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The Ten Best Cheap Drones for Beginners

Introduction

Quadcopters in the cheap drones category can still be considered toys, but do provide some additional performance characteristics. The miniaturization of power systems, CPUs, gyros and sensors due to advancements of cellphone technology has contributed to the rise of the popularity of cheap drones. The performance that can be found in cheap drones is surprising given these technological advancements.

You need to manage your expectations if you are considering buying a cheap drone. Essentially, you will be getting a toy grade product with a few extra features, but you will still be surprised at the performance of these drones given the price range. The following features can be found in cheap drones.

best quadcopter

Best Drones Under 50

best quadcopter

Best Drones Under 100

best quadcopter

Best Drones Under 200

best quadcopter

Best Drones Under 300

Drone Camera

The advancement of cell phone camera technology has allowed for the improvement of what is available to drone manufacturers. For cheap drones, you can typically expect to find a 2 Megapixel camera. A camera of this lower quality can produce decent pictures, but only if the drone is perfectly still. While it is flying, the effects of jitter will be apparent in the resultant videos and photos.

Drone Flight Time

You can expect an average flight time of about 8 minutes in cheap drones. This will vary depending on how aggressively you fly, and if you are using the onboard camera. It may be possible to extend the flight time by removing the prop guards, and the camera. You can also extend your flight time by investing in a few extra batteries.

Battery Charge Time

As the size of the drone increases, so does the time to charge the battery. The typical charge time for cheap drones is slightly over an hour. If you have only one battery, this can be frustrating. You can increase your flying time by having a few extra batteries. Be sure to have the right equipment to charge multiple batteries at the same time.

Drone Control Range

The typical control range of cheap drones is about 80 meters. If you were expecting a higher range, then you will be disappointed. These drones have an average receiver, and a nominal transmitter. However, this range is enough to fly the drone in your local park, or your backyard.

Advanced Flight Control

Despite the low cost of cheap drones, they feature advanced flight controls that function as the brains of the drone. Stable flight is maintained by the flight controller using sensor data, and calculating the motor rotation speeds. With advancements in CPU technology, you can expect to see a 32 bit processor as opposed to older 8 bit autopilot platforms. Proper flight corrections are calculated using better sensors such as gyroscopes and accelerometers. Better sensors results in better flight performance.

Altitude Hold

Many of the cheap drones listed here also feature altitude hold. This is accomplished by using small barometric sensors that measure the air pressure to determine the drone altitude. These sensors are sensitive enough to measure the altitude change by a few centimeters. By activating the altitude hold, you can focus on capturing images.

Drone Headless Mode

Even though these cheap drones are inexpensive, it is possible to find the headless mode feature. This feature allows the flight computer to align the drone movements relative to the controller, instead of the relative to the flight path. This feature is great for first time done flyers. This gives you the time you need to learn the responsiveness of the drone given your control inputs. Once you get the hang of this, you can turn off this mode to further learn how to fly your drone.

Best Cheap Drones Comparison

Name
Camera
Range
Flight Time
Rating
Price
1.
Holy Stone HS200
2 MP
150 m
8 min

4.5/5
$99.99
Read Review
2.
Holy Stone F181
2 MP
75 m
7 min

4.4/5
$79.99
Read Review
3.
Holy Stone X400C
FPV Live
30 m
9 min

3.5/5
$25,698.25
Read Review
4.
DBPower MJX X400W
2 MP
100 m
9 min

4.2/5
$49.99
Read Review
5.
Syma X5C
HD
30 m
7 min

3.8/5
$35.32
Read Review
6.
UDI U818A
HD
75 m
8 min

3.8/5
$39.40
Read Review
7.
Syma X8C Venture
2 MP
100 m
11 min

3.8/5
$53.99
Read Review
8.
Blade Nano QX
N
20 m
7 min

3.7/5
$83.99
Read Review
9.
Syma X5SW
0.3 MP
50 m
7 min

3.6/5
$35.98
Read Review
10.
Hubsan X4 H107D
0.3 MP
100 m
7 min

3.9/5
$79.90
Read Review
Last Updated 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET -
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Best Cheap Drones Reviews

1. Holy Stone HS200 Review


(4.5/5)


$99.99
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Return home function
  • Four speed levels
  • Altitude hold
  • Short flight time
  • Fixed camera view
  • Long battery charge time

2 MP Camera

8 min Flight Time

1 hour Charge

150 m Range

The Holy Stone HS200 is ready to fly, and is a perfect beginner-friendly drone. This drone has an advanced return to home feature along with a 2MP camera. It also has one button take offs and landings, and altitude hold. This drone has

This amazing drone does not sacrifice quality and enjoyment for a reasonable price.

The included 3.7V 650 mAh battery takes about an hour to charge, and will give you up to 9 minutes of flying time. You can extend your flying enjoyment time with the purchase of extra batteries. The controller will give you up to 120m of control range, but limited to 50m when the FPV mode is active. This still allows you to take videos at fairly moderate distances.

The 2 megapixel 720p camera allows you to stream, and record videos and images at a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The controller does not come with a screen, so you will need to use your smartphone to receive the FPV video feed. You can also use your smartphone alone to directly control the HS200.

This quadcopter has four available speed modes, so it will be suitable for all levels of flying experience. This drone has amazing features for an affordable price. Along with its features, this a very sleek looking drone with red body accented by dark black propellers. This is a great drone if you are looking to get into FPV drone flying, and capturing decent aerial photos and videos.

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2. Holy Stone F181 Review


(4.4/5)


$79.99
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Detachable camera
  • Attractive design
  • Fly indoors and outdoors
  • Slow yaw rate
  • Short flight time
  • No Wifi FPV

2 MP Camera

7 min Flight Time

90 min Charge

75 m Range

The extra features found on this drone that is commonly not found on inexpensive drones makes this a great candidate to be on the list of drones under 100. Experienced fliers will be happy to see some of the advanced features found on this drone.

You get an extra battery with this quadcopter that will allow you to extend the battery flight time. The extra battery is needed since it takes about 90 minutes to recharge.

Important information such as the battery life, trim adjustments, and range are displayed on the controller LCD screen. The available drone power is also shown as a percentage. There is also a return to home feature that will bring the drone back to you at a push of a button. You won’t normally find this feature on best cheap drones. The 2-megapixel camera takes photos at 1280 x 720 resolution, and video at a resolution of 720p.

This drone is great for beginners, but if you are looking for a photo quality drone, you may want to get something else. The images taken are not of top quality, as there will be some jitter in the videos.

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3. Holy Stone X400C Review


(4.2/5)


from $235.99
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Great maneuverability
  • Four control modes
  • FPV flight mode

  • Not good in winds
  • Weak prop guards
  • FPV has lag

FPV Live

9 min Flight Time

1 hour Charge

30 m Range

The Holy Stone X400C is the perfect drone to get started with flying with FPV functionality. This drone comes with many advanced features such as headless mode, and a life wifi camera feed. Headless mode is a good feature for those starting out flying drones. There is also a real-time FPV transmission that allows the camera view to be viewed on your smartphone. The drone creates its own Wifi link, so you do not need a separate communications channel.

Along with its robust flight features, this is a very slick looking drone. The main body resembles a cockpit with distinct nose and tail features. This drone also has bold LED lights which lets you distinguish the front and back while flying at night.

The return to home feature can be activated at a press of a button. If you lose sight of your drone, activating this feature will make the drone fly back to you on a straight path. Just make sure there isn’t a big tree between you and your drone when you activate this feature.

The drone does take decent quality aerial videos and photos. While these are not exceptional, the quality is good given the low price of the quadcopter. The FPV stream uses Wifi which has a short range, sometimes cuts out, and has noticeable lag.

Finally, the 6 axis stabilized flight control provides for very stable and smooth flight. You won’t be disappointed all of the features available on this low-cost drone.

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4. DBPower MJX X400W Review


(4.2/5)


$49.99
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • VR headset compatible
  • Smooth stable flight
  • Realtime FPV Video
  • FPV lags slightly
  • No camera gimbal
  • Low flying time

2 MP Camera

9 min Flight Time

2 hour Charge

100 m Range

The MJX X400W has good toughness due to its flexible plastic body, which also has a good build quality. You will avoid damage to your possessions due to the prop guards. This elegant design features red accents on a white body build.

While flying, this drone handles very well. The flight dynamics provides good performance, along with good climbing and turning rates. The X400W drone shows good flight stability thanks to its 6 axis gyro sensors, even in windy conditions.

You can view the FPV live stream on your smartphone using a Wifi connection. Photos and videos can be recorded using the app. The HD 720p camera has decent quality and provides sharp images and videos. The main purpose of this drone is to provide an FPV flying experience, and not photos. To get a truly immersive FPV flying experience you can use a 3D compatible VR headset.

The 3.75V 750 mAh takes about 2 hours to charge and will get you up to 9 minutes of flight time. The more aggressively you fly, the less time you will have. Also, if you use the FPV function, the flight time will be further reduced.

This drone is perfect for someone who wants to get into FPV flying but does not want to spend too much. The FPV function of this drone puts this on our list of best cheap drones.

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5. Syma X5C Review


(3.8/5)


$35.32
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Very stable flight performance
  • Easy and fun to fly
  • Very affordable

  • Batter door is flimsy
  • Average flight times
  • Controller is ugly

HD

5 min Flight Time

40 min Charge

30 m Range

The Syma X5C-1 is a great choice for new drone pilots and is one of the best drones under 100 dollars that you can buy. It features a highly stable flight profile, with good agility and a full range of motion. This drone is of a good quality build and is very fun to fly.

Along with its great flight performance, you will find that this drone is also quieter than most. The enclosed bottom battery bay gives the X5C-1 a sleek look, with no ugly battery wire sticking out.
The X5C-1 also comes with an extra set of propellers, a 500 mAh 3.7V battery with a USB charger, screwdriver, transmitter, micro SD card reader, a 4GB SD card, and a manual.

You can expect to get about 8 minutes of flying. However, using the prop guards, and turning the camera on will drop the flight time to about 5 minutes.

This drone comes with the typical high and low-speed modes. In the lower speed setting, the drone is easier to control and is perfect for beginners who are first learning how to fly. For more experienced fliers who want to go faster, simply switch into the high mode. You can also do flips at the push of a button.

This drone comes equipped with a 2-megapixel camera that can take 720p videos. The camera does take decent photos and videos given its low price. This drone makes a great trainer that you can crash repeatedly without worry of damaging the quadcopter.

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6. UDI 818A Quadcopter Review


(3.8/5)


$39.40
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Excellent flight control response
  • Great for beginner fliers
  • Can perform stunts

  • Does not have a camera
  • Low battery life
  • Controller batteries not included

HD

8 min Flight Time

60 min Charge

75 m Range

This drone feels a bit flimsy when you hold it, but don’t let that fool you. The body and integrated prop guards are made from thin plastic, which helps to reduce weight, and the flexibility allows the frame to absorb impacts.

The wide space propellers provide for enhanced flight stability making this drone easy to fly. This drone has a low-speed mode for beginners and a high mode for more experienced pilots.

This drone is based on a design that is a few years old, so it does not have an altitude hold function. However, it does feature a headless mode and a one-key return to pilot function. It can also perform flips with a push of a button, which is fun to watch and perform. To help with orientation with night flying, this drone has blue LEDs at the front and red LEDs at the back.

This drone comes with an extra battery, and you can get about 9 minutes of flying time on one battery charge.

The included HD 720p camera on this drone provides images and videos at 1280 x 720 resolution. The image quality is average. There is no live video feed for FPV, so the images and video are stored on the SD card.
This drone does not have all the latest features found on more current drone designs but provides amazing value. This drone is one of the most durable and is well suited for beginners.

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7. Syma X5UW Review


(3.7/5)


$59.90
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Stylish design
  • Altitude hold
  • Waypoint navigation
  • Proprietary battery
  • Slow FPV rate
  • Low flight time

1 MP Camera

9 min Flight Time

90 min Charge

80 m Range

The Syma X5UW has good performance at an affordable price. What makes this drone affordable is its use of brushed motors, fixed camera gimbal, and no additional advanced features. Despite the lack of features, the Syma X8C is a well-built drone.

The Syma X5UW is essentially a larger version of the Syma X5C with the addition of a headless mode. Both drones have the same flight performance and responsiveness. The X8C is easy to fly, hovers well, and responds to controller commands with no lag.

The larger size and weight of the X8C makes it more robust to wind gusts. This stability makes the X8C a good choice for aerial photography. The powerful coreless motors provide enough thrust to allow the possibility of a GoPro camera. However, be aware that you are likely to shorten the motors life due to the extra load.

The headless mode is a great feature for drone beginners. This allows you to fly the drone without worrying about which way it is facing. When the drone is flown to a distance away, you may lose knowledge of its orientation. Activating headless mode will allow you to bring the drone back to you.

Even though this drone does not have a camera gimbal, or camera vibration dampening, the X8C can take reasonable quality images and videos. The camera is detachable if you are not planning to take images.
The Syma X5UW is a good choice for those looking for a toy-grade quadcopter that can also work as an aerial photography platform.

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8. Blade Nano QX Review


(3.7/5)


$83.99
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Responsive flight
  • Simple drone controls
  • Light and agile
  • Short control range
  • No camera
  • Not good in winds

None

7 min Flight Time

40 min Charge

20 m Range

This drone has a very striking design due to its black body with accents, and colored propellers. It also has a very sleek and sporty look. The prop guards are very effective but have a minimal design.

This drone has a SAFE technology feature that reduces the control speed and puts the drone into an automatic hover. The stability mode makes use of SAFE, while agility mode turns this off and gives you a more dynamic and difficult flying experience. This feature makes this a great drone for beginner pilots.

On one battery charge, you will get about 7 minutes of flight time. Extra batteries will increase your overall flight time. This is a must since it takes about 40 minutes to charge a single battery. This small drone is best flown indoors. The LED lights on the front and back also make it possible to fly this drone in the dark.

This drone does not handle well in windy conditions due to its small size. You can fly outside if there are calm windy conditions. There is no camera included with this drone, and there is no option to mount a camera.

The Blade Nano QX is one of the best cheap drones. This quad is responsive and very fun to fly. Smooth and stable flight is provided for by the SAFE flying technology.

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9. Syma X5WW Review


(3.6/5)


$35.98
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Easy to fly
  • Enclosed landing gear
  • Decent 2MP Camera

  • Short flight time
  • Not good in wind
  • FPV high latency

0.3 MP Camera

7 min Flight Time

45 min Charge

50 m Range

This drone has a 2-megapixel camera that uses wifi to connect to your smartphone. Smooth and stable flight is provided for by the 6 axis gyro and smart onboard flight control. You can also perform 360-degree flips by hitting the inversion button on the controller.

On one battery charge, you can expect 5 to 10 minutes of flight time. If you use the camera or fly faster, you will drain the battery faster.

The captures images are of low quality but are still decent. Video gets recorded on the smartphone, so if there is any latency or dropouts in the video stream, it will show in the recorded video.

Using your Android or Apple phone, you can download the Syma software and connect your phone to the quadcopter. A local wifi connection is established between your phone and the quadcopter. You can see the video feed from the drone live on the screen. You will notice about a 1-second delay in the video feed.
Drone flight is stable even in light wind conditions. But if you are flying directly into the wind, you’ll experience poor performance.

Despite its low price, this entry level quadcopter has plenty of features. This is a great trainer quadcopter to get into FPV flying and is highly recommended for someone just starting out with flying quadcopters.

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10. Hubsan X4 H107D Review


(3.9/5)


$79.90
(as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET)
Price Disclaimer Product prices and availability are accurate as of 2018-10-15 at 08:37 CET and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
  • Affordable FPV drone
  • Highly maneuverable
  • Fun to fly
  • Short flight time
  • Low quality camera
  • No advanced features

0.3 MP Camera

7 min Flight Time

60 min Charge

100 m Range

This reasonably priced FPV drone is very beginner friendly and is great for beginner pilots. With this drone, you get to enter the world of FPV quadcopters without spending too much.

This drone features a number of features that put it above other drones for the same price. This drone has a unique design that separates it from other drones. There are two LED lights at the front and the back as well as the front and rear props being different colors. This lets you fly the drone at night, and lets you keep track of the drone orientation.

This drone is best flown indoors due to its small size and mass. But you can fly outside when the winds are low. This drone can be flown aggressively, due to its maneuverability. It is tough enough to handle a few crashes, but you may need to replace a prop if it breaks.

The FPV stream can be viewed on the small LCD screen that is built into the controller. You don’t need to mount your smartphone onto the controller. The camera does not provide HD quality images or videos, but it’s not too bad.

This drone is not the fastest micro drone available but makes up for this with its good flight stability. This is a great drone for starting out in FPV flying.

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Best Cheap Drones Summary

4.5

Summary

Drones are not as nearly as expensive as they were a few years ago. This review presents the ten best cheap drones that are fun to fly. Quadcopters in this category have slightly better performance than the toy-grade and are made from better and stronger materials to withstand crashes better.

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