Once a small niche, the market for drones has grown to become a huge global segment of the electronics industry. The increased demand for these devices has led to a rapid improvement in their build quality and flight capabilities. Needless to say, the number of options that are available to the average consumer can be quite overwhelming, especially if the person in question is a complete novice who lacks a basic understanding of how drones operate. In this guide, we will delve into some of the main characteristics of drones and we will introduce you to what we believe to be the best drones under 300 on the market today.
The factors that you should pay attention to when you are looking for top drones under 300
Drones that are priced under $300 are usually high-performing relative to entry-level options. However, this is by no means a general rule. The market is filled with subpar products that owe much of their asking price of hype and clever marketing rather than any actual intrinsic value or set of features. In order to avoid falling for this type of products, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the basic characteristics of drones. Keep reading as we outline the main factors that you should be aware of when you are looking to buy a drone under $300.
Navigation and handling
This is the first thing that comes to mind when discussing drones. Regardless of your level of familiarity with how these devices operate, the unit that you get should be able to provide an adequate level of control as well as a consistent and balanced flight.
The flight time
The flight time that is offered by a drone is mostly predicated upon the size and quality of the battery as well as on the efficiency of the device’s engineering. Sub $300 drones can usually provide a flight time that ranges from 8 minutes to 15 minutes. But like all aspects of electronics, this is not exactly written in stone. Some models allow you to add extra batteries in order to extend the flight time while others feature energy-saving modes that reduce the consumption of battery charge.
The control range
Also known as the flying range, this refers to the distance that the device can cover away from the transmitter. This is dependent on the sensitivity of the drone’s receptors and the frequency range of the remote controller. A long range is extremely helpful when it comes to working on large-scale projects that require different aerial shots. As far as the under $300 range is concerned, you can expect anything from 200 meters to 1 km.
The flight capabilities of the drone
These are features that are effective when it comes to facilitating flight and control. At this price range, drones often come with a wide assortment of functions that includes headless mode, altitude hold, and one button launch among many others. These three can be seen as essential, and an option that doesn’t have all of them might not be ideal for beginners and intermediate flyers.
The quality of the camera
While some drones are designed for GoPro and other action cameras, the vast majority comes with built-in cameras these days. Regardless of what you intend the camera for, the baseline quality that it should have is a resolution of 720p and a video recording rate of 30 frames per second. While this is not exactly up to professional standards, it is still good enough for regular use by a hobbyist.
Brushless vs brushed motors
This is another essential factor that is seldom mentioned. It might not be as critical as the other factors, but it is still important for you to know the different types of motors that power these devices. The most common types are brushed motors and brushless motor. The first type is more affordable while the second one is generally more efficient and produces less noise.
The quality of customer service
Dealing with bad customer service is one of the most frustrating things that a customer could experience. The importance of having access to a responsive and qualified team that can assist you in a matter of seconds is even greater when dealing with advanced electronic devices such as drones. To avoid any potential issues down the line, make sure to check user reviews before making a purchase. This will give you a clear idea of what to expect from the company.
Frequently asked questions
1 – Is a drone under $300 an ideal option for a beginner?
The drones that we reviewed in the article are easy to control and handle. While some of them might be more beginner-friendly than other, all of them come equipped with several features that facilitate the setup and operation for novice flyers.
2 – Do I need to register my drone?
All drones that weigh more than 250 grams should be registered with the FAA. This only applies to the United States of America.
3 – Are these drones children-friendly?
This is not recommended. Drones above the $100 mark are generally quite complex and their operation necessitates a level of delicate handling that children are not typically capable of showing.
4 – Are these drones suitable for the outdoors or the indoors?
The answer to this question depends on several variables. If you happen to be an experienced user, then you can fly these devices pretty much anywhere. Intermediate and novice flyers, however, will find it very difficult to control the relatively bulky frames of these drones in a small space.
1 – Contixo F18
This drone comes in a full package that has everything you need for a quick and fun flight. This is a beginner-friendly option and its settings are tailored to the needs of people who have never flown a drone before. But even if you have some level experience with these devices, you will surely appreciate the smooth control and the plethora of features that are provided by this competitively priced unit.
When it comes to overall performance, the Contixo F18 exceeds the expectations that you may have of drones in this price range. In fact, this unit has a wide array of features that include various return home modes, headless mode, altitude hold, and one-key takeoff. Thanks to its high-quality batteries and powerful brushless motors, it has a flight time of over 16 minutes and delivers a flight range that reaches a staggering 2 km. Furthermore, it is equipped with GPS technology which allows it to avoid obstacles and hover in a steady fashion.
The camera is another reason why this drone sits at the top of our list. It boasts a full HD 1080p resolution that is crystal clear and records videos at a great frame per second rate of 30. Moreover, it allows you to stream all your video content directly into any smart device via Wi-Fi.
- It is competitively priced considering its performance and features
- The flight of the drone is always stable
- The image quality is very high
- The flight range is very broad
- The flight time can exceed 20 minutes when used conservatively
- It comes with a number of convenient flight modes
- The Wi-Fi signal can be unreliable at times
- The camera is not equipped with a Gimbal stabilizer
2 – LOHOME MJX B2W
The first thing that jumps at you when you are looking at this drone is its sleek and high-tech design. This powerful quadcopter has been a top seller for years and its impeccable flight capabilities have made it the favorite of a significant number of drone enthusiasts. It is characterized by smooth, easy control and stability that is hard to replicate elsewhere in the sub $300 price bracket.
The MJX B2W is equipped a top of the line 6 axis gyro system that stabilizes the direction of the drone and enables it to retain its balance throughout the flight. It is powered by a high-performing and efficient 7.4V 1,800 mAh battery that is capable of providing a flight time of up to 18 minutes. As for the control range, it extends slightly beyond the 1 km mark for a regular flight and half that distance for Wi-Fi FPV transmission. On top of all of this, the drone features all the smart functions that make navigation effortless and fun. The features in question are the headless mode, GPS obstacle avoidance, Altitude Hold, one-key return and LED lights.
Like most best drones under 300 in this list, the camera of the LOHOME MJX B2W is a decent one. It boasts a full HD resolution of 1080p and allows for live video transmission of what the camera is capturing.
- This drone has one of the sleekest designs on the market
- It has a good set of specs for the affordable price
- It offers live video transmission
- The flight time is decent
- The control range extends past the 1000 meters mark
- The remote controller includes a phone holder that allows you to safeguard your phone
- The FPV range is relatively short compared to the overall control range of the drone
- The batteries take too long to fully recharge
3 – HUBSAN H501S X4
Simple, light, and straight to the point, these are just a few of the characteristics that make the Hubsan H501S X4 stand out in this price range. This model was manufactured by one of the leading brands in the industry and the level of engineering that went into crafting it is simply immaculate. If you are a beginner, this could serve as a valuable practicing tool that can help you master the basics of flight control and navigation.
Considering its affordable price, the specs of this unit are surprisingly great. The maximum flight time is an impressive 20 minutes when the drone is used in a conservative manner and the control range exceeds 300 meters. The unit is powered by a 7.4V 2700mAh Li-Po Battery that can fully recharge in less than 90 minutes. As for the flight modes that are included, the list encompasses everything that you would expect from a drone that is priced just below the $300 mark; a failsafe mode that prevents it from getting out of range, a follow me mode that automates navigation, GPS positioning, as well the headless and altitude hold modes.
The image quality that is provided by provided by the Hubsan’s built-in camera is just a slight notch below professional quality. The HD resolution is flawless and the videos are captured with no lags. Another interesting aspect of the camera is that the live video transmission is conducted over a long 5.8 GHz frequency.
- A perfect unit for beginners and currently one of the best drone under 300
- The live video transmission is fast
- It comes with GPS technology and the Follow Me function
- Image quality is flawless
- It is equipped with a failsafe mode that helps the drone stay within the control range
- The lens is not wide enough
- The design of the remote is a little bit underwhelming
The Parrot AR drone is a fairly known name in the industry. This model has been out for a while now and it continues to amass praise and appreciation from drone aficionados. In fact, it is still one of the top-selling products in the sub $300 price bracket. This is mostly owed to its simple operation and its unmatched ability to cater to the needs of beginners and experienced flyers alike.
The specifications of the Parrot AR are quite decent relative to the price. The 1500 mAh lipo battery is quick to recharge and is capable of providing up to 12 minutes of fight time, which is quite surprising for a drone as bulk as this one. On the other hand, the control range might be underwhelming for some users since it falls below the 100 meters mark.
When discussing the quality of the built-in camera, it is imperative to remember that this is one of the most affordable mid-range products on the market. Consequently, you shouldn’t expect a flawless image quality. With that being said, the 720p resolution is still amply sufficient for regular use.
- It is one of the most durable drones on the market
- The price to quality ratio is very high
- The charge time of the battery is fairly short
- It boasts a foam protective frame
- It comes with live video transmission
- The flight time is good relative to the size of the unit
- The unit is too bulky and heavy which makes it difficult to carry
- The control range is very limited
5 – Contixo F17
Like the F18, this drone from Contixo is another excellent option in the under $300 category. It has amazing aerial imagery features and it is specifically marketed for avid filmmakers and photographers. As it is the case with all units in this guide, the F17 is easy to control and would constitute a solid investment for any beginner who is looking to get into the world of camera drones.
Specifications of this drone are slightly less impressive than other pricier models from Contixo. The flight time with all the accessories is around 12 minutes and the control range is just above 150 meters. As for the smart features of this drone, the main function that it offers is HDMI connectivity with your TV.
As we have previously mentioned, the camera is the strongest suit of the Contixo F17. It is a 16MP HD camera with 4K resolution and 120 frames per seconds when set on 720p. For the low price that you are paying, you are getting a near-professional image quality. Moreover, the drone features a mount that is compatible with external actions camera, which will you to use your own GoPro camera with the F17 if you choose so.
- The built-in camera is undoubtedly the best in its price range
- It is compatible with most TVs through HDMI connectivity
- The flight time is good for the price
- The drone is easy to control
- It is powered by brushless motors
- The package comes with a lot of accessories
- There aren’t enough flight features
- The control range is fairly short compared to other similarly-priced drones
Picking one model when you are presented with a nearly infinite number of tempting options is understandably difficult. But after reading this detailed best drones under 300 guide, we hope that you will clear idea of what you are looking for and which model is best suited for your needs.