Today, there’s a drone that can accomplish just about anything. Having disrupted the market first as a savvy new tech gadget used for recreational purposes, now drones have become commercial utilities contributing to the drone business, which means they have been re-engineered as such.
Think of a recreational drone as a toy capable of quality photography and first-person immersion, with a few autonomous ‘smart’ components sprinkled into the design. These drones can provide a great source of fun by filming you and your friends, flying around in open areas, and even racing.
The commercial drone, on the other hand, can do a whole lot more. Commercial drones support heavier payloads, and industry-grade cameras, and come equipped with the hardware to execute S&R missions, agricultural mapping, structural inspections, and so forth.
The point is: that commercial drones are the heavy-hitting sUAVs meant to help you accomplish complex tasks, industry-standard photography, and anything else that can be used to make money. This income-producing tool, after all, is why it’s deemed ‘commercial.’
Read on to learn about the top commercial drones currently on the market.
The Best Commercial Drones
Phantom 4 Pro
The Phantom 4 Pro is the P4’s successor. This drone is like the iPhone of the drone industry; pervasive, dependable, and the industry standard. It can be used both as a recreational or commercial piece of equipment and excels in both endeavors. From flying at speeds up to 45mph, shooting in RAW 4k, to having software that boasts obstacle avoidance in a 360-degree radius, this is one of the most sought-after and intelligent drones on the market. Better yet, it’s a camera drone that’s not going to break your wallet.
- 30 Minute Flight Time
- 4k 60fps Video (can shoot in RAW)
- 7km Control Range
- DJI Intelligence
- 30M Sensor Range
- Lightbridge FPV technology
Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian
Recently, DJI dropped the 4 Pro Obsidian which is a charcoal-like, stylized version of the original Phantom 4 Pro. The magnesium shell is sleek and sexy. Between the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian and the Phantom 4 Pro, there exist a few differences.
- Obstacle Avoidance and DJI Intelligence
- Intelligent Flight Modes
- Shoots in 4k
- Max Speed 45mph
- Livestreams FPV in HD
It’s important to mention that you can also purchase each item independently—as provided by DJI and independent of the bundle. Additionally, DJI offers a:
- DJI Goggles RE
- Backpack Carrying Case
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
The Mavic made a splash when it first hit the market. It was a compact, smaller, and just-as-capable version of the Phantom 4. It could do almost everything its bigger brother could, yet was infinitely more capable. Enter the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, a drone that sports a 24mm to 48mm zoom which offers double optical and digital zoom, positioning this drone as a photographer’s muse. Additionally, DJI integrated all their new smart modes like Boomerang, Dolly Zoom, and more.
- 31 Minute Maximum Flight Time
- 4k Video
- 45mph in sports mode
- 12mp camera
- Compact and Portable
- DJI Intelligence
- 2x Optical and Digital Zoom
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The idea behind the engineering of the Mavic 2 Pro was simple; how do we take the original design of the Mavic and optimize it for greater performance? The Mavic 2 Pro answered by improving its flight time, upgrading its camera, and integrating omnidirectional obstacle avoidance and hyper-lapse mode, along with a multitude of other upgrades. Its camera has a 1” CMOS Sensor that can take stills in 20mp and record video in 4k at 30fps. Further, it can also record at 100Mbps and adjust its aperture settings, meaning you govern the camera’s f-stop, which is a feat that wasn’t possible with its predecessor.
- 8km Flight Range
- DJI Intelligence
- Hyperlapse Mode
- Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance
- 4k at 30fps
- 20mp Stills
DJI Inspire 2
The DJI Inspire 2 is a drone marketed for filmmakers, with only one agenda behind the design; to become the best out-of-the-box camera drone on the market. This unit certainly falls beneath the category of professional drones and earns that title with its camera that can shoot in 5.2k at 30fps and in RAW. Still, this sort of footage takes a massive amount of storage, in DJI introduced the ProRes feature, which is a coding format invented by Apple. It works to compress the files to take up less storage space.
- 23-27 Minutes of Flight Time
- 7km Flight Range
- 6k/5.2k Recording in RAW
- 1080p Live View | Lightbridge 2 Technology
- Obstacle Avoidance
- QuickSpin, TapFly, ActiveTrack
DJI Matrice 600 Pro
When it comes to the best drone for commercial use, the Matrice 600 Pro checks all the appropriate boxes. Marketed for enterprise pilots, the Matrice 600 Pro is integrated with all the latest DJI technologies. With Lightbridge 2 HD transmission, a sleek and modular design, an intelligent battery system, and a setup tailored to allow several Zenmuse cameras and gimbals to ‘plug-and-play,’ this drone says one thing; industrial. It can sustain hefty payloads from acting as a carrier to sporting a RED EPIC. If you’re looking for an industrial drone that you can use as a base for whatever operation is necessary, the DJI Matrice 600 is a commercial drone you should consider.
- 40mph Maximum Speed
- A3 Pro Flight Control System
- 5km Flight Range
- Customizable Setup
- Light Bridge 2 Transmission Technology
DJI Agras MG-1S
The DJI Agras MG-1S is a professional drone engineered to serve as an agriculture management platform, hence the ‘Agras’ in the name. If a pilot is looking for an enterprise solution for spraying, mapping, and executing management functions for agriculture, this is the drone to beat. It comes with its own spraying system, is equipped with a flow sensor, and sports the A3 flight controller which sits at the forefront of DJI technology. The three high-precision microwave radars provide accurate height evaluation, scanning, and work to adjust the drone in real-time for the necessary task at hand. It also integrates forward and backward obstacle sensing.
- MG-1S Optimized Controller
- DJI Agriculture Management Platform
- Detachable Frame Arm
- Intelligent Battery System
DJI Phantom 4 Advanced
The DJI Phantom 4 Advanced lives somewhere between the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 4 Pro. It’s the perfect commercial drone for sale for those that aren’t looking for massive, enterprise solutions, yet want a machine a bit more capable than the P4 or the Mavic. It can shoot in RAW 4k, integrates Lightbridge 2 Technology, and has a 7km transmission range. It can hit speeds up to 45mph and comes equipped with an upgraded obstacle avoidance system. All this and it’s budget-friendly.
- 4k Camera RAW
- 45mph Maximum Speed
- Lightbridge Technology
- DJI Intelligent Flight Modes
- 30 Minutes of Flight Time
DJI Inspire 1
The original commercial drone targeting filmmakers, the Inspire 1 still holds its value, perhaps even more so after the introduction of its successor, the Inspire 2. It sports a camera that shoots in raw 4k, can fly up to 18 minutes per charge, has 360-degree unobstructed gimbal movement, and uses Lightbridge technology for Livestream transmission. The duality between controller and gimbal allows a pilot and camera operator to work in tandem on a given project, allowing for more complex and dynamic shot setups. Due to the Inspire 2, the reduced price-point of the Inspire 1 makes it one of the best commercial drones for sale.
- 4k Camera with 360 Degree Gimbal
- Retractable Carbon Fiber Arms
- Vision Positioning
- Dual Pilot/Camera Operator Capability
- Lightbridge Video Transmission Technology
- 18 Minutes of Flight Time
Along with DJI inspire, there are a ton of accessories you can purchase to optimize the performance of the drone and its range of capabilities. Some, too, are simply for the sake of convenience (we’re look at you, carrying case)
- Extra Inspire 1 Battery
- Extra Inspire 1 Controller For Secondary Operator
- Specific Inspire 1 Carrying Case
- Transmitter Sunshade
This professional drone is coined a ‘commercial aerial solution’ by Yuneec, a drone manufacturer currently disrupting the market. It seems every year their tech improves, further granting them a competitive edge against DJI. This hexacopter is engineered for industrial applications like security, surveying, mapping, and building inspections. It shoots in 4k and live streams in 720p with a 360-degree, unobstructed gimbal. The ‘hot-swap’ payload options might just be the drone’s best attribute, as a pilot can swap out cameras in real-time depending on the project’s objective. Go from a high-quality filming unit to one of the best-infrared drones in a matter of minutes, without having to overload a single data card.
- 4k at 30fps
- Data Pilot Software System (3D scans, ortho maps, crop data imagery, recallable flight paths)
- Flexible Camera System
- 12mp Stills
- Yuneec Smart Technology
DJI Mavic Air 2
The Mavic Air is a professional drone that had the same efficacy as the Phantom 4. It’s a more compact version of the Phantom series, yet its portability doesn’t sacrifice any of its hardware or features. Quite the opposite. The Mavic can record in 4k and integrates DJI flight features like ActiveTrack, QuickShots, TapFly, and Return Home. If a portable, affordable, and intelligent commercial drone to be used in the name of aerial photography is on the agenda, then the original Mavic must be considered. It’s also a fantastic unit for drone training.
- 4k Video
- 21 Minutes of Flight Time
- Livestream 1080p
- Extremely Portable
- Weighs Less than 1lb | Extremely Portable
- Obstacle Avoidance
DJI Mavic Pro
The DJI is acclaimed as one of the most economic and intelligent commercial drones on the market. Before the Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 was the mark to beat. But the Mavic Pro can do (nearly) all the Phantom 4—in a highly compact, portable, and efficient design. It can capture footage in 4k, execute DJI’s intelligent flight modes, and even has its own obstacle avoidance system. It can fly up to 27 minutes and hit a maximum speed of 40mph. If you’re looking for something around the range of $1k that can produce quality, commercial-grade aerial footage, then consider the DJI Mavic Pro
- GPS Positioning
- Livestream FPV
- 12mp stills
- 4k at 30fps
- Maximum Speed of 40mph
- 27 Minutes of Flight Time Per Charge
The Different Options
Being that the Mavic Pro was such a success, DJI decided to create three different sale options. There’s the base model, the starter bundle, and the deluxe bundle.
The starter bundle comes with the DJI Mavic Pro, a specific remote controller, and an additional battery.
- Longer Flight Time (Extra Batter)
- Specific Remote Controller
The Deluxe bundle provides even more than the starter. If you want everything you need to excel in your commercial drone pursuits, then this option should definitely be considered.
- Longer Flight Time (2 Extra Batters)
- Car Charger
- Charging Hub
- 2 Extra Propellers
- Shoulder Bag For Easier Portability
Yuneec Mantis Q
The Mantis Q is Yuneec’s version of the Mavic; a professional drone that is compact, portable, and aerial photography specific. It sports a highly stylized and experimental voice control feature, with an impressive 44mph maximum speed and flight time of 33 minutes. It comes in at around $500, costing a fraction of the aforementioned drones, and is not without a competitive edge.
- Voice Control
- Maximum Flight Time 33 Minutes
- Maximum Speed 44mph
- Extremely Portable | Compact Design
Uses for Commercial Drones
While titles like ‘commercial,’ ‘enterprise,’ and ‘industrial,’ all seem to say ‘used as a tool for an income-generating job,’ what exactly are commercial drones used for? These drone companies selling commercial equipment, exactly who are they marketing to?
Today, drone pilots are in hot demand. Industries such as real estate, film, journalism, sports, and any field which calls for aerial footage have rung a siren for drone pilots to assemble and provide their services. Photography that used to require a helicopter, production team, and thousands of dollars, can now be accomplished by a single pilot with a machine costing no more than $1k.
Police and Fire personnel are utilizing sUAVs for rescue operations and surveillance. Drones have the capability to go into places where it was impossible or too dangerous to access previously, protecting the lives of responders and saving those in dire situations.
Journalists and the likes can now utilize drones to capture the most optimal footage of a given event; shots that would previously take reconnaissance or simply weren’t possible.
Refer back to the DJI Agras; farmers are beginning to incorporate drones as their primary agricultural management systems. Why? Because a single drone can do in a day what would otherwise take a team of farmers to. From mapping, and surveying, to spraying and monitoring soil levels, the drone has become an integral utility to the agriculture industry. Often these tasks are executed with fixed-wing drones.
Drones allow conservationists to monitor species populations by moving ultra-quiet drones into areas that would otherwise be disrupted by on-ground operations.
Cities are now using drones to survey structural longevity, as they can reach heights and areas that would be problematic and dangerous for manned operations.
While this has yet to be executed to its fullest potential, drones possess the ability to grant internet access to remote regions of the world. Facebook is currently developing a solar-powered drone with aim of providing internet services to poor and underdeveloped areas.
The evolution of the consumer drone has done more than complement the enthusiastic hobbyist; they’ve played a massive role in job creation. At the very minimum, they’ve provided filmmakers and photographers with a tool that allows them to capture footage creatives a decade ago could only dream of. At the most, they’re out in the field executing rescue missions, protecting our public safety responders, and saving lives in the process. With the massive success of the commercial drone, the question of whether or not they’re going to stay is no longer a question at all. Today, the question is this: just what other industries can they service? With current trends, it seems their commercial potential is limitless. So long as pilots continue to follow the proper drone rules, there’s no reason this progress should be interrupted.