Drone technology is so inexpensive these days that anyone can get a high quality quadcopter for less than the average cost of a video game. To help identify the cheapest and best beginner quad, I spent several weeks checking out brand new drones and chatting with UAV pros via Facebook and Twitter. The experts I consulted introduced me to a truly impressive full-featured drone that I believe to be the very best quadcopter under 50 dollars, plus they also helped me find a pair of excellent “bare bones” drones.
The 2 “runner up” drones listed below lack the cool features found in my #1 pick, but they may be worth considering if you’re on a shoestring budget.
About Robot Fanatics
In 2016, I decided to put my DIY expertise and bargain hunting skills to good use and start this site.
The reviews you’ll find on Robot Fanatics are blunt and to-the-point. My main goal is to help you look for information and find the best bargains.
Enter your email address into the bar on the bottom of the screen and I’ll send you the info when I find good deals on robot stuff.
Drone Pilots Are Making Tons of Dough
I was excited when robotic vacuum cleaners first came out in the early 2000s. But over 15 years after the debut of the Roomba, the home robotics industry is still pretty much stuck in the mud.
I still have hope for home robotic appliances– especially IoT devices. But after chatting with some UAV experts, I’ve come to believe that drones are the future of robotics.
According to University of North Dakota’s UAS Director Al Palmer, drone pilots are reeling in around $50 an hour / $100,000 a year. Architects, tourism companies, rescue squads, miners and even plumbers are hiring drone operators to take pictures and record videos.
Even though quadcopter skills are in high demand, quad tech is surprisingly cheap. If you’ve got 50 dollars in the bank, you have all the cash you need to start learning how to fly one.
The Very Best Quadcopter Under 50 Dollars
The Eachine E50 is the very best budget quadcopter on the market right now
The thing that really shocked me about this inexpensive but awesome quad is that it has real FPV (First Person View) capability. In other words, you can see what the quadcopter is “looking” at in real time via your mobile device.
Last time I looked into drone tech, you had to shell out at least 100 dollars to get FPV. But with the E50, you get full FPV features for half the price.
Pros and Cons
- Full FPV (First Person View) functionality. Control your drone like a pro by connecting to its camera via the E50 app.
- HD camera. Takes videos and photos in 720p.
- DIYers respect the Eachine brand name. The E50 isn’t some cheap R/C toy, it’s a serious Eachine quadcopter.
- Sturdy construction. This quad’s made out of ABS, which is extremely durable, light and weatherproof.
- Snap in, snap out batteries. You can buy extra batteries and switch them out easily if they get low.
- USB charging. You don’t need a special charger, just a normal USB port.
- Easy to use. This quad is easy to learn, but difficult to master.
- Professional control option. Like most modern drones, this one is “headless mode” capable. Essentially, headless mode eliminates confusion when steering your drone.
- Folds up. You can retract the propeller arms and stick it in your pocket.
- Casual features. The E50 has a “selfie mode” that you can use to take pictures of yourself from above.
- If you really want to work on your quad piloting skills, you’ll need to invest in the battery pack expansion kit. The battery that comes with the quad only lasts for 15 minutes max and it takes 2 hours to charge via USB.
Watch the commercial
BangGood has been promoting the hell out of this little quad lately. They have it on sale for 43.99 right now. In case you’re not familiar, BangGood is a Chinese company with a factory in the United States. They specialize in DIY stuff, so their prices are usually super cheap. But if you’d rather purchase through Amazon, you can get a good price there as well.
It’s surprisingly sturdy
Any quadcopter pro will tell you that Eachine makes high quality gear. The E50 is no exception to the rule.
The E50’s body is made out of ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). ABS is awesome because it’s cheap, flexible and extremely tough.
This body of this quad won’t crack, even if you crash land it into a concrete sidewalk.
Charge it via USB
If you want to get a serious DIY quadcopter, you have to buy an expensive LiPo battery plus a special charger to fill it up when its juice gets low. The 3.7V 500mAh battery that comes with the E50 lasts for 8 to 15 minutes, which is actually pretty good performance for a drone.
You don’t need a special charger either… just a USB port.
If you need more juice, you can add the Eachine 5-pack battery expansion to your shopping cart.
The Second Best Quadcopter Under 50 Dollars
The Voomall MJX X800‘s cam is sold separately, but it’s extra fast and agile
Technically speaking, the Voomall MJX X800 isn’t really a quadcopter. *Adjusts glasses* It has 6 motors instead of four, so it’s actually a hexacopter.
The two extra motors give this drone an extra speed boost more stability compared to the E50.
The Voomall MJX X800’s main weakness is that you have to pay a bit extra if you want to get the C4005 FPV (First Person View) camera add-on kit.
But if you’re looking for a drone that’s even cheaper than the E50 and all you want to do is fly your drone around indoors, the Voomall MJX X800 is a very viable option.
Pros and Cons
- Fast and agile. The Voomall MJX X800’s two extra motors help it zip around at high speeds.
- Easy to pilot. The “return home” button triggers an automatic landing sequence.
- HD camera expansion available. Even though it sucks that you have to buy it separately, the .3 megapixel addon is actually fairly cheap.
- Professional control mode. This drone also has headless mode, which eliminates confusion when steering your drone.
- Built-in charger. You don’t have to take the batteries out to get a recharge.
- Cheaper than the E50. The Voomall MJX X800 doesn’t have as many out-of-the-box features as my favorite budget drone, but it is faster and more stable.
- Everyone who owns it, loves it. The VoomallMJX X800 currently has a near perfect rating on Amazon.
- You can upgrade the Voomall MJX X800 to First Person Viewif you get the FPV kit, but doing so will put you over the 50 dollar mark.
- Like all drones in this price range, battery life is an issue. You can only fly the MJX X800 for 8 minutes at a time, and you need to leave it plugged in for 90 minutes to get a recharge.
Watch the commercial
The Third Best Quadcopter Under 50 Dollars
The AICase Hubsan H002 is a cool little indoor drone
Unlike the two drones discussed above, the H002 has no FPV capability whatsoever. It does, however, have a built-in camera.
It’s not the best quad to get if you want to become professional UAV pilot one day. But if you’re just looking for a teeny tiny drone that’ll zip around the office and freak out your coworkers, you’ll probably be quite happy with it.
Another reason to consider this quad is that the HubSan brand gets a lot of respect from the drone enthusiast community.
- Itsy bitsy. The H002 is super light and compact enough to land on your hand.
- Durable. Ash Ha owns a H002, and he claims that it’s very hard to break.
- Sharpen your piloting skills. Once you’ve got the basics down, try navigating in Expert or Stunt mode.
- Internal cam. The 480p footage won’t wow you and this quad can’t output a live First Person View stream, but at least it can take pictures and videos.
- Built-in USB port. Just plug it into your computer when it’s time to recharge.
- Casual quad enthusiasts will like it. This surprisingly nimble basic little drone is fun and very reasonably priced.
- Though it is possible to pick up some skills with the H002 if you switch it into Expert or Stunt mode, if it were any simpler it would be a remote control toy.