This post was last updated on: March 1, 2020
When you hear the words “affordable” and “inexpensive drones”, the first thing that comes to mind is something that is small and low in quality.
Today I’m going to show you the contrary.
A lot of cheap drones nowadays are equipped with some advanced features that you don't expect.
The point of using a drone is to make great aerial videos and stills, but the question is how will you do that if you don't know how to use one?
The inexpensive drones are a great way for inexperienced pilots to learn how to control the drone before they decide to invest in larger and more advanced drones.
Today I am here to show you some of the best cheap drones that you can buy right now.
- Top 4 Best Cheap Drones On The Market Today
- Best Cheap Drones in Price Range from $50 to $400
- 1. DJI Mavic Mini
- 2. Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone
- 3. HUBSAN Zino Drone-
- Best affordable drone with a camera
- Best budget FPV drone: Altair Outlaw
- Best Budget Camera Drone: Altair Aerial AA300
- Best Budget Quadcopter: Tello Drone Quadcopter Elite Combo by DJI
- Best Inexpensive Quadcopter: Altair #AA108 Camera Drone
- Best cheap camera drone: Potensic A20W
- Final Thoughts
Top 4 Best Cheap Drones On The Market Today
If you don't have time or you are just lazy to read all that I wrote here, you can browse my quick comparison chart and get to know better my four favorite picks in the affordable drone category.
- The Mini's Camera can shoot 2.7K HD at 30fps and has a 3-axis stabilizing gimbal for better video quality.
- The Flight Time can go up to 30 minutes, and the range is an astonishing 4km!
- It's the most expensive drone in this category at around $400, however it is the best one by far!
- Comes with a 2K FHD Camera with Image Stabilization and Shock Absorption
- The Flight Time can go up to 26 minutes, and the flight range maxes out at an 1.6 km!
- The HS720 is the best drone for $300, and the hundreds of five star reviews on Amazon agree!
- Equipped with a FHD 1080p Camera with FPV Options.
- The Flight Time goes up to 15 minutes per battery charge.
- The Aerial AA300 is a great option for those who want a decent entry level drone but don't want to overspend.
- The AA108 Features a Built-In HD Camera that offers FPV Mode.
- The Flight Time for this drone is around 15-20 minute, but the range is a short 100m.
- It's a great budget option, it's rare to find a decent camera-drone at this price range.
- The Camera is a 720p HD Camera, on the lower end, quality-wise.
- The Flight Time is 10 minutes and the range is 10m.
- It's a great option as a kids drone, it's camera does the job and the flight range is just enough.
Best Cheap Drones in Price Range from $50 to $400
Flying a drone can be an enjoyable and exciting hobby. But until a few years ago, when the cheap yet quality drones appeared on the market, this hobby was reserved only for those with deeper pockets. Luckily today, there are so many variations of the cheap but quality drones.
Most of them come with HD cameras (some are 1080P; some are 720P), and they will offer you all the benefits of the expensive ones:
- They have battery life span between 6 and 20 minutes
- You can use them in FPV mode and live to stream your videos
- They feature many intelligent flight modes.
The great thing is that at the same time, you will be able to take high-quality pictures and videos and learn how to handle a drone properly. And if you accidentally crash it, you don't need to worry about that too much because almost all models on today's roundup are sturdy and durable, and after all, you didn't spend too much money.
If you are an amateur looking for your first drone or you are a parent who wants to surprise the kids with awesome and cool gifts, the next few drones that I reviewed and listed for you here are the best options you can find on the market for that price.
My top picks between $300 - $400
"Best In Category."
DJI enrich the drone market once again!
Anyone that's spent time just looking at drones has been recommended at least one DJI Drone as they almost always rank first in their respective categoreies.
This time they claim the #1 spot in our list of affordable drones with the spectacular Mavic Mini!
The Mavic Mini weighs only 249g and it's dimensions are 140 × 82 × 57 when folded.
Being just a gram under 250g, the Mavic Mini avoids any FAA registration requirements.
The Mavic Mini comes with a 5.8Ghz Controller whose deisgn is similar to your standard DJI Controller. Although it is stripped of some features, the controller for the Mini is equipped with a relatively high-power 2600 mAh battery.
You can probably fly this drone with just the dedicated controller if you really wanted to but, to properly experience the beauty of this drone, we recommend you equip your controller with a smartphone.
The Controller has a dedicated SmartPhone Cable, which helps reduce any latency you might experience otherwise.
Although the controller might seem a bit plasticy and flimsy, once you get the hang of it, it offers very reliable connectivity and it can also stream HD Video at an insane range of 4km!
The DJI app is also really well done, it's really easy to use and makes the fliying experience much smoother.
The Li-ion 2S 2400 mAh battery allows for an impressive 30 minutes of flight time, which is a 4-7 minutes more than most drones of this price range. The Mavic Mini also bosts a top speed of 26 mp/h
Let's take a look at some of the Mini's features:
- Beginner-oriented Tutorials - In the App itself you'll finde some very useful flight tutorials, which makes the newbie experience much more enjoyable.
- Multiple Modes of Operation - The drone has Position, Sport and CineSmooth modes, as well as the standard DJI Rocket, Dronie, Circle, and Helix.
- Reliable Safety Features - The integrated altitude limit on the Mini reliably helps prevent accidents.
- Return Home - The Return Home feature automatically triggers whenever your battery is crtically low, which guarantees a safe return
It's an overall great performing drone that proves to be stable and preciese. One thing it unfortunately does not comee with is object tracking.
The Mini's Camera is located on the front, equipped with a three-axis gimbal and a 1/2.3" sensor.
The camera shoots 2.7k Quad HD Resolution at 30fps, 1080p HD Videos at 60 fps or 12MP still shots. Unfortunately no 4K and you should also avoid low-light areas, the cam can't capture RAW images.
The Drone also offers an FPV Mode as well as a Follow-Me function and need I remind you the whopping 4km HD Video live stream range.
It's overall a very well-performing drone, jam packed with useful, non-gimmicky features. The only thing missing is a 4K Camera and Object Tracking, however for a drone of this price range that might be too unresaonable.
"Today's roundup winner."
We all know that an excellent HD camera is one of the essential features of a drone.
But not all of us can afford to buy some expensive high-end drones, so the solution is to find a respectively affordable substitution that will still do the job. So I hope you are going to like this one as much as I do!
The HS720 drone is lightweight - under 500 grams. And when you combine that with his dimensions 14.4 x 13.2 x 2.4 inches, you get a very portable gadget.
One more great thing is that the drone is built from ABS plastic, which means you don't need to worry about if you occasionally crash your drone. This plastic is very durable!
The controller that is used for this drone is small and will lay in your hand correctly. It has a small LCD screen in the middle that will let you see your battery level for both drone and controller, how far away is your drone, your current speed, and GPS data. The controller comes with a smartphone attachment that can't hold tablets. It needs two AA batteries for operating that are not included in the package.
Let's talk about motors - this drone is equipped with four powerful brushless motors that provide your drone with powerful thrust and speed. Even on the lowest speed level, this drone moves in high speed, so be careful if you are a beginner.
Under each rotor arm, you will find LED lights that are not bright enough to ensure a safe night flight, but that's where the two bright lights located on the belly of the drone come in handy.
This drone is packed up with a 2800 mAh LiPo battery that will ensure incredible 26 minutes of flight time, which is way longer than usual.
But there is a downside; this battery type needs hours to be fully charged. So to avoid any complications, I recommend you buy several back-up batteries, and you will not need to wait for hours to go back to flying.
Like all other models, this drone to has some intelligent flight modes like:
- Custom Flight Path - This feature allows you to draw the route on your app, and the drone will follow it and come back from where it started.
- Orbit Mode - Now, you can easily lock your drone on the subject you are interested in, and the drone will circle around it from the distance and height you set up on the app.
- Follow Me - With this option, you can lock the drone to follow you around. Only make sure you are always in close proximity to this feature to be able to work.
- One-key Return Home - Just one click of the button separates you from bringing your drone back from where it started. This comes in handy when the battery on your drone is low, or you are losing a connection with it.
If you want to be able to use them all, it is recommended to fly by using the Holy Stone app named Ophelia GPS.
This drone has a great 2K FHD camera (2048 x 1152) with a lens that has a 110° FOV angle that allows you to take a high-detail images as well as 1/3 CMOS sensor that will improve image clarity. The camera can be rotated up or down for 90° using a remote controller - prepare to make some fantastic overhead photos with this guy!
This drone uses 5G transmission technology, which will allow you to livestream your videos from a maximum distance of 800 m in optimal conditions. The FPV distance is around 600 - 700 m, which is amazing for the drone in this price range.
3. HUBSAN Zino Drone-
Best affordable drone with a camera
"A perfect travel companion for those on a budget.
Like the previous one, the Hubsan Zino drone is foldable too. So if you are prone to travel a lot, this is the perfect pick for you.
This drone weighs around 700 grams and has 12 x 9.6 x 5.1 inches in dimension, which makes it very lightweight and compact.
The drone is built up from high-quality polycarbonate that is very sturdy and durable, so your drone will stay safe and undamaged even if you crash it.
This model, too, has LED light under each rotor arm, but in this case, they are suitable for night flights. Also, the GPS feature will provide stability to your drone and will allow you to always know where your drone is exactly.
You can control this drone by your smartphone or the controller. If you want to use your smartphone, you need to use the attachment on the bottom of the controller, but be aware that it can't hold larger gadgets like tablets.
One more thing, if you want to use a smartphone as the main controller, you need to download an X-Hubsan app. This app will allow you to control how far your drone can go, FPV, map navigation, use intelligent flight modes. The downside is that this app will drain your phone battery, and sometimes loses the connection.
The drone uses the new-generation intelligent lithium-ion 3000 mAh battery that will provide a flight time in the range of 20 to 23 minutes. When this battery reaches low levels, it will automatically return the drone to you.
All smart drones come with some intelligent flight modes, so let see what this model can offer to us. You can access all these flight modes from the X-Hubsan app:
- Panorama - press the button, and your drone will rotate at 360° while recording at the same time.
- Tracking - This allows you to lock your drone on the target of your desire and to follow it automatically.
- Waypoint - You can draw the map on the app, and your drone will follow it using autopilot.
- Line Fly Mode - This is similar to waypoint; in this case, you can only draw a straight line for your drone.
Now let's talk about the most important thing — the camera.
This model comes with a 4K camera that can shoot videos at 30fps (1080p at 60fps). Also, the Ambarella image processor will allow you to take amazingly clear pictures. You can be sure that all your videos and photos will be distortion-free thanks to advanced three-axis gimbal (pivoted support that will allow your drone to rotate around a single axis).
Live streaming your videos is available thanks to FPV capability, and 5G technology will ensure that the quality of your streaming is outstanding. The transmission range is around 1 km, but the quality of the transmission is not so good when the drone is so far away.
My top pick between $200 - $300
"Amazing value for the money - Recommend!"
Usually, most of the Altair drones required you to attach the camera on your own, but luckily, this model comes with an integrated camera.
The drone weighs 1270 grams with body dimensions of 10 x 10 x 3 inches, so it is quite big, and it is not foldable, but you can still carry it around easily.
The drone's body is built from high-quality, durable plastic. Under each rotor arm, there are LED lights that can change colors to red, green, or yellow. This is great because it allows you to distinguish between the front and the back of the drone and to be able to see it easily at night.
The battery is lithium-ion 1800 mAh and will allow you to fly the drone somewhere between 18 and 20 minutes. The battery is a removable and rechargeable one, and it will take 5 hours to be fully recharged, so think about purchasing some additional ones.
Take note that many users complained about how the battery is fragile and hard for removing from the charger.
The controller for this drone requires 4 AA batteries, that does not come included in the package. You can bind your smartphone to your controller by using the smartphone holder attachment.
You can download the X-DRONE app to help you manage your drone with the phone. Also, you can connect the drone with your phone with Wi-Fi.
This drone is powered by four brushless motors that are quite powerful, so the drone is pretty fast, and it will require careful management.
You will find the button for the automatic takeoff and landing. When you press it, your drone will be launched to the height of 6 feet. After that sequence, you can start flying the drone. You will use this button when you want to land your drone too.
From the intelligent flight features this drone is equipped with:
- Return Home - When the battery is low, you don't need to worry that you will lose your drone, it will automatically return to you.
- Follow Me Mode - Your drone will be locked on you and will follow you around as long as you stay in close proximity.
- GPS Waypoint mapping - Enables you to draw the route with your app, and the drone will follow it and return to the place where it started.
- GPS Flight Mode - When you activate this mode, your drone will hover in the air and stabilize itself even if the weather is windy. The only downside of this mode is that it will always try to automatically stabilize your drone even when you want to control it on your own.
The drone is equipped with a 1080P HD camera, and unfortunately, it is not the 4K type of camera, but it will still provide sharp and clear aerial footage.
Thanks to the built-in GPS module, you can fly this drone up to 1500 meters, but the best range for the FPV camera is still somewhere around 500- 600 meters after that the camera loses stability. The camera is also VR compatible.
My top picks between $200 - $300
There are a lot of varieties waiting on you in this price range, so if my options are not enough to satisfy your needs, please read my best drones under a $200 guide.
"Great package for an amazing price"
This model belongs to the type of GPS drones, and most of the users get very concerned when they are available at such an affordable price. But don't be fooled; this drone will offer you so many features for the price!
Be prepared that you will need to assemble this drone on your own, though.
You will need to attach the legs of the drone to its body as well to install the battery. It is not much of a fuss, but most of their models come fully assembled, so I was surprised.
Like every GPS drone, this one must be calibrated every time before use, which is very annoying thing to do, but this is the main thing that will enable the smooth and steady flight.
Now let's go over the size of the drone; the dimensions are 13.8 x 10.1 x 5.3 inches, and it weighs 970 grams, which makes it very portable.
You can control the drone by using the controller or by mounting your phone to the controller. Like in the previous model of this brand, this one too has a one-touch takeoff and landing button, which will come in handy to all new pilots that never controlled a drone before. Don't forget that the controller needs 4 AA batteries to be functional.
Here is a brief look at some of the most useful intelligent flight mode:
- Return To Home - When you activate this feature, your drone will automatically return to you.
- Point Of Interest - The GPS will allow you to focus your drone to you or any other subject you desire and follow it.
- Follow Me Mode - This is similar to the point of interest mode, but the main difference is in the distance. For follow me mode distance must be short.
This drone comes with a 1080P HD camera and will shoot decent quality videos. The range of the FPV is 150 meters, and thanks to the barometer altitude hold, this drone is able to hold still at the desired height.
"If you want a cheap drone and you trust only DJI"
Well, I can for sure tell you that you will be amazed at the price and capability of this particular product. Tello is so straightforward to use that even kids can do it.
This is the mini remote-controlled drone that is equipped with an HD camera. The dimensions are 12 x 8 x 4 inches, and it weighs 885 grams.
To use this quadcopter, all you need to do is to power up your drone by pressing on the power button and wait for a few seconds for it to turn on. After that, you can toss it in the air, and it will start hovering.
You can control the drone by using both the controller or a smartphone. If you want to control it with your phone, you must download the Tello Edu app.
After you install the app, you can slide your finger on the phone, and discover Tello's elementary flight features as well perform some aerial tricks you need to learn to be able to shoot a good video.
Tello is also compatible with Scratch, a simple coding program that will let you learn the basics of writing custom programs for drones. Imagine the possibilities!
The drone is powered by four brushed motors and a lithium battery that will allow you to use the drone for around 12 minutes before you need to recharge it. The battery will need approximately 3 hours to restore and be ready for use.
There are some fantastic safety features :
Propeller Guards - This will protect the rotors from accidents.
Built-in Collision Detection System - This feature will prevent your drone from crashing while you still learning the controls.
EZ Shoots - This feature will allow you to shoot the 720P video using Circle, 360 and Up and Away modes.
Bounce Mode - With this feature, you can control your drone with your palm. You can move it up or down by simply opening or closing your palm.
Return Home - When the battery is low, your drone will automatically return to you.
Land Safely - If you lose the connection with your controller, the drone will automatically land.
The built-in HD camera can shoot the 5 megapixels images and 720P videos. The most surprising thing is optical stabilization, which is excellent and will provide you very clear and sharp videos and pictures.
The flight range of the camera is best by 100m after that camera is losing stability, and videos might get glitchy. This drone has two antennas with smart switching that will allow you to transmit the 720P videos from the 300 feet away.
Best Inexpensive Quadcopter: Altair #AA108 Camera Drone
"Great Budget Pickup"
This drone is perfect for all skill levels, and it will serve you well no matter if you are an amateur or a pro. This drone can work both indoors and outdoors.
#AA108 is seriously tiny, and you can take it anywhere with you easily. It is built up from high-quality plastic that will withstand all the crashes that might happen while you are learning to fly.
The weight is no more than 740 grams, and the dimensions are modest too, only 10.1 x 9.1 x 4.4 inches.
This model comes with two Lithium-Polymer batteries that will provide you the 15 to 20 minutes of flight. But the great thing about this drone is that when the battery reaches the low level, the drone will start beeping to alert you, which is not the case with most other models that will only indicate the low battery level by blinking lights on the drone.
To control the drone, you can use the controller or the smartphone. You need to download the Flyingsee app to be able to control the drone from your phone. You will find the one-step takeoff and landing button for more comfortable managing. This button also can serve as an emergency shutdown button; just press it a bit longer, and the motors will immediately shut down.
Now it is time to mention some intelligent flying modes:
- Headless Mode - As I already explained before, your drone will automatically align itself in the right direction after you launch it.
- Custom Route Mode - You can draw the desired route using the app on your phone, and your drone will follow it.
- One button takeoff and landing - Now, you can quickly launch and land your drone with the press on the single button.
- Range and Low Battery Alarm - The drone will activate the alarm if your battery is on low levels, or your drone will cross the recommended flight distance.
The drone is equipped with a built-in HD 720P camera. This is great for flying the drone in FPV mode. The images and videos from it will be on par with expectations - nothing to brag about.
Unfortunately, you can't angle or rotate the camera, but with the 120-degree camera angle, you will still cover the significant field of view. With the lack of GPS mode, the stability of this drone is not so good.
My top pick under the $50 price range
If you are eager to learn all the options you have in this price range, please continue and read my 11 best drones under $100 review.
Best cheap camera drone: Potensic A20W
"Best For Kids"
This drone is a mini quadcopter that is perfect for kids and first-timers. For its price, it definitely brings some bang for the buck!
Its minuscule size (3.5 x 3.1 x 1.2 inches) will make you think it's fragile and worthless, but it definitely isn't.
Read on to find out why!
Handling Potensic A20W is easy - you can use both the remote controller or your smartphone. It comes with a transmitter, so it is excellent for live FVP streaming. The real fun with it starts when you connect it to a tablet and start piloting on a big screen - ideal fun in the house!
Like many other models, the controller is equipped with one button for takeoff or landing. Also, this drone comes with a G-sensor mode that will allow you to control the drone by tilting your phone - quite an interesting feature.
The flight range is within 100 meters for the drone, and in FVP model is 40 to 50 meters from you. The camera is compatible with your smartphone VR set.
Potensic A20W comes with two removable lithium batteries that will let you use it for 10 minutes, more or less. So if you decide to purchase this model, I recommend you to buy more additional batteries to prolong your flight time. Every battery can be recharged for 300 times.
Intelligent flight modes:
- Headless Mode - Launch the drone without worrying about the orientation. The drone will automatically align in the right direction.
- Custom Flight Route Mode - Draw your route for your drone.
- Altitude Hold Mode - You can lock your drone on the desired height and stabilize the camera for the best aerial videos and images.
- Low Battery Alarm - When the battery reaches the critical level, your drone will start beeping to remind you to bring back your drone.
The drone is equipped with a built-in HD 720P camera, but in reality, its sensor is so small and weak that you shouldn't except some amazing-looking shots or videos. Again, think about the drone's size and main intention - learning the ropes of flying a drone and having some fun with kids.
The footage is best to enjoy on a smartphone, when you use the drone to observe from high altitudes.
The drone industry is far more advanced now than a few years ago, which means that now, for some smaller amount of money, you can purchase a great gadget and stay on your budget.
If you are not interested in photography on a pro-level and you want to make fun and great pictures and videos from your travels and parties, you should not invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in equipment that will not be used in full potential.
All of the drones mentioned above can satisfy an average user's needs - you only have to define yours and pick accordingly. If you ask me, both Holly Stone HS720 & Altair Outlaw will bring you hours of fun and great memories captured.
Remember, not all that is cheap is low in quality. I hope that this article helped you pick out the best option for your budget and that it will serve you right.
Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API