breakage. So, once you’ve chosen what type of drone you want, you next need to decide how strong it needs to be.

The Yuneec Breeze

Some camera drones are hardier than others – such as those used for search and rescue or agricultural surveying. But it’s also imperative to get a strong drone if you’re using it to capture extreme sports, or landscape shots over rough terrain. The DJI Phantom series is always a good bet, as is the Yuneec Breeze, but with the recent launch of GoPro’s Karma drone, all bases are covered.

With racers, the TBS Vendetta has solder-free repair capability and a carbon fibre monocoque – making it the perfect drone to survive those in flight collisions. The IRC Vortex series is also a sturdy piece of equipment – and speedy.

The TBS Vendetta

When it comes to fun drones, you need a resilient machine. Experimenting and exploring the limits of your drone is obviously going to attract and incur damage, and none are better at standing up to impact than Syma’s quadcopters. If you’ve got a bigger budget for fooling around, go for something by the drone experts at Parrot – who have paired their gadgets with VR technology for the ultimate immersive experience.


Fun drones can be very small and very slow, racing drones can be very fast and camera drones tend to be somewhere in between. Again, depending on your needs, your perfect speed will differ – and faster isn’t always better.

The Teal

However, earlier this year, the world’s fastest production drone was launched. Teal can travel at a breathtaking 70 miles per hour, get from 0-60mph in one second, and has a built in 4K camera. This may sound brilliant, but on high performance, you only get 10 minutes of flight – which brings us to our next point…


The tiny Proto X is a fun drone with a four to six minute flight time – enough to whizz about your house. The large DJI Inspire 1 camera drone has around 18 minutes. There is not a huge difference in the flight times for drones – they do have to be lightweight after all – but the recharge times do differ.

The Proto X

So, if you’re looking to buy, we’d advise checking the box for recharge times over flight times, because although you might get an extra five minutes flying from some machines, you could be twiddling your thumbs for a lot longer waiting for them to recharge.

Further Reading