When looking at the mid-level price point for drones, under $300 buys many cool features and improvements over what the Best 11 Drones for Under $200 offers. In the following guide, we look deeper into the most feature-packed UAVs that one can enjoy flying without needing to take out a second mortgage to do so.
Here is our list of the Best 10 Drones Available for Under $300.
10. WLToys V666N
The WLToys V666N is a new and improved version of the older WLToys V666 model. As fast as a product is marketed, outcomes its replacement. The newer version uses the curved appearance of four prop guards molded together to complete a square-like appearance. All black, with a bulbous colorful center for the main electronics, this drone looks svelte and ready to take to the skies. There are two black propellers and two orange ones, to more easily distinguish between the front and the back of the UAV.
The battery provides 7 minutes of flight duration over a 150-meter range. The recharging time is a couple of hours to get back into the air once the power has drained down. The separate controller with its screen and protruding aerial that bends towards the direction of the drone (should you so choose) has a color display to help navigate. The 2-megapixel camera on the underside of the drone records video at 30 FPS and beams the image back as FPV live video to the display.
The drone has a barometer sensor to help it better understand its position and performs 360-degree stunts too. The headless mode is easier to use for people new to flying a UAV. The 6-axos gyro also ensures flights will be relatively stable which removes much of the jerky “jello effect” exhibited by lesser models. Also, for anyone unsure of flying, there is a take-off and landing procedure that runs on automatic for nervous first-time pilots.
9. Syma X8G
The Syma X8G comes as a complete kit with the drone, controller, four spare propellers, a camera, and an assortment of other bits and pieces. The body is a silver color with blue and red markings, propellers that mix gray and black on either side of the blade, with black prop guards, black legs, and strong feet that aren’t likely to slip when landing. The move away from an all-black drone is a nice touch here with the other parts using a variety of color choices delivering an attractive look.
The drone itself is powered by a 2,000mAh 7.4-volt battery which delivers 10 minutes of flying time and an effective range of 100 meters. The battery takes 1 hour, 10 minutes to recharge and does so over USB cable (also supplied). There is a 6-axis gyro which has become fairly standard with models in this category and offers steadier flying even in worsening weather conditions. The usual 360-degree stunt flying is possible too. The main draw though is likely to be the 8-megapixel camera which offers 1080p Full HD video recording. Syma’s camera mounting system is provided here. For people who don’t own a GoPro or who don’t wish to use one in their drone, the inclusion of a decent Full HD camera that’s accessible directly from the controller has several benefits. The controller uses the 2.4GHz frequency to communicate with the drone.
8. Walkera 250
The Walkera 250 drone is a mean one to look at . It is angular and rugged looking rather than ergonomically curved and sexy looking. The body uses carbon fiber for lightness and strength. It has four brushless motors that power this monster up to 15-20 MPH when it’s really pushing it. The flight duration of 12 to 14 minutes is a good amount of flying time. It also has a flight range of up to 1,000 meters.
The remote is a Devo F7, so anyone who’s used to using this remote will be quite happy, and anyone else will have a limited learning curve. The powerful battery recharges in 1 hours, 30 minutes which is very respectable considering the range the Walkera 250 offers pilots. While this model doesn’t include a camera, it does provide support for FPV via an action cam using the 5.8Ghz uncongested frequency. For anyone who’s had problems with the 2.4Ghz frequency when using a drone, this is music to their ears. Google 2 is also usable as a real-time viewer for the FPV transmission.
7. DJI Phantom 2
The DJI Phantom 2 took the world by storm when it was first released. Since this time, it’s been surpassed by the likes of the DJI Phantom 3 and other newer releases. Regardless, the model still has a lot to recommend it with features that while no longer state-of-the-art, match up well to other offerings in the sub $300 category. It also looks like most other DJI drones, therefore, from a distance, you’ll get some street cred by owning a recognizable Phantom product.
The model offers 18 minutes of flying time for starters which is damn good. The effective range of 600+ meters is also considerable. The battery recharges in around two hours. The product doesn’t come as standard with a camera, but it will house either a DJI camera with a gimbal or a GoPro. With the DJI camera, it is controllable from the DJI mobile app whereas the GoPro is not. The model also has a set of LED lights to ensure visibility at night.
While clearly there are newer DJI models that are even more impressive, things like the effective range, strong navigational features, and accessible spare parts make the Phantom 2 a good mid-priced drone still worth considering.
6. Parrot AR Drone 2.0
The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is a circular drone that packs a lot into its small frame. It has a gyroscope for steadier flying, a magnetometer to check position via Earth magnetism, an accelerometer to verify its current speed, and even Ultrasound sensors to bounce signals off hills, mountain tops, buildings, objects, and other drones to avoid mid-air impacts. An ARM processor is powering all this and it has 1GB of RAM to keep it all in memory while it decides what to do with the flood of information coming in from all the sensors. It’s very impressive! The model is even available in a choice of three color schemes: Jungle, Sand or Snow.
The flight duration of 10 minutes isn’t as good as newer drones, but the 130-meter distance will be enough for many. The non-removable camera offers 720p HD video clips and decent photos. The unit generates its own Wi-F hotspot for an Android or iOS user to connect to it using the AR Freeflight app (there’s no standalone controller). The video stream is beamed to the touchscreen via FPV technologies. The wide-angle lens picks up more than one would expect. The battery recharging time is 2 hours, 50 minutes and for lazy pilots, there is a return to home feature too.
5. WLToys V303 Seeker
The WLToys V303 is a GoPro compatible drone with a simple appearance. Its white body is matched with subtle red and blue bands, and a set of four white propellers. The white legs look robust enough to support a bumpy re-entry, and the circular black feet are durable for repeated landings.
The remote is a HomeBoat FPV one that broadcasts on the 2.4Ghz frequency. The controller handles video from a connected camera (no camera is included). There is a 360-degree spin feature and a 6-axis gyro to keep the drone steady during flight. The effective range is around 100 meters, and the flight duration is anywhere from 8 minutes up to 17 minutes depending on how varied a flight path is taken. Adding a heavier camera will reduce the flight duration considerably. When taking the drone outside of its broadcast range, it will lose signal for several seconds, illuminate its red colored LED and then automatically start flying back to its home base. This functionality is an excellent way to avoid losing a drone by going out too far, but it shouldn’t be relied upon. Certainly, a failing battery won’t keep the drone alive long enough for it to complete its flight back. Recharging the battery takes about 45 minutes.
The build quality is close to that of the top-tier drones which means that it should survive the odd bad landing, but it does lack prop guards.
4. Cheerson CX-20
The Cheerson CX-20 drone is extremely popular for several good reasons. Firstly, it manages to get a range of 300 meters which for a long time was unusual in a mid-priced drone. Secondly, its flight duration of 14 minutes is also pretty respectable too. It doesn’t have a camera of its own, but it does have a mount that’ll support a GoPro camera. Its white body is a closer match to one of the Phantom drones from DJI, but it has two black stripes at the center, chrome-shaded wrap around legs and other features that set it apart from DJI’s offerings.
The white controller is substantial and likely to be durable too. It broadcasts on the 2.4Ghz frequency and uses GPS in the drone to assist with the navigation. There is an Intelligent Orientation feature that’s essentially a headless mode by another name which will be useful for beginner pilots. The 2,700mAh 3-cell battery drives the drone to cover 10 meters a second at top speed. It’s recharging time is 2 hours which isn’t too bad either. There is a low battery protection system that will seek to land to avoid it simply falling from the sky. The return to base feature allows pilots to bring the drone back on cruise control and for night flying, there are some LED lights too.
3. Upair One
The Upair One is the spitting image of a DJI drone other than in the lower mount for the camera. The standout feature of the One is its 2K video camera that offers excellent photos and video quality. The camera is also FPV, so it beams the live video back to the supplied controller and its 7-inch display screen. It is easy to love the large screen for better navigation and understand exactly where you are. Also, for people trying to take perfect shots or just the right video clip and get everything in the frame, the larger screen is ideal for that. The display is lag-free too because it uses the less busy 5.8Ghz frequency to transmit the live video images.
The 18 minutes of flying time is good, and the 500-meter range is fair too. The drone has GPS which is ideal for improved navigation. The quality of this product is excellent for the price. It is an ideal drone for people who find $500 or $1,000 too much to spend on a drone, but who need or want excellent photography and easier control via a big display screen.
2. Hubsan H501S
The Hubsan H501S is a white drone with gold colored feet and gold colored propellers that stand out. By contrast, the controller is an all-black affair. The four brushless motors are rated for power which is driven by the ample battery. The transmitter includes a 4.3-inch LCD which enjoys a protective surround sun shield to ensure the screen is viewable outside. The flight duration is 17 minutes with an effective range of 400 meters. The video is transmitted over the 5.8Ghz frequency while the controller uses the 2.4Ghz frequency for controlling the drone itself.
The features of this model include a headless mode for easier flying, a constant altitude, follow me around, automatic flying to the base, and GPS for improved navigation. There is a 1080p video camera in the front which captures excellent photography and video shots. The video is also transmitted to the FPV display viewer on the controller too.
For anyone looking for a drone with a 1080p camera, a distinctive appearance, and a controller with a larger display, then the Hubsan H501S should be on the shortlist.
1. Traxxas Aton
The Traxxas Aton is a drone that looks more like an insect than a flying machine. Its arms are all black, with red LED lights scattered around. Two propellers are bright red, and two are black to visually see which way the drone is pointing at the time. The 3,000mAh 3-cell battery offers 18 minutes of flying time and an effective range of 160-200 meters.
The Aton doesn’t come with a camera of its own, but it does support mounting an action cam like a GoPro. The robust building materials with this product should withstand a few minor impacts. The UAV has three-speed modes: Film, Sport, and Expert. The Sports mode is the fastest one reaching speeds of 50 MPH. For people looking to get the best imagery out of their action camera, the Film mode aims to provide the smoothest flying possible. There is a dual GPS system in place here; one that’s faster but less accurate backed up by one that’s slow but highly accurate(GLONASS vs. GPS). The air brake feature is necessary when using the Sports mode and not being careful enough about upcoming obstacles or buildings in the way of the drone. The back to base feature is also a nice one to have available here too.
Traxxas is also a well-known manufacturer of RC cars. They took their time entering the drone market, but have apparently used their knowledge and years of experience with remote control vehicles to create an impressive maiden drone release to the market. Clearly, they’ve done their homework, and it shows here.
When going up in the budget from $200 to $300, the difference in the quality of the available drones is stark. Both the flight duration and the range goes up dramatically when compared to the sub $200 models. With cameras, models that offer cameras are often Full HD and in one case, 2K HD versions. In other cases, they have a GoPro ready mount that’s ideal for anyone who wants to find an aerial home for their latest action camera. Anyone looking to race, there are drones at the sub $300 pricing which flies upwards of 50 MPH and even come with air brakes. How cool it that?! Navigation also improves with several drones offering controllers with large displays and live video transmission. A few products also have single or dual GPS systems. Most of the aforementioned features just aren’t available in the under $200 category.