In this post, I’m going to walk you through 17 inexpensive drones for beginner pilots.
The models in our list below don’t have all the bells and whistles of higher-end drones for sale, but you’ll be surprised at how advanced their features can get.
Also, you may want to consider learning to fly using a drone simulator. We’re pro-simulator over here and recommend buying the Great Planes RealFlight Drone Simulator. Great physics and many models to choose from. There’s also this free FPV simulator if you’re interested in learning how to race 🙂
Note: If you live in the U.S. and want to earn money as a professional drone pilot, check out our step-by-step guide to getting certified.
Drone technology has come a long way, which means we’ve been able to pack more capabilities into smaller, less expensive packages.
These are some of the most affordable (and popular) UAVs on the market today, and they’re great for anyone looking to get some flight practice under their belt. They’re also great gifts for both adults and kids.
Don’t want to scroll down and read all the specs and just want to see the full list?
Here ya go:
Check out the full specs of our list of 17 cheap drones for beginner pilots below:
Note: All specs/features come from either the manufacturer or retailer.
Note #2: When checking out prices, we’ve included models available for sale on Amazon, one of the largest and most respectable online drone retailers. We do our best to keep these listings up-to-date on a regular basis, but if you see something we missed, let us know at email@example.com.
Note #3: Big thanks to USA Toyz and Force1 RC, who sent us a lot of models on this list to test and review. Both USA Toyz and Force1 RC are U.S. based companies that sell through Amazon. Unlike many of their non-U.S. counterparts, they offer quality customer service, user manuals you can actually understand, and good business ethics. Many of the models on this list link directly to these companies, particularly the first 5 listings.
The Spark is a selfie drone that takes off from the operator’s hand and automatically enters “Gesture Mode”, which lets users send it into the air and shoot a video with pre-defined flight paths, like circling, following, or filming from straight up.
With it’s gesture recognition and obstacle avoidance technology, it’s not an exaggeration to say that DJI’s Spark is probably the most user-friendly drone on the market.
If you want to fly longer distances with the Spark you have the option of using a smartphone app for flights over 100 yards away, or you can use a remote control (the Spark can fly a distance of 1.2 miles). The Intelligent Flight Modes available with more professional DJI drones—such as TapFly and ActiveTrack—can also be found on the Spark.
The Spark comes with DJI’s new QuickShot mode, which automatically creates a 10-second video from the footage captured in your flight.
QuickShot allows you to avoid all the work needed to take raw footage and create a final video. Instead of taking your footage, uploading it, editing it, and then downloading it, QuickShot simply creates a video for you using your best shots.
UDI is a highly reputable (and affordable) drone manufacturer that’s been constantly upgrading their training / beginner sUAS models over the last couple of years.
This model, the U818A, boasts altitude-hold and a first-person-view (FPV) screen, so you can see exactly what the HD camera of your drone sees…in real time. Great practice for those of you looking to get into FPV racing.
But that’s not all! You also get bonus VR goggles, an extra battery, extra propellers, AND and a bonus power bank for additional charging.
The camera can capture 720P video at 30 frames per second (with an SD card). This is one of the most popular training quadcopters on the market, and I like this particular package because it comes with an extra battery.
The LCD screen on its transmitter displays a full range of flight stats to keep you in the know. Its light but durable frame makes it a great quad for new pilots to practice with.
These extra parts are available for the the U818A:
An exclusive training quadcopter from USA Toyz / Force1 RC, the U45 Blue Jay is one of the more durable beginner quadcopters out there. As you can see by those propeller guards, they can take quite a beating.
This makes it great for beginners, but more experienced pilots will enjoy this quad as well. The Blue Jay has a skillful Custom Route Mode as well, where you can drag your fingers across your mobile or tablet app screen to create an automated flight path.
The Focus FPV Drone comes with an extra battery, spare propellers, and a 4GB Micro SD Card.
Another tried and true model with FPV capabilities if you’d like to practice FPV racing or master multirotor orientation with a more affordable beginner model.
The U28W Wifi FPV Drone is a tiny but mighty drone that can reach fast top speeds. And because of the low-latency FPV video transmission straight to a built-in controller screen, it makes this ideal for anyone who wants a fun drone to learn on, but eventually be able to race around obstacles with ease.
Given the size of the frame, the motors are fairly powerful, making this drone super fast and agile. As with many of the other models on this list, it has an easy “flip” button which is fun to see through the built-in FPV controller screen.
These extra parts are available for the U28W Wifi FPV Drone:
Even in moderate winds, the Syma X5C held up really well during my test flights. This exclusive package comes with an extra battery, effectively doubling your flight time. You’re also getting extra propellers as well.
The Syma X5C also comes with a forward-facing HD camera (720p) and 2GB SD card. That, plus a few autonomous features like headless mode and one-button flips and barrel rolls, makes this a great drone for beginners.
Note: We have other lists of drones, similar to this one buy covering different, more advanced models like: 13 Remote Control Drones to Buy in 2016.
These extra parts are available for the Syma X5C:
First, it’s got SAFE technology. SAFE stands for Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope. It helps you prevent crashing your drone and assists you in takeoff (two necessary skills for any newbie pilot).
If at any time you lose control or need to take a breather, simply let go of the sticks and the quadcopter will hover in place.
When you get more advanced, switch the quad to agility mode to perform skillful maneuvers and hit top speeds.
The Blade Nano is a beginner drone (for under $100) that will carry you into the veteran landscape. (Blade was also featured in our list of drone companies to watch, among a few of the other manufacturers in this article.)
These extra parts are available for the Blade Nano QX:
You can control the X400W drone from 100 meters away, and your flight time is about 8-9 minutes.
The MJX X400W FPV drone is stable enough for newbies, but packed with enough features for more advanced pilots.
These extra parts are available for the MJX X400W FPV drone:
Ever wished you could walk on walls? Well, now you can live vicariously through your drone.
The Parrot Rolling Spider comes with detachable wheels on both ends. You can fly the drone like normal, or attach the wheels and roll across the floor, up walls, or across the ceiling.
You can also control this drone with your smartphone or tablet, using the FreeFlight 3 app.
These extra parts are available for the Parrot Rolling Spider:
The Syma X11C Quadcopter is one of the most affordable quadcopter options a beginner UAV pilot has. With its 6-axis gyro direction stabilizer flight control system, 3D lock to help for more precise flying, and blade protector to help with minor crashes, this is a great inexpensive quadcopter for beginners.
For a new pilot who’s looking to experiment with aerial photography, you might want to consider the NightHawk DM007.
It comes with prop guards and landing gear standard, which is nice for a drone this size. However, I have read that the blades tend to pop off (but a little super glue can solve that).
These extra parts are available for the NightHawk DM007:
The Hubsan X4 H107L is the model I learned how to fly on.
It’s pretty basic but flies well. It has a built-in 720 pixel camera. Its compact size still makes it an excellent indoor flyer. Please note that this model does NOT come with an extra battery, propeller guards, etc. Consider getting a “crash pack” from the link below. I wish I would have bought one when I first started flying this thing back in 2014.
The Hubsan X4 H107L is a great first model for the newbie pilot, but pretty bare bones compared to some of the other models on this list.
These extra parts are available for the Hubsan X4 H107L:
As you can see from the image, the Hubsan H111 is one of the smallest quads on the market, comparable to the size of a quarter.
But they still managed to fit 3 gyros and 3 accelerometers in there. This isn’t the drone to show off your best moves with, but for a beginner, it will get you airborne, learning the controls, and comfortable enough to move on to more expensive drones.
Read More: How to Fly a Quadcopter — The Ultimate Guide
These extra parts are available for the Hubsan H111:
(First off, how cool does this quad look?)
The Yi Zhan X6 comes with a fairly long battery life (10 minutes), and features great maneuverability. It’s easy to control, even for beginner pilots, which makes it a great option for getting started with quadcopters. Also, despite how big it may look in the image, it is on the smaller side of the market. This makes it great for indoor flying.
However, it’s also powerful enough to hit high speeds outdoors, making the Yi Zhan X6 a fun quadcopter for beginner to intermediate flyers.
The JYU Hornet FPV Drone features altitude hold, which helps stabilize aerial photography and video while in flight and makes it a great drone for beginners.
The Hornet also features headless mode, which orients the drone to be in the same direction as the transmitter before flight, and eliminates the need to adjust aircraft orientation before flying. Add to this the Hornet’s LiPo batteries, which double your potential flight time, and this is a great quadcopter to help you learn the ropes for FPV flying.
These extra parts are available for the JYU Hornet FPV Drone:
With the UFO-like UDI U845, you can achieve real-time video-transmission, or FPV, by connecting your iOS or Android device via WiFi.
Most of the models in this list are pretty similar, but where the UDI U845 stands out is that it’s a hexacopter, meaning that it’s got 6 sets of motors and propellers instead of the normal 4 that you’d find in a quadcopter.
The reason this is important is that you’ll get extra redundancy if one of your motors or propellers fails during flight.
Also, with this model you’ll get an extra, replaceable battery. When your first battery dies, simply swap it out for another one and you’re good to go for another 6-9 minutes!
These extra parts are available for the UDI U845:
The U32 Freedom Drone has some powerful brushed motors and the unique ability to fly inverted, which is a unique feature, as well as an easy flip function that makes it well worth the cost.
The drone itself stays light weight by integrating the circuit board into the frame of the drone. It also comes with propeller guards and landing skids, something you don’t get standard with most drones in this price range. LED lights also make it suitable for flight in low-light conditions.
These extra parts are available for the U32 Freedom Drone:
Allow me to introduce one of the best-selling RC multirotors on Amazon — the Cheerson CX-10 Mini.
It’s a best seller for a reason. This thing is a perfect quadcopter for beginners, and veterans will enjoy flying it as well. It’s great for all skill levels.
The Cheerson CX-10 Mini is (super) small and durable, so even if you do end up losing a few propellers, spare parts are inexpensive. Despite its size, Cheerson still managed to pack a 6-axis flight control board in there for advanced maneuvers.
These extra parts are available for the Cheerson CX-10: