The best drones for under $100 are ideal for beginners looking to try flying a drone for the first time or parents purchasing a drone as a gift for their child. With their low price and features designed to make them easy to fly, these drones are often the best choice for learning to fly a drone before advancing to more complex and pricier models. In fact, many drones at this price point have buttons that automatically take off or land the drone, and are also lightweight enough that you don’t need to register them with the FAA to legally fly them. That’s not to say that all drones under $100 are of the same quality. We reviewed dozens of drones and have selected the best drones under $100.
How We Picked the Best Drones Under $100
We considered a range of inexpensive drones and assessed them according to the following factors:
Ease of Use: A good drone should be relatively easy to operate right out of the box, allowing newcomers to capably control it within minutes. We chose models with features that make them easy to fly, including one-touch take offs and landings, auto-hover features, and simple controls.
Fly Time: While you won’t get a lot of fly time out of a $100 drone, you should get enough to make using it worthwhile. We left out drones with low fly times of five or six minutes in favor of those that offer closer to 10 minutes of fly time between charges.
Durability: Most $100 drones are made from lightweight materials to maximize fly time, but may not be particularly durable. With that in mind, a good drone should come with spare parts, including replacement rotors, for those inevitable crashes that will happen while learning how to fly it.
Best Drones Under $100: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Ryze Tello
Why It Made The Cut: This drone can be programmed by the user-friendly Scratch programming language, making it ideal for beginners and kids.
— Dimensions: 3.86 inches L X 3.9 W X 1.6 H
— Battery Life: 13 minutes
— Video: 720p
— Programmable using Scratch
— Lands automatically when battery is low
— Comparatively long fly time
— No remote control included
The Ryze Tello does have its limitations. You won’t be taking high definition video with it, nor will you be sending it on long missions, but if you’re looking for a quality drone at the under $100 mark, it’s tough to beat.
What sets this drone apart from other drones is its compatibility with an app that allows users to program its operation using Scratch programming language. This easy-to-learn programming language allows users to create a series of commands for the drone by dropping blocks of prewritten code, making it ideal for young pilots who want to try their hand at coding.
The Tello has a long battery life with the ability to fly up to 13 minutes on a single charge. It does lack a remote control though, so you’ll have to use a smartphone to control it, unless you want to spend an additional $50 for the remote.
It also comes equipped with a 720p camera that takes video at 30 frames per second. While that may not be good enough for videographers, it takes clear enough footage to suit most hobbyists.
With its compact size — it measures less than 4 inches by 4 inches and weighs under three ounces — the Tello is small enough that pilots don’t need to register with the FAA to fly it outside. While the Tello lacks some of the automated take off and landing features found on other DJI drones, it will land automatically when the battery is low, helping to prevent damage.
Best with Camera: Holy Stone HS110D
Why It Made The Cut: The HS110D comes equipped with one of the highest resolution cameras of any drone under $100.
— Dimensions: 12.6 inches L x 12.6 inches W x 3.4 inches H
— Battery Life: 13 minutes
— Video: 1080p
— High-resolution camera
— Altitude hold feature helps with taking video
— Includes two batteries
— Long charge time for batteries
While many drones at the $100 or below price point offer cameras, most take video with grainy quality and few frames per seconds. While the Ryze Tello won’t satisfy a professional videographer, it takes better video than most $100 drones thanks to a 1080p camera, which takes crisper pictures. It also has a wide angle lens that provides a large 120-degree field of view and comes with features that a budding videographer will appreciate, including an altitude hold that makes it easier to take video. These features make it a great starter option for those getting their feet wet in the world of drone videography.
Beyond its camera, the HS110D is comparable in performance to other drones at this price point. It has a flight time of around eight minutes, which is a little less than other sub $100 drones. However, it does come with two batteries which is handy, given that it takes two hours to fully recharge them.
The HS110D is a larger drone at one foot by one foot, giving it more stability than smaller drones. In terms of construction, the drone has a cheaper feel; though it does include replacement parts for fragile pieces, including rotors, landing feet, and LED covers. The HS110D comes with a remote control and connects via WiFi to a smartphone for live video.
Best Value: Ryze Tello
Why It Made The Cut: This drone is loaded with features, yet comes at a price that’s well under $100, making it an ideal budget drone.
— Dimensions: 14.17 inches L x 14.01 inches W x 4.25 inches H
— Battery Life: 6.8 minutes
— Video: 720p
— Affordably priced
— One touch take off and landing function
— Includes two batteries
— Short battery life
With all the features that Cheerwing gives you with this drone at a price that’s well under $100, the Ryze Tello is hard not to like. It’s loaded with features that make it easier to fly, including one-button take off and landing that makes the two hardest parts of flying a drone easier. At 14 inches by 14 inches, the CW4 is one of the larger drones in this price range, which helps with visibility and stability when flying it.
It also includes a hover mode that allows the drone to maintain a certain altitude for taking pictures from its 720p camera, which connects to your smartphone via built-in WiFi. You also have some options when it comes to controlling the drone. You can either use the remote control or control it entirely through the Cheerwing app. When using the app to control the drone you can even draw its flight plan on the screen, then watch as the drone executes that flight plan.
There are also other fun features, including flips that can be executed at the push of a button, and various speed modes. The down side of its larger size is the shorter fly time this drone gets. Max flight time is a scant six to eight minutes; however, the CW4 does come with two batteries that extends the total fly time to about 15 minutes.
Best Foldable: Dragon Touch DF01 Drone
Why It Made The Cut: The DF01’s foldable arms make it one of the most compact and travel-ready drones we reviewed.
— Dimensions: 12 inches L x 7.4 inches W x 3.4 inches H
— Battery Life: 10 minutes
— Video: 1080p
— Folds down to a compact size.
— One touch take off and landing function
— One touch automatic return
— Can be difficult to control
Smaller drones can be harder to control and fly while larger models can be bulky to transport from place to place. The Dragon Touch DF01 Drone gives you the best of both worlds with its compact design. The drone measures a foot long and more than 7 inches wide with rotors extended, and folds down to less than seven inches long and 5.5 inches wide for safe transport. The arms also fold tightly against the body, eliminating any extending pieces that could snap off.
In addition to its collapsible design, the DF01 comes loaded with attractive features. Its remote control has one-button landing and take off controls. There are also three speed modes and the ability to perform various stunt flips, making it suitable for novice and expert drone pilots alike. If you lose control of the drone, a one-key return will bring it back at the push of a button. It’s also capable of taking high-definition pictures, thanks to a 1080p HD camera with a 120-degree wide angle lens.
You can control the drone via the remote control or the compatible app via a smartphone, which allows you to draw a flight course directly on the app. The drone gets better than average flight time at 10 minutes on a single charge and comes with two batteries.
Best for Beginners: Tomzon A31
Why It Made The Cut: Numerous features such as auto take-off and landing and emergency stop make it ideal for beginners.
— Dimensions: 5 inches L x 6.2 inches W x 1.7 inches H
— Battery Life: 8-9 minutes
— Video: None
— Auto take-off and landing
— Emergency stop feature
— Comes with two batteries
— No camera
With numerous features designed to make it easier to fly while lowering the potential for damage or loss, Tomzon’s A31 is a great option for beginner drone pilots.
The A31 gives you the ability to launch or land the drone, two of the hardest parts of learning to fly, simply by touching one button. It also includes other useful features, such as an altitude hold that helps prevent crashes. There’s also an emergency stop feature that will automatically stop and land the drone, a great option when you feel like you’ve lost control. Beginners will also appreciate the guards that protect the propellers during crashes as well as the spare parts that come with it in the event the drone is damaged.
The A31 isn’t exclusively for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the A31 has features, including faster speed settings and the ability to execute 360 degree flips. The A31’s battery life is shorter than other drones at the $100 price point, ranging between 8 and 9 minutes per charge. However, it does come with two batteries, shortening the downtime between battery recharges.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Drone for Under $100
Don’t expect to get a lot of fly time out of a drone that costs less than $100. Most drones at this price point max out at about 10 minutes of battery life and take upwards of an hour to recharge the battery. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to purchase an extra battery or two to extend fly time and shorten the down time between charges. In fact, many drones come with extra batteries.
Ease of Use
A drone at this price point is considered an entry-level drone. With that in mind, many manufacturers design drones that cost less than $100 to be easy to fly. They include features such as one-touch landings and take offs, and one-touch buttons that will automatically return the drone to the controller. Drones with cameras often allow you to lock in the altitude, making it easier to take video footage while in flight.
Like higher-end drones, most drones under $100 come equipped with a video camera. Camera video footage is usually fed to a smartphone that attaches to the controller via WiFi. While these cameras don’t offer the frames per second required to take professional level video while the drone is moving, they are capable of taking clear pictures with 780p to 1080p resolution while hovering or moving at a slow rate of speed. Cameras on cheaper drones typically aren’t mounted on a gimbal, which makes the footage shakier than other high-end drones.
Indoor or Outdoor Use
While most drones will fly indoors or outdoors, you’ll want to consider how the drone will be used. Small drones that measure just a few inches long and wide are ideal for indoor use but are more susceptible to the wind when outdoors. Larger drones are more stable in windy conditions but can be too bulky for indoor flight.
Q: Are drones under this budget ideal for learning?
Yes. These drones have features that make them easy to fly, and most come with spare parts for the inevitable accidents that occur during the learning process. And, since these drones are affordably priced, it’s less of a loss should the drone become lost.
Q: Can I fly drones indoors and outdoors?
While you can fly most drones indoors and outdoors, it’s important to pay attention to the size of the drones. Drones that measure a few inches wide and long are ideal for indoor flying due to their compact size. Larger drones that measure a foot or more wide and long are better suited for outdoor use due to their large size.
Q: What drones are safe for children?
Smaller drones with plastic propellers are the safest option for children as they present little risk of causing injury. Look for drones with features that make them easy to fly for kids, such as one-touch landing and take off and auto-return functions.
Q: Do I have to register my drone with the FAA?
Whether or not you have to register your drone with the FAA depends on its weight. If your drone weighs 0.55 pounds or more, it must be registered with the FAA. Most drones that fall under the $100 price are well below the required weight needed to register. If your drone does need to be registered with the FAA, don't fly it without a registration as the fines for doing so can be very steep.
Q: Can you get a good drone for $100?
While you won’t get a top-of-the-line drone that can travel long distances, have a long battery life, or take professional level video, there are plenty of quality drones for under $100. Drones at this price point are loaded with features that make them easy to fly for beginners. Many drones are also outfitted with high-resolution cameras that are suitable for newbies to drone videography.
Q: Which drone has the longest-lasting battery?
While higher priced drones have batteries that can run for upwards of 45 minutes, drones at the under $100 price point generally give you between eight to 10 minutes of fly time. The DJI Tello is an exception, with a high capacity battery that allows for up to 13 minutes of fly time before needing a recharge.
Final Thoughts on Drones Under $100
Drones that fall under $100 represent the most affordable yet flyable options on the market. These drones are generally designed as entry-level drones that allow beginners to get their feet wet before investing in a more expensive, higher performing model. With that in mind, The Ryze Tello, with its long battery life, and a design that makes it easy to fly, tops the list. The Ryze Tello also sets itself apart with the ability to program its flight via Scratch coding. Those looking to experiment with taking drone video should consider the Holy Stone HS110D, with its ability to take high-resolution 1080p footage.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
Share This Article