DJI Mavic Air 2
The Mavic Air 2 (9/10 WIRED Recommends) is the drone that most people should buy. It's portable and lightweight, but it still manages to pack in a brilliant half-inch sensor for high quality images and video. Tons of automated features mean you can just fly and get the images you want, or shoot video and let the drone avoid obstacles and track your subject. You'll even get 60 frames-per-second 4K video—something that still isn't available in the more expensive Mavic 2 Pro—and Spotlight, a powerful automated flight mode pulled from DJI's pro-grade Inspire drone.
Best Budget Drone
DJI Mavic Mini
You might not be able to spend so much on a drone like the Mavic Air 2, but its great collision-avoidance tech is why we made it our top pick. For a more affordable option, the Mavic Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) from DJI is also a great choice (and our previous favorite). It flies nearly as well as its larger siblings, though wind gusts that wouldn't faze the Mavic 2 Pro will ground the Mini. There's also no 4K video and no front and rear collision-avoidance sensors like you'll find in more expensive drones.
Despite those caveats, the Mavic Mini is still a great entry-level drone. It's fun to fly, shoots good-enough 2.7K video, and packs up smaller than many smartphones. That last bit is key, because the best drone is the one you actually bring with you. At a mere 249 grams, it's easy to take the Mavic Mini everywhere you go.
Best Luxury Drone
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
DJI's Mavic 2 Pro (9/10 WIRED Recommends) is in a class of its own—it's the best drone you can buy right now if price is no concern. The image and video quality are amazing, and the ability to travel—and track objects—at 45 miles per hour means you're not going to miss a shot. The omnidirectional obstacle-avoidance will keep the drone out of the trees, and the 25-minute flying time means you can stay aloft longer. It's expensive, but in this case, you get what you pay for.
Best Video on a Budget
With a camera that tilts a full 180 degrees, a Hitchcock-style "dolly mode," and built-in zoom, the Parrot Anafi can shoot some footage no other drone on this page can manage. The downside is, the footage isn't as sharp and clear as what you'll get from DJI's machines. Out of the box, the Anafi is very sluggish to fly, but head into settings and bump up the speed and it will fly just as well as more expensive options. Flight time is a solid 25 minutes, and it's hands down the quietest drone I've ever flown.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
DJI's Phantom drones feel like monoliths from another era, and they may well be—the company hasn't released a significant update to the Phantom line in nearly four years. Still, if you're a video or drone professional, the Phantom 4 Pro V2 (8/10 WIRED Recommends) is the drone to get. It's like flying a rock, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Phantom 4 Pro is stable and responsive; shoots incredible, cinema-quality footage; and is practically smart enough to fly without you. It may not generate much buzz these days, but the Phantom remains an excellent choice that won't let you down.
Best Toy Drone
Syma X20 Mini Drone
I've been flying drones for seven years now, and I still get a little nervous every time I fly. If you've invested more than $1,000 in your drone, you'd be crazy not to be a little nervous. One of the best ways to get over that is to practice with a cheap one—like my favorite toy drone from Symatoys. The X20 is sold in a variety of configurations and rebranded by several companies, but it's all the same basic hardware. Don't pay more than $40. Be careful flying indoors, as it can hurt when it hits you (ask me how I know that). It's a little different to fly compared to the bigger drones (if anything it's more difficult), but also a lot of fun.
Best Star Wars Drone
Propel Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
Propel's X-Wing fighter drone is a great drone for Star Wars fans. There are actually three drones in this line: the X-Wing, a Tie X1, and a Speeder Bike. The best part is all of them have a "battle mode" so you can fly against friends and try to shoot them down. Get hit three times with the IR beam and your drone will auto-land. Unfortunately, these have a learning curve when it comes to flying—a little tap of the control stick goes a long way—and mine had a habit of flying off at an angle immediately on takeoff. Holding a position is also a lost cause, but once you master the sensitive controls, these are fun to fly (and fight).