If you’re interested in flying quadcopters, we highly recommend that you start with a smaller toy quadcopter to get the feel for flying. These micro quadcopters are great learning tools and can help you learn to fly larger quads cheaply!
FPV racing quads can cost several hundred dollars and you don’t want to immediately crash on your first flight. It’s a whole lot better to crash a cheap $20 to $50 drone than absolutely destroying (or losing) your more expensive FPV quad. If you’re considering flying a more expensive camera drone, like a DJI Mavic Pro, learning the ropes on a toy quad really helps. The control styles are the same whether it is a toy style quad or an expensive camera drone. Getting flight time and control knowledge with a toy quadcopter will directly carry over to a larger (and more expensive) quadcopter. Once you choose a quadcopter to start learning with, be sure to come back and check out our guide on learning how to fly it!
Below I want to outline a few quads I highly recommend for anyone wanting to start learning to fly. They are all very straight forward and come packed with great features. It’s really amazing how well these lower cost quads fly.
Over the past year, the Eachine E010 has dominated the basic micro quadcopter market – and for good reason. It is the cheapest entry level quadcopter you can get, provides a great learning platform, and is highly moddable. You can get your hands on an E010 for less than $20 shipped. This agile platform will teach you the ins and outs of flying a quadcopter while not breaking the bank.
Eachine products are mainly sold via Banggood – a Chinese distributor. Think of them like an Amazon.com in China. They offer great prices, quality customer support, and cheap shipping. Many hobbyists starting out may have qualms about ordering from China, but Banggood has received positive reviews from across the community. The Eachine ready to fly line of racing drones has received numerous positive reviews, and is the current favorite entry level budget racer series.
- Cheap. Base cost is under $20, and accessories (extra batteries, props, etc) are very affordable.
- Great platform for learning. If you can master the controls here, you will have no problem moving to a larger quad.
- Ducted frame allows for added crash durability and easy repair.
- Highly moddable. Can be torn down and upgraded to be a budget Tiny Whoop for FPV flight.
- Controller is very small and lacks ergonomic features.
- Small – great for indoor use, but lower performance outside in wind.
Hubsan X4 (H107C – with camera, H107L – without camera)
If you’ve done any amount of Google searching on good beginner quadcopters, you’ve no doubt found recommendations for the Hubsan X4. The Hubsan X4 was one of the original quality construction micro quadcopters released at an affordable price. This is a great quadcopter that has stood the test of time – remaining a go to recommendation for new pilots going on almost three years. The downside here is typically in price. I find that most vendors have the Hubsan X4 at slightly higher prices compared to the Syma X11, and certainly more expensive than the Eachine E010.
The advantage of the Hubsan X4 over the Syma X11C is in its motors which provide greater thrust. While Vesp and I were flying our quadcopters outdoors side-by-side (Vesp owns the Hubsan X4 while I own the Syma X11C), it felt that the Hubsan had an easier time with breezes, while the Syma X11C really did feel the effects of outside influences. Generally I’d probably recommend flying both of these quads indoors anyway, but if you’re going outdoors at all, you should probably opt for the Hubsan X4.
I find that the biggest downside to the Hubsan X4 are the propellers. While flying the Syma X11C I never replaced any propellers even after my thousands of crashes. They took a serious beating and kept on performing. I do feel the quality of the Hubsan propellers are a little worse than the Syma’s. Both get the job done well, but I feel that Hubsan will bend or break more so in the long run. Of course, if you’re using propeller guards (which you should!) it should reduce the chance of breakage.
- Great control and power. You can really push this micro to the limit in terms of speed and maneuverability indoors and outside.
- Vast array of parts and accessories available from multiple vendors
- On-board camera for recording flight footage (does not work for FPV flying though).
- One of the best micro quadcopter transmitters. The longer sticks feel like those used with an FPV racing drone.
- Expensive. You are looking at a price of $30-40 depending on the model you choose.
- Difficult to modify. Repairs for the most part are straightforward, but it lacks the mod benefits of the E010
- Props are easy to break even with the crash guard. Definitely pick up extra props for this one!
Syma X11C (X11C – with camera, X11 – without camera)
The Syma X11C was the first toy quad I got my hands on. I don’t recall what it was exactly that made me first decide on the Syma. It was most likely price that made me pull the trigger. At the time I purchased it, I paid something like $30 on Amazon.
There are a lot of great things to say about this quadcopter. You do have the ability to change between flight modes (Mode 1 and Mode 2), you can easily switch between low rate and higher rate at the press of a button (think of regular mode and turbo mode), and if you opt for the X11C that comes with the camera, you can even control that remotely as well.
I really liked that the X11C gives you the option to start the motors in a lower speed to help you get your bearings while learning to fly. It’s surprising how quickly you can lose control when learning to fly. The quadcopter flies really well and smoothly. It’s a pleasure to fly and I enjoyed learning on this quadcopter.
The main downside to the Syma X11C are the slightly weaker motors. I do think compared to the other quads on this list, that the motors on the Syma X11C just don’t provide the same amount of thrust as other options do. This isn’t a deal breaker, I would still recommend this quad as a first time option, but when it comes down to it, it does make me want to recommend a different quadcopter.
the controller for the Syma X11 is very similar to an XBox game pad. It feels great in the hands compared to the E010, but the Hubsan X4 has controls that are more alike to the actual radio transmitter you would use with an FPV drone racer. This to me isn’t necessarily that big of a deal, but it can be for some pilots. I started with the X11C and moved onto other controllers and had no problem doing so.
- Mid-level price point with quality features
- Propellers are strong and rarely need swapping
- Easy to use controller with many features to swap options remotely
- Low power compared to the Hubsan X4
- We found the arms easier to break after a bad crash with the Syma vs the Hubsan. Super glue was able to make for a quick repair.
If you are looking for a larger quadcopter, the Syma X5C (Explorers 2 version) takes it to the next step. More of a medium sized quadcopter, the Syma X5C does bring a lot more power to the table.
The larger size of the craft and motors means you’re going to have better thrust. The X5C can really move once you give it that full throttle. It performs much better in outdoor conditions and isn’t as greatly affected by breezes. Which is a good thing because due to its larger size, I would not recommend flying this quadcopter indoors. It’s incredibly fun going full throttle and blasting through the air. If you are mainly flying outside in windy areas, this quadcopter will perform much better than the above options.
Otherwise, you’re getting a very similar experience here when compared to the Syma X11C and the Hubsan X4. All are very straightforward and simple to fly. The main advantage of the X5C is its larger size and more powerful flying. If you’ve got a good amount of space to fly this in, I really think this is a great choice. This quadcopter also generally runs around $50, which isn’t that much more than the previous mentioned quadcopters. Additionally, the controller is very similar to a real radio transmitter.
- Great wind resistance for outdoor flying. Most powerful option on this list
- Transmitter that is very similar to real FPV quadcopter radios
- Multiple features and customizable settings
- More expensive. Looking at $50+ for the Explorers model
- Replacement parts are more expensive than the other options due to their size. Additionally, the extra power may make for harder crashes and require the purchase of additional parts.
- Size makes it prohibitive to use indoors
Each of the above quadcopters comes with everything you need in the box. However, if you plan on seriously training, you will want to pick up a few accessories. Extra batteries will allow you to fly longer and spend more time training and less time charging. Having spare propellers on hand will make changing our broken props a breeze. Finally, having a multi charger will reduce downtime away from the field!
Micro quadcopter extra batteries:
- Eachine E010 extra batteries:
- Hubsan X4 and Syma X11 extra batteries (they use the same type):
- Syma X5C extra batteries:
Micro quadcopter extra propellers:
- Eachine E010 extra propellers:
- Hubsan X4 extra propellers:
- Syma X11 extra propellers:
- Syma X5C extra propellers:
Micro quadcopter multi-charger:
- Eachine E010 multi charger:
- Hubsan X4 and Syma X11 multi charger:
- Syma X5C multi charger
- More Batteries for the Syma X5C. This battery + charging hub combo is a great deal and accessory for the Syma X5C.
Conclusion… and guides on how to start flying!
You really can’t lose regardless of which of these you choose. They will all give you a great sense of what the sticks on the controllers do for when you fly a quadcopter. At the end of the day, these quadcopter will function as great training tools for any pilot.
Ready to learn how to fly your new quadcopter? Check out our three part guide using the links below: