Finding the right the drone can be a challenging task for a beginner. After all, you probably only have a rudimentary understanding of how these devices work and are completely unaware of the various features and specs that determine their quality and performance. To help you navigate through the drone market and sift through the seemingly endless number of products, we have crafted a comprehensive guide that will walk you through evaluating all the options that are available to you on the market and help you pick the best drone under 100.
The factors that you should keep in mind when you are looking for the best drones under 100
When it comes to entry-level price points, you need to be extra careful not to rush a purchase decision. After all, finding a model that is well designed, high-performing, and affordable all at the same time requires having a firm grasp of the essential features and attributes that a drone should have. Here are the key points that you should focus on.
Navigation and control
This is the most basic aspect that you should look at. As a beginner, it is imperative that you get a drone that is capable of providing a smooth and easy flight. Getting one that comes with a steep learning curve will invariably need to crashes and discouragement.
The flight time
At the sub $100, you should not expect an extra long flight time. The batteries that power most of these devices are typically small and not designed to hold a charge for an extended period of time. To be more specific, the average flight time of drones that are priced just under $100 is typically between 5 and 8 minutes. This might not seem like a long enough period but in reality this all the time that a beginner needs. Short flights are in fact highly recommended for beginners and are thought to be a much more effective way to learn.
The control range
Much like the previous point, drones that fall in this category are not known for boasting a particularly long control range. This is generally due to the basic design of the transmitter and the short frequency range that connects it to the device. The average range for the sub $100 price bracket extends from 50 meters to 200 meters.
The flight features
Just because you are opting for an affordable drone it does not mean that you should settle for a model that comes with no smart flight features. In fact, these features are even more important when the user is a beginner who is trying to figure out the ins and outs of these devices. The main features that you should focus on are those that impact flight stability and orientation. More specifically, the drone should at least come with a headless mode, an altitude holder, and one-button launch and landing.
The quality of the camera
Generally speaking, entry-level drones are not destined for use in high-quality aerial imagery. As a matter of fact, a lot of these units don’t even have built-in cameras and are not large enough to accommodate an external one. Still, there are some affordable drones that are equipped with decent HD cameras. Moreover, some of them even offer a number of multimedia-related features such as live streaming and content sharing via Wi-Fi.
The motors are seldom discussed despite the fact that they are responsible for propelling the drone forward. The two main types are brushed motors and brushless ones. The first type is more common in this range due to its cost-effective manufacturing. However, the few models that are powered by brushless motors are usually more efficient and produce less noise.
The quality of the customer service
As a beginner, you need to ensure that the drone you get is backed by a good customer service that can be relied upon. It is also worth mentioning that defective parts and technical malfunctions are quite common in cheap electronics. To have access to someone that can give you instant assistance is a must. Make sure to check a lot of user reviews before committing to any particular brand or company.
Frequently asked questions
1 – Are these top drones under 100 drones only suitable for beginners?
Some of the drones reviewed here offer value that exceeds the asking price. With that being said, their performance is still below mid-range and high-end products. These units were mostly designed with the intention of providing beginners with a solid training tool. Save for a few exceptions, entry-level drones would not constitute a coherent investment for an experienced flyer.
2 – Are prop guards really necessary?
If they are not included in the model that you plan on getting, you should consider investing in a set of guards as soon as possible. Prop guards help protect the device from damage and are absolutely necessary for a beginner.
3 – Can I fly these drones indoor?
This depends on the size of the device and the level of experience of the user flying it. The drones that we reviewed for this guide come in different shapes and sizes and some of them are specifically designed for indoor use.
4– Can I buy one of these units for my child?
While these drones are fairly affordable and easy to use, they are not toys that should be left in the hands of children. You can still let your child operate it as long as you are with him at all times.
Reviews of the best drones under 100
1 – Holy Stone F181C
This is one of the top-selling sub $100 units on the market. This amazing drone has amassed a lot of positive reviews from beginners who found t to be the ideal training tool. It comes equipped with a number of features that help cut the learning curve of flight control and it is remarkably sturdy and durable considering its entry-level price.
The smart functions that come with the Holy Stone F181C are quite impressive and all-encompassing. The list features the one key return function that allows you to fly and land the drone in an instance, the headless mode that fixes the direction of the device to the remote controller, and Altitude Hold that helps it achieve a perfect hover. Furthermore, the F181C also comes with the one key flips feature that enables you to perform aerial maneuvers with a push of a button. As far as the specs are concerned, they are pretty standard for a drone in this price range. The flight time is around 8 minutes and the control range can reach 100 meters in perfect weather conditions.
The built-in 2MP camera is also worth mentioning. It delivers good quality images thanks to its HD resolution and extremely sensitive sensors. The only downside is that it is not effective when it comes to taking shots at night.
- The frame of the drone can handle strong impacts
- It is equipped with lights that help increase its visibility when flying at night
- The package includes a spare battery
- Customer service is great
- It comes with several practical flight features
- The light on the USB does not indicate when the battery is charged
- The gears of the motors are prone to get clogged with dirt.
2 – Syma X8C
Syma is a name that is known to most drone enthusiasts. They have built a reputation for crafting affordable yet high-performing devices that are sleekly designed and feature-rich. This model, in particular, has been making waves in the industry for quite some time and has generated a lot of positive feedback from users and experts alike.
On top of boasting sleek and eye-catching design, the X8C packs a lot of good features that set it apart from the rest of the pack in the sub $100 bracket. It is powered by a high-quality 2000 mAh battery that provides ample power to its set of brushed motors. This gives the drone a relatively long flight time of 12 minutes. As for the control range, it can surpass the 200 meters mark in perfect conditions despite its bulky build. Not a surprise why this drone is one of the best drones for under 100.
While the bulkiness of the Syma might cause some inconveniences with regards to storing and carrying the unit, it also comes with some benefits. The size and weight of the X8C enable it to remain stable even when faced with strong winds. It also gives the necessary durability to handle the inevitable impacts that are associated with navigating any type of aerial unmanned vehicle.
- It offers a high quality to price ratio
- This drone can handle rough weather very well
- It is ideal for beginners and experienced flyers alike
- It has a decent flight time
- The control range is great for the price
- The battery charges quicker than the average for entry-level drones
- The quality of the camera is underwhelming
- The brushed motors are a little bit underpowered
This is one of the most affordable options in this guide. Like all offerings from industry heavyweight Hubsan, the X4 quadcopter provides a lot of value for the money and is an ideal option for any beginner who is not prepared to invest an exorbitant amount of money on a first drone.
The flight range of this drone is around 100 meters. While this in line with the average for entry-level models, it is significantly higher than any quadcopter of its size. The other specs are exactly what you would expect at this price; the flight time can surpass 6 minutes when the drone is used in an efficient manner and the recharge time of the battery is just under an hour. One thing that is worth noting about the battery is that it is built into the device and is not removable. The same thing applies to the mounted 2MP camera.
One of the most unique aspects of the Hubsan X4 is the 4.3 inch screen of the transmitter. Besides having an aesthetically pleasing design, it gives you a nice FPV view of the drone’s flight. The range of video transmission is around 50 to 100 meters.
- The overall performance of this drone is excellent for the price
- The control range is decent considering the size of the unit
- It does not come with a steep learning curve
- It is quite cheap and easy to maintain
- The frame of the drone is well constructed
- Its small size allows it to fly indoors with relative ease
- The video transmission is prone to freezing at times
- The power consumption of the transmitter is disproportionally high
Due to their small size and capacity to operate in confined spaces, nano drones are probably the best option for any novice user who is trying to master the control of drones. The Blade Nano QX RTF quadcopter is a perfect example of why that is the case. This compact drone boasts an appealing design and comes with a full set of features that are geared toward making the flight as smooth and fun as possible.
One of the unique features that are included in this unit is SAFE. This proprietary technology was developed by BLADE and it stands for sensor assisted flight envelope. As you have probably guessed by its name, this function helps stabilize the drone and boosts its agility and ability to perform impressive aerial maneuvers. This is especially important when we are discussing a drone that is mostly designed for the indoors.
The specs of the QX RTF are above average for the price. The flight time is around 7 minutes, which is amply sufficient for an indoor miniature drone. The battery can be charged in less than 30 minutes, which is extremely beneficial when you want to get the drone back in the air as quickly as possible. Overall, the Blade nano is a good investment for anyone who wants a great indoor training tool.
- It is the perfect drone for indoor use
- The charge time of the battery is extremely short
- The design is sleek and eye-catching
- It is equipped with a proprietary technology that help stabilizes its flight
- It features an agility mode that improves the device’s maneuverability
- It boasts a solid and durable construction
- The blade guards are not well designed and are prone to hooking on objects
- It is too small and light to be used in the outdoors
If there is one thing that comes to mind when the name JXD is mentioned, it is unrelenting durability. This drone is made from high-quality ABS plastic and features a set of flexible propellers that are specifically designed to handle impacts and crashes. This quality is extremely important for beginners due to their tendency to crash their drones during the process of learning how to fly it properly.
Fortunately, the durability and sleek design are not the sole highlights of the JXD. In fact, this unit is one of the most feature-rich options in its price range. It comes with 6 axis gyro stabilizer that contributes to steadying the drone during the flight and offers a comprehensive set of features that covers the full scope of what a beginner needs. The list consists of an altitude holder for an easy hover, a headless mode for a smooth and fixed navigation, and an automatic landing function that takes the effort out of landing the drone.
In addition to all the great features mentioned above, the JXD also has adjustable speed settings. Users can choose between slow, medium, and fast settings depending on their level of experience and where they are in their learning.
- It is a good option for beginners and even intermediate flyers
- It offers adjustable speed settings
- The flight capabilities of this drone are great for the price
- It is made from heavy-duty ABS plastic
- It is equipped with flexible propellers that minimize the impact of crashes
- The control range is fairly long
- The battery does not hold a charge and the flight time is relatively short
- The instructions are quite ambiguous and confusing
Entering a new market as a complete beginner is never ease. You are never sure of what you are looking and are more susceptible to buying into the hype and clever marketing that companies throw at you. Hopefully, after reading this guide you will have a better understanding of how drones work and you will be able to confidently pick the best drone under 100 that is most suitable for you.