Best Drone Under 500

Drones are becoming more and more popular given their use in photography, videography, and racing. There are so many different types on the market it can be overwhelming to choose one. Here is a list of some of the best drones under $500 that people might want to consider when they’re looking for a new drone.

What is the Best Drone Under 500?

We could say that we traveled the world to find for you the Best Drone Under 500 and it’s partially true – we’ve been on the road since 2011 after all.

More importantly, we have done a very thorough research online and have gone through most of the available drones for less than $500 that you can buy today. We read the comments left by people who bought and used these drones under 500 dollars.

We also wrote a brief drones under 500 dollars Buying Guide and FAQ sections to address most questions you may have.

Without further ado, here’s the list of top 10 drones for less than $500 based on their pricing, specs and ratings by real users.

1. DJI Mavic Mini Light Foldable Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.5 Pounds (0.2 kg)
Max Flight Time: 30 Minutes
Control Range: 1312 ft (400 m)
Gimbal/ Stabilization: Yes
SD Card Slot: Yes

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YouTube video

I used this quadcopter for a month in Scotland and, I have to say, this is the reason why I decided to buy one. Flying DJI Mavic Mini is a bliss – easy, intuitive and satisfying. It’s also a lightweight and perfect for outdoors because its battery lasts up to 30 minutes so you have plenty of time to find the best shot, making it the best hiking drone out there. Footage also positively surprised me with good quality, especially when it comes to photos. The 3-axis gimbal stabilizes the camera so that the videos are very smooth and look professional, even in strong wind.

DJI Mavic Mini also excels in control range of around 1300 feet. Then, with the built-in SD card, even when your smartphone loses contact with the drone, the footage continues to be recorded in the highest quality, which you’ll be able to download to your computer later.

If you have even bigger budget, you can go for the newest version, DJI Mini 2, which is a Premium Choice here.

Pros

  • 3-axis gimbal ensures superior camera stability and ultra-smooth footage,
  • Very long flight time (up to 30 minutes),
  • lightweight and not requiring FAA registration,
  • Crisp video footage in all weather conditions,
  • Extremely easy to use even for those who never flew a drone before,
  • Very reliable with a long control range,
  • Fly More Combo is a great value add

Cons

  • Price is a limiting factor for most users,
  • No smart controller support

2. Altair Falcon AHP Mini Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.3 Pounds (0.1 kg)
Max Flight Time: 10 Minutes
Control Range: 590
SD Card Slot: 2

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YouTube video

I begin my reviews with my favorite mini drone, the Altair Falcon AHP. The AHP stands for Autonomous Hovering and Positioning System, and it is one of the outstanding features that make this drone one of the easiest to fly in the market. It enables the drone to hover in place without calibration to give you steady flying without too much effort. The quadcopter is also fully assembled right out of the box, and it comes with a simple-to-use remote controller that requires no learning curve to figure it out. The Altair Falcon carries a 720p HD camera that allows for live streaming videos via WiFi and still photos. The remote controller has a smartphone mount for FPV flying and Custom Flight Routing. However, you will need to install their Flying See app to connect your smartphone, and users say it is a quick and easy process. Although the mini-drone has a range of 110M, it is lightweight at 4oz, and a slight wind will make it too unstable for video. However, it has high-quality and durable construction for indoor flying, and it comes with propeller guards that are easily removable once you get used to it. You will also get extra parts like propeller blades and landing gear. The batteries last 10 minutes each, which gives you a total of 20 minutes of action. The instruction booklet indicates a 1-hour charging time for each battery, but users have noted that it takes up to three hours. On the bright side, it is an excellent little quadcopter for newbie drone users and to keep the kids busy.

Pros

  • Pre-assembled and ready to fly out of the box, User-friendly features make it easy to pilot,
  • Excellent for entry-level drone pilots of all ages,
  • Spare parts and an extra battery included,
  • Durable construction that will take a beating

Cons

  • 3-hour charging time per battery

3. DROCON Bugs 3 Quadcopter

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.9 Pounds (1.4 kg)
Max Flight Time: 15-20 Minutes
Control Range: 1640
Gimbal/ Stabilization: No
SD Card Slot: Yes
Charging Time: 6.6 Hours

See it in your local store:

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YouTube video

The Bugs 3 is the most budget-friendly GoPro drone on my list. Although it is cheap to buy, it is of surprisingly good quality, easy to use for beginners, and supports all the GoPro models. It also does not come with smart flight features like GPS and WIFi, but it still delivers stable flights due to its extra weight and its 6-axis gyroscope. These features allow the drone to handle wind better than other drones in its class, which gives you clear camera footage.

One thing to note is that the Bugs 3 does not come with a camera, but it does feature a GoPro compatible mount. The drone also features a powerful brushless motor that allows it to move quickly for fast action shots of outdoor boulders or hiking scenes. It has LED lights for night flying, which I think is a nice touch. The drone comes with a 1800mah battery that delivers at least 15 minutes of flight time in full throttle. As great as this drone is, some users have reported losing control of their drones while flying, which is a common issue across multiple models.

Pros

  • Powerful and fast brushless motor,
  • Compatible with all GoPro models,
  • Long control range work well even in strong wind
  • Excellent flight stability performance,
  • Low power and signal alerts,
  • Great for newbies and pros alike
  • 4K camera mount allows you to attach your GoPro or other sports cameras

Cons

  • More basic drone with limited features
  • Occassional Issues with syncing the remote controller

4. Holy Stone HS110G FPV Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.3 Pounds (0.1 kg)
Max Flight Time: 20 Minutes
Control Range: 328 ft (100 m)
Gimbal/ Stabilization: No
SD Card Slot: Yes

See it in your local store:

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Holy Stone HS110G is the best cheap drone with a camera. If you cannot spare over a hundred dollars and still want to see where you’re flying in real time, then this model is for you.

While it doesn’t have stabilization, it may actually record a better quality footage than the quadcopters that do but lack SD Card Slot. Recording to SD Card ensures the videos aren’t spotty and make for a much better watching.

A lot of people sing praises of the remote controller and the App for this drone so if you’re new to flying quadcopters, you should have an easy time learning with this one.

One of the biggest advantages are the batteries that hold for long time and are cheap to get, so that you get more air time. However, to charge them, you won’t be able to fly, which is the biggest disadvantage.

Pros

  • Great value for money,
  • Very good footage quality for a beginned quadcopter,
  • Batteries last as long as advertised and are cheap to buy extra,
  • Great and easy-to-use remote controller,
  • You can record your videos to SD card or directly to your phone,
  • Well-developed and beginner-friendly App

Cons

  • Doesn’t hold position outdoors and may get tossed around in the wind,
  • Batteries can only be charged while in the drone, so can’t fly while charging

5. Holy Stone HS120D GPS Drone with Camera

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.5 Pounds (0.2 kg)
Max Flight Time: 36 Minutes
Control Range: 985 ft (300 m)
Gimbal/ Stabilization: Yes
SD Card Slot: Yes

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At almost double the price of Holy Stone HS110D, this model HS120D comes with GPS, separate battery charger, improved stability and several new options for video making. It’s really a big level up from the previous version and most users are very happy with the improvements.

What some complain about is the camera quality as a bit better images would be expected at this price range.

Holy Stone HS110D is still one of the best drones on this list.

Pros

  • GPS assisted flight helps keep the quadcopter in position and return to safe location,
  • 2 batteries are included together with a charger,
  • Comes with a very good drone bag,
  • Works well as a selfie drone thanks to built-in “follow me”, object trace and custom path modes

Cons

  • Not a great camera for this price range

6. Holy Stone HS700D FPV Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 1.3 Pounds (0.6 kg)
Max Flight Time: 22 Minutes
Control Range: 3279

See it in your local store:

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I begin my reviews with the HS700D drone from Holy Stone, and it is also my top choice for the best drone GoPro. It is a reasonably priced, mid-range drone that comes with lots of excellent features to help you get the best shots. The drone comes with a high performance 4K camera, which you can interchange with the Hero2, Hero3, and Hero4 GoPro models.

The HS700D drone comes with Intelligent Flight Assistance features that allow the drone to return home automatically when it loses connection or when the battery is low. The Auto Return is a fantastic GPS feature for beginners because if you accidentally fly your drone out of range, you can be sure that it will find its way back to you. The drone’s Custom Flight Path feature allows you to design a flight path for complex sequence shots.

Another feature that many users like is the 5G FPV live video transmission. It gives you high-quality real-time videos from up to 3280 feet away. On the downside, this feature is not compatible with your GoPro camera, so it is only useful if you utilize the onboard camera. The drone also doesn’t come with a gimbal to stabilize your GoPro camera, but it only features a camera mount. However, the smart flight assistance features highlighted above will help you focus on controlling your camera to get clear shots.

Pros

  • Supports Hero2, Hero3, and Hero4 GoPro models,
  • Brushless motors deliver quiet performance,
  • GPS intelligent flight assistance,
  • Longer flight time of 22 minutes,
  • Excellent customer support from Holy Stone

Cons

  • It does not include a stabilizing and self-adjusting gimbal,
  • Smart flight features do not integrate with GoPro cameras,
  • Batteries take 5-7 hours to charge

7. Potensic Upgraded A20 Mini Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.4 Pounds (0.2 kg)
Max Flight Time: 6 Minutes
SD Card Slot: 0.5

See it in your local store:

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The A20 mini drone is another budget-friendly option in the same price range as the NH320 and H823H mini-quadcopters reviewed here. What makes the A20 slightly different is that it is made as a kid’s toy, although it is also an excellent beginner drone for adults. It also does not feature the 3D flip. The A20 remote controller is one of its most outstanding features. It is smaller than most for kids to hold and control easily. The controller features 2.4Ghz, which delivers a stable transmission speed and makes the drone highly responsive. It features a 3-Speed Mode to use in different environments, the headless mode, and altitude hold that make it easy for newbie pilots to fly. Many users have noted that the A20 delivers smooth flying. However, it also requires calibration every time you power it up, which was a nuisance. On the upside, the transmission performance of the controller makes the pairing an easy process. The landing process is equally simple, and interestingly, the drone features a soft landing material to protect it from heavy impact.

Another outstanding feature is the Emergency Stop that allows the quadcopter to land itself if you lose control. Although the drone features a headless mode that allows you to fly it in any orientation, it also comes with an LED headlight and a red tail light for the more experienced users.

Pros

  • Short battery charging time of 30 minutes,
  • Affordable and high-quality construction,
  • Small-sized remote controller for kids hands,
  • Lightweight and durable construction for indoor flying,
  • Features a headlight and taillight for orientation

Cons

  • It needs calibration every time you power it on,
  • Difficult to remove and replace the batteries

8. Potensic D58 Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 1.3 Pounds (0.6 kg)
Max Flight Time: 18 Minutes
Control Range: 1640 ft (500 m)
Gimbal/ Stabilization: No
SD Card Slot: Yes

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Fun to fly drone equipped with great camera and and long control range. It’s rather heavy and so it will respond better than most on this list in windy conditions. It’s also very durable which makes it good for less experienced drone operators.

Pros

  • Responsive and agile drone that delivers crisp and clear 1080P HD videos,
  • Long flight time,
  • 3 speed modes

9. Parrot Mini Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.7 Pounds (0.3 kg)
Max Flight Time: 5 Minutes
Control Range: 200
SD Card Slot: 0.5

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The Parrot mini drone features a unique X-wing design that allows it to have dual flight modes for aerial acrobatics and high-speed racing. This design enables the mini drone to fly like a quadcopter and an airplane when flipped 90 degrees to the side. The wings are a lightweight polystyrene construction attached to a plastic skeleton.

This micro drone is ideal for more experienced users looking for a mini racing drone. Although it is not as fast as the EMAX drone reviewed here, it can achieve a decent speed of 18 miles per hour in airplane flight mode, and you can choose between three-speed modes. It is also the heaviest drone on the list weighing 295g, which means it may have steady flights in low wind conditions. The drone is highly responsive to its controller via Bluetooth. Although using your smartphone will limit the control range to 20m, you can opt to use the Flypad controller to increase your distance to 60m.

The drone features an ultrasound detector, which lets you know how high you are flying. It is unlike the Altitude Hold feature of the other drones here, which restricts the altitude. The battery performance is also short at five minutes compared to the 10 minutes flight time of the Altair Falcon drone. However, the batteries also have a reduced charging time of 30 minutes.

Pros

  • Dual flight mode for aerial acrobatics,
  • 3-axis gyroscope for improved flight control,
  • Flypad controller increases max control range

Cons

  • Short flight time

10. EMAX Tinyhawk RTF Micro Racing Drone

Specs
Price: πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’² (fewer πŸ’² = cheaper)
Weight: 0.9 Pounds (0.4 kg)
Max Flight Time: 4 Minutes

See it in your local store:

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YouTube video

The EMAX Tinyhawk RTF micro drone is the premium choice on my list. It is an excellent choice for entry-level quadcopter pilots, and it comes ready to fly out of the box. The drone comes with an FPV kit that includes FPV goggles, the remote controller, and a small carry case. Although the drone is slightly larger than some of the other drones on the list, it is considerably lightweight at 42g.

The drone features a durable polypropylene frame with impact protection guards for the propellers. It also includes an FPV camera which transmits high-quality FPV video to the goggles or an external monitor. Another thoughtful feature is the motor beeper function that helps you find the micro drone if it lands in a busy place.

Tinyhawk is a racing drone, and it has the fastest speed of all the drones on this list at 35 miles per hour. The quadcopter’s controller comes with Level, Horizon, and Full Acrobatic FPV flight modes. On the downside, its battery performance is the shortest on my list of the best micro-drones at four minutes.

Pros

  • Ready to fly out of the box,
  • Can achieve 35mph racing speed,
  • Comes with a camera and FPV goggles,
  • Sturdy and durable construction

Cons

  • Short flight time of four minutes

Verdict

TLDR: Quick summary of our findings as to what can be considered best drone under 500 below:

Overall best drone under $500 out there: DJI Mavic Mini Light Foldable Drone

Premium Pick if money is not much of an issue: Holy Stone HS700D FPV Drone

Budget Choice – there’s no shame in spending prudently: DROCON Bugs 3 Quadcopter

Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:

What You Should Know Before Buying Drones Under 500 Dollars

Drone Flying Precautions

When you are flying a drone, do not fly it too high. A good height to start with is 50 meters and gradually increase your altitude as you become more confident with controlling the drone. Do not fly where there is a lot of other air traffic β€” especially commercial airliners β€” or near airports. Check local regulations before launching your drone and avoid restricted areas such as military installations. You should always stay within line-of-sight of your aircraft, so that you can react quickly in case something goes wrong – this way, you will be able to see any problems immediately and avoid collision risk.

Remember, only drones under 250 grams or 0.55 pounds don’t need to be registered with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

Sd Card Slot

A few drones come with a camera attached and have an SD card slot to record video so that you can purchase an SD card separately and use it in your drone for more storage space. This is one of the most important features if you’re planning to record videos with your quadcopter. Drones without SD Card Slot need to transfer the data from the camera to your phone before it can be stored so if there’s any signal interruption, your video will get cut off too.

Camera

The camera is one of the main factors to consider when purchasing a drone and its importance cannot be overlooked. Many drones come with various built-in cameras from integrated 4K video cameras to remote mounted DSLR’s or GoPro’s.

Camera Accessories

Some drones will come with extra camera add-ons such as a vibration dampening system for capturing smooth videos during flight or you can choose from several different camera lenses that are compatible with your GoPro.

Speed

This largely depends on your needs and whether or not you have a need for long distance drone flying. The faster the drone, the more expensive it is. However, if your only need is to fly for 10 minutes at a time then speed won’t matter.

Range

Range greatly depends on how much you want to spend. The cheapest drones are usually only able to fly up to 15 meters away but the most expensive drones can fly up to 50 kilometers away.

Flight Time

This also varies depending on how often you plan to use your drone but typically can range from 8-25 minutes per charge depending on your speed settings, the battery, and weight.

Size & Portability

When it comes to flying any drone at home you should be sure to keep in mind how large it is so that it doesn’t crash into anything when flying around the house (or worse). Many models have foldable designs that allow them to be easily stored away but its best to measure the drone itself and take note of its size before making any purchases.

Alarms

Some drones will have alarms that will notify you if they are running low on battery or signal which can be very helpful in an emergency situation.

Follow Path Mode

This is a simple feature that allows your drone to automatically follow a preprogrammed set of GPS coordinates guiding it around various obstacles and back again.

Sensors

GPS sensors, range finders, and pressure sensors can all be helpful when flying your drone but keep in mind that they are costly add-ons so consider if you really need them before buying one.

Gimbal/Camera Stabilization

The best drones have a gimbal attached to the camera to keep it steady during flight for smooth aerial shots. They also come with extra features such as digital image stabilization to improve the quality of your footage even more.

Follow Me

This is a feature that allows you to β€œtag” an object or person with the drone through GPS tracking like a smart phone app. Now when you move the drone will follow that tagged individual and it can also stop, hover, or go back if you double click on the screen. Think of this as having your own personal cameraman but instead of pointing him at whoever is good looking today he follows only you.

Obstacle Avoidance

Some drones have an obstacle avoidance system which allows them to sense anything in front of them and will automatically adjust their flight path to avoid any collisions. However, keep in mind that this system does not work with all drones so be sure to check compatibility before purchasing it.

Live Video Feed

Most drones will give you the option to see what your camera sees via WiFi or a phone app but some allow for live video feeds directly from the drone’s built-in camera. If this matters then make sure your drone has one before making any purchases.

Return To Home Mode

This is a feature that allows you to press a button on the controller and have your drone fly itself back to its takeoff point. This can be very useful if it ever loses connection, runs out of battery, etc..

Extra Batteries

Always consider how many extra batteries you want when purchasing any drone especially if it includes long flight times. Many larger drones require 3 or 4 batteries which can take a significant amount of space in your drone backpack.

Gps

GPS is an added feature that allows for more advanced piloting options such as auto return home or circle around an object without having to press any buttons on the controller. Most drones come with a basic set of controls that are easy for beginners but adding GPS can greatly increase your flying experience.

See Through Goggles

These goggles take flight to the next level by making what you see in front of you appear as if you were actually hovering over the terrain below. They can also connect wirelessly to your controller allowing you to see what your drone sees. In addition to the goggles, you will also need a special controller and built-in WiFi on your drone in order to use them.

Controller

This is the remote control that you will use to fly your drone and it comes in various shapes, sizes, and designs. Most of them come with adjustable controls so that you can customize it for a better flying experience but they all serve the same purpose of controlling the flight modes as well as taking pictures or videos from the air. Many of them also include optional add-ons such as extra battery packs for added flight time or attached cameras so that you can record everything while up in the air.

Connectivity

Most drones will have WiFi connectivity built-in but not all of them do. Some cheaper drones may run off of a controller while others come with their own dedicated app for controlling the drone.

Age Limit

This is fairly self-explanatory but check the age requirement on your drone before buying any equipment. Many times there are lower limits based on battery size, flight time, etc.

Questions and Answers About Drones Under 500 Dollars

Do I need to register my drone with the FAA before using it legally in the US?

If you’re running a drone for commercial purposes, aka as a professional or an entrepreneur who generates income through flights and images taken by drones, then the law requires registration with the Federal Aviation Administration before your first flight. If you are not flying for commercial purposes, and only want to drive a drone recreationally around your backyard, no registration is needed, provided you fly a drone under 250 grams (0.55 pounds).
More information at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/.

What is the price range of an average drone?

The answer to that is also up to you! It all depends on what the drone does, how many features it comes with, and its size. In general though you will find that they tend to be priced higher than cheap drones – especially if they have GPS technology or FPV capability. These two extra features will add value to your flying experience and allow you to capture amazing video footage from your aerial videos. The highest priced drones are usually either light sport aircrafts or professional grade drones.

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Cez Krol
Cez Krol
I’m always positive and never bored – there’s just so much more to see and experience! I began my journey around the world in 2011 with just $400 and one-way ticket to Asia. Still going and blogging today. You can typically spot me working on a laptop or rock climbing.
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