If you’re looking forward to buying a drone under $200, you’ve come to the right place for recommendations!
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to own an expensive Mavic or Phantom to have fun. And if you’re someone who’s just getting into this hobby, I’d say it’s a better choice to go for something cheap.
As an enthusiast, I’ve flown drones that range from very cheap to expensive and can say with 100% confidence that you can indeed get a great drone without shelling out a fortune. These models might not offer the bells and whistles of the premium DJI models, but they’re enough to let you enjoy the thrill of soaring above the clouds.
Hey guys, it’s me, Dhia, your friendly neighborhood drone reviewer. And today, I’m going to give you a rundown on some of the best drones under $200.
TL;DR: If you don’t want to read the entire guide, allow me to give you a brief rundown of what to buy. The Holy Stone HS120D is currently the costliest in this list, followed by Potensic T25, and SNAPTAIN SP510. All these models come with good enough smart flight features and decent battery life.
The Holy Stone 100 is one step below the HS120D and can be a great choice as well if you’re on a tight budget. Check it out here. The Altair 818 Hornet is a toy drone and is the cheapest among them all, making it a great present.
Before jumping into the real deal, I wanna let you guys know something important. In the sub-$200 category, you can’t really expect all the frills-and-thrills that come with a premium drone like the DJI Mavic Pro.
Nevertheless, in order to get the most bang for your buck, you need to keep the following factors in mind while choosing the drone you wanna buy.
1. Remember The Purpose
The foremost thing that you need to pay attention to is why you’re buying the drone. Is it just for the fun of flying, or are you going in for some aerial photography? Based on your requirements, your choices will vary.
A drone in the sub-$200 range will have to compromise on certain features in order to incorporate others. So make sure you settle on one that has the feature-set needed for your purpose.
2. Research The App
Most drones nowadays come with a dedicated mobile app. However, before going in for the buy, you need to understand whether the app is compatible with your phone or not. ‘Cause there’s nothing more frustrating than buying a drone, only to find you can’t access all its features.
3. Take Care Of Safety
Even for a drone below $200, you are investing your hard-earned money. So make sure that the drone has the required safety features that enable it to return to you. Any drone you buy should have at least a reliable and robust GPS tracking system.
Along with that, the drone should also include safe take-off and landing options. This’ll allow you to handle flying operations without worrying about crashes.
Top Drones Under $200
1. Holy Stone HS120D
You’ve heard of Holy Stone, right? If not, let me tell you that this brand is quickly catching up with DJI in terms of innovation. However, the best part is that unlike DJI, Holy Stone releases drones that are much cheaper. The HS120D is an example of such innovation and is one of my most favorite drones under $200.
The time I’ve spent flying this beauty around the local parks made me understand one thing clearly- you cannot judge a drone without flying it. Given the price of the HS120D, I didn’t have high expectations, but this model surprised me in many ways. For starters, I liked how portable it is with a weight of 221g. This also makes the drone legal to fly without registration in the US and Canada.
If you’re a beginner, I’m sure you’d appreciate not having to go through the hassle of registering. As far as ease of flying and controlling go, the One Key Take Off/Landing, Speed Adjustments, and Altitude Hold works wonders! I handed over the remote to my five-year-old niece, and she was able to fly it within a short-range with minimal instructions.
What happens if you fly far and somehow lose signal? Well, first of all, I suggest you don’t fly that far, and if for some reason you experience a signal loss, the drone will return to base automatically. Add to that features such as Follow Me, Custom Path, and Object Trace, you’ll have a stellar device to experiment and have fun with. This drone practically flies itself!
With a 1080p HD 120° FOV camera, you can take pictures and videos, which get saved directly to the SD card or your smartphone. Even though the images are good, I wouldn’t call the camera this model’s selling point.
What could’ve been better?
This isn’t a deal-breaker (considering the price), but I would have liked if this drone flew a little longer. The company claims that you can get up to 36 minutes of flying time with 2 batteries, but the actual time is less. On a lucky, non-windy day, I was able to get 16 minutes with one battery. However, don’t let it dissuade you from trying it out; keep a few spares handy.
- Super portable, and weighs only 221g
- Plenty of auto-flying features
- One Key Take Off/Landing is a neat feature
- Doesn’t need registration with the FAA
- Flight time could’ve been better
2. Potensic T25
Potensic is yet another brand that is showing a lot of ‘potential’ in the drone industry, and the T25 is an example of that. For those looking for a starter drone, this can be a solid choice due to its ease of use and carrying convenience. And if I were to compare it to the Holy Stone HS120D, I’d say this model has its share of advantages and drawbacks.
Well, to tell you the truth, I was a bit taken aback when I first saw the aluminum carrying case. That is NOT what I was expecting to receive at all. But the entire packaging left me impressed, and I quickly got the drone settings done to take this baby out to fly. How was the first flight experience? Wow! It was amazing and totally not what I was expecting.
This drone is super easy to connect with the smartphone and lets you fly almost instantly, without worrying too much about fine-tuning settings. You can start slow and then increase speed as you feel more comfortable. This has been made possible by the 3 different speed settings. And speaking of stability, the dual GPS +9-axis gyro space makes it hover still even in the wind.
Like the previous Holy Stone model, this one also comes with a few smart flying options. The Follow Me mode is exceptionally better compared to the HS120D. Also, there’s an option to chart out flight paths in advance if you feel like. Features such as One Key Take Off/Landing are present here as well, just in case you were wondering.
The Potensic T25 offers up to 300M control range, but if you ever lose signal, the drone will come back on its own. The camera quality is decent, and you’ll be able to record 1080p videos with the 120° FOV and 75° adjustable wide-angle lens.
To read our complete review, click on this link!
What could’ve been better?
Well, the battery life is quite short (only 8 minutes), but it is advertised, and there’s no exaggeration involved here. This drone is a good option if you want to learn flying; not so much for capturing vivid imagery as the camera quality leaves much to be desired.
- Easy to set up, easier to fly
- Comes with smart flight controls
- Returns home in case of signal loss
- Camera is not as good
3. SNAPTAIN SP510 Foldable FPV Drone
Honest confession- I didn’t buy this drone to test, a friend lent me his for a couple of days to get my opinion. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the brand before. So when I finally took it out for a spin, I didn’t expect to be surprised as much as I was. Should you buy this drone as a beginner? Definitely! Read to know the reasons why.
Like the two beginner-friendly drones I reviewed above, this one also comes with a range of features that makes flying easy. The first and most notable feature is undoubtedly Return Home, which gives users assurance that it won’t fly away or crash when the battery gets low. As a GPS drone, this is one remarkable feature to have, which makes the price worth it.
On my first flight, I connected quickly to the App and got to testing the Follow Me and One Key Take Off/Landing modes. And as expected, they worked flawlessly. This drone also has better stabilization than the prior two models as the day happened to be particularly windy. I flew this drone with my niece too, and she had a wonderful time circling around the park and taking pictures.
Oh, speaking of pictures, you’d be happy to know that the 2.7K FPV camera is better than the cameras of the other two products. And they’re motorized, meaning you can tilt the angle up or down to take cool shots or videos. The photos and videos get saved to both the SD card (up to 128GB) and your phone, but the quality on the SD card is much better.
One great advantage the SNAPTAIN SP510 has over other models is the total flight time, which goes up to 15-17 minutes! That is quite a significant upgrade for a drone that is under $200. I still suggest you pick up one extra battery to really get in on the fun.
What could’ve been better?
There isn’t any particular flaw in this drone that needs to be talked about, but on a couple of occasions, I found the controls to be unresponsive. My friend reported the same thing. Few other users have complained that the GPS doesn’t function as well as it should, which has led to the unit crashing or colliding against objects. I hope you won’t be so unlucky.
- Excellent camera
- Comes with many user-friendly features
- Can fly as long as 15-17 minutes
- Value for money
- Controller anomalies
4. Holy Stone HS100
On the fourth position of my list, I’ve got another model by Holy Stone, the HS100. This one is slightly cheaper than the HS120D (which I reviewed above), has slightly fewer features, but is still an excellent choice under $200. I got this unit again from a friend, who was going on a vacation with his M2P but wanted me to test this while he was gone. The result? Let’s find out.
This model brings all the good bits from the HS120D and makes flying as easy as possible for beginners. Right out of the box, you’ll be able to pair it with your smartphone and let it fly. I found the stability to be quite impressive even at an altitude of 150m, and the videos I made, zooming around the trees in the park, came out quite impressive.
Like other drones, this model also has the RTH (Return To Home) feature that gives me a lot of peace of mind. Even though I am extra careful not to let the battery run out or the drone go out of range, this model did come back the one time I depleted the battery willingly for testing. Oh, there’s One Key Take Off/Landing here as well for added convenience.
The Follow Me option is a nice touch too, as usual, and for the most parts, I found it to be accurate. But since this drone doesn’t have protection sensors, I suggest you go easy on the auto/smart flying modes since there’s always a chance of crashing. Always test the different smart flying options in an open space, devoid of obstacles.
As far as the image and video quality are concerned, I’d say it’s decent. I wasn’t expecting much from a drone in this price range anyway. However, the 90-degree angle adjustment is a good add-on and will let you film from multiple angles. I just wish there was a way to stop the transmission from beeping continuously while recording.
Get the complete review of the HS100!
What could’ve been better?
Cheap drones such as this one don’t come without flaws, and there are a couple of minor ones present here. First, the pairing and calibrating process should’ve been more natural. During the time of testing, it took me a while to figure out the order of switching on the parts- controller, drone, app, etc. Secondly, the battery life could’ve been better as it clocked at 15 minutes during testing.
- Loaded with easy, smart-flight features
- Excellent value for money
- Portable enough to be carried anywhere
- Camera tilt is a great addition
- Connecting with app and calibration takes time
- Battery life
5. Altair 818 Hornet
The lesser-known yet still impressive brand, Altair, brings you this drone as a solid choice for beginners. The Altair 818 quadcopter is the cheapest model in our list, and it offers decent enough features to get anyone flying. It looks like a toy drone (which it is) and claims to be great for kids as well. Is it true? Read about my experience to find out.
This is an official ‘Made in USA’ product by a company originating from Lincoln, Nebraska. So for those who prefer American made drones, this is a point to consider. As far as its flying capabilities go, it is very beginner-friendly, to say the least. There’s easy Takeoff/landing as well as altitude hold for people to get familiar with flying.
The model is easy to pair with a smartphone, and you’ll be able to get it up in the air in no time. The camera isn’t anything special, but then again, at this price range, it wouldn’t be fair to expect more. The 2MP camera takes videos and photos, and you can store them in the SD card (max up to 32GB supported). I used this drone to take photos both indoors and outdoors.
If this is your first experience with drones, then I’m sure the 3 Skill Settings will help get a grip on speed and maneuverability. And the battery claims to last up to 15 minutes per battery, which is more than great! Many people online are also praising Altair’s customer service, which has been quick and efficient in answering peoples’ queries.
Read more about this product by clicking on this link!
What could’ve been better?
Since this is a rather cheap drone, anomalies are bound to slip in here and there. Some people have complained that they had a tough time pairing it to their controller, while others have said calibration is next to impossible. While I didn’t face any of these issues, there’s no way we can brush them off as irrelevant. Do your due diligence before and after buying.
- Great for a beginner
- Can be flown indoors
- Battery can last up to 15 minutes
- Possible manufacturing defects
It’s true that you have to spend big bucks to get a professional drone that will last you a couple of years. But since not all of us have thousands of dollars to spend on a hobby, cheaper models such as those reviewed in this guide are great choices too. They’ll let you get a taste for flying and not have to worry about losing your investment either if things go awry.
All the drones under $200 mentioned here are great in their own way, and I honestly believe you can’t go wrong with any of them. These models will make for great gifts, too, in case you’re looking to buy for someone else. So, go ahead and get one now!
This is Dhia, signing out!