Drones come in a wide variety of different weights, from extremely light drones that fit in the palm of your hand to much larger and heavier ones.
Many people looking for drones seek out ones that weigh under 250 grams as it means they don’t have to register it with the FAA.
But what benefits come with avoiding FAA registration, and what is the best drone under 250 grams?
That’s what you’ll find out in this guide. Firstly, we’ll explain why a drone under 250 grams doesn’t need to be registered with the FAA and why that can be advantageous. We’ll then take a look at some other benefits of drones under 250 grams before reviewing the best models you can buy in this weight class.
Why Buy a Drone Under 250 Grams?
No Need for FAA Registration
If you’re new to the drone scene, you may be wondering what’s so special about a drone that weighs under 250g.
Well, the main reason is you don’t need to register a drone that weighs 250 grams or less with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
FAA registration isn’t a hugely complex or expensive process, but it is something that a lot of people would rather not have to worry about. You can register your drone online or by mail by providing a few basic details about yourself and the drone, and there’s a $5 registration fee per drone.
You’ll then be sent a certificate which you must have on you whenever you’re flying, and you have to label your drone with your registration number. If you fail to register a drone over 250g, you could be liable to civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties of up to $250,000 — and possible imprisonment.
So, even though it’s not very difficult, you can see why many would rather avoid the hassle, particularly if you’re a beginner or just a casual flier.
While the FAA rules for drones under 250 grams apply to the US, similar laws are also present in the UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries around the world. The reason countries have these drones under 250 grams regulations is because light drones are less likely to cause serious incidents or injuries in the event of a collision.
Of course, while you don’t need to register a drone under 250g with the FAA, that doesn’t mean you can just do anything you want with it. In fact, all the FAA rules on how and where you can fly a drone apply to drones of all weights.
For example, FAA regulations state you can’t fly a drone over groups of people or near other aircraft and you must stay below 400 feet above ground level. Whether you’re flying a drone under 250g or a larger one, it’s always important to take the right precautions and ensure you fly as safely as possible.
Other Benefits of Drones Under 250g
Being exempt from FAA registration isn’t the only reason why people go for drones under 250. In fact, there are several other benefits of these drones.
For starters, they’re extremely lightweight and compact, most being the size of an average smartphone. This means they’re extremely easy to transport – much more so than larger, heavier drones – and many even have foldable propellers to make them easier to carry around. Most standard camera drones range from 400g to 700g in weight, so they’re often twice as heavy as drones under 250 grams.
Another benefit of choosing a small under 250-gram drone is that they’re generally easier to fly and control than heavier, bulkier drones. Not only does this make them suitable for beginners, but it also means you can fly them both indoors and outdoors in a safer way than with most larger drones.
That’s not to say everything about drones under 250g is better than larger models – they’re generally a lot less powerful and can be less robust, for example. But if your priority is easy indoor and outdoor flying or avoiding FAA registration, then it’s certainly worth considering a drone under 250 grams.
The Best Drones Under 250 Grams
Without further ado, here are our expert reviews of the best drones under 250 grams, starting with the most affordable.
Ryze Tello – Best drone under 250 grams for kids
- Price: $99 — Available on Amazon here
- Weight: 80g
The Ryze Tello is one of the most popular drones for kids and is incredibly light, weighing in at just 80g.
There are several different features that make the Tello perfect for new drone fliers. It offers a 5MP and 720p HD camera that’s pretty good for such a cheap drone, so it’s a great introduction into aerial photography and videography.
This drone is actually made by Ryze in conjunction with DJI, the number one manufacturer of camera consumer drones – more on that later. So, with the Tello, you get a lot higher quality than with most other drones under $100.
For example, you can use DJI’s famous EZ shots feature with the Tello. This sees the drone perform coordinated motions while recording to provide professional-looking videos that you can share instantly on social media.
Another interesting aspect of the Ryze Tello is that it’s one of the most popular programmable drones. This is because it supports the Scratch programming language, meaning you can command the Tello simply by dragging coding blocks on the Tello Edu mobile app.
MiXXAR S105 Pro – Good for beginners
- Price: $139.99 — Available on Amazon here
- Weight: 249g
The MiXXar s105 Pro is an affordable yet high-quality drone under 250 grams that’s great for both beginners and more experienced fliers.
This drone has some impressive features for such a cheap drone, such as the 4K HD dual camera with a 120° wide-angle view for capturing clean and crisp images from a wide perspective. You can easily switch between the frontal and bottom camera, while the electronic stabilization system helps keep your footage steady.
The MiXXAR S105 Pro uses GPS technology to provide some great smart flight features. For example, you can set it to follow you so that the drone records your every move while in the air. There’s also the waypoint flight feature that allows you to set points that the drone will automatically follow while you focus on recording.
The GPS functionality also means you can accurately track its position in real time and set it to automatically return to the takeoff point if the battery is low or the drone goes out of range.
As well as outdoor GPS position, this under 250g drone also offers optical flow positioning so that it can hover steadily when flying it indoors.
Each battery offers around 20 minutes of flight time, and there are three included so you can easily swap them out for a long day’s shooting.
Syma X500 – Great value for money
- Price: $209 — Available on Amazon here
- Weight: 250g
The Syma X500 weighs right on the 250g threshold, but that still means you can fly it without FAA registration and it has some great features that make it worth considering.
For starters, it has a 4K UHD camera that allows you to capture impressive high resolution footage. The camera uses a wide-angle lens with 120° and 90° vertical gimbal movement so you can benefit from greater dynamic range and capture different perspectives.
The Syma X500 also has an excellent range of intelligent flying features to help you make the most of its camera capabilities. For example, the Follow Me mode makes the drone camera focus on you as it flies, while Circle Fly sees it orbit objects so you can capture cinematic footage.
You can set your own custom routes for the drone to follow by setting way points through the tap fly function on the Syma app. There’s even the possibility to control the photo and record functions with just hand gestures!
This 4K drone under 250 grams also has GPS return to home and an intelligent optical flow positioning system to provide safer and easier flying.
The Syma X500 offers 28 minutes of flight time per battery, which is impressive. Plus, as it comes with two batteries, you can easily swap them out for extended flying time without having to recharge. A dual charger is included so you can charge both at once to save time.
Finally, this drone even has a VR mode that you can activate via the Syma app. You’ll need to have or buy your own VR goggles, but if you do, then you can enjoy incredibly immersive flying.
DJI Mini SE – Affordable yet powerful drone under 250 grams
- Price: $299 — Available on Amazon here
- Weight: 249g
DJI is the market leader when it comes to consumer camera drones and its range of mini drones are generally regarded as the finest on the market, the Mini SE being a great example of why that is.
For starters, it offers seriously impressive camera capabilities – 12MP aerial photos and 2.7k HD video, so you can capture genuinely stunning footage. Like all DJI drones, the Mini SE uses a 3 axis motorized gimbal to help keep the camera steady while flying for as smooth a recording as possible.
Another great thing about this mini drone under 250 grams is that it has a seriously impressive range of 4km, and you can stream 720p video in real-time within that range.
While most drones less than 250g are considerably less powerful than larger, heavy drones, that’s not the case with DJI models. The Mini SE has level 5 wind resistance, meaning it can resist winds up to 38kph, so you can fly it even in challenging conditions.
It can also fly up to a max altitude of 4,000 meters and reaches speeds of 13m/s, so it’s more than capable of scaling a variety of landscapes, from coastline cliffs to forests.
The Mini SE also offers 30 minutes of flight time per charge, which is impressive for such a light drone, and for one in this price category.
Another feature that’s characteristic of DJI drones is intelligent flight and recording features. The Mini SE has a variety of QuickShot modes, such as Helix, Dronie, and Circle, which see it perform elaborate preset motions while recording to give your footage that cinematic edge.
DJI Mini 2 – Overall Best Drone Under 250 grams
- Price: $449 — Available on Amazon here
- Weight: 249g
The DJI Mini 2 is the direct upgrade of DJI’s original Mavic Mini and is without doubt the best drone under 250g on the market.
With this drone, you get all the same great features you do with the Mini SE as well as some more advanced capabilities that help you take your drone flying to the next level.
For starters, it has a significantly higher transmission distance of 10km, which is simply incredible and makes the Mini 2 one of the longest-range drones on the market. It also has an increased flying speed of 16m/s, so with this drone you can explore further and farther than with any other sub-250-gram drone.
Plus, as it uses DJI’s advanced OcuSync 2.0 transmission system rather than WiFi, the image feed is much smoother and more reliable than with the original Mini or the Mini SE.
While the camera offers the same 12MP and 2.7k HD video as the Mini SE, with the DJI Mini 2 you can capture both RAW and JPEG images, rather than just JPEG as is the case with earlier models.
Different photographers have different views on whether RAW or JPEG is better. For example, many favor RAW images as they feature far more shades of color, wider dynamic range, and finer adjustment potential, whereas others prefer JPEG images as they don’t require post-processing, require less storage, and can be more easily shared.
As the Mini 2 supports both files, you can adjust based on your personal preferences or your needs for different situations.
You can still buy the cheaper original Mavic Mini if this drone is out of your budget, which is a fantastic drone in its own right. But if you’re looking for simply the best drone under 250 grams, then the Mini 2 is the one to go for.