Cheap drones have taken off over the last couple of years after the tech powering previously expensive devices dropped in price. That means more hobbyists are taking to the skies, and, thanks to a range of drone deals and sales you’ll be able to join them for less than ever before.
While premium drones prioritise storage processes, RAW capture formats and super fast live transmission speeds, cheap drones can offer all the basic elements and some fancy extra features for a much lower price.
Plus, the world’s top drone brands now offer their own budget lines to bring more professional quality devices to the mainstream as well. You’ll find DJI features several times on this roundup of the best budget drones deals, with prices that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago.
These cheaper drones usually offer easy take off and landing controls, 720p – 4K photography, GPS enabled flight modes like Follow Me, and flight times of between 7 and 30 minutes. However, each model offers a slightly different suite of specs, features, and control styles so finding the perfect cheap drone for you can require a little digging.
Thankfully, we’ve done all that for you, rounding up all the best cheap drone deals right here so you can find the features you need at the lowest price possible.
Top 10 the Best Budget Drones 2021
We flew dozens of models to find the best budget drones
1. Ryze Tech Tello
Not only is the Ryze Tech Tello a fun drone to fly, but it’s designed to help kids learn to program by dropping blocks of code, LEGO-style into an app, using the Scratch programming language. There’s a bit of a learning curve, though, so children may need some guidance on just how to program the Tello.
Designed by DJI, the Tello is a light but solidly built drone, with an electronically stabilized camera that can record video at 720p/30 fps and take 5MP photos. Ryze advertises the Tello has being able to fly for up to 13 minutes on a charge, but we found its flight time to be about half that. Either way, it’s worth investing in a few spare batteries.
The Tello also does not come with a physical remote control, so you’ll have to use your smartphone (Android and iOS), unless you want to spend an extra $50 on a controller.
2. DJI Mavic Mini
Launched at the end of 2019, this drone was aimed squarely at the consumer market (and specifically to avoid the 250g registration limit). It still packs quite a punch – 2.7K video, GPS, altitude hold and a mechanical gimbal – meaning that images and video it recorded to its MicroSD card were of more than adequate quality for YouTubers or Instagrammers.
Indeed the drone has been understandably popular (while, equally predictable, DJI’s attempt to brand it a ‘FlyCam’ has not caught on. Going into 2021, the only slight worry would be supply, but DJI are still selling it and supplying it for now, while gently pointing out a newer model is on offer.
For consumers not confident learning to fly and shoot video at the same time, the automated QuickShots provide several striking orbiting or other dramatic swooping shots while keeping your subject in frame – the DJI Mavic Mini makes use of its intelligence to do this from the main camera rather than packing any extra scanners, which probably helps even this first model pull off 30 minutes of flight time.
3. Eachine E520S
If you don’t want to spend the $400 / £400 asking price of the DJI Mini 2, however, you will find a more budget-friendly 4K option in the Eachine E520S. You’re dropping quite a few features to pack Ultra-HD resolution into this price tag, but if you’re after resolution over all else it’s an excellent option to keep those costs low.
That’s not to say you’re skimping on those extra features, however. You’ll still find plenty of extra functionality under the hood here to go with the wallet-friendly price. GPS positioning and Follow Me modes allow a more hands-off approach to capturing that perfect shot and Altitude Hold will ensure your footage remains consistent as well.
The Waypoint Flight mode in here is a unique and handy feature that allows you to draw a route on your smartphone for your drone to follow. That’s perfect for those who want a smooth shot but haven’t yet got to grips with more complex control patterns. If you are still learning there’s also one key take off, landing, and return home baked in here.
All in all, this is an excellent cheap drone for the money. You might be losing out on some DJI-specific features like quick shots and long video transmission distances, but with a 4K camera at the helm and a range of extra flight modes there’s plenty to dig into here.
4. Holy Stone HS110G GPS FPV
Designed to introduce aerial photography novices to the world of cinematic drone photography, at the front of the Holy Stone HS100 GPS FPV is an optimised 1080p Wi-Fi camera with 120-degree field of view and 90-degree adjustable angle, ensuring you can capture quality footage or stills and experiment with shots from multiple perspectives. The drone is also suitable for use with VR or first-person view goggles.
Follow Me mode is on-hand to further boost the dynamic of your shots, enabling the drone to automatically follow a subject and keep it in the frame at all times – ideal for epic selfies or shooting fast-moving activity.
The Holy Stone HS100 also comes equipped with GPS precise positioning, ensuring smooth flight and the ability to return to the take-off point at the touch of a button, or as a safety measure if the battery or signal drops. Headless Mode and Altitude Hold take the stress out of flying so pilots can focus on getting their shots in the bag.
5. Snaptain S5C
If the Tello is sold out or you want a drone that’s faster, cheaper, and more fun to fly, the Snaptain S5C is the next-best choice for photography drones under $100. However, it isn’t nearly as easy to pilot as the Tello, has an inferior build quality, and uses lower quality batteries that need to be monitored more closely to avoid dangerous failures.
The 720p video it captures (akin to the Tello or an iPhone 5) won’t satisfy photo snobs, either, but it’s enough for basic video and photos for social media.
6. Hubsan X4 Quadcopter with FPV Camera
Want to get started on perfecting your aerial photography skills without spending much? This $79.99 drone from Hubsan has a flight range of about 320 feet, and can stream live video to the 4.3-inch screen built into the controller. Slap in a Micro SDHC card, and you can record your footage locally, too.
7. Holy Stone HS110 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 HS110 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 HS110 FPV quadcopter.
8. Emax Tinyhawk 2
Though mainstream drones like the DJI Mini can fly fast, racing drones fly even faster, capable of hitting speeds above 100 mph. They’re also much more agile, built for acrobatic maneuvers with you at a set of manual controls. That means there’s a learning curve that usually involves some crashes.
Getting started will be neither quick nor easy, but for a racing drone, the Emax Tinyhawk 2 keeps things relatively simple. You’ll still need to learn how to pilot the thing, but the process will be less expensive and less frustrating than other entry-level systems. For one thing, you don’t need to worry about getting all of the individual pieces to work together — or soldering anything, which is required for many DIY models.
9. Snaptain A15H
If you’re a total newbie looking to fly a drone for the first time, this Snaptain model is the ideal choice. One of the most affordable drones out there, the A15H is a full flying camera, rather than just a flying body that can hold a camera as with many budget drones.
Its body is pretty rugged and can stand a beating, vital when you’re just learning how to operate a drone. Despite that solid body, this drone folds up for travel and remains reasonably light, tipping the scales at 1.4 pounds (635g).
The A15H has more features than we’ve come to expect from a budget drone, and the app is better than many as well. You can trace a path on your smartphone screen, for example, and get the drone to follow it. Basic voice control is included, and it’s even compatible with certain VR headsets.
Useful extras like one-touch takeoff and landing and automatic collision avoidance help keep beginning pilots out of trouble. Even so, you’ll want to be careful in windy conditions, since that’s when problems are most likely to occur.
10. Parrot Mambo
The Parrot Mambo Fly is one of the cheapest mini-drones for less than US$180 and one of the best you can find for that price.
This quadcopter drone is incredibly easy to use and, using its auto-pilot technology, is considered one of the most stable mini drones you can find. Auto-pilot kicks in whenever you let go of the controls.
This drone also appears to be marketed more towards a younger crowd. It’s nice to have some safer options that younger people can play with as a lot of drones can be quite dangerous and may not be recommended for just anyone.
The cannon comes with a 6-round clip and 50 cannons. The only downside to this is that the tiny cannon balls are incredibly easy to lose, which is likely why this accessory comes with so many.
The battery does need to be charged on the drone’s body, however, so you may want to consider purchasing a second charger separately, along with an extra battery.
This is a fun model to use inside, with kids, or just to get a good, solid idea of what it’s like to fly a drone.
How to choose the best cheap drone for you
When shopping for a cheap drone under $100, you’re going to have to make some compromises, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good drone at this price.
For starters, the flight time for most cheap drones rarely exceeds 10 minutes, and it often takes upwards of half an hour to recharge them. You’ll want to buy a drone that has a removable battery, and then purchase at least two spare batteries so that you can spend more than a few minutes flying a drone before you have to go back inside for the rest of the day.
Many cheap drones now come equipped with cameras, so you can shoot aerial photos and videos. However, unlike top-end drones, the cameras in these models are pretty basic; they’re not mounted on a gimbal, so footage is likely to be a little shaky, and the quality will be worse than what you’ll find on most smartphones. But, it should provide you with a pretty fun experience nonetheless.
If you’re buying a drone for your kid, we also recommend drones that have easily replaceable rotors, as well as optional propeller guards. Your child is going to smash the drone into a tree, wall, or some other object, so prop guards and replacement rotors will help keep your purchase from becoming a worthless piece of junk after its first crash.
These Best Budget Drones may not have all of the flashy features of more high-end quadcopter drones, but they offer a great way to get you flying without a large investment upfront.
The drone market is filled with many choices and the technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Drone manufacturers are introducing new drones all the time, supplying a steady stream of featured packed models for consumers to fly.