Drones can be costly, and there are reasons behind those high prices. However, if you are starting out in this hobby, it is best that you first try out and sharpen your piloting skills with a basic, affordable option first. We all have to thank modern technology for the arrival of more affordable RC gadgets. Plenty of brands these days are designing and manufacturing drones that will easily fit every budget and has interesting features to boot. Check out these top finds and see which among these under $150 options accommodate your needs.
- How do drones work?
Answer: Drones can be controlled through remote means, by a mobile phone or tablet. For automated flights, users can preset certain GPS coordinates thru apps. Drones use rotors, components which are made up of a propeller that’s fastened on a motor, to fly, climb and land. The accelerometer provides information to the drone regarding its direction and speed. The altimeter on the other hand, provides data to the drone about its altitude. The presence of these components allow the drone to land on the ground safely and it also prevents it from getting into a wash—an occurrence which could drag the drone down in an erratic manner.
- Do I need to register my drone to the FAA first?
Answer: For starters, if your drone has a weight of over 250 grams or 8.8 oz., you are required to have it registered for an FAA identification number. Registration is cheap at only $5.00 and this registration is good for 3 years. This number needs to be placed on the drone’s exterior part. Even if your drone is lighter compared to the standard weight that the FAA requires for registration, you will need to follow basic drone laws. Drone rules and regulations differ in every country and state though so better check the drone laws in your area first before buying one.
- How do you choose the best affordable drone?
Answer: When it comes to cheaper drones, you do have to manage your expectations and make several compromises. However, this does not mean that you will never be able to find a neat drone at such good prices. Keep in mind though that these affordable drones are pretty limited in terms of range and flight time. Cheaper drones typically offer flight times that do not go over 10 minutes. Opt for drones with removable batteries instead, and stock up on extra batteries or a charger. There are affordable drones that include cameras but then again, these cameras often provide basic features and they do not have gimbal support as well. Then again, cheaper ones anyhow make for great aerial photography and piloting practice. You can learn the basics of handling a drone by using more affordable ones.
Our Top Picks
SIMREX X900 Drone
- Allows direct control through phone
- Includes Altitude Hold and Headless Security Mode
- Has One-Key takeoff and landing
- Features foldable design
The SIMREX X900 Drone is a great beginner option that will not break the bank. It has a foldable design with flexible blades so you can take this one while traveling. The drone also features optical flow positioning and Altitude Hold, Headless Security Mode an One-Key takeoff and landing—features that will make control of the drone easier for beginners. Enjoy quality images too by using its 10-inch wide angle FPV camera.
Potensic A30W FPV Drone with Camera
- Has 720P FPV camera
- Includes user-friendly features
- 3 speed settings
- Provides real-time Wi-Fi transmission
The Potensic A30W FPV Drone with Camera is a neat budget option for those who want to take decent images and photos through their drone. Its camera offers 720P HD pictures and real-time video footage by means of its Wi-Fi transmission in real-time, minus lagging. Beginner-friendly functions are also in store—it has Altitude Hold, One-Key Operation plus it comes with a smartphone sensor control too. For better protection against bumps and collisions, this one has 4 circle propeller guards.
Sharper Image DRO-004 Lunar Drone
- Takes 720P HD photos and videos
- Built with 2.4GHz technology
- Includes Stunt button
- Features Auto Orientation Mode
The Sharper Image DRO-004 Lunar Drone allows you to check out what your drone is seeing by means of your smartphone and a matching VR headset thru its handy First Person View (FPV) feature. Experience zero interference while playing with this drone—it’s built with 2.4GHz technology to reduce chances of interference which can influence signals. Easier landing and takeoff is also achieved thru its Auto Orientation Mode.
Syma X5SW Explorers 2 RC Headless Quadcopter
- Features 0.3MP camera
- Includes 6-axis gyro
- Has 360-degree eversion feature
- Has throwing flight functions
The Syma X5SW Explorers 2 RC Headless Quadcopter is an improved version of the X5C and it contains circuit and features that have been given upgrades. Excellent FPV camera with decent resolution and its stability can be counted on. This is also a nice choice for beginners who are after stability and adequate camera feature qualities. Another highlight of this option is that it does not need FAA registration since it weighs less than 4 oz.
DBPOWER U818A Discovery FPV Drone
- Has 720P HD Wi-Fi camera
- Includes Headless Mode and Altitude Hold
- Comes with 2 speed modes
- Up to 9 minutes flight time on full charge
The DBPOWER U818A Discovery FPV Drone is a bit bigger compared to the bunch of affordable starter drones out there. It’s all due to the built-in blade guards present on the drone. The availability of those guards though mean extra safety for users specifically those who have never handled a drone before. It also comes with user-friendly features like two speed modes, Altitude Hold and Headless Mode. It takes decent images and videos too care of its 720P HD Wi-Fi camera.
Holy Stone HS160 RC Drone
- Comes with 720P HD FPV camera
- Can be operated thru phone app
- Has foldable design
- Comes with Headless Mode and Altitude Hold
The Holy Stone HS160 RC Drone is another choice affordable drone with a neat set of features for its price. It becomes a portable unit thanks to its foldable design and flexible propellers. This is not a fast drone (thus making it an easy drone for beginners to control) but its slower speed makes for better video quality. A slower speed also means you can pretty much prevent it from crashing or colliding into other objects or structures. It has a flight time of 6 minutes max at full charge but it does include 2 batteries.
Are you a beginner in the drone arena? A smart thing to do is to start practice with basic, affordable drones first—you can save up for the more expensive ones as soon as you have mastered piloting the unit.