Best hand-controlled drone

Electronic Toys

Expect to crash your hand-controlled drone into trees, walls and anything in the way until you’ve had enough hours at the controls to become an experienced pilot.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which hand-controlled drones are best?

There’s a small space between drone toys and fully remote-controlled drones. This is where hand-controlled drones come in. Most hand-controlled drones respond to objects near them, so when you move your hand towards one of these from beneath, it rises. Come at it from the side, and it changes direction. A step up are drones where pilots wear controllers on their hands and direct the drone with hand gestures.  

If you’re new to drone flying and looking for a hands-free mini-drone that reads your hand gestures, the Force1 Scoot LED Drone is a great choice.

What to know before you buy a hand-controlled drone

Construction

Inexperienced pilots crash a lot, so drones need to stand up to the punishment. And because you don’t want the crashes to damage what they collide with, the drones should be made of flexible plastic that cushions any blows. The lighter the weight of the drone, the less harm it can potentially inflict upon people and property.

Design

Most hand-controlled drones are designed to look cool. Many of them have fanciful designs of futuristic and fantastic things, like UFOs and dinosaurs. Some come with LED lighting, allowing you to take the light show to the air.

Size

Hand-controlled drones are smaller than remote control drones. Among mini-drones, the lighter the drone, the more it will be blown around outside in the wind. Generally speaking, smaller hand-controlled drones are best for indoors and larger ones are best for outdoor use.

Battery life

The battery size of a hand-controlled drone is limited by the size and weight of the aircraft. Smaller batteries that weigh less have shorter lives. The industry standard for hand-controlled drones is only six minutes of flying time, followed by a recharging time of anywhere between 30-60 minutes. Better (and more expensive) hand-controlled drones tend to have the longest flying times and the shortest charging times.

For more information, take a look at the full hand controlled drone buying guide from BestReviews.

What to look for in a quality hand-controlled drone

Controls

There are three basic ways to fly hand-controlled drones. Inexpensive models use only one while better models will use two or even three.

  • Hand control: Infrared sensors built into the drones act as proximity sensors that detect your hands and move in the direction away from them. This means you have to be close enough to your hand-controlled drone to almost touch it in order to control it.  
  • Hand-worn remote control: You wear this remote on your hand. Your gestures are read by the remote and sent to the drone, which moves up, down, left, right, forward and backward as you command. 
  • Take off and land controls: Hand-controlled drones with this feature take off and land vertically with the touch of a remote button on the control you wear on your hand.

Lights

Because handheld drones are limited to a range of usually 20 feet or less, they are not good candidates for racing. They are excellent for close pursuit and great fun to watch when they flash brilliantly colored LED lights in flight.

Cameras

Hand-controlled drones with cameras allow you to capture gorgeous photos and videos from on high and share them on social media. Look for camera resolution levels of 720p or better to meet social media standards. Hand-controlled drones with a hover feature deliver clear and unblurred images.

How much you can expect to spend on a hand-controlled drone

Drones in the $10-$20 range are mostly simple toys. Most of the popular hand-controlled drones cost between $20-$40. Above $40, you’ll begin to get into remote control territory.

Hand-controlled drone FAQ

How many should I buy?

A. The rule of thumb is one drone per child plus a spare so you can continue to pilot your drone when the batteries die.

Can kids hurt themselves with the blades?

A. Teach children to keep their faces, eyes, fingers and hair away from the blades. If or when they do get nipped, the light and flexible blades should cause little damage while giving your kids a lesson in being careful.

What’s the best hand controlled drone to buy?

Top hand controlled drone 

Force1 Scoot LED Drone

Force1 Scoot LED Drone

What you need to know: This hands-free motion sensor mini drone looks like a red and blue UFO.

What you’ll love: This 4.5-inch-wide, 4.6-ounce hand controlled drone is a top choice for beginners because it is easy to master. The webbed shell is made with nontoxic plastic that protects hands, walls and furniture from the four propellers. The rechargeable lithium polymer batteries and USB cable are included. This drone flies for 8 minutes on a 50-minute charge.

What you should consider: The fun only lasts 8 minutes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top hand controlled drone for the money

kizplays TIEKE Flying Disco Drone

kizplays & TIEKE Flying Disco Drone

What you need to know: This is a fun toy drone for kids age seven and older to use indoors.

What you’ll love: Switch the power button to ON, hold the ball in your hand as the blades start to turn and control its flight by moving your hand. This fast-charging drone is lightweight, flexible and made of non-toxic ABS plastic parts. It shuts itself off when it collides with an object or falls to the ground, and the built-in multi-color LED lights are the show.

What you should consider: Gentle as they may be, the blades are not shielded.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

SKYKING SG-F31 Gesture Control Quadcopter Pterosaur Mini Drone

SKYKING SG-F31 Gesture Control Quadcopter Pterosaur Mini Drone

What you need to know: You get outstanding speed, style and features with this prehistoric mini drone that is a favorite of experienced drone pilots.

What you’ll love: You wear the remote controller on your hand. This hand controlled drone has a 720p camera built in to record all your flights on video or in stills. Shoot those wonderful birds-eye views you can only get from a drone that has a super stable hover and height retention mode. The drone can be raised or lowered with the push of a single button, and the one-key emergency stop prevents accidents.

What you should consider: The battery life on this model is very short when shooting videos.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.