When shopping for drones, we understand you probably have a budget, 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.
The Hubsan H111 is one of the best nano drones for flying around the house. It is a tiny machine that fits in the palm...
- 5 - Minutes
- No camera
- 7 - MPH
- 150 - ft
If you are looking for a solid starter drone, an inexpensive quadcopter for beginners, the Hubsan H107 series of drones is a great start.
- 10 - Minutes
- 11 - MPH
- 100 - Meters
An excellent starter drone, the Syma X5C is resilient, reliable and easy to operate. Nothing fancy here, just a simple toy-class drone to practice flying...
- 10 - Minutes
- 720p - 30FPS
- 11 - MPH
- 100 - ft
The Ryze Tello is one of the most capable and versatile mini drones around, enjoy different designs, code your own flight features, or just fly...
- 13 - Minutes
- 720p - 30FPS
- 18 - MPH
- 100 - Meters
The Hubsan H502S Desire is a great starter drone. It offers stable basic flight and some GPS functionality, usually unheard of in a sub-$100 drone.
- 10 - Minutes
- 720p - 30FPS
- 11 - MPH
- 300 - Meters
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.
Best drones under $100
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.
What cheap drone should I 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.
September 2014Release Date
Getting into the toy range here, the Hubsan H107 is a series of drones, one of the main models is the Hubsan H107L. These are fairly entry level drones, 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.
We all have to start somewhere, and the Hubsan H107L for about $30 sounds like a smart price to do so.
January 2015Release Date
The Syma X5C was one of our first drones. A toy-class machine that is very resilient, fairly stable and easy to operate. We knew we needed something inexpensive to learn how to fly in the beginning, and this machine was our choice. The quirks of this simple drone taught us about basic flight mistakes, how to control a machine and much more.
The X5C offers two speeds. Normal speed is very stable, full tilt goes fairly slow and keeps the craft upright enough not to crash itself. Fast speed mode allows the craft to tilt enough that you must manage the throttle to keep it from hitting the dirt. That's how drones fly, these settings are excellent for learning how not to crash. The best part for us, the X5C is very light weight and made of flexible plastics. We crashed ours many, many times. We always flew over grass, and even from 100ft up, the drone would almost float back to the earth and bounce off the grass.
Related: 8 reasons to choose the Syma X5C
Keep in mind that this is a light weight drone, get it up too high and the wind can take it away. Trust me! We no longer have our Syma X5C.
The Syma X5C runs about $30 for the drone, a little more with extra batteries and parts.
March 2018Release Date
Built using many DJI parts, and sold on the DJI site in partnership with DJI, it is a common misunderstanding that this is a DJI drone. The Ryze Tello is a fun little machine that serves many purposes. On the surface, it's a functional and capable high-end, toy-class drone. You can fly by mobile device, remote control or, in the case of the Educational versions of this machine, you can code your own functionality.
The Ryze Tello is an attractive first drone for many pilots and parents of potential pilots. There are even a few different partnerships, like the Iron Man edition Tello.
Hubsan H502S Desire
August 2016Release Date
At launch, the Hubsan H502S Desire was one of the very best toy-class drones that Hubsan produced. It rocks basic GPS and flight features like a follow-me mode. The little drone still has brushed motors, which is a clear distinction in the Hubsan line between their low and high-end models, the higher end models have brushless motors. Don't hold this against the H502S, it may not be as fast or battery efficient as the brushed models, but it still flies very stable, holds a hover quite well and the FPV through the 720p camera gives you that fun flight experience.
You can get into the Hubsan H502S Desire for around $100 today, that's approaching half of its initial price at launch.
November 2015Release Date
The UDI U818 series has a few drones to speak of, one of the best is the U818A HD+. The HD+ model comes with a 720P camera and some basic GPS functionality. This is a toy-class drone, the type you have likely seen in the electronics department of your local supermarket. There is little to say about this machine, it flies fairly well, for a toy-class machine, it is affordable and is great to learn on. There is no FPV, the camera just records and takes photos for viewing afterward.
Check out the UDI U818A HD+ for around $80.
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 $80 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 $90 on Amazon.
Blade Inductrix Switch Air
For many in the hobby community, Blade is a favorite brand, with little micro quads in the Inductrix line. The versatile little quad has been put to use in a few ways now, the latest of which is a VTOL craft, of sorts, that is safe to fly indoors. Best suited for larger rooms, but still, safe indoors. The bent quad provides a slight forward attitude hover, and when you get moving fast enough, the wings take over and keep the machine aloft. From what we hear, the wings help in turns more than they actually ‘fly’ the drone, but hey, we are intrigued by this design, and the whole kit and experience can be had for a very low price, all things considered.
Check out the Blade Inductrix Switch Air for $49.
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.
Drone legal and safety
These drones are not valued at under $100, but if your budget can handle it, they are some of the best beginner’s drones on the market, for when you are ready to graduate from toy-class machines:
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?
Looking for a larger drone?
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I really buy a cheap drone?
You do not need to buy a cheap drone as your starter drone, no, but it’s a pretty good idea. Higher-end machines, such as the newest DJI drones, offer amazing flight stability, and all come to a reliable hover if you let go of the sticks. Those higher-end machines are usually GPS enabled drones – backed by vision sensors for additional accuracy, and obstacle avoidance sensors to avoid collisions – which make it very easy to fly successfully. A low-end drone requires some skills on the sticks to keep it airborne in a stable way, and that is the main benefit of buying a cheap drone, to become a good pilot with a low cost.
Are cheap drones any good?
The concept of “good” depends on your needs of your drone. If you want a simple craft to learn on, to practice and hone your skills, a cheap drone is great. If you want to capture amazing photos and video from the sky, don’t count on a cheap drone to make you happy.
Do I need to register my drone if I only fly in my backyard?
In the United States, and many other countries, as long as you intend to fly outdoors and your drone weighs 0.55lbs, 250 grams, or more, you will need to register before you fly. Officially, the moment your drone is self propelled and no longer physically in contact with the ground, it is in the FAA’s jurisdiction. Further, the country has been arranged in various classes of airspace, so you may need to request and receive authorization to fly before you even head to the back yard.