Buying Guides Quadcopters/Multirotors

Best drones under $200 with camera: A detailed buying guide

Best drones under 200: Featured Image
Written by V Kadamatt

Best drones under 200 : Updated January 2017

What to expect?

Design and build

Design

As of now, we think that the drones in this price range are designed okay, but not spectacular. Unlike the drones under $500, many of the quads are designed pretty much the same way one way or the other, so you’ll have a hard time finding something that stands out. That being said, some manufacturers have managed to design some pretty good quads for the price and we’ve listed them here.

Build

Don’t expect extreme high quality build with any of the quads and its components in this price range. Please try not to use them TOO rashly or in harsh weather. You’ll quickly be disillusioned if you do.  That being said, again, we’ve tried to distill down to the ones that are most sturdy and capable of taking a beating.

 

Flight characteristics and functionalities

For drones under 200, expect to be able to fly indoors perfectly well. When it comes to outdoor flying, however, don’t expect them to fly in extreme winds/conditions. The quads will most likely be able to take mild to moderate winds but that’s about it.

As far as functionalities go, most come with headless mode, which should make flying easier for newbies. Some of them come with RTH (return to home) and FPV capabilities. While FPV may not be the best (most of them lag and are not really ‘FPV flyable’) and so can be overlooked, RTH is a handy feature and we suggest getting a quad that comes with it. Especially if you aren’t really good at flying quads, getting your craft to come back to you is REALLY useful in case of emergencies.

 

Camera

Most “drones” in this price range come with cameras that are capable of taking some decent pictures and video. However, please note that this is NOT your go to price range, if you are a professional photographer. One of the best ones we came across has an 8 megapixel HD camera (Syma X8G) and we’ve listed it below. If your goal is purchase a cheap drone to practice some aerial photography before purchasing a professional photography drone, the Syma X8G is your best bet.

 

Warranty  : A heads up

Most drones in this price range are not offered by giants like DJI or Parrot. Rather, they are shipped by companies like Syma, UDI and DBPower. The customer service may not be on par with the giants, but most of them respond well in case of a damaged product. Regardless of the quad you buy, make sure you buy from the vendors directly (in case of websites like Amazon). Do not go for cheap knock offs.

We also recommend you get an extended accidental protection plan for anything RC related. It may cost additional bucks, but better be safe than sorry! Canopy provides a decent plan but there are also others. (Make sure you select the appropriate price setting)

 

Selection criteria

The drones in this article are at a price range from $129 – $159. We’ve handpicked what we think are ‘best’ drones that fall under $200.

The crafts mentioned in this article are reviewed for different characteristics – the overall design and build, ease and flexibility of control, flight characteristics and camera quality. At the end of each model’s review, we have listed what is awesome and what is not so awesome for each model for you to be able to quickly glance over the pros and cons.


DBPower UDI U842 Predator

best drones under 200: DBPOWER UDI U842 Predator

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Best durability in the best drones under 200 list, fast battery charging

Design and build

We think that this “drone” is the #1 for being well-built and durable in this price range. It weighs heavier than models like the U818A and this may make it land faster, but that doesn’t matter because it is pretty well built for hard landings.

The design is pretty much the same as many other quads in its price range but the color combination is pretty unique, making it stand out. Overall, it is a very nicely done quadcopter – definitely deserves a place in the best drones under 200 list.

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

This “drone” can be controlled with the standard controller or an app. The gravity induction mode will allow you to control the drone with the simple tilt of the camera angle via the app. The craft flies really well even under moderately windy conditions, making it a decent indoor and outdoor flyer. The flight range is pretty decent for its class and so is the battery life. It also comes with RTH functionality and headless mode. Overall, a great flyer.

Camera

The camera is decent for the price. You can take some pleasant video and pictures with it. However, don’t expect something along DJI level. The live video feed may likewise be not be that magnificent either.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Most durable and powerful, compared to other crafts of its size and price levelHeavier than models like UDI U818A, making it more prone to coming down quickly and crashing
Pretty stableHovering mechanism could be better
Fast recharge and decent flight timesMediocre propeller guards
Bonus battery, easily swap-ableBattery placement could be disturbed from impacts
Memory card includedMediocre HD video, could be better
Can run with an app (which works great!)Lag and stutter during real time FPV
Reactive and snappy to control input

Given features and specifications

Wi-Fi FPV camera 720p HD
Gravity induction mode
Headless mode, RTH function
Low voltage alarm
360 degree flips at just a button
Video: 1280 x 720p
Supported SD Card Types: Micro SD, Max capacity: 32 GB
Fight time: 6-9 mins
Control Range: about 80-100 meters
Video Transmission Range: about 30-40 meters
Weight: 355g

Click here to check current price on Amazon


UDI U818A Wi-Fi FPV

Best drones under 200: UDI U818A Wi-Fi FPV

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Lightweight and durable

Design and build

The U818A Wi-Fi FPV is built pretty well too. Though it might feel lighter and “cheaper” than the DBPower, it is pretty durable and strong, for the price. This craft can come out undamaged, even after rough usage and some moderately insane crashes. The propellers are safe guarded with pretty solid guards that comes into the rescue during dire situations.

The design is nothing magnificent but it is not bad either. It is essentially a circular body in the middle to which the propeller guards are attached to, directly. The motors and propellers are attached to this main circular body via a thinner plastic.

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

The U818A is a very flyable drone. Like the DBPOWER, you can control it via the app in the phone that is placed on the transmitter or the transmitter itself, directly.

Even though the FPV may lag and not exactly be great for direct FPV flying, it may be useful for positioning the drone at certain positions to get a nice live view from that location.

Like most others in its price range, it comes with a headless mode, which ignores the direction of the nose and considers the ‘front’ part of the quad as whatever direction the transmitter is facing. RTH (Return to home) function is included too, which is just plain awesome for the price!

Camera

The camera, although not spectacular, is decent enough for the price. You can take some nice video and pictures with it but again, don’t expect it to be DJI level. The live video feed may also not be that marvelous either, but it does the job. Overall, we reckon this quad definitely makes the list for the best drones under 200.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Durable and stableNot too stable in windy conditions
Decent flight time for the price rangMediocre design and looks
Bonus battery, easily swappableMediocre propeller guards
Removable Micro-SD includedQuad can move out of signal range without you expecting it
App works really wellMediocre HD video, could be better
Drone is surprisingly fast and snappy, reactiveLag and stutter during real time FPV
Reactive and snappy to control input

Given features and specifications

Easily pair with iOS and Android smartphones
Update your controller by simply updating the app in app store
VR headset compatible
Watch FPV video feed through compatible devices
Gravity induction mode u2013 fly the drone without ever touching the device
Bonus, easily swappable battery included.
Flight time 6-9 minutes per charge
2 MP camera u2013 HD video and photo, resolution 1280 * 720 at 30 FPS
Removable Micro-SD included
Photo button to take pictures, video button starts and stops recording
Roll button that does an instant 360u00b0 roll
LED lights and remote control signal light makes the craft visible at night time
HEADLESS MODE and RTH

Click here to check current price on Amazon


Potensic F183DH Drone

Best drones under 200 : Potensic F183DH

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Design and build

The Potensic F183DH is one of the bigger drones (though certainly not the biggest) in the market, in this price segment. The design is pretty standard but it stands out nevertheless, especially due to the LED lights placement all over it which gives it a cool look while they are turned on.

The prop guards, camera and landing gear can all be removed even though it is not recommended, giving it additional flight time. Overall, it is a decently built drone that can take some beating but we recommend not to take it too far (goes for most drones in this price range).

The controller also comes with a built-in LCD screen that runs on 5.8Ghz (not WiFi, unlike many of the drones out there), giving it an edge when it comes to FPV experience. The controller design is also pretty standard, but can be used without any issues by people with both large and small hands.

Flight and control

Being a larger drone, the Potensic F183DH has a decent thrust power. It can take on medium winds well, especially if you have it on maximum rate (100%) settings on it. And if you have max rate settings on, this quad flies extremely fast and snappy.

The size of the drone isn’t the most conducive for indoor flight. If you are looking for a drone that can perform some indoor action, look at something like the Focus FPV drone or the U2W8 drone.

Overall, the drone comes with every other setting you’ll need for flight and control especially if you are a beginner looking for some easy flight. This includes headless mode (orientation of the drone will be in relation to you), altitude hold and return home.

The barometer of this drone is excellent in comparison to other drones out there. It can hold it’s altitude pretty well even if you pitch it a bit more than you normally would.

Camera and FPV

The Potensic F183DH drone comes with a 720p camera and an FPV screen built-in on the controller (5.8 Ghz, making it less laggy than many WiFi FPV drones out there). Most drones in this price range do not come with a built-in screen on the controller. The camera position is fixed and tilted slightly downward.

Overall, the it can take some OK pictures and video but don’t expect anything jaw dropping and/or anything even near HD level quality. However, it is the case with any other drone in its price range as of now.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
5.8 Ghz FPV, meaning less lag and stutter relative to other dronesMediocre camera
Agile and fast, especially at high rate setting Build quality may feel a bit cheap
Unique LED placement, excellent dusk or night time flightNot ideal for indoor flight
Cool looking controller that has FPV screen built-in

Given features and specifications

Hover / Barometer Set Height Function: Built in ALTITUDE-HOLD Technology
First Person View: featuring 2 megapixels camera and 5.8GHz wireless monitor screen, record all your wonderful time, enjoy real time beautiful scenery and live video feed in high-definition directly from the monitor LCD screen.
One key taking off and landing: The quadcopter is equipped with one key taking off and landing, which makes the drone easier to fly and better to control for any level of players.
It is the upgraded version of F183D quadcopter that epuiped with a new Altitude Hold function, with adjustble speed from 0% to 100%, suitable for both professional flyers and newbies.
Potensic 1-Year free parts replacement
Comes also with 2.4 GHz Transmitter, 2 Megapixels Camera, 5.8GHz FPV Monitor, 2 x 7.4V 500mAh Batteries, 4GB TF Card, USB Card Reader, Battery Charger, 4 Extra Blades, User Manual.

Click here to check current price on Amazon


U45 Blue Jay

Best drones under 200: U45 Blue Jay

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Good durability, VR compatibility, Sleek design and excellent flight characteristics

Design and build

The U45 Blue Jay is a lightweight, hollow body quadcopter with a pretty solid, durable build. The design pretty much looks like the Syma X-8G that we have listed down below. We think that the black and blue color combination is excellent and this small factor actually makes it look better than many similarly designed drones in the same price range.

The controller looks like any other controller that you get in this price range, but what we liked about the one you get with the U45 Blue Jay is that the different “modes” and settings are marked.

Another thing we liked about the U45 is that like the DBPOWER predator, the battery can be replaced quickly, without having to worry about using a screw driver. Perfect if you want to purchase a couple of extra batteries to boost flight times!

The U45 blue jay is a perfect example of small little design considerations that make a huge impact overall.

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

The U45 blue Jay is a pretty smooth flyer and can handle up to moderate wind conditions pretty well. It can be controlled via the controller or via an app that can be downloaded onto your Android or iOS phone.

The drone comes with altitude hold, one touch take off and landing, headless mode and custom route mode (fly the craft unassisted by tracing the path on the mobile map). Overall, very good flight and control system for the price.

Camera

The camera quality is like most other drones in this price range. Expect to take some OK pictures and video, but nothing magnificent or jaw dropping.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Solid buildHollow body build may feel cheap
Nice and sharp color combinationNothing unique about the design except for the color combination
Marked controllersPoor instruction manual
VR compatibilityMedicore video/picture quality
Easily swappable batteries, bonus includedStuttering during real time FPV
Memory card included
Can run with an app
Good flight characteristics

Given features and specifications

FIRST PERSON VIEW with VR HEADSET COMPATIBILITY: Watch live video feed of your flight from your iPhone or Android Smart mobile device with the FPV WiFi feature
ALTITUDE HOLD FUNCTION: SUPER EASY DRONE FOR BEGINNERS TO FLY: Makes controlling the drone a breeze for beginners and stabilizes aerial photography. This is the ideal beginner drone with a lot of the latest features typically found on higher end models.
ONE TOUCH TAKE OFF AND LANDING: Drone automatically hovers at a set altitude after take off and before landing making it easy to control and maneuver, especially for beginners who are not yet skilled.
CUSTOM ROUTE MODE -Trace the desired flight path on the mobile app screen and the drone will fly along the path unassisted
HD CAMERA: Capture 720p high definition aerial photos and videos with 2MP camera; Sync it to your controller to really bring life to your flights!

Click here to check current price on Amazon


U28W drone

Best drones under 200: U28W Drone

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Small, agile flyer – great for both indoors and outdoors. Great design, VR compatibility

Design and build

Don’t be fooled by the picture! The U28W drone is a rather small craft that can pretty much fit on your palm. This is a great bonus because it means you can fly it indoors with minimal obstruction if you take the necessary precautions.

The camera is placed in the front of the drone, giving it a rather unique look in comparison to most others.

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

The flight characteristics of this drone is simply amazing. It has got to be the #1 in this list in that aspect. It is quick, snappy and agile. Like the U45 blue Jay, the U28W can also handle moderate wind conditions pretty well. However, due to it being smaller in size, expect less stability in winds.

Other than that, it offers one touch take off and landing, coustom route mode, headless mode and altitude hold functions.

Camera

Again, nothing magnificent here. Decent for it’s price but nothing magnificent. You can take some OK still pictures and video with this drone. The camera angle is pretty good and better than the other drones listed here, though.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Unique design and color schemeInstruction manual can be improved
Solid buildMediocre picture/video quality
Small in size making it great for indoor flightMay get tossed around during mid-high wind conditions
VR compatibilityStuttering during FPV
Easily swappable batteries
Memory card included
Can run with an app
Excellent flight characteristics

Given features and specifications

FIRST PERSON VIEW with VR HEADSET COMPATIBILITY: Watch live video feed of your flight from your iPhone or Android Smart mobile device with the FPV WiFi feature
ALTITUDE HOLD FUNCTION: SUPER EASY DRONE FOR BEGINNERS TO FLY: Makes controlling the drone a breeze for beginners and stabilizes aerial photography. This is the ideal beginner drone with a lot of the latest features typically found on higher end models.
ONE TOUCH TAKE OFF AND LANDING: Drone automatically hovers at a set altitude after take off and before landing making it easy to control and maneuver, especially for beginners who are not yet skilled.
CUSTOM ROUTE MODE -Trace the desired flight path on the mobile app screen and the drone will fly along the path unassisted
WIDE ANGLE HD CAMERA & EXTRA BATTERY FOR LONG FLIGHT TIME: Capture pristine aerial videos and photos in 720P high definition on 4GB Micro SD, 120 degree wide angle format; Double your flight time with extra battery.

Click here to check current price on Amazon


UDI U28-1

Best quadcoters under 200: UDI U28

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Comes with a 4” LCD screen

No RTH

Design and build

The U28-1 by UDI does seem like a copy-cat of the Parrot Bebop 2. Even the controller and screen attached to it might remind you of the SkyController that comes with the Bebop2. However, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is one of the most uniquely designed drone in the price range. It looks good, period.

The build quality is sturdy and can take a beating too. Just like any other quads here, don’t use it too rashly. Especially since the camera is placed at the front, it is recommended that you watch ought for nose-in crashes because it can damage the camera pretty easily!

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

The U28-1 is pretty decent at flying indoors as well as outdoors in moderately windy conditions. It can do some basic aerobatics but that’s something almost all quads in this price range can pull off. It comes with a 4” screen for FPV, but then again, expect it to lag. Note that it doesn’t come with an RTH feature!

Camera

Pretty much the same as DBPower UDI U842. It can take some decent pictures and video but nothing absolutely magnificent or stunning.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Comes with a 4u201d screenNot too stable in windy conditions
Looks unique and awesome!Camera placement on the front, making it vulnerable to nose-in crashes
Durable and stableMediocre propeller guards
Decent flight timesWeak props
Bonus battery, easily swappableMediocre HD video, could be better
Removable Micro-SD includednLag and stutter during real time FPV
Reactive and snappy to control input

Given features and specifications

EASY TO FLY: Headless Mode eliminates need to adjust aircraft position before flight. High/Low Speed Mode makes this a great choice for beginners; FAA Registration NOT Required
FIRST PERSON VIEW: Drone and controller sync instantly to display FPV live feed on 4in LCD screen
HD CAMERA: Capture pristine aerial videos and photos in 720P high definition on 4GB Micro SD, 120u00ba wide angle format
3D STUNTS: Perform 360 degree flips and rolls with the push of a button; View all of your flips and twists in real time straight from the controller screen
360 degree flips at just a button
LONG FLIGHT TIME: 2 x 3.7v 500 mAh rechargeable LiPo batteries to Double your flight time

Click here to check current price on Amazon


 

Syma X8G

best quadcopter under 200: Syma X8G

(Clicking on image will take you to Amazon)

Best camera for photography and videography in the price range

No FPV and RTH

Design and build

The Syma X8G is built like a DJI phantom model. Essentially, it is like the Phantom’s younger, cuter (yet less capable) cousin. Although the build quality does not even come close to the DJI Phantom, the body and propellers are pretty sturdy and durable . This craft can definitely hold its own during crashes and last long even with moderately rough usage.

Overall, it is very well designed. The color usually comes in silver, with black propellers and propeller guards. The craft doesn’t look bad at all – definitely worthy of making the list for the best drones under 200.

Flight, control and camera

Flight and control

The Syma X8G does not have an FPV so the only way to fly it is to keep it in sight. This might not a big downside, considering that the drones that DO have FPV in this price range cannot be piloted in the FPV mode either, due to mediocre camera and lag.

Overall this has craft is very stable even in windy conditions and boasts headless mode, which will come handy for beginners. It does not have RTH either, so heads up on that!

Camera

The video quality is the best you can get in this price range as of now so if you are okay with trading features like FPV and RTH for the increase in video quality, you should go ahead and get this model.

Also, expect to be disappointed with the flight times and long charge times. We recommend you buy an additional battery to go along with it.

Pros and Cons

What's awesome?What may not be so awesome
Excellent HD camera compared to other drones in this price rangeMediocre flight times u2013 Sometimes as low as 5 minutes
Compatible with GoProNo FPV or RTH
Stable and flies well even in wind conditionsTakes a long time to charge the battery u2013 200 minutes!
Pretty durable and sturdyNo additional batteries come with the package and it is highly recommended that you do buy one, considering the mediocre flight times and long charging times
Very easy to controlPropeller guards not strong enough. May break easily
Memory card includedMotor connectors reported to come loose from rough use and landing
Reactive and snappy to control input

Given features and specifications

Headless mode
8MP HD camera : 720p, 1080p, which is easy to remove and also compatible with the GoPro cameran
6 Axis Gyro stabilization, 3D lock, scheduled flightn
360 Degree Eversion One key 360 Degree roll, continuous roll for perfect action and wonderful performance
Blade protector that is highly elastic
Control Distance: about 70m
Flight time: 5 - 8 mins

Click here to check current price on Amazon


 

Conclusion

Decide what you want – durability/features like FPV and RTH vs excellent camera. If it is the former, pick the UDI or the DB Power Predator. If you want a decent camera, pick the Syma model. Be warned though – you cannot expect these to perform as well as something like the DJI’s phantom. In this price range, you are still working with semi-toy grade quadcopters.

That’s all folks! We hope you loved this buying guide. Let us know what you think down in the comments below 🙂

 

About the author

V Kadamatt

Artificial Intelligence , UAV and RC enthusiast. Software professional, part time philosopher and star gazer.
I also love physics, mathematics, economics, psychology, fantasy, Sci-Fi and futurology.

2 Comments

    • Thanks for your comment, glad you found the posts interesting and helpful!

      To answer you question,

      UAV = “Unmanned aerial vehicle” which is another, more formal term for “drone”.
      FVP = “First person view” is a system that involves a camera mounted on the drones and a screen/goggle to which the video is beamed back to. Basically, you can “see” what your drone “sees”.
      RTH = Return to home. This feature enables you to bring back your drone to your location automatically, typically with a simple press of a button or a switch.

      Generally, these are pretty common acronyms you must be familiar with before making a purchasing decision.

      We’ll be putting our own page of acronyms for reference soon, but for now here is a good reference:
      https://oscarliang.com/quadcopter-acronyms-term-glossary-word-drone/

      Hope that helps! 🙂

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