Drone vs RC Helicopter

In the last decade, it seems like drones came out of nowhere. Now, they’re one of the most popular gifts to give at Christmas time and although they aren’t as popular as they were a few years ago, their popularity certainly hasn’t died down completely. They provide a genuine use, and using a drone with a camera is one of the best ways to get quality aerial shots.

Whereas generally RC helicopters are more of a toy than anything else. They came out long before drones (back in the last 1960s) and have been popular with kids and adults alike ever since. But in the modern climate, which one would be a better choice for you?

Well, it really depends on what you’re looking for and what you need. There are a few reasons why you might prefer one over the other, which I’ll cover to ensure that you get the right UAV for you.

Drone vs RC Helicopter

Of course, the main difference between a drone and an RC helicopter is the amount of rotors that they use. Whilst what we call a drone typically uses 4 rotors (which is why it’s called a quadcopter), a helicopter will use one (sometimes two, called a tandem rotor).

Generally, an RC helicopter will have a little better battery life than a drone. There really isn’t too much of a difference between the two. In terms of practicability, the drone is the more stable option of the two, which is why drones have become so popular in recent years. RC Helicopters have their place too, but at the lower cost end of the spectrum, cheaper priced RC helicopters are not particularly stable. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are some pros and cons of each type of UAV.

Drones – Pros and Cons


 Drones are great if you’re looking for something that’s easy to control. Why? Well, beginner drones usually have something called drone headless mode. This essentially means that instead of having a front and back to the drone, you’re literally controlling it as you’re facing it. If you go left, the drone will go left from where you’re looking at it, instead of which direction the drone is facing. This makes it much easier to use than a RC helicopter.

 Whereas RC helicopters are generally more for fun, drones actually have a practical use. You can use them to film great aerial shots, which is one of their best uses. Have you ever tried to record with an RC helicopter? It’s not very stable. Most drone, even cheaper ones, have an altitude hold. This means that you can stay at the same level for a long period of time, which gives you the stability to get awesome focussed shots.

 Gone are the days where drones are big clunky machines. Nowadays, you can get some mini drones that are actually better sized than RC helicopters. So if you’re looking for something small and portable, a mini drone can be a better option.


 The one thing that anyone will tell you is the biggest pet peeve with their drone is undoubtedly the battery life. This one can be really annoying, especially if you’ve got a drone that you need to charge for an hour, only for it to last 5 minutes. This is one of the worst things about cheap drones, and one of the reasons why you might want to spend a little more on a decent one.

 As with all small UAVs, drones are particularly effected by wind and poor weather. This is definitely true more so with budget drones than with budget RC helicopers, which can cope with the bad weather a little better.

RC Helicopters – Pros and Cons


 The good thing about RC helicopters is that they’re great fun to operate! Although drones are cool too, they’re not quite as fun as commandeering your own helicopter in my opinion.

 Another good thing about RC helicopters is that at lower budgets, they tend to have a much better battery life if you’re comparing it to a drone of the same price. Whilst much of a drones battery might be sucked up recording and running the rotors, this isn’t something that you have to worry about with an RC helicopter.

 Generally, there isn’t a great difference in the cost between a helicopter and a drone. But because of the cheap materials used to make RC helicopters, often they can be a little cheaper.


 The durability of RC helicopters is not going to match that of a drone. This is largely due to the dimension of an RC helicopter, and the fact that many drones are made from nylon to deal with crashes and bumps. When landing an RC helicopter, you’ll want to take more care and ensure you’re landing properly.

 Aside from their use as a toy, most RC helicopters don’t have much more to them than just flying. If you’re comparing this to a drone that can take aerial photos, it can seem a bit boring in comparison.


Overall, these are just some of the reasons that you might decide to pick one over the other. The trust is that both RC helicopters and drones offer pretty great experiences, and you can usually find them at pretty affordable prices too. Depending on what it is that you need, they both provide a pretty great experience.

Considering everything, it’s safe to say that RC helicopters may provide a more fun experience when flying them. But, drones have their practical use too, so it’s up to you to decide which is more suitable for your needs.

2 thoughts on “Drone vs RC Helicopter”

  1. You have not given one of the main differences: Control, programming, parts, etc. A heli demands more knowledge and skill. A drone’s software does the flying most of the time, unlike a 6 channel RC heli. Things of that nature separates the two. You didn’t even mention aerobatic capabilities, and that’s where a drone is boring! Anyway, this article lacks some more substance. Thanks, though.

    • Hey Carlos,

      Thanks for giving some more in depth advice to those looking for more info about drones (I realise that this article is a little boring!). I agree that RC helicopters are definitely more fun than drones, which is why they’re still pretty popular! Thanks for stopping by.

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