The Best Drones You Can Buy For Under $100
BY Jeremy Jensen3 January 2021
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 an 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
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, which 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: Scoot Mini Drone
The Scoot Mini Drone features advanced hands-free operation which makes it a great drone for all ages. With an enclosed frame and infrared obstacle sensors, it is also safe for use in any indoor space.
It comes with a USB charging cord making it easy to charge anywhere and it gets a full charge within an hour.
With eight minutes of nonstop flight time, playing fun interactive games with your friends at a very affordable price has never been easier.
- 1-key take off/landing and altitude hold
- 8-minute flight time
- Simple and intuitive hand gesture flight modes
- Infrared motion sensors to detect obstacles and improve safety
- Good for indoor and outdoor flying
#3: UFO 4000 LED Mini Drone
The UFO 4000 LED Mini Drone is under $100 and makes a great starter drone for the beginner pilot. It is small in size, but it will be hard to miss with it’s bright red, white, and blue LED lighting system.
Beginner pilots can count on the propeller guards to protect the drone in case of a crash, which is common among first-time-flyers. The simple remote controller makes this drone compatible for all ages with 1-Key Start/Stop and easy joystick directional controls.
Looking for a beginner stunt drone? Look no further, with 4 channels, 2 speeds, Altitude Hold, and Headless Mode; this beginner drone also performs 360° mini flips.
- Remote controller with 1-Key Start/Stop and easy joystick directional controls
- Lighted propeller guards wrapped with glowing red, blue, and white LEDs
- Features 4 channels, 2 speeds, Altitude Hold, and Headless Mode
- Performs 360° mini flips
- 18 minutes of flight time with 2 included rechargeable batteries
#4: Hubsan X4 H107L
Hubsan is a tried-and-true Chinese manufacturer. This Hubsan X4 H107L model comes with LED lights, fits in the palm of your hand, and is a great trainer for someone looking to get into small unmanned aerial systems as either a hobbyist or aspiring professional. It is also a great drone for kids.
Fly this affordable drone in one of two flight modes: normal or expert. As you increase your skills, you may consider stepping up to a more advanced model. If you’re ready to start capturing photos and videos, you can stick with this same style of drone, but in a more advanced package: the Hubsan X4 H507A Pro. The great thing about the H507A Pro is that it comes equipped with a 740P HD camera and still costs less than $100!
- 6-8 minute flight time
- 2 megapixel 720p HD camera
- 6-axis flight control system with adjustable gyro sensitivity
- 2.4 Ghz Transmitter with LCD screen
- Lightweight airframe with nice durability
- Equipped with LED Lights and Comes with Blade Protection Guard
- Two flight modes: Normal and Expert Mode
#5: Cheerson CX-10 Mini
The Cheerson CX-10 Mini is easy to fly and for under $20, it’s one of the best value buys you can find. Its small size makes it easy to fly indoors without the fear of crashing.
This mini drone has three flight modes—beginner mode, intermediate mode, and advanced mode. If you’re just starting out, beginner mode will allow you to get a feel for the controls before moving onto higher sensitivity modes.
- 8-minute flight time
- 4 channel mini rolling quadcopter
- Throw to fly, real 6-axis gyro
- Low voltage alarm.
- LED lighting system
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:
- DJI Tello: Best camera for the price.
- Scoot Mini Drone: Fly it indoors (great for kids too).
- UFO 4000 LED Mini Drone: Durable and easy to control for beginners.
- Hubsan X4 H107C: Great for steadily improving your skills.
- Cheerson CX-10 Mini: Most affordable (less than $20).
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.