There are A LOT of drones in the $20 to $150 price range, and if you’re trying to decide between them, it can be information overload!
The drone companies don’t make the process any easier, since many of them give their drones terrible names that are just a combination of letters and numbers jammed together, and changing a couple letters or numbers can mean a huge difference in features and price!
And they’re not even the worst.
And THEY’RE not even the worst!
To help you figure out what starter drones are worth getting, and what starter drones are worth ignoring, I put together this list of the best drones under $150.
Keep in mind, I’m not going to talk about every drone in this price range, because there are WAY too many.
What I am going to do instead is highlight just the drones that I think are worth considering, and what you can expect from each.
When you’re shopping for a starter drone, you want to find one that has adjustable control sensitivity (gyro settings, flight modes, or variable-rate controls), a reasonably-sized twin-stick controller, and reasonable availability of spare parts, since you’re probably going to crash it. A lot.
The criteria for this list are as follows:
- Hobby Grade: Parts can be replaced or upgraded as needed.
- Ready-to-Fly (RTF): Everything needed to fly is in the box, including controller, batteries, and even spare parts. No assembly required.
- Quality Company: No clones, knock-offs, or other ‘questionable’ drones from companies with no return address.
NOTE: If you’re shopping for drones above this price range, make sure to check out my complete Drone Buyers Guide.
So without further ado, here are my recommendations for the best drones under $150:
Best “Mini” Drone:
There are a lot of ‘Mini’ drones on the market, but most are just re-brands of the same drone from the same factory. Because of this, you don’t really get more if you pay more.
With that in mind, the Cheerson CX-10 is my recommendation for the best mini drone, because it’s the cheapest.
For less than $20, you can have a lot of fun learning how to fly (and crash) with the CX-10.
It has a 6-axis gyro, three speeds, and a flip function. Don’t kid yourself though, this drone isn’t going to be the easiest thing to control. But that doesn’t stop it from being a lot of fun!
You can buy extra propellers by the dozen, so when you crash it, you just swap in a new set of props and you’ll be flying again in no time.
My recommendation for any CX-10 buyer would be to add a blade guard and a few extra sets of propellers to your order, since you can include them for about $2.
If you fall in love with mini drones, and want to keep using them when you upgrade to something nicer, you can even get a carrying case that holds two drones and two controllers, and organizes your charging cables, spare propellers, prop guards, and other bits and pieces.
Plenty of advanced pilots use mini drones to play around with when they’re not flying their larger drone, so it’s nice to know that you can keep things organized if you like it.
The one downside of the CX-10 is the controller. It’s TINY. Adult hands will have a tough time keeping a grip on the controller, which is partly responsible for the difficult controls.
Best “Mini” Drone (For Larger Hands):
Estes is known for making model rockets and model rocket engines, but they also sell a few different drones.
One is the Estes Proto-N, which they call the world’s smallest drone. (A few other companies also make that claim, because as I said before, they’re all selling the same drone…)
The Proto-N is basically a copy of the Cheerson CX-10, so I’m not going to talk about all the features. They’re the same.
The reason you might consider the Proto-N over the CX-10 though is the controller. The Proto-N comes with a controller that’s big enough for adult hands to hold.
Another nice feature of the larger controller is that the drone actually fits inside the controller for storage, so it’s easy to bring with you and use whenever and wherever you want.
The Proto-N costs about double what the CX-10 costs, so you need to decide if the larger controller is worth it. For people with larger hands though, it just might be.
Best Bare-Bones Drone:
Hubsan makes affordable drones that are still high quality, and has become one of the top companies for beginner pilots.
The Hubsan X4 is one of the most popular beginner drones, and for good reason. It’s less than $50, but comes with a removable battery, great controller, and easily replaceable parts.
The X4 has two modes: Beginner Mode makes the controls less sensitive, while Expert Mode doubles the control sensitivity so you can do back, front, and sideways flips.
The X4 can fly for over 9 minutes per charge, and the batteries recharge in just 30 minutes, giving you plenty of flight time per day.
Best Practice Drone:
Blade Nano QX
Ask many drone pilots what the best starter drone is, and they’ll say the Blade Nano QX.
Blade specializes in smaller drones, but includes more advanced features that set them apart.
The Nano QX has two flight modes: Stability to learn on, where the drone will automatically level and stop itself when you let go of the controls (a HUGE help when you’re learning how to fly) and Agility for when you get more comfortable flying the drone, and want full control so you can do tricks.
Beginner mode uses what Blade calls SAFE technology, which stands for Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope. This combination of multi-axis sensors and software allows the drone to level out when you release the control sticks, which is a huge help for beginner pilots:
The Nano QX is a larger drone, which gives you more stability and control, and allows for outdoor flights in low-wind conditions.
The Nano QX also has built-in prop guards that protect it from running into things, and also protects above the drone to stop it from hitting the ceiling if you’re flying indoors.
Best Performance Drone:
Traxxas LaTrax Alias
Traxxas has been making remote controlled vehicles for more than 30 years, so their entry into the drone market was going to be a good one.
The Traxxas LaTrax Alias was designed for performance and durability, with a molded-composite frame that is lightweight, strong, and almost indestructible.
And when they say almost indestructible, they mean it! Watch them test the Alias by running over it with a bicycle, and then just flying off like nothing happened:
More powerful motors (50% more powerful than standard motors) and a lightweight design make the Alias responsive and acrobatic, and an auto-leveling 6-axis flight system makes it easy to control and stable as well.
The Alias is a larger drone, which gives it more control and maneuverability, and more stability against wind when you’re flying outdoors.
Traxxas is known for making high quality batteries for remote-controlled vehicles, and the lithium battery in the Alias will give you up to 15 minutes of flight time, and quick recharge times of just 30 minutes. It’s also easy to change if you want to get multiple batteries for back-to-back flights.
The nice thing about the Alias is that you can get replacement parts for almost everything on the drone. If you need to, you can replace the motors, gears, batteries, props, and even the frame without having to replace the entire drone.
And if you fall in love with your Alias and want to customize and upgrade it, you can swap out the parts with different colors, and even add a 720p camera, wide-angle lens, or LED light bar to the bottom, which are all managed by the controller.
The Alias is one of the more expensive drones that doesn’t include a camera out of the box, but this isn’t a knock-off drone from some no-name company. It’s a high quality, durable, customizable drone from a leader in remote control vehicles.
Best Intro To FPV Drone:
A step-up from the X4 is the Hubsan H107D, which is one of the most affordable First Person View (FPV) drones available.
I’m amazed by what they are able to include with this drone while keeping the price under $150!
The H107D has a 4.3 inch screen in the controller, so you can see what the drone sees without having to use a smartphone or other device:
The camera is only 480p, so it’s not even HD quality, but with the H107D, it’s more about being able to practice controlling the drone by looking at a FPV screen, vs capturing super-high quality imagery.
The drone itself has the features you’d expect from a quality company, including a 6-axis flight control system, adjustable gyro sensitivity, and a lithium battery with auto cut-off to prevent the motors from burning out if they get stuck on something.
Best Camera Drone:
The Syma X5C is the most popular drone on Amazon, and is the #1 Best Seller in the Hobby RC Quadcopters & Multirotors category.
If you’re looking for a starter drone with a camera, the X5C is a great option. The camera can take 2 megapixel photos and 720p videos, and comes with a 2GB microSD card that can be upgraded for additional storage.
It’s large enough that you can fly it both indoors and outdoors, and the 6-axis gyro helps keep things stable as you fly.
As you get more comfortable flying the drone, you can even perform tricks with the press of a button, like a move they call the 360° Eversion.
The X5C looks like a mini Phantom (it’s about 3/4 the size of the Phantom) and it includes built-in prop guards and LED lights, just like more expensive drones.
The controller is large enough for adult hands, and includes an LCD display for things like battery level and signal strength. The X5C uses the 2.4GHz control frequency for ultra-quick response times, and flight distances up to 100 feet.
Best FPV Camera Drone:
UDI U818A FPV HD+ Discovery WiFi
If you want a drone that can take quality photos and videos, and displays the FPV video on a smartphone like the more expensive drones can do, the UDI U818A FPV HD+ Discovery WiFi (which I’m going to call the U818A FPV to keep things simple) gives you A LOT of bang for your buck.
Like other drones in this price range, the U818A FPV includes all of the more advanced features that you’d expect, like a 6-axis gyro, low voltage alarm to let you know when the batteries are running low, a quality remote with trim adjustment, and dual speed modes.
Unlike drones in this price range, the U818A FPV can stream live video back to the controller, which is a feature usually reserved for more advanced drones.
Using the UDI FPV app, you can control the drone’s camera, and you can even control the drone itself using the app if you decide not to use the controller.
The camera takes 2 megapixel photos and 720p video, and captures footage on a 4GB microSD card so you have plenty of storage.
Other advanced features include Headless Mode, which allows you to control the drone in relation to the controller, not the direction the drone is pointed, and Return Home Function that brings the drone back to you with the push of a button.
Best GoPro Drone:
If you already own a GoPro, and you’re looking for an affordable way to get it in the air, the Syma X8G is the way to go.
The X8G actually includes its own GoPro-style camera, which takes 8 megapixel photos and 1080p videos.
The camera quality isn’t as good as a GoPro though, so if you already have a GoPro, you just take out the included camera, swap in your GoPro (the camera holder is sized to fit a GoPro perfectly) and you’re ready to take aerial photos and videos.
NOTE: If you don’t already have a GoPro, I don’t recommend getting this drone and then buying a GoPro. You’ll actually get much better photos and videos, and a much better drone for about the same price as the X8G and GoPro combined if you get a Phantom 3 Standard.
Like other Syma drones, the X8G includes a 6-axis gyro stabilizer, Headless Mode (they call it Intelligent Orientation Control, or IOC), built-in prop guards, LED lights, and one-button tricks like the 360° Eversion.
Because of the added weight of the camera, the X8G only gets about 7 minutes of flight time per charge, but you can order extra batteries if you want to make back-to-back flights.
The X8G is a larger drone, and it’s about the same size as a DJI Phantom. This larger size gives the X8G more lifting power, and also makes it more stable against wind when flying outdoors.
Whether you’re looking for your first drone, you want to get started with taking drone photos and videos, or you just want a fun drone to play around with, there are a lot of great options for under $150.
The key is to know what you want to do with the drone, and then buy the right drone for that use.
Hopefully this guide helps answer all of your questions, but if you’re still looking for advice, feel free to send me questions via Twitter.
Once you get started with flying drones, it can be an addicting hobby, and you may find yourself shopping around for an upgraded drone with more features. If that’s the case, make sure to check out my Drone Buyers Guide to see recommended drones for all skill levels and uses.
Now get out there and start flying!