Sub-$50 Small Multirotor Drone Mini Reviews
People always say “you get what you pay for” and most of the time this is perfectly true. When it comes to cheap quadcopters and hexcopters though, it turns out you can have just as much fun (if not more) with these cheap drones, compared to their more serious big brothers.
First of all, at these prices you won’t care much if you destroy your drone while practicing new moves or simply learning to fly in the first place. Even veteran pilots can’t describe the experience of keeping a $3000 drone in the air as “fun”. Exciting, yes, but unless you’re Bill Gates rich (or Kanye in debt) you can’t ever really relax while flying.
These days you can get nano-drones for as little as $15 and still have a good small-scale experience of flying larger, more expensive drones. Most drones in this flight class are nano- or micro-scale or, in other words, up to about 250mm, but most are far smaller.
Below, I’ve put together mini reviews for various Sub-$50 multi-rotors – the absolute best in this class. Some can only fly indoors, which means you can take a break and have a quick flight around the room. Others, usually towards the larger end of the scale, can handle the outdoors with a bit of light breeze.
My Best Pick: Rabing Mini FPV RC Drone
The Rabing is one of the first truly fresh drones to come out in the nano and mini categories for a long time. It’s packed with tech and priced just right.
This is one of the most feature-complete budget drones I’ve seen. First of all, it’s a foldable unit, making it pretty portable. Secondly, it has live FPV transmission to your smartphone, which has a holder on the radio transmitter. If you want to, you can even ditch the controller and fly it with tablet or phone controls, although personally I’d never do this.
The app also supports a split VR mode, which means that if you have one of those plastic Google Cardboard enclosures, you can experience true FPV. It just blows my mind that you can get actual FPV for this little money. It feels like only yesterday when you had to sell a kidney for the cheapest FPV system.
The flight time is also pretty great at between 7-10 minutes. You get the battery capacity of a larger drone, but a small drone’s portability thanks to the folding nature of the product. Even better, it only takes 30 minutes to fully charge, which is way better than usual.
The Rabing feels like a true evolution of the nano/mini drone product category. It’s a real high-tech drone sold at a laughably low price. To top it off, it also succeeds in the most important aspect of a drone: it flies well. Total beginners have said this little guy has given them no trouble. It’s hard to find any reason not to recommend it.
The Holy Stone HS170 Predator
Serial rebrander Holy Stone actually has a knack for picking the right products to localize and support in the US. The HS170 Predator may have an unfortunate name (yes, I’d like to order a predator drone . . . hang on, the FBI is on the other line) but it is a sweet-looking little machine.
This is one of the few quads in this price range that explicitly says it can be flown outdoors in windy (ish) conditions. I mean, we all fly our nano quads outside anyway, but the makers aren’t endorsing that kind of thing. In fact you might find the HS170 just a bit too big to fly indoors comfortably, so keep that in mind.
It has decent-looking rotor guards, LED lighting, and color-coded front and rear rotors, so orientation should not be an issue. In case it is, though, there is a headless flight mode available, which can be very useful for beginners or if the drone gets so far away you can’t tell which end is which.
A big plus is that this quad has a removable battery, which is excellent and means you can fly as much as you’re willing to spend on batteries. Just let the motors cool for a few minutes between flights. The claimed flight time is 6-8 minutes and the charging time can be as much as 40 minutes if you use the USB charger. It should be possible to get a higher mAh battery for very little money, should you want to.
Users have said that the drone is well-made, crash-resistant, and responsive. Unfortunately, the “return home” function and headless modes are apparently buggy, so don’t buy it based on those features alone.
This is probably one of the best-priced quads suitable for outdoor flying, and I think that’s a great thing.
HASAKEE H1 FPV RC Drone
I want to say all sorts of stuff about this little drone, but first can we just address the elephant in the room? It’s painted to look like a giant bee. Or a hornet. Look, it’s some sort of flying insect that has yellow and black colouring.
No matter who you are, you have to agree that this is a pretty unique-looking drone. Apart from the paintjob it has this weird spherical fuselage and spherical motor casings.
It also has a built-in camera for FPV flight, using your smartphone as the receiver, clipped to the transmitter. You don’t even have to use the TX, you can just use the phone as a controller and either use onscreen virtual joysticks or you can opt to use gyro controls.
It has a headless mode, which is great for beginners who can’t get the hang of orientation yet. There’s also altitude hold and a return function. All pretty good for such a cheap little flyer.
The HASAKEE H1 uses a 3.7V 450 mAh lipo, so you can probably get some generics from the hobby shop to extend your flight times. Charging by USB can take up to an hour, so that may be a good idea. Although I’m not sure how easy the battery is to swap out.
I love the looks, charm, features and above all price of this H1 drone. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s why I can live with the dodgy film quality. This is a great little toy drone to keep in practice and scare people into thinking giant mutant bees are attacking. Priceless.
EACHINE E010 Mini UFO Quad
Before knowing anything about the EACHINE E010 Mini UFO, I knew that I really loved the way that it looks. It’s got a fuselage with a little mock cockpit, giving it the appearance of a futuristic flying sportscar. I mean, functionally it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, but it’s just a cool little design. In fact, this would inspire me to buy a few of these little guys and then race my friends. In which case it’s a good thing the E010 comes in both red and green. This way as you and your buddy chase each other around there’s no confusion about who’s who.
The radio transmitter has the same old shell we’ve seen in a whole host of nano quads such as the Revell XS. While the shell and sticks are the same the internals and available buttons do differ from brand to brand. The good news is that the ergonomics of this remote is pretty good and it is eminently pocketable.
Unlike some of those aforementioned models, you’ll find some shoulder buttons on the E010. The left shoulder switch changes input speed modes between low and high. The right one is the auto flip.
Incredibly for a tiny drone in this price range, there’s also headless mode and one key return. Just make sure you’re in an open space, because it’s not an intelligent function. Still, pretty good for this tiny toy.
People who’ve bought the E010 report that it’s a solid little flyer that will give you five minute of flight on a 30 minute charge. All in all, it’s a neat little machine.
As a weird added bonus, it seems that EACHINE offers a crude looking FPV upgrade module, which is insane, pointless and I’m sort of in love with it. I couldn’t find where to buy one though or how much it costs. Such is life.
Syma X5C Quadcopter
Let’s be honest here. This drone from Syma is a little too big to really count as “nano” drone. It might be more accurate to call it a mini-drone, but in absolute terms it’s pretty darn small. So while it won’t fit in the palm of your hand, it comfortably sits there anyway.
Price-wise the X5C is no more expensive than a decent drone of a smaller size, so it’s still “nano” in the price category. Design-wise the X5C is pretty conventional, with a plain X-shaped frame and no clear nose or tail. Even the camera blister is pretty conservative.
Thanks to its slightly greater size, the X5C gives longer flight time than the typical nano drone. The claimed number is seven minutes rather than five, but it also takes 100 minutes to fully charge the battery. Which means an extra 40 minutes of charging for two extra minutes of flight.
The X5C is equipped with an HD-resolution camera. This 720p 30fps camera isn’t capable of live FPV broadcast though, so if you have your heart set on an FPV drone in this price range you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Because this is not a true nano, it means you can exactly replace parts and do better maintenance. It also makes the X5C quite moddable, which might include replacing the camera with an FPV-capable module.
In terms of flight, people seem to love the X5C. It’s quick, stable and easy to fly. I think it’s size is in a sweet spot just above that of the typical nano, which means you can also use it for outdoor flight if it isn’t too windy.
The Hubsan X4 H107C Micro Quadcopter
Hail to the king, baby! The legendary Hubsan X4 probably needs no introduction, but in case you’re completely new here this is the quadcopter that gets listed time and time again as the best quad to use for learning your piloting skills.
It probably isn’t necessarily the best in every regard, at least not anymore, but it’s just an all-round, solid product that’s friendly to beginners but really lets you rip as your skill level grows.
The X4 is also known for it’s above-average power level, with those tiny motors giving a surprising level of acceleration and speed.
This particular model comes with a camera, although you need to provide the SD card for it.
Here you can see the results of the 0.3 MP camera and really, for such a cheap little thing this is just a fun extra. It allows you to record your flights and get a little more entertainment while you wait to charge your battery.
The design of the X4 is by now instantly recognizable and the radio transmitter is functional and pretty comfortable, by all accounts. The X4 is priced at the higher end of our budget in this category, but I think it’s easily worth it, considering how well it performs.
TOZO Q2020 Review
This is another drone where I’m struck by the looks and design of it before even knowing a single thing about its specifications. It’s got a clear nose and tail. Cool glowing blue “eyes” and chunky looking integrated prop guards. Those guards gives you an immediate feeling of confidence. As if the TOZO will stand up to a little more physical contact than the typical toy drone.
As with almost all of the new generation of nano-drones, the TOZO has a sensor that allows for attitude hold. Kids these days don’t know what it’s like to constantly adjust the throttle to maintain a steady hover. Hey, I guess I’m an old man now when it comes to this stuff.
The easy cheats keep coming too, since it has an auto-flipping function and it supports headless mode, which means you can stave off having to get your head around orientation.
The TOZO is clearly a drone aimed at raw beginners. According to those who’ve bought it you can be zooming around the room in no time at all and then slowly get yourself up to speed as your skill increases.
It takes 60 minutes to recharge the battery pack, but luckily it’s not soldered in, it’s the sort of LiPo pack you can get from any hobby shop, which means you can pack a few and just swap them out. A full charge will get you between five and seven minutes of flight time and this little guy can range out to about 30 meters safely and 45 meters if you have line of sight and are feeling lucky.
The controller is sort of cool looking, but of course there’s no FPV here so the little breakout screen is just an LCD with some data readouts. Still, it might fool an onlooker into thinking the TOZO is a more grown-up drone.
The buyers have spoken and the TOZO is both easy to fly and as durable as it looks. Many stories of overconfidence and subsequent crashed which the TOZO just shrugged off.
Syma X20 Mini Pocket Drone
Even though it doesn’t actually look at all like it, the Syma X20 still reminds me a lot of the original DJI Phantom. Syma has developed quite the reputation for making good quality, yet affordable toy-grade drones. The original X20 was well-received and they’ve decided to update the winning formula to keep up with how fast nano-drones are advancing.
It’s a good thing too, because the competition is packing in as many features as possible. So the headless mode support is pretty much par for the course at this point. One feature that does stand out however is the one-touch takeoff and landing. For beginner pilots one of the hardest things to learn is taking off and landing again. I know it took me a week just to lift off and shakily hover with an RC helicopter back in the day. Sure, it might seem like “cheating”, but I think a feature like this makes the hobby much more accessible and will ease new pilots in without having them quit from frustration.
The X20 gives you about 5 minutes of flight time off a 50-minute charge via USB. That’s not too bad, but it does suck that the battery is built-in and therefore you can charge up a bunch. The X20 is however so cheap that I guess you could buy more than one.
I might not recommend it though, since it seems that people are being too enthusiastic when putting in the charging cable. Syma has posted warnings about it in a bid, I guess, to indemnify themselves. So while it seems to be a good little drone in general, if you’re a butter-fingers maybe buy something else.
EACHINE E52 FPV Selfie Drone
Wait a second here EACHINE. This drone of yours looks suspiciously like the DJI Spark which is taking the world by storm. I’m sure it’s a total coincidence and it’s not an exact likeness, but at a glance a lot of people would do a double take.
To be honest, the E52 drone looks like someone made a fuselage out of spare vacuum cleaner casings, but it’s not exactly ugly. It looks sort of retro-modern in a way.
So this is an FPV drone which uses your phone as the video receiver. The phone simply slots into the clip on the radio transmitter and you’re good to go. Of course you need the right app, but once you’ve got the setup locked down it’s straightforward.
Since this drone is marketed as a selfie/video drone, it’s a good thing it has an altitude hold function, which keeps the drone flying at the same height when you let go of the stick.
The charging time is rather long at about an hour and that only gives you about eight minutes of flight. The maximum range on the transmitter is 100 meters and the camera is a paltry 0.3MP unit, so as you can imagine the photos and videos are hardly usable.
However let’s be realistic about our expectations for a drone at this price range. Just a year or two ago you would have no hope of picking up an FPV unit at this price. Now you can have fun looking around the neighbourhood with a live video feed without having to drop hundreds of dollars. If you want to capture footage to reuse then this was never going to work, but as a fun machine to explore your environment with it’s a great entry into the world of FPV flying.
The Cheerson CX-10 Mini
I remember the CX-10 as being one of the first “proper” cheap quadcopters. When I say cheap, I mean cheap. You may get one for about $15, which means you can buy three of them for our $50 budget and still have enough left over for transmitter batteries, which are not included, by the way.
You get a tiny little transmitter, which is the same one bundled with some other nano drones like the ones from Revell. I have actually used this transmitter personally, and I have huge hands so I can attest to how comfortable it is.
You also get the quad itself at just over an an inch in diameter, a spare set of rotors, and a USB charger. Like most nanos the battery is not removable, but with these teeny, tiny motors it probably isn’t a good idea to have lots of consecutive flights anyway. The charge time is about 30 to 40 minutes and that gives you a good reason to buy a couple if you don’t want your fun interrupted.
The transmitter is good for about 120 feet, although you need the eyes of an eagle to even spot the CX-10 at half that range.
There are three control rates and a flip function, each activated with a click of the left and right sticks, respectively.
The only real gripe I have is that all four rotors are the same color in the marketing pictures and in the YouTube videos I’ve seen. Not that great when trying to figure out your orientation, and the CX-10 doesn’t have a headless mode.
The tiny CX-10 is a great little quad even before you take the silly low price into account; given that it is so cheap I can’t recommend it enough. Buy a handful and just go out and have fun.
The Syma X9 Quadcopter Car
One of the great things about cheap drones is that you can take a chance on weird things, because, hey, it’s just $50 right?
Well, it happens that this drone is both weird and really is $50, if you pick up the right deal. Why is it weird? Because it’s also a freaking RC car. So in a way you can act out all your future flying car fantasies.
As an RC car it even looks pretty good, especially the all-black version. According to buyers it both drives and flies well. Although, it could fly like a brick and I’d still want one.
The total battery life is about 8 minutes, although they don’t say how much of this is in the air and how much on land. Luckily there are two batteries included as standard, so you can get 16 minutes out of it before heading to recharge.
In car mode it has two speeds and it also has two control rate modes when flying. It also has a flip function, which is cool and probably extra ridiculous given that this is a flying car.
UDI RC U839 Nano Quadcopter Review
This quad from UDI presents us with a pretty interesting idea. It comes with two battery packs, but one goes in the quad and the other goes in the actual transmitter. Even if you “empty” the battery in the drone, there’s still enough juice in the pack to easily power the transmitter for a second flight. It’s quite brilliant actually, although whether it’s better than just having two batteries and running the transmitter off some AAA cells is highly debatable.
On to the quad itself. I love the orange and black color scheme on this thing, especially with those little blue LED “eyes”. I’ve also seen green and pink models, but the orange is definitely the winner in my book.
It also comes with a rotor guard frame, which should make it a good choice for beginners or narcoleptics.
As I have come to expect from UDI, the U839 has great specs for the price. It can do 360 rolls, it will fly for 5-7 minutes, and it has a control range of about 100 feet.
If the Hubsan X4 or Syma X11 don’t do it for you then the U839 may be just what the doctor ordered. I have no idea which one I like the most, but at this price you can afford to buy one of each and then make up your own mind.
The Syma X11C Mini Drone
Heavy sits the crown, eh Hubsan X4? The Syma X11C is aimed squarely at the Hubsan X4 H107C. It’s a little more expensive than the X4, but boasts a 2MP camera instead of the X4’s 0.3 MP job. It has an easily-removable battery, included rotor guard frame, and a 4GB SD card. It can basically do everything the X4 can, but trumps it in some areas.
It’s a pretty tough choice, but on paper the X11C is clearly the one to go for. People have differing opinions between the two, but unless you buy both (and why not?) and fly them head to head I’d doubt anyone would care.
Still, the X4 is a tried and tested little monster. You should probably buy the X11C; I would buy the X4.
Fly the Friendly Skies
Well, these are all the cool, weird, and wonderful sub-$50 drones that I’ve found while surfing the online commerce space, and which seemed like they were worth a fifty or less. All of these seem like a heck of a lot of fun and I wish I could buy one of each. Hey, given how cheap they are, that may not be too far-fetched!
The great thing about these drones is how little risk there is in purchasing and flying them. This is probably the last time that you’ll fly something without that bit of stressful worry in the back of your head. Flying a $15 Cheerson CX-10 does not evoke this anxiety.
So, go ahead and buy any of the models you see on this page. I’m sure they will all suit the beginner just as well as the pro looking for practice or a diversion. When you’ve flown your nano-quad so much that the parts literally are worn out, then you’ll thank me for sending you down this road instead of buying, flying, and then totaling a $1000 RC drone.