When it comes to buying drones, we understand having a budget, and we certainly understand that you want to get into flying quadcopters and other fun drones without breaking the bank. To this end, we took some time to think about the drones that should prove worth your time, and all for under $100. In this case we mean ‘cheap’ as in inexpensive, so here they are, the best cheap drones.
For our regular readers, this list has been broken out from our Cheap drones guide – see that list if you want some tips on how to fly.
Cheap drone guide – before you buy
I know we’ve mentioned this, our Cheap drones guide is our unofficial quadcopter flying guide. It’s packed full of tips and tricks to help the first time pilot understand what drones are all about, what they are capable of doing and what obstacles you will face to get into the air. If you are buying your first drone today, I urge you to check out our guide before you buy.
Good news for you, we have been building best drone lists to help you figure out what to spend your hard earned money on. We have a big list of the best consumer grade drones, regardless price, we have a list of great drones in the under $500 group, and more, but today we are keeping things to the very affordable under $100 range.
With that, let’s take a look at the drones!
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
Hubsan X4 H107L
Also seen in our Best drones for sale lists
Getting into the ‘toy’ range here, the Hubsan X4 H107L is a fairly entry level drone great for those learning to fly or that are not in need of a robust machine to take to the skies. Also great for those with very little time on their hands, this little drone has no camera, cannot carry the GoPro and has battery enough for about 5-10 minutes of flight, depending on how you push it.
As a seemingly pointless drone as compared to the powerful camera and racing rigs on our lists, we all have to start somewhere, and the Hubsan X4 H107L for $50 on Amazon sounds like a smart price to do so.
Sticking to toy caliber drones, the Syma X5C is a solid offering for the beginning drone enthusiast. 8 minutes of flight can be had while flipping, spinning and capturing a bit of video on the 720p camera. There is even bright LED lights for night flight. Rather, check your local laws for night flight rules, but hey, there’s bright lights, so, it’s up to you.
Grab the basic model for about $40, or bump up to the explorer kit, with replacement parts and extra batteries for $53 on Amazon today.
Syma X8C Venture
Adding a new term to the mix, the Syma X8C Venture is a slight bump up from the X5C, including more substantial landing gear, a bit slower flight operation and headless flight. They call it Intelligent Orientation Control, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s just headless flight. This drone is a bit larger than the X5C, but offers up very similar flight times, despite the much larger 2000mAh battery, and the same basic functionality and accessories.
Check out the Syma X8C Venture for $59 on Amazon today.
Holy Stone HS200 FPV
Using a familiar basic body and craft as many other toy drones, Holy Stone has added a batch of smarts and called their version the HS200 FPV. If we have not covered this yet, FPV is short for First Person View, which is when a drone live streams its camera view back to a display in your hands. So, take the toy drone, add headless mode flight, FPV, altitude hold and a return to home feature, and you’ve got the Holy Stone HS200 FPV quadcopter.
Check out the Holy Stone HS200 FPV drone for $100 on Amazon.
DBPower UDI U818A
Compatible with VR goggles, this is another FPV flyer. Offering up remote control or control by smartphone, the DBPower UDI U818A is a little less capable than the U842, but offers a smoother flight for better aerial footage. The live video stream works up to 100 feet away and can be viewed on your smartphone, just place your phone in the holder on the remote control for easy usage.
Check out the DBPower UDI U818A for $130 on Amazon today. This drone is usually $94.99 on Amazon, we will remove it from this list if it jumps above $100 for much longer, it was just $83 recently, so watch for sales.
DBPower MJX X400W
Adding some aerobatics to the mix, the DBPower MJX X400W FPV drone with 3D VR headset capabilities is another step down from a previous item in this list today. This quadcopter keeps things simple, giving you a great flying and learning experience with up to 9 minutes of flight time per charge and headless mode flight.
More drones, just not as cheap:
Special consideration: DJI Mavic Air and DJI Mavic Pro
The DJI Mavic Air takes some of the best features that you’ll see in the Mavic Pro below, and improves on them. Also, if you’ve seen the smaller DJI Spark, the Mavic Air takes and improves on features from that as well. Basically, as I write this in February 2018, the DJI Mavic Air is the best, most portable and safest small drone from DJI. I’m not saying that that makes it the best drone on the market, but the debate is there.
After flying the DJI Mavic Pro for a couple months now, it occurs to me that it is one of the easiest and safest quadcopters in the sky. Thing is, it is so easy, the flight controls so good, that you really do not learn anything flying it. If it will be the only drone you ever fly, you may skip the trainers that we’ve discussed today, but if you plan to fly others, please do start with an inexpensive toy.
The DJI Mavic Pro is not, by any means, a cheap drone. It is ten times more expensive than the drones we are talking about today, but it is a spectacular flying machine, we just wanted to make sure you had heard of it. Look to spend $872 on the base Mavic Pro or $1095 for the Fly More bundle on Amazon. Regular price is $999 and $1299.
Related: DJI Mavic Pro review
We’ve dedicated an entire list to the smallest of the flying machines. While, technically, they are great cheap drones, we’ll send you over to our Best nano drones list to get the palm sized toys.
Best drones for beginners
Admitting that you’ll find similar drones on this list as the cheap drones list above, we step things up beyond the $100 price point this time. The idea is that, as much as we preach that you should start on a cheap drone, you could, effectively, start off on a more expensive drone. The addition of GPS, with the ability to hover in place autonomously, makes for a much more stable and safe flying experience. Check out some of the best drones for beginners today.
Best mini drones
Let us know when this starts to get confusing, there are nano drones, mini drones, small drones and more. There are fewer options when you start looking at larger drones, but for smaller, more affordable consumer drones, plenty to see. Consider checking out our Drone sizes explanation post to see what’s right for you. Otherwise, here is our list of the best mini drones you can buy today.
Best drone for kids
If you are not buying for yourself today, instead looking to put a flying machine in the hands of a youngster, we’ve tested out on a six and ten year old, they agree, these are the best drones for kids.
If you were here looking for a gift for a young one, perhaps a non-flying drone?
No beating around the bush, there is only one flying drone on this list, but the rest are drones, of a sort, land based drones… They’re robots, but you know what, they’re fun robots that we want to play with too.
That’s the end of our list. Other than actually taking the controls, I hope you’ve found most all of the particulars that you require to get your first quadcopter into the air. Do not be afraid of them, but do treat them with respect. Do not go too fast with them, learn the basics and ensure that you have your drone for years to come. Finally, there is no point spending a ton of money on your first craft, get one of these little toy class trainers to learn the basics of flight. You’ll be the master of the air in no time.
Do you have a favorite drone for under $100 that you’d recommend?
Have a larger budget? Check out these drone lists: