Drones are amazing. I can purchase a flying, stabilized 4K camera that slips into my pocket for a few hundred dollars. This is a technology that was the stuff of dreams a few years ago. But now, thanks to companies such as DJI and Autel, dreams have become reality.
My top pick for the best overall drone is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, but I’ve included other drones for you to consider based on ZDNET’s research and my own personal experience. I’m a licensed and insured drone operator who has put in many dozens of hours flying these drones for testing, work, and fun.
The best drones of 2023
DJI Mavic 3 Pro
Best drone overall
- Fantastic camera system
- Powerful drone that is stable in high winds
- Great battery life (even if it isn’t as good as advertised)
- A big drone that’s not pocketable
- Required the RC Pro controller for the best experience
DJI Mavic 3 Pro tech specs: Camera: 1/1.3-inch CMOS, 70mm equivalent, 3x Optical Zoom, f/2.8, 48 MP and a 1/2-inch CMOS Tele Camera 166mm equivalent, 7x Optical Zoom, 28x Hybrid Zoom, f/3.4, 12 MP | Video: 4K/60fps | Max flight time: 43 minutes | Transmission distance: up to 15km
This is DJI’s flagship consumer/prosumer drone. It’s big, it’s mean, it’s noisy, it has three cameras, and is the perfect drone to get the job done. If the conditions will let you fly a drone, the Mavic 3 Pro will deliver.
Read the review: DJI Mavic 3 Pro review
The new Mavic 3 Pro features a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, 3x optical zoom, and is capable of 48MP/12MP photos, 4K/60fps video, and supports the new D-log M. On top of that, the wide-angle camera now also supports the new 10-bit D-Log M color mode, allowing the sensor to capture up to one billion colors. This not only makes the camera better at capturing difficult scenes such as sunrises and sunsets but also makes it easier to process the captured video.