If you’re thinking of buying a drone for your kids this Christmas, you may be tempted by one of the best drones currently available. This year, I’ve had the same thought myself, and although I have the advantage of reviewing some incredible drones, I’m going to buy my children one of the least expensive indoor drones available that's a few years old now; one that will provide festive aerial fun in the comfort of your home.
For me, despite the many amazing drone options available, the one that stands out as a great firs drone for kids has to be the Ryze Tello which costs just $149 at DJI or £139 at Amazon for the Combo kit including three batteries and a charging hub, or $99 / £99 without those accessories. It’s not on sale, that's full price, but the Tello is still an absolute bargain. At just 2.8 oz / 80 g and with low power and propeller guards, it’s safe to fly indoors, making it a great option for both Christmas and getting started with drone flight in a controlled environment.
I'll also be rounding up the best drones on a budget and adding a link here, so keep this page bookmarked. For even more great holiday and Christmas gift ideas, do check out our guides to the best Christmas sales in the US and Boxing Day sales in the UK.
Best price today for the Ryze Tello Combo
Ryze Tello Combo
US: $149 at DJI
UK: £139 at Amazon
The Ryze Tello has been around for a few years but remains as popular as ever thanks to its simplicity and low cost. It’s not on sale, but the price is so low that you’re still getting a great deal for a drone that’s made in partnership with DJI. The Tello can capture 5MP photos and videos at 720p 30 fps with Electronic Image Stabilization for smooth footage, so although it’s not one of the best camera drones available, it’s a great drone for kids learning how to fly and capture photos and videos at the same time while having safe flying fun indoors.
The Tello drone is incredibly basic and offers up to 13 minutes of flight time with a single battery charge. Control is via a smartphone app, and although you can purchase a Bluetooth controller for the drone, this bumps up the price of the package and ultimately isn’t worth it, but it’s an option if you’d like to try the Tello with a more traditional controller. What’s more, the Tello can be launched by tossing it in the air and can be flipped over and around via the app-based controller for a fun flight experience. But there is also another option that's ideal for outdoor flight.
If I were looking for an entry-level model that’s capable of outdoor flight, I would choose the Potensic Atom SE. This is one of the best inexpensive sub-250 g beginner drones available, with excellent build quality in a small and lightweight kit. The Atom SE can capture video in 4K at 30 fps and shoot 12MP photos in both JPEG and Raw formats.
The camera is pretty much automatic, with just a few controls available, so users won’t be overwhelmed by complicated settings making it the perfect option for younger newbie drone pilots. Plus, it’s a model that will keep them flying for years to come so you won’t have to start thinking about an upgrade next Christmas.
Since this drone is a sub-250g model, in the United States you do not need to register the drone with the FAA for recreational flight. Certain guidelines do still apply, so make sure you’re aware of these before allowing your child to fly a drone outdoors. However, the rules in the UK are slightly different and everyone flying a drone with a camera requires an Operator ID and Flyer ID. For children, they will only need a Flyer ID and the parent will need to hold an Operator ID, both of which can be obtained from the CAA.
A pricier Ryze Tello alternative
Potensic Atom SE
US: from $229 at Amazon
UK: from £229 at Amazon
The Potensic Atom SE is one of the best drones available at its price and sits within the regulator-friendly sub-250g category. It’s a much more fully featured model than the Ryze Tello and is designed for outdoor flight making it perfect for older kids who have greater aerial ambitions. The camera is easy to use and can capture video up to 4K and 12MP photos in JPEG and Raw formats. The build quality is impressive for the price, with easy-to-use and responsive controls that make drone flight easy for everyone.
Not in the US or UK? See below for prices in your region.
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James Abbott is a professional photographer and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles about photography, cameras and drones to a wide range of magazines and websites where he applies a wealth of experience to testing the latest photographic tech. James is also the author of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.