We have published a few articles over the last few weeks going over a number of different cheap GoPro alternative action cameras due to seeing such an increase in interest in the entry-level action camera market over the last few months. As technology becomes better and better yet cheaper and cheaper to produce, you are able to pick up a great little action camera for less than $100 that could have cost twice or three times that only a year or two ago.
With more and more action and extreme sports enthusiasts realizing that the technology in the latest premium price point GoPros will be available in these entry-level action cameras in a year or two, many people have decided to just go with the more budget-friendly option. Due to this, we have decided to publish this article going over what we feel is the best action camera under $100 available on the market today.
We are hoping that our article will be able to guide any of our readers who are looking to pick up a cheap action camera and help guide you towards a camera that will easily be able to meet your needs without having to break the bank. Now, in our opinion, the Apeman Trawo has definatley managed to earn the title of best action camera under $100 as it offers some performance and functionality that we would expect at twice its price tag while also having an absolutely outstanding build quality too.
That said though, we always try to provide our readers with some choice so we have decided to feature three cheap action cameras in our comparison table below. We will then go over all three of them as they are all popular options in the sub-one hundred dollar price bracket and share our thoughts on them. After the comparison table, we will then be focusing on taking a more in-depth look at the Apeman Trawo due to it being our primary recommendation.
Last update on 2020-01-28 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As you can see from our comparison table above, all three of our featured entry-level action cameras offer some solid features that you would expect on a modern action camera. Each camera has its own unique build that offers different features to the other options so we just want to quickly go over each of the cameras and share what we think of them.
First up, we have our premium recommendation and what we feel is the best action camera under $100, the Apeman Trawo. As you can see from the comparison table above, it offers the best feature list by far and blows the Akaso Brave 6 out of the water even though they have a very similar price point. In addition to this, at the time of writing at least, it is one of the only cheap action cameras on the market that offers true native 4k video recording without having to rely on a digital process to upscale the video resolution to look like 4k even though its raw format is not.
Since its release onto the market, the Apeman Trawo just keeps on going from strength to strength with no signs of its customer base growth slowing any time soon. It has just kept on becoming more and more popular and has also managed to earn itself an absolutely outstanding reputation amongst videographers that just keeps on getting better. As we mentioned earlier, we will be spending a bunch of time after this section taking a more in-depth look at the Apeman Trawo and what it has to offer for anyone who is yet to make their mind up.
Next up, we have the Eken H9R and we really do think that this is an excellent little action camera that is well worth having on our list. Although it is the cheapest action camera on our list, it packs a massive punch and actually manages to beat the Akaso Brave 6 in some areas with ease while being almost half its price!
Finally, we have the Akaso Brave 6 and in all honesty, we would NOT recommend that our readers purchase this action camera as the Apeman Trawo beats it in every way in our opinion. The only reason that we decided to feature it on our list is that the Brave 6 is often recommended by people due to the excellent Brave 4 that is not showing its age.
In our opinion, Akaso has definatley dropped the ball when it comes to the Brave 6 and it is missing basic features that we would expect for an action camera at this price point in the market in this day and age. For example, it has no 720p support for slow-motion clips, its 4k frames per second is the slowest of our featured gimbals, and its maximum battery life is questionable at best.
In our opinion, Akaso has become complacent due to the massive success that they have had with some of their older camera ranges. This has left brands like Apeman, Eken, and even Campack to innovate away and produce action cameras that not only rival but our right beat the latest offering from Akaso. In all honesty, even if Akaso did end up offering a price reduction on the Brave 6 to price it at the same price of the H9R, we would still recommend the Eken H9R over the Brave 6 to our readers.
Anyway, with all of that out of the way, from this point on, we will be focusing on the Apeman Trawo for our deep dive into the camera and its performance. We may touch on some of the features of the other cameras to compare them to how they match up to the Trawo but for the most part, we will be going into the various features that we feel make it the best cheap action camera on the market right now.
Performance And Functionality
Not only does this digital upscaling require an absolute ton of power from your action cameras battery resulting in a shorter battery life but it can potentially generate a ton of additional heat too. Depending on the action camera, this additional heat can end up resulting in overheating issues during use and have an effect on what you can do with your action camera. Thankfully though, the Apeman Trawo has full, native 4k video capabilities right out the box and captures 4k video via its camera sensor without the need to digitally upscale the video footage and waste all of this power and generate this additional heat.
Apeman also offers the widest range of usable video resolutions in the sub-one hundred dollar price bracket too at the time of writing. The Trawo is able to capture 4k at thirty frames per second, 2.7k at thirty frames per second, 1440p at sixty frames per second, 1080p at sixty frames per second and 720p at one hundred and twenty frames per second. This covers you for pretty much any recording situation that you may find yourself in to ensure you can capture the content you want.
As we mentioned earlier, the Akaso Brave 6 offer digitally upscaled 4k but it is at twenty-four frames per second slightly lowering the image quality available over the Apeman Trawo while also not supporting 720p at all. The Eken H9R does support 720p as well at 4k at thirty frames per second but it is digitally upscaled but neither of the other two compeating featured cameras offer any 1440p functionality.
Although people may be wondering why the 720p resolution is still used in this day and age it is due to the high frames per second rate that it can be used at. This makes it perfect for any slow-motion video recording for your b-roll or to capture the action for your extreme sports in slow motion. Although a large number of people may never use the technology, a large number will and like most things when it comes to technology, its usually better to have something and need it than need it and not have it, especially when the price tags of the options are so similar to each other.
You can also see the effects of the camera’s electronic image stabilization technology too with it being able to provide some of the smoothest video footage possible for the sub-one hundred dollar price bracket at the time of writing. This is down to the camera’s six-axis gyroscope technology being able to perform flawlessly even in some of the rougher action sports.
That said though if you do want some ultra-smooth videos with your action camera then it is probably a good idea to look into adding a decent action camera gimbal to your camera accessories like the Feiyutech G6. In our opinion, the G6 is the best action camera gimbal on the market right now by far and is pretty cheap considering what you get for your money. We go into more detail on the gimbal in our article going over the best gimbals for action cameras if you would like to know more.
Now only is the case fully waterproof down to a depth of around 131 feet but it does not have a negative effect on the image quality that you are able to capture during use. This is one of the main problems with the action camera range under the $100 price point, as their waterproof cases are often low quality and can have a negative effect on their image quality with the camera mounted in the case. Thankfully though, this is not an issue with the Apeman Trawo as its waterproof case is outstanding and performs flawlessly.
Apeman has also added a few specialist modes to the Trawo to help add that additional edge over what the compeating entry-level action cameras on the market are able to offer. Their underwater mode is excellent and actually outperforms the underwater mode found on some of the higher price point action cameras on the market right now with ease helping to ensure you get the best image quality possible while under the water.
Essentially, what their underwater mode does is apply a green filter to the image when the mode is active to adjust the ever-changing light conditions under the water to optimize the camera’s performance for the best possible image quality. This also helps to improve the camera’s low light performance while underwater too and overcomes the main weakness for these cheaper action cameras to push the Apeman Trawo even further ahead of its competition.
On top of this, you are also able to adjust the resolution that you capture your photographs at to help save storage space on your memory card if needed. The Trawo can capture photographs at 20MP, 16MP, 12MP, 5MP, and 3MP with the image quality of its higher resolutions being crystal clear and sharp with great color rendering relative to its price point in the market.
Apeman has also added one of the best fully adjustable lenses to the Trawo that really helps to enhance its photographic performance. Although this technology is available on a number of other, compeating action cameras on the market, the adjustable lens combined with the excellent camera sensor on the Trawo pushes it well out ahead of the other cameras.
You are able to adjust the lens to 170°, 140°, 110°, and 70° allowing you to capture a number of different fields of view to capture the type of photograph that you need in a wide number of situations. The narrow field of view at 70° is perfect for close up photographs whereas the ultra-wide-angle of 170° is perfect for any landscape scenes that you want to capture in all of their glory as seen in the example below.
On top of this, the exposure value range of -2.0 to +2.0 with its variable ISO range of 100-1600 allows the more advanced users to further tweak the performance of the camera to get the best image quality possible, even in low light. Now, if you are an entry-level action camera user then the default config that comes shipped on the camera is probably going to meet the vast majority of your needs without issue anyway. We just wanted to point out that those of our readers who like to tweak their cameras can do so if they wish.
Moving onto the battery life of the camera, the Apeman Trawo uses a standard 1350mAh battery and comes with a spare battery (two in total) with your purchase as standard. Each of these batteries at full charge can provide you with around two hours of battery life when capturing video at 1080p and around an hour and a half of battery when capturing video in 4k. Out of the action camera under $100 on the market at the time of writing, this is the best battery duration largely due to the camera coming with native 4k recording and not having to waste power on digitally upscaling footage.
As you get two batteries with your purchase of the Apeman Trawo you can also pick up a USB power bank to keep in your backpack to charge on battery while using the other one to capture your video footage while out and about. This ensures that you will be able to keep on capturing your content while out and about over the course of a day without running out of battery.
Just like all of the other entry-level action cameras on the market right now worth their salt the Apeman Trawo also supports a number of different camera modes too. These include burst photo mode, loop recording, time-lapse, shooting timer, and rotate to help ensure that you are able to tweak the performance of the camera to meet the requirements of your current situation and produce the best image quality possible.
User Interface And Control System
The whole thing is controlled via the touchscreen interface via the cameras 2.0 inch IPS screen and the navigation menu for the camera is very straight forward and easy to follow. This allows you to scroll through the various settings for the camera and make adjustments as required without having to waste time. On the flip side of this though, although the control system for the Apeman Trawo does emphasize ease of use, it also offers quick and easy customization for various settings for the advanced action camera user too.
Apeman have done an excellent job with the touchscreen interface on the Trawo too and although its sensitivity does drop slightly if your fingers are wet or cold, it is still much better than what the competition are providing. Due to so many popular extreme sports involving water or cold weather, this is a great feature to have in any potential action camera to ensure you can always make any changes that you need while out and about.
The camera also supports full 4k HDMI output as well as wi-fi connectivity allowing you to instantly send your content to a television or monitor to see your work. If you are a vlogger or social media influencer then this can really speed things up as it allows you to quickly transfer your data to your computer for editing prior to uploading.
The wi-fi connectivity on the camera also offers additional benefits for the cameras control interface when it comes to the remote control too. The Trawo comes with a wrist-mounted wireless remote control to allow you to quickly and easily start or stop your video recording or capture photographs when required. This ensures that you don’t have to waste time paying attention to your camera interface while taking part in many action sports and can quickly and easily control it via the wireless remote.
All in all, we are very impressed with the interface that Apeman have managed to develop for their latest generation of budget-friendly action cameras and feel they probably have the best touchscreen system for the price bracket of the Trawo. Additionally, there are also some action cameras retailed at almost double what the Trawo sells for that suffer from issues with touchscreen sensitivity with wet or cold hands helping score the Trawo even more points.
The second main feature of the smartphone app is the quick and easy access to the action camera settings but in all honesty, the actual interface on the camera itself is so simple and straight forward, it is often easier just to make any changes directly on the camera. With so many of the compeating sub-one hundred dollar action cameras needing an app just to tweak the slightest thing, it just goes to show how well Apeman has designed the Trawo.
Unlike some of the other smartphone apps for the other cheap action cameras, the Yutupro app does not have any connectivity issues but we feel there is just no need to use it. We doubt that you will be using it to post content on social media without editing it first and the settings menu on the actual camera is just as quick, if not quicker than the app. As we mentioned earlier, you can easily go without using the smartphone app without it having any negative effect on the performance of the camera if you want.
Build Quality And Design
The camera comes in at only 0.17 pounds of weight making it very light and easy to carry with you while out and about without making much of a difference. If you are using the action cam as more of a cheap vlogging camera than to capture content from action sports, you can easily put it in a bag or even your pocket without even realizing its there. To put things in perspective, the latest smartphones usually come in at around 0.5 to 0.65 pounds of weight to give you an idea of how light the Trawo actually is.
Apeman has done a great job of packing all of the required technology for its excellent performance into the small 61*30*45mm frame of the camera to making it easy to add to your kit bag without having to use much space. Even when housed in the waterproof case, you could easily put the camera directly into your bag and not even notice the additional size or weight that you are carrying while out and about.
The robust nature of the camera is perfect for action sports too as the camera is likley to take a fair few bumps and knocks during use throughout its lifetime. We have seen a number of reports for the Trawo from people who have put their camera unit through an absolute ton of punishment but still report that their camera is still working fine. Additionally, even if you are not going underwater, you can house the camera in its protective case to add that additional layer of protection if you are taking part in a particularly risky extreme sport and just want the additional peace of mind.
We feel that Apeman has done an excellent job of putting the camera together and that they have delivered everything that you want for the build quality in an action camera under $100. It is small and light enough to take anywhere you need to while also being tough enough to stand up to all the bumps and knocks it will take during use too.
That brings our article going over what we feel are the best action cameras under $100 to an end and judging by the number of excellent independent reviews that the Apeman Trawo has received from the community, it would seem many people agree with us that the best option is the Apeman Trawo.
We feel that it is the best cheap GoPro alternative on the market right now and does an excellent job of providing you with the best possible image quality without you having to break the bank. We do have a dedicated review of the Apeman Trawo online but in all honesty, we have covered the majority of the points in this article anyway. We also have a dedicated review of the Eken H9R as well as an Akaso Brave 6 review that may help you if you are considering either of the other featured action cameras but we feel that the Apeman Trawo should definatley be your primary consideration when looking for an entry-level action camera under $100.