My Drone Professional

The Best Drones for Beginners from $50 to $500

The hunt to find the right drone for beginners is exciting but can also be completely overwhelming. The mistakes I made when buying my first drone is part of the reason I started this blog.

I’ve listed my recommendations for the best drones for beginners in each price bracket from $50 to $500+ but I’ve also created a list of what to look for when buying a new drone as a beginner and some common beginner questions.

My Recommendations on the Best Drones for Beginners

Best Beginner Drone Under $50

The DEERC D20 is one of the best budget drones under 50. Most drones in this price range aren’t equiped with a camera or live stream capabilities but this model gives FPV footage up to 30m.

Other limiting factors at this price point are usually a short battery life and flight time, smaller controllers designed for kids and low camera quality.

One thing to keep in mind is that these cheaper drones will struggle to fly in the wind but are great for indoor amusement when stuck inside on a rainy day.

DEERC D20 Mini Drone

drones for kids 7 years
  • Up to 30m with FPV (First person view)
  • Good size controller that can hold a large mobile phone
  • Can be controlled with hand gestures without the remote.
  • Simple to use: one button start and stop, auto hover function
  • 3 speed modes
  • Flight time : 8-10 minutes

Read the full review and check out other beginner UAVs in the Best Budget Drones Under 50 .

Best Beginner Drone Under $100

DJI dominate the drone market and have cleverly designed UAVs tailored to absolute beginners to commercial drones like the Mavic 2 Enterprise. So, it’s not surprising they’ve designed an awesome beginner drone under  $100, the Ryze Tec Tello.

DJI Ryze Tec Tello

  • Removable propellor guards are good for learning to fly indoors and protect the drone.
  • Easy to learn : Auto take-off
  • FPV VR headset compatible (First person view goggles)
  • Flight time 13 minutes

Read the full review on the DJI Ryze Tec Tello in the article, Best FPV Drones .

Best Beginner Drone Under $200

Drone flight times and battery life start to drastically improve when we get into the $200 price bracket. Aovo are a less well known brand but they’ve designed a beginner drone well under $200 that has 30 minutes flight time per battery.

AOVO 4K Drone

  • Maintains decent control in mild wind
  • 30 minutes flight time per battery
  • 4K video and stills
  • Easy for beginners with features like return home, follow me mode and tap fly (pre-programmed route)

The AOVO 4K drone is my top pick in the longest flight time drones under $200

This drone packs some pretty impressive features when compared with our recommendation for the best beginner drone under $300, the DJI Mini SE. The main considerations here is that the AOVO weighs 650g meaning it has to be FAA registered which can be a big turn off for some people. DJI is also a well known brand with a very good reputation so drone enthusiasts are often willing to pay a bit more for the brand.

Best Beginner Drone Under $300

The best drone for beginners under $300 has to go to DJI for there Mini SE drone. This is the budget version in their ‘Mini’ range which also consists of the DJI Mini 2 and the Mini 3 Pro.

The camera is almost the same as the Mini 2 which is almost double the price when bought new. One of the compromises that makes this drone cheaper to manufacture is the transmitter. This model uses enhanced wifi rather than DJI’s OcuSync 2, this means the signal is more prone to interference if you’re using the drone in busy urban areas. However, if your using the drone in more regional scenic areas this won’t be an issue.

I’ve also written an article where I go through my top 3 picks for the best drones under 300.


  • Good wind resistance
  • 12 MP camera, 2.7k video
  • 4km / 2.5 mile range with HD video transmission
  • Compatible with 3rd party apps that unlock pro features like follow mode.
  • Under 250g (no drone registration needed)
  • 30 Minutes flight time per battery

I have an article comparing the 3 models in DJI’s Mini series or for more specs and details you can check out the info on Amazon here.

Best Beginner Drone Under $500

The DJI Mini 2 gets my vote for the best drone under $500. Normally this model is slightly over $500 when at full price with no accessories  BUT this is a very popular drone that can almost always be found from a quality drone re-furb company for a steal with all the bonus accessories (check our recommended stockist from the links in Our Hack to Getting the Best Drone Under 500).

DJI Mini 2

  • Better transmission than the DJI Mini SE thank to OcuSync 2 technology ( this means you’ll get less interference)
  • 10 Mile range with 4k video
  • 4x digital zoom with 1080p resolution or 2x digital zoom with 2.7k and 4k.
  • Max speed 35mph
  • Under 250g (no drone registration needed)
  • 31 Minutes flight time per battery

The DJI Mavic 2 is the most advanced drone I would recommend for beginners. This is a good quality drone that you’ll be able to quickly learn the basic on.

Its also great for beginners because, unlike cheaper drones, it’s going to stay in your control in wind rather than get blown into a tree by or loose signal and end up in a lake!

Common Questions on Drones for Beginners

Do I have to register my drone?

All drones that weigh over 250g / 0.55lb need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This can be done through this link (

An exemption is given for drones under this weight given that they are flown for recreational use only.

More information in the article;  Is it legal to fly a drone over private property?

Do I need a license to fly a drone?

The drone just needs to be registered (as above) but sometimes the person operating the drone will require a license.

A drone license is required when flying a drone for business use, this is called a Part 107 and is also managed by the FAA. The Part 107 certification also includes rules around how to fly a drone  such as giving way to manned aircraft and keeping the UAV in your line of site.

The most recent update to this certification is the ‘Operations Over People’ Rule. This allows drone pilots to operate at night, over people and over moving vehicles as long as certain conditions are met.

To get the Part 107 certification you must be at least 16 years old, pass the FAA knowledge  test and complete the remote pilot certificate form. The cost of the test at last check was $175.

Definitions and What to Look When Buying a Drone for Beginners

The drone you choose will depend on what you want to use it for but the following should be the core of any new UAV pilot’s checklist.

  1. Range from transmitter – how far can it fly?
  2. Battery capacity – how long can it fly for?
  3. Camera quality
  4. Live feed
  5. Body material

What does 'range from transmitter' mean for drones?

The transmitter range effects how far you can fly your drone. This is the distance between the radio signal transmitter (controller) and the receiver (drone). The range claimed by the manufacture is the maximum distance possible but in reality the range is effected by interference from tall buildings, telephone towers, walls and mountains. Fixed wing models generally such as the Parrot FPV have a much greater flight range than quadcopter style drones.

Drone features that can improve the range are :

  • Antenna type
  • The orientation of the drone & control
  • Power of the transmitter
  • Frequency used

In the drones recommended above the DJI Mini 2 greatest range but there are many long range drones.

Commercial drones designed for delivery can fly much further. For example Google’s Wing can fly 12 miles (20km) carrying up to 1.5kg.

Autonomous drones connect to wifi, cellular network or radio signals from a transmitter on the ground which allow them to be controlled at much greater distances. For more info on autonomous drone networks check out DroNet…Autonomous Drone Swarms and Fried Chicken Delivery.

Battery Capacity - How long can drones fly for?

How long your drone can stay in the air is limited by the battery capacity. When choosing your first drone check the recharge time, cheaper models will likely have batteries that don’t last and take longer to charge. Some budget drones may also have a fixed battery meaning the drone needs to be plugged into a charger rather than replacing the battery with a fully charged one to keep flying.

Most drone pilots will buy spare batteries to switch out, the standard 30 minutes of flight time is not very long if you’ve driven out to an amazing location specifically to fly your drone. Keep in mind you may need to let the motor & parts cool down before swapping in a new battery to prevent wear down of parts.

Two common battery types used in drones are Lithium Polymer (Li-po or Lithium Ion Polymer) and Lithium Ion (Li-ion). The main difference between the two types is the electrolyte used between the electrodes. Li-ion batteries use a liquid and Li-po batteries use a gel or porous compound. These gel type Li-po batteries are found in modern laptops & electric vehicles.

The Li-po type are generally more expensive than Li-ion batteries as the technology is newer. A downfall of Li-po batteries is that they don’t age as well as Li-ion batteries i.e. they eventually age and don’t charge up to their original state. The main benefits of Li-po batteries is that they don’t overheat so are generally seen as the safer option.

Li-po batteries can also be lighter which is a big plus for drone design because the heavier the drone, the faster the battery will be depleted.

For more info on affordable drones with a long flight time, check out Longest flight time drones under $200.

Understanding camera quality in drones for beginners

Some people buy drones just to enjoy flying but most want to be able to either take pictures from an epic birds eye view or experience the live stream.

As a beginner, the key camera specification to check is resolution. Resolution describes the quality of picture the drone camera can take. It is usually measured in megapixels which is the number of pixels in a single image in millions (ie 12mp is 12 million pixels). A pixel is the smallest component of an image, think of zooming right in to a picture until you can see the individual grains or blocks of colour, that is a pixel.

The Mavic 3 can take photos up to 5280 x 3956 pixels so that equates to 20mp (about 20.9 million pixels). To put this in perspective, the standard screen resolution for a computer is 1980 x1080 pixels. The camera resolution is important if you’re going to producing large prints from your photos.

To learn more about camera quality in this article on the best drone cameras.

What is FPV?

FPV stands for First Person View. This is the live video stream from your drone that virtually puts you in the pilot seat and is a huge advantage for lining up the perfect aerial photo. Some drones such as the Parrot Disco FPV are compatible with FPV goggles, some have a screen built into the controller (like the DJI Mini Pro 3) but most require a companion app to be installed on your mobile.

The Parrot Disco FPV comes with immersive first person view goggles (see video below).

What are drone bodies made of?

Drone bodies are generally made of plastic, fiber glass, carbon fibre and aluminum. The material is important for two reasons – strength and weight. The lighter the material the longer the flight time & improved mobility. Cheaper plastics used in toy drones will break easily however not all plastics are created equal.

Thermoplastics are currently being used in 3D printing for experimental drones and have high strength and are very light weight. Before purchasing your drone you may want to check the availability and cost of replacement parts. DJI provide a service plan called DJI Care to help with replacement of parts and spare parts for Parrot drones can be ordered directly from their site.

To minimise the risk of collision all together a handy feature to have is obstacle avoidance… 

Obstacle avoidance; How do drones avoid collisions?

Obstacle avoidance; As a beginner this can feature is really appreciated because drones (especially the cheaper beginner models) can be easily damaged in collisions with obstacles. Collision avoidance is also super important for the commercial use of drones in indoor areas like warehouses and factories where they are used for inspections and logistics.  The potential for a drone worth thousands of dollars to collide with moving machinery, shelving or people needs to be mitigated. 

What is Obstacle Avoidance on a Drone?

Using sensors and GPS, drones can maneuver around objects like walls, trees without being controlled by the pilot . One of the challenges that drone engineers face when designing this technology is that most sensors only detect 3-30 meters in front of them which isn’t a-lot when traveling at high speeds . 

Wrap Up on Drones for Beginners

I hope this article has shown the huge range of features and quality in some of the best drones for beginners.

You can get started from as little as $50 to test out a simple drone for beginners with a camera or spend $500 on a model that will give good quality photos and video and hold up better in outdoor conditions.

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