If you’re here reading this because you tried to look online for cheap drones and were overwhelmed by the choices, you are not alone! We’ve come a long way since the mini helicopters that used to zip above our heads in the strip malls.
If this will be the first drone you purchase, choosing to buy one for under $100 is an excellent idea. While our selections have the low-price in common, there are many specifications that you will want to keep in mind depending on what you want to use it for.
Key Specifications For Buying An Affordable Drone Under $100
Whether you’re simply interested in flying for the enjoyment of it, or, you want to start small and snap some images from the sky, here are the most important specs to compare between models.
One of the biggest challenges in the manufacturing of small UAV’s is determining how to fit a heavy battery into the design that will not affect performance and will also provide enough juice to sustain the desired flight time.
Although the more expensive drones out there can achieve flight times upwards of thirty minutes, the best you’ll find under $100 is roughly five to fifteen minutes. If capturing images or video isn’t your top priority, but practicing flying is, keep a lookout for this metric.
Also, look at how long it takes to recharge the battery and whether you can have multiple batteries.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Drones
To be clear, any drone can be flown indoors. The question is do you want to and are you setting yourself up for trouble?
Most people want altitude and open space when flying, but there are also those who want to zip from room to room in acrobatic fashion.
If you are looking to fly indoors:
- Make sure the copter has prop protectors
- Look for drones weighing less than 1lb so you don’t damage goods
Flying outdoors opens up the stability of the drone to weather and wind. We will indicate which models perform well in outdoor settings.
Does it have a camera at all? If so, how is the quality?
It’s not an unfair assumption that all drones will have a camera built in. Many do, some allow for GoPro’s to be attached, others are strictly for flight.
Drones under $100 will not have professional grade cameras built-in, however, many will shoot video up to 720p and produce 5mp stills which is a great starting point for any aspiring aerial photographer.
If you want to share your captures on social media, the quality is actually very appropriate.
The Best Drones Under $100
Now, let’s get into our top picks for drones under $100
#1: DJI Tello Quadcopter Drone
The number one drone on our list has DJI in the name, but it is actually the first drone to be manufactured in collaboration with three companies: DJI, Intel, and Ryze. DJI is the largest and most well-known drone manufacturer on the planet, and so being able to get familiar with their products for cheap is an excellent opportunity.
With the ability to fly within a radius of 300ft, and at speeds of up to 17mph it’s the type of drone you want to take outside and become savvy in the air. It also only weighs 3 oz meaning you won’t be required to register it with the FAA.
The drone is equipped with dual antenna transmission, that not only improves flight maneuvering but also assists in image stabilization. The camera can shoot 5MP stills, and video up to 720p at 30fps. Want to upload directly from your phone? No problem, the drone synchronizes captures right to your smartphone instead of an sd card for quick sharing.
- Flight time up to 13 minutes when flown professionally
- The camera comes equipped with 720P video at 30fps, 5mp stills
- VR headset compatibility for first-person viewing
#2: Altair Aerial Blackhawk Drone
The Blackhawk drone offers you features that are incredibly difficult to find at this price range. Think of it as an advanced level drone at a budget price. While it isn’t exactly under $100 ($120) the accessories included and free shipping makes it one of the best deals on the market, and may actually cost you less depending on your accessory needs.
By selecting the Blackhawk you’ll get 15 to 17 minutes of flight time and a range between 300 to 500 meters. It’s incredibly stable, so it’s ready to be fitted with an action camera, or even your GoPro Hero 3 or 4 you have laying around.
This drone is fast, agile, and offers a 6-axis gyro, which makes it great for aerial drone photography.
Plus, with a metal body, it’ll stand out and be able to take more wind than other drones in its class.
It’s difficult to find this level of range and flight time in a budget drone, as a 300-meter range and a 15 minutes flight time typically aren’t seen at this price point.
- Built-in GoPro compatibility for action shooting
- Longest flight time and distance in its class
#3: UDI u818A Discovery
The UDI Discovery is one of the easiest to use drones on the list. It packs a small size, weighing under a pound, and basically fits in the palm of your hand. With enough skill, it can be flown indoors without damaging the furniture.
It’s equipped with two life-long rechargeable batteries that’ll give you 9 minutes of flight time. Plus, with quick recharge capabilities, you’re never that far out of the action.
It’s incredibly stable, nimble, and equipped with 720p 30 frames per second footage. The return to home function will also make your life a lot easier if your drone becomes unresponsive, or if you accidentally lose sight of it.
The camera shake will hardly be noticeable in windy conditions due to its built-in stabilization control.
- Equipped with a 720p camera and 4GB memory card
- Bundled battery charger for on-the-go flight time
- Return to home feature
#4: Holy Stone HS200 FPV RC Drone
The Holy Stone is one of the best selling drones in the Amazon store, and for good reasons. It’s a very fun drone to fly, and for under a hundred bucks it’s hard to beat.
The speed and controls of this drone make it easy to fly. The three different speed modules make it easy to gradually scale up. Beginners can rest easy and keep total control over the drone.
As you grow more skilled you can even impress friends with flips and barrel rolls, when you’re not busy taking photos.
Keep in mind that the flight time is only 6 to 8 minutes, so you’ll need to invest in a few extra batteries if you’re serious about flight time.
Even with the limited flight time, you’ll be impressed under what conditions you can fly this drone. It’s incredibly sturdy in high wind speeds due to the propeller guards and high-quality materials. As a bonus, even if you crash there’s a good chance this drone will survive unscathed.
- Altitude hold function for in-flight hover (perfect for aerial photography)
- Easy pairing with your iOS or Android drive for live video or photo feed
- LED navigation lights for night flights
#5: Altair Aerial AA108 (Bonus option for $30 more)
Right off the cuff, the Altair Aerial AA108 is a bit more than $100. But, with the level of features, it comes equipped with you’ll see that it’s well worth the price.
Out of the box, you’ll notice that this drone is very high quality; it feels like a drone you’d pay premium prices for.
With a 720p HD camera and a 120-degree wide-angle lens, you can capture amazing shots, and even enable first-person flying to experience your flight in virtual reality.
A big advantage of this drone is the highly rated support team. A lot of drones are manufactured overseas, which leads to less than stellar support and almost non-existent documentation. Altair seeks to correct this blunder with the drones they produce by offering exemplary domestic support lines.
At a budget price, this drone allows you to learn the ropes and improve your skills without fear of crashing.
- Custom route modules to create custom flight-line paths
- Altitude hold for perfectly stable still captures
Choosing the Best Drone for You
When it comes to choosing the right drone, it’s all about understanding your needs. A drone used for professional real estate photography will be different than a drone you’re simply taking on vacation.
Luckily, a budget drone under $100 gives you a lot of freedom. You can improve your skills without the worry of crashing. Over time you may also want to test different models and grow as a drone pilot.
If you’re still unsure here’s a quick overview of each of the drones highlighted above:
Hopefully, some of the drones above have piqued your interest and you’re on your way towards a fun hobby or fulfilling career in drone photography and videography. We offer a wider selection of cheap drones ranging from $20 – $180 in our Cheap Drones Guide.
Whether you’re on a budget or want a second drone to test your limits, any of the drones above are a great place to start.