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Does Flying A Drone Use Data?

Nowadays, drones are seemingly all over the place and are used for photography, videography and even just for recreation. Some are competitively priced and come with a fantastic mix of features while others are extremely expensive and can run up to thousands of dollars.  Amateurs, consumers, and professionals alike all use drones for a variety of reasons but one common question that many people have no matter what they are using the drone for is whether it requires the use of data. 

Afterall, if you are going to be using a bunch of your data from your phone plan it is important to know it! Whether a drone needs the internet to actually fly is also important to know if you will be going someplace where there is no cell signal or wifi. 

Drones do use data and the internet for some functions but most of the drone’s features will still work fine without the use of data. Some features that might be affected if you don’t have access to the internet are: 

  • Live Streaming
  • Follow me mode (depending on your model)
  • Updates
  • Maps (on some models)

As you can see your drone can certainly be used without needing to be connecting to the internet and using data. Drones would be virtually worthless if they required data all of the time to work properly since there are many places where you might take your drone that will not have cell coverage. 

Thankfully you can still use your drone in those places if you wish to do so. 

If you haven’t purchased a drone yet you will want to check out this one (available on Amazon). It won’t break the bank and has tons of great features as well. 

You can also check out the video below for some additional drones that are also great to start out with. 

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How much data do drones use?

The amount of data used by a drone depends on the number of activities that you want the drone to perform. It, therefore, means that finding an exact amount of data that is used is somewhat tricky. For example, the amount of data used during a live stream is obviously much more than that used when simply recording videos. If you are planning to cut down on the data usage, turn on the airplane mode of the drone/phone before taking off. 

Your drone will still work but as mentioned above you might not have access to some of the features. 

How do drones fly without data?

Drones can rely on other frequencies to be operational. Other than cellular data and a WIFI connection, they can rely on other software to perform thor maneuvers.. Therefore, you do not need a data connection to fly your drone, but quadcopters use a related frequency to establish their stability and control.

It is worth noting that drones are not normally controlled by using data. Instead, they use radio waves from the controller to the drone hence why the data is not required to fly them. 

Do drones need a wifi connection?

Most drones do not need Wi-Fi connection to record videos, pilot the drone or to take photos. However, to use most drones with your phone, you will be required to download an app before you take off and you will need the internet for that.  After the app has been downloaded you no longer will require an internet connection. 

A wifi signal is not needed to fly a drone so you can use your drone while you are in the wilderness or simply when you want to save some of your cell phone data. 

Do you need data for the GPS to work? 

Losing your quadcopter is one of the greatest nightmares of all drone owners that you hopefully will never have to experience. With GPS, drones are created to give a regular report of their location so in case the drone gets lost or crashes you can easily find it and recover your precious vehicle.. Some drones have the “Follow Me” GPS mode that makes the drone follow you (genius name, right?). 

To have these GPS signals and pivotal features, some drones will require a data connection on your phone while others will not. Before purchasing a drone if you are planning to use it in a location where there likely isn’t any cell service then you will want to make sure your drone doesn’t require data for the GPS to work properly. 

Do you need data for geofencing?

Geofencing for drones is in place to ensure the drone does not fly into the no-fly zones such as near airports, military bases, etc.  This feature helps you to avoid having possible legal issues since the geofencing feature keeps you from going places that you should not with your drone.  

With most drones data is not required for geofencing since it is a safety issue and they want it to always be working whether you have data or not. Sometimes if you have not connected your drone to the internet in a while the geofencing feature might block you from going to areas where it is actually ok to fly but that is rare. 

Do you need data for live streaming?

If your drone supports live streaming then you will need data and internet access to do so. With many of the more recent drone models, you will be able to stream videos and HD audio directly to YouTube, Facebook, etc. while you are actually flying the drone!

If your drone does not offer live streaming there are some apps that you can use to do it via your phone but again that will require the use of data. These apps require setup and the quality is a bit unreliable as well. 

If your drone has the built-in live streaming option then the quality should be more consistent than if you use one of the third party apps. 


One of the most significant technological advancements in aviation technology is the use of data in flying drones. Modern drones have been designed to use data for the purposes of increasing convenience and efficiency and also to allow you to use many amazing features that were not available before cell phone data!

 The good news is that flying drones in general does not require data beyond the initial setup of the drone and app on your phone (if used with your model). You can take your drone virtually anywhere whether there is cell service or not and capture some amazing footage or pictures. 

Without data some of the features of your drone may not work but the flying and photos/videos should still function just fine even without the internet. So don’t let the lack of cell service or data on your cell phone hold you back! Go out and enjoy flying a drone today!