Are you looking for a beginner drone on a budget of less than $300? This is the perfect price range for your first drone, as you can get a quality model with a slew of automated features and a decent camera.
What are the top beginner drones in this price range?
Here are the best beginner drones under $300:
- DJI Mini SE
- Holy Stone HS720E
- Contixo F24 Pro
- Altair Dagger
- Potensic Atom SE
This guide will help you purchase a drone you’re proud of.
Ahead, I’ll review each drone listed above, sharing specs, pros and cons, and features. I’ve also included a helpful buyer’s guide!
1. DJI Mini SE
DJI Mini SE
Weighing less than 0 55lbs / 249 grams, DJI Mini SE is roughly the same weight as the smartphone.
- 3-axis gimbal
- 30 Minute Battery Life
- DJI Mini 2 components and airframe
- 1 battery included (individual batteries are very costly)
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/03/2023 04:35 pm GMT
Dimensions: 159 x 203 x 58 mm unfolded
Weight: Under 249 g
Max Range: 2.4 mi
Max Altitude: 3,000 m
Max Speed: 13 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Flying Time: 30 mins
Camera: 1 2/3-inch CMOS
- Its weight should enable you to fly with relaxed drone laws
- Easy to pick up and fly
- Has a handful of automated modes
- Stable camera
- Low camera quality
- Could use more safety features
The DI Mini SE costs just a hair under $300, but when you consider it’s DJI, the leading drone manufacturer, that makes sense.
The Mini SE might be the most inexpensive drone in DJI’s entire product roster. Although it seems daunting to start your drone adventure with a fancy DJI model, there’s no need to fear. This drone is lightweight, intuitive, and ready to fly.
It weighs under 249 grams. You won’t have to register it with the FAA (or the drone authority in your country), and that weight makes the Mini SE easier to handle for first-timers.
DJI designed this drone so it’s easy to use. If you want to learn the ropes fast, the free DJI Fly app has tutorials that will make you a master of the Mini SE in no time.
Although it costs extra, you can pick up a 360-degree propeller guard that reduces your risk of injury and safeguards the drone from damage. It’s worth doing if you ask me!
The built-in sensors are designed for safety even if you decide to forego the prop guards. Although they’re not as good as other DJI drone sensors (considering what you’re paying), it’s better than going without.
The 1 2/3-inch CMOS sensor enables the included camera to shoot in 12 MP image quality and 2.7K quad HD video quality. Again, that’s not the best.
However, if you’re shopping for a beginner drone, you might not be too obsessed with high-quality photos and videos, at least not yet.
You won’t have to worry about shaky footage, as the motorized three-axis gimbal keeps the camera secure. The drone can fly for over 30 minutes and use automated modes for photography and videography, from Rocket to Helix, Dronie, and Circle.
Want to go in slo-mo? Try CineSmooth Mode, which promises enthralling cinematic footage unlike anything you’ve ever taken!
2. Holy Stone HS720E
Dimensions: 337 x 240 x 58 mm unfolded
Weight: 495 g
Max Range: 999 m
Max Altitude: 1,000 m
Max Speed: 44 mph
Max Flying Time: 46 mins
- Can fly for a very long time if you double up on batteries
- Designed for beginners
- Features several automated drone flight modes
- Has a decent camera for the price
- Adding extra batteries makes the drone heavier
- You must register it
Holy Stone is a great brand if you want an inexpensive first-time drone. The HS720E model is just under $300, so it fits your budget.
Built well (and quiet) with brushless motors, the HS720E is ready to fly when you are. It has features like auto return to home and GPS locational tracking to prevent you from losing your drone.
Air pressure altitude control and an air optical flow system enable the drone to hover. You can even use it indoors.
If you want automated modes, you’ve got ‘em. The HS720E includes Point of Interest, follow-me, Tap Fly, and more. These modes let you track specific subjects and have your drone follow you so you can do more with your new purchase.
The camera includes a Sony sensor for shooting 4K images and videos. Between the stable gimbal and electronic image stabilization, your shots won’t come out blurry. You can even adjust the camera lens by 90 degrees to broaden your photography and videography horizons.
I must make a note about the battery. While the HS720E can fly for 46 minutes, that’s assuming you use two batteries. If you only operate it on one, you must halve the time.
If you’re curious whether Holy Stone drones have geofencing, don’t miss this post!
3. Contixo F24 Pro
Dimensions: 6.89 x 4.13 x 3.15 in folded
Weight: Under 1 lb
Max Range: 1,200 m
Max Altitude: N/A
Max Speed: N/A
Max Flying Time: 60 mins
Camera: 4K UHD
- Can increase the flight time to 60 mins
- Has fun automated modes like Gesture Control and custom flight paths
- Good camera quality with adjustable lens
- Includes four spare propellers
- The drone is heavy
- Adding an extra battery increases the weight even more
The Contixo F24 Pro hits the sweet spot at $250, so you’re under budget. You might even be able to afford a few accessories with your new purchase.
The F24 Pro has a surprisingly good camera that captures 2.9K video and 4K UHD images. The FOV lens is 120 degrees to expand your view, and you can adjust the lens 90 degrees for more customization in your imagery.
Transmit live video up to 1,700 feet, which is pretty good for a drone in this price range!
The brushless motors are a nice touch, as is the GPS positioning, as this enables you to hover the drone or use RTH. Gesture Control, Orbit Mode, follow me, and Point of Interest are other fun modes.
You can even make a 16-waypoint custom flight map and watch as your drone flies in unique and inspiring ways.
The F24 Pro can fly for 30 minutes, but you can double that time with additional batteries. However, that will contribute even more to the drone’s weight. The heavier a drone is, the more unwieldy, which makes it not so fun for beginners to use.
4. Altair Dagger
Foldable GPS Drone with 4K UHD Camera for Adults, 5G Compatible, Brushless Motors, Optical Flow Stabilization System, Auto Return, Weighs Less than 0.55 lbs (Lincoln, NE Company).
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/03/2023 04:32 pm GMT
Dimensions: 240 x 235 x 55 mm unfolded
Weight: 249 g
Max Range: 300 m
Max Altitude: 120 m
Max Speed: 32 km/hr
Max Flying Time: 15 mins
Camera: 1/2.7-inch CMOS
- It’s lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it
The Altair Dagger is a foldable, beginner-friendly drone for just shy of $300. It could be your perfect beginner drone!
Boasting brushless motors, this drone has a good max range and will fly quickly enough that beginner pilot won’t be bored but won’t feel overwhelmed, either. It also clocks in just under 250 grams, so you can enjoy looser drone laws in most parts of the world.
The 4K UHD camera with its 1/2.7-inch CMOS sensor is designed for quality videography and photography. The wide-angled lens is already 120 degrees but can tilt up to 90 degrees. That makes capturing footage on this drone more intuitive.
Auto-RTH prevents your drone from crashing if your battery is about to run out or when you’ve lost signal. The drone also features Optical Flow Stabilization for safety in the skies.
5. Potensic Atom SE
Dimensions: 210 x 152 x 58 mm unfolded without propeller blades
Weight: Under 249 g
Max Range: 4,000 m
Max Altitude: 4 km
Max Speed: 16 m/s horizontally
Max Flying Time: 31 mins
Camera: Sony CMOS
- Great camera quality
- Includes sensors for stability and safety
- Lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it
- You can enjoy relaxed drone laws due to its weight
- Has a video transmission range of 4 kilometers
The last beginner-friendly drone for under $300 I’ll look at is the Potensic Atom SE.
This lightweight, travel-friendly drone is less than 249 grams, meaning you can breeze past the registration and fly it the same day it arrives.
Its high-quality camera can shoot images in 12 MP quality and videos in 4K quality at 30 frames per second. PixSync 2.0 technology enables this drone to take low-latency HD-quality video, while features like ShakeVanish Technology, EIS, and the SurgeFly Flight Control System keep your drone stable.
Promising 31 minutes of flight time, which is about average, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the world around you with the Atom SE. When you’re done, this drone folds down and packs up nicely.
Downward vision positioning sensors put more control in your hands when flying. Between the sensors and GPS, you can stress less about potential accidents with the Atom SE in the sky.
We have a highly detailed review of the Atom SE on the blog here, so make sure you check it out!
Best beginner drones under $300 buyer’s guide
Now that you’ve seen what’s out there if you want to buy a beginner drone for less than $300, how do you choose the right one for you? Let’s review some important considerations as you narrow down your options.
For $300 or less, you can’t exactly expect the greatest drone camera on the planet. However, as drone camera technology has improved, even beginner drones are equipped with more than passable cameras.
A CMOS sensor and adjustable lens are common for drones in this price range. Ideally, your drone camera should have a mechanized three-axis gimbal for stability. EIS is a great feature too, so your photos and videos don’t come out shaky and unusable.
These days, 30 minutes is the average flight time for drones that cost $300 and up. All the drones I reviewed today have a good flight time, and some can even fly for upwards of an hour if you add an extra battery.
A longer flight time is always nice, but be aware that you’ll make your drone heavier with an extra battery. If you’re not already comfortable with the drone’s handling, you could be in for a bit of a surprise, as extra weight impacts how the drone operates.
Also important is that you might have to register your drone if an extra battery pushes it over the 250-gram weight limit.
Automated features in a drone instill confidence in beginner pilots, so they’re always useful to have. You should expect standard features like custom waypoints, follow me, and auto RTH. Some drones take it a step further with gestures that enable the drone to take selfies or videos.
At $300 or less, you won’t have the most automated features in your drone, nor the smartest, but enough to make using the drone an enjoyable experience.
Safety is paramount for beginners, as you’re bound to make a lot of mistakes while learning. However, the best safety features are saved for the most expensive drones.
It would still be a shame to crash and burn after spending $300, so make sure you use propeller guards and check that your sensors are active. You might even consider spending extra money on further safety accessories.
How much your drone weighs is another important consideration as you consider your options. As I’ve discussed, drones that weigh over 250 grams must be registered.
It’s not like registering your drone is hard per se, or expensive, but if you don’t have to do it as a hobbyist, why should you?
It seems to be the prerogative of drone manufacturers these days to design drones that meet the weight threshold so you don’t have to bother with registration. However, that’s not universally true by far, so always check the drone’s specs before purchasing.
Even if the drone meets the appropriate weight limit out of the box, keep in mind that adding payload will drive up the weight, whether batteries or another accessory.
The last consideration is arguably the most important, and that’s price. All the drones discussed today are under $300, and some are more affordable still at $250.
You usually have to skip the DJI drones and other big-name brands at this price range, but that doesn’t mean you’re purchasing from a brand with no name recognition.
Holy Stone and Potensic are great drone manufacturers that produce mid-priced models for beginners and more intermediate pilots.