Since their creation, drones continue to astound users as their applications keep growing with each passing day. You can use it to achieve fun or professional applications, depending on what you’re passionate about. For instance, they can be used by search and rescue teams to locate individuals or animals in areas that aren’t easily accessible. On the flip side, there are adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts who use drones to film their various exploits. Whatever the case, drones are proving quite useful in today’s world.
However, knowing why you’d like to own a drone is just the beginning of your journey. Drones come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of specifications. So, making your purchase is something that requires time to research the different models currently that cater to your needs. Budget buyers, in particular, should take a little extra time to see what’s available at the affordable end of the drone price spectrum.
Has headless and return home modes
Stability is supported by a 6-axis gyro
Comes with stability enhancements
Has the Headless mode, can perform 3D flips
Offers different modes to take the footage you desire
Comes with flight stability enhancements
HS100 GPS RC
Has LED lights to show its present state
Comes with cockpit glasses for video piloting
Phantom 3 Standard
Comes with POI, Waypoint, and Follow Me features
Spark Fly More Combo
Flight safety features for enhanced awareness
Specifications to Look for in Low-Budget Drones
We can’t all be tech nerds. However, we can all know what we need to meet our requirements when looking to buy a drone for cheap. The following qualify as the most important features to consider when making a budget drone purchase:
Simply because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you should settle for low-quality items. Plastic is common for cheaper models, but not durable. On the other hand, opting for a body made of fiberglass and carbon will ensure any small crashes encountered don’t spell the end of your drone’s use.
The amount of flight time you get is a vital part of the experience. Aim for cheap options offering between 7-20 minutes’ worth of flight time. Apart from the flight time, you must also take into account how long it takes to charge the drone. If it takes too long to charge and only lasts a short time, then you don’t have the right model for our needs. Factors like the drone’s weight also play a part in the flight time duration.
Every drone comes with a camera. However, the quality of the images you take is what determines the camera specifications for you during your purchase. You can get a budget-friendly option that shoots 4K or HD footage. For real professional photographers or videographers, getting a drone with a gimbal is another plus. That’s because getting clear, sharp images from a stabilized drone is better than just getting a clear but motion blurred image.
Drones can be controlled using apps or auxiliary controllers. Using an app is fine, but having a controller is definitely better. That’s because you get dedicated controls to help you navigate your drone. Depending on the affordable model you purchase, you may even get one with video piloting. This allows you to navigate around obstacles directly from your controller, instead of looking up at the drone to help it maneuver.
Best Budget Drones worth Under $100
1. DROCON X708W
Key Design Features
For those who are unfamiliar with how drones work, this model is a good place to start. It comes with an HD camera tucked nicely at the front. This is sure to keep it safe from damage in case you happen to bump into things during your practice runs. Images from the drone are broadcasted in realtime as it’s WiFi-enabled. It’s medium in size, making it portable enough to carry around.
The controls on this model are simple to master. For starters, it has the headless mode that allows users to fly it forward regardless of the direction its nose is facing. Apart from that, users also have one key control. It’s a mode that enables you to direct the drone to wherever you are, by simply clicking on its return home button. However, this is a function that will only work if it still has enough charge to facilitate the flight to you.
Other than having a short battery life, this drone is perfect for beginners looking to get some aerial footage. Its headless mode means you needn’t bother with details like which side its facing as it flies, while the return home option is great in assisting you in bringing down the drone with no effort on your part.
2. UDI U818A
Key Design Features
It’s a quadcopter with gyros to help it maintain stability during slight. You don’t need a mobile app to control it as a controller is included. Users can start operating it as soon as it’s unboxed since no assembling is required. There are four rotors, each with accompanying rings to ensure the drone’s steady during flights, even during windy days. You’ll also have a camera to help you take aerial images and videos.
It comes with two flight modes based on your experience with drones. Newbies should select the standard mode to help them master the controls. Experienced users can select the high-performance mode instead.
For a beginner, you can’t go wrong with the UDI U818A. No assembling is required, and you’ve got two experience modes, depending on how well you are at using drones.
3. X4 107C
Key Design Features
For a model that works well indoors, the compactly created Hubsan X4 107C fits the bill. The outer shell is made of plastic, in addition to reinforced propellers to withstand collisions, and rubber feet to minimize the landing impact. With its 4 channel design, you can easily control it in a room with other drones around. It may not fly fast or far, but users get a lot of stability during a flight from its 6-axis control system.
The onboard camera can shoot footage that’s 1280x720p, at 25 frames per second. Recording footage is simply by clicking on a button. If you see the LED light, then you know it’s recording. In case you’re not in a position to access its app, there’s an SD card slot to offer up auxiliary storage for your footage.
This low budget option comes with a controller to help you execute functions with ease. Though best suited for indoor flying, it can also function well outdoors if it’s not too windy. You also get decent footage quality from its camera.
Best Budget Drones worth Under $200
Key Design Features
For budget-friendly options that have impressive speed, this serves as a great option. It’s a model that can reach 45km per hour, making it ideal for professionals who can handle drones. Operating on the ISM band, you can transmit in realtime without experiencing any delays or interruptions. If you’re looking to enhance your drone flying skills, the HS230 has impeccable manoeuvering controls. For instance, there’s no automatic hover function, meaning you have to hone your throttle handling skills to keep the drone in proper flight. You get three-speed variations to help you train from a beginner to an expert. It also comes with the headless mode to fly in any direction.
This drone was built for speed, as you can already tell from its top speed. Included in the design is a 720p camera for high-resolution images of fellow racers, the environs, and whatever else you come across your view.
To participate in high-speed drone races on a budget, you need this model. It’s aerodynamically designed, giving it great wind resistance. This makes controlling it in windy conditions a breeze. You’re also capable of using video piloting to control your flight path.
5. 3DR Solo
Key Design Features
For better image clarity, you may need to purchase a gimbal as this model doesn’t come with one. As you figure out your next move, you could use the exquisite GoPro camera that is attached to it. Since it’s quadcore, agility is one of its stronger capabilities, allowing you to get great aerial footage. Plus, its gyros and accelerometers are powered by two computers, which makes flying rather easy for any level of user.
This model comes with a dedicated mobile application that allows you to live stream up to a distance of nearly two kilometers. It has a cable cam and selfie mode for creating wraparound shots of the environs. You can also activate the follow me option, which will have the drone trail after you without any additional input from you.
The fact that two computers power this drone’s operations means all processes are flawlessly executed. Android and iOS apps make controlling your movements and actions rather simple. Its different camera modes also make it possible to get fantastic shots that you wouldn’t likely get with drones in its affordable price range.
6. Force 1
Key Design Features
Get an affordable model complete with virtual reality capabilities when purchasing the Force 1. It comes with a 720 HD camera, headless mode, as well as the capacity to automatically hover, which is great for beginners. It remains fully functional up to 320 feet with a 6-axis control t help ensure stability during its flight time. So, you can keep it airborne as you figure out where you’d like to take it for a spin.
This is yet another affordable option that comes with a handy and easy to use controller. You have 3 batteries included as well to increase the battery life for longer flying durations. Through video piloting, you can get exciting footage that is presented in HD.
If you’re an avid explorer in need of a portable option, this is it. Apart from its fair price, HD footage is a given when you use its 12 MP camera. You are also able to store your media directly to an SD card.
Best Budget Drones worth Under $500
7. HS100 GPS RC
Key Design Features
For starters, users get an adjustable wide-angle camera so that you can take HD aerial shots from whichever angle possible. It’s a great alternative for footage you would have otherwise struggled to take with a selfie stick. Through video piloting, you can take photos and also live-stream footage from up to half a kilometer away. Follow me mode is also a part of the package, enabling you to get aerial shots of yourself.
Starting and stopping the drone takes a single button click so that even beginners can easily master using this model. You have 15 minutes of flight time. Its return home mode is quite different from other models, whereby you have to make the request for it to come back manually. This drone will also automatically return to you when the charge is low or if it loses its signal connection to you.
This model gives you a lot of freedom with features like the follow me and live broadcasting capabilities. Beginners will also find its single-button control, headless mode, and adjustable speeds of great help in mastering how to operate it.
8. Bebop 2 Adventurer
Key Design Features
This model gives you added gadgets to operate it without you having to go over your budget. Prepare for a fully immersive experience as you get cockpit glasses for your viewing pleasure. It’s a lightweight model that makes it perfect for adventurers. You can operate it at a distance of nearly two kilometers. It’s also got an exceptional flight time of 25 minutes. Video broadcasts are sent via secured WiFi to minimize signal interruptions. Full HD images and videos are what you’ll receive from its integrated camera, with digital stabilization to ensure your media never gets distorted by the drone’s motion.
Photo and video clarity are assured based on the fact that it’s got a 3-axis gimbal in play. You can easily maneuver it around, whether you’re a pro or not, using the simple controller. For fully automated shots, you have the follow me mode. So there’s no need to run around with a camera in hand for self-shots as the Bebop 2 Adventurer has got you covered.
Its compactness and lightweight make it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who require easy portability. Add that to the experience the cockpit glasses give you, and you’ve got the ultimate drone experience at a low budget.
9. Phantom 3 Standard
Key Design Features
Buying this drone gives you one of the best cheap options out there in terms of achieving flawless flight and exceptional videography. It’s 2.7 K camera takes 1920×1280 pixel videos, as well as 12 MP photos to ensure each moment is captured in all its clarity. The clear footage is also thanks, in part, to the 3-axis gimbal, which ensures stability.
With its intuitive auto flight assistant, the point when it starts its flight will be recorded using its GPS tracker. That way, in case of signal loss, it will automatically return to where you started. This is a much better alternative to other drones, which would fly aimlessly until the battery runs low, and it crashes. Controlling this quadcore is an easy task as once you switch it on, it hovers while waiting for your instructions. In case it was mid-flight, and you paused, it’ll maintain its altitude while hovering.
This drone comes with an app to help you manage its flight. Through it, you can view your live images from almost a kilometer away. It’s a great gadget to have if you’re into photography. It’s got a flight time of 25 minutes, and once it senses that battery levels are low, it will return without being prompted to.
For a cheap drone that will give you great videos and photos, this is it. It’s got simple controls and features you can only find with more costly drone options, guaranteeing quality at a low price point.
10. Spark Fly More Combo
Key Design Features
This DJI model is ideal for more professional drone users due to its design specifications and operating efficiency. Using UltraSmooth tech, users are guaranteed stability in every shot that’s taken by the camera. You’ll receive high-quality images from the F 2.6 wide-angle lenses with a 25mm focal length. The camera’s ability to bring out colors in their true form means you don’t require additional settings to capture your footage. However, there are different camera modes available to ensure you get the shot you desire.
This model is lightweight and handles different outdoor conditions exceptionally. You’ll be able to take advantage of safety features such as the VPS, 3D sensing systems, and GPS dual-band, to list a few. These ensure that whenever it’s in flight, it can quickly sense and avoid obstacles, as well as land properly.
A neat feature with this model is its gesture control capabilities. You can achieve different functions, such as directing the drone or taking a photo by simply gesturing on your smartphone. Since it can achieve propulsion of up to 50 kilometers an hour, it can easily withstand extremely windy conditions. You can also continuously transmit videos from as far as 2 kilometers away.
This model is fat, with enhancements that ensure the imagery you take comes out clear. You can track it, share your images in realtime, and even try different media modes to get that perfect shot. And let’s not forget about the safety features which help it stay safe while it’s in flight.
Tips for Purchasing The Best Budget Drones
What’s The Drone For?
You need to know what you want the drone for before making your purchase. Drones are different so as to fulfil different activities. There are those for professional photography, those for racing, and those for casual flyers. Don’t pick a model up simply because of its looks or popularity. Racers would require a model that’s light and has incredible speed, with the capacity to also handle various weather conditions. The camera won’t be a big factor here. For photography experts, the camera and stability of the drone are what should influence your decision-making process.
Your Flying Proficiency
In case you’re new to drone flying, get something that takes on some of the maneuverability so that you can slowly learn how drones work. Things like automatic takeoff and automatic landings will take a bulk of the learning out of the equation as you familiarise yourself with everything.
Once you become better, you can change the settings to accommodate your user level, if the model allows. If settings can’t be changed, you can then proceed to look for a drone that handles what you need it to.
Drones come with sensors to help them function better. For instance, a model with GPS is essential as modes like Return To Home can be activated, helping the drone return to its start point in case of low battery issues or lost signals. Sensors help with other functionalities like:
Some parts may become obsolete, which would require you to replace them so as to restore functionality to your gadget. This is something you can tell based on your long-term experience with the drone. In case a part cannot be replaced, look for a model that promises more shelf-life for the item that got spoilt.
Based on what you need the drone for, you’ll need it to be able to operate even when it’s far from you. How high and how far a drone can go are specifications you can check when making your purchase. For instance, professional photographers would likely require a drone that still maintains connectivity at high altitudes.
Getting a drone with more features than what you were looking for is always a good thing. So start by ensuring it has what you need, before looking at the added features you get with that model.
Ready To Fly, or Do It Yourself Models
There are drone users who prefer to assemble their drones from scratch while there are users who just want to unbox their purchase and get to using it. Find out if you’re the hands-on type, or if you like your gadgets ready-made before looking for a great model within your budget range.
In A Nutshell
More and more people are realizing the usefulness that comes with using drones. If you happen to be a newly made drone fan, be sure to know what you need from it before starting to shop for one. The lists above will help you easily prioritize what you should get from your purchase based on your budget range, expected use, and user level, among other factors.