If you've been doing some research or reading about drones, you've probably come across different terms used to describe the size and classification of a drone.
It can get a little confusing, especially when you are first starting out. Let's try to shed a little light on the subject.
There is no universal classification system for drones/quadcopters/multirotors – so my definitions may vary slightly from someone else's. However, there are a few widely accepted and recognized size categories that you should be familiar with.
These two terms seemed to be used interchangeably. These are the very smallest drones you can get. And incredibly, they are getting smaller all the time. The Hubsan Q4 H111 is only 1.7″ by 1.7″ and manufactures are racing to make them even smaller!
Nano/micro drones are a good place to start when you are first learning. They can typically hold up well to crashes, and since you can fly them inside, you can pick a “safe” room to learn in that has carpet and soft furniture to help absorb the inevitable “unplanned landings.”
Another nice thing about drones this size is that they tend to be very affordable. You can usually find them for about $15, sometimes even less if you catch a good sale.
Again, that makes them very practical to learn on since breaking it will only set you back $15, as opposed to several hundred dollars for the “big ones.”
The next size up is the mini or small drones. A good example of this size is the UDI U27 (here is our U27 review). Not only are these a bit bigger, but they also offer more features than you'd find on the smallest drones. Many include cameras, stunt modes, and longer battery life.
Some even offer FPV – a feature normally found on bigger drones (an example is the CX-30S that I reviewed).
Like their tiny counterparts, these mini drones are good for learning, but they also give you a bit more room to flex your flying skills since they can typically go faster, higher, and farther.
Next up is what are sometimes referred to as the “hobby” drones. These are about 2-3 times the size of the mini drones. An excellent example is the Syma X5SW (review coming soon!). This is probably one of the most common and bestselling size.
Because of the stiff competition, you can find some excellent deals – many can be had for $50-75!
The Syma X5SW goes for about $60 and even has the ability to stream live video to your phone while you fly. It is also a very stable and forgiving drone.
And even though it is bigger than its smaller brothers, it will still hold up well to the occasional crash.
These are the “big boys” and may be referred to as professional drones and are commonly equipped and sold for specific purposes such are aerial photography or racing.
The DJI Phantom series is one of the most well-known in this class. Prices can range from $500-$1500 or more. Although competition is heating up in this category too and you can find excellent drones for half what the “big” brands are going for.
An example would be the Cheerson CX-20. It is almost exactly the same size as the DJI Phantom, and it has just about all the same features, but for half the price! I'll be posting a review of my CX-20 soon, so keep an eye out.