Best Drones Under 100$: What you Need to Know About Entry Level Drones in 2017

It’s easy to dismiss a drone that sells for less than a hundred bucks as cheap and a waste of money. You’ve probably read about how difficult these drones can be to handle, so why bother? The reason is if you’ve never flown a drone before, there’s a good chance you’re going to crash and break that drone. So we crafted this extensive budget guide series starting with Best Drones Under 100 dollars.

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Crashing your drone isn’t any fun, but it’s even more painful if it cost $500 or more. Since you’re just learning the ropes, it makes more sense to buy a low-cost drone so you can fly with confidence and not worry about crashing it. And as you’ll see in the reviews, these drones can be versatile and may even exceed your expectations.​

Budget Drones

This guide is part of 'Budget Drone' series

HERE'S A LIST OF BEST DRONES UNDER 100 DOLLARS IN 2017:

Drone

Camera

Flight Time

Range

Weight

DN Rating *

Syma X5SW

2 mp

6 minutes

50 m

120 g

50

Hubsan X4 H107C+

2 mp

7 minutes

150 m

50 g

86

WLToys V959

720 p

10 minutes

150 m

97 g

87

JXD FPV 509G

2 mp

10 minutes

100 m

150 g

87

Blade Nano Qx

-

8 minutes

100 m

16.5 g

65

Syma X5C-1

2 mp

7 minutes

50 m

103 g

87

UDI 818A

2 mp

8 minutes

40 m

346 g

89

Eachine E50

0.3 mp

8 minutes

40 m

40 g

55

Holy Stone X300C

2 mp

10 minutes

100 m

102 g

68

JJRC H31

-

10 minutes

200 m

73 g

63

* DN Rating calculates tech specifications and includes various review scores from Amazon, Wired, PC Magazine, PC Advisor, CNET

We really wanted to dig in under 100 budget range and pull out the best devices in next categories:

Best Drones Under $50

Some drones in this list are under 50$, we tried including best entry level drones - and for those on tight budget, that can't afford crashing more expensive toys, these drones are perfect for testing and developing flying skills. Although you might feel if it's cheap it's no good, imagine that for less then 50 bucks you get flying machine,  turn it on and buzz around your friends. If you crash it beyond repair it will not be the end of world, as if you crashed Phantom 4.

best drones under 50

Best FPV Drone Under 100$

FPV stands for first person view. With included FPV feature you can navigated your drone by looking at the smartphone screen or monitor and see throught the 'Drone Eye' camera. Although we recommend mastering LOS (Line of Sight) flying before trying the FPV. On first you would think that FPV is easier, but it's not. You must develop some orientetion skills when flying the drone. For those that already have some experience with drone flying, we included top FPV drones under 100 bucks that you can find.

best fpv drone under 100

Best Drone Under 100 with Camera

Few years ago you couldn't find any drones that have integrated camera in this price range. Now it's almost a standard. Don't expect to get hight quality resolution like with Phantom drones , but you still can capture some decent pictures ranging from 0.3mp up to 2mp. Some drones even come in 1080p in this price range, where you can really get decent video's. 

best quadcopter under 100

Do I Need a Pilot’s License?

Drones weighing less than 0.55 lbs. (250 grams)  (payload and attachment included) do not require a license. You can fly  in open areas as long as they’re not close to any buildings or airports. Drones that weigh more than 55 lbs. (25 kg) have to be registered with the FAA. After registering your drone will be given an ID number, but a license is not required.

faa-weight-applicibility
drone pilot certification

​Since the FAA has doubled the altitude limit from 200 to 400 feet, hobbyists now have plenty of leeway. As long as you follow the advice given here – as well those on your manual – you’ll be fine. Keep an eye on the weather. The product description may say it is waterproof and can handle strong winds, but don’t risk it. There’s a reason why materials in cheap drones aren’t as durable as their high-end counterparts. Bottom line: fly only in calm skies, and if the weather goes south, bring the drone in and let the rain pass.

Drone Preflight Checklist

  • Read the drone user guide before flying
  • Check the components before and after each flight for signs of damage.
  • The FAA official mobile app lets you know if the area has any requirements or restrictions about flying drones. The app is free and available for the iOS and Android
  • Don’t fly the drone over people, power lines and structures
  • Do not fly your drone in the wind or heavy rain. While some cheap drones are durable, don’t expect them to hold up when there’s a downpour or strong wind gusts
  • Make sure the drone is fully charged. Since the flight time is around 7 to 8 minutes max, don’t fly the drone unless it’s 100% powered up
  • Once you’ve verified the location is safe and legal for drones, turn the camera on.
  • The transmitter controls have to be in neutral and the throttle is at zero. 
  • Turn the transmitter on before activating the drone
  • Once your drone and transmitter are turned on, place the drone on a flat surface and throttle up and down to pair with the controller. Pull the controllers down and to the side at the same time. This recalibration makes certain your drone doesn’t veer to the side on takeoff
  • As the drone flies, make certain there are no people or animals along its path.

top drones under 100 in 2017

CONFIGURATION

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp

FLIGHT TIME

6 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

120 g

RANGE

50 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Required

x5sw drone review

Syma X5SW Quadcopter

The Syma X5SW is ready to fly FPV quadcopter. The drone is equipped with an advanced camera that you can connect via a WiFi signal with your smartphone or tablet. Through the app, you look right with the drone camera. Also, you do not need a SD card. The recorded images are saved directly to your phone. With X5SW you have everything you need to make your first drone flight. The quadcopter comes standard with a remote controller, camera, extra set of propellers and a special bracket to mount your smartphone. Syma X5SW flight time is up to 7 minutes. When you're recording with camera flight is limited to 5 minutes. The Syma X5SW you can fly FPV, it's not hi-end but you get FPV feeling. The camera connects you easily through the WiFi signal with your smartphone and the image is sent directly to your screen. You confirm your mobile smartphone with the special lock on the controller so you can keep your hands on the transmitter. It comes with 2.0 megapixels camera and records in 720p HD resolution.

+

Stable flight performance, Durable Construction, Simple to Fly

-

Camera View Angle is fixed

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp

FLIGHT TIME

7 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

50 g

RANGE

150 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

hubsan h107c+

Hubsan X4 Plus H107C+

Hubsan X4 H107C+ is a mini quadcopter with built-in HD camera. Its small size coupled with the impressive image quality make this quadcopter the perfect gadget. The quadcopter is small in size but huge in performance. The Hubsan X4 Plus is equipped with a built-in HD camera has an optimized frame with a robust design for hours of flying fun. The sleek design coupled with decent tech gives Hubsan a tough look. Thanks to the user-friendly control this drone is suitable for beginners and for training advanced flight skills. Despite its small size and weight, this drone is packed with advanced technology. With the ingenious 6 Axis Flight Control System it’s stable even when flying in light wind. Thanks to its small frame, the drone is very agile and quick on maneuvers. Hubsan H107C+ is equipped with four engines, , the propellers are designed for maximum results of flight time with respect to the battery consumption of the engines. This small drone also has a flight mode for acrobatic stunts. A flip, roll or a 360 degree turn is no problem for this quadcopter. Microdrone comes with a rechargeable 3.7V 520mAh LiPo battery. At the correct flight conditions you can fly with a full battery about 7 minutes. Remote Controller on the 2.4 Ghz frequency transmitter sends instructions to the recipient on the drone. It comes with 720p HD camera, and images are stored on a MicroSD memory card.

+

Fun and responsive, Simple Controls, Includes spare parts

-

Short battery life, Very sensitive to wind

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

720p

FLIGHT TIME

10 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

97 g

RANGE

150 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Required

wltoys v959 quadcopter

WL V959

The WLToys v959 quadcopter is one of the best selling quadcopters and enjoy an excellent feedback and good reviews. Because of its unique design, you do not often see in traditional models, the WLToys v959 is sometimes called a "Bad Boy" quadcopter. Many people also call it "Battle Ship of the Future". This model differs from others by its unique features such as the built-in camera, the four-channel mode, the FPV (first person view), advanced remote control and much more. Flying can be very enjoyable experience with the WLtoys v959 and this quad has a flight time of 8 to 10 minutes, and you need about an hour to its battery fully charge. Overall, the V959 WLToys really a bad boy. For people on a budget, this quadcopter is suitable for both novice RC (remote control) pilots and for experts. Unlike some other models, the v959 drone comes with a built-in camera to capture aerial photos and videos. The model is RTF (Ready To Fly) from the moment you take it out of its box.

+

Fun and responsive, Simple Controls, Includes spare parts

-

Short battery life, Very sensitive to wind

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp

FLIGHT TIME

10 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

150 g

RANGE

100 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

jxd 509g fpv

JXD 509g Quadcopter

This place in our lineup of top 10 best quadcopter under 100 goes to JXD drone. The JXD 509G is ready to fly (RTF) quadcopter with a 2MP HD camera. The FPV drone is equipped with several unique features like headless mode , one key return and altitude hold mode that will certainly help the novice drone pilots. This is one of the few quadcopters in this price range that has all these features. Because the arms of this JXD are sturdy, resulting in more stable flight performance and sharper images. The 6-axis gyroscope keeps the quadcopter very stable even in strong winds. The interference-free 2.4GHz controller has a flight range of around 150 meters. All functions of the drone can be operated from this controller. On the bright 4.3 "LCD screen shows real-time images taken with the camera. This gives you the feeling that you are sitting in the drone. The image transfer is via the fast 5.8GHz FPV connection. Are you looking for an affordable and qualitative FPV drone than is JXD 509G an excellent choice.

+

Fun and responsive, Simple Controls, Includes spare parts

-

Short battery life, Very sensitive to wind

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

-

FLIGHT TIME

8 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

16.5 g

RANGE

100 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

blade nano qx fpv

Blade Nano QX

Blade Nano QX Drone has a compact frame with a robust design optimized for hours of flying fun. Black design combined with the yellow details give the drone a tough look. Thanks to the user-friendly control this drone is suitable for beginners and advanced flyers. Despite the small dimensions of 140 x 140 x 30 mm and weighing only 18 grams, is the drone packed with cool features. With the ingenious SAFE stability technology is a stable flight even a breeze for beginners. Thanks to its small frame, the drone is very agile and fast on maneuvers belong to the tasks of this speed demon. The drone is equipped with 4 arms, each equipped with a powerful engine. The powerful engines react quickly to every assignment. The end of each motor is, of course, adorned with a two-blade propeller design. The propellers are designed for maximum results of flight time with respect to the battery consumption of the engines. Blade Nano QX Drone comes with a rechargeable 1S LiPo battery 3.7V 150 mAh. The powerful battery ensures extra long flying fun. Via included charger to charge the battery of the drone fly through any USB port.

+

Fun and responsive, Simple Controls, Includes spare parts

-

Short battery life, Very sensitive to wind


What Should I Pay Attention to While Flying a Drone?

  • Keep your drone within your line of sight; otherwise, it could end up over a restricted area, private property or a populated area and get you in trouble
  • Do not fly your drone above 400 feet, as the FAA forbids it. Do not let your drone get anywhere within 5 miles of an airport or any restricted airspace
  • Use common sense: don’t let your drone fly near trees, avoid going near commercial properties and review the laws in your area before buying a drone
  • If the drone doesn’t have a low battery indicator, keep an eye on how long it’s been up in the air. Bring extra batteries if you plan on spending the whole day flying the drone

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp, 720p

FLIGHT TIME

7 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

-

WEIGHT

103 g

RANGE

50 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

syma x5c-1 review

Syma X5C

The X5C comes with a 6 axis flight control system, giving you more freedom to control the drone’s movement while in flight. Once you get the hang of the controls you can fly the drone forward, backwards, go sideways and flip. The blades have a plastic cover, giving it extra protection in case of a crash or it gets entangled in tree limbs. Like the previous models, the X5C-1 has anti-fall and anti-collision features built in. These elements have been enhanced, but that’s no excuse to get careless when flying this thing. The X5C-1 uses a 3.7V 500 Mah Li-poly battery, and its charging time on the USB (included) takes 100 minutes. That’s average for these models, and total flying time is 7 minutes. Given that some cheap drones only have 5 minute flight times, 7 minutes is pretty good.The X5C-1 has a 2.4 GHz remote control, and it’s not difficult to learn. Mastering is another matter as you need to take your time and practice. Stick to a low altitude while you practice, and bring along extra batteries. The X5C-1 is fully charged out of the box so you can fly it right away. Flight is smooth, and with practice you can even make the X5C-1 do a 180 turn.

+

Flight is smooth; Battery life is pretty good; Can fly in six axes

-

Motors gets hot when used for long periods

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp, 720p

FLIGHT TIME

8 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

No

WEIGHT

346 g

RANGE

40 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Required

u818a wifi fpv drone

UDI RC 818A

The UDI 818A has the 6 axis gyro system, allowing you to do 360-degree rolls and 360 degree flips apart from the standard forward/backward, left/right and up/down maneuvers. The Gyro system also provides extra stability and greater control in moderately windy conditions (though calm skies are preferable).The flight time is 7 to 9 minutes, but duration also depends on how much you use the HD camera. Speaking of the camera, it takes both HD photos and videos at a rate of 2MP, 1280 x 720 and 30 fps. You also get a 4 GB micro SD card to store the images and videos, and with its USB data cable and port, you can share those files via email or social media. Beginners will find the headless mode helpful, and if the battery level goes down, the indicator emits a beeping sound. Just bring the drone down and give it the full 120-minute charge.The frame is made of reinforced plastic, and the propellers have built in protection as well. The drone is controlled by a 2.4 GHz transmitter, and with its LCD screen you get continuous feedback of the 818A as it flies. You use the joysticks to operate the 818A in any direction, but it takes practice to make precise movements.

+

Takes HD images; Low battery indicator; FAA Registration not required

-

The 9 minute flight time is reduced if you use the HD camera

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

0.3 mp, 720p

FLIGHT TIME

8 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

Yes

WEIGHT

40 g

RANGE

40 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

eachine e50

Eachine E50

The E50 Quadcopter is capable of doing a 360 roll and 3D flips at different angles. It also has an altitude control, great for taking high-quality shots and greater stability. The camera takes 720p HD images, and it has a Wi-Fi FPV system with real-time transmission on your mobile. To control the drone, just scan the QR code on the package and download the app to your mobile. Like any drone, you’re going to need practice to master the movements, let alone the flips and stunts. However, the FPV system reduces the learning curve as you can see from the drone’s perspective on your mobile. The E50 uses foldable airfoil technology, allowing you to fold the arms for easy storage. The drone doesn’t have a “head” and that’s actually a good thing as it does away with orientation issues. The frame is light but durable, and a pouch is included for storage. There is a one press auto return function, so if the drone starts to fly off or needs a recharge, just one press and it will come back to you. There is also a headless mode for beginners. Charging time is 45 minutes and flight time can reach 15 minutes under ideal circumstances (minimal use of camera, calm skies and limited number of flips).

+

8 to 12 minute flight time; Photos and videos are high quality; Responsive controls

-

No transmitter, difficult to control via smartphone

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

2 mp

FLIGHT TIME

10 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

Yes

WEIGHT

102 g

RANGE

100 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

holystone drones

Holy Stone X300C

Holy Stone X300C FPV RC QuadcopterThe Holy Stone X300C uses a 6-axis gyro system for full range of movement, and its throttle has a left/right switch mode. There’s a throttle limit and one-key role for a steady flight. There are three modes: beginner, headless and intermediate. Beginner mode limits movements, so go for intermediate / regular as it is more responsive.Its FPV mode lets you watch the action from your mobile while snapping photos or recording videos. Some prefer to watch the actual drone while others like the first person view, but it’s good to see both options are available. The control range is 50 to 100 meters, so the X300C covers a lot of space. A full charge takes about 90 minutes and gives you a flight time of 8 to 10 minutes. The quad’s 3.7V 750mAh Li-Polymer battery is included, but the 3 x AA 1.5V batteries for the transmitter are not.The camera isn’t HD, but the image and video quality are decent provided it’s a slow flight. A pair of goggles is even included to minimize sun glare while you’re flying the drone outdoors. There is some assembly required but the instructions are easy to follow.

+

Easy to assemble; Left and right throttle switch works instantly; Decent image and video quality

-

Transmitter batteries are not included

TYPE

Quadcopter

CAMERA

-

FLIGHT TIME

10 minutes

SMARTPHONE CONTROL

No

WEIGHT

73 g

RANGE

200 m

FAA REGISTRATION

Not required

jjrc h31 waterproof drone

JJRC H31

To get the facts straight: by waterproof, it means you can fly the H31 in the rain, but it doesn’t take off or land in water. However, this is superior to other low-cost drones that can’t stand even a light drizzle. Its 6 axis gyro system makes the drone easier to control. Flight is stable once you learn the controls, and the headless mode can simplify flight for novices. Its 2.4 GHz 4 channel controller lets you do basic flight maneuvers and a rolling 360. The propellers have also been upgraded from previous models so it copes better with the wind. You just need to press one key to return the H31 when it’s time for a recharge. A full charge takes about an hour and flight time is from 8 to 10 minutes. The range is 70 to 80 meters, less than the typical 100 for other drones. However it does have LED light for night time flights. The controls are intuitive so even first timers can fly this thing. The drone is responsive and flight is stable. It doesn’t come with an altitude hold, so make sure its flight path is clear to minimize bumps and hits. 

+

Waterproof frame; Headless mode; LED light allows for night flying

-

Battery compartment is not waterproof

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we recommending these cheap drones?

As we mentioned, these drones are inexpensive. Second, they have many of the features you’d need to learn how to fly more advanced drones. The remote control, charger, batteries, camera, manual and even basic FPV systems are often included. The controls layout is generally the same, though expensive drones have far more options. More than anything, it’s not going to hurt your wallet much if the drone crashes and burns.

Controls – What is Headless Mode?

Headless or carefree is a mode that lets the drone treat any side as forward. In regular flight if you push the joystick forward, the drone flies forward, pull to the right and it will bank right and so on. When your drone is in headless mode, it flies relative to where you are. You just need to pull the joystick to make the drone come to you and push to make it fly forward. This is easier than regular flight, but it’s only effective if the drone in front of you.If you want to change directions, land the drone and recalibrate. While headless mode can make it easier to fly a drone, you need to master regular flight controls if you want the drone to perform more complex maneuvers. Remember, the reason you’re buying a cheap drone is to learn how to fly it.

How Durable is the Drone’s Frame?

Obviously, a $100 drone isn’t as durable as a $500 model, but there are inexpensive models with well-made frames. Drones in this range are the entry level class, but they can take a few hits and crashes. Some of these drones can fly in the rain, and most have fortified frames and propellers to protect against falls.

Do I need Prop Guards?

Yes. If you're just starting out, I would definitley recommend using propeler guards. When learning how to fly, guards can save you from destroying your prop's or entire drone when he starts to spin around off balance. So use them until you feel confident with controls, orientation and balancing your drone.

What is the Average Flight Time?

Flying time ranges from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the model and what it does in the air. If you’re going to make the drone do flips and take camera shots, the battery life will drain more quickly. If your drone’s batteries run out quickly, check the manual for the highest mAh it can handle. If it is higher than the bundled batteries’ specs, replace them with batteries that have maximum mAh. Do keep in mind that higher mAh batteries are heavier and could affect your drone’s mobility.

What is the Average Range?

Most entry level drones have a range of 30 to 100 meters on a full charge. It’s important you keep an eye on the transmitter because the drone will crash if it moves out of range. You’ve probably read accounts of drones getting lost as the quadcopter flew beyond the transmitter reach, so try to avoid that while flying around.

What is the Avarage Charging Time?

Charging time is not necessarily tied to flight time, as it depends more on the drone’s design and structure. The range is from 20 minutes to more than two hours. 

What about the Camera Quality?

The highest quality in this range currently is 720p HD, and that’s pretty good when you consider the price. Other drones, however, are only equipped with an SD camera and some don’t even have one at all. If you just want to learn how to make that drone fly, an SD camera will do. But if you’re after higher quality images or video, an HD camera is the best option.

Conlusion

​All drones we reviewed here have merit, and beginners can’t go wrong if they just want to know what it’s like to fly one. But for the most bang for your buck, it’s the UDI 818A HD. With is 2MP camera, it takes the best images and videos among the drones here, great if you’re a budding aerial photographer. Its control system lets you do basic and advanced maneuvers, and the frame can take a more than few hits and bumps. Flight time is decent considering its HD capabilities and the controls for power, flight mode and trim reduces the learning curve. Thanks for reading our guide and hope you found your pick in Best Drones Under $100 budget selection.

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