What are the good alternatives to DJI drones? It’s a question I get all-too-often, and has led me to detail not just what the alternatives are, but more often why there are so few alternatives.
There’s a massive group of people who want to know how DJI got so big in the first place, but there’s just as massive — or so it seems — a chunk of people who flat out don’t want to buy DJI drones. Many people specifically seek out American made drones (which does not encompass DJI, which is based in China). The quest for DJI alternatives stems from a few reasons including patriotism, anti-China sentiment, and a desire to stand out from the crowd.
However, clearly the number viable alternatives is frustratingly few, particularly for budget-conscious consumers. That’s why I joined John Dickow, host of the “Your Drone Questions. Answered.” podcast by Drone Launch Academy, to help illuminate some good alternatives to DJI drones. You can watch it on YouTube here:
If you’d rather listen only, then the podcast can be download from Apple Podcasts (or pretty much any other podcast player). And then I’ll give you a brief, text version — right here, right now.
In short, I don’t believe there are any good alternatives to DJI drones under $500. That is unless you count the roughly-$100 Tello drone which is made by another company called Ryze, but still uses DJI parts. And even the pickings for consumer-oriented drones in the $1,000 realm are slim. Sure, Skydio dominates the follow-me drone market, but all Skydio consumer drones are currently out of stock. Many fear that Skydio’s consumer lineup may have been discontinued completely (though Skydio won’t say for sure either way), so the only way to get your hands on those is likely to buy a used Skydio drone.
For drone pilots with a higher budget, the Sony Airpeak drone is the best option to carry Sony’s line of Alpha cameras. Meanwhile, drones from Montana-based Skyfish are the best option if you want a drone that can carry Sony Alpha cameras and that is made in America.
The slim pickings are for a few reasons, but the overarching theme is that, while some American companies produce enterprise-level drones, the reason that consumer-level alternatives remain scarce is due to production costs and infrastructure limitations. With that, what is the possibility of emerging technologies from the commercial sector eventually making their way to consumers? Could drones parallel the evolution of computers and other tech that starts out with commercial focuses and circles back to becoming ubiquitous in the consumer market?
Hear our full conversation by checking out the “Your Drone Questions. Answered.” podcast!
What is the “Your Drone Questions. Answered.” podcast?
“Your Drone Questions. Answered.” is a relatively new podcast from the team at Drone Launch Academy, which first came into the drone industry through its Part 107 online test prep course offering. As one of dozens of such courses out there, Drone Launch’s stands out because — if you fail your in-person exam — Drone Launch Academy will pay for you to retake the Part 107 test, which is an $150 value in itself, on top of a course refund (an additional $199 value).
Drone Launch Academy has since grown behind just Part 107 courses to also offer things like drone photo courses. And next month, it’s hosting an in-person, annual event called “Drone Launch Live” in Florida.
And yes, there’s now the podcast. While many episodes are beginner-focused, the podcast delves into more complex discussion topics, like why people want American made drones, as is the case in this latest episode. I was featured in an episode this spring where we discussed the best beginner drones. Thanks to the podcast’s intentionally-short run-time (most episodes are less than 20 minutes), it’s a must-have on your podcast feed for a quick filler on your commute.
Download it wherever you get your podcasts, or like it if you watch the episode on YouTube.
By the way, when you enroll in Drone Launch Academy’s Part 107 online test prep program, don’t forget to enter coupon code DRONEGIRL50. That’ll take $50 off the cost of the course and bring the usual $199 price down to just $149.