The advanced feature set of pricier drones has had a dramatic effect on the drone market. As a result, and in an incredibly short space of time, the best cheap drones have become more advanced and ultimately more fun for beginners to fly.
You can now buy outstanding cheap drones with features that mirror their larger siblings, and all for a fraction of the price. Onboard cameras with resolutions greater than VGA, stabilisation, and intelligent flight control are common features now.
So the affordable end of the market, aimed mostly at beginners, is no longer about matchbox sized aircraft that shoot across a room, then explode against a wall.
All of the models featured in our best cheap drones buyer's guide are a great way to learn essential flight skills before progressing on to a larger, more pro drone. So whether you're just starting out or looking to improve your skills before upgrading to a better model, there's an affordable quadcopter for you.
Stay safe when flying your beginner's drone:
Although all of the models featured in our best cheap drones guide are small, you still need to adhere to the drone code when flying them. You can read more details on your region's aviation authority site (UK, CAA, dronesafe.uk), but here's a quick overview to get you started:
- Never fly your drone above 400ft. For some of the drones in our selection this shouldn't be an issue, but don't be fooled by the size and price, as these drones are still very advanced!
- Don't fly your drone over properties or people. You need to keep a distance of at least 150m.
- One of the most important rules is that the drone must always be in sight. This is especially important with small drones as they can easily be lost.
- To avoid a shutdown of your local airport, don't fly the drone anywhere near it! You need to be at least 1km away from the outer boundary, and use common sense when it comes to flight paths.
Choosing the best cheap drone for you
Now, let's talk about budget and what you can expect. Up to £50, you'll find limited features, a basic build and basic flight control. This translates into a somewhat tricky flight where your small drone generally won't be stabilised.
Move into the £50-£100 price arena and features take a decent leap in quality. Ok so they may lack a controller, instead favouring the use of a mobile app, and the camera may be limited, but flight features should be spot on.
Hit the £100-200 mark and you'll get access to higher resolution cameras and dedicated controllers. The motors may also have a little more grunt and be better tuned for outdoor flight.
Ready to find the best cheap drone for your skill level and budget? These are our current top picks to get you started...
The best cheap drones to buy right now
1. Ryze Tello
The best cheap drone overall, thanks to flight tech designed by DJI
Reasons to buy
There are no drones in this price bracket that come anywhere near the specifications and flexibility of the Tello. Designed by Ryze and featuring flight technology from DJI, the comparisons with the larger craft are instantly apparent.
If you own a DJI Mavic or Phantom and are looking for a training drone, then look no further. The Tello is also fully programmable, so you can code in Scratch and then upload your own modes and flight characteristics, making it an ideal educational tool.
The level of coding is aimed at teaching kids, but there's plenty here for everyone, whatever the age, flight skill or coding ability.
2. Yuneec Breeze
A compact beginner's drone for capturing life on the go
Reasons to buy
The Breeze has been around for a while and although ageing still offers exceptional value for money. It packs in-flight features that will be familiar to all drone pilots with advanced options such as Selfie mode, Orbit and follow me.
You can even program the Breeze through the app to follow a set route guide by its integrated GPS system. The Breeze is ideal for use almost anywhere, it's great fun to use to shoot selfies with friends and the orbit and follow modes are fun additions.
If you want a good fun quality drone, at this price you can't go wrong with the Yuneec Breeze.
3. Hubsan H502S X4
The best cheap drone for GPS and stable flight
Reasons to buy
The original Husban X4 changed the microdrone market, and now several generations on the compact X4 H502S is still a formidable craft. It features full GPS which enables steady flight more akin to larger drones than one of this size.
The GPS makes the X4 H502S incredibly easy to control outside. GPS also enables advanced features such as follow me where you can get the drone to track you autonomously.
What makes this drone stand out for beginners is that it has an auto return to home feature, so if things do go astray or you lose control or sight of the craft then a quick push of the home button and the H502S will come back to its take-off spot.
4. Holy Stone HS110D
The perfect choice for getting started with aerial photography
Reasons to buy
The HS110D is a mid-sized drone with a feature set that has been designed to have wide appeal. For those looking for a slightly larger drone to fly the HS110D features full real-time FPV transmission so you can get a drone eye view of the world.
It also features a wide 120º field-of-view lens to capture stills and video at 720p. This camera can be linked to FPV video streaming devices, when used in conjunction with VR glasses creates a fully immersive flying experience.
The HS100D utilises advanced flight sensors that enable altitude hold to assist with the ease of flight. To extend flight times, the batteries are a quick swap modular design which take seconds to remove and replace – no faffing with wires, connectors and straps.
5. Syma X5C
A reliable and fun drone for your first forays into quadcopter piloting
Reasons to buy
The Syma will appeal to RC enthusiasts who want a cheap drone purely for fun. The design is simple and features a relatively decent HD camera for capturing stills and video.
What stands out about the Syma X5C is the 6-axis stabilisation, which enables smooth, stable flight and through the use of the RC handset you have access to features such as 3D lock, scheduled flight and plenty more.
One feature uncommon for drones of this size is the 360º rolling feature, enabling you to pitch and roll the drone in the sky. As with more advanced drones, the X5C features coloured lights on the base that help pilots establish its orientation in the sky.
This is an affordable quadcopter and the perfect partner for any RC hobbyist looking to try their hand at flying a drone.
6. Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Pro
Take pole position with this beginner’s racing drone
Reasons to buy
If you have your eyes set on a future career as a high-flying racing drone pilot, the Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Pro is a great place to start.
Designed in collaboration with the Drone Racing League, the Nikko Air is made to fly at high speeds - up to 25mph - and can be piloted using a controller with integrated colour LCD screen, or via the included FPV goggles to give you a truly immersive drone racing experience.
Three flight modes limit the speed to help pilots master the controls gradually and propeller guards are supplied for complete newbies, while 16 pre-programmed stunts can be performed at the touch of a button.
Up front is a 130 degree adjustable wide angle camera lens which gives you a wider field of view when racing or maneuvering around tricky obstacles.
7. Parrot Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone
Pull off barrel rolls and vertical loops with this dinky stunt drone
Reasons to buy
Though it’s no longer officially sold by Parrot, the Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone proves eternally popular with beginners and younger drone pilots. It also means you can often find it on sale for a criminally low price.
One of the coolest picks in our best cheap drones for beginner’s round-up, the Parrot Swing looks a little like something out of the Star Wars franchise, and is just as thrilling in the air. This dinky drone is made for performing aerial stunts, and loves nothing more than pulling off vertical loops, half loops and barrel rolls. It’s also capable of vertical take-off and landing.
Controlling this beginner’s drone is made easier thanks to the inclusion of a Parrot Flypad, which also extends the drone’s flight range up to 196ft. However, remember that you must keep the drone in sight at all times to fly in accordance with UK regulations.
As for the top speed, the Parrot Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone can reach up to 18.6mph in good weather. Basically, if you want a fun cheap drone for blasting around open fields and pulling off crazy aerial stunts, this little Parrot is a no-brainer.