What is the best drone under $100? There are probably 100s of drones in this price range, so you are going to need some help finding the best options. We’ve picked five of our favorites and we stack them up against each other. Each one of these drones is unique in its own way and we will highlight the pros and cons for you. We will compare the Syma X8HC, Syma X5UW, Hubsan X4 FPV, MakerFire Micro FPV, UDI 818 HD+, Sky Viper v2400HD and the unique Cheerson CX-60 Battle Drones. We compare and rank these drones based on these categories: Range, Flight Time, Camera, First Person View (FPV), and Features (altitude hold).
Range: The Syma X8HC, Hubsan X4 and UDI 818 all claim ranges of 100 meters. We’ve tested them all and would say that in general, the X8HC tends to be most consistent. The Sky Viper falls right in the middle at 50 meters. The Cheerson CX-60 are limited to the WiFi range on your smartphone and at best will get around 30 meters. The smaller Syma X5UW and MakerFire FPV have modest ranges of around 20 meters.
Flight Time: The Syma X8HC and UDI 818 both have flight times of around 9 minutes. The Sky Viper, Hubsan and Syma X5UW aren’t far behind with flight times between 7 and 8 minutes. The Battle Drones check in around 5 minutes. The MakerFire is limited to 3-4 minutes. Whichever drone you choose we highly recommend picking up some extra batteries to extend your flight time. We also recommend you get more than one charger or a multi-battery charger if one is available.
Camera: The Sky Viper has a clear 720p camera as well as a nice wide field of view. The Syma X5UW and UDI 818 cameras that we tested came out slightly better than the larger Syma X8HC. The Hubsan and MakerFire cameras were built for FPV not aerial photography. The MakerFire camera has a much wider field of view and that makes flying FPV (First Person View) much easier.
The Syma X8HC camera can be easily replaced with a GoPro or other action camera with a couple of quick changes. Adding an action camera really is a game-changer and will allow you to capture far superior photos and videos than any other drones in this price range. We outline the process in this article. The modification is something we highly recommend, but it is by no means a requirement for enjoying the Syma X8 models. Of the drones described in this article, only the Syma X8 is large enough to be able to carry a GoPro.
The Cheerson CX-60 drones weren’t built to take pictures. In place of a camera, you’ll see an infrared light source. So while it ranks at the bottom of this list, it presents a whole different kind of experience.
First Person View (FPV): The MakerFire is definitely the best for FPV with the wider FOV camera. However, you will have to purchase a set of FPV goggles to take advantage of it. We recommend the Eachine VR008 it is a good starter pair. If you want to know more about FPV goggles we’ve done the research for you here. The Hubsan also has good lag free FPV but is limited by a narrower field of view. The good news is that the remote transmitter has a built in FPV monitor so you don’t have to purchase additional FPV goggles. The Hubsan is a great all-in-one FPV package and a great deal. The smaller Syma X5UW does have WiFi FPV, but it has a bit of lag. You could use it to line up photos, but it isn’t very good for flying by FPV, as you will likely find yourself watching the drone more than the screen. The Sky Viper does have a nice field of view for FPV, but the camera angle is more suited for aerial photography. It also has a bit of lag. The other two drones do not have FPV capabilities under $100 but there are upgraded FPV models available for a few dollars more. The upgraded models use WiFi FPV so, like some of the other models we discussed, the view on the screen will have a bit of lag.
2. Hubsan X4
3. Sky Viper
4. Syma X5UW
5. Syma X8HW* (Check price of Syma X8HW with FPV)
6. UDI 818 FPV* (Check price of UDI 818 with FPV)
7. Cheerson CX-60 (no FPV, just LEDs for battling)
Altitude Hold: Altitude Hold is a feature that makes it easier to fly the drone at a consistent altitude without having to worry so much about managing the throttle. The Cheerson CX-60 battle drones have excellent altitude hold and are extremely stable. Both Syma drones have the altitude hold feature. The Sky Viper also has altitude hold, but unlike the Symas you can turn it off and fly in a “sport mode.” The ability to turn it off is a major bonus. The Hubsan and MakerFire are built to be maneuverable FPV drones altitude hold is best suited for aerial photography
The Bottom Line
All of these drones are fun and excellent choices for different reasons.
- If you want something different and want to have a video game like experience then you’ll want to check out the Cheerson CX-60 Air Dominator Battle Drones. Plus you’ll get two drones. The CX-60 comes as a pair so you can battle.
- The Sky Viper is very versatile, takes good pictures and has some fun and unique modes that you can fly.
- The X5UW is a great all around beginner drone. It is hard to go wrong with this drone as your first.
- The UDI is super durable and can be upgraded with a simple hack, read more about that here. We love being able to crash it and not worry.
- The Hubsan is good for beginner FPV since it comes with a lag-free 5.8 GHz feed and a built-in screen.
- The MakerFire is a great deal and a fun indoor FPV Tiny Whoop beginner.
If your budget has room for some FPV goggles or a screen, then there is no doubt that the MakeFire is a fantastic deal compared to other ready-to-fly FPV drones. You can learn to fly this drone by line or sight and then have a whole new experience with FPV flight using the lag-free wide field of view camera. Goggles make flying more fun and are the standard in FPV flight. For a long time, the industry leader in goggles has been Fat Shark, you can check the price on their entry level goggles here. For a much more affordable set of goggles that still have good performance, we recommend the Eachine VR008. To learn more about FPV goggles check out our article here.
Overall, we would give the title best drone under $100 to the Syma X8HC. The Syma X8HC is a very stable flyer that is great for beginners. It is fun to fly and takes good 720p video. It also can be upgraded to carry an action camera for even better pictures and video and we can show you how to do that here. We would highly recommend adding a high-quality action camera, this upgrade will allow you to take stunning aerial photos and video. Don’t forget to pick up a couple of extra batteries to extend the fun. You can read more about the X8HC and the other Syma X8 models here.
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If you are looking for a full featured drone, check out our comparison article for the Best Drone under $500. These drones have excellent cameras, GPS, and advanced flight modes.
Every month we update what we believe are the best drones on the market. Check out Best Drones Now. We have also created the one-of-a-kind Half Chrome Drone Cipher™. You answer a few questions and we’ll pair you with the best drone for you.
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If you want to learn more about taking great pictures or flying FPV then check out our comprehensive guides on those topics. Also take a look at our articles on how to choose the right drone for great aerial photos or for getting started flying race drones. Learn more about drones and how to get the most out of them in our Drone Academy. In the Academy we also detail some of the advanced testing we do, including our recent addition, drone thrust testing.
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