Best new drones

We saw some great drones launch in the last 12 months, but there’s more to come in the next 12 months including the GoPo Karma and Parrot fixed-wing craft. Here are the best new drones launching in 2016 and 2017.

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  • Intro
  • GoPro Karma
  • DJI Phantom 4
  • Xiaomi Mi Drone
  • DJI Phantom 3 4K
  • Parrot Disco
  • Lily
  • Yuneec
  • FPV racing
  • More stories
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Best new drones

Flying cameras, quadcopters, consumer drones – whatever you want to call them – are one of the most exciting new tech inventions and are rapidly becoming mainstream. We’ve seen some great quadcopters launch this year but there’s more to come in the next 12 months.

Here we’ve rounded up what we think are the most exciting consumer drones being developed right now.

See also: Best quadcopters to buy now and UK drone law - where are you allowed to fly?

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Flying cameras, quadcopters, consumer drones – whatever you want to call them – are one of the most exciting new tech inventions and are rapidly becoming mainstream. We’ve seen some great quadcopters launch this year but there’s more to come in the next 12 months.

Here we’ve rounded up what we think are the most exciting consumer drones being developed right now.

See also: Best quadcopters to buy now and UK drone law - where are you allowed to fly?

Best new drones

Finally, after a year of build-up the Karma has been unveiled. It's a fold-up drone which has a removable gimbal that can be used in a handheld (or mounted) battery grip.

This gives it a couple of big highlights. The bad news is that it's £719.99 without a GoPro camera, and £999.99 if you want it bundled with the new Hero 5. It's compatible with the Hero 4 Black and Silver, which might save you money if you already have one, though.

Release date: 23 October 2016

Best new drones

The Phantom 4 is revolutionary in the world of consumer drones. It's the first to have a proper obstacle avoidance system so it shouldn't crash either when you're flying it yourself, or when it's on autopilot. It also has an improved 4K camera which can shoot 120fps slo-mo video and various other improvements which you can read about in our Phantom 4 review.

It costs £1229 inc VAT, and there's just one model (currently) in the range. We expect a cheaper 'Standard' version to be announced at some point.

Released: March 2016

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Best new drones 2016

Xiaomi is best known for its phones, which are still fairly hard to track down in the UK. We've seen quite a few of them, as well as other devices Xiaomi makes and they're all good value. The Mi Drone is the company's first flying machine launched in May. We're waiting to test it out, but a full review is coming shortly

Read more about the Mi Drone.

Release date: May 2016

Best new drones

DJI has responded to calls for a better camera on a cheaper drone by adding a new model to the Phantom 3 range. The Phantom 3 4K uses Wi-Fi instead of the more expensive Lightbridge system found in the P3 Professional to bring stabilised 4K video and photography to people on a tighter budget. It still has all the intelligent flight modes, including Follow Me and Point of Interest.

It's only £80 more expensive than the Phantom 3 Standard and is available from Wex Photographic for £699

Release date: January 2016

Best new drones

Unlike any other drone in this roundup, the new Disco has only one propeller, so it's not a quadcopter. This fixed-wing drone is controlled from your smartphone and can reach speeds of 50mph (watch the video above to see how it flies). It has the same 14Mp camera as the Bebop 2 and can fly for up to 45 minutes!

It has 32GB of on-board storage for recording and is compatible with Parrot's SkyController.

Currently it's only a prototype and is slated to go into production at the end of the year. There's no word on price yet.

Release date: End of 2016

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Best new drones

Lily has captured the imagination of the public like no other drone, mainly thanks to the spectacular promo video. With foldable propellers and a waterproof body, you can carry it in a back pack and not worry if it crashes into water.

Because it flies itself, there’s no controller. You carry a ‘tracking device’ which Lily follows, letting you concentrate on whatever it is you’re doing, such as skiing, rowing, cycling etc.

There’s no obstacle avoidance, so you have to be ready to hit the pause button if you spot a potential crash about to happen. You can also put Lily in a hover mode to film you from a static aerial position, and using the mobile app you can plan a flight path to avoid obstacles.

It shoots 1080p up to 60fps, but stabilisation is all done digitally: there’s no gimbal. The other downside we can see is that the battery isn’t removable, so you can’t just pop in a spare and carry on flying.

It costs $999.

Release date: May 2016 (August 2016 for new pre-orders)

Best new drones 2016: Yuneec (Qualcomm Flight)

Yuneec is a Chinese drone manufacturer that’s hoping to follow in DJI’s footsteps. It has already launched a few quads, but has now signed up to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight board, which we’re expecting to see used in quite a few new consumer drones, the first of which will be from Yuneec.

The Flight board is significant because it integrates many components used in quadcopters that are traditionally from different manufacturers onto a single board. This should mean lighter, smaller, cheaper drones which can fly for longer – all great benefits.

It’s based on the Snapdragon 801 processor, has Adreno 330 GPU, Hexagon DSP, 2x2 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and GNSS (GPS) for high accuracy positioning. It will also support 4K video processing and 720p encoding for first person view. Plus, it can handle optic flow cameras and extra sensors which can be used for avoiding obstacles.

Best new drones 2016: FPV racing

As well as flying cameras, there’s another type of quadcopter: the racing drone. These are more concerned about speed and manoeuvrability than capturing aerial video and photos.

Think of it as the modern remote-controlled car club, or a miniature Red Bull air race. You can fly so-called ‘agility’ courses indoors or outdoors, wearing goggles that allow you to see the view from the drone’s camera: this is why it’s called FPV as you get a first-person view of the craft as if you were on-board. That also means you don’t need to have line of sight to the quadcopter.

We expect more racing drones to launch in the next year, but you can read more about FPV racing and see a video of a race.

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