While quadcopter drones may be garnering most of the attention these days, they aren’t the only aerial remote control vehicles out there. RC helicopters have been in production for decades, but older models tended to be expensive, complicated, and powered often by gas. New advancements in technology has created a whole new breed of RC helicopters that are well suited to the needs of the drone generation.
An RC helicopter is first and foremost a toy. It doesn’t have the same level of pragmatic application as drones, but that’s freeing in a way. They’re a great way to challenge yourself and spend a lazy afternoon. We’ve identified 10 contenders for the best RC helicopter of 2020 and provided you with the tools you need to shop smart.
- 10 Best RC Helicopters
- 1. Syma S107G 3 Channel RC Helicopter
- 2. Blade E-flite mCX2 RTF
- 3. Tenergy Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter
- 4. Cheerwing S107/S107G Phantom Mini RC Helicopter
- 5. HiStorm Gyro RC Helicopter
- 6. WL 4CH 2.4GHz RC Helicopter
- 7. VATOS 3.5HZ RC Helicopter
- 8. GPTOYS G610 11″ Durant Built-in Gyro Infrared RC Helicopter
- 9. JJRC JX01 5CH Altitude Hold Helicopter
- 10. Helizone 4CH 2.4 Ghz Remote Control Helicopter
- RC Helicopter Buyer’s Guide
10 Best RC Helicopters
1. Syma S107G 3 Channel RC Helicopter
Syma is one of the biggest and best names in aerial remote control vehicles, and despite the simplicity and affordability of the S107G, it's still a remarkably well made RC helicopter. This is one easy to fly helicopter, but if you find yourself fumbling as you navigate it, you don't need to worry. It provides an automatic stabilization system and is constructed from high-quality materials that reduce damage in the case of a crash. The small size also makes this RC helicopter incredibly nimble. If you're looking for an agile little RC helicopter that you can confidently operate both outdoor and indoor, the Syma S107G is one of the best beginner models you'll find. It's not rich with features, but it's solidly built and incredibly accessible even if you have zero experience.
2. Blade E-flite mCX2 RTF
The mCX2 may be a fairly expensive remote control helicopter, but it's built on years of experienced development from Blade and represents one of the most modular and advanced remote controlled helicopter models on the market without sacrificing the ease of use that Blade helicopters are so well known for. The full body frame looks bigger than it actually is in the air, and its two piece style allows you to install an optional carbon fin tail so you can really mess around with the flight qualities of this remote control helicopter. You can even adjust the weight of the tail. And there are some bright and vibrant LED lights that add a sense of aesthetic appeal and make this RC remote helicopter more visible in the dark.
3. Tenergy Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter
Apart from a few stylistic flourishes and a more compact size, this RC helicopter is pretty much identical to the S107G 3 listed above. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The low price and accessibility to both kids and beginners makes this one of the best starter RC helicopters you'll find anywhere, and it can even fit in the palm of your hand. You can pick up its operation in a matter of minutes and use it reasonably both indoor and outdoor. The simple vertical and horizontal control sticks are pretty intuitive, and the lightweight design means that it runs fast and turns on a dime. When choosing between this and the aforementioned Syma, the only real question to ask is which look you like better and how big of an RC helicopter you want.
4. Cheerwing S107/S107G Phantom Mini RC Helicopter
This model from Cheerwing is another one produced by Syma using the much beloved S107 design. And while it's nearly identical to our previously listed S107 RC helicopters in both pricing and design, it's still one of the best options around and a possible contender for the best budget mini RC helicopter anywhere. It's easy to fly due to its best in class balance of agility and speed, and the compact size means this helicopter is especially great for flying indoors. In terms of raw features, it's a stripped down and fairly run of the mill helicopter, but it's one of the best ways to learn helicopter navigation on a budget.
5. HiStorm Gyro RC Helicopter
Looking for a cool RC helicopter that's best suited to the indoors? The HiStorm can fulfill your needs admirably. Its small frame is surprisingly durable and resistant to accidents without sacrificing the sort of agility you'd want from an indoor model. And if it does run into something, you can immediately launch it back in the air by just pulling up on the throttle. It has a remarkably low learning curve for beginners but still has enough power to satisfy more experienced pilots. It also includes a bank of LED lights that make it easy to see even when flying in total darkness.
6. WL 4CH 2.4GHz RC Helicopter
This RC helicopter is a step up from lesser priced models and easily one of the best remote controlled helicopters you'll find for less than $50. The big selling point here is the presence of a fourth channel that lets you control the fin and have a greater sense of control over lateral movement. That leads to a more complicated but also more satisfying experience. This RC helicopter offers a respectable distance of around 80 meters, and the helicopter's remote control comes with an LCD screen packed in to provide you with a better sense of control, a practical necessity given the more sophisticated controls.
7. VATOS 3.5HZ RC Helicopter
Vatos has constructed one of the best looking RTF helicopters we've seen. It's ready to go right out of the box, and its combination of matte black paint and neon green accents contribute to an aesthetic that's both slickly futuristic and vaguely militaristic. And while it doesn't offer a full four channels, this RC helicopter includes both a gyroscope and a half channel that can control the LED lights. The construction on this RC helicopter is rock solid too: sturdy enough to survive careless crashes while being lightweight enough to be highly maneuverable. With its three selectable frequencies, you can use the remote control to swap easily between up to three different helicopters.
8. GPTOYS G610 11″ Durant Built-in Gyro Infrared RC Helicopter
Have you ever wanted to pilot an entire fleet of helicopters? This model from GPToys can't quite accomplish that, but the three separate frequencies allow it to sync up with three models at once, and the inexpensive flight tag makes that a reasonable option even for consumers working within a tightly constrained budget. This GPToys model comes completely ready to go right out of the box, and it packs in the latest gyro technology to ensure a better level of stability. The sleek and futuristic design looks great in the air, while the LED lights ensure it will be easy to see even in total darkness.
9. JJRC JX01 5CH Altitude Hold Helicopter
JJRC has produced what we'd argue might be the best RC helicopter with gyro in existence. It provides some of the best value for its $35 price tag and comes with all the features that kids and beginners could want. The best of these is probably the altitude hold mode which can be activated with a single button press. If you can just bear in mind the fact that this toy is mostly recommended for indoor use, you'll find a great RTF RC model for kids and beginners with easy control management, a durable build, and a decent battery life increased by the presence of a backup lithium polymer LP battery.
10. Helizone 4CH 2.4 Ghz Remote Control Helicopter
Helizone's single rotor RC helicopter is one of the best models around, particularly if you're still learning the ropes. The four channels offer greater flexibility for controlling the helicopter without making things too complicated, and the battery life is easily some of the best you'll find anywhere. The single rotor, meanwhile, takes out an overly complex variable when trying to learn how to fly it. This is also one of the smallest RC helicopters on our review list, and it sports a truly unique design that's both compact in size and super slick in terms of both coloring and shape.
RC Helicopter Buyer’s Guide
If you’re looking for the best RC helicopter, you have a lot of options to choose from. Each review we’ve posted is well worth your time, but beginners need to figure out what’s the best remote control helicopter for them specifically. We’re here to help with that. Kids and beginners can keep reading to learn about the most important features and specs and find the best remote control helicopter from our review list.
Whenever you use a remote control to operate an RC chopper, the information is conveyed from the controller to the remote controlled device across a channel via infrared. Each of these channels is distinct from the others, which is to say that altitude, speed, tilt, and all the other conceivably movements are relegated to their own button or stick. This channel system is the best choice because once you understand the various dimensions a chopper works in, understanding those dimensions in discreet terms makes for a more nuanced flying experience. The more channels built in to your RC chopper, the more control you have over the navigation of your chopper.
- Two channel choppers are too basic to make an appearance on our list. They offer the best and most shallow learning curve, but they don’t have the best skill ceiling, but they may be a good choice for younger kids. That’s because they only allow yo to control the throttle and yaw.
- We believe a three channel RC helicopter finds the best balance between accessibility and flexibility. The third channel controls the elevator, allowing you to additionally control the height of the RC model. A three channel RC helicopter with gyro will often also offer one of the best features you’ll find: an auto hover mode that will keep your helicopter level with a single button press.
- A 3.5 channel helicopter is technically a 4 channel chopper, but the channel in question isn’t used to control a navigational dimension. More often than not, that half channel is used to control LED lights. It can also be used to signify a gyro, but the numbering conventions for many manufacturers are often inconsistent.
- A four channel RC helicopter with gyro is the best and most advanced variety to earn a place on our review list. The fourth channel controls the aileron, giving you the best means possible to control the speed of yo chopper.
- An RC helicopter can have five, six, or even seven channels, but these more advanced models don’t have more sophisticated navigational controls usually and instead start incorporating special features like a camera. We don’t generally recommend these more advanced models for kids or amateurs.
Each channel is tied to a different control option. Below we’ll describe them in greater detail so yo have the best understanding of how to navigate a helicopter.
- The throttle controls the speed at which the main rotor on your helicopter spins. A faster spinning rotor causes the chopper to elevate more quickly, and the throttle serves as the primary means for gaining or dropping altitude.
- The stick for the yaw controls the tail rotor for the chopper. Normally, the tail rotor runs at consistent speed to prevent yo chopper from spinning out of control, but adjusting its speeds allow you to turn your copter left or right.
- An elevator controls the lift of your helicopter, or how far its nose is tilted forward or backward. This is one of the best controls to have because it gives yo the best means to control the forward momentum of your chopper.
- The gyro is automated, but it’s one of the best forms of safe technology in RC choppers. An RC helicopter with gyro is attached to the tail rotor, and it helps keep the helicopter balanced on the horizontal axis.
- Four channel helis include an aileron. These allow your chopper to rotate entirely on its horizontal axis, giving you the best means to perform rolls and other stunts.
The dimensions and weight of your RC helicopter shouldn’t be your top priority, but it is something to consider when you’re trying to choose the best RC chopper for your needs. Smaller helicopters are generally best suited for indoor use, and while they may be used outdoors as well, you’re usually better suited for a larger model if you plan on flying it outside with regularity. Naturally, more lightweight helicopters have a tendency to be more agile, but they’re typically less resistant to wind and other factors so they’re better suited for indoor use as well.
Flight and Charge Time
The lipo battery that most remote control helicopters are designed to use are pretty powerful, but trying to control an RC helicopter is a power intensive task. Unfortunately, the charge times and run times for remote control helis are pretty far out of proportion. You can typically expect to get about five to eight minutes out of a battery and expect to experience a half hour to hour wait time for it to charge back to its max capacity.
While you can try to seek out the longest lasting batteries, there’s not a huge amount of discrepancy between them in the overall. For that reason, we suggest that you actually invest in extra batteries. While many RC helicopters come with their own backup batteries, having a handful on hand will allow you to consistently keep flying your chopper without having to concern yourself with charging.
Pre-Built or Kit
We’ve decided to focus exclusively on RTF (ready to fly) helicopters for our list. While you can also find kits that allow yo to construct your own, they tend to be a bit more complicated. If yo want to build a helicopter from scratch, there are plenty of options available to you. But we suggest RTF models for beginners and kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Channels in RC Helicopters?
Each channel transmits information from your helicopter remote control to the flying RC helicopter itself. Each one is dedicated to a specific navigational function like pitch, height, or yaw. We outline what each channel is usually dedicated to above, but for beginners, it’s enough to know that the best RC helicopters in terms of features tend to come with more channels, but if you’re looking for a review of the best RC helicopter for beginners, those with less channels are usually comparatively easy to fly.
What Does a 3.5 Channel Helicopter Mean?
It essentially means that the helicopter has four channels, but the fourth channel isn’t devoted to controlling the aileron as is usually the case with a dedicated fourth channel. What that fourth channel does control varies depending on the model, but it usually refers to something that doesn’t directly relate to the the helicopter’s remote control navigation. It may take the form of adjustable LED lights or a dedicated camera.
What Does a Gyro Do on a RC Helicopter?
You can think of a gyro as safe technology that helps beginners who are still learning the ropes of a remote control helicopter, and it’s one of the best features if you’re worried about crashing. The gyro will detect any dangerous yaw in your RC helicopter and send a signal to the RC helicopter to balance it as best as it can. Kids and beginners can consider the gyro as essentially training wheels for a remote control helicopter.
How Do You Fly a Remote Control Helicopter?
While a helicopters remote control system can vary from model to model, almost all of them stick to the same best fundamentals. One stick controls height, while the other transmits controls for turning left and right. The best models come with more complex functionality features that make them appropriate for older kids and more intermediate users. We cover the process of flying an RTF RC chopper in greater detail above.
Whether you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor remote control helicopter, you should be able to find something worthwhile on our review list. We hope you enjoy your new toy. And if you decide you want something a little more advanced, be sure to check out our guide to the best drones of 2020.