Buying drones as gifts can be somewhat tricky if you have little knowledge or experience with these amazing flying machines. This deficit is easily overcome, however, with just a little bit of research on the subject. So, what kind of drone should you buy for the loved one on your shopping list this year: toy grade, hobby grade, or photography grade?

Whether you’re shopping for a friend, relative, significant other, or any other person in your life, today we’ll attempt to uncover the best type of drone to give them by examining the different classifications of drones, considering what type of drone enthusiast each is best suited to, and looking at a representative drone from within each category.

Read on to learn all about the different types of drones available, and to determine how to make a happy selection for the lucky recipient on your shopping list this year.


Toy Grade Drones

The first types of drones we’ll consider are toy grade drones. Toy grade drones are often an ideal choice for kids—though not necessarily always. The main reason for this is that toy grade drones are designed for entry level users and are primarily intended to be flown purely for fun and piloting practice.

One good example of a toy grade drone is the Mindscope Sky Lighter RC Quadcopter Disc Drone. This model has what all good toy grade drones must have, and that is the ability to perform all kinds of cool flying stunts, like mid-air 360 degree flips.

Another thing that places this model firmly in toy territory is its impressive array of glowing LED lights, making it almost as fun to watch as it is to pilot (which can be done by anyone as young as 6 years old for this particular model).

You see, toy grade drones are all about having fun, and this type of drone is both fun and safe. It’ll also provide 15-20 minutes of total flying time, which is impressive for a toy grade model.

If the recipient on your gift giving list this year is a kid or anyone else that might enjoy a basic, entry level drone that’s perfect for just having fun with, then a toy grade drone is probably the right gifting choice.


Hobby Grade Drones

One of the key distinguishers between toy grade drones and hobby grade drones is the presence of additional features and the overall complexity of the model. It is important to note, however, that there are no clear lines distinguishing one type of drone from another.

Some overlap of features between drones of different types is therefore unavoidable. For example, both toy and hobby grade drones may feature stunt capabilities. For this reason, there is considerable subjectivity in determining what differentiates one grade of drone from another. To some degree, you will have to judge these classifications for yourself and decide where to draw the lines between the different categories.

As for hobby grade drones, a perfect example of what I personally believe fits into this classification is the Propel Star Wars X-Wing Battling Quadcopter Drone(along with its counterparts from the same Star Wars line).

To me, what qualifies these Propel drones as hobby grade models includes details such as their Star Wars theme (a very collectible property), their special display casing, and their special edition treatment (these models are hand painted and individually numbered).

Additionally, included extras (like having a second battery) and higher end controllers also add to their hobby grade status, as does the complexity of their flight features and additional capabilities (for instance, the ability to fly app based flight simulations by connecting your smart phone to the “hobby grade controller” without needing to use the drone itself).

In fact, there are many great extras with the Propel Star Wars drones that are worth checking out. You can even play a fun sort of mid-air laser tag dogfight game with them if you have more than one drone and pilot to go against. It’s really cool!

If the person on your gift giving list is already a drone enthusiast (and even more-so if he or she is also a Star Wars fan), these are just the kinds of extras that can take one’s piloting experience to the next level of the hobby, and that is just what makes Propel’s drones excellent hobby grade models.


Photography Drones

When it comes to photography drones, the user you’re buying for should be someone that wants to fly their drone for photography or videography purposes more-so than simply for fun.

This person may be a professional, such as a real estate agent or a filmmaker with a need for a photography drone for business purposes, or they may just want to shoot high quality photographs and video footage for their own personal use and gratification.

Either way, a good photography drone is typically a much higher end proposition than either a toy or a hobby grade drone, and its price tag will generally reflect this reality.

Even so, you can still get a great deal on a photography based model (or a flying camera as they are sometimes called) if you are studious and willing to forgo certain unnecessary extras in favour of something that still features excellent quality though may be a bit more basic in what all it offers.

One fine example of just such a drone is the DJI Spark Quadcopter Drone with Camera & Controller. While you won’t get quite as much flying time (16 minutes of battery life versus nearly 30 minutes with some higher end models) with this model, and you’ll forgo certain specific extras, like FPV (First Person Viewer) goggles, such additions certainly aren’t necessary to capturing super high quality video and images.

For instance, the Spark shoots stabilized HD footage (as well as 12MP still shots) and provides a number of advanced features that also make it easy to use. Its Intelligent Flight Mode is just one example of this, allowing the Spark to take off and ascend essentially all by itself, along with being able to fly in specific flight patterns like circling around a particular focal point to get an interesting spiralling shots of the subject.

Of course, there are many other advanced features with a drone such as this, and that is exactly the point—photography grade drones have the most advanced features of all.

Drones in this class are generally capable of auto takeoff and landing, obstacle avoidance (thanks to special, built-in sensors), live video streaming via a Wi-Fi connection between drone and controller, and long range flight capabilities (often up to several kilometres), just to name a few of their many advanced features.

Of course, not every drone will have every feature, but just knowing a bit about what’s possible within each classification group should give you an excellent starting point to begin your product specific research.


And that’s where we’re going to leave off for now. If you know the person you’re buying for extremely well, you should be able to determine which type of drone may be right for them, and then you can begin the process of selecting a specific model.

Remember, there’s a certain amount of subjectivity when it comes to identifying which drones fit best into which categories, but with the knowledge you’ve acquired by reading this blog, you can now at least narrow your search to a much more focused collection of models. Good luck and happy holidays!

Leonard Bond
Leo enjoys writing about everything from secret agents to tech toys and gadgets to professional hockey. Find his reviews and other product related commentary right here on the Best Buy Blog and his latest hockey rants at