Table of Contents
- FAQ about High Altitude Drones
- Best High Altitude Drones For Sale
- DJI Phantom 4
- Autel X-Star Premium
- Yuneec Typhoon H
- Hubsan X4 H502S
- Ionic Stratus
- Conclusion about High Altitude Drones
Many people think that flight range and altitude are the same. But just because your drone can fly 300 meters away from your remote doesn’t mean that it can fly 300 meters straight up in the air. A drone has to be specifically built to work at high altitudes.
How does it work? Well, thanks to a huge boom in the commercial drone market in the past few years, drones are cheaper than ever to manufacture and to purchase. This means that they can be made extremely light, which allows them to gain a high altitude quickly. More importantly, the motors can be made very light without losing too much power, which gives the quadcopter the thrust it needs to hold those high altitudes and makes the propellers go fast enough to maintain its height.
There’s lots of applications for high altitude drones – from photography to construction to simple recreational use. We’ve compiled a list of the five best – each one tested and vouched for by the Dronethusiast staff. Whether you’re an experienced pilot looking for advice or a first-time user who doesn’t know where to start, this list is sure to help you find the high altitude drone that’s right for you.
FAQ about High Altitude Drones
What are drones?
A drone is simply an unmanned aerial vehicle. The most common drones are quadcopters, which simply means that they have four propellers. Drones are usually controlled with a radio transmitter (just like an RC car), but more recently may also be controlled with a mobile device via WiFi.
Why would I want a high altitude drone?
There’s lots of reasons, but high altitude drones are mostly used in aerial photography or videography. Drones are a cheaper alternative to helicopter or airplane shots. Because they’re lightweight and most of the models on this list have 6-axis gyroscopes, they’re also extremely stable – often moreso than a cameraman hanging out of an helicopter can be. And finally, small drones can take footage of places that traditional aerial photography can’t reach. This is why high altitude drones have been used in major motion pictures like Skyfall and Captain America: Civil War.
What are some non-photography uses for high altitude drones?
Drones are often used in construction to monitor the project site and for mapping and modeling tasks. High altitude drones are also very useful for roof inspections, as we wrote about here. And for recreational fliers, it’s just fun to point the drone straight up and see what it can do.
How high can a drone fly?
Depends on the drone, as we’ll get into below. The record for the highest drone flight ever was a DJI Phantom 2 that was taken up to 11,000 feet. Please note that flying that high is illegal – without a waiver, you can only fly up to 400 feet in the US and 500 feet in Europe. Much higher than that, and the drone can seriously hurt or even kill someone if it falls – not to mention the fact that it may collide with an aircraft.
(Note that we’re only talking about consumer drones here – military drones operate very differently.)
Do I need to register my drone?
It depends where you’re located. If you’re in England, yes. In America (as of 2017) you usually only have to register your drone if you’re using it commercially – that is, if you’re using it in some capacity that makes money. You also have to meet specific pilot and aircraft requirements. It’s best to look up your local laws and regulations and make sure to comply with them.
Best High Altitude Drones For Sale
Here’s five of the best high altitude drones for sale on the market today. Obviously the main factor that influenced a drone’s placement on the list was how high the drone could get and how stable it was at high altitudes, but we also factored in other considerations. There’s no “one size fits all” in the modern drone market, and we want to make sure you find the altitude drone that’s right for you.
|#1 Best High Altitude Drones|
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
|See Best Price|
|Autel X-Star||See Best Price|
|Yuneec Typhoon H||See Best Price|
#1 – DJI Phantom 4 Pro
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is widely considered one of the best – if not the best – drones on the market in every category. It’s not just that it can climb to 6000 meters in altitude (though it’s limited to the legal limit of 400 feet without a waiver.) It also has incredible five-directional obstacle sensing, which is very important at high altitudes where you’re likely to run into things you can’t even see. It’s also very, very stable and has an incredibly high-quality camera that’s perfect whether you’re taking photos or keeping an eye on a construction site. All in all, it’s hard to “top” the Phantom 4 when it comes to high altitude drones for sale (get it?)
#2 – Autel X-Star Premium
The Phantom 4 is great all around, but the Autel X-Star Premium is one of the best camera drones for the money. It has a 4K camera and can take video in Ultra HD, displaying an HD live view to your mobile device from up to 1.2 miles away so that you can see exactly what you’re filming. The X-Star Premium can also go about 1,000 meters in the air and most of its features focus on remaining completely stable. And all this for only about $800 – much cheaper than the DJI flagships.
#3 – Yuneec Typhoon H
The Yuneec Typhoon H can supposedly go up to 1000 meters in the air, but its operating range is only 800 meters, so you won’t be able to control the drone beyond that. That’s still pretty impressive. Like the X-Star Premium, the Typhoon’s main feature is a 4K camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, but where it really sets itself apart is its ability to take slow-motion footage in 120 FPS. Also, unlike the two entries which precede it, the Typhoon is designed to require no previous experience to fly.
#4 – Hubsan X4 H502S
The Hubsan is on this list not because it can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Phantom 4, but because it’s the best high altitude drone for those on a budget. For only $180, you get a 720p camera for photography and videography that streams live to a 4.3 inch display built into the controller, which makes it very handy for roof inspection jobs and similar tasks. You also get a highly durable brushless design, some handy flight features like headless mode, a GPS-based “Follow Me” mode, and 20 minutes of flight time per battery, which is absolutely unheard of at this price point. If you’re looking to take to the skies without breaking the bank, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the X4 H502S.
#5 – Ionic Stratus
If the H502S is still too expensive for you, the Stratus is an excellent low-end high altitude drone for sale with a wide array of features. It can reach an altitude of 80 meters. That may not sound like much when compared to the rest of this list, but it’s still high enough that you’ll barely be able to see it. It also doesn’t come with a built-in camera – you’ll have to buy a GoPro separately and attach it. However, this is still a stylish and highly durable beginner drone that can reach incredible heights and stays stable with a 6-axis gyro system that’s pretty rare in drones under $100. It also has a 1-button 3D roll function, which is always fun to see.
Conclusion about High Altitude Drones
Thanks for reading our ultimate guide to the best high altitude drones for sale. Whether you’re ready to take your photography for the next level – literally! – or are just looking for a great toy to play around with, we hope we’ve helped you find the quadcopter that’s right for you. If you have any questions, or if you’ve got a great altitude drone that we missed, please leave a comment below!
The writer known as I Coleman is a veteran tech reviewer who’s spent seven years writing about everything from PC hardware to drone tech and who joined the Dronethusiast team early in 2017. I brings his characteristic sense of humor and attention to detail to our product reviews and buyer’s guides, making sure that they’re packed with expert analysis in a way that’s still easy for hobby newcomers to understand. In his spare time, I is using drones to create 3D modeling software for a company in his hometown.