Best Drones Under $200: Our 2018 Buying Guide

Looking for a quality starter drone but don’t want to fork out thousands?

Here’s our guide to
buying drones on a budget:

With so many different types of drones on the market, and with high-end drone selling for thousands –  it’s difficult to know where to start.

There’s also the experience factor – nothing fully prepares you for the feeling of handling a drone in the sky until you’ve actually done it. So until you’ve raised your flight hours to a level where you feel comfortable – do you really want to risk a machine worth thousands just when you’re starting out?


Drones Under $200 – The Magic Number

At Aussie Drone Reviews we think it makes sense to start small, and for us around $100-200 is the magic amount where you can buy a high-quality drone with the ability to take great quality video, (but one that won’t break your heart and budget if anything goes wrong.)

With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide below to help you choose the perfect drone for under $200. So if you’re in the market for a starter drone that handles well in the sky, has a great camera and won’t break the bank  – here are our favourites:

Please note: this guide is intended for an local audience so we’re only listing drones easily available in Australia (ie. through online retailers like Amazon or eBay.)  We’ve left out some more niche drones that need to be ordered specially through hobby stores. 

 

Top Drones Under $200 – Our Selection

 

1. ARRIS RC Foldable Drone – RRP $117 AUD

The ARRIS RC is a foldable, light-weight 2.4G Quadcopter drone that packs a wide-angle 720P 2MP HD camera and a 3.7V 900mAh battery giving it an average flying time of 8-10 minutes.

It can be controlled easily through a WiFi connection and includes a ‘G-sensor’ mode that enables the drone to follow the direction of your phone. The ‘one press return’ function also worked well and the drone came back without any delay. The camera display is surprisingly clear and detailed for a sub-$200 drone and the ARRIS RCwith a 3 different flight speed switchers as well as an Altitude Hold Mode that allows fliers to stop the drone in midair and keep it at a set height – ideal for shooting stable pictures video.

ARRIS RC Foldable Drone
  • 9.8/10
    Camera performance - 9.8/10
  • 9.5/10
    Flight control - 9.5/10
  • 9.7/10
    Battery life - 9.7/10
  • 9.5/10
    Flight features - 9.5/10
9.6/10

Summary

Overall this is a fantastic little drone that flies smoothly and photographs well. A set of folding arms intended for flight stabilisation also double as protective feature, shielding the main body should the drone collide with anything in the air. A set of snap-in blade protectors also come standard with this model.

Battery life is above average with an average 8-10 minutes flying time, but the ARRIS could benefit from including a spare battery. The ARRIS RC is compatible with most 3-D phone headsets, allowing you to view your drone video live as it flies.

In our view, the ARRIS RC drone is easily the best drone under $200 on the market. If considering purchasing one as a starter model – be aware there seem to be two general variants of this drone available for a similar price, one with a 0.3 MP camera and one with a 2 MP camera. The 2MP produces remarkably good video and still footage at a similar price point to the 0.3MP version, which we recommend.

Pros: Stable, durable, easy to control via app.
Cons: Limited battery life

 

 

 

2. OVERMAL Global Drone X183 RRP – $199 AUD

Next up is the Overmal Global Drone X183 Quadcopter which comes with an on-board 2MP HD gimbal camera and boasts a control distance of up to 400 metres and a flying time of 7-10 minutes.

The X183’s 6 axis gyro system keeps the drone extremely stable in mid-air and much like the ARRIS RC above, it comes with a G-sensor function that allows you to use your phone’s accelerometer controls to steer the drone.

OVERMAL Global Drone
  • 8.5/10
    Camera performance - 8.5/10
  • 9.5/10
    Flight control - 9.5/10
  • 9/10
    Battery life - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Flight features - 9/10
9/10

Summary

Apart from the increased flying time (and slightly higher price,) the main difference between this and the ARRIS FC is the extra battery life and additional FPV functions the OVERMAL X183 offers – including additional VR support, allowing you to use the drone with VR glasses and fly your drone using a birds-eye view.

The OVERMAL X183 also includes a 2MP Wifi Camera and comes with additional propeller covers and a phone holder. Overall the X183 is a strong second finisher behind the ARRIS FC, offering slightly enhanced features but at a higher price point.

Pros: Excellent flight stabilisation due to a 6 axis gyro system, reasonable battery life.
Cons: Not as sturdy as the ARRIS FC.


 

3. Ryze Tech Tello – $150 RRP AUD 

Much like the OVERMAL Global Drone, further up the page, the Tello is compatible with most VR Headsets, allowing users to fly with a breathtaking first-person view. It includes an on-board 720p HD camera and is capable of spending up to 13 minutes in the air at a 100 meter flight distance.

Unusually, It also comes with a custom SDK –  letting users develop their own software applications for this drone.

Ryze Tech Tello
  • 9/10
    Camera performance - 9/10
  • 5.9/10
    Flight control - 5.9/10
  • 7.2/10
    Battery life - 7.2/10
  • 8.6/10
    Flight features - 8.6/10
7.7/10

Summary

The Tello is reasonably light-weight at 80 grams and can shoot some incredible high-resolution photos and videos – it’s twin antenna make video transmission extra stable, and it’s high-capacity battery (a modest 3.8 volts that can power 13 mins of flying,) sets it slightly above the rest of the pack in terms of flight time and battery life.

Thanks to all the tech that Tello’s packing, you can shoot 720p videos and 5MP photos  – it’s two antennas also make video transmission extra stable. Tello also includes additional propellers and a battery and a ‘throw and go’ mode which allows you to start flying by  simply tossing Tello into the air.

Overall the Tello is a great starter drone, it’s very steady in the air and responsive to user inputs – it’s highly recommend to anyone wanting to get into the hobby.

Pros: Easy & simple to use. Great camera and video resolution. Incredible battery life.
Cons: Can occasionally overheat and run hot, cutting flights short. 

 

4. Parrot Mambo – RRP $118.98 AUD 

A less-common model in Australia, the Parrot Mambo drone is a cheap and effective mini-drone that comes with a 550mAh LiPo Battery that allows for up 9 minutes of flying time within a 20 metre radius, (upgradable to 1000 metres by purchasing  accessories.)

Weighing only 63 grams, the Parrot Mambo also includes a 60 FPS vertical camera and several ultrasound and pressure and comes with a complete with a cannon, a small pouch of airsoft pellets and a claw-hand that allows it to grab and carry small objects weighing up to 4 grams. 


Parrot Mambo
  • 8/10
    Camera performance - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Flight control - 7/10
  • 8.5/10
    Battery life - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Flight features - 8.5/10
8/10

Parrot Mambo

The Parrot is reasonably stable and easy to fly for a beginner but comes with a tiny 0.3MP camera making it a slightly underwhelming drone for photography. The Parrot excels is as a trick drone – it’s lightweight frame and responsive controls make it easy to perform flight manoeuvres such as flips, barrel rolls, and other in-flight acrobatics.

The Parrot comes included with an easy-to-use app that connects via Bluetooth and records post-flight data, including speed and height of your previous aerial trips. It’s cheap price point considering the features and accessories included mean the Parrot is a reasonable starter drone for a beginner flier, but anyone more advanced should probably give this one a miss.

Pros: Easy to fly and control in the air. Excels at mid-air maneuvers.
Cons: Low resolution camera. Those seeking a drone for aerial photography should look elsewhere.


5. H47 – Foldable Mini-Drone RRP $119 AUD

Slightly heavier than its competitors, the H47 is 47 grams and boasts a Wi-Fi controlling range of 30-50 metres and a flight time of up to 7 minutes. A 720P camera comes included and a 6-axle gyroscope provide stability while photographing in the air.

H47 – Foldable Mini-Drone
  • 7/10
    Camera performance - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Flight control - 7/10
  • 10/10
    Battery life - 10/10
  • 7.5/10
    Flight features - 7.5/10
7.9/10

Summary

The H47’s distinctive gun metal blue design makes it a visually distinctive starter drone, it’s also foldable, lightweight and convenient to carry and store. However be aware the H47 uses 2.4Ghz for FPV feed, which is quite limiting and can cuts off after about 30 meters. This drone can also be a bit hard to get used to and to control, we’d advise new owners to start flying it with the remote as it’s a bit easier to control rather than via a phone. (Also be aware the H47 doesn’t come with any batteries for the controller.)  

Other than that, the H47 is a fairly straightforward starter drone that’s relatively easy to setup and use, while it has a limited flight time, that’s fairly standard for a camera drone with this price tag.

Pros: Cheap and lightweight. High quality camera for the price.
Cons: Can be difficult to control on your phone.



Conclusion

What really appeals us about the sub-$200 drone is intersection between money and value this price point offers. While there’s some slight trade-offs in terms of flying time, distance and battery charging time compared to more high-end $500+ models, it’s pretty incredible to think you can pay less than $200 for a drone and simply take them out, set up within minutes and start taking stunning aerial photos that were unimaginable a few years ago.

If you enjoyed this article, you’re welcome to subscribe to our newsletter for more drone related guides and info, or if you’re ready to take things up a notch, check out our Best Drones of 2018 article for some information on more mid-high range drones of the year.

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