The DJI Mavic was a game-changer. Not only is it a full-featured quadcopter with a three-axis gimbal, but it also folds up for portability. Manufacturers have been scrambling to capitalize on this idea and there are plenty of low-cost Mavic copies out there for under $100. How do they compare to the real Mavic? Spoiler alert: there is no comparison. The Mavic is an impressive feat of engineering. Don’t expect Mavic-like features from a drone that costs less than $100. That said, we have done some research and found four different drones that are under $50 that are worth looking into for a novice pilot or someone looking for an inexpensive portable drone.
Sure, these sub-$100 drones can’t compare to the Mavic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. They do fold up and are great to take with you. You can still get a fun drone without dropping a grand on a Mavic. All of these drones cost about $50 and have similar features. Each one of them has altitude hold, headless mode, push button flips, auto take-off and landing as well as WiFi FPV.
If you are looking for something that can take high-quality HD pictures and video with advanced flight modes, but don’t have $1000 to spend on a Mavic there are a few options in the $300-500 range you may want to consider. If that is what you are looking for click here.
The Upgraded Elfie, Eachine E50
The original Elfie was one of the first and most popular inexpensive folding drones. The new Elfie, also known as the E50, has improved upon the old design. The knock on the original Elfie was that it featured a poor 0.3 MP camera. Now Eachine has upgraded the Elfie with a 2 MP 720p HD camera. This drone also has some software to help improve photos that it calls “beauty mode.” When folded up it is about the size of a smartphone 13.5 x 6 x 2.5 cm. The new Elfie or E50 is controlled via an app on your smartphone. It should have a range of about 30-40 meters and
Eachine claims flight times of over 10 minutes which is a big improvement from the original Elfie. The 2 MP camera makes the Elfie a solid option for under $50.
|Check the current price of the E50|
The Tianqu XS809SW
Of all the inexpensive compact drones, the X809SW probably looks the most like the Mavic. It is one of the larger foldable drones at 17.5 x 13 x 6 cm. The nicest feature of the XS809SW is its gamepad style remote. Unlike many of the inexpensive folding drones, the XS809SW has a physical remote that will extend the range up to 100 meters. It can also be controlled by your smartphone via an app if you choose. The downfall of the Tianqu drone is the camera is only a 0.3 MP camera and is not capable of HD photos or video. The Tianqu checks in at around $50.
|Check the current price of the Tianqu|
The TK110 and TK111 are two decent options for folding drone enthusiasts. They are 15 x 16 x 5 cm when in its compact form. The TK models have a draw your flight path option you can test. You draw a path on your smartphone and it will follow that path. It is a neat option but takes some practice to get the drone to perform how you’d like. You can fly the TK110 and TK111 with either your smartphone or the included remote control. The included remote control is one of the better ones we’ve tested. It will extend the range of the drone to around 100 meters. You can expect a flight time of 6-8 minutes. These drones cost both around $50. We found the design, software, and remote of the TK111 to be better. Unfortunately, at the time of publishing this article, the TK111 is not yet available for purchase.
|Check the current price of the TK110|
The E55 is the smallest foldable drone that we’d recommend. There are a few smaller ones, but they suffer from weak motors and are nearly impossible to fly outside. When folded up, the E55 is 6.5 x 6.5 x 2.5 cm. The E55 features folding propellers and even a little carrying pouch. Like the TK drones, the E55 features a draw-your-own-flight-path feature. It also comes with a physical remote that gives it a range of up to 50 meters or you can fly it with your smartphone via an app. The E55 has a flight time of 6-8 minutes.
|Check the current price of the E55|
Which One is Best?
Of these four drones, we’d recommend the upgraded Elfie. Because it is the only compact folding drone with a 2-megapixel camera, the Eachine E50 Elfie drone is the best suited for taking selfies. The TK110/111 is our next choice as it seems to have the best blend of features and a solid physical remote. The design of the Eachine E55 is probably the most unique, and the Tianqu looks the most like a Mavic. If you are looking for something even more inexpensive check out these foldable drones that the guys over at TheDroneFiles reviewed.
|Click Here To Order an Eachine E50|
The original Elfie, picture above, has a tilting camera just like the newer version that is branded under the Eachine label.
If you are really looking for something that can take HD video and is portable then these compact quads are not going to cut it. There are a few better options if you are willing to spend a little more money. Read our next article that covers compact HD camera drones…
|Click Here To Read About HD Portable Drones|
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Not sure what is the best drone for you???
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We’ve flown, crashed and taken pictures with a ton of drones. You want to know which one we think is best? Sure. Are you on a budget? Of course. We have three great articles breaking down the best drones in your budget. Check them out.