5 Best Long Range Drones in 2023
All you need to knowLearn More About Drones
Drones have revolutionized how we see and explore the world. Long-range drones have taken this technology to the next level. With the ability to fly for miles on a single battery charge, long-range drones are ideal for aerial surveillance, mapping, and exploration.
In previous years, long-range drones have been almost exclusive to professional and commercial users. However, in recent years DJI has brought long-range flight capabilities to its line-up of consumer drones. So, whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, a long-range drone is now more accessible than ever, thanks to advances in hardware and software.
Which Drone is a Long Range Drone?
A long range drone is a type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is capable of flying for extended distances, typically up to several (5 to 15) kilometers. We’ve prepared a list of the of key long-range drone features and tips covering everything you need to know before you buy a drone.
If you are looking for a long-range drone, transmission systems, flight distances, and flight times are all important factors to consider. Content creators might prefer a drone with longer flight suitable for traveling. In contrast, a construction manager monitoring a railway project requires a drone that can be flown over longer distances without losing the signal. Whatever your application, we’ll take you through the long-range drone essentials.
5 Best Long-Range Drones
Discover the best consumer long-range drones, including the Mavic 3 Pro, Mavic 3 Classic, Air 3, Mini 3 and Inspire 3.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro
With a max travel distance of up to 28 km and a max travel time of 43 minutes. This extended flight time makes the DJI Mavic 3 Pro an excellent choice for long-range use. The Mavic 3 Pro boasts a 5.1K capable primary Hasselblad camera, perfect for professional photographers and videographers.
The drone also features the DJI’s OcuSync 3.0+ communication system and software, allowing for stable and reliable video transmission from long distances. Furthermore, the drone’s compact and lightweight design makes it easy to transport, allowing pilots to take the drone with them on the go for extended, long-range flights.
DJI Air 3
The DJI Air 3 is a highly capable long-range drone, designed with features that make it a great choice for users who require performance and functionality in a compact, lightweight form factor. With a maximum flight distance of 32 km and up to 46 minutes of flight time, this drone is perfect for users looking for a drone that can go longer distances and still capture high-quality images and videos with it’s 48 MP sensor. The Air 3 is equipped with advanced navigation systems, including GPS and Galileo. Furthermore, the drone uses the most recent DJI’s OcuSync 4.0 transmission system for a highly stable, low-latency, and interference-resistant video transmission, making it a reliable and efficient choice for long-range drone pilots.
DJI Mavic 3 Classic
The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a powerful and capable drone that is well-suited for long-range use. This drone also offers a max travel distance of up to 30 km and a max travel time of 46 minutes, making it an excellent option for users looking for a great all-around long-range drone. It boasts a long battery life and flight time, allowing pilots to fly for extended periods of time without needing to stop and recharge. The drone is equipped with the advanced OcuSync 3.0 communication system and software, which provides high-quality, low-latency video transmission, even at long distances. Additionally, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic features a powerful camera that can capture stunning aerial photos and videos, as well as advanced navigation systems and obstacle avoidance sensors that help ensure safe and controlled flight. All of these features make the DJI Mavic 3 Classic a great choice for long-range drone use.
DJI Mini 3
The DJI Mini 3 has a maximum range of up to 25 km and up to 51 minutes of flight time with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, users can fly the drone for longer distances without worrying about the battery life. With DJI’s current longest flight time by a whole 51 minutes its easy to see how this compact portable drone made the list.
The drone also comes equipped with OcuSync 2.0 video transmission technology, which enables real-time video transmission to a mobile device.
Additionally, the DJI Mini 3 is equipped with a high-resolution camera that captures 4K HDR videos, making it an ideal choice for users who want to capture aerial footage while flying their drone.
The DJI Mini 3 also features advanced navigation systems, including GPS and GLONASS, ensuring that the drone stays on track and in control even at long distances.
The Inspire 3 offers exceptional industry-level flight performance and a range of advanced features that make it perfect for cinematographers and professional filmmakers who need long-range use. With its advanced navigation systems, including obstacle avoidance sensors and GPS, it is easy to control and maintain flight stability even over long distances.
The drone also features an extended battery life, allowing for up to 28 minutes of flight time, giving pilots the ability to fly for miles without stopping. The DJI Inspire 3 is equipped with advanced radio technology, Cinema-Grade O3 Pro Video Transmission, which provides reliable communication between the drone and the remote controller even at long distances (from 12 to 15 km), making it a great choice for long-range drone use.
How to Choose a Long-Range Drone?
When choosing a long-range drone, pay attention to the following aspects:
- Transmission: Video transmission is paramount to aerial photography and cinematography. Seeing clearly in real-time what your drone camera is viewing over large distances is vital. Any long-range drone transmission quality depends on many factors, and you should consider them whenever a company advertises its products. Wind speed, battery levels, radio interference, and obstacles between your drone and the controller all influence the live feed and your control over your drone. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need about transmission to help you purchase a quality long-range drone.
- Transmission Live Feed Quality: The quality of the feed you receive is vital for seeing what your long-range drone is seeing. A high-resolution transmission feed allows you to make tiny adjustments to your shots that can make the difference between amateur and professional photography. We recommended choosing a drone with as high a transmission resolution as possible, such as the 1080p live stream feed offered on Mavic 3 Pro, Mavic 3 Classic, or the Inspire 3.
- Transmission Stability: The more stable your transmission is, the less chance you will lose the signal between your drone and your remote controller. More advanced transmission systems, such as those featured in DJI camera drones, use dual frequencies of 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, which provide a more stable transmission feed and a greater transmission distance. Lower transmission latency and the ability to download images to your device while the drone is still in the air are all advantages gained through advanced transmission technologies.
- Anti-Interference: Anti-interference ensures you can fly without any interruptions to your flight experience. With dual transmission frequencies, the drone can switch between frequencies during real-time flight, which provides the best performance. Additionally, anti-interference transmission technology utilizes a two-way communications system to help further maintain a stable video feed, even when flying through challenging environments.
Why Video Transmission is Important for Long-Range Drones?
Currently, most long-range drones adopt one of the following transmission types: Wi-fi, OcuSync 2.0 and OcuSync 3.0. WiFi transmission type is better for everyday flight and taking shots on the go, as it allows pilots to fly their drone using a dedicated controller or simply their mobile device. For long range drones, OcuSync and O3+ transmissions are excellent choices.
OcuSync was first introduced on the DJI Mavic Pro and is a wireless transmission system that transmits video signals with low latency over long distances using the 2.4GHz frequency range.
- The original OcuSync technology provided pilots with HD video feeds in 720p and 1080p, with 720p transmission offering up to 4 miles of usage.
- OcuSync 2.0 is a significantly improved transmission system. The ability to broadcast over 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, switch between the two frequencies in real-time, and avoid interference means pilots can receive a low latency 1080p video feed over more considerable distances.
- OcuSync 3.0 (O3) is designed to provide a more reliable and efficient connection between the drone and its remote controller. Compared to OcuSync 2.0, OcuSync 3.0 features improved signal strength and interference resistance, providing a more stable video feed from the drone. Currently, OcuSync 3.0 is available in the DJI Matrice 300 RTK, Matrice 600 Pro, Mini 3 Pro drones. Mavic 3 Classic, and Mavic 3 are running O3+.
- OcuSync 4.0 (O4) is the latest version of DJI’s video transmission system, currently available in DJI Air 3.
DJI will continue to work on updating its transmission systems and future drones will often run the lastest transmission system at their time of release. O3+, O4 and other upgraded systems are especially beneficial for long-range drone users, as these systems enable them to fly the drone further away from the remote controller while still maintaining a clear, real-time video feed.
Is Battery Performance a Factor?
A flight time of 30 minutes is around the benchmark you should be looking at, with exceptional drones like the Mini 3 offering a massive 51 minutes of flight time with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus. Battery performance contributes significantly to a drone’s flight time. Consider battery performance if you want a long-range drone with a camera.
Battery performance and efficiency directly influence a drone’s flight time, which can lead to more ground covered for photography. It’s essential to find a drone that offers the best balance in-flight performance and avoid choosing a drone that provides a one-dimensional performance.
Look out for a long-range drone made by reputable drone companies with state-of-the-art innovation and research. Companies like DJI constantly improve their drones’ battery technology and performance efficiency to give users the best experience possible.
Camera Performance of Long Range Drones
The best long-range drone is not only a drone with stable transmission but also a drone with exceptional camera performance to take advantage of long-range flight capabilities. Sensor quality is the most significant consideration to make, which affects the creative potential of beginners and professionals.
DJI Mavic-series drones have the latest in camera sensor technology on board, providing fantastic dynamic range and state-of-the-art low-light performance. DJI Mini-series drones are no slouch in the sensor department either!
For optimal camera performance in the Mavic series, Mavic 3 takes the lead with its Hasselblad Camera. The iconic Swedish brand Hasselblad has created a new standard with the L2D-20c aerial camera, designed exclusively for the DJI Mavic 3. With its professional-grade 4/3 CMOS and compact design, the L2D-20c camera pushes the boundaries of aerial photography and sets a new standard for imaging quality. Hasselblad’s rigorous standards are evident in both the hardware and software, resulting in a dynamic range of 12.8 stops and the ability to capture 20MP photos with an adjustable aperture of f/2.8-f/11. Additionally, the camera’s 24mm equivalent focal length and VDAF Vision Detection Auto Focus technology make it an unbeatable choice for capturing stunning aerial images.
The DJI Mini-series has small yet powerful drones, equipped with a top-notch camera systems. The Mini 3 Pro and Mini 3 have a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, with dual native ISO and chip native HDR to capture stunning images and video with a higher dynamic range, revealing more detail in highlights and shadows. The Mini 3 Pro’s camera has bigger 2.4μm pixels and an f/1.7 aperture ratio, meaning it can capture life-like images even in low-light conditions. Get ready to take your aerial photography to the next level with the DJI Mini 3 Pro’s exceptional camera capabilities.
Intelligent Functions and Modes
Intelligent flight modes are vital to capture cinematic scenes from different long-range distances. You can get closer to your subject, approach them from far away, and obtain unique footage. ActiveTrack and QuickShots make it easy for any pilot to obtain impressive footage from far away.
Next up, we have flight safety, which influences your flight experience, protects others around you, and ensures you can fly confidently. This is one of the most significant considerations for choosing a long-range drone because you need to be in control of your drone at all times. Safety can be categorized into several different aspects, which we’ve broken down for you below:
- Return to Home (RTH): One of the most critical safety features of DJI drones is the advanced Return to Home (RTH) function. This function allows the drone to return to its take-off position when it detects its battery levels are low, when the transmission signal is lost, or if you command the drone to come back. The pilot can manually set some aspects of the RTH function, which should be checked and adjusted before each flight. One of the essential features a pilot should review is the RTH altitude. When the RTH function is engaged, the aircraft will climb or descend to the set altitude before beginning its return. You should pay attention to your surroundings when using the RTH setting. Obstacle avoidance systems are active during the RTH flight. Still, the additional safety of ensuring a safe altitude to clear obstacles is vital for long-range flights.
- Obstacle Sensors: You should consider what obstacle avoidance technology is available before you choose a long-range drone. DJI drones are equipped with a range of optical and infrared sensors that can detect approaching obstacles and make the necessary adjustments to the flight path to avoid them.
Long Range Drone Flight Tips
Be sure to know your local rules and regulations and the weather conditions in your area before any drone flight. Read on to discover the essential long-range drone flight tips.
- Drone Regulations: Always remember to check drone regulations and local laws wherever you fly. It is not permitted to fly in some areas like nature reserves. Always fly within your line of sight, and remember to check if your planned flight conforms to local regulations.
- Weather Conditions: Adverse weather can affect the transmission signal, causing you to lose signal and control over your drone. Always fly in bright, clear conditions. We recommend checking the weather forecast before and during your flight. Several apps provide detailed weather assessments and weather forecasts for drone pilots.
- Temperature: Temperature affects the discharge and performance of your drone batteries, which subsequently affects how long and far you can fly. Fly with fully charged batteries and continuously monitor the drone battery life status.
- Obstacles: Is there anything along your intended flight path that needs extra attention? Buildings, trees, and other structures can cause interference should they come between you and your drone. This interference will affect your transmission quality and potentially cause signal losses. Fly in an open space away from any large objects.
- Monitor flight: When flying a drone, the most important tip is to stay alert and monitor the flight performance on the app. Don’t allow anything to take your attention away from flying. A sudden gust of wind or a flock of birds could significantly affect your transmission and control over your drone.
Long Range Drone FAQ
What is the longest range DJI drone?
With up to 20 km transmission distance, 32 km flight distance and 46 minutes of flight time, DJI Air 3 is the longest-range DJI drone currently available. While Mavic 3 Pro remains at the top of the DJI consumer drone flight time list, Air 3 benefits from the next-gen O4 HD video transmission system.
What is the cheapest long range DJI drone?
Mini 3 is the cheapest long-range drone, which is yours to buy for just $559 USD.
Which DJI drone has the best camera?
For professional users, the Inspire 3 provides a choice of professional cameras and lenses. For consumers and aerial photographers, the Mavic 3 Pro has an excellent 4/3 CMOS Hassleblad camera.
Do I need a license to fly my long range drone?
Drone regulations are different from country to country. Sometimes, you may need to register your drone with the local authorities or take a flight competence test before you fly. Please check local drone laws and regulations before you fly a drone.
Choosing a long-range drone involves weighing all the important features discussed in this guide. Consider performance across different angles and performance measures before making a purchase. DJI focuses on advancing battery technology to extend flight time and improving payload capabilities. Their navigation systems have improved obstacle avoidance and positioning power, giving pilots peace of mind. DJI’s video transmission technology has improved distance and live stream quality, and data transfer options are intuitive. Find the best long-range drone for your needs and budget to reach new heights with aerial surveillance and exploration.