Best Drones for Under $200

Best Drones for Under $200

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If you don’t want to read this entire article and just want to know which is the best drone under 200, then it is the SNAPTAIN SP700. But I highly recommend that you read the full reviews of the best drones for under 200 below.

It can be challenging to find the best drones for under 200 dollars, what with so many new drone models offered by small companies. Many of the more budget drones and quadcopters have poor image quality and are very difficult to fly.

Through extensive research and hands on testing, in this article I will cover full reviews for the best drones under $200, including the best beginner drones under $200, and some recommendations to upgrade to significantly better models, if you have a little more money to spend.

Most of these drones have GPS and all have cameras, although for the more budget models you are limited to recording video and taking pictures in 720p HD, whereas the best drones for under $300 mostly offer 4k video recording.



Best Drone for Under $200

SNAPTAIN SP700 GPS Drone with Brushless Motor

 Best Drone Under 200 Dollars 

  • 2k (2048×1152 pixels) Camera
  • Powerful Brushless Motors
  • Range up to 1680 ft
  • GPS, Auto Hover, and more …
  • Up to 18 mins flight time
  • Best Drone with Camera Under $200
The Snaptain SP700 is the best $200 drone thanks to its wealth of features combined with a fantastic quality 2k camera and high usability. The build quality is high for a drone in this price range, with spare rotors included, and a return to home feature that will auto land the drone for you – perfect for beginners. The camera takes clear, sharp images that would look impressive on social media. Read the full review below.

Best Drone for under $300

If you have a little more money to spend, then it is possible to get a significant upgrade, with the best 300 dollar drone, the Ruko F11 Pro Drone.

Ruko F11 Pro Drone 4K Quadcopter

 Best Drone with Camera under $300 

  • 4k Pictures and 2.9k Videos
  • Adjustable Field of View
  • 3937 ft max control range
  • Foldable and high wind resistance
  • Up to 30 mins flight time
The Ruko F11 Pro is the best drone under $300 with camera, with the ability to take 4k pictures and 2.9k videos, in addition to many of the same features found in more expensive drones. For the small amount of extra money, you get an increased camera quality, which is essential if you are a serious photographer, as well as a dramatically increased range, flight time, wind resistance while hovering, and many other features. This model also comes with an extra battery and carrying case, making this even better value for money.

If you think you are going to become serious about drone photography, then it may be worth upgrading from the start, and making the Ruko F11 Pro your first drone, as it is the best 4k drone under $300.


Why Buy a Cheap Drone?

Cheap drones, here defined as those that cost less than $200, can be an excellent entry point for drone photography, thanks to their relative simplicity, limited speed, and excellent photo performance.

Although the more expensive drones will give better photos and videos, the difference is not massive, and for most home users and hobbyists, the cheaper drones will be more than good enough to take pictures that you would be happy to print and hang on your walls, or share on Facebook or Instagram.

Drones under 200 dollars also allow you to be more adventurous with your photography, as they often contain features to prevent crashes and loss, and in any case, the loss of a $200 drone is less painful than losing a $1000 drone!

Finally, they let you learn the flying techniques that you will need if you find that you enjoy this hobby, and want to graduate to more expensive, harder to fly drones.



Things to Consider When Buying a Budget Drone

Over the last few years, the best camera drones under 200 have become more and more complex, and more varied in size and usability.

Below I have included a list of everything you need to consider when buying a drone for photography.

Feel free to use this list for any future research you may need – it explains all of the features you will need, and will make sure that you don’t inadvertently end up with something like a racing drone that is not suitable for photography.

  • Local Regulations
  • Your Experience of Drone Flying
  • Image / Camera Quality
  • Image Stabilization
  • First Person View – FPV
  • Battery Life
  • Range
  • Return to Home – RTH
  • Size and Weight
  • Follow Me Mode & Other Features

Local Regulations

Drone regulations are not standardized around the world, meaning that you will have to research the laws in the country you intend to fly your drone. Some countries are much more strict on this than others, although laws seem to be changing worldwide to make drone owners more accountable for their devices.

If you are looking to fly your drone in the US, then the best $200 drone for you is likely to be a drone under 250 grams (.55 lb), as any drone under this weight is exempt from having to register with the FAA.

If you choose a drone that weighs over .55 lb, then you need to go through the FAA registration process, which consists of:

  • Registering your drone, marking the registration number on the outside, and carrying proof of registration with you.

Regardless of whether you have to register your drone or not, you must still follow the below rules:

  1. Ideally, only fly your drone in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace (you can download the B4UFLY app from the FAA to check any airspace designation in the US), no more that 400 feet from the ground.
  2. You can get authorization to fly your drone in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D or E) from the FAA DroneZone site, but it is unlikely to be worth the time and effort for hobbyists.
  3. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight, or within the visual line-of-sight of an observer who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Do not fly at night unless your drone has lighting that allows you to know its location and orientation at all times.
  5. Never fly over any person or moving vehicle.

I would advise you to fully read the FAA website, and take a look at the advisory circular for the full details, as the above list is not comprehensive.

Note that in the future, there is also likely to be an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test that you must pass (and carry proof of passing) before you can legally fly a drone.

For most Western countries, these drone laws are generally similar, eg. UK drone laws and EU drone laws.

Your Experience of Flying a Drone

Powerful drones can be difficult to control, and any drone can be tough to fly in strong winds or other bad weather conditions. This is part of the reason why it is better to start with a cheaper drone.

Please don’t overestimate your drone flying abilities, particularly if you have never tried one before, and stick with a drone marked in the reviews below as one of the best beginner drones under $200.

Image / Camera Quality

Camera quality is generally fairly similar in the price range we are looking at, although this is clearly one of the most important things to think about when choosing a drone.

When looking for the best drones with a camera under $200, you should think about:

  • Camera Resolution: The best drone camera under $200 has a 2k resolution (2,048 horizontal pixels), although there are drones with 1080p cameras (HD drones with 1,920 horizontal pixels) reviewed here. You will struggle to find a 4k drone under $200, but the drone reviewed at the top of this article is the best 4k drone under $300. Getting the highest resolution possible is important, but not at the expense of other useful features, like image stabilization.
  • Lens Field of View: Some drones have wide angle fields of view, like on a GoPro, while others are more constrained. Although a wider view is generally preferred by most users as it allows you to get more in the frame, and is more forgiving for composition, you will get more distortion, which requires greater Photoshop skills to fix.
  • Camera Movement: Related to field of view is how much movement, both up and down and side to side, is afforded to the camera gimbal. A greater range of movement lets you more easily compose a photo, without having to reposition the drone, which is much more tricky to do accurately.
  • Picture Frame Rate (FPS): It can be helpful, particularly in difficult flying conditions like high winds, to set the camera to take bursts of photos while you fly, then select the best composition afterwards. You should check how many frame per second (FPS) the camera can support for this. It is also useful to know the video FPS, as a higher frame rate will give you greater creative possibilities when it comes to editing videos taken on your video drone.

Image Stabilization

Drones can create a lot of camera shake from the motors, or from wind or weather, or even from your flying style. Image resolution or camera quality doesn’t matter if the end result is a blurry photo, so you have to consider the level of image stabilization present in the drone.

This falls into three main areas, largely depending on price, ordered from most effective to least effective below:

  • Gimbal: The drone camera is mounted on a mechanical gimbal which moves by small amounts thanks to a gyro, to compensate for any movement of the drone, thereby keeping the camera stationary. It is difficult to find a drone with gimbal under $200, as these are generally reserved for the higher priced drones.
  • Digital Image Stabilization: This is a software solution, present on a number of phone cameras, that re-positions and crops the image after it is taken to compensate for any movement frame to frame. This is really only used for video recording, and results in a smaller image frame.
  • Auto Hover: Most top drones under $200 only feature an auto hover mode, where the drone will attempt to keep itself stationary. This can fail in higher winds, and doesn’t prevent vibrations from the motors from reaching the camera.

First Person View – FPV

First Person View (FPV) means that you can see exactly what the drone sees in a live video feed. The cheaper drone models, such as the best FPV drone under $200, the SNAPTAIN SP700, use your smartphone as a screen, which reduces both cost, and the amount of equipment you have to carry.

More expensive video drones come with a dedicated video monitor, although in practice these are not appreciably better than just using your phone.

Battery Life

Battery life determines how long a drone can stay airborne before needing to recharge. The smaller the drone, the less batteries it will be able to carry, meaning mini drones tend to have the lowest flight times.

The time taken to recharge can vary considerably. If you are wanting to use your drone a lot in a short space of time, you will need additional batteries that are easy to swap out in the field. Recharge time and ease of battery changing are noted in the reviews below.

Range

Although you are limited by law to keep your drone within 400 feet of the ground, many drones have a longer range than this. This means that you can fly them at quite a considerable horizontal distance from yourself to access areas that you would otherwise struggle to reach on foot – like the other side of lakes, for example.

Bear in mind that battery life and flying time should always be considered alongside range to determine how practical the maximum stated range actually is.

Return to Home – RTH

A drone with auto return, or Return to Home (RTH), is a very useful feature for beginners, that tries to prevent you from losing your drone. These use GPS to mark their starting locations, which they can then return to if return home is activated, meaning that in your research, you are generally better to look at GPS drones under $200, rather than drones without GPS, but this of course depends on how you intend to use it.

RTH can be activated manually from your controller, or is activated automatically when your drone recognizes a low battery level, or loses signal from your controller. The best drone under $200 with GPS, the SNAPTAIN SP700 has RTH functionality.

There are a number of other GPS drones under 200 reviewed below, and they also all have return home features.

Size and Weight

We have already seen that you should aim for the best drone under 250 grams if you want to avoid having to register it in the US, but size and weight is more generally useful as a proxy for portability.

If you are flying your drone from your backyard, this may not matter to you, but if you will be carrying it in a backpack for a day, then you need something both small and light, ideally a foldable drone, or mini drone. The best foldable drone under $200 is the Eachine E520S, which is also the best mini drone under $200, but many of the drones reviewed here are foldable, so check the full reviews before you make a decision of the best one to buy.

Follow Me Mode & Other Features

Drones being manufactured today can contain a wealth of features to improve your flying experience, such as:

  • Auto Tracking Drone: A drone with auto follow, or follow me functionality, is able to track a person carrying the control unit, keeping them always in the field of view of the camera. This is useful if you want to film yourself while climbing, for example.
  • Drone Auto Landing: Some drones offer a one button auto landing feature, where you don’t have to land the drone for yourself.
  • Gesture Control: This is where your drone will recognize gestures you make to start and stop video recording or take pictures. This can be useful when combined with follow me.
  • Tap to Fly: You can tap on your phone screen to fly the drone, rather than using a controller. The drone will fly in the direction you indicate.


Drone Reviews Under $200

Below are the drone reviews under 200, for the top nine rated drones, in no particular order. See the next section for a quick comparison of them all.

THE WINNER – SNAPTAIN SP700 GPS Drone with Brushless Motor

 Best Drone Under $200 with GPS 

  • Pros:
  • 2k (2048×1152 pixels) camera resolution with 110 degree field of view
  • Follow Me, Circle Fly & Tap to Fly modes
  • GPS based Return to Home
  • FPV range of 1680 ft
  • Brushless motors for lower noise, greater stability, and durability
  • Up to 18 mins flight time
  • One key takeoff / landing
  • GPS hover and headless mode for easy flying
  • Cons:
  • Not foldable

The Snaptain SP700 is the best drone under 200 with GPS and is packed with features that make it an excellent choice for beginners. The 2k camera is much better than the resolution would suggest, with pictures clear and sharp, and videos consistently very good.

Being able to access FPV with the drone up to 1680 ft away is a real bonus, and is thanks to the 5G WiFi connection, which is now pretty standard on drones in this price range.

The additional features like GPS hover and one key takeoff and landing are very helpful for beginners to drone flying, along with the electric fence feature, that lets you set a safe flight area through the app, that the drone will not fly past. The headless mode helps beginners to more easily control the drone, as the transmitter itself will take care of the orientation of the drone.

There are also other standard features like Follow Me, Tap to Fly, and Return to Home, to prevent drone loss, and extras like Circle Fly, where the drone will orbit an object at a set distance.

Perhaps the only negative is that this drone is not foldable, and like most other drones, you will want to buy a spare battery to keep it in the air for longer.

Nonetheless, this comes highly recommended as the best drone for under 200.


SNAPTAIN A10 Mini Foldable Drone

 Mini Drone Under $200 

  • Pros:
  • Can perform 360 degree flips
  • Intelligent voice and gesture control
  • Very small and light
  • Excellent budget option and great for kids
  • Cons:
  • No GPS, so no Return to Home
  • Lower quality camera
  • Limited FPV range of 80 ft and total range of 260 ft

If you are looking for a cheap drone for kids and beginners, then the Snaptain A10 is a good choice as one of the best compact drones under $200. This is a mini drone, which is also foldable and inexpensive. It only has a short charging time of 45 minutes, but you should expect to get less than 10 minutes of flight time from this.

You can take pictures and videos, although the quality will not be as good as the more expensive models, as this only has a 720p camera.

What you lose out with camera quality, you gain with extras that are less common on other models of drone: voice and gesture control, 360 degree flips, and high speed rotations. You can tell the drone where you want it to fly, and make gestures to have it take a photo.

The one key start, landing and return is useful for those not accustomed to drone flying, although the lack of GPS means this lacks a true Return to Home functionality.

It can auto hover for image stabilization, but due to the small size and weight, you should not expect too much from this, as the wind can knock it off course.

As this drone weighs under 250g, it does not need to be registered in the US.


EACHINE E520S GPS Drone with 4K Camera

 Best 4K Drone Under $200 

  • Pros:
  • 4K Camera
  • Follow Me and Return to Home modes
  • 16 mins flying time
  • Auto hover and way point mode
  • Cons:
  • Limited 820ft control distance

If you demand a 4k camera on your drone, then the EACHINE E520S is one of the very few 4k drones under 200. Picture quality is very good, although 4k will not make much of a difference from the 2k drones in practice, as all the drones share the same sensor size.

The controls can be a little sensitive on this drone, so it is aimed more at those with some experience of drone flying, although it does have a number of beginner friendly features, such as GPS based Return to Home, Altitude Hold (auto hover), Follow Me, and Orbit Mode. There is also a useful way point mode, where you draw the path you want the drone to take on the app in your phone, and the drone will then follow the route.

If you are looking for the best foldable drone under 200, then you will be pleased to know that this drone folds down to a relatively small size, and the transmitter itself is also quite compact, making this an excellent drone for traveling.

The restrained maximum control distance of 820 ft could be an issue, depending on how you intend to use the drone.


SNAPTAIN SP660

 Quadcopter with Camera 

  • Pros:
  • Plenty of beginner friendly features
  • Two batteries & rechargeable controller
  • LEDs for night flying
  • 20 minute flight time per battery
  • Cons:
  • Only 720p camera
  • No GPS
  • Short 280 ft range

Although this drone only has a 720p camera, photos and videos are still good enough for internet uses, such as social media. Due to the compact size, and relatively simple architecture, the drone has quite a long flight time of 20 minutes, and comes with two spare batteries which can easily be swapped out.

You get a lot of beginner friendly features included, such as voice and gesture control, letting you tell your drone what you want it to do through the phone app, and using the V sign to take photos, and high fiving to start and stop video recording. The rechargeable remote controller is a useful and uncommon feature, and helps increase the value for money.

Note that this drone does not have GPS, so lacks a true Return to Home functionality (although it has a return button that acts in a similar way), but the maximum range of 280 ft means that you are unlikely to be able to fly this too far from you in any case.


Holy Stone HS120D

 Best Drone Under 250g 

  • Pros:
  • Full 1080p HD camera
  • Auto Hover
  • One Key Start / Landing
  • 20 mins flying time
  • Lightweight
  • Cons:
  • Not foldable

This is one of the lightest drones reviewed here, at only 221g (7.8 oz), making it far below the size limit that is required for registering in the US, and making it extremely portable.

The full HD 1080p camera is a novelty on a quadcopter of this size, and the high image quality makes this the best drone under 250g.

There are several beginner friendly features included, like headless mode, so you don’t have to worry about which way the drone is pointing, Tap to Fly, and GPS based Return to Home and Follow Me functions.

The range of nearly 1000 ft should be sufficient for most users, and the long flight time of 18 minutes means that you don’t have to worry too much about taking a spare battery.

Although the drone is not foldable, the transmitter is, making this drone much more convenient for travel.


Holy Stone HS100

 Best Drone Under $150 

  • Pros:
  • 2K resolution camera
  • Large and wind resistant
  • GPS assisted flight with RTH
  • 18 minutes flying time
  • Long 1968 ft range
  • Cons:
  • Not foldable

The Holy Stone HS100 must rank not only as one of the best quadcopters under 200, but also the best drone under $150, with it’s high quality 2k resolution camera, and the size and weight to resist strong winds.

Most drones of this weight suffer from a short flight time, but the included 3,500mAh battery gives you up to 18 minutes of flight, and the nearly 2000 ft range means you can cover a large distance in one go.

The GPS assisted Return to Home functionality should prevent the drone from getting lost due to running out of battery or losing signal, and the Follow Me mode is very useful if you want to record yourself.

The camera can tilted down by up to 90 degrees, meaning that you can take a variety of compositions with the drone in auto hover mode.

The app has features like intelligent geofence and beginner modes to help you out when first learning to fly one of these drones, and comes with removable propeller protectors, which should prevent the propellers from getting damaged if the drone is flown into a wall.


Potensic D80

 One of the Best 200 Dollar Drones for Power Users 

  • Pros:
  • 2k camera
  • GPS + GLONASS for Return to Home
  • Brushless motors for durability and noise control
  • 1000ft FPV range & 3200 ft control range
  • Flight speed up to 40 km/h (25 mph)
  • Cons:
  • Relatively large and heavy (3 lbs)

If you are looking for the best HD drone under 200 that can travel over a very long range with a high speed, then the Potensic D80 might be perfect for you.

The control range of 3200 ft is outstanding, although you will only get first person video out to about 1000 ft. Traveling at up to 25mph, the drone will have enough time in it’s 16-20 minutes battery life to get to the maximum edge of its range and back to you.

As with several other drones, you can draw a way point for the drone to follow in the app, and set it to follow you using the dual GPS and GLONASS system.

Bear in mind that the drone is relatively heavy, at 3 lbs, and is not foldable, but does come with a pretty stylish carrying case if you do need to travel with it.


DROCON DC-08

 Quadcopter with Camera and GPS 

  • Pros:
  • 1080p camera mounted on gimbal with 60 degree up/down ability
  • GPS auto return
  • Temperature operating range 14F – 104F
  • No screwdriver needed construction
  • Cons:
  • Short 12 minute flight time
  • 4 hour battery recharging time

If you are worried about the small amount of assembly needed for most drones, then the Drocon DC-08 should allay those fears with its screwdriver free assembly based on clip mounts, that takes about 15 minutes to assemble.

The camera records photos at 1080p full HD resolution, and can be tilted down by up to 60 degrees, which will aid composition when used with the altitude hold auto hover system.

There are a number of useful beginner features, like propeller guards to prevent propeller breakage in the event of a crash, and the controller has numerous buttons for things like one key takeoff, auto return and auto hover.

This drone is really only let down by the relatively short flight time of 12 – 15 minutes, combined with a long battery recharging time of about 4 hours. If you are willing to buy a couple of spare batteries though, this drone becomes one of the best quadcopters under 200.


SIMREX X900

 One of the Best Drones for Under 150 

  • Pros:
  • Foldable and small
  • 1080p camera
  • Auto hover through optical recognition
  • Very low price
  • Cons:
  • No GPS
  • Max range about 100 ft

The Simrex X900 is one of the cheapest drones reviewed here, at only $70 currently, which is very impressive when you consider that it has a 1080p camera and useful features like auto hover, even though it does not have GPS. This is through an optical recognition system, which is not as good as GPS based altitude hold, but is good enough for most hobbyist uses. If you are on a strict budget, I would highly recommend this as one of the best drones under $100.

As you would expect with a cheaper drone, range is limited to about 100 ft, but this is still pretty reasonable for a drone with a flying time of 12 – 15 mins. The charging time of 90 minutes is one of the fastest of those reviewed here.

This drone is also foldable and very portable, which combined with the low cost, makes this an excellent choice for travel photography.

There are the regular, expected beginner features, like one key takeoff and landing, and headless mode, with a bonus feature being that the controller has a built in gravity sensor, meaning you can move the entire control unit to control the drone, rather than having to use the joysticks.


Compare the Top Rated Drones Under $200

Quickly compare the main features for all of the top drones under 200 in the table below.
Drone Average User Rating Camera Resolution / FOV Image Stabilization FPV Flying Time Range RTH Cost
SNAPTAIN SP700 4.7 / 5 2k / 110 degrees Auto Hover Yes 18 mins 1680ft Yes $199
SNAPTAIN A10 Mini Foldable Drone 4.7 / 5 720p / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 7 mins 260 ft No $46
EACHINE E520S GPS Drone with 4K Camera 4.1 / 5 4k / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 16 mins 820 ft Yes $130
SNAPTAIN SP660 4.5 / 5 720p / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 20 mins 260 ft No $73
Holy Stone HS120D 4.5 / 5 1080p / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 18 mins 984 ft Yes $120
Holy Stone HS100 4.4 / 5 2k / 120 degress Auto Hover Yes 18 mins 1968 ft Yes $150
Potensic D80 4.1 / 5 1080p / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 16 mins 3280 ft Yes $200
DROCON DC-08 4.2 / 5 1080p / 120 degrees Auto Hover Yes 12 mins 1380 ft Yes $200
SIMREX X900 4.2 / 5 1080p / 110 degrees Auto Hover Yes 8 mins 100 ft No $70

Best Drones for Under $1000

Although all of the options above would make an excellent choice for a first drone, if you have a little more money to spend, it might be worth considering a 1000 dollar drone, which can be outstanding in terms of performance and very long lasting.

One of the best drones for under 1000 is the DJI Mavic Air 2, which takes absolutely rock solid photos at an extreme range.

DJI Mavic Air 2

 Best Drone Under $1000 

  • 4K Video & 48 MegaPixel Camera
  • 3-axis camera gimbal for image stabilization
  • Foldable and weighs only 198 grams (.44 lb), so no need for FAA registration
  • 6.2 mile range at 42.5 mph max speed
  • 34 minutes flight time
  • Obstacle sensing in 3 directions
The DJI Air Mavic 2 is a fantastic foldable drone that has all of the features you could possibly want, from a long 34 minute flight time and over 6 mile range while maintaining FPV, to absolutely sharp and clear photos and video that eliminate blur thanks to the 3-axis gimbal.

The small size and foldability is the icing on the cake, taking this drone into a class of its own, and the obstacle sensing should prevent any crashes, even when you are flying at high speed.


Best Drones Under 2000 Dollars

If you are looking for the best possible drone that is currently available, you will need deep pockets, but one of the best drones under 2000 dollars is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which amazingly contains a Hasselblad camera with 1″ sensor.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

 Best Drone Under $2000 

  • Hasselblad 4K Camera with 20MP 1″ Sensor
  • 31 minutes flight time & 44 mph max speed
  • 3-axis gimbal for image stabilzation
  • Compact when folded
  • Many powerful features, like Hyperlapse …
This is a big and heavy drone, at 907g (2 lbs), but still manages a 31 minute flight time at 44 mph max speed. The Mavic Pro 2 is the drone you need if you are looking for the absolute best image quality, and won’t accept any compromises.
Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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