(Pocket-lint) – Drones may be the best way to grab an aerial view of the surrounding area, but having an eye in the sky often doesn’t come cheap – unless, of course, you opt for one of the top budget drones that are now soaring onto the market.
The cheaper price point naturally brings with it some compromises, but, generally, the standard of these more affordable flying cameras is good enough for most people. With that small caveat acknowledged, you then need to discover what features are most important – and, obviously, which device offers them.
The recording quality, flight time, and control features, as well as the actual size and weight (particularly important for evading registration restrictions) of the drone, are all essential considerations. And in this guide, we’ll be detailing some of the very best drones at the budget end to help you pick – let’s fly.
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Holy Stone HS720
Holy Stone’s HS720 may be at the top-end of the budget drone price range, but it delivers an expert blend of features that make it a top pick to consider.
The headline is 4K UHD video capture, but it’s backed up by GPS-assisted flight – meaning it will automatically return, follow or circle – and a battery that allows for up to 26 minutes of flight (with recharging taking 5-7 hours).
When unfolded, it measures out at 14.37 x 13.19 x 2.4- inches and weighs just over 453g.
Potensic is a well-established name in the world of drones, and its T25 is another top pick for those who want plenty of features for less.
It manages to capture in 1080p HD, with a 120-degree field of view, auto-return, auto-follow, and the ability to set a custom path letting you capture all the aerial shots you need with minimal effort.
The package – as well as coming with an aluminum case and the controller – also features two 1000mAh batteries, which should each give you roughly 14-18 minutes of action.
If you need to keep your budget under $200, Contixo’s F18 is an excellent device to consider.
The 2048 x 1152 resolution camera operates with a 110-degree field of view, letting you capture from up to 1500ft away. The drone will automatically fly back to you if it loses signal, but, if you want to avoid that altogether, you can also set it to follow your path.
There are plenty more functions to take advantage of, too, and you get to experiment with them for a pretty solid amount of time – the Contixo battery lasts around 20 minutes on a single charge.
Potensic Dreamer 4K
We’ve already outlined exactly what you get from Potensic’s entry-level option, but on the other end of the scale is the Dreamer.
This drone shoots in 4K, with the Sony sensor and anti-shake ball able to help you get a stable shot with healthy exposure levels. When it comes to what you control, there’s plenty: follow mode, circle flight, waypoint flight, precise altitude flight, auto return, one key take-off/landing, headless mode, emergency stop, FPV, and APP control.
It’s an incredible amount of features, and, even better, the 3000mAh battery means you’ll be able to take advantage of them for 31 minutes – with recharging taking just two hours.
You get a simple package with the Deerc DE25, but it’s more than enough for beginners and kids.
The 1080p and 90-degree vertical tilt gimbal give you stable, crisp shots, with features such as follow mode, altitude hold, headless mode, and hand gestures letting you control the experience.
Naturally, it’ll also return to the user automatically once out of range or running low on battery (which lasts for 18 minutes on a single charge).
Another excellent beginner drone with a raft of features comes from Drocon, with its DC-08 shooting in 1080p with a 120-degree field of view.
Thanks to the onboard GPS, you’re able to shoot freely – the drone will automatically return when out of range or on low battery, while you can also set it to follow your path or surround you for hands-free action.
Handily, the device is also programmed so it won’t fly out of range (420m), which makes it a great pick for kids.
Dragon Touch DF01G
If you just need a way to grab aerial shots for the lowest possible outlay, Dragon Touch’s DF01G is the pick for you.
You don’t get shortchanged, either, with lots of features to explore. The drone itself shoots in 1080p through the 120-degree field of view lens, with modes for auto-return, auto-follow, circling, customized path, and headless orientation, as well as three speeds to flick between.
If that wasn’t enough, included in the package are two batteries, which, combined, can give you 30 minutes of flight time.
Writing by Conor Allison. Editing by Dan Grabham.