The best drones under $500 are already going to be closer to a professional level experience than the category that the best drones under $200 we’ve seen before.
All around you, drones are now commonplace. Drone operators use them for every imaginable activity, from action sports to fishing to taking stunning selfies. In the past, a good drone like the DJI Mavic 2 or Mavic Air 2 would cost at least $1000, but these days you can get quality equipment for $500 or less.
We’ve compiled a list of the top drones in various categories that cost less than $500. You might be surprised by how inexpensive owning a high-quality drone has gotten, and you don’t even need to spend hours searching Amazon for one!
Table of Contents
Best Drones Under $500
DJI Mini 2: Best Overall Under $500
- 4K 30 FPS Capable
- High wind-resistance
- Ocusync Transmission Technology
Every drawback of the original Mavic Mini has been addressed in the DJI Mini 2. This little miracle has undergone a complete makeover by DJI, which has significantly increased its wind resistance and marginally improved its battery life.
Despite being limited to 24, 25, or 30 frames per second at the highest resolution, the primary camera can record in 4K. With level 5 resistance to winds up to 10.5 m/s, the Mini 2 has significantly better wind resistance.
The change to DJI’s proprietary Ocusync technology from WiFi for video transmission may be the most significant improvement. This means that, in the majority of cases, you never have to be concerned about a break in the real-time live video signal or leaving the control range.
At this price and in this size, the Mini 2 is actually the closest you’re going to get to high-end drones like the Air 2. Its biggest flaw is the inability to avoid obstacles. The Mini 2 lacks the sensors necessary to keep it from colliding with a tree or wall, unlike DJI’s more expensive drones.
This isn’t all that surprising given the spending limit and weight goal. It does, however, require that you exercise increased caution. The older, more affordable DJI Spark drones lacked features like “follow me” and “Active Track,” but you do not have those either.
The Mini 2 wins our top pick for one more reason, which has to do with the software. The mobile apps and software from DJI are simply dependable and simple to use, and this is true of every other DJI drone on the list below. Setting waypoints and charting a flight path are simple tasks. There are tutorial videos available that cover everything from flying to improving your shots, and advanced features are simple to access.
Holy Stone HS720E: Best Quality Drone Under $500
- 4K UHD Camera with Image Stabilization
- GPS Assisted Intelligent Flight
- Configuration Upgrade
- Simple Operation
- Considerate Controller
Undoubtedly one of the most well-liked drones on Amazon is the Holy Stone HS720. The features that are typically only found in more expensive professional drones are all included in this drone.
Its foldable design makes it possible to pack it into a compact case that is simple to throw into a backpack. For a drone priced under $500, Holy Stone claims a whopping 23-minute flight time, which is very impressive.
DJI’s primary rival is generally thought of as Holy Stone. Some of their drones have begun to differentiate themselves from the competition, and the business keeps demonstrating to its clients why it is deserving of a market share.
One of their better drones has to be the recently updated Holy Stone HS720E, which was also highlighted in our most recent buyer’s guide (drones that are currently for sale).
I have to admit that HS720’s performance really caught me off guard. I genuinely believe that I am piloting a high-end drone that costs a lot more than the mid-range models. Highly responsive, extremely manoeuvrable, and wind-resistant.
I should also mention that Holy Stone’s HS720 is one of the best drones you can buy if you enjoy aerial photography and videography but do not have a large budget. You won’t be let down by it, especially for the price of well under 350 dollars.
Hubsan Zino 2 Plus: Best Camera Drone Under $500
- Mavic 2s-like specs (but no obstacle sensors)
- Fantastic Sony image sensor
- 33-minute flight endurance
In spite of the fact that DJI currently dominates the drone market, there are many other capable manufacturers vying for the top spot. The Zino 2 Plus is anything but a toy drone, even though Hubsan is probably best known for producing excellent toy drones.
The Zino 2 Plus offers 4K footage capability and a respectable 33-minute flight endurance rating, coming in just one dollar under our budget here. Due to this, drones like the Mavic Air 2s, which cost $1,000, and the Zino 2 Plus are directly comparable.
The Hubsan does not have obstacle avoidance, which is a key distinction between it and the Zino 2 Plus and the Air 2S. Although the Hubsan requires caution when in flight, the Ambrella H22 processor and Sony image sensor allow for excellent low-light performance and video quality that is on par with drones that cost twice as much. The Zino 2 Plus is an excellent choice at this price if your top priorities are image quality and basic flight specifications.
DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo: Best Bang For Buck Under $500
- Includes Numerous Accessories (Batteries, Propellers)
- 2.7K Camera
This is the original Mavic Mini, which cunningly evaded the regulations requiring drones weighing more than 250g to have licenses. Although this DJI drone weighs only 249g when in flight, it is definitely not a toy and is intended for serious use.
Better than a standard HD camera, the 2.7K camera produces excellent footage. With very practical ranges and light to moderate winds, the drone can fly. It’s important to remember that the Mavic Mini is no longer being produced, so this offer is only valid “while supplies last.”” That explains why this “Fly More” combo is so reasonably priced.
We can’t suggest the Mavic Mini if you’re looking to purchase a drone that is completely unadorned, has a single battery, and no extras. The DJI Mini 2 or Mini SE, both of which we’ve covered here, are better options.
The first-generation Mini from DJI offers a ton for less than $500 as a Fly More package, though. You receive a carry case, extra batteries, a triple battery charger, spare rotors, and an indoor flight safety cage.
Using WiFi to transmit video rather than DJI’s superior OcuSync has always been the Mini’s main issue. However, as long as you fly cautiously, there won’t be a problem. In the majority of nations, it is illegal to go any farther than where an unaided eye can see a drone!
Read More: How To Charge DJI Mavic Mini Controller?
DJI Mini SE: Best Budget Option Under $500
- Mavic Mini Internals
- Better Wind Resistance
- $200 less than the Mini 2
- Compatible with Mini 2 Batteries
When you know exactly what you’re getting for your money, the DJI Mini SE makes sense despite being a curious product. A more affordable Mini-class drone makes sense to have since the original Mavic Mini is no longer being produced and stock will eventually run out. Don’t be fooled by the Mini SE’s considerable price discount over the Mini 2 though.
The Mini SE shares the same internal components as the original Mavic in most respects. the same camera system and processing power. Therefore, the 2.7K camera you receive will produce identically high-definition video as the original model.
In contrast to the original Mavic Mini, the SE does include significant improvements. To be more precise, it makes use of the Mini 2’s Mini 2 batteries, which are stronger yet lighter. As a result, you can rely on battery availability and know that your batteries will function if you ever upgrade to the Mini 2.
Additionally, DJI upgraded the SE’s wind resistance compared to the Mavic Mini and gave it a shell like the Mini 2. Sadly, WiFi image transmission is still the only option; aside from that, this is an excellent drone at a great price.
Read More: DJI Mini SE Drone Review
Ryze Tello: Best Educational Drone Under $500
- Rock-bottom price
- 720p HD camera
- DJI software technology
These days, learning programming and coding is frequently mentioned as one of the most important skills to acquire. The Ryze Tello was created in part to serve as a cost-effective learning tool.
In terms of intelligent image processing, its onboard processing hardware is quite powerful. This drone is made by Ryze Robotics, but it uses DJI technology to enable flight capabilities above and beyond what its budget-friendly hardware is typically capable of.
The camera has low specifications as well, with a 720p maximum resolution. But even without a gimbal, the Tello can capture high-quality video thanks to improved image processing and integrated EIS.
The Tello doesn’t come with a dedicated controller, but you can buy one separately, which is one of the factors that makes it so inexpensive. You can pre-program flight behavior or use your smartphone to control the aircraft.
The Tello is a special and impressive solution whether all you want is a good, affordable selfie drone or you want to begin a career in coding or robotics.
Emax Tinyhawk 2 Freestyle RTF: Best FPV Drone Under $500
- Great for beginners
- Durable Lightweight Carbon Fiber Drone
- Real FPV 5.8g
- 200mw VTX, 2s Capable, 700kv Motors
- 4-6 Minute flight time
This is among the top 2.5″ FPV drones on the market, especially for FPV beginners. It is strong, the video transmission is exceptional for its size, and it moves quickly enough for seasoned FPV pilots to enjoy it as well.
A battery charger and FPV goggles are both included in the RTF kit, along with everything else needed to launch the drone. Start flying after charging the batteries.
The Emax TinyHawk 2 Freestyle is offered in a variety of packages, and the full, ready-to-fly package is still well under $500.
A fully assembled drone, 2 drone batteries, propellers (plus a set of extras), a transmitter, FPV goggles, battery charger, tools, additional hardware, and a carrying case are all included. To get it into the air, you need to take it out of the box, charge the batteries, and then launch it.
The Emax TinyHawk 2 Freestyle is set up and ready to fly right out of the box, unlike many FPV drones that need to be adjusted and set up.
Potensic A20 Mini (Upgraded): Best Mini Toy Drone Under $500
- Tiny drone
- Perfect for manual flight practice
- Includes three batteries in total
When someone asked us for advice on a toy drone, we used to recommend the Hubsan 111 nano drones or the Cheerson CX10. Sadly, the market for these tiny nano drones has dried up, so a new toy drone must take its place.
Although the Potensic A20 Mini is more significant than a nano-class drone, we believe it is the best option for anyone looking to learn manual drone flight or simply wants a quick little drone to pass the time.
This mini drone does have a lot of benefits over the previous nano drones. In contrast to nano drones, which frequently had batteries you couldn’t remove, this drone comes with three batteries. Therefore, you don’t have to let a low battery ruin your fun.
The takeoff, landing, and hovering processes are all automated. A headless mode, in which the drone moves in relation to the position of the transmitter, is also available for users who are having trouble with absolute directions.
The drone should have an easy learning curve whether you purchase it for a child or for yourself. The A20’s lack of a flip function, unlike other drones in this class, is its only drawback.
Arris X-Speed 280 V2: Best RTF Racing Drone Under $500
- Ready to fly, no assembly
- Fast, durable, and affordable racing
As more people become aware of how exciting it can be, drone racing is developing into a sport with leagues and even prize money. Before, building your drone from scratch was a requirement for entering drone racing.
Fortunately, racing RTF (Ready To Fly) drones can now be purchased, such as the Arris X-Speed. Although purchasing a set of video goggles and a charger is still required, flying the drone is much simpler than building it. To manage charging in a secure manner and handle the batteries from various aircraft, balance chargers are typical for racing drone and RC flight hobbyists.
Power and cost are perfectly balanced in the Arris. If you’ve never operated a racing drone, you might be surprised by how fast, powerful, and maneuverable these devices are. Unfortunately, GPS hover or any other feature won’t help you prevent your drone from colliding with objects. There is only you and the robust machine.
Although the Arris is a fantastic drone to begin your racing career, we don’t advise using it as your first drone. Something like the A20 Mini is a great place to start if you want to first learn manual flight.
BETAFPV Cetus Pro FPV Drone Kit: Best Beginner FPV Drone Under $500
- The cheapest FPV kit we could find
- Brushless motors
- Several crash safety features
These days, FPV (First-person View) drone flight is more and more common. You can use these drones to give the impression that you are flying through the air by donning a pair of video goggles.
Gimbals are not necessary for FPV drones. The image-stabilized as the drone rolls and pitches is not what you want. Some gimbal drones, such as those made by DJI, provide an FPV mode where the gimbal’s roll axis is fixed.
One of the most affordable FPV kits we’ve seen is the Cetus Pro FPV, which, according to customer reviews, is also an excellent FPV drone in and of itself. In contrast to the non-Pro kit, which has brushed motors, this Pro model offers a drone with brushless motors. The performance and lifespan of brushless motors are much better.
You can fly for 4-5 minutes at a time, and the Cetus has integrated rotor guards and an auto-shutdown feature for when it crashes, so we believe you can subject it to a lot of abuse.
Holy Stone HS100: Best Drone For Beginners Under $500
- 2K Camera
- GPS module
- Headless flight control
It was difficult to imagine that there would ever be something like a sub-$200 camera drone with a GPS module and shooting 2K video when DJI and Parrot first introduced their camera drones. However, Holy Stone’s HS100 GPS drone, which typically costs around $180, can perform all of those tasks. Even though that is astounding on its own, the price range it falls into is currently highly competitive. It must therefore be good in addition to having a list of positive attributes.
The good news is that the HS100, which was inspired by the Phantom, is a very capable drone that is, in our opinion, especially suitable for beginners. There are a few reasons why you might want to purchase the HS100 as your very first drone. The most significant point is that the idea of crashing a $180 drone causes significantly less anxiety than crashing a $1000 or even $500 drone.
Aside from that, the HS100 offers headless operation, altitude hold, GPS hovering, and auto return to home. But wait, the DJI Mini SE is only $120 more expensive and has similar beginner-friendly features.
It’s true that the SE is a decent choice for a beginner drone, but due to its small size, it can be challenging to fly. While the Mini weighs only 249g, the HS100 weighs 700g. Because of this, it becomes more predictable and, in our opinion, is appropriate for brand-new users. And once more, for the cost of a Mini SE, you could almost purchase two HS100s.
Yuneec Q500 Typhoon 4K: Best Yesterday’s Flagship
- Dedicated ground station
- High-quality optics
You should be aware that the Q500 4K Typhoon is a drone from 2015 that cost $1500 when it first debuted. Since then, it has undergone a series of price reductions, comfortably fitting within our spending limit.
Because Yuneec no longer manufactures the Q500, when the current stock runs out, that’s it. Additionally, you won’t receive any firmware updates going forward, barring the eventual discovery of any serious bugs. On the plus side, it also means that this drone is currently in the most stable and bug-free state it has ever experienced.
Much of the technology in the Q500, which is seven years old, is still superior to that found in a contemporary $500 drone. Because of its size and the superior optics, the camera continues to produce amazing, high-quality footage.
A professional-grade ground station (remote control) is also included, so you won’t ever have to worry about app support to continue using your phone. They are still being flown today by Q500 drone owners. This is a serious contender in the under-$500 price range if you’re looking for something with a little more weight and quality for aerial photography and videography.
Parrot Anafi Extensively: Best For Getting New Angles Under $500
- Unique upwards shooting gimbal
- 4K HDR Camera
- Extra batteries and SD card included in Extended package
With their iconic AR drone, Parrot is one of the first camera drone innovators. It was a product that, by today’s standards, would be ridiculous, but it demonstrated the potential of personal camera drones. Parrot was eventually surpassed by companies like DJI, but they are still in the drone business. Additionally, the Anafi accomplishes something that no other consumer drone can: it looks up!
While we usually think of drone camera angles as anything from low to the ground to up in the sky looking down, the Anafi makes it possible to fly under things and film them from below. This gives rise to a plethora of imaginative possibilities in addition to enabling drone-based inspection that isn’t feasible with a typical gimbal.
If the camera is poor, this won’t mean much, but the Anafi’s 4K HDR camera captures excellent footage, and this foldable drone has a 25-minute flight time. Even better, this Extended package also includes controllers, a spare remote, extra batteries, and an SD card.
In comparison to the launch price for this package, it offers incredible value and a sizable discount. The Anafi is a perfect drone even at its original price, but despite this, sales haven’t been great. The good news for us as consumers is that you can purchase a drone for less than $500, which is absurdly low. The drawback is that it’s impossible to predict how long Parrot will continue to support the Anafi or even how long the company will exist.
Hubsan Mini Zino SE (Upgraded): Best Smarter Mini Drone Under $500
- Advanced AI flight features
- 6KM transmission range
- Significantly cheaper than Mini 2
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Hubsan isn’t here directly copying the DJI Mini family of drones. They even gave this Zinio drone the name Mini SE. Instead of directly competing with the DJI Mini SE, the Zinio Mini SE is a drone with Mini 2 specifications that is priced in the middle of the DJI Mini SE and Mini 2 ranges.
Two batteries, a 6KM transmission range, a plethora of fancy AI-powered flight modes, active tracking, a bag, and more are included. Although Ocusync continues to be the market leader, it does seem like a much better deal than the Mini 2, and it obviously helps to have the aftermarket support that DJI is known for.
Since Hubsan is the underdog in this situation, they are also experimenting with some cutting-edge features, like the drone’s capacity to recognize its landing pad and precisely land in its center. Additionally, we advise you to compare the DJI Mini 2 and Zino Mini SE in-person to determine whether the DJI Mini 2 is worth the slight price increase. Keeping this in mind, the Mini 2 comes with fewer accessories in this pack.
Ruko F11 Pro: Best For Design And Controller Under $500
- Good design and controller shape
- High image quality and long flight time
- 4K camera stabilized by a 2-axis gimbal
In terms of layout and controller shape, the Ruko F11 Pro is similar to the Autel EVO. Due to the Ruko F11 PRO’s high image quality and lengthy flight time, it is undoubtedly one of the best drones under $500.
Additionally, a 2-axis gimbal is included to maintain camera stability while the drone is in flight, capturing high-quality images and videos.
The Ruko F11 Pro has an impressive advertised flight time of 30 minutes. The Ruko claims it can fly for up to 30 minutes, whereas most drones can only fly for 20 to 25 minutes on a single battery. As a result, you can spend more time flying and having fun and less time changing batteries.
These days, the majority of high-end drones come equipped with a 4K or better camera, and the Ruko F11 Pro is no exception. It has a 2-axis gimbal-stabilized 4K camera, which keeps the footage looking smooth.
The Ruko F11 Pro is one of the best drones in this price range because it includes a camera gimbal, which is uncommon in drones priced under $500.
Buyer’s Guide: What Can A Drone Under $500 Expect?
As technology develops and businesses compete for customers, drones get more and more new features. Because of this, the best drones under $500 have a variety of features. Expect a decent amount of drones in this price range to feature autonomous flight, Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, and similar flight modes that make the drone easy to use. Next, there are functions that enhance camera usage such as Follow Me, Orbit, Point of Interest, GPS-assisted flight, optical flow sensors, etc. If a GoPro compatible drone is what you’re after, you can also find one for less than $500. Finally, there are nice little “extras” that aren’t paramount but are certainly nice-to-haves, such as a low battery alarm, One key return, and live video feed.
Average Camera Quality
The majority of the top drones under $500 have 720p HD cameras, and some even have 4K cameras. Even by semi-professional standards, they can produce amazing quality video. Many drones can transport a GoPro camera in addition to the onboard camera and other action cameras. Although the onboard camera is usually not good enough for, let’s say, recording commercials or transmitting Live Video feed of sports events, it’s definitely able to record amazing photos and videos for semi-professional projects, film school projects, YouTube vlogs, etc.
Average Flight Time
We’ve come a long way from drones that could only fly for less than 10 minutes thanks to improved battery technology and drone firmware in the last few years. Therefore, you should expect an average flight time of 15 to 30 minutes. While other brands place more of an emphasis on other specs, some brands prioritize flight time. But bear in mind that shorter flight times come with greater payload. Know how long your drone will fly in each mode and adjust your actions accordingly. Since it would have been the best shot you’ve ever taken, Murphy’s Law dictates that no one wants to miss a shot because their drone died.
Average Control Range
One of the most frequently prioritized specifications by drone enthusiasts is this one. When spending this much money on a drone, one obviously wants a long range. Thankfully, for the best drones under $500, the control distance is very acceptable. Nowadays, an average control range for a drone in this price range is around 500 to 1000 meters, which is pretty decent. Furthermore, some long-range-focused brands produce goods that can transmit signals up to 4000 meters away without losing them.
Average Battery Life
A drone’s flight time is directly impacted by its battery life. Usually, a drone battery lasts up to 30 minutes, corresponding to the average flight time for this price range. Having said that, a variety of factors will affect battery life. Your drone’s battery life will primarily depend on its weight and aerodynamics. Next, there are a few less obvious elements that can lower it, such as extraneous accessories you’ve attached. The battery life will also be impacted by some external factors, like the wind. Always keep backup batteries on hand if you think a drone’s battery life isn’t sufficient for your needs. This will give you more flight time. Additionally, some drones have a low battery alarm that alerts you when your battery needs to be charged.
Naturally, you should demand flawless performance from any drone that made the list of the best drones under $500. Accurate controls, great capability in flying in windy days, and steady hover even without any pilot’s input are all a must. When compared to other drones in this price range, we only selected quadcopters that offer the best performance. You’ll discover that some of the top drones under $500 actually provide better performance, flight time, and battery life than other, more expensive options!
I hope this post has helped you make a more informed decision about which drone to buy because there are so many options available.
Your intended use for the drone will determine which model is best. If the goal is to take good quality images and video, then I would say the The top drone under $500 is the DJI Mini 2. Although it exceeds the $500 price limit, the drone’s stability and features make up for the higher price.
The most effective FPV drone under $500 is the Emax Tinyhawk 2 Freestyle RTF. It is considerably less than $500, so if there is extra money in the drone budget, more batteries can be bought to increase the fun. I wouldn’t choose this to capture photos or videos, but I would if I wanted to learn more about FPV drones without spending a fortune.
Regardless of the drone you select, be sure to have fun with it. It can be a bit intimidating, so try not to get frustrated if you can’t fly it right away. Before the first takeoff, make sure you are familiar with all the controls because there are many things happening at once.
Flying will soon come naturally to you if you take your time learning. In the words of Ben and Jerry’s, “If it’s not fun, why do it?”.