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Best Affordable Drones for Beginners (2023)

I had always wanted to fly a drone. It seemed fun, but expensive too. The more I saved, the more I found them out of my league.

So I kept using the simulators until I decided it was time for me to get one. I didn’t have much money, so I searched the internet for an affordable option.

I found the best affordable drones to include the Ryze Tech Tello, RADCLO Mini, and EXO X7 Ranger Plus.

Here I’ve gathered the best six drones from 30 to 350 USD, so you have plenty of alternatives to consider.

But which one should you pick? It all depends on your budget and what you expect from the drone.

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I will cover each of the six drones in detail and explain their use cases, pros, and cons. That way, you can find the one that fits you best.

But first, let’s check the comparison table below of the best affordable drones you can buy in my opinion.

1. Tello

Ryze Tello
$99.00

What you get: RyzeTech Tello powered by DJI, 4x Propellers (Pair), Propeller Guards (Set), Battery, Micro USB Cable, Propeller Removal Tool.

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02/26/2024 06:22 pm GMT

Dimensions: 3.90 x 6.60 x 1.60 in
Weight: 80 g
Max Range: 100 m
Max Altitude: 30 m
Max Speed: 18 mph
Max Flying Time: 13 min
Video Resolution: 720p
GPS: No

✅ PROS

  • It is easy to fly and quick to set up.
  • It comes with a dedicated Tello app that is intuitive to use.
  • It is durable and well-made.
  • It has fun features, such as the 8D flips.

❌ CONS

  • Camera is only 5MP with 720p of video recording.
  • It is pricey, considering it is an old drone.

Light, fast, durable, and easy to maneuver. What else could you ask for in a drone?

The Ryze Tech Tello is all about an easy user experience for beginners. You won’t have any issues setting it up – you only need to install the Tello app on your phone.

By pressing the drone power button, you link it to your mobile device’s Wi-Fi. It’s the same as connecting your mobile device to a coffee shop Wi-Fi network without an annoying password.

With the Tello app, you can quickly take off your drone with one swipe on the mobile screen. And not only that, but you can also flip in eight directions by making gestures on the phone screen too.

And another exciting thing about this drone is the two Intelligent Flight modes. You can use the Up and Away, aka Dronie and Circle Me modes, to make fun videos.

However, the Tello lacks a quality camera. It only records at 720p, so the recordings lack the quality to enjoy the Dronie feature or any filming.

The reason is that DJI hasn’t updated this drone since 2018 but keeps the same price. So I find it overpriced.

Controlling the Tello with the tactile phone display is uncomfortable.

Your fingers will stick to the screen, so we advise you to get some thumb sleeves or the remote controller. However, I consider the remote controller to be expensive for its quality.

That said, it is still a good value for your money regarding quality, ease of setup, and flight.

» MORE: Best Beginner Drones with Follow Me

2. RADCLO Mini – Best gift for beginner adults pilots

RADCLO Mini
$79.98 $54.99

Drone with Camera - 1080P HD FPV Foldable Drone with Carrying Case, 2 Batteries, 90° Adjustable Lens, One Key Take Off/Land, Altitude Hold, 360° Flip, Toys Gifts for Kids and Adults.

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02/25/2024 07:46 pm GMT

Dimensions: 11.70 x 7.80 x 1.80 in
Weight: 94 g
Max Range: 15 m
Max Altitude:  15 m
Max Speed:  18 mph
Max Flying Time: 11 min
Video Resolution: 1080p
GPS: No

✅ PROS

  • It is cheap for a complete package with the drone, control, batteries, and case.
  • It is easy to fly and quick to set up.
  • The camera takes sharp 1080p videos.
  • The remote controller works with two AA batteries.
  • It comes with two batteries for a 22-minute flying time.

❌ CONS

  • Gimbal only tilts manually.
  • Not suitable to fly in windy conditions.

If you want an upgrade in the camera section you had on the Tello at a better price, the RADCLO mini is your best option.

This drone can shoot videos at a max 1080p, perfect for filming family time.

The camera has a gimbal, but you can’t control it with the remote controller. It only tilts up or down when you move it with your fingers. The gimbal stays firmly positioned, so you get somewhat steady recordings. Understand that due to its price, the camera lacks electronic stabilizing functionalities.

A nice gesture from RADCLO is you receive this drone in a sturdy hard case with a complete pack of accessories.  So you can travel with it everywhere safely, and making it amazing to give as a gift.

This drone comes with a remote controller that works without a mobile device.

You just press the power button on your drone and RC, and you are ready to have fun. You can flip it 360 and experiment with three types of speed just by pressing one button. In the end, this drone is about having fun at home.

Keep in mind this drone is very light, so wind affects it quite a lot. It lacks GPS, so it can’t self-position. Avoid using it in windy places, or you will lose it easily.

3. Holyton HS330 – Best gift for beginner kids pilots

Holyton Mini Drone
$39.99

21 Mins Flight Time, Auto Rotation, Auto Hover, Circle Fly, 3D flip, Throw to Go, Nano Indoor Toys for Boys and Girls

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02/25/2024 07:51 pm GMT

Dimensions: 3.23 x 3.54 x 1.06 in
Weight: 33 g
Max Range:  30 m
Max Altitude:  30 m
Max Speed:  8 mph
Max Flying Time: 7 min
Video Resolution: No camera
GPS: No

✅ PROS

  • It is the most affordable drone on the list.
  • It is easy to fly and quick to set up.
  • The control is tiny but well-made and durable.
  • The remote controller works with three AAA batteries.
  • It comes with three batteries for a 21-minute flying time.

❌ CONS

  • This drone lacks a camera.
  • It can be used only as a toy.
  • Not suitable to fly in windy conditions.

If you think the RADCLO is too much of a gift for a kid to damage, then the HS330 RC Mini is a good choice.

The reason is that this drone has safety features even the other drones on this list lack. First, the propeller guards are sturdy enough to withstand a hit to glass, mirrors, and even walls.

But the walls are the least of your concerns, thanks to its collision avoidance system. The HS330 has small sensors on the sides, back, front, and rear to stop your drone when about to hit non-transparent surfaces.

This collision avoidance feature works only in the first and second-speed modes. I advise you to use the third speed mode outside the home, as it will help withstand normal wind conditions. However, avoid using this drone in windy environments.

It comes with a tiny remote controller that feels comfortable in hand. The sticks and buttons feel intuitive to use, making this drone a pleasant flight experience.

The HS330 is the cheapest on the list, so it lacks a camera. But it compensates with its easy maneuverability and tricks you can perform, such as flips and rolls.

4. Potensic ATOM SE GPS (Best affordable drone with a 4K camera)

Potensic ATOM SE GPS
$229.99 $209.99

Drone With 4K EIS Camera, Under 249g, 31 Mins Flight, 4KM FPV Transmission, Max Speed 16m/s, Auto Return, Lightweight and Foldable Drone for Adults.

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02/25/2024 07:56 pm GMT

Dimensions: 11.80 x 9.50 x 2.28 in
Weight: 249 g
Max Range:  4000 m
Max Altitude:  4000 m
Max Speed: 36 mph
Max Flying Time: 31 min
Video Resolution: 4K30FPS
GPS: Yes

✅ PROS

  • It is built to last.
  • Supports up to a U1 256 GB microSD card.
  • Weighs less than 250 g, so you don’t need to register it.
  • The Fly More combo is cheap and comes with two batteries for 62 minutes of flying time.
  • You can take photos in RAW.

❌ CONS

  • Gimbal moves aggressively, making the recorded image look robotic.
  • You can only control exposure, with ISO and shutter speed always automatic.

You may consider the drones above to be more like toys, and they are. That’s why I want to introduce you to more professional drones.

Starting with the ATOM SE GPS – this is the perfect affordable drone for starting content creators. It is a budget option that can take impressive 4K@30 videos with automatic ISO, so the image looks beautiful facing the sun. And you can save your 4K photos in RAW, leaving a lot of room for post-editing.

If you are beginning to film content for your YouTube channel, or other video platforms, this drone is all you need.

However, the camera lacks adjustable ISO, shutter speed, and white balance controls in manual mode. They are always set in automatic, making it possible to shoot in automatic mode only.

One of its impressive features is its flying range. You can fly up to 4 km and still see the image with clarity on your phone screen. This range is thanks to the sturdy remote controller that connects to your mobile device thru lighting, USB-C, or micro-USB cable.

The ATOM SE GPS uses the Potensic Pro app to display the navigation view. On the app view, you can spot the number of satellites it has, which is important to maintain its position. And this drone holds its position just as well as DJI drones do, even in windy conditions.

Its build quality is outstanding for an affordable drone, competing with DJI and EXO drones. So you can expect to have it for a long time without breaking.

You can get this drone with a Fly More combo, which is cheap. You get a quality bag to protect the drone and an additional battery for up to 62 minutes of flying time.

5. EXO X7 Ranger Plus – Best US-made affordable drone

EXO X7 Ranger Plus
$379.00

High-End Camera Drone for Adults. Long Battery & Range, 4K Camera, 3 Axis Gimbal, Obstacle Avoidance, 27MPH Speed. Powerful & Playful Drone with Camera and GPS Return to Home.

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02/25/2024 07:56 pm GMT

Dimensions: 10.00 x 10.00 x 3.00 in
Weight: 623 g
Max Range:  2400 m
Max Altitude:  2400 m
Max Speed: 25 mph
Max Flying Time: 15 min
Video Resolution: 2K30FPS
GPS: Yes

✅ PROS

  • EXO drones are US made.
  • Customer support is easily accessible.
  • EXO gives you a FREE 107 course when you buy the drone.
  • It has a 3-axis gimbal.
  • You can install an obstacle avoidance sensor that spins 360°.

❌ CONS

  • It’s the heaviest drone on the list.
  • It requires FAA registration.

For an increased price, you can get a US-made drone. You can feel the top quality of the EXO X7 Ranger Plus once you open the box. All of it is crafted to perfection and with love, making it a good-looking drone.

It is very similar to the ATOM SE GPS in specs. However, this drone gimbal has a natural movement when filming, so it doesn’t look robotic.

The coolest feature of this drone is the Intelligent Flight Modes. It can set it to orbit and follow you, keeping you the focus of the camera.

And if you want it to follow a particular path, you can do it by setting waypoints.

Another point to mention is the external avoidance module you can install. You’ll have to purchase it separately, but EXO made it especially for this drone.

Once you install it, the sensor recognizes the drone’s direction. If you are flying backward, the sensor spins to protect the rear side of the drone. And it works 360°, so you can focus more on flying than on the obstacles.

Finally, EXO, being a US company, commits to educating pilots. Once you purchase one of its drones, they gift you an FAA Part 107 course to understand drone regulations.

And it has complete guidance on its page with informative videos to help you become a pilot that makes the airspace safe.

6. DJI Mini 2 SE – Best battery life affordable drone

Great Starter Drone
DJI Mini 2 SE
$299.00

Lightweight and Foldable Mini Drone with 2.7K Video, 10km Video Transmission, 31-min Flight Time, Under 249 g, Return to Home, Automatic Pro Shoots, Drone with camera for Beginners.

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02/25/2024 08:01 pm GMT

Dimensions: 7.87 x 6.30 x 2.17 in
Weight: 249 g
Max Range:  10000 m
Max Altitude:  4000 m
Max Speed: 36 mph
Max Flying Time: 31 min
Video Resolution: 2.7K30FPS
GPS: Yes

✅ PROS

  • It doesn’t require FAA registration.
  • It has the best customer support on the list.
  • DJI has the best pilot community overall.
  • The RC-N1 is way more comfortable and allows better range than the DJI Mini SE.
  • You can take 4K panoramas.

❌ CONS

  • It is the priciest on the list.
  • Buying it with the Fly More package makes it a less affordable drone.

The least affordable drone on the list, but it’s a 2023 release.

It is almost the same as its predecessor, the DJI Mini SE, with some improvements.

The first is the unique 10 km distance range this drone can achieve. This range is due to the compatibility with the RC-N1, the standard remote controller from DJI these days.

And if you happen to lose sight of it, you can rest assured its RTH function will automatically return your drone safely.

This drone can hover almost still in windy conditions, provided there is sufficient GPS coverage. That’s why you can take 4K crisp panoramas of your preferred landscapes. You can achieve panoramas and 180° or 360° takes. The Mini 2 SE does all the work – you only need to tap the desired option.

Another strong point of this drone is the Intelligent Flight Modes. It includes all the QuickShots for you to make the best content.

Finally, if you are a newbie content creator, the LightCut app recognizes which photo or video you took and edits it to give you ideas on your desired content outcome.

Can I use an affordable drone for mapping?

The minimum requirement for a drone to map is a 1-inch camera sensor. And this camera sensor is only found in high-end camera drones, which are pricey, like an Autel EVO II Pro or DJI Air 2S.

Can I use an affordable drone for content creation?

You can, but don’t expect the same cinematic quality you watch in movies.

The reason is that these drones lack proper manual modes on their cameras. And they come with camera sensors that only help you achieve content like using a mid-range smartphone.

You don’t need impressive high-fidelity imagery for posting videos on YouTube or social media because these platforms’ highest play quality is generally 1080p.

Is it better to fly an affordable drone before a flagship drone?

We recommend you buy an affordable drone to learn to maneuver a drone, how wind affects it, and the safety precautions you need to consider flying one.

Also, this can help remove the fear of flying, which is one of the common causes for people to crash their drones.