Buying your first remote controlled quadcopter or drone can be a fun experience as you browse all the different options that are available and compare specifications. Before long, it becomes clear that to get the best features, cameras and flight times; you need to spend a lot more money.
As this RC Quadcopters buying guide will show, there are different models at different ranges and plenty of options. We will start with the lower-grade models for kids and timid newcomers below $100 and work up to $1000, with some of the more interesting and capable machines.
Best Models Under $100 For Newcomers
If you are just starting out with these drones and want something simple and fun to practice with, the following options are great, affordable solutions. They may not have the complex features of top models, but they are great training tools.
BLADE Nano QX RTF Quadcopter
This model is the ideal stepping stone from toy helicopters towards more intelligent drones because there is a blend of both worlds.
The light weight and fun design mean it can be used for little more than imaginative play in the bedroom, but the ability of the quadcopter still provides a challenge and a great base to work from.
UDI 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter
The shape of this model means that it is a much sturdier model for careful flight, allowing kids to perfect their flying skills, and there is also a simple 640×480 pixel camera that can be used for filmmaking.
There is not much distance or battery life here, but it is an attractive training option.
Hubsan H107C+ HD Drone
This model is pretty similar in that it provides a great camera option, with 720p HD capabilities, but doesn’t have the flight time for extended filming sessions.
It is a stable model with a six-axis gyro, which again makes it a great learning tool for those that want to move on to more complex drones.
Syma X5 and X5SW
Syma is seen at the ideal providers of cheap drones because they have such a small learning curve and simple controls.
The X5 provides the bare minimum of features so that buyers can focus on learning about the inspections and mechanics. The X5SW has the addition of the camera and compass to increase its potential.
Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt
The biggest concern for buyers looking for their first drone is that they will get a flimsy model that breaks on the first crash.
This model avoids that because it has a foam bumper and other safety features to help it withstand impact. This durable design is sure to give kids more confidence as they learn to fly.
Millennium Falcon Quadcopter
Some models are built to replicate the shape and functions of high-end drones for the ideal learning experience, and then there are models like this Star Wars-themed drone that hides the quadrotors and gyro-stabilisation beneath the spaceship molding and sound effects. It is quite fun and a pretty right approach for young flyers.
Best Models To Consider Below $500
All of the models above have their appeal to parents and newcomers because they are so affordable and can be placed in the hands of an inexperienced child without too much concern.
The problem is that they can be a little low on features are perhaps a bit too simplistic for adults that know that they want to learn to fly the high-end options in the future.
The solution here is to try a mid-range model. These two modern drones are a fixed investment, but they provide that middle ground between feature-rich templates and affordability.
Parrot AR 2.0 Elite
Parrot are probably best known for their Bebop series, but there is an alternative model that falls below the $500
mark and still provides a great selection of features.
Here the flight time increases to 10 minutes, and there is an active video capture system that allows users to control 720p video via a smartphone.
This provides an excellent introduction to modern controls and the potential of filming, without going over the top.
Walkera Runner 250
This is an attractive alternative because it provides a solid basis at an affordable price with the chance to upgrade the
kit with extra features, such as the FPV package with the Goggle2 headset.
On its own, this carbon fiber model has a Devo7 controller, HD camera and plenty of speed. Some see this as the ideal training aid for racers, and it shows the depth of possibilities with these vehicles.
Best Under $1000 Category
By the time we get above $500, we start to lose the sense of affordability and first-time options and begin to see what drones can do. A 3-figure price tag is still cheap compared to some new models, however, and this is why this price range should not be disregarded.
YUNEEC Typhoon G Quadcopter RTF Drone
The Typhoon range is not an affordable line for kids, but it does provide an interesting starting point for adults that are keen to spend a little more money.
As you would expect, the higher price means a greater selection of features and this cool-looking drone provides real-time footage from the GoPro camera (not included) to the controller.
It is also much stronger and more stable than some of the cheaper options and has a faster speed and battery life.
Choosing The Ideal Model For Your First Drone
This RC Quadcopters buying guide has highlighted some top models across different price ranges to show you that there is something out there for everyone.
The expensive Yuneec model is highly appealing, but there are much cheaper models that provide a more cost-effective training tool and plenty of kid-friendly options below $100.
Start small and cheap as you get used to the concept of flying and build your way to the high-end hobbyist drones. If you have the confidence to fly and crash a budget model, you will learn faster and improve the abilities needed to master these UAVs.