Best Drone Under $200

Whether you use drones occasionally or this is your first experience of the drone world, spending your entire monthly salary on a quadcopter may not be that appealing. You can choose to indulge in that extravagance later but for now, the best way to enter into the drone world is to navigate around some budget-friendly options. Keep reading if you want to find more about the Best Drones under $200. 

Benefits of the best wallet-friendly drones include:

  1. Simple to use.
  2. Not too terrified of accidents.
  3. Provide an easy understanding of the market.
  4. Allow you a test-drive to see if the hobby is for you.
  5. Occasional use doesn’t warrant spending your life savings.
  6. Still deliver eye-catching material for Instagram and YouTube.

Things to know before buying a Drone

In order to get the best bang for your buck, it’s important to be aware of the average specifications and features of the products under such price and category.

FAA regulations:

As you add more features to a drone, you add more weight. It is likely that your $200 drone will weigh more than 0.55 lbs, which means that you are fully subject to the flight laws of the FAA in the United States. You do not have to register your drone, but all the rules apply. Know where and when you can fly before you head out, the fun can be had, but getting into trouble is easy if you fly in the wrong places.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) places restrictions on where you can release your quadcopter and provides rules on safe flying.

Perhaps the first aspect you need to consider is whether you can take your machine airborne in your local area. The FAA has released an app, B4UFLY, that visually illustrates through maps and smartphone location where you’re allowed to let your drone loose.

 Average Flight Time:

Make sure your drone has an average flight time that is able to match your requirements. You don’t want to get stuck losing your drone when it is just halfway through your journey. Remember, battery life and average flight time is NOT the same thing, so make sure you see exactly how much flight your drone is able to average as it will be using the battery for other features also and not just flight.

First Person View:

Provides you with a virtual cockpit on your smartphone. The camera on the drone transmits real-time video to your monitor, FPV goggles, remote control screen, or smartphone—giving you the impression you’re in the drone itself.

Average Control Range:

The typical range of a budget drone is about 400–1,500 feet. Naturally, the further your machine can fly, the more versatility you have for exploration and some awesome images and videos.

Bear in mind that the control range is often further than the FPV range. That is, you can still control your quadcopter at maximum distance, but will lose your video feed.

Battery Life:

Checking a drone’s battery life will help you make calculated decisions when and where to operate it. The last thing you’d want is to see your drone crashing in the sea because you were not aware of how long its battery could last. 
Luckily, most drones show a live battery indicator and also come with the option to return to home on low battery or loss of signal (at least that’s the case with the drones I recommend in this article). The longer the battery life, the more time you’ll enjoy being airborne. While some drones can fly for a decent amount of time, you’re not going to find the longest duration in these drones. Typically, the highest quality budget machines will have a flying time between 10 and 25 minutes. If you’re piloting your drone from your back garden, shorter battery life may not be an issue, as you can simply land and recharge.

However, if you’re venturing further when you’re getting some footage on vacation, it might be worth considering a longer-lasting battery or investing in additional batteries.

Image Stabilizer:

Make sure your drone features one of the three features to stabilize your images to avoid shaky images. Mechanical gimbal: Directed through a combination of accelerometers and gyroscopes, brushless motors adjust the camera position to compensate for the wayward motion of the drone. Digital stabilization: Onboard software in the camera shifts the image from frame-to-frame, compensating for movement. Altitude holds: Allows the drone to maintain its airborne height, without you having to manually control the unit.

Camera Quality:

When choosing one of the best drones with a camera under $200, consider:

Resolution: The larger, the better although that’s at the cost of file size. For video, consider a camera that has, at a minimum, 1,080 vertical pixels (Full HD). A 2.7k (2,704 horizontal pixels) would deliver the clearest images. For photography, usually the more megapixels you have the better. Video frame rate: Typically, drones have an FPS (frames per second) of 24, 25, 30, and 60. An FPS of 24 is what you usually see in Hollywood movies and an FPS of 60 will allow you to slow your footage down slightly in post-processing. Field of view/vision (FOV): Lower degrees of FOV is suitable for images of single objects. A larger FOV allows you to take sweeping and panoramic videos and views of landscapes. For the latter, look for a minimum of 120 degrees.

Additional Features:

These are some of the additional features you can find on drones that may prove very useful so be sure to be on the lookout for those!

Follow me: GPS or recognition tech enables the drone to follow you without you having to pilot the unit. It does this by tracking your smartphone or controller. Gesture control: You can pilot and take photos simply by the wave of your hand typically through an accelerometer on your wrist for these budget models. Tap to fly: Instead of using a remote control to pilot, you just tap on the SmartScreen the direction you want your drone to fly.

Best Drones Under 200

Finding the best drone just under 200 dollars can be a bit of a challenge since this is the price range where a lot of terrible drones are flooding the market. You have to be careful when choosing the drone, you want to purchase, but to save you from all that hassle of extensive research and caution, we’ve gone ahead and done the work for you. We’ve identified the top 10 drones under 200 dollars that are available in the market in 2020. 

1) Snaptain SP510SNAPTAIN SP510

Check Snaptain SP510 on Amazon

Pros Cons
One-key take-off and landing Battery recharging time is quite long 
Three-speed settings  
Foldable for easy transportation   

Key Features:

It is the only Drone with a UHD Camera Under 200 Dollars. The camera has a 110-degree field of view and can be adjusted through a 90-degree angle. This not only ensures that you get more details in individual shots but also allows you to customize the viewing angles.

Micro SD card slot with a 128GB capacity. Thus, it provides you with cinema-like movies as the camera delivers 25 FPS and provides an impressive 2.7k resolution. And, if you want to search for that perfect photo, you will enjoy the 16 minutes of flying time provided by its 1,500 mAh battery. It has a controller range of 500m, which is quite decent for a quad in its price range. The drone makes use of a GPS module to provide an easy time for users when they are flying it. A “return home” feature will automatically bring the drone to its starting position when you fly it out of range or when the battery is low. It also features a rechargeable controller, headless mode, follows me mode, and an intelligent geofence. 

2) Altair AA300Altair Aerial AA300

Check Altair AA300 on Amazon

Pros Cons
Beginner Friendly First Person Mode Requires Mobile Device  
GPS Aided Flying Restricted range
1080p HD Camera Lack of image stabilization can make videos shaky in windy conditions

Key Features:

The Altair AA300 is another great choice under $200, and it is one powerful flying machine. It comes with built-in GPS technology, which leads to great stability when flying and taking aerial photos. This helps when flying, especially when looking to use the awesome camera that this drone has. While it does come packed with features to make experience flyers happy, they’ve also included a lot to help beginners get off the ground easily. It’s simple to start flying this drone, and the learning curve from the ground to air is so small that anyone can do it.

AA300 drone scores well with a 15-minute flight time in the all-important battery life category. This beats out a lot of other drones at this price point. It also features a max range of 150 meters which is not too shabby either. It’s enough range for beginner to intermediate flyers but might leave experienced drone pilots wanting a bit more. The camera is the real winner of this drone. The quality of both videos and pictures was highly impressive. What’s more, these saved images and videos will be crisp and clear. The drone includes a 1080p HD camera—providing both memories and an exhilarating FPV experience.

Also, control is enhanced by the GPS satellite stability feature, ensuring that your quadcopter remains balanced and upright in flight. The drone also touts itself as a GPS drone for beginners, which we wholeheartedly agree with! The included GPS features make this drone very easy to fly and control, and many of the other features also contribute to a low learning curve. That’s not to say more experienced pilots won’t enjoy flying this drone. The Altair AA300 has got enough features to be fun for all skill levels. The AA300 offers many more features such as a headless mode, one-touch take-off, altitude hold, and return home functionality. 

3) Potensic D80 RC DronePotensic D80 RC

Check Potensic D80 RC on Amazon

Pros Cons
The programmable custom flight path Being white may make it difficult to spot in some weather conditions
Follow-me capability for tracking your running, skiing, and parkour  
Brushless motors provide power with low energy consumption  

Key Features:

The Potensic D80 is a brilliant quadcopter, equipped with all the finest hardware one can have for under $200. It’s one of the few quads on this list equipped with brushless motors. Specifications? Does 600-meter control distance sound good to you? 

With a controllable range of 2,624 feet and an FPV of 984 feet, it allows you to complete some extensive exploration, which is impressive for a budget drone. When it comes to the control range, the max control range is 500-600 m (depending on signal interference) and Potensic D80 can fly as far as 300 meters while streaming full HD without losing connection! 

The D80 is simply loaded with features, and this is the reason, along with superior control range and flight time, that it comes out tops in the under the 200-dollar category. It includes:

  1. Brushless Motors
  2. Weak Signal Alarm and Low Voltage Alert 
  3. VR goggles compatibility 
  4. Follow Me mode
  5.  Auto Return Home

If you like something away from the norm, you may welcome the white, curved, and sleek appearance, making this unit stand out against the many black and boxy versions on the market. Compared with normal motors, this drone possesses Brushless Motors. These are more powerful, durable, and low consumption. Although, will you may need to take things a little slower to appreciate the image quality provided by the 120-degree 1080p HD camera.

4) Holy Stone HS270 GPS 2.7KHoly Stone HS270 GPS 2.7K

Check Holy Stone HS270 on Amazon

Pros Cons
Follow-me feature Battery drains rapidly in cold conditions 
Tap-to-fly function  
Records audio  

Key Features:

If you demand crystal-clear images combined with smooth and vivid videos, this may be the best camera drone under 200. The 2.7k HD camera should provide impressive picture quality not only on your final images but also when on FPV mode with the 5 GHz transmission delivering an interference-free live feed. Because it is foldable, this drone becomes an ideal quadcopter for those on the move. Furthermore, when you’ve reached your destination, you’ll welcome the 18-minute flying time. A simple tap of a button on the controller and this drone will return-to-home, which it will also do so when losing battery power or signal. It also comes equipped with GPS positioning; the drone can automatically follow the pilots. When it is losing signal or power, or you press one key return, it will and fly back to the take-off point automatically. Besides, you will have an easy start with functions like altitude hold, headless mode. Get a worry-free flight and have better shots!

Also, the auto-hover feature should avoid shaky pictures. Alternatively, it can circle automatically around a fixed point with the area of interest always in the middle of the frame.

5) Simrex X900 DroneSIMREX X900

Check Simrex X900 on Amazon

Pros Cons
Foldable The smartphone app isn’t as user-friendly as with other models
Steer with the joystick, gravity tilt, or smartphone It’s easy to accidentally press the emergency shut-down button—leading to crashes
Compatible with VR glasses  

Key Features:

The proprietary Optical Flow Positioning, combined with ultrasonic altitude determination, keep the drone stable and safe.

It has a 110-degree 1080p HD camera so you can enjoy shake-free real-time FPV and high-res images and videos.

If you fly beyond its 393 feet range limit, the return to home feature will spring into life, and the 15-minute flight time should allow enough juice to bring your quadcopter safely back to base.

Additionally, this is a drone that will grow with you. As a beginner, I’d say you’ll enjoy the one-touch landing, novice pilot mode, and gravity sensor steering. When you gain experience, you can switch to one of the more advanced settings—reducing automated flying and giving you more freedom.

6) Holy Stone HS165 DroneHoly Stone GPS Drone

Check Holy Stone HS 165 on Amazon

Pros Cons
VR Compatible No Auto-return
Live Video at 5GHz Wifi!   
15-minute flight time  

Key Features:

Holy Stone HS165 has quickly become one of the bestselling drones under 150 dollars. Why? Well, first of all, it is the best bang for your buck. Truly worth the investment, especially to beginners. Secondly, performs as expected from a modern-day quadcopter. Holy Stone HS165D maximum control range is nothing amazing for the price. The drone can fly as far as 300 – 400 m, which is more than enough for children and beginners, but less than what an enthusiast might want from their drone. Wifi Distance (if you are streaming video for example) is limited to around 180-250 m. The video recorded from HS165 has no latency and “jello effect”, two very common factors among baby drones. The image quality is also slightly above average, which is a nice addition to an already great purchase. HS165 is a foldable and portable drone that is compact and lightweight with the folded size only 10 IN*6.5 IN*2 IN. It’s easy to put in a backpack.  Other features are Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, Mobile Control (drone can be controlled via smartphone or through the remote controller included in the package), Low Battery Power Alarm, Emergency Stop, Gravity Sensor Mode (control the drone by tilting the phone), and of course 360º aerial stunt.

7) Altair 818 HornetAltair 818

Check Altair 818 Hornet on Amazon

Pros Cons
Designed for stability in the wind—even in the hands of newbie users Live Video transmission is only 60 meters
Extra Battery No 3D Flip feature
Beginner-Friendly Not suitable for users wanting high-quality images

Key Features:

It’s one of everyone’s favorite, 818 Hornet has a neat design combined with amazing specifications. It also supports Live Video and Custom Route Mapping! Not only does this drone feature altitude hold and one-button take-off and landing, but it also has three selectable skill levels. In short, an experienced pilot can hand over the controller while the drone is in mid-air, choose a setting with more automated features, and allow less flying-savvy youngsters to continue the flight.

FPV gives your children the ability to fly through the air like their favorite superheroes. Although, keep a watchful eye as it lacks an RTH feature, so you’ll need to bring the quadcopter home manually. The 818 Hornet packs a 2MP camera with 720p resolution and 120º wide-angle lens. The camera is capable of recording some surprisingly great quality video, as well as take awesome aerial photos. It can also transmit Live Video via WiFi directly to the pilot’s smartphone. The remote controller has a phone holder where you can attach your device when flying FPV; watch a real-time video. But, with two batteries, each providing 15 minutes of flying time, the little ones will be able to enjoy extensive ‘play’ time.

Nice set of features, with one exceptionally fun, the Custom Route Mapping where you can draw your flight path on the drone’s app (installed on your phone, free download). Besides this, it has Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, One Button Takeoff and Landing, Low Battery and Out of Range Alarm, and 3D VR compatibility. No 3D flip.

8) Holy Stone HS110DHoly Stone HS110D FPV RC

Check Holy Stone HS110D on Amazon

Pros Cons
Ideal for beginners Lacks an RTH feature
Affordable Restricted to a 328-feet control range and 196-feet FPV distance
Can be accessed through a smartphone  

Key Features:

The Holy Stone HS110D comes with a 120-degree wide-angle lens that delivers images at 1080p. You can capture memorable moments with distortion-free and view images on your phone from the wide-angel lens. The app enables you to expand your creativity further and share it on social media with ease. Furthermore, the FPV allows you to be in the pilot seat and control the drone purely through the movements of your smartphone. You can even signal the unit to take photos or videos by hand gestures, which is useful for taking the perfect selfies! What’s more, if your hands are busy, simply talk to the drone. It responds to voice controls, including fly, land, and directional commands. A modular battery allows you to remove, recharge, and replace the power pack quickly. Although, bear in mind that its 1,000 mAh capacity will only provide around 10 minutes of flying time. You can even operate the drone completely through your phone through the APP. The APP offers you multiple functions such as voice control, gestures Control, trajectory flight and gravity sensor control, all of which can be activated by one touch. Instruct the camera to take photos by gestures of scissors and videos by Paper. Beginners may welcome the altitude hold function, which not only provides stability for those crucial shots but also allows you to initially concentrate on direction, not height.

9) Parrot Mambo DroneParrot Mambo Mission

Check Parrot Mambo on Amazon

Pros Cons
Very Fun and unique Features Photos are overexposed in bright daylight
Affordable   Short Bluetooth Range
Does fun acrobatics such as flips and barrel rolls   

Key Features:

One of the most interesting drones currently available in the market. It is manufactured by the widely popular brand Parrot. The best part is it includes Parrot Cockpit glasses for an immersive drone racing experience! However, please make sure to know that this drone is not suitable for beginners. Parrot Mambo is very fast and acrobatic; you will require an intermediate level of skill to control it. Due to its characteristics, it makes up for a nice racing drone.

Parrot Mambo can be controlled via the 2.4Ghz remote controller or the app. While the control distance on the remote is a good 100 meters long. The range with the Bluetooth app is very short (20 meters). Flight time is also a good 10 minutes. Besides the FPV Goggles compatibility (included), Mambo packs a very unique and fun set of features like you have never seen before. I’m talking about the remote-controlled gun that fires up to 6 airsoft pellets from the drone’s magazine! And also, a remote-controlled claw to carry & drop payloads!

Without a doubt some very amazing unique features; extremely fun. Besides this, it is also one of the first drones to efficiently feature an optical position hold system together with an acoustic sonar altitude hold. On top of this, it has 3 flight modes: Easy, Drift, and Racing.

10) Snaptain S5CSNAPTAIN S5C

Check Snaptain S5C on Amazon

Pros Cons
Easy for beginners 60-degree FOV may be insufficient for many users 
Futuristic styling   Lacks 1080p camera—surprising on this feature-packed unit
Voice, gesture, and gravity control modes  

Key Features:

The Snaptain S5C drone is remarkably user-friendly. Simply press one button, it will take off, land or return to your command. Smart voice control, headless mode, and the fascinating 360° Flips & Rolls come handy even for the drone newbies. Whether you’re an Android aficionado or an iPhone fanatic, simply head over to the relevant app store to allow for smartphone FPV control. Furthermore, if you love gaming, you should welcome the familiar hand controller, which makes piloting this quadcopter second nature. Bold styling combined with bright red and blue illumination provides this drone with an Alienware aesthetic. One-button touch delivers 360-degree rolls and flips giving others the impression you’re a flying-ace even with little experience. The altitude-hold function ensures a steady hover in the air at a certain altitude. Great aerial pictures and videos are feasible thanks to this function. Trajectory Flight function is the newest technology that by drawing a flight course on the touch screen on your smartphone, the drone will fly accordingly. Pure fun awaits.

This machine provides versatility, allowing you to switch to gesture or phone-motion control. However, a range of 328 feet and a flight time of 10 minutes is a bummer even though it comes with 2 batteries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Are cheap drones any good? 

There are quality drones at nearly any price bracket, however, what makes a drone good for us may not be what you need. We like to fly stable machines to capture the best possible aerial photos and video, there are no “cheap” drones that can manage that. Ignoring a camera, if you fly to experience flight, there are solid machines for decent prices. Most racing drones are very affordable compared to a camera rig, as an example.

How high can I fly a $200 drone?

400 feet, or about 120 meters. No matter what your drone is physically capable of, almost every country around the globe has a legal height restriction for drone flight. Most of the drones in this price range offer connectivity up to about 800 feet, so if laws permit, you’ll be able to fly close to your max connectivity range above the ground.

What’s the difference between a toy drone and a real drone?

As with many things, how you use it determines what it is – if you fly for fun, it’s a “toy.” Breaking it down, however, you should expect drones under about $50 to offer almost no flight assist features and minimal connectivity range. Drones up to about $200 start to get brushless motors, greater connectivity range, maybe GPS, and a simple camera. When you get passed about $500, you’ll start to get automated flight modes, cameras with stabilized gimbals, and a much-improved flight range. Things only get better from there.

Conclusion

Drones are the ultimate machine and can give you a new perspective wherever you are.

Sure, you can spend a couple of month’s salary, and get a high-end product. But, for those on budget, or just testing the water (or air) for the first time, they can be very expensive.

Naturally, the answer is budget drones, but a budget drone is obviously not as good as its high-end counterpart. It’s tough to find a bargain quadcopter sufficiently stacked with features. Between machines, you’re often making a trade-off—the range at the cost of battery power, and HD images at the expense of stability.

Michael Holding
 

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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