The popularity of cheap drones has, ahem, taken off, over the last couple of years as the tech that powers these previously expensive devices has dropped in price. That means more hobbyists have taken to the skies to try it out for themselves. And now you can fly among them for less, thanks to the vast number of drone deals that pop up in regular sales.
While premium drones prioritize storage processes, raw capture formats and super-fast live transmission speeds, cheap drones offer all the basic elements and some fancy extra features for a much lower price. Plus, the world's top drone brands have taken advantage of the increased popularity and manufactured their own budget lines to bring quality devices to the mainstream as well. Take DJI, which features several times on this roundup of the best cheap drone deals, with a number of devices at prices we thought were impossible just a few years ago.
These cheaper drones usually offer easy take-off and landing controls, 720p - 4K photography, GPS enabled flight modes like Follow Me, and flight times of seven minutes and up to half an hour. However, each model offers a slightly different suite of specs, features, and control styles so finding the perfect cheap drone for you requires a little digging.
Thankfully, we've done all that for you, with our roundup of all the best cheap drone deals right here so you can find the features you need at the lowest price possible. And if you need something a bit closer to the ground, our guide to today's best cheap action camera deals is where to look.
The best cheap drone deals
The DJI Mavic Mini is a little older, but it can be a great place to start if you're looking to dive straight into more professional quality drone photography without forking out for the latest and greatest. You're getting an incredibly lightweight copter here considering the excellent features on offer. Plus, that low weight can leave you free to fly in more locations, exempting you from regulations in some countries.
Footage is recorded in 1080p at 60fps or 2.7K at 30fps which makes for a nice compromise down from the most expensive 4K Mini 2 and can still net you some fantastic shots, especially with the in-built Helix, Circle, Dronie and Rocket quick shot features. These presets automatically guide your drone in a smooth motion to make for an easy but incredibly effective sweeping shot.
Flying is simplified through the popular DJI app, but there's a 360-degree propeller guard and boosted sensors in here to keep everything protected if you're still learning or run into some trouble in the air as well.
DJI Mini 2
The latest version of DJI's more budget friendly drone range is the Mini 2. You're upgrading to 4K footage at 30fps, a 4x digital zoom, RAW photo mode, fantastic 10km video transmission and also picking up extra Boomerang and Panorama quick shot presets as well. At just $100 / £100 more than the original model there's certainly excellent value in here if you can spring a little extra cash.
If you don't want to spend the $400 / £400 asking price of the DJI Mini 2, however, you will find a more budget-friendly 4K option in the Eachine E520S. You're dropping quite a few features to pack Ultra-HD resolution into this price tag, but if you're after resolution over all else it's an excellent option to keep those costs low.
That's not to say you're skimping on those extra features, however. You'll still find plenty of extra functionality under the hood here to go with the wallet-friendly price. GPS positioning and Follow Me modes allow a more hands-off approach to capturing that perfect shot and Altitude Hold will ensure your footage remains consistent as well.
The Waypoint Flight mode in here is a unique and handy feature that allows you to draw a route on your smartphone for your drone to follow. That's perfect for those who want a smooth shot but haven't yet got to grips with more complex control patterns. If you are still learning there's also one key take off, landing, and return home baked in here.
All in all, this is an excellent cheap drone for the money. You might be losing out on some DJI-specific features like quick shots and long video transmission distances, but with a 4K camera at the helm and a range of extra flight modes there's plenty to dig into here.
If you're looking for a cheap drone to get started in the world of aerial photography, DJI and Ryze's collaboration on the Tello is the best place to start. The camera quality won't compete against some of the more expensive models, but the Ryze is primarily interested in getting you up and running with an easily controlled and safe copter.
Rotor guards and stability sensors play a big role here, not only ensuring your drone is safe and secure but keeping your surroundings out of harm's way as well. This means you can safely get some indoors practice in before moving onto bigger shots outside.
You might want to check the weather before you do head outside, though, as the Tello is a little unstable in windier conditions. Calmer weather, however, makes for an incredibly easy and fun flight experience - made all the simpler by a pared down user interface on the accompanying app.
The forward facing camera means this is geared more towards selfie shots or smaller frames than big sweeping landscapes, though downward sensors maintain extra stability in the air and can allow the drone to hover steady as well .Those sensors can also be used for a neat little trick in which the Tello lands in your palm.
If you're on a strict budget, or need a copter you won't want to worry about too much while flying, the Holy Stone HS160 Shadow is an incredibly cheap drone. You're picking up a much sparser experience than pricier models here, and the real-time image transmission can struggle a little. However, all the basics are covered here with one press take off and landing, headless mode for orienting your drone's direction easily, and even a mode for use with first person view as well.
The camera isn't going to be winning you many photography awards, and there are more sturdy builds out there but if you're just looking for a cheap drone to dabble in weekend flights you can't go wrong with this price tag.
If you're going to be handing the controls over to the kids there are plenty of reasons to shop for a cheaper drone than some of the more feature rich models. However, this Snaptain copter incorporates a number of ease of use and safety features into its design that makes it our top pick for little hands.
Controls are simple and easy to pick up, and those protective guards will keep your copter safe in kids hands as well. Plus, voice control functionality means kids can get in on the action even if they haven't quite mastered often fiddly smartphone controls.
Headless mode also solves a big headache when it comes to teaching kids how to fly a drone. It alters controls to ensure that the drone is moving in relation to your own positioning. Whereas in regular flight the drone would move forwards according to its own 'front', here those directions are mapped in relation to the pilot instead. It makes for a far easier control scheme and one that kids can pick up a lot faster as well.
Windier conditions can give this model a little trouble, so we'd recommend checking out the weather before flying, especially considering there's little stabilization tech inside.
However, with GPS and follow mode, a 90 metre range of video connection, and altitude hold features, you're still picking up a good set of basic features here. Footage is also captured directly onto an SD card whereas cheap drones usually save direct to your smartphone. That makes for a better video quality overall and if you're flying regularly will save space on your phone as well.
Where to find more cheap drone sales
- Amazon: super cheap brands available but be sure to read reviews (opens in new tab)
- Walmart: DJI and Holy Stone regularly on sale plus cheap toy drones available (opens in new tab)
- Best Buy: bundles available with extra gear included (opens in new tab)
- Newegg: stocks a wide range of Holy Stone devices with regular sales (opens in new tab)
- B&H Photo: excellent range on offer though more for professional use devices (opens in new tab)
- Adorama: regular discounts and bundles on premium drones (opens in new tab)
- DJI: all the latest devices and discount codes (opens in new tab)
- Amazon: massive range of cheap copters available (opens in new tab)
- Drones Direct: excellent range spanning all price brackets (opens in new tab)
- Park Cameras: mainly premium models but plenty of accessories on sale (opens in new tab)
- DJI: browse the latest and greatest models with the odd discount (opens in new tab)
- Currys: more limited range but regular discounts (opens in new tab)
- Very: predominantly DJI stock but some cheap toy drones available (opens in new tab)
- Argos: DJI, Parrot, and Revell drones in stock with regular discounts (opens in new tab)
What to look for in a cheap drone
The features and specs you should be on the lookout for when shopping for a cheap drone do depend on your budget. You'll find plenty of cheap drones under $100 / £100 that can still offer the basic features of more premium models, but there are some sacrifices to be made to reach that price point.
The breadth of drone deals available these days does allow you to pick and choose your features to find the right price for you, but it does also pay to know what you should be getting for your money along the way as well.
Under $100 / £100
A cheap drone under $100 / £100 is likely going to have a flight time below 10 minutes and offer 720p footage. However, you'll likely also find simple take off and landing controls, basic GPS features at the top end of the spectrum, and a fairly smooth flight experience in good weather. These cheaper drones usually come with extra safety features like propeller guards as well. However, at this price point you're not going to be picking up a drone that fares well in windier conditions.
$100 - $200 / £100 - £200
The main upgrades in the $100 - $200 to £100 - £200 price region are usually flight time and extra camera features. You'll likely get between 10 and 15 minutes of time in the air with these models, though they often do still lack the sturdiness to compete with windier weather conditions. There are, however, a number of cheap drone deals that can send you home with a 1080p or even 4K camera at this price point, and plenty will add extra GPS features like Follow Me as well.
$200 - $350 / £200 - £350
This price bracket brings us into the cheaper DJI territory now, so you'll start seeing a few more basic but still professional features creeping into your spec sheet. Longer video transmission distances of about 3-4km are to be expected here, as well as a smoother quality of live transmission as well. You'll start to see automated preset camera functions come into play here too.
$350 - $500 / £350 - £500
The top end of what could be considered a cheap drone will offer plenty more professional features like longer transmission distances, higher quality 4K cameras, over 30 minutes of flight time. Plus, you might even find a modular design that will allow you to replace and upgrade parts individually (though you might be scouring a few drone sales to secure that particular feature).
If you are looking for something a little bit more high tech, check out our roundup of the best drones currently available. Or, for more information on the best pick to get started, check out the best beginner drones on the market.