9 Best Budget-Friendly Beginner Drones Under $150

I decided to add a new drone to my collection recently, and I was surprised by how many cheap options there are. Gone are the days when only a few brands dominated the industry, and you had to pay a hefty price for a drone. With the latest technological advancements, you can now find a relatively cheap drone with some advanced features. But the problem with there being several models to choose from is that it’s difficult to choose one from the other. So, which are the best budget drones?

The DJI Ryze Tello is the best drone you can find for less than $150. It has the longest flight time (13 minutes), a good camera, intelligent flight modes, and it’s programmable. Other models to consider include the Altair, Force1 U45W, Altair AA108, just to name a few.

In this article, we will explore some of the best budget drones you can buy, their features, and what to expect in drones in this price range.

Why buy a cheap drone?

Drones come in various sizes, features, and prices. While there are many high-end drones you can buy for hundreds or thousands of dollars, there are some situations where buying cheap is better. Let’s find out some of them.

You want to save money

If you’re an impulsive buyer, or the task at hand doesn’t need an advanced drone, then save some money and buy a cheap drone. Or if you’re not sure drone flying is a hobby you’re planning to stick to, get a cheap drone to see how you like it.

For training

If you want to teach your kids how to fly a drone, or you want to learn a few tricks, you probably don’t want to pull out your DJI Phantom drone. The moment it crashes, you lose thousands of dollars. Instead, you can crash a cheap drone without worrying too much since it won’t be a big investment to buy another one.

Support the underdogs

DJI has done a great job in occupying at least 70% of the drone market. And as you’re going to see, they have drones for everyone. However, there are several other drone companies whose drones are cheaper but still have lots to offer. I’m going to go over some of the best of them so you’ll know which brands to trust.

What to expect in a drone under $150?

Here are some features to look for in cheap drones.

Ease of use

Most of the drones in this price range are designed for beginners. Therefore, they may not have any advanced features, and the features they do have are straightforward. These include one-key takeoff, one-key landing, one-key return-to-home, altitude hold, and headless modes. You might find these features in intermediate-level drones too.

Stunt drones

Most drones in this price range are often toy drones. Therefore, you’ll find many that can perform stunts like rolls, spins, and flips. Just make sure you get some experience with basic flight before trying any stunts.

Mediocre cameras

That’s right. If you’re looking for drones for professional photography and videography, you may need to pay more. Most of the drones in this price range have either a 720p or 1080p resolution, and you’ll be lucky to find a camera with more than 5MP quality for still images. Still, this camera quality is good enough for having fun outdoors or even indoors.

Short battery life

This is another area these drones may be lacking. High-end drones may have flight times of up to 60 minutes. But most drones in the under $150 can only fly for less than 10 minutes. It’s a good thing that the manufacturers may provide an extra battery to make up for that.

Cheap may be expensive

The issue with cheap drones is, some are flimsily made. As a result, a mild crash may cause severe damage, and you may end up spending even more on repairs or buying more drones. Others may not have the necessary accessories. Before buying any of them, check their durability, warranty, and return policies.

Best Budget Drones

Here is a summary of the best drones under $150.

Drone Model  Key Features Flight Time Price
DJI Ryze Tello
  • Programmable
  • 5 MP Camera, 720p video quality
  • Intelligent flight modes (circle, flip, and bounce)
13 Minutes $99
check current price on Amazon
Altair AA108
  • 3 skill levels; beginner, intermediate, advanced
  • 720p camera with 120-degree wide-angle
  • Supports FPV
10 Minutes $130
check current price on Amazon
Force1 U45W Blue Jay 
  • 720p camera
  • FPV
  • Altitude hold
  • Headless mode
8 Minutes $32
check current price on Amazon
UDI 818A
  • 2 batteries
  • 3-speed levels
  • 360-degree flips
8 Minutes $38
check current price on Amazon
Syma X5C-1 TC
  • 720p HD Camera
  • 6-axis gyroscopes for stability
  • 360-degree flips
7 Minutes $45
check current price on Amazon
Parrot Swing Minidrone
  • Functions as a fixed-wing and quadcopter
  • Stunts such as barrel rolls, 180-degree turns, and flips
  • 196-foot range
10 Minutes $50 to $100
check current price on Amazon
Robolink CoDrone Lite
  • Programmable
  • Wide availability of learning materials
8 Minutes $150
check current price on Amazon
Potensic T25
  • 2K camera
  • Follow-me mode
  • GPS and return-to-home
  • 9-axis gyros
  • 300-meter operating range
10 Minutes $170
check current price on Amazon
Emax Tinyhawk 2
  • 50mph top speed
  • High-quality Runcam nano camera
  • stable transmission
4 Minutes $150
check current price on Amazon

1. DJI Ryze Tello

PROS
  • Relatively cheap
  • Easy to use
  • Great for learning
CONS
  • It could use a better camera

If you’re looking for a cheap educational drone for yourself or your kid, you can’t go wrong with the Ryze Tello drone. This is a drone that resulted from the collaboration of DJI and Ryze.

The DJI Ryze Tello may not offer much in terms of camera qualities or any other advanced drone features. But considering its price, it’s the perfect drone to start with before moving on to other drones.

For starters, you get a 720p video quality and a 5MP camera, which are great for basic videography and photography. The 13-minute flight time may not be the best, but it’s better and more stable than most drones in this price range.

Thanks to the barometric sensors, the DJI Tello is quite stable in flight, but that doesn’t mean you should fly it when it’s too windy. Weighing just 80g, it could be easily blown away by big gusts of wind.

I mentioned it’s best for education because, besides learning how to fly and take photos, you can also learn how to program it. It’s great for coding enthusiasts or schools teaching STEM and STEAM education and are looking for low-budget drones. Since it’s part of the DJI education program, you’ll have access to a wide range of learning materials.

Besides an educational drone, it’s also a cool toy that can perform tricks such as circling you, flips, bouncing, and hovering. My favorite is the circling, as well as the throw-and-go feature that allows the drone to take off by just throwing it into the air.

2. Altair AA108

PROS
  • It’s easy to fly
  • Extended flight time thanks to the extra battery
  • Excellent camera for the price
  • Relatively durable
  • Excellent customer service
CONS
  • It has a limited operating range

Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first drone, or an experienced drone pilot looking for a cheaper drone, you won’t go wrong with the Altair #AA108. The manufacturer claims it’s an all-skill level drone, which is true. This drone features three skill levels; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. You don’t need to get an extra drone as you advance your skill levels since this drone walks with you along the journey.

The Altair AA108 drone comes with a 720p camera, which is quite great for this price range if you ask me. Thanks to the 120-degree wide-angle lens, you can now fit more objects in your image. This angle makes it great for landscape photography. What’s more? This drone supports FPV. It’s fun to watch the drone’s footage like you’re in a pilot’s cockpit.

As a beginner, you might crash a drone a few times as you learn. But you don’t have to worry since this drone is quite durable. It may not have obstacle avoidance systems like the more advanced drones, but it can survive most crashes.

Have you ever heard of autonomous flight in drones? Well, you can get the feel of that, too, since this drone allows you to draw a flight plan and watch the drone follow this plan. The 100-meter operating range is convenient for both autonomous and manual flying. But make sure you don’t exceed this range since you could lose your drone.

How about the flight time? With a 10-minute flight time, there’s a lot you can do with this drone. Better yet, you get two batteries in the package, giving you up to 20 minutes of flight time.

3. Force1 U45W Blue Jay

PROS
  • Easy to fly
  • Best value for money
  • Extended flight time
CONS
  • It’s flimsily built, making it prone to scratches and cracking

The Ryze Tello and Altair AA108 I’ve just reviewed cost right around $100. So, what happens if all you’ve got is $50 or less to spend? Well, your dream of owning a drone can still come true with the Force1 U45W. And don’t let the incredibly low cost fool you. This drone still has a lot to offer.

You get a 720p camera that you can view in FPV mode or through your device’s screen, for starters. The FPV mode may be the reason why they named this drone after a bird. This drone also allows you to pre-program flights. So, you can create flight paths, then enjoy the scenery from a bird’s eye view. You can save your footage in the 4GB SD card provided or buy a larger one.

The live footage is made possible by the 2.4GHz remote control, which is quite powerful for a toy drone.

The Force1 U45W is the best drone for people still learning to fly a drone, which explains the various simplified features. These include;

  • Altitude hold – Once the drone takes off, it hovers at a preset altitude. This makes it easier for you to learn the controls without crashing the drone. The 6-axis gyroscopes also help in stabilizing this drone in this mode and when in flight.
  • Headless Mode – This mode ensures that you don’t have to worry about which way the drone is flying. It’s quite challenging to figure the drone’s direction, so this feature makes it easier for you until you learn the concept.
  • Simplified Controller – Besides being powerful, the controller is easy to use. You can activate the headless mode, take off, land, or perform a 360-degree flip with the click of a button.

Did I mention it has an 8-minute flight time? You also get two batteries and a power bank, making it at least 16 minutes of flight time. Better yet, each battery takes only 50 minutes to charge, so you can get more batteries and fly continuously.

 4. UDI 818A HD Drone Quadcopter

PROS
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to fly
  • Extended flight time thanks to the extra batteries
CONS
  • It’s not that stable
  • It lacks an altitude hold feature

This is another excellent drone for those on a tight budget who still want to own a drone. Most high-end drones, and even some budget drones, allow you to automate some flight patterns. However, the UDI gives you a more hands-on approach, making it great for those who love being in control of their devices. So, what does it offer?

For just $38, you get a 720p HD camera and photo resolution of 1280 by 720 (30 fps). Now, this may not be the best camera in a drone out there, but it’s good enough to start with and take some basic photographs and videos.

To make it easier for you to operate, the drone utilizes a headless mode. I was surprised by the Return-To-Home function, which you usually only get in higher-end drones. What it does, once you press the designated button, the drone returns to the last known position, usually where it took off from. This feature comes in handy when the drone flies away or in case of an emergency.

It also has three speed modes. As a beginner, start on the slower mode and move up as you advance. You also get to perform 360-degree flips in the advanced modes, which look great, especially when the LED lights are on.

The 8-minute flight time is pretty standard for such a drone, but I love how the manufacturer adds an extra battery to give you the best value for your money.

There’s only one downside to this drone. While the lightweight design ensures you don’t have to register it with the FAA, it makes it prone to being blown about by strong winds. The 6-axis gyros do help with stability but make sure you check the weather before flying your drone. It also lacks an altitude-hold mode, so you need to practice flying it in wide-open areas to avoid crashing as you figure out the controls.

5. Syma X5C-1 RC

PROS
  • Stable flight
  • Very durable
  • Easy to fly
  • Great value for money
CONS
  • Lacks a headless mode
  • Limited flight time

Syma is a leading manufacturer of low-budget drones, mainly meant for fun and basic photography. So, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting your money’s worth with the X5C-1 drone.

With a 720p camera, this may not be the best drone for photography. But it’s surely the best drone for those that want to perform stunts, mainly the 360 degrees flips. The 6-axis gyros also enhance its stability throughout the flight.

Unfortunately, it lacks the skill levels featured in the other drones I’ve reviewed. So, make sure you have gained some experience before trying the stunts.

The built-in propeller guards add an extra layer of protection in case of a crash. And in case the propellers get damaged, the manufacturer provides an extra set of props for replacement.

The 7-minute flight time may not be that compelling, but the manufacturer compensates for that with an extra battery. While it lacks a headless mode like the other drones, it has LED lights that help you identify the drone’s orientation. However, these lights may drain the battery, so the sooner you learn to orient a drone without them, the better.

6. Parrot Swing Minidrone

PROS
  • It’s fun to fly in both modes
  • Durable design
  • Extended operating range for the price
CONS
  • The camera resolution isn’t that great

Parrot is another reputable drone manufacturer with a wide range of drones, from toy drones and prosumer drones to professional drones. The Parrot Swing Minidrone is more of a toy drone with some cool features for hobbyists.

At first glance, you may think that it’s complicated to fly it, but it’s not. The Parrot Swing features an X-Shape design that makes it look like a plane but with propellers at the edges. As a result of this design, you can fly this drone in two modes: as a plane or a drone.

Even though it features a rigid design, this drone is designed to perform stunts such as barrel rolls, flips, loops, and 180-degree turns. Thinking of trying out drone racing? Then this would be a great drone to start with. It has a 19mph top speed and a Boost Mode that works like the turbocharger in sports cars. Better yet, it also has a camera, which allows you to view the world from the “cockpit”.

Despite being a low-budget drone, the Parrot Swing boasts a highly responsive flypad (controller) that you can use independently or with your smartphone for FPV viewing. Unlike most other drones I’ve reviewed, the flypad gives you more telemetry data, such as the battery levels, flight time, and the ability to customize your flight.

The 196-foot range is great for such a drone, and the 10-minute flight time isn’t that bad either, considering you get two batteries. And when the battery is almost depleted, the drone will automatically land. So, it’s important to track the battery levels to make sure the drone doesn’t land too far away from you, or in water.

PROS
  • It’s programmable
  • Easy to fly
CONS
  • It lacks a camera

This is another great educational drone you can get for less than $150. Like the DJI Ryze Tello, this drone allows you to program its flight, stunts, and any other functions a drone should perform. It uses visual programming concepts, making it great for kids interested in tech, but text-based coding is a bit complex for them. As you advance your coding skills, you can also opt for Robolink’s pro version for more features.

Most of their educational materials are available on their website, and you can also download an app to help you control the drone. You can also research on YouTube or GitHub for people who have developed complex codes for their drones.

Besides being programmable, you also get to experience a great flying experience, including an 8-minute flight time, a stable flight, and the ability to purchase extra batteries. Unfortunately, it lacks a camera.

8. Potensic T25

PROS
  • Excellent camera
  • Advanced features such as Follow-me and RTH (Return to Home)
  • Extended operating range
  • High stability in flight
  • Great value for money
CONS
  • Some users experienced poor battery issues

I know this is all about the best budget drones under $150, but I believe you can spare at least $20 over the budget to get the Potensic T25. And believe me, it’s worth it. Let’s see what it has to offer.

While most drones I’ve reviewed have a 720p camera, the Potensic T25 features a 2K video quality, is better, more detailed, and even fit for some hobbyist videography. You can also utilize the 75-degree wide-angle and 120-degree FOV for better photographs.

Another advanced feature that makes me enthusiastic about this drone is the GPS-enabled features. These include the Auto-Return home that allows it to return to the last known coordinates or preset coordinates. And the GPS-enabled altitude hold enhances stability during flight.

And that’s not all. The Follow-me mode is worth checking out since I thought it was only in more expensive drones before I found this drone. What it does is following an object of interest and flying autonomously. For instance, you can film yourself jogging, hiking, biking, or skateboarding without touching the drone. You can also set the drone to fly autonomously, filming an object of interest.

The 300 meters range is quite long considering the other drones in this list, and the 10-minute flight time is not that bad. You also get two batteries for a better experience.

How about stability? While most drones under $150 have 6-axis gyros, this model has a 9-axis gyro which translates to more stability.

See? For a few extra dollars, you get more than you bargained for in a low-budget drone.

9. EMAX Tinyhawk 2

PROS
  • A very affordable racing drone
  • Very durable
  • Excellent camera
  • Stable transmission thanks to the powerful antennas
CONS
  • Limited flight time

Building a racing drone can be quite complex for beginners, not forgetting that there may be some hidden costs. Thankfully, if you want to start drone racing and are on a low budget, you can purchase RTF (ready-to-fly) racing drones like the EMAX Tinyhawk 2. No assembly is necessary. Just fly it out of the box.

The EMAX Tinyhawk is designed for speed. For instance, it can achieve a top speed of 50mph thanks to the 16000kv motors. This speed, combined with the Runcam Nano 2 Camera and 0.4 pounds weight, enhances maneuverability around obstacles. The LED light also indicates how fast or how slow you’re moving based on your throttle control.

Video transmission is essential for drone racing. That’s why EMAX incorporated two antennas, a receiver, and a VTX, for a better connection and better range. For a better view, you can also adjust the camera through the adjustable mounts.

And since crashes are inevitable in any form of flying, EMAX incorporated a durable build and design. The flight time is considerably reduced (4 minutes) compared to other drones, but that’s expected considering how much you’ll push this drone when racing.

Conclusion

And there you have it. There are several drones you can buy for less than $150. Make sure you know what you want in a drone, ensure it has safety features, and make sure it matches your skill levels. They may not have much to offer, but these are the best drones to start with regardless of the career path you want to take in the drone world.

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