Today, drones are everywhere. They’re particularly popular among hobbyists, photographers, videographers, and more. Drone sightings are no longer exclusive to scenic spots, and can often be spotted in the sky above downtown areas and vacation hot spots.
Originally, drones were very expensive and were exclusive to the military. As the technology advanced and became more affordable, manufacturers like DJI began creating smaller, affordable consumer drones. Today, for just a few dollars, you can even purchase tiny, incredible mini drones that can fly, take photos, and also fit in the palm of your hand.
Whether you are a beginner buying your first drone, an expert drone racer, or just a casual pilot, searching for the right drone can be overwhelming. A $3000 drone may look amazing and fun, but it is not a worthy investment for a rookie drone enthusiast like you.
What you need is a drone that is easy to fly for you to get used to handling drones and sturdy enough to survive multiple crashes that it must go through by human error or malfunction. Good thing that there are under $300 drones that have all the features you will need like cameras and the first-person view or FPV when flying.
It also includes bumpers to have the blades protected and other hardware you need while you are still learning the basics. When you have perfected the art of flying drones that you can choose to upgrade to a more professional and expensive drone.
How to Pick the Best Drone Under $300
The first thing that you should do before buying a drone is to evaluate your needs. When you have this information, you can do market research so that you can decide on the best match. Look for a drone under $300 with first-person view abilities. Generally, almost all drones now have an HD screen attached to the controller. Most of them can also connect to mobile phones or tablets using an app.
If you are buying a drone for professional use like photography or surveying, you can look for extended battery life or extra batteries to help boost its productivity. The best advice for potential drone buyers is to check the pros and cons of each and compare them to your needs.
Features to Look For
Whether you are a first-time pilot or an enthusiast with a vast collection looking for inexpensive drones to add to your list, selecting the right drone under $300 can still be challenging. There are a variety of brands to choose from, and there are some that could be a complete rip-off. Here are a variety of factors that an informed buyer should use to select the best drone under $300.
Camera resolution is essential when buying any drone. It does not have to be a 4K resolution, unless you are a content creator, because you will need a large computer to edit the videos. A 1080p or 720p camera is excellent as it is technically high definition and if you are planning on making videos for personal consumption and share them, this will be fine.
Frame rate refers to how the camera record videos. Most of the drones under this price point record videos at 30 frames per second. This is a standard cinema frame rate and will look good on monitors and televisions. If you require a higher frame rate, then you also need to have more significant storage.
Gimbal and Camera Stabilization
This factor is also connected with the camera because the last thing you need is an unstable camera. Most of the available drones have a gimbal to make sure the cameras are stable during flight. When the camera is built directly on the frame, it may tilt when you make maneuvers, mainly if you are new to piloting drones. The pivoting arms of the gimbals are controlled by a gyroscope that makes the camera steady even if the drone is tilting.
Autonomous Flight Features
The new releases have this feature that gives the drone autonomy to bypass the inputs of the pilot for its safety. Another purpose is to get great shots or to keep the pilot hands free. If you are new, you can use the automatic take-off and landing. It can also have a journey mode or the cable cam which allows the unit to fly in a predetermined path and return to its pilot.
Controller and FPV
This factor should be significantly considered whether your purpose is to take photos and videos or to have the fun of flying drones. If you select a drone with an included controller, you need to make sure that it is designed to your needs. Controllers may come with a joystick or sophisticated buttons for more advanced control.
Battery Life and Range
In drones under $300, the battery life varies with each brand significantly. Some lower-end drones can fly for 7 minutes while others can fly at 25 minutes. If you are planning to use the drone professionally, you need to choose the one with longer battery life. It will also be a great idea to have a drone with an automatic return feature because it can detect when the drone is running low on battery and will return to the base immediately.
It is also essential to know the existing laws in your state when flying drones/ the FAA has put restrictions on flying drones to a maximum of 400-feet altitude only, and it is illegal to fly them near the airport.
Types of Drones
Drones can be classified in different ways; for example, based on usage it can drones for photography, drones for aerial mapping or drones for surveillance. The best form of classification is based on their flying platforms. Here are the types of drones.
Multi Rotor Drones
This is the most common type of drone which we are going to review. Most of these drones have typical applications like aerial photography or aerial video surveillance. Among the four types of drones, this is the easiest to manufacture and the cheapest. They are also further classified into tricopter, quadcopter, hexacopter, and octocopter. The most popular are quadcopters.
This type of drone is different in build and design from the multi-motor type drones. They have wings like an airplane and can never stay afloat. Their move base on the set course or by the guide control. They are used for long distance operations like surveillance or mapping.
Single Rotor Drones
They look very much like helicopters in design and structure. They are more efficient than multi-rotor drones with higher flying times and powered by gas engines. Because they are more complex and has high operational risks, you need specialized training to fly them.
This is a combination of fixed wing and rotor-based models which has been on the drawing board since the 1960s. With the introduction of new sensors, it became alive in this generation. It is more of manual gliding and automation. One of the most popular applications of this type of drone is in Prime delivery service of Amazon.
Our Top Drone Picks
Although this Potensic T18 GPS FPV RC Drone is small and affordable, it is packed with the same feature that you can find in the big players. Children and adults will love this drone because you can fly them out of the box and with a shorter learning curve. You can use it to shoot personal videos with its 1080p resolution.
Physically the drone is lightweight and compact at less than a kilogram. The propellers are durable, and the other drone parts are well structured to make sure that it will only have a minor crash during flight. Included in the package is the 3.7V 100mAH battery, extra propeller, USB charger, screwdriver and protection guards.
The camera quality is at 1080p resolution which can produce high-quality images and good aerial videos. Its camera can be adjusted at an angle of 90 degrees, and the field of view is 120 degrees. It has PFV which allows the user to see what the drone is seeing. You will that have any problem with video and images transmission in this drone because it is fast.
This drone has a rechargeable battery that has an energy-optimized system to give an excellent flight experience to the user. Charging time is at the maximum 90 minutes with a flying time of 10 minutes. Since the battery is removable, you can buy extra batteries for extended flight time.
It is practically impossible to lose this drone with additional safety features like the GPS and the automatic Return to Home. The drone can automatically return to where it took off when the GPS is activated or when the battery runs out. It has different flight modes too like the Follow Me mode, Headless mode and the altitude hold that lets it hovers at the height you desire.
- Provides smooth and stable flight
- Clear and high-quality photos and videos
- High-speed transmission and no delay
- Return-To-Home feature when the connection is lost or when the battery gets drained
- The general build feels like it is cheap
- GPS feature will not work when out it is out of range
This is another drone by Potensic, known as the Potensic D60. It is a brushless drone that is made suitable for cold condition. There are many benefits of using a drone with a brushless motor, and one of them is being quiet. If you want to fly the drone in your backyard with neighbors living close by this is a great feature. In terms of longevity, the brushless drone has an advantage because the speed is controlled electronically.
Just like any other models from Potensic, the box contains everything you need to start flying your drone. It has the battery, spare propellers, a charging cable, the controlled and the manual. The brushless motor is its highlight, and all drones of this kind tend to be quieter and more powerful. This drone is not foldable but convenient to pack.
The 1080p resolution camera feature is also excellent in this drone with a one-axis gimbal which you can operate by pressing and holding the button that is made just for this function on the controller. This allows the gimbal to increase or decrease its altitude to find the best shot. The gimbal also holds the camera steady. The field of vision is quite extensive too at 110 degrees, and with the first-person view, selfies and stunning views are not hard.
Aside from its durability, you will also love the safety features built into this drone. It has Return-to-Home feature in case the drone runs out of battery, and a Follow Me feature with the GPS embedded in this drone. Another useful feature is the optical altitude hold feature where you only need to set the height, and the drone will hover over your target to take photos and videos.
The battery life and flight time is also not an issue as it can fly to a maximum of 20 minutes and you can buy a second battery as a replacement. The battery is removable so that you can charge a spare for a more extensive flying experience.
- Brushless motor makes the drone quieter and powerful
- Six-axis gimbal gives the camera stability
- Return to Home feature can bring the drone back when the battery is low
- You can use your smartphone to control the drone
- A bit expensive but the features are worth it
- It is not foldable but easy to pack
The GAOAG GPS RC Drone may not be familiar to many drone enthusiasts and may look different from the more popular camera quads, but it is an excellent performer among the brushless drones out there. The brushless motor makes the drone more powerful and precise speed. You can decrease, increase and stop its altitude faster because the drone is electronically controlled. Brushless motor is 50% more powerful than non-brushless.
One of its great features is the 1080p resolution camera that has 5G Wi-Fi capability. When it relates to an app, the user can enjoy a real-time first-person view through the remote control. It also has the One Key Return Home button along with the GPS. This provides the user an accurate positioning of the drone and when the battery runs out or the signal is out of range, you can recall the drone back to its starting position.
Shooting images and videos in a precarious position is not a problem because it has an altitude hold function. It keeps the drone stable to shoot quality videos and pictures. The Headless mode feature, on the other hand, makes it easy for those who are not good at directions to control the drone.
Many users of this drone find the unique and sleek design attractive, and there are many pilot-friendly features to enjoy flying the drone including the altitude hold and headless mode features. Other features that are worth the price are the follow me and fixed-circle function. It has a battery life of 15 minutes and can fly a decent 984 feet range.
- The built-in Wi-Fi camera
- It is compatible with VR headset
- Main flying features like Return to Home, Headless mode and altitude hold function
- Decent signal range
- Longer charging time
- Shorter flying time
If you are looking for a great camera drone, then the Contixo F20 RC Quadcopter is for you. Plus, it is affordable and can fit both the novice and the expert drone pilot. When you look at the drone, you will find it more stylish looking than others and more aggressive looking too. But seeing beyond its looks, you will find that this drone is feature-packed.
The drone is lightweight at less than a pound and has a significant black color with green markings. When you buy the drone, it is flight ready, and there is no need for assembly. It comes with a carry case to protect the drone when traveling. Just like other drones with brushless motors, they are more powerful, last longer and has a low noise level. Its camera is also one of its best features. Since it is a camera drone, it offers a first-person view, and it allows you to download an app from Contixo to view what the drone is seeing in-flight. The camera is full HD at 1080p resolution, and it is Wi-Fi capable at a maximum of 300 motors.
It is also equipped with GPS that assist the drone in flying back home when its battery runs out. Another GPS supported function is the follow me feature and the hovering mode. The battery is modular type; you can have spare to use when the other one is charging. It has about 15-20 minutes.
Another exciting flight feature is the Orbit Mode, where the drone can go around in a circle while shooting photos or videos. You can also draw the flight plan on your smartphone for the drone to follow.
- The Contixo app is easy to download and use
- The faster flying speed at 60km/h
- With onboard mini-SD card
- With modular battery for spare
- Shorter flight time
- The battery takes too long to charge
The company is one of the famous manufacturers of drones in the market today, and you can expect nothing less from them. The Holy Stone HS100G is popular among beginners and the younger set of drone enthusiasts because it is never dull but not complicated.
The first thing that you will notice about this drone is it’s big and weighs about 700 grams. Not to light but not too heavy for traveling. It has an intelligent battery feature as you can monitor the battery performance on the controller or your smartphone. Charging time for 2500mAh battery takes about three to six hours and flying time is about 12 to 15 minutes.
It has a stylish remote controller which is also responsive and can hold the smartphone. All the functions you are looking for in a drone are packed in this Holy HS100G including the altitude hold, return home, headless mode and many others. You can also download an app to control this drone on your smartphone, and the transmission range is about 500 meters.
The 5GFPV Wi-Fi connectivity and broadcast enable the drone to send real-time videos at a maximum distance of 1600 feet. This is quite a fete for a drone in this category and price point. It also has GPS-assisted functions like the automatic return home features when the battery is dying, and the follow me mode, where the drone follows every move you make to capture more moments.
It has a 1080p full HD camera that can capture high images outdoors at a whole field of view of 120 degrees. You can also adjust the camera angle at 90 degrees through the FPV feature.
- Safe for beginners with the auto-return feature
- The gimbal provides stability while taking pictures
- Stylish and beautiful looking drone
- Easy to fly even for beginners
- Battery charging is longer
- Needs registration with the FAA because of its size
The Potensic D80 FPV RC Drone is a quadcopter for adults with its futuristic look and loaded with great features that are more sophisticated than others. Despite this quality, the price remained affordable, and it is perfect both for the novice and advanced drone enthusiasts.
The Potensic D80 drone is classified as a camera quadcopter that has 1080p camera for good video and photo coverage. The memory is expandable to contain the footages, but you can also view the real-time on the smartphone by using FPV mode. This connects through a 5.0 GHz signal and can transmit the images to a maximum of 500 meters distance.
Its design and construction are built on a brushless motor providing a flight speed of 25 mph. Although this is high, it can still take great photos and videos at that height. But for a beginner, you should start at a lower setting before taking on higher speed. The controller can be used as far as 600 meters.
The GPS assisted feature like return home mode during power or signal loss is also present. The headless mode allows the user to fly the drone in any direction and you can also develop a flight plan on your smartphone for a hands-free and enjoyable experience. It also has a hovering mode that can stay at a preset level to take photos.
Battery life is longer at 20 minutes, and since it is a modular battery, you can buy a spare 7.4V 1800 mAh Li-Po battery. Charging time is longer though at 5 hours. You also need to register this drone with FAA before you can use them.
- Longer flight hours at 20 minutes
- Equipped with powerful brushless motor
- Longer connection range
- Higher speed flight performance
- Longer charging time
- It does not have an obstacle avoidance system
The Holy Stone HS700 is often referred to as Holy Stone’s flagship drone and we can see why. You will love everything about it, from its design to is performance. Even if the drone is made from high-quality plastic, it does not look and feel cheap at all. From lights in its body to its speed and performance you will know that it has all the remarkable qualities this company is known for.
The drone is lightweight at 608 grams, which means it is easy to pack and travel and does not need any registration with the FAA. With its dimensions of 8.7 inches by 8.7 inches, you can use this drone indoors. It is also sturdy and well-built that it can last longer. On the downside, it has no protection guards so that the pilot must be cautious and provide some distance when flying.
The camera is one feature that this drone stands out as it is equipped with a 5G 1080p FHD model that can capture great still photos and excellent videos. It has a 110 degrees field of view, providing a superb panoramic view in first-person that you can transmit on your smartphone. You can also install a GoPro camera if you want.
The battery feature is a massive 2800mAh that can power 20 minutes of flying time. You can get spare batteries for extended flying time. The image is transmitted using 5G technology with real-time and clear video transmission. It is also equipped with GPS enabled safety features like return to home when the signal or battery is low. The brushless motor allows the drone to fly at a speed of 25 km/h upwind and downwind at 60 km/h. Other flight features include follow me flight, headless mode and you can draw a flight route using your smartphone.
It controller is sleek and smart looking equipped with a phone holder. The small LCD screen shows the battery stats, flight height, and distance.
- Outstanding camera quality
- Affordable with great features
- Reliable and sturdy, it can last long
- With ample memory storage that is extendable too
- Longer time to charge the batteries
- Reduce flight time on windy flying conditions
Frequently Asked Questions About Drones
Where can I buy drones?
Drones are available on multiple platforms. Many manufacturers sell their drones directly on their sites while Amazon and eBay are leading sources for drones online. You can also visit various brick and mortar stores that are selling them.
Where can I fly a drone?
The general rule is to fly drones at a maximum height of 400 feet and at least 5 miles away from the airport. FAA governs flying of drones and has released specific guidelines on how and where to operate them.
How can drones transmit the photo and video images?
The footages taken by a drone is transmitted to either a field monitor or an Android or iOS device. In addition, the FPV or first-person view that also helps in seamless transmission but requires legislation.
What will happen if the drone goes out of range?
In case that the drone gets out of sight or range, it automatically or manually switches to RTL mode or returns to land mode. This means that with the GPS assistance it can return to where it took flight.
What if the drone’s battery becomes low during a flight?
The drone will either gets down or return to home depending on its feature. There is a pre-installed warning system in the drone that will warn you when the battery is low, but it is best always to keep an eye on your drone.
Drones are made for various reason serve different purposes. Some drones are made to function as a helicopter while others are used as fishing drones. Amazon for one is perfecting a drone that can deliver the item in faraway locations.
There are also drones that are designed for fun like the drones that we have reviewed. At $300 or less, you can have a drone that will serve not only as entertainment for drone enthusiasts but for meaningful purpose too like surveying and in photography. For a newbie, it is best to start with something around this price point and upgrade later. If your budget happens to be a bit smaller, we’ve done a great review of our favorite drones for under 200, check it out!
Now that you know the qualities to look for in an affordable drone under $300, which of these drones would you select?