I tested five high-quality drones and found the DJI Mini SE is the best drone under $300.
I didn’t take this testing lightly, spending days comparing each machine’s capabilities, features, and battery lives. Additionally, I’ve investigated and flown dozens of drones, from miniature models designed for kids to hefty devices that professional photographers would be proud to own.
Despite its comparatively low price, the DJI Mini SE excelled in terms of its flight time (a full 30 minutes), ease of use, and lightweight, compact design. This drone also captures HD footage, making it ideal for those hoping to capture high-quality drone videos or photographs.
However, my top choice might not be the best for your needs. If you’re looking for something a little more affordable or beginner-friendly, another of the following top picks might suit your budget and preferences a little better.
Keep reading to discover the best drones for under $300!
Review: Best Drones Under $300
The DJI Mini SE is a lightweight drone that can record HD video and capture 12-megapixel images.
It has a 3-axis gimbal for smooth video and it can fly for 30 minutes and has a 2.5-mile transmission range.
It's easy to carry and wind-resistant, making it a good choice for beginner pilots who want to create content.
This camera drone weighs about half a pound (less than 250 grams), making it incredibly lightweight and easy to maneuver. Its low weight also reduces strain on the battery, resulting in a solid 30-minute flight time per battery charge.
The camera offers UHD and 2.7K footage, stabilized by a built-in three-axis gimbal that offers optimal angle adjustment. So, when operating the DJI Mini SE, you can tilt or pan your camera to achieve the best shots.
This live video footage is streamed to your smartphone, and streaming distances top out at an impressive 4km (more than two miles). So, you can feel confident about the footage you’re viewing, even when your drone is hovering high up in the air or several hundred feet away.
You’ll need to download the DJI Fly app onto your smartphone to access the full range of controls and intelligent flight modes. For greater convenience, the remote control has adjustable arms that secure your phone to the remote during drone operation.
This is one of the few drones in the lower price range, that offers 4K UHD footage backed by Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), resulting in smooth and clear images that don't show any shakiness. But the quality camera isn't the only aspect of this drone that makes it well worth the price.
The Holy Stone HS720E comes with a carrying case that makes it easy to transport your drone to any location, and it also includes two batteries to extend your flight time (up to 46 minutes). In addition, the brushless motors produce almost no noise, so you won’t need to worry about your drone’s blades drowning out other sounds.
Getting the most bang for your buck has never been more critical, and those looking to purchase a camera drone for less than $300 may want to stretch those dollars to the max by investing in the Holy Stone HS720E.
While you shouldn’t lose sight of your drones while operating them, having a drone with a superior range can be vital to capturing pro-quality landscape shots. Drones with competitive ranges can also make it easier for users to review footage in real-time.
This drone also comes with two batteries, each capable of keeping the drone airborne for up to 30 minutes. Consequently, you could enjoy up to 60 minutes of virtually uninterrupted flight time while using this drone. That’s excellent news for those hoping to fly their drones over picturesque locations to capture aerial footage.
Firstly, it has a 4K camera capable of recording in 30fps (up to 60fps when you switch to 1080p). This camera has 90° camera rotation, so you can take top-down aerial footage or position the camera straight ahead for a more fluid FPV capture. Thanks to its multiple flight modes (like Follow Me or Point of Interest), you can use this drone to record yourself while you’re on the go or create panoramic shots around a particular point.
Sharing your video footage is a cinch with this drone, as the sharing key makes it easy to upload your recordings onto social media platforms.
The Tucok 012 S has a simplified remote control with single-button take-off and landing. This drone also comes equipped with GPS and a Return Home function, so if the drone loses signal with the remote or runs low on power, it will fly back to its original take-off spot.
Learning how to pilot and operate a drone can take several weeks or months, especially when your drone has advanced features and settings. But the Tucok 012S reduced this learning curve, making it easy for beginners to master basic drone maneuvers.
Even better, this drone comes with two batteries, each capable of providing up to 30 minutes of flight time. This additional power ensures beginners have plenty of time to explore the drone’s flight modes and practice their operation skills before recharging.
The Tucok 012S comes with a built-in 4K camera that allows you to capture high-quality footage, and users can enjoy FPV footage while flying their drone thanks to the app-based viewing interface.
Drone Buying Guide
Purchasing a drone is an excellent way to explore aerial photography and hands-free video production. But if you’re not focusing on the most crucial factors when shopping, you might end up buying a drone that doesn’t live up to your expectations.
To ensure you choose the best possible drone to meet your needs, you’ll want to consider your preferred drones:
- Battery life
- Smart features
Battery life is an essential aspect to consider when selecting a drone. After all, your drone’s battery capacity will determine flight times, affecting the amount of footage you can capture during a single flight.
If you’re interested in purchasing a drone purely for recreational purposes (i.e., the experience of operating a drone), you may want to choose a drone that doesn’t have a camera. Drones without cameras are typically lighter, reducing the energy needed to propel the drone and keep it in the air.
A drone’s range is the distance it can travel from the operator while still receiving a strong signal from the controller device. If you’re hoping to capture footage from a distance, you’ll naturally want to select a drone with an impressive range.
Child-friendly drones typically have a maximum range of 300 feet (about 91 meters), but some drones can have a maximum range of about 7 miles (about 11 kilometers).
Drone range is crucial when capturing large objects or landscapes, but it’s vital to remember that your drone should always remain within your field of vision during operation.
The simplest drones are essentially remote-controlled flying devices, but most drones are equipped with smart features or intelligent flight modes, that differentiate them from RC helicopters and planes. For example, drones typically come equipped with features like:
- Follow Me
- Pol (Circle) Flight
These features make drone operation far more convenient, making capturing footage or planning drone flight routes easier. Those hoping to buy the best drone under $300 will want to double-check their preferred device’s features to ensure it offers these features.
Drones with GPS functionality allow operators to plan flight routes. So, if you’d like your drone to travel along a specific trail, GPS route planning is the most convenient option.
Additionally, drones with GPS typically have a ‘Return Home’ function that allows them to return to their initial take-off point after completing a route or when battery levels fall.
The Follow Me flight mode available on most top-notch drones makes it easy for operators to capture footage of themselves while on the go.
In this mode, the drone will hover a specific distance from the operator as they move, allowing for hands-free shots of walks, bike rides, and other outdoor excursions.
PoI (Circle) Flight
Pol flight (called circle flight) is an intelligent flight mode where the drone will circle a chosen spot, allowing you to create dynamic footage focused on a singular focal point.
This flight mode could be helpful for those attempting to create video footage of themselves completing a task but don’t want to opt for the standard, stationary, single-view camera setup.
Capturing video footage is one of the primary reasons people invest in drones, but not all drone cameras are the same. For example, some are only capable of taking still images, while others can record video.
Some drones allow you to transmit video footage while flying, enabling you to monitor the footage remotely. Others capture footage and store it on an internal drive or memory chip, allowing you to download it from the drone after you finish your flight.
But generally, there are three aspects you’ll need to focus on when selecting a drone with a camera:
- Image stabilization
- Gimbal and angle adjustability
Let’s explore these factors to ensure you select a drone with a high-quality camera that suits your needs.
Drone cameras offer a wide range of image quality, typically ranging from 1080p HD to 4K. If you’re looking for the highest-quality drone footage, you’ll want to opt for a drone with a 4K camera.
That said, drones with 4K cameras are rarely available for less than $300. Those hoping to purchase a drone within the $300 price range may want to select a device with an HD camera.
A shaky image can ruin otherwise beautiful footage. Unfortunately, strong winds and elevation changes can cause your drone to vibrate or move unexpectedly, occasionally resulting in blurred or shaky footage.
Fortunately, many drones with cameras feature image stabilization programs that help reduce the natural shakiness of drone footage, resulting in stable-looking footage.
Gimbal and Angle Adjustability
A gimbal is a stick-like device that attaches to drones to keep cameras stable during flight. If you’d like to use a pre-owned camera to capture drone footage, you’ll want to choose a drone with a gimbal or a gimbal mount.
Several of the best gimbals also adjust for diverse camera angles, allowing operators to pan to various focal points while keeping the drone stationary. Additionally, some drones have cameras attached to internal gimbals, making it easy for operators to adjust the camera angle during flight.
Check out these frequently asked questions! You might find the answer you’re looking for just below.
Are drones under $300 good for beginners?
Drones under $300 are often suitable for beginners. If you’ve never piloted a drone before, it’s an excellent idea to start with a drone that’s a little more budget-friendly, as there’s a chance you’ll accidentally crash or mishandle the drone while learning how to operate it. Most drones in this price range come with intelligent flight modes which will keep you safe while flying.
Can you fly drones under $300 in FPV?
You may be able to fly drones for under $300 in FPV events. Though many drones raced in FPV events cost $1,000 or more, some more affordable models have FPV capabilities.
Studying the rules and qualifications of an FPV event can help you determine whether your chosen drone is appropriate for that event.
What is the range of drones under $300?
Hundreds of drones are under $300, ranging from kid-friendly starter drones to high-quality HD-video drones. The right option depends on your needs, skill level, and budget.
Do I need to register the drone with the FAA?
If your drone weighs more than 0.55lbs (250g), you’ll likely need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Fortunately, registering your drone is a straightforward process; each registration lasts up to three years and only costs $5 per drone.
In my opinion, the best drone under $300 is the DJI Mini SE. After all, this drone offers 4K HD video (with a three-axis gimbal), can stay airborne for up to 30 minutes and has a range of more than 2 miles!
The DJI Mini SE is suitable for both beginners and seasoned drone operators. Instead of relying on a controller with endless buttons and screens, this drone comes with a simple two-toggle controller.
Flight modes and footage are accessible via the DJI Fly app, available for Android and iOS devices. The combination of these qualities ensures that the DJI Mini SE is the best overall choice for those hoping to buy a drone for less than $300.
Stay safe and fly high!