6 Best Drones in India (with buying guide, Government Do’s & Don’ts & registration process)

DJI has been a pioneer in manufacturing commercial drones and making them available to us! Its Mavic Pro series unleashes DJI’s drone expertise in its full glory!

Best for both professionals and enthusiasts, this DJI Mavic Pro is perfect for shooting panoramic views and high definition snaps.

And when taken from up above, the photos and videos you shoot will be unlike anyone else!

This drone is especially ideal if you frequently need to shoot good quality videos for a filmmaking assignment, journalism, event management gig or social media posting. With a 12 mega pixel camera you can now shoot stunning views with 4K resolution and a frame rate of 30 fps!

As mentioned in my ‘how to find the best drone’ buying guide below, the drone’s portability is very important. After all tugging along a bulky bag is inconvenient.

This drone easily passes the portability test owing to its compact design that fits in your hand!

The drone also come with a lot of accessories like car charger, controller, battery adapter, battery charging hub, power cable and so on to make your job even easier.

This drone gives you about 20 minutes of flight time and falls in the ‘micro’ drones category (drones weighing between 250 grams to 2kg). You will hence have to register the drone and obtain a Unique Identification Number from the government’s Digital Sky Platform (process explained in guide below).

Another advantage of this drone is its ‘smartness’. It can hover in the air as you figure out the right angle to click images from. It can also fairly avoid collisions with interferences like walls, power lines, birds etc.

The drone is equipped with GPS and sensors so you don’t lose contact with it. And even if you did, the drone can find its way to you, owing to the GPS of its starting point.

This drone’s only drawback is its high price and a trail & error period that takes some getting used to, to fly the drone properly.

All-in-all, out of all the drones available online, DJI Mavic Pro is the best camera drone in India!

DJI Spark Selfie Drone

If the DJI Mavic Pro seems too pricey for a shooting a travel video or a family function then consider buying its younger brother— the DJI Spark!

With a flight time of 16 minutes and a 12 mp camera this camera comes quite close to its ‘costlier’ Mavic Pro version! But that’s not all. This mini drone combines all of DJI’s consumer favourite technologies to make your drone piloting experience the right amount of thrilling and fun! 

For starters, this drone comes with a Quick Launch feature which enables you to launch the drone from your palms.

The drone also supports hand gestures, along with its controller and mobile support for taking pictures. All you have to do is just pose and the drone will click.

This drone also comes with different in-built flight modes like ‘tap fly’, ‘active track’, ‘quick shot’ and ‘gesture’ to enrich your experience further.

The Quick shot mode makes full use of the drone’s gimbal system i.e. the system that manoeuvres the camera. You can now select how the drone moves to shoot videos from different angles and styles.

The TapFly feature lets you tap on any desired spot you want to click pictures from, but on your phone screen. By tapping on the spot, you want the drone to go to, you can direct the drone as well as make it click pictures from just where you want.

You will especially love the active track feature. When in use, the drone actively traces and follows the target object like a loyal puppy.

The drone’s hand gesture recognition doesn’t just stick to taking pictures. With gesture mode you can launch, control, beckon the drone or record, and take a selfie among other tasks.

And if these features aren’t enough, you even get a shake-free gimbal system to control the camera’s movements. With the drone’s 12 mp camera you can shoot videos in full High definition i.e. 1080 pixels resolution.

However, since this drone comes under micro drones (as it weighs more than 250 grams but less than 2kg) you need to obtain a Unique Identification Number from the government. (Check the guide below for more details).

Although some may still find this drone to be expensive, it offers the best combination of features, quality and price among all drones. Its easily the best mini drone in India!

DJI Tello Drone

If you want a more budget-friendly DJI drone then have a look at this Tello drone. Easy to handle and operate even for kids, this drone makes the perfect birthday gift for your little gaming enthusiast.

Or you could just keep this drone to yourself, and click good quality videos every now and then.

As this drone weighs more than 250 grams it is recognised by the Government of India under the micro drone category.

You thus need to obtain a Unique Identification Number before you begin flying the drone.

And if you’re new to drones, this one is just right for a starter drone to get the hang of drone flying. Why? Well, its thanks to Tello’s user friendly App that helps you get started with a variety of functions and guides.

Since this drone has a more affordable price tag compared to other DJI drones, this benefit comes at the cost of other features. For example, this drone can fly only for up to 13 minutes and can shoot videos only in High definition (720p) and not Full HD.

The drone can be launched right from your hand and you can even bounce it up & down while considering which view to capture first. Kids would especially love this drone for its stunt performance.

All you need to do is slide on the screen and the drone will do the entertaining!

Its 5 mega pixel camera is supported by electronic image stabilization that ensures blur-free and sharp footage.

The drone even notifies you in case of low battery status.

Are you interested in programming by any chance? If yes, you’ll love Tello for this. Tello Edu is a mobile programming App that supports Scratch. You can code Tello to perform certain moves. However, some levels are locked with a paywall.

In terms of design, portability and features this drone offers great value for money. Overall, this DJI Tello is the best drone under 20000 in India!

Syma Drone

If you want to skip the extra efforts for applying for a UIN, getting a nano drone is the way to go! Any drone that weighs up to 250 grams is identified as a nano drone by the Government of India and requires no registration or permit.

This camera drone from Syma is one such nano drone that you can start flying as soon as its delivered. However, remember to fly it within 50 feet above ground level.

The drone comes with the quadcopter body equipped with a camera, a remote controller, accessories and a user manual.

As its compact and light-weight drone, its flight time is shorter (about 10 minutes). But that’s enough to get some stunts in and have fun!

With the drone’s 720p camera, you can click pictures and shoot videos in high definition. So, whether it’s a trek, vacation or family function, you can show off your flying skills and click some awesome photos!

The drone supports ‘headless’ mode i.e. no matter where its actual head is facing, it flies front if you set it so even if it means going backward for the drone. With this you don’t have to worry about aligning the drone to face the direction you want it to go.

A compact body, HD camera and an affordable price makes this drone an attractive buy. All-in-all this drone is the best drone under 10000 in India!

Super Toy Quadcopter Drone

Do you want a drone to test out how good of a pilot you can be? But, without burning a hole in your pocket for something so small and non-essential? Then consider this Super Toy Quadcopter drone.

For a budget-friendly price tag, you get a camera drone with controller and about 8 minutes of flight time. The stylish looking drone is foldable so you can carry it in your backpack or handbag and take it with you on holidays or events.

And as you record videos with the drone’s 720p camera, you can stream it live on your YouTube channel or facebook page! The high definition videos are sure to get you plentiful likes!

You don’t even have to worry about any Government red tape. As this drone weighs below 250 grams, it falls under the nano drone category which is exempt from any registration or license requirement.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is to fly it within 50 feet above ground level, during daytime and in your visual line of sight.

The drone also takes off and lands with a single button and can do a few stunts. It comes with LED lighting which looks really good as dusk falls.

Owing to its easy to use operation, low price and compact body, this drone makes a perfect gift for kids and enthusiastic adults, both!

In fact, this one is easily the best nano drone with camera in India!

Kiditos Syma Mini Pocket Drone

If you’re looking for the best toy drone in India and the best drone under 5000, look no more. This Kiditos Syma drone wins both the titles!

With a flying height of 40m this drone is ideal for beginners to drone flying and kids. With a single button the drone takes off to the sky and comes back on pressing the same button.

The LED lights help you identify which one is the head and which is the drone’s tail.

But even if you don’t use that feature, the drone comes with headless mode.

With this mode you can fly the drone in the direction you want even if the drone is facing the opposite side. To add a little fun to your drone flying, you can make it do some stunts.

Depending on your level of expertise and how comfortable you are with piloting the drone, you can try some cool stunts with your drone. For example, the drone can do 3D flips.

To enable it to hover or remain steady in air the drone comes with 6-axis gyro stabilizer. However, interferences like strong winds, electromagnetic and radio waves can still affect the drone’s stability.

Conclusively, this drone is perfect for newbie pilots and users who just want to have some fun! However, it does have one downside— it has no camera.

How to find the best drone for personal use?

Purpose

Drones have become the new selfie stick for hobbyists and enthusiasts. And the ability of drones to perform stunts and manoeuvres while shooting adds another dimension to an already fun activity.

Nano drones (drones weighing up to 250 grams) are best for flying and trying some aerial moves. But if you’re looking for a decent aerial pic of you and your group of friends, a micro drone (250g to 2kg) will suit you better.

Since drones bring a new ‘aerial’ viewpoint to photography and videography, it is also useful in case of journalism, filmmaking and event capturing.

Budget

If you want a drone with the least financial commitment then go for a nano (toy) drone. These are cheaper and cost as low as two or three thousand Rupees.

You will have to shell out a little more if you want a toy drone with a camera.

If your budget is flexible, you can go for the medium-range (10000-20000) drones that shoot good enough pictures and videos in High definition. But if you want a really good footage of your friend’s sangeet, then you’ll have to invest more to get a drone with better camera.

Government procedures

If you want to start flying your drone as soon as you get it without worrying about fines or imprisonment then consider buying a nano drone. These are drones that weigh up to 250 grams and are exempt from having to be registered or declared in any way.

Nano drones do come with a few Do’s and Don’ts that I’ve covered in this guide below.

If you don’t mind taking a few efforts for a good quality drone like a micro drone (weighing between 250g to 2kg), check out my steps on how to get the drone registered with the DGCA below.

Battery Life and Flight time

Most toy (nano) drones have a short flying time that ranges between 5 to 10 minutes. These can either be battery-operated or come with a chargeable battery that needs triple the flying time to get charged.

Having a battery-operated drone is good for situations where you don’t want o wait to charge the drone.

Even in case of camera drones (micro) the flight time is higher but still short. The flight time ranges between 10 to 30 minutes.

And the more time the drone can stay air borne, the higher its price tag gets.

Portability

A drone that is compact and fits in any bag or even the jacket pocket is ideal for taking on travels and tours. So, before you buy your own, check for the drone’s gross weight and specifications to make sure it fits in your travel sack or handbag if need be.

Nano Drones- Do’s & Dont's

Since drone usage can quickly go from fun to no-fun (due to privacy breach, physical harm, accidents and so on), the Government of India has specified some rules regarding their use. 

These rules are made and monitored by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India. The regulations have been added under Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) and have been effective since 1st December 2018.

Thanks to their small size, and technical limitations, there are fewer rules regarding the use of nano drones.

These are:

  • Whether you buy your nano drone within India or import it from outside, ensure that it comes with an Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from the WPC wing of Department of Telecommunication, India.
  • Nano drones are not required to obtain UIN (Unique Identification Number) and UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft operator Permit).
  • Nano drones must be operated within 50 feet (or 15 m) above ground level in uncontrolled airspace or enclosed areas.
  • Uncontrolled airspaces are those where ATC (Air Traffic Control) services are not covered. So basically, just don’t fly your drone near any airport.
  • Fly the drone only during daytime
  • Do not fly drone from moving vehicle of any kind (ships, bikes, cars etc.)

Suggested guidelines

  • Check the weather forecast before planning any flights with your drone
  • Always fly the drone within visual light of sight
  • Take prior permission from the local police or the concerned authority before flying over public areas or events like weddings, rallies and melas
  • Respect people’s privacy when shooting videos

Micro Drones- Do’s & Dont's

Drone flying can turn dangerous if you lose control of it, or if the drone gets affected by external factors like wind and power lines. In order to protect both the public and the pilot from harm, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) prescribes some rules to be followed when operating drones. 

These are:

  • Whether you buy your micro drone within or outside India, ensure that it comes with an Equipment Type Approval (ETA) from the WPC wing of Department of Telecommunication, India.
  • Fly a micro drone within 200 feet above ground level in uncontrolled airspaces or enclosed premises
  • Every micro drone must be registered on the Digital Sky Platform to obtain a Unique Identification Number (UIN)
  • UIN is required to obtain permission every time you make a flight plan (due to government’s NPNT policy- No Permission No Take-off)
  • Do not fly drone from moving vehicle of any kind (ships, bikes, cars etc.)

Suggested guidelines

  • Check the weather forecast before planning any flights with your drone
  • Always fly the drone within visual light of sight
  • Take prior permission from the local police or the concerned authority before flying over public areas or events like weddings, rallies and melas
  • Respect people’s privacy when shooting videos

How to Register your Micro Drone on Government’s Digital Sky Platform?

Launched in December 2018, Digital Sky is a beta version of the DGCA’s drone registration platform. Here you can get your drone registered along with latest press releases regarding drone rules and operations.

You can obtain both UIN (Unique Identification Number) and UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft Operation Permit) by registering, uploading documents and paying the required fee on the Digital Sky platform.

Since I have covered only the commercially available drones in this article (i.e. nano and micro drones) I won’t go in detail about getting a UAOP. This is because both nano and micro drones don’t need an Operator Permit for flying within their prescribed limits.

In fact, nano drones do not need either UIN or UAOP.

Micro drones however, need to be registered on the site and you must obtain a UIN by following the steps given on the Digital Sky page. Here’s a quick walkthrough regarding the process:

Step 1

Buy a drone. For nano drone, there’s no registration needed. In case you buy a micro drone (drone weighing between 251 grams to 2 kg), proceed to step 2.

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Step 2

Click on the ‘Get started’ button. Create an account by entering your full name and email. Set a password for your Digital Sky account.

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A confirmation link will be sent to your inbox. Click on the link to successfully create your Digital Sky account.

If you’ve bought the micro drone for professional use, you can register on Digital Sky with your business email instead. 

Note: Only an Indian citizen above 18 years of age and who has passed 10th exam in English is eligible to become a remote pilot.

Step 3

You can now login with the email id and password you used to register to proceed with the UIN application or use the ‘help me apply’ dialog box to simplify your process.

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The ‘Help me apply’ box asks for 3 parameters regarding your drone.

First, whether it weighs over or under 250 grams? Second, are you a remote pilot, an operator or a manufacturer? And third, select the category of RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) you’ll be flying— ‘micro RPA’ or ‘small or above RPA’.

If you’re buying a micro drone for recreational or professional use, select the parameters as shown in the image above. If you haven’t already logged in, you’ll be directed to login.

Step 4

Next, you’ll be asked for a list of documents to prove your identity and purpose.

Depending on what parameters you selected in step 3, you will be asked to upload some of the following documents online: GSTIN or PAN card, self-attested copies of passport, driving license or Aadhar card.

In addition to this you will be asked to enter your contact details, purpose, base of operation, and product details like its weight, specifications etc. as applicable.

Step 5

Once you’re done uploading required documents and other details, you are directed to the payment gateway. Currently, the charges for obtaining a UIN are 1000 Rupees.

Your job ends here.

Provided all the documents are proper you’ll be issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN) within 2 working days. After you receive your UIN, engrave it on your drone.

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When do you need a UAOP (Operator Permit)?

Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) is like a license you obtain from the government’s Digital Sky Platform for drones larger than micro drones or when you want to fly your drone above its prescribed height.

Here are a few things you should know about UAOP:

  • For nano drones and micro drones, the prescribed height is within 50 feet and 200 feet above ground level, respectively. In case you want to fly any of them beyond that height, you’ll have to have a UAOP.
  • If you’re buying a drone heavier than 2kg (small drone category and above), you will need a UAOP
  • First time applicants will have to pay a fee of 25000 Rupees to get an Operator permit (UAOP)
  • The permit is valid for 5 years
  • The charges for renewing UAOP is 10000 Rupees

Where to apply for a UAOP?

The DGCA’s Digital Sky platform—digitalsky.dgca.gov.in handles the applications for both UIN and UAOP.

After registering your email id and creating and account on the site, you will have to apply for UAOP. This includes providing details on your drone, your personal data, uploading relevant documents and paying the fees.

Types of Commercial Drones (nano & micro)

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) classifies Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) into 5 main categories, out of which only 2 are commercially available to us. With ‘conditions apply’ ofcourse.

Depending on which of the 2 you’re going for, the rules change drastically. Here’s a detailed look into both type of drones:

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Nano Drones

If your drone weighs 250 grams or less, it is recognised as a nano drone by the Government of India. With a 250g limit, there’s not much the manufacturers can put into the drone.

Hence most nano drones are limited to different versions of toy drones. Their main purpose is ‘having fun’ by flying the drone and trying stunts.

Now-a-days some nano drones come with basic cameras that let you shoot pictures and videos in high definition (720 pixels). Let’s consider the general pros and cons of nano drones to understand them better:

Pros:

  • Pocket-friendly size and price
  • No permits or registration required
  • Can do stunts
  • Can click decent pictures and videos (not all models)
  • Easy to handle
  • Most come with controllers and mobile support
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Cons:

  • Vulnerable to strong winds, and other interferences
  • Not ideal for shooting events that need good quality cameras (like weddings, sports etc.)
  • No warranty
  • Can break with repeated collisions
  • No GPS

Micro Drones

Drones that weigh more than 250 grams but less than 2kg are labelled as Micro drones by the DGCA, India. To operate these drones the owner or pilot needs to obtain a UIN or Unique Identification Number.

Micro drones come in a wide price range from budget-friendly to expensive. Depending on your budget, the features offered by the drone get more refined as you pay-up.

However, simply buying the most expensive drone is not always the right answer. You should first decide what you’re buying it for.

If you want to fly the drone and try some stunts, you might be better off with a nano drone. But if you want to click some good quality snaps with the drone and protect it from interference with better technology then a micro drone is a good choice.

Let’s consider the general pros and cons of micro drones to understand them better:

Pros:

  • Better mid-air stability
  • Good resistance to interference (wind, radiation etc.) compared to nano drones
  • Better than nano drones at taking pictures and videos
  • Quick assembly
  • More features
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Cons:

  • Needs Unique Identification Number which delays drone use
  • Needs UAOP (Operator permit) in case you plan to fly it more than 200 feet above ground level
  • Buying a really good micro drone is expensive

What are drones? And 5 Reasons they are trending

Any vehicle flying in the air (aerially) that is not controlled by a human pilot is called a ‘drone’ in common lingo. It is also known by other names like Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Quadcopter, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) etc.

A drone system consists of the flying drone itself along with its controller and a human pilot.

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Since drones are such a wide category, it covers everything from remote-controlled toy helicopters to military-grade aircrafts. But for civilian and commercial consumers like us, drones have just gotten more interesting and accessible.

Why? Well, here are 5 reasons Drones are in trend today:

  • Their price

Till a few years ago, the only drones we could afford to buy were the lame, toy ones that flew till the ceiling for a few minutes before they had to be charged again. Advanced drones that click HD photos and fly for longer periods were expensive and forbidden to buy.

But, not anymore.

Sure, advanced drones are still expensive and if you’re not keeping track you could end up paying a fortune.  However, Companies like DJI (China), Parrot (USA) and so on have developed drones that can fit any consumer’s budget.

These newer, ‘advanced’ drones can shoot awesome videos, do stunts and avoid collisions with obstacles in air among other things.

The increasing features and lowering price tags have put drones in the wish-list of many consumers.

  • Applications

The most you could do with a toy drone was fly it with maybe a few stunts here and there (if you were that good!). This made commercial drones boring after the initial novelty was over.

The newer drones don’t just fly for a longer time but come with a host of other features. This opens up different ways you can use the ‘better’ drones available today.

Is it a trek you want to record or your cousin’s wedding? Maybe your son’s school race or an evening at the local park? You can use the drone as creatively as you can and never get tired of it!

With the newer, more advanced drones, really, the sky is the limit!

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  • Ease of use

We can only imagine how much practice and efforts go into piloting a military grade or civilian drone. This is because ‘flying’ comes with its own speed breakers.

Even commercial drones are affected by both seen and unseen forces. The ‘unseen’ forces include the wind, electromagnetic and radio waves (i.e. interference from other devices).

While the ‘seen’ forces includes all kinds of air traffic like birds, power lines, trees, electricity poles etc.)

Hence many drones come with an obstacle avoidance system these days, and with pre-programmed modes that make flying easier and fun. You don’t need to attend courses on flying.

Trial and error a few times, is enough to get a hang of how to pilot drones.

  • Portability

Drones are fun because you can take them anywhere with you with minimal luggage requirements. So, whether you’re a light or heavy packer, taking a drone along won’t weigh you down.

Drones are portable enough to take on holidays and are easy to assemble. You won’t have to spend efforts in putting it together which adds to its ease of use.

  • Their exclusivity

Although drones are getting cheaper, the good ones are expensive enough that not everyone is lining up to buy them. Also depending on what type of drone you’re buying; the buyer needs to register for an identification number and Operator permit with the DGCA (Government of India).

This is why drones will continue to remain exclusive.

For hobbyists and enthusiasts, this adds an edge when you’re the only one with a drone on a trek.

So, whether it’s a travel video or a group photo from the sky, drone-owners can show-off their aerial photography skills with pride!

To know more drone basics, check out this article from dronezon. 

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