This is part of a series of articles to find the best drone based on your needs and price point. Here is the best drones index page of this series of articles so you can find the right drone for you!
Finding the best drone under $100 is a difficult task, but it's easier when you know what you want out of your drone. Do you just want a toy drone to play with? Do you want a drone that you can learn on, so when you buy a more expensive drone you have the hang of flying?
Drones in this price point usually don't have a camera at all, and if they do the quality is limited. Some include a controller - while others use smart phone apps to control them. There are plenty of drones in this category, but I'll go over the drones that I have experience with.
Coming in at $99, the Ryze Tello is a great drone for beginner pilots. The Ryze Tello is a great entry point for any new drone pilot in training. This drone is designed to be an indoor or low wind drone, so flying outdoors in any kind of wind is out of the question - your Tello will fly away in the wind! You can also program this drone using your computer to fly and do backflips! Pretty cool thing to get new pilots excited about flying! It also has a camera, so you can see while you're flying on your phone. The quality isn't the greatest, but it's still has a pretty impressive set of features for this price range.
One caveat here though, it doesn't come with a controller, which I think is absolutely essential. Flying the Tello with only using your phone can be done, but you'll need a bluetooth controller to fly the drone properly. I have an entire article or YouTube video about setting up a blue tooth controller with the Ryze Tello. They also offer a Boost package with extra props, prop guards and extra batteries.
If you're looking to absolutely master flight, for as cheap as possible - I'd recommend buying a toy helicopter first. Toy helicopters have similar controls to a drone, and are WAY harder to fly than a drone. They are also much cheaper and much more forgiving when crashing them into something. Most toy drones are built to handle crashes - more expensive drones certainly are not. This helicopter can be flown outdoors with gentle wind. These things are small but fly quickly!
I learned to fly the hard way with an RC Hero H911 helicopter, I'm not sure if they still make them anymore - but it made flying larger drones a walk in the park. Toy helicopters have no vision positioning, obstacle avoidance, or any other bells and whistles that larger drones today have. Flying in full manual took some getting use to, but was valuable to learn from my mistakes on a cheap helicopter than a Phantom or a Mavic.
If you're looking for a drone that is good to learn, but not quite as difficult to fly as a toy helicopter (which is seriously hard to fly), there are a number of cheap toy drones out there that come with a controller and will give you a great entry point to becoming a drone pilot. These drones typically don't drift as much and go slower than an RC Helicopter, and allow you to get the hang of flying easier.
Some cheap drones are more durable than others, but usually you're not going that fast to cause a lot of damage to the drone while flying.
While the next more expensive drone that I would recommend is triple the price of any of these drones, the DJI Spark offers a much more sturdy platform and a decent camera when compared to any of the drones listed above. It is a drone that is geared towards beginners, and you can also fly it from your phone or with gestures and launch from your palm. It has a more robust set of features like active track and tap fly - but to really unlock the potential of the Spark you need the remote controller. The remote controller is offered in the Fly More package along with some batteries and other accessories. In my opinion, the fly more package is definitely worth it, but it's also an additional cost.
The $100 price point for drones is a beginner price point, but there are plenty of different options! Whether you're trying to learn on a less-expensive drone to level up your flight skills, or just looking for an inexpensive drone to have fun on - the above drones are a great option! Join us on our Facebook group to talk more about drones, photography and videography!