The Best Quadcopter Under $100

Holy Stone X400C FPV RC Quadcopter Drone

Our Top Pick for 2016: Holy Stone X400C FPV RC Quadcopter Drone
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $94.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Technology has brought about some very cool new products to the market. One is the quadcopter. Quadcopters are ground-controlled motorized drones lifted by propellers and rotors. They come in a variety of different styles and models. The market is growing quickly and if you’re interested in getting in on the fun, where to start may be a big question.

Don’t fear though- we will come to the rescue with our picks for the best quadcopters out there. We did our own assessment of the quadcopters available and came up with our gold, silver, bronze and budget picks. Here is our list.

Table of contents

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HD Wifi Camera
Powerful, Responsive Motors
Strong Stability
Real-time FPV
FPV Real Time Aerial Photos
Stronger Wind Resistance
Gravity Induction
Latest 6 Axis Gyro System
360-degree Flip
Bonus Battery
Stable Flight
Built-in HD Camera
Battery Lasts 6-9 Minutes Per Flight
2.4g Radio Control Transmitter
6-axis Design

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Holy Stone X400C FPV RC Quadcopter Drone

Holy Stone X400C FPV RC Quadcopter Drone Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $94.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Holy Stone X400C FPV RC quadcopter came in as our number one. What we liked about this one is that it is a great option for those who are used to flying quadcopters and those who aren’t. If you’re new to the drones, you’ll easily figure out most of the features this one has. If you are a seasoned veteran of quadcopter flying, you’ll enjoy exploring all the extras this one has to offer.

First of all, let’s look at the motor. This by far is one of the main reasons why the Holy Stone came in at number one. The motor is run off a 3.7V 759mAh li-polymer. It can be flow up to 100M from where you’re stationed. And the motor can manage up to 8-minutes of fly-time. It takes approximately 1.2 hours to fully charge the battery. It has enough power to give you a good flight and let you see what life is like in the air.

When it comes to the level of control built into the Holy Stone, you are going to love it. It has a Quad-rotor design to it that allows you to make those fancy 3D turns. It also comes with a one-key roll feature that is great to do tricks that impress, with as little effort on the pilot’s part as possible. Its features like this that make it a good pick for newer flyers. It is also built with a 2.4G connection technology that means multiple of these quadcopters can run at the same time without any radio interference. This is the perfect quadcopter for a group of flyers to invest in and take out on clear days. Plus the control gives some of the most stable rides when up in the air.

The design of the Holy Stone is sleek. It has four propellers built on the 2.4GHz channel 6 axis. It’s a very simple design but still sexy enough to keep your attention. It’s reminiscent of a military drone in all black. When you think of this drone, think- stealth, sleek, helicopter-like. The control box is white and its dials are easily apparent and simple to understand. It has a convenient clip at the top to house your smartphone for easy video feed.

Next, the video quality on the Holy Stone is clear and bright. Of course a lot of the result you get will depend on the quality of your smartphone’s recording capabilities (that’s how you hook up the feed), but this quadcopter has the ability to send an FPV real-time video with no issues at all. Plus, the controls are easy to use so taking picture after picture won’t be an issue as its in flight.

The Holy Stone has a lot of extras that put it over the top to take our number one pick when researching our quadcopters. One is the one-button features mentioned above- one-touch to roll and one-touch to flip. It also has a one-button callback and can be easily used by both right and left-handers. By far this is a great quadcopter and it durable enough to stand up to flight after flight. If you are looking for a premier option with quads, definitely check this one out. Likely you are going to love it whether you are a first-timer or a longtime flyer.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): DBPOWER UDI U845 WiFi FPV UFO Quadcopter

DBPOWER UDI U845 WiFi FPV UFO Quadcopter

View it on Amazon for $89.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe second pick goes to the DBPOWER UDI U845 Wi-Fi FPV UPO quadcopter. It also has a lot of bells and whistles that solidified its place on the list. Plus it looks pretty cool with its spaceship like design. That was probably the biggest advantage and what put it at our number two on the list.

The motor for this quadcopter is capable of a lot. It is a low-voltage design but you still get a lot of control with it. It comes with an additional bonus batter, so that you can increase your flight time. Each flight lasts approximately 8-9 minutes and it takes about 50-minutes to fully charge a battery. Changing the second battery backup is easily done, so you can easily get back up in the air with your copter. It also has a low-voltage alarm that tells you when to start bringing it back to the home station for a charge or battery swap.

This, like the Holy Smoke, has a lot of control to it. That definitely is something we were looking for so regardless of who its for, they will be able to handle it relatively easily. The DBPOWER has a gravity induction mode to it that allows flyers to move the drone forwards and backwards, left and right as they change the angle of their smartphone. It also has a one-control return key that makes things as simple as possible if you lose sight of it during flight. The amount of control definitely is a plus with this quadcopter.

The design of the DBPOWER is what brought it up to the number two spot on our list. It’s like a little UFO and has an outer space feel to it. It stands on black legs and has a black base to it. The dome of the UFO is silver with the company logo on it. The camera is mounted beneath the base. What we liked in particular was the silver dome on top—that allowed an additional visual to keep it in view when staring up at the bright sky. The control box is shaped like a video game controller, so it’s comfortable to hold and ergonomically correct. Your smartphone fits into its top with clips so you can watch the exact POV of your drone as you fly it. Despite its design, it is very lightweight and durable.

The DBPOWER has great video capture capabilities. Again- a lot of the end quality of video rests on the quality of your smartphone, but the DBPOWER does all it can to feed good video back to the home station. The camera on the quadcopter is high-def and offers video recording modes of 640×480 and 1280×960. It also has a max bitrate of video storage at 30 Mbps. As long as your phone can handle it, you’ll get some great videos out of this drone.

In terms of the extras this quadcopter brings, there are a few notable ones. The one-key call-back is always a great feature to have. It also has a headless mode. Both features make it a great option for new or first-time flyers. The extra batter inclusion also is a nice perk. And, it has a great 360-degree flipping action to impress. Overall this is a great copter, it definitely earned its second place position.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): AKASO K88 Quadcopter 6 Axis Gyro RC Drone

AKASO K88 Quadcopter 6 Axis Gyro RC Drone

View it on Amazon for $89.98*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe AKASO K88 Quadcopter 6 Axis Gyro RC drone is our bronze pick. It has some solid benefits and any flyer likely will enjoy it. In particular this is a great nighttime drone because of its bright bumper lights. You won’t have a problem losing it at night. It also works great during the day.

The motor on the AKASO K88 isn’t as powerful as the gold or silver picks, but it still has enough to it to be enjoyable. The battery is a 3.7V 850mAh LiPO and offers between 5-7 minutes of flight time. Charging the batteries takes about two-hours’ time. One nice thing is that this drone comes with 4 batteries and a charger that can handle them all. This is a nice feature because of the shortened flight time. It won’t take as much effort to get the quadcopter back in the air.

When it comes to control, we liked this one because of its easy directionals. A newer user can easily handle this drone with a few minutes of study. Set up is very simple. All you have to do is put in the fully-charged battery, sync up the device, and then use the left throttle stick on the controller to get it up in the air. The 6-axis design offers an adjusting ability to the gyroscope. It also stabilizes the design when you have it up in the air. The controls on the box are simple—possibly simpler than other options. This may be a drone better designed for novice users as a result.

The AKASO K88 has a 2.4 GHz transmitter, which is a nice feature. You won’t have to worry about interference from other flyers, or other control boxes. It also has the ability to consume a smaller amount of energy, which makes longer flights easier. With a little practice, flyers can easily use this drone for the fancy 360s everyone expects.

In terms of design, the AKASO K88 has a unique one. It has four propellers on it and the frame is black. The drawback of design is that it doesn’t look like anything—a cool UFO or a plane, etc. It’s flat and black. It is a standout though if you’re a nighttime flyer. The blue and red lights make it easy to see as you send it out into the night skies. The control box is black and has two analog sticks to maneuver the quadcopter.

The AKASO K88 allows for aerial pictures to be captured via its built-in HD camera. You can also record video while in the air. This is a fun feature because you can review a completely different perspective. The drawback is that you can’t send pictures to your smartphone, but every video we took directly from the drone was crystal clear and there were no complaints. In the end, not having smartphone compatibility may not be an issue.

The AKASO K88 has some fun features for newer flyers though. The design of the drone makes it particularly well at handling impacts and collisions. It also is wind resistant due to its design, and will still take clear pictures/videos when operating on a windy day. As stated the lights look really cool at night. And, it is easy enough to use that very little training will be involved. It also does not have to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration for use.

As a third pick, this is a solid. The AKASO K88 is definitely worth the investment if you are looking for a drone. It’s particularly good at night and in winds. But, it also is easy to control and will bring back great pictures. Check it out if you are looking for a new quadcopter.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): QCopter QC1 Drone Quadcopter with HD Camera

QCopter QC1 Drone Quadcopter with HD Camera

View it on Amazon for $69.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickIn the search for the best quadcopter, the budget pick goes to the QCopter QC1 Drone Quadcopter with HD Camera. This is another solid pick, although it doesn’t have all the perks of our number one and two choices. If you’re considering purchasing a drone this is still one worth a look.

The motor on the QCopter QC1 is powerful. This is convenient because it will allow you a longer flight time. The drone comes with a large extended-life battery and a bonus battery, so you can extend flight time up to 30 long minutes. This is a nice feature because you won’t have to worry about immediately bringing it back to recharge or change batteries. Having large-capacity batteries is always a nice feature-in particular if you have to drive a distance for a clearing to fly in. it allows you to make the most of your trip.

The QCopter QC1 offers a lot of control and is particularly akin to a newer flyer. The reason being, it sets up quickly and has very straightforward in box design. It has a nice feature of flight stability that helps to steady the drone; this comes in handy particularly when you’re taking pictures. It also has 360-degree turn capability and can handle flips and has a RTF feature. You will have to learn how to maneuver it, but if you have any experience with other drones, you likely will pick it up after a few tries. Even novice users shouldn’t have too many problems learning the ropes.

When it comes to design, the QCopter QC1 is simple—it has a T-base with four propellers. The base is black and the propellers are white. The contrast makes for a distinct and nice look. The box is black with blue controls. Again, at night this is a good feature because you’ll still be able to see the hand controls as you maneuver your quad. The quadcopter also has lights on it so nighttime flying won’t be an issue. You can easily put it out and watch it soar.

The picture capability of this quadcopter is good too. You can use the camera that has a 2mp HD photo capability and a video camera built in. The UAV of the camera lets you take bird’s eye view photos and also videos. This is a cool way to note where you send your quad and relive the view at a different perspective. Whether you’re taking pictures or videos, you won’t have many problems with quality. Plus, the fact that it is wind resistant will help you to get clear and sharp images in return.

In terms of extras, the QCopter has the bonus battery- a nice feature to keep you conveniently flying that much longer. It also has a quality camera to bring back great photos. The stability feature is great for those new to flying and having problems with control. Overall this is still a solid pick for drone lovers and deserves a look if you’re trying to decide on the right one.


Pre-purchase considerations

To assess our quadcopters we came up with a list of what is most desirable. We wanted them to be universally beneficial so whether you’re a new drone flyer or an avid flyer, you’ll still see the benefits. We chose motor, control/ease of operation, design, photo/video capabilities and the extras. Here’s a little explanation on each consideration.

Motor

By far the motor is the most important thing when working with drones. Just consider older ones that burned out quickly after flight and left you without a drone or pictures to show for your effort. Newer quadcopters are built with longevity of flight in mind. Manufacturers know that a good motor is what creates a good experience. And a good experience is what brings a customer back.

All of our picks have great motors that will last, with the proper and normal resting periods, for flight after flight of fun. We made sure to note the models that included extra batteries or large capacity batteries, as this directly affects flight time, and in turn flight quality. We also looked at the control box power capabilities. By far these were the most similar on each one and none really stood out.

Control

Next, we looked at the overall control offered with each machine. Our goal was to find the easiest-to-maneuver drones for new flyers and experienced flyers. We wanted to pick drones that would be easy to learn how to fly, if this was the first experience with them. Ours had a lot to offer. In particular, we put a lot of weight on the quadcopters with one-button capabilities: one-button flip, one-button call-back, etc. These can be helpful for everyone who wants to impress friends right away. And the one-button call-back can be helpful if you lose the drone. You won’t have to locate it—just call it back.

We also looked at the control box each quadcopter came with. We wanted to make sure that the box was easy to use too. Yes- we wanted something flexible and powerful, but it also had to be straightforward in design. Lights were also helpful for nighttime flyers who don’t want to be limited on their flight schedule by daylight.

Control is definitely a primary concern with any model. Things like the sun, shadows, and night skies all can hamper control so we wanted to pick drones that had enough to offer to overcome. Despite the elements, we are confident that our four picks will stand up and be useable time and time again.

Design

Design had to be a consideration because of the quadcopter hobby gaining popularity. When the market first began with consumer drones, the designs were blocky and boring. People were excited to get something they could control up into the air, so they didn’t care. Now, things are different. People want to have a cool looking design when visiting friends for a quadcopter run. Because of this, we put some hefty weight on the designs we reviewed. Our goal was to find designs that caught the eye- that would make someone stop and ask “Where did you get that?”

Of course, functionality pushed a few unique designs out of contention, but the ones we did pick we feel confident hold their own. They are each unique and the fact that some come with lights added a few brownie points. When we pick a product we want to make sure that our viewers are proud of the choices.

Photo Quality

Another major concern we had with our quadcopters was photo/video quality. The purpose of having a quadcopter is to watch it fly, but also to capture images you normally couldn’t from the ground. Without some outstanding capabilities when it comes to bringing back photos and video, it just wouldn’t be that impressive.

All of our choices have great cameras. Whether they connect to smart phones or not, you are going to get some great images from an aerial perspective. You also can easily sync all of the quads with your smartphones, computer or laptops to share with friends and family. They can be manipulated or photoshopped as you want too. It was important that the simplicity of taking pictures and videos be apparent with all the quadcopters. That gets back to having ease of control with features and it’s an important one.

The Extras

Finally, with our considerations we looked at the extras each quadcopter had. Some offered extra batteries for convenient and extended flight times. Some offered one-button functions. Others had lights for night flights. Regardless, we thought it was important to include the extras and put some weight on them when assessing drones. With every drone, something sets it apart from the crowd and makes it that much more attractive. Extras weren’t a big part of our selection, but they were still worth a mention on each review.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

In the end, the quadcopter market is growing quickly and improvements are being made. Now is a great time to get in on the fun. If you’re looking for the bests in the market, you have found our selections. The Holy Stone X400C was our gold selection, the DBPOWER UDI U845 was our silver selection, the AKASO K88 quadcopter was our bronze pick and the QCopter QC1 drone quadcopter came in as our budget product. As a whole they are all viable products and standouts in the market for different reasons. If you are a quadcopter lover or new to the market, these four are a great place to start.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Holy Stone Quadcopter Review. QuadcopterArena.com
  2. Akaso K88 2.4GHz 4CH 6 Axis Byro RC Quadcopter with HD Camera. Droneki.com
  3. Meily Dinda. QCopter QC1 Quadcopter Drone 2X Flight Time Drone with Camera HD 6-Axis Min. YouTube.com. March 31, 2016.

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