Drones under $100 aren’t going to perform intense industrial tasks or film big-budget movies. They are, however, a really great time. In the past decade, drones have become widely accessible and have pretty much taken the place of toy airplanes or toy helicopters. Today, drones have become a favorite among photographers, videographers, kids, and anyone who just wants to fly a cool toy.
Purchasing the best drones can be pretty expensive. While there are extreme cases of $300,000 drones built for extreme industrial work, most higher-end consumer drones fall around $1,000 to $2,000. For novice flyers or those watching their budget, seeing prices above $1K can be off-putting. Luckily, there are lots of great budget options to choose from. While they might not be as fancy and frilly as their more expensive counterparts, there are several options that are stable, easy to use, and offer a great user experience. Here are some of the best drones under $100 so you can take flight without having a budget-induced panic attack.
How we chose the best drones under $100
For this article, we started with a wide list of drones that sit above the pure toy category but below the serious enthusiast category. We relied on a mixture of personal experience, professional reviews, user impressions, and spec comparisons to choose crafts that would provide a safe, fun experience on a very low budget. We realize these aren’t professional equipment, but no one should be expecting that kind of performance at this price point. For that kind of performance, you’ll want to step up to a more robust model.
Things to consider before buying the best drones under $100
We’ll give it to you straight: for under $100, you can definitely get a quality, easy-to-use drone, but don’t expect frilly features and tons of bells and whistles. Before you buy a drone, however, just be sure to look out for the following key features:
Do you intend to use the drone for photography, or video? Since there are several options under $100 that include video, you might as well look for options with that feature and practice capturing images. Don’t expect high-def output, but you may get a unique viewpoint that earns you plenty of Instagram likes on the cheap. You’ll find some models that shoot HD video, but don’t expect 4K or anything fancy like that.
RTF stands for Ready to Fly. That means the model comes ready to go and doesn’t require any more tools, hardware, or setup. There are lots of RTF drones under $100.
Battery charge time-to-flight time ratio
Look for drones that offer longer flight times with reasonable battery charge times, so you can fly often and quickly without having to wait hours for 5 minutes of flying. Lots of cheaper drones have shorter flight times, so one way to combat this issue is to purchase a few extra batteries if they’re removable.
Look for features that keep your drone stable. Since most cheap drones are made with lightweight plastic, they might not be as good at remaining stable in the face of a light breeze. Look for language like “Altitude Hold” in the description, which means it can hold its position in the air without requiring pilots to constantly fuss with the controls.
Best drones under $100: Reviews & Recommendations
With the jargon out of the way, here are our individual picks. While we suggest models for specific users, it’s worth noting that there’s a lot of overlap and we think all of these devices are worth considering.
Best overall: Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone with 1080p HD Camera
Why it made the cut: With a variety of features, this budget drone has a bit of everything in a perfect mid-size model with a 1080p FPV camera and lots of easy-to-use, in-app controls.
- Dimensions: 12.6 x 12.6 x 4.70 inches
- Weight: 5.3 oz
- Recording Modes: 120-degree FOV 1080p
- Excellent value
- Easy to use remote
- Great for beginners
- 1080p video capabilities
- Not wind-proof
- Phone app asks multiple permissions; may be too intrusive for some users
The Holy Stone punches above its price tag. It features a pre-set button that allows for flips in any direction and a landing feature that assists novice flyers so you don’t crash your new craft.
It also features a 1080p FOV 120-degree HD FPV Camera with altitude hold for great images, tons of mobile control features in the app like voice control and gravity sensor control, multiple speeds, and comes with 2 batteries for 20 minutes of flight time each. That number will certainly be less in the real world, but it’s a lofty number compared to its competition.
Reviews love how easy the app is to use once you pair the drone to your phone via Bluetooth. They also love how the mid-size body makes for a very simple user experience. Its feature set will start building some basic skills for pilots looking to move up to a more expensive craft later on, making it stand out among the best drones under $100.
Best for beginners: Ryze Tech Tello Drone for Beginners
Why it made the cut: This lightweight and easy-to-use drone is ideal for beginners because it’s simple, stable, lightweight, and can be controlled in-app.
- Dimensions: 3.86 x 3.66 x 1.61 inches
- Weight: 2.82 oz
- Video Output Resolution: 1280 x 720 pixels
- Easy to maneuver
- Takes good 5 MP photos and videos
- Not great for dark/nighttime use
- Not suitable for windy conditions
- Limited to 99 ft altitude
With intuitive controls and an easy-to-use upp, this drone for beginners is super simple to use while you learn how to properly fly.
The high-capacity battery offers competitive flight times, especially at this ultra-low price point. Record 5 MP pics and videos with EZ Shots and easily share them on social media from your smartphone. It’s also programmed with Scratch, an MIT-developed coding system that teaches kids how to program.
At under 3 oz, it’s super lightweight, which is a double-edged sword. It won’t be suitable for windy conditions, and we don’t recommend using the camera in low light conditions or at nighttime. All in all, it’s a great starter drone that doesn’t offer a ton of frills but will help take good birds-eye photos and videos and get you started with drone flight control.
Best for kids: Tomzon A31 Drone for Kids
Why it made the cut: Get your kids in on the drone fun with this remote-controlled quadcopter that’s got several LED light-up features, presets that make frequency pairing a breeze, and 3D flips that make flying cool.
- Dimensions: 5 x 6.22 x 1.65 inches
- Weight: 12 oz
- Flight time: 16-18 min
- Presets and automatic pairings
- Easy to control
- One key controls
- 4 LEDs on motors
- Safety guards
While this basic drone doesn’t have a camera, it’s more suitable as a gift for little ones who are looking to dip their tiny toes into the world of flying machines.
Since accidents happen, it’s useful that the propellers are protected by outside safety guards. In short: this thing is hard to break. The remote is sized for kid hands, and you won’t have to rely on an app for use. It’s stable, easy to control, and comes with four LED lights with seven color effects on the motors that make for cool lighting effects. These lights are also great for night use.
The “push to flip” feature creates fun drone flips in the air with zero learning curve, which is important for impatient little ones. The drones can last up to 18 minutes of flight with 360-degree rotation, and feature one-key landing/taking-off with 3 speed adjustments that make learning to fly super accessible for any age.
Best mini drone: SIMREX X500 mini Drone
Why it made the cut: This Wi-Fi-enabled, foldable, palm-sized FPV drone features a 720P HD Camera, Altitude Hold, up to 12 minutes of use, and live video that stays steady without needing any assistance.
- Dimensions: 6.39 x 4.59 x 3.76 inches
- Weight: 12 oz
- Video Output Resolution: 1280 x 720 Pixels
- 720P HD Camera
- Compact and foldable
- 3D flips
- Variety of pre-programmable options
- App is clear and syncs well
- Phone holder may not be suitable for all phones
- Could have longer battery life
A great starter drone or toy for more seasoned flyers, this mini drone fits in the palm of your hand and weighs next to nothing. The controls are extremely easy to use, no matter your experience, and several preset control modes, such as the one-button landing, make flying a breeze.
It can be used via dual-assense control (mobile phone and remote control dual-assense control). It also includes a Headless Mode so you never get disoriented trying to figure out the control directions in your brain. The 720P high definition FPV Wi-Fi Camera takes quality aerial photos and provides a drone’s eye view of its travels.
The foldable design makes it simple to store and transport. Yet, it’s sizable enough for stability while in flight. The battery lasts up to 12 minutes, which isn’t long but is impressive for its size.
Best video drone: CHUBORY Wi-Fi FPV 1080p HD Drone
Why it made the cut: Take incredible aerial videos with this 1080p HD video drone that’s tiny, easy to take on the go, and offers a whopping 40 minutes of flight time.
- Dimensions: 9.29 x 8.31 x 2.83 inches
- Weight: 1.48 pounds
- Video Output Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Up to 40 minutes of flight time
- Protective guards
- Dual cameras / Optical flow positioning
- App supports Apple & Android
- Included instructions are confusing
- “Follow me” function is sometimes wonky
This HD FPV video drone with altitude hold has a little bit of everything for a budget model. It features a switchable front camera and bottom optical flow camera so you can have live images from above and simultaneously a good shot of what’s happening down below.
You get tons of features, including auto-hover, one-key take-off and landing, one-key flip and roll, “follow me,” and more. It’s super simple and easy to use, making it a good option for beginners and kids, as well.
The best part? You get up to 40 minutes of flight time, which is one of the longest we’ve seen at this price point. It’s also so compact that you can easily take it with you in a backpack for hikes and on the go.
Q: What happens if a drone goes out of range?
If a drone goes out of range, that means it’s lost its signal. Usually, a drone will have a built-in failsafe to ensure you don’t lose it. Most higher-end drones automatically “return to home” when the signal is lost. Most of the drones on this list will either land or just fly off into the great blue yonder if they lose signal, so try to keep everything where it should be.
Q: How high can a drone fly?
How high your drone flies is actually super important. Four-hundred feet is the maximum altitude allowed by the FAA; otherwise, you might run into aircraft and get yourself into real trouble. Licensed pilots with more advanced crafts enjoy different rules, but they won’t apply to anything on this list.
Q: How far can a drone fly?
How far a drone can fly definitely depends on the model and price point. For most toy and budget models, you’re usually looking at about 20-100 yards, but higher-end models can fly several miles.
Final thoughts on the best drones under $100
Budget drones make quadcopter flying more accessible to novice flyers, kids, or anyone who just wants to dip their toes into the world of drones. If you’re looking for fun aerial picture taking and want to learn how to use drones without having to shell out hundreds of dollars, the best drones under $100 will give you a high-quality experience at a great price point.