When stepping up in the budget to the sub $200 mark, there is a new world of choice for keen drone flyers who either wish to upgrade from a nano drone or cheap drone to a better one. More of the latest features are on show here, like the “follow me” integration within the navigation to track a person from place to place during the flight.
The different types of drone shapes and sizes also get optimized with manufacturers stretching their wings, so to speak, in the way they approach fundamental drone design principals to stand out from the crowd. The result is an exciting market selection.
By the way, should you find that you want even better features than offered by the UAVs below, then why not look at our Best 10 Drones Available for Under $300 or our Best 10 Drones Available for Under $1,000 guides too.
Here are the Best 11 Drones Available for Under $200 in 2017:
11. WLToys V686
The WLToys V686 drone is a square, white drone with red and black stripping on the top of the body indicating the direction the UAV is facing. It has three-spoke, curving prop guards protecting each of the four propellers from damage during both flight and landing. The WLToys brand is well known among drone enthusiasts for producing impressive, durable drones of all sizes.
The 780mAh 3.7-volt battery delivers a flight duration of 7 minutes and covers an effective range of 130 meters which is generous. The battery requires 1 hour, 30 minutes to fully recharge it. Depending on the flight path taken, it’s possible to get a little longer flight duration, but distance is unlikely to be greater. Also, when trying out the drone indoors because it has protective prop guards, it is large enough to be too substantial for smaller room sizes, and the transmission won’t function well with the signal blocked by thick concrete walls.
A 2-megapixel camera takes good quality video and still shots. A live video feed is sent over to the FPV-ready black controller which has its display below the dual joysticks. Managing flights from the controller are easily done if one avoids interference when the line of sight is lost. The congested 2.4-Ghz frequency is used for all communications. The 6-axis gyroscope aids in keeping the drone steady during flights, which in turn helps keep the camera steadier too. There is a headless mode for newbie pilots who don’t wish to worry about which direction the drone is facing when it gets spun around. The 360-degree spin/roll mode is fun to play with and LED lights helpfully light up the night sky adequately. For lazy pilots of people who still have control but cannot stop the drone in the air, the single button return to base feature is especially useful; that goes even more so for beginning pilots.
10. Syma X8W
The Syma X8W is a drone that looks similar, at first glance, to the DJI Phantom 3, but other than the initial appearance, it functions quite differently. The main white body is sturdy and durable, built as a quadcopter, with strong curved legs, angled feet, and four powerful motors that drive the propellers forcefully. A 6-axis gyro helps maintain level flying to avoid going off-course. There is a non-removable 2-megapixel camera fitted to the underside of the drone which takes good pictures and video clips. It also beams back live video of what the drone is seeing, to the white controller with red accents. A small display at the bottom of the controller shows the live video to help with navigation tasks. The 2.4Ghz frequency is used to broadcast on.
The product has a few extra features like a steady hovering one to stay in place for recording constant video of a particular object or person. The headless mode will please beginners who need to initially keep their flying simple. Adventurous flyers will want to try out the 360-degree stunts programmed into the controller. There are also LED lights to help the drone be visible at night. The average flight duration is 10 minutes, and the effective range is around 100 meters (up to 150 meters on clear weather days). The fitted battery recharges in approximately 3 hours, 20 minutes, which is on the high side of recharging times from other drones and may aggravate some buyers.
9. JJRC H8D
The JJRC H8D is an angular-shaped drone with durable parts that lend confidence that this little model will survive the odd scrape during its useful life. The dark red body of this quadcopter has four black propellers and three-spoke prop guards that provide a curved edge to protect against accidental propeller damage that is the bane of many a drone pilot. The model does come with four space propellers in case the worst happens, though.
The big selling point to the H8D is its massive 4.3-inch display that sits in front of the controller joysticks. It even has a cover at the front to deflect sunlight making it easier to see. How thoughtful! The display accepts FPV real-time video transmissions from the 2-megapixel camera on the drone. The video is transmitted over the 5.8GHz frequency to avoid the cluttered 2.4Ghz frequency that the controller broadcasts on. The splitting of frequencies between screen and controller is an excellent idea that prevents both the video image and controls losing contact with the H8D UAV at the same time.
The controller is easy to use. It offers a headless mode for people who wish to fly the easy way. The 360-degree spins are available directly from the panel. Single button return to the base also makes it faster than flying the drone back yourself. The inclusion of LED lights makes night flights a cinch. The drone manages to stay in the air for up to 8 minutes and has an effective range of 100 meters. Its battery is rechargeable in 1 hour, 30 minutes.
The JJRC H8D is an excellent drone for flyers who want a large, integrated display built right into their controller and to divide up the frequencies used for transmission. The remaining features of this drone don’t disappoint either.
8. Hubsan X4 H107D
The Hubsan X4 H107D is an impressive looking nano drone that doesn’t quite resemble other drones in this category. It uses gray colored plastic for the most part, with a simple design and protective prop guards safeguarding each of the four propellers. Hubsan is a respected name in drone manufacture, so it’s not surprising to see their name on the list (they feature three times in all).
The 380mAh 3.7-volt Li-Po battery delivers 8 minutes of flight duration, and the drone has an effective range of 100 meters. The battery recharges in 30 minutes which is excellent for taking repeated trips in quick succession. The 6-axi gyro ensures balanced flying even with sharp turns that don’t throw either the pilot or the drone off-course. The controller transmits on the 2.4Ghz frequency and has a 4.3-inch display that receives FPV live video from the 0.3-megapixel camera. The camera is only VGA, so the image quality is not fabulous, but it is sufficient for navigation and basic shots. The subtle LED lights are not terribly bright or distinctive, but they will still provide some visual indicator in the night sky of where the drone is currently located. The drone is lightweight and easy to take on a trip without requiring a whole separate drone backpack to transport it.
7. WLToys V666
The unfortunately named WLToys V666 doesn’t fly with the devil or land in people’s hands with regularity but instead is a capable drone that is worth a closer look. The design of this model is quite familiar with its four prop guards that are joined as a unit with a centerpiece holding the electronic brain. Two of the smaller propellers are red, and two are black denoting the front and back of the drone; though the color difference will be mostly unnoticeable once the UAV is in the air.
The flight duration of 8 minutes is fair for this price category, and the effective range of 150 meters is above average. The recharge time is 1 hour, 30 minutes. The 6-axis gyro is helpful to keep the drone on point during every flight. There is the option to perform 360-degree spins or flips to impress observers, but the anti-vibration mounting system for the 2-megapixel camera is less showy but far more impressive for anyone who cares about still photography and steady video clips. The camera also provides FPV live video streams to the 4-inch display on the controller which does wonders for navigation. The display transmits on 5.8Ghz which is far less congested, whereas the controller itself transmits on 2.4Ghz. The splitting up of these elements avoids losing both the view and navigational control at the same time under most circumstances. There are also LED lights to project light into the night sky to spot the drone more easily.
6. JJRC H25G
The JJRC H25G is a dark red drone that is easy to miss in the sky if it wasn’t for its downward projecting green LED lighting. The dark motif is continued with black propellers all round and even black prop guards that provide angular protection for bumps along the way. The four curved legs and pronounced feet support the drone well when landing and avoiding sliding after touchdown.
The H25G model offers 100 to 200 meters of range and 10 minutes of flight time. The controller transmits on the 2.4Ghz frequency and it has a display. The screen receives video images over the 5.8Ghz frequency to avoid congestion, and this mix works as well as with other drones that use the same setup. The headless mode is easier for beginners to use and comes included too. The fitted battery takes 1 hour, 30 minutes to fully recharge. The 6-axis gyro is also useful to avoid the drone getting confused over its relative position and staying the right way up in the air. Single button return to home is also ideal for people who aren’t yet confident enough to fly back to the take-off point on their own. The 2-megapixel camera which delivers the FPV real-time video also offers video recording up to 720p HD and photographs. It also has a convenient mount that aims to reduce vibration during bumping flights.
5. JJRC H26D
The JJRC H26D drone is a green monster in the air which accents its lime green body coloring, including its prop guards, with enlarged white propellers. The legs and feet are a mixture of black with a couple of dashes of white to keep the color scheme matching. The overall appearance is distinctive and eye-catching in a sea of look-a-like drones on the market.
The 3-megapixel non-removable camera is much better than the 2-megapixel ones often seen in this category. It has a broad 120-degree field of vision which is excellent and is supported by a 2-axis gimbal that helps to keep the shots steady. The controller broadcasts on the 2.4Ghz frequency.There is a headless mode for people new to owning a drone. Single button return to the base also assists new flyers when needing to fly the UAV back to their location again. The 360-degree stunt spins are fun to perform too. The battery offers 7 minutes of flying time and covers a range of 300 meters comfortably. The range is better than many products in this guide. A full recharge of the battery is possible within 1 hour, 30 minutes.
For someone who is partly buying a drone to take aerial photography on an affordable budget, the H26D is an attractive option to consider carefully.
4. Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The Parrott AR Drone 2.0 is a newer version of the AR Drone with improved features. It has a familiar circular prop guard design with the prop guards forming a rounded square of sorts. The propellers are situated inside with two white ones and two black ones indicating the orientation of the drone. The main control area is in the center above and below the main housing. The drone comes in one of three color schemes: Sand, snow or jungle.
The drone has a 10-minute flight duration and a 130-meter range. The hardware features of the AR 2.0 are impressive, to say the least. Much like with your smartphone, it has an accelerometer to understand how fast it’s travelling, a magnetometer that checks the relative position based on the magnetism of the Earth, several Ultrasound sensors (no joke) to act as a form of radar to avoid other drones and approaching objects, and a gyroscope to keep the drone level. An ARM Cortex A8 chip is the brain behind this little wonder, and it has 1GB of slow RAM memory to juggle the various bits of data as it comes in. Phew! The combination of these sensors allows the drone to be far more aware of its present location and any obstacles in the way. One of the essential features is a back to base auto-navigation that helps bring the drone home.
There is a 720p HD video camera that also takes beautiful shots. Either an iPhone or an Android device is used to connect via Wi-Fi to the AR Drone. The AR Freeflight app is the one used for navigation. Live video feeds from the 720p camera to the smartphone screen get used to assist with the navigation chores. The battery that comes with the drone is rechargeable in 2 hours, 50 minutes.
The Parrott AR Drone 2.0 is an exceptional option for people with a few dollars in their pocket who want to own a state-of-the-art drone that takes full advantage of the available sensors to improve upon navigation. The 720p camera won’t beat a 1080p of 4K UHD camera, but for many people, it’ll be perfectly sufficient for their needs.
3. Hubsan H502S
The Hubsan H502S is a simple quadcopter drone with its controller and display to help improve navigation without the need for a fully charged smartphone for the screen. It features brushless motors and a battery that powers this drone for 12 minutes of flying time and out to 300 meters from its take-off point. The 610mAh 7.4-volt Li-Po battery is rechargeable in 1 hour, 40 minutes only.
The list of feature is more impressive too. It has the standard headless mode for easier flying, but also protection from a low battery that alerts the pilot and provides the option to return to base automatically to avoid losing or crashing the drone. A steady altitude feature keeps the drone hovering at the same level to capture better shots or video from the 720p HD camera. There is also a 360-degree stunt flying mode. The 6-axis gyro helps when navigating using the controller which has a 4.3-inch display with a 480p resolution. The screen receives live video transmissions over the uncongested 5.8Ghz frequency with the controller using the 2.4Ghz for navigational control.
2. Hubsan H501S
The Hubsan H501S is a more advanced drone than the previously reviewed Hubsan H502S. The flight time is improved with 18 minutes of duration, and the range is up to at least 300 meters. The camera is no longer a 720p, but an upgraded 1080p Full HD one that is impressive. The white body has gold colored propellers and pointed feet that use the same gold color. It is a different look than its predecessor.
The black controller has a 4.3-inch display screen with a protective cover to block out the sun. The included GPS functionality allows the navigational improvements that befit an upgraded model. The FPV Full HD camera is extremely good – perhaps not up to GoPro standards but still well above par – and it will transmit live video back for easier navigation. The video is sent over 5.8Ghz, not 2.4Ghz to make it lag-free. The FPV video is only 480 x 272 pixels, not Full HD, but it’s still quite usable given the 4.3-inch display size. However, video and photos may be taken at the 1080p resolution.
The 2,700mAh 7.4-volt battery is no slouch and supports the drone well. It takes several hours to recharge it, though. There are a few features included with the drone, like, follow me here, auto take-off, auto landing, and constant altitude.
The pricing for the H501S bounces around. Sometimes it’s below the $200 mark when sold at a discount, and at other times it’s a little above it. When timed right, it’s possible to get a bargain.
1. MJX Bugs 3
The MJX Bugs 3 has a weird name, but it’s a worthy drone. It doesn’t have a camera but it has a mount that will support a GoPro and delivers plenty of lifting power for it. Its range is impressive which goes out to 400 meters, and the drone has a flying duration of 15 minutes. Its 1,800mAh battery recharges in 1 hour, 40 minutes.
There is a headless mode, 360-degree spinning, single button return to base, a 6-axis gyro for smoother flying, an automatic landing procedure, and a headless mode for shaky flyers. The Bugs 3 also has a top speed around 30 MPH!
Overall, the MJX Bugs 3 is a sophisticated drone with a lot to offer.
When looking for a drone under the $200, you get a lot for your dollars. Many of the UAVs are impressive in different ways like exceptional sensors, a 1080p camera, a controller with its own display, etc. One shouldn’t expect the best of everything at this price point, but it’s certainly possible to hone in on the features that are “must have’s” and select an appropriate drone that way.