If you’re looking for a high-quality drone but you’re not ready just yet to spend a little fortune on a whim, you’ve landed in the right place, because today’s article is about the best drone under $200. The thing about dirt-cheap drones is that most of them have issues with in-flight stability, and the images (provided you’re lucky enough to get a camera) appear like they were taken with a Nokia 3310.
However, even if $200 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, there are quite a few drones in this price range that will produce impressive results both in terms of flight capabilities and on-board camera quality.
If this is your first drone, or you’re not a drone enthusiast, spending your entire paycheck on an expensive gadget doesn’t make sense; this type of extravagance can come later, so here’s the deal: a wallet-friendly drone, worth couple hundred dollars or less, has a lot of benefits compared to crazy-expensive models.
First, you won’t be terrified when you crash it, and yes, you will crash it, multiple times, especially if this is your first drone. Also, affordable drones are designed to be as simple to use as possible, and they’ll make for a great introduction to the drone-world, i.e. you’ll be able to determine if this “sport” is for you.
How to choose the best drone under $200
Since drone technology advances incredibly quick, even a relatively cheap drone will deliver amazing images and impressive flight characteristics, provided you make the right choice. But after all, that’s why we are here. So, here’s what to look for (essential considerations):
First, take into consideration the FAA extravaganza, i.e. if your drone can be flown right “out of the box”, or you’ll have to register it with big brother.
Then, the “features” thing comes into play. For two hundred bucks you should get image stabilization for the on-board camera, a feature that helps a lot with aerial imaging, first-person view or FPV mode (you’ll use the smartphone as a virtual cockpit), follow-me mode (excellent for recording your activities via drone), one key take-off/landing, and return to home or RTH.
These are must-have features especially for beginners, and what comes extra is like a gift from the Gods.
Don’t forget to check out battery life, which translates into average flight time, an important metric in our view. A mid-range $200 drone should have at least 9-10 minutes of autonomy on average, while mini drones do a little bit better in that regard.
The range also comes into play (the maximum distance between the controller and the drone) and budget drones usually offer 400–1,500 feet, as well as higher-end features such as GPS/RTH on low battery power/loss of signal, the quality of the on-board camera (resolution, video frame rate, field of view or FOV), or how well designed and easy to use the controller is.
The bottom line, just read the Pros/Cons section on our top-picks carefully, and you’ll end up just fine.
Best Drones Under $200
The Best Drone under $200 for Photographers
The Snaptain SP510 is one of the best drones under $200 out there, and there are few reasons for that. First, the Snaptain SP510 is the king of hands-free control, but we’ll get back to that in a second. Then, this relatively affordable pocket drone is very sturdy and boasts impressive specs for the price.
We’ll begin our homage to Snaptain SP510 with its impressive autonomy: 16 minutes on a single charge, which is not bad at all, due to its state of the art modular battery. The controller range is 500 meters, and if you’re not familiar with the metric system, think 550 yards or so. For its price, this metric (pun intended) is pretty good also.
Moving along on cool features, the Snaptain SP510 has a GPS module, which means it’s a great drone for beginners and advanced users alike. If you’re a total noob, you’ll love the return home feature, which is GPS assisted obviously, and kicks in automatically when the drone has a depleted battery or flies out of range.
Speaking of hands-free operation, the drone comes with the one-key takeoff/landing function, as well as Follow Me mode, Point of Interest, Waypoints, and Intelligent Geofence; all these fancy extra features are great in terms of boosting the overall user experience and enhancing safety. The camera is excellent, featuring a 2.7K high-res sensor and a 110-degree FoV; on top of that, you’ll get 5G-compatible Wi-Fi and a 6 axis gyroscope stabilizer that annihilates shaky distorted recordings, and keeps the image steady even in windy conditions.
What’s really remarkable about the Snaptain SP510 is that it’s one of the few under $200 drones to offer a UHD camera, so if you’re into aerial photography, this is a match made in heaven for you.
- Stunning images and videos due to the 2.7K camera sensor, 2976*1680@25fps videos, 3840*2160 MP stills
- Tons of features, including GPS assisted waypoints and objects track and auto return
- Foldable design, compact, 16 minutes flight time, easy to learn, easy to maneuver, very stable in mid-air
- 1000ft FPV range, 3-speed settings, headless function, auto-hover for stability, 5G compatible
- Streams live-footage on 720p, very good controller
- Requires FAA registration (weighs 272 grams)
- Android app needs improvement
The Best Drone under $200 for Adults
Our second pick is the Potensic D58 FPV, a drone specifically built for adults; that means this is no “kiddie drone”, being the real deal and all that. To be more precise, the revamped and upgraded D58 is designed to deliver amazing flying experiences as well as smart camera functions for demanding customers, such as professional/commercial users or photographers.
To begin with, the Potensic D58 has a very professional design, featuring a jet black coating, doubled by excellent craftsmanship, and a body that’s both good looking and durable, not to mention highly functional at all levels, whether you’re a beginner, professional drone-fighter pilot, or commercial user.
Seriously speaking, this drone means business, and that’s obvious the first time you take a closer look at it. The flight time is a respectable 18 minutes, and the drone features a full HD 1080p camera onboard plus 5G WiFi compatibility, which dramatically increases its control range.
The full HD camera has 120 degrees FoV and a wide-angle lens, being excellent for high-quality real-time transmissions and aerial imaging. There’s even a special button to control the camera up and down, while the D58’s GPS assisted flight is perfect for recording properties for sale, beautiful landscapes, or whatever.
Basically, the Potensic D58 offers solid technology and features for an under $200 drone, including fancy stuff such as Follow Me, automatic takeoff and landing, an adjustable 3-speed mode, smart lightening features, Orbit Mode, and Waypoint mode, to name just a few.
- Lightweight design and solid build quality, punches above its class in terms of flying time and overall flight performance
- Smart full HD camera mounted on a 1-axis gimbal for amazing stability and zero shakiness
- The excellent budget choice for professional photographers and commercial users
- 2 storage grids for 7.4 V high capacity batteries, multiple flight modes, 2 antennas for reduced interference
- 500 meters control range, can perform complex flight maneuvers
- Not suited for racing/speed
Holy Stone HS165
The Best FPV Drone under $200
The Holy Stone HS165 is a small and posh-looking foldable drone, but looks aside, this cool gadget (looks like a bat when folded) checks all the boxes in the “best drone under $200” list.
First, it comes with all the necessary features and technological bells and whistles you could wish for: full HD 1080p camera on-board, auto-return home, circle fly, follow me, tap fly, and more, plus you’ll get a carrying case and 2 batteries in the retail box.
Moreover, the drone is light at 6oz which means you won’t have to register it with the FAA; despite its “smallness”, the Holy Stone HS165 has a 400 meters/1300 feet control range and can climb up to 120 meters. Flight time is decent at 15 minutes on a single charge, and the HD 1080 camera boasts a FOV 90° lens.
Since we’re talking about video capabilities, the drone can transmit live video at 250 meters max (800 feet) and can save full HD video on 32 GB TF cards. under each rotor arm, you’ll observe a status LED, while the camera is located on the front of the drone, in a fixed position. You can fly the drone by using the handheld remote control or via your smartphone using the Holystone app, but for best results, stick with the controller.
In the performance department, despite its compact size, the Holy Stone HS165 performs rather well, being easy to fly and controllable, i.e. you’ll benefit from great video footage and aerial images, so if you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll definitely love the FPV feature in full HD.
- Well designed, light and compact foldable-design, no FAA registration required
- 15 minutes of flight time, 6 axis gyroscope for improved in-flight stability, intelligent flight modes
- Good hovering capabilities, GPS, looks and feels solid, comes with 2 modular batteries included
- User-friendly, quick and clear FPV, VR mode available, 5G compatible
- Features altitude hold, one-key takeoff/landing, 2-speed modes, full-stop button, headless mode, GPS navigation features
- Camera is non-adjustable
- No propeller guards
The Best Racing Drone under $200
Next in line, we have the Potensic D80, a beginner-friendly high-quality drone that offers great features at an affordable price tag. To give you just a taste, the Potensic D80 comes equipped with a GPS sensor (Dual GPS and GLONASS positioning), and based on that, it can return home automatically when the signal is lost or the battery runs out, i.e. you will never lose it, at least in theory.
The one-key takeoff and landing feature is also here, and the smartphone app gives you a lot of shooting options for professional-looking footage. While we’re at it, we must mention the 120° Angle 2K HD FPV camera, that’s capable of tilting 90 degrees, a great feature for aerial-footage aficionados.
Moreover, the live-feed (FPV) is lag-free and smooth, as it connects via the 5G module. The 2K live-feed is available over a range of 300 yards (obstacle-free). If you want more range, the data will be stored on a memory card, so don’t worry about it. Another cool thing about the Potensic D80 is its speed, as the drone is capable of hitting 25 miles per hour (40 km/h for Euros).
Even at that speed, the drone will provide you with smooth and stable footage; when using the controller, the drone’s range gets upped to 800 yards, provided there’s no interference. On top of that, battery life is equally impressive as the drone’s speed and stability, due to the 1800 mAh battery that provides enough juice to keep your drone up in the air for up to 20 minutes, which is respectable, to say the least.
After everything’s said and done, the Potensic D80 is the definition of “best bang for the buck”, as it provides tons of fun and sensible features for less than $200, which is our sweet spot. Or, to put it succinctly, you’ll get a professional quadcopter for entry-level money.
- Amazing value for money,2K camera, built-in GPS, precise flight controls
- Easy to use even for beginners, amazing battery life, 5G compatible, great for racing
- Smooth video-streaming even at top speed, stable hovering, and accurate GPS
- Smart features like Waypoint/Follow Me modes, Return Home and more
- Spare parts included in the retail box
- The battery takes 5 hours to recharge
Holy Stone HS120D
The Best Camera Drone under $200 with GPS
Here comes another Holy Stone drone, but this time a 2K-capable one, which is actually the main difference between the Holy Stone HS120D and the previously reviewed HS165. Okay, the latter is also foldable and very lightweight, but if camera resolution is more important than versatility in your book, there’s actually no competition between the two.
The HS120D looks to be designed for adventure lovers, or people who enjoy filming their outdoor activities, and we’re saying that because the drone comes with a specially designed backpack, which is very convenient for outdoor and travels.
The main selling point of the HS120D is arguably its 2K UHD 120° FOV Adjustable FPV camera; the high-def footage can be saved automatically on your smartphone and shared on social media or with your friends. In this regard, this drone is an Instagram aficionado’s best friend.
Smart features like Headless Mode, Altitude Mode, One Key to Take-off / Landing, Follow Me, Object Trace, Custom Path, Gesture Control, Return Home and GPS assisted flight are also available, and the good news is that you’ll benefit from an amazingly long FPV experience due to the fact that the drone comes with 2 batteries in the retail box, which provide you with almost 40 minutes of massive fun.
Yes, you got that right, we really enjoyed the Holy Stone HS120D, and there are many reasons for that: the rich retail package, excellent build quality, above-average camera, solid flight performance, and a very reasonable price tag. The bottom line, if you want more drone for less money, you will love the Holy Stone HS120D.
- Tons of features, excellent flight capabilities, solidly built, well designed
- Comes with a backpack and 2 batteries included in the retail package
- A small drone with big features and amazing camera
- Easy to fly, impressive autonomy (20 minutes on each battery), charges both batteries at once (!)
- Memory card included, 2K camera, compact controller, photo/video feedback sounds
- None really at this price
Altair Aerial AA818 Plus Hornet
The Best Drone under $200 for Beginners
Finally, we have the Altair Aerial AA818 Plus Hornet, dubbed the ultimate beginner drone by some, and actually one of the best drones under $200. The thing about the AA818 Plus Hornet is that it looks very interesting, has above average build quality, and comes with a pretty good camera, plus an extra battery in the retail box.
But let’s start from the beginning: one of the coolest perks of this drone is that the box is basically a carry case, and that comes handy considering the dimensions of the AA818 Plus Hornet: 14.4 x 14.2 x 5 inches. So, yeah, this is not a toy drone, as it’s big and robust and comes with built-in propeller guards.
The camera is a 720p resolution variety, and yes, it’s nothing to write home about in 2020, having 120-degree FOV lens with a wide-angle view. Despite its low res, the camera does a great job with videos and aerial photos in birds’ eye view. The full flight range is 150 meters, while the FPV range is 60 meters.
Add to that the 30 minutes of flight time offered by the dual-battery combo and you end up with a very interesting drone for the price asked. The upgraded version of the Hornet comes with various stability features, including a headless mode, altitude hold and one-touch takeoff/landing, and 3 different skill levels, making for a great entry-level drone due to its impressive stability and durability.
- Big, bold and beautiful, built like a tank
- Comes with propeller guards and 2 batteries for extended fun
- Excellent customer support, easy to use, emergency stop feature via dedicated button
- 720p camera does a great job with aerial photography
- Relatively short range compared to others