Drones have become increasingly popular gadgets in recent years, offering enthusiasts and professionals alike the ability to capture stunning aerial footage, engage in recreational flying, or even explore new avenues of photography and videography. In this blog post, we take a look at the best drones under $500, exploring the diverse options available within this budget range.
Through extensive research and hands-on experience, we’ve curated a selection of drones that offer exceptional quality and functionality without breaking the bank. When compiling this list, we’ve considered three key factors to ensure that each drone meets the needs and expectations of our audience:
- Flying Time: We looked for drones that offer a generous amount of airborne time, prioritizing models that can fly continuously for at least 15-30 minutes on a single charge.
- Video Resolution: With content creation and photography in mind, drones featuring high video resolution were key. We focused on those capable of capturing at least 1080p footage, with some models offering 2K or even 4K video quality.
- Flying Speed: The ability to swiftly maneuver through different terrains was another critical factor. We considered drones that provide a balance of speed and stability, enabling users to capture dynamic shots or enjoy fast-paced flying experiences.
With a plethora of options available, navigating through the best drones under the $500 price point can be overwhelming. This article simplifies your search by highlighting the key features and functionalities of top picks within this budget. Accompanied by a comprehensive “Buying Guide” it offers all the essential information you need. By following this guide to the end, you’ll be equipped to effortlessly select the ideal drone that meets your requirements and preferences.
Best Drones Under $500 in 2024
|Drones under $500
|DJI Drone Mavic Mini Combo Under $500
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|Holy Stone Drone HS720 Under $500
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|Ruko Drone Under $500
|2160P, 4K, 30fps
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|Holy Stone HS175D Drone Under $500
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|DJI Drone Under $500
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|Potensic Drone Under $500
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|Bwine Drone Under $500
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Top Drones Under $500 Reviews
The DJI Mavic Mini Combo elevates your aerial photography experience by combining portability with powerful performance. This drone, weighing just under 0.55 lbs, makes it almost as light as a smartphone, yet does not compromise on capabilities. Its lightweight nature not only enhances portability but also exempts it from registration requirements in several countries. The Mavic Mini boasts a 2.7K camera mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, ensuring crystal clear images and ultra-smooth video footage, making it an ideal companion for capturing life’s moments from a breathtaking aerial perspective.
The drone’s user-friendly DJI Fly app enhances your flying experience, offering intuitive controls and creative options with just a few taps. Despite its compact size, the Mavic Mini does not skimp on flight time. Enjoy up to 30 minutes of flight with a fully charged battery, thanks to its energy-efficient design. The comprehensive package includes multiple batteries, spare propellers, and all the accessories you need to get flying right out of the box, making it the perfect tool for creators on the go.
- Video Capture Resolution: 2.7K
- Effective Still Resolution: 12 MP
- Connectivity Technology: DJI
- Item Weight: 0.1 Ounces
- Battery Capacity: 30 minutes flight time
- 3-Axis Gimbal for superior camera stability
- Compact and portable design
- Intuitive DJI Fly app with Flight Tutorial
- Includes multiple accessories for immediate use
- Supports 5GHz Wi-Fi transmission
- Compatible with a wide range of smartphones
- Advanced stabilization technology for smooth footage
- Exceptionally lightweight and portable
- High-quality 2.7K video and 12MP photo capability
- Extended 30-minute flight time on a single charge
- Easy-to-use with intuitive DJI Fly app
- Some issues with customer service responsiveness
The HS720 drone from Holy Stone is a marvel of engineering, designed to cater to both beginners and seasoned drone enthusiasts alike. Equipped with a 4K UHD camera supported by a shock absorption holder, it captures breathtaking high-resolution images and videos without the hindrance of camera vibrations. This drone stands out for its advanced GPS-assisted intelligent flight, ensuring you never lose your drone as it returns automatically when the battery is low, or the signal is lost. The HS720 promises a comprehensive flying experience with its 52 minutes of total flight time across two batteries, a foldable design for easy portability, and brushless motors that offer a quieter flight with less power consumption.
The operation of the HS720 is remarkably simple, thanks to multiple sensors that ensure stable hovering and high-quality picture capture under diverse flying environments. Optical Flow Positioning bolsters its performance in weak GPS signals, making it incredibly reliable. Its considerate controller, extensive control range, and LED screen that displays battery level and GPS signal enhance the user experience by making it effortless to monitor and control the drone’s flight.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K UHD
- Flight Time: 52 minutes with 2 batteries
- Control Range: 3000 feet
- Connectivity: 5GHz FPV transmission
- Camera: 90° Adjustable Lens
- GPS Assisted Intelligent Flight
- Foldable Design with Carrying Case
- Brushless Motors for quieter flight
- Optical Flow Positioning
- Shock Absorption holder for stable footage
- Multi Sensors for stable hovering
- High-quality 4K video and image capture
- Long flight time enhances user experience
- GPS features and auto return prevent loss
- Foldable design and carrying case for portability
- App compatibility issues with some smartphones
The Ruko F11PRO drone combines long flight times, straightforward learning, and durable construction, making it perfect for adults venturing into aerial photography. With its 4K UHD camera, the drone captures sharp, vibrant images and videos. It stands out with an impressive 60 minutes of flight time across two batteries, allowing for longer shooting and exploration. The drone is also prepared for upcoming regulations with its FAA-compliant Remote ID module, showing its commitment to future-proof flying.
Aimed at beginners, the F11PRO is designed to be user-friendly while still delivering the excitement of flight. It comes with features like GPS Auto Return, Follow Me Mode, and Tap Fly, which simplifies the flying process so users can concentrate on being creative. Its ability to withstand level 6 winds is thanks to strong brushless motors, guaranteeing steady flights even in less-than-ideal weather. The package is complete with all the essentials, plus a carrying case for easy transport and storage.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K UHD at 30fps
- Flight Time: 60 minutes with 2 batteries
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi with 5GHz FPV transmission
- GPS Assisted Features: Auto Return, Follow Me, Route Planning
- Wind Resistance: Level 6
- Camera: 120° FOV, 90° adjustable
- Item Weight: 18.34 Ounces
- Battery Capacity: 2500mAh each
- Compliance: FAA Remote ID
- Extended flight time for longer adventures
- High-quality 4K video and photo capture
- User-friendly features ideal for beginners
- Durable design with level 6 wind resistance
- Camera performance inconsistency reported by some users
Holy Stone secures another position on our roster of top drones priced below $500 with its HS175D RC model. Boasting a fusion of advanced functionalities and user-friendly design, this drone stands out. Featuring a 4K Ultra Clear Camera, it captures stunning high-resolution visuals complemented by a 110° wide-angle and 90° adjustable lens. The 5GHz FPV transmission ensures seamless and stable video streaming, even in challenging conditions like high speeds or strong winds. Its GPS Auto Return feature adds an extra layer of reliability, guiding the drone back home automatically if it goes out of range, loses signal, or experiences low battery, ensuring a worry-free flying experience.
The design of this drone is geared towards enhancing the flight experience. It comes with two batteries, providing a total of up to 46 minutes of flight time. With features such as Altitude Hold, Optical Flow, Headless Mode, and easy speed adjustments, it caters to both novice and seasoned pilots alike. The foldable fuselage design, coupled with a convenient carrying case, makes it highly portable and ideal for travel. Furthermore, its intelligent flight modes, including Follow Me and Circle Fly, combined with automatic photo and video capture capabilities, offer users creative and enjoyable flight experiences.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K
- Flight Time: Up to 46 minutes with 2 batteries
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Weight: 120 grams
- GPS Auto Return
- Brushless Motors
- Foldable Design
- Intelligent Flight Modes
- 5GHz FPV transmission
- 110° Wide-Angle Camera
- Altitude Hold & Optical Flow
- Headless Mode & Speed Adjust
- Superior image and video quality with 4K camera
- Extended flight time enhances user experience
- Easy to use for beginners with intuitive controls
- Portable design with foldable fuselage and carrying case
- Some issues with GPS accuracy and performance
The DJI Mavic Mini, a marvel in the drone industry, offers a perfect blend of compact size and powerful performance, making it an ideal companion for capturing everyday moments from a new perspective. Weighing just under 0.55 lbs, this drone falls into the safest weight class, exempting it from registration in several countries. Its portability is unmatched, allowing you to carry it anywhere with ease. The Mavic Mini boasts a 2.7K camera supported by a 3-axis motorized gimbal, ensuring your footage is smooth and your images are clear, no matter the flight conditions. This drone is designed to be accessible to everyone, with the DJI Fly app providing intuitive controls and creative options at your fingertips.
Despite its small size, the Mavic Mini does not compromise on flight time. Enjoy up to 30 minutes of flight on a full charge, a remarkable feat for a drone of this size. Its light weight also enhances its flight performance, offering a more agile and responsive flying experience. The drone includes a variety of accessories and features like QuickShot modes and CineSmooth mode, enhancing your filming capabilities and making it easier to achieve cinematic results. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pilot, the Mavic Mini offers something for everyone, combining ease of use with impressive flight and imaging capabilities.
- Video Capture Resolution: 2.7K HD
- Flight Time: Up to 30 minutes
- Item Weight: Less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams)
- Camera: 12MP aerial photos
- Gimbal: 3-axis motorized
- Connectivity: App control via DJI Fly
- Compact & Portable Design
- GPS + GLONASS for accurate positioning
- QuickShot modes for cinematic shots
- CineSmooth mode for smoother motion
- Micro SD support for extended storage
- FAA registration not required
- Extremely lightweight and portable design
- High-quality 2.7K video and 12MP photo capture
- Long flight time compared to similar drones
- Easy to fly with intuitive DJI Fly app
- Limited camera settings for professional use
Potensic’s ATOM SE drone earns its place at #5 due to its lightweight design. Weighing in at under 249g, it offers exceptional portability without the hassle of FAA and Remote ID registration in many areas. Its foldable structure not only simplifies transportation but also enhances durability, capable of withstanding level-5 wind conditions. Featuring a 4K EIS camera with a 1/3’’ CMOS Sony Sensor, this drone ensures clear and stable footage. With a 118° Field of View (FOV) and adjustable camera angle, it provides versatility for capturing diverse perspectives.
Catering to pilots of all skill levels, the ATOM SE incorporates the SurgeFly flight control system, offering multiple flight modes for both ease of use and skill development. Equipped with dual batteries, users can enjoy up to 62 minutes of flight time, reducing the need for frequent recharges. Additionally, the drone boasts a 4KM FPV transmission range and advanced GPS features such as auto return, follow me, and waypoint flight, ensuring a seamless flying experience. With PixSync 2.0 technology, stable and long-distance image transmission is guaranteed, making it ideal for capturing stunning aerial views.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K EIS
- Effective Still Resolution: 12MP
- Flight Time: 62 minutes with 2 batteries
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- Weight: Less than 249g
- GPS + GLONASS for precise navigation
- 4KM FPV Transmission Range
- Level-5 Wind Resistance
- Foldable and Lightweight Design
- 3 Flight Modes: Video, Normal, and Sport
- Compatible with iOS 11 and Android 7.0 or above
- Brushless Motor for fast takeoff and stability
- Extended flight time with dual batteries
- High-quality 4K EIS camera for stable footage
- Lightweight and foldable for exceptional portability
- Advanced GPS features for safe and intelligent flying
- Camera tilt issues reported.
The F7GB2 drone from Bwine sets a new standard in the sub-$500 category with its FAA compliance, ensuring it meets all regulatory requirements for a hassle-free flying experience. Its standout feature is the 4K camera supported by a 3-axis gimbal, providing ultra-stable and clear images and videos. The 120° FOV lens and the ability to zoom in 5x digitally allow for capturing breathtaking landscapes and detailed close-ups without sacrificing image quality.
Not only does the F7GB2 excel in imaging, but it also impresses with its flight capabilities. Equipped with two intelligent batteries, it offers an extended flight time of up to 50 minutes, making it one of the longest-flying drones in its class. The level-6 wind resistance ensures stable flight conditions even in less than ideal weather, allowing you to capture smooth footage. Its remarkable 9800ft transmission range extends your exploration horizons, giving you freedom to capture more of the world around you. The drone’s GPS, intelligent flight modes, including auto return, follow me, and waypoints, make it a smart companion for any adventure.
- Video Capture Resolution: 4K
- Flight Time: 50 minutes with 2 batteries
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- 3-Axis Gimbal for image stabilization
- 9800ft Video Transmission Range
- Level 6 Wind Resistance
- GPS Assisted Intelligent Flight Modes
- FAA Compliance for easy registration
- 120° FOV and 5x Digital Zoom
- Brushless Motors for quieter, more efficient operation
- Quick Customer Service Response
- Foldable Design for enhanced portability
- Extended flight time allows for longer sessions
- High wind resistance enables stable flights in diverse conditions
- Far-reaching video transmission expands filming possibilities
- Durable design withstands the rigors of frequent use
- Some issues with the controller’s durability
Buying Guide For the Best Drone Under $500
When shopping for the best drone under $500, it’s crucial to consider various factors to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product that meets your needs. Here are three key aspects to evaluate:
1. Flying Time
Why it Matters: Flying time refers to how long a drone can remain airborne on a single charge. This is important because it dictates how long you can operate the drone for photography, videography, or recreational flying before needing to recharge.
What to Look For: Look for drones that offer a flying time of at least 15-30 minutes. Some models in this price range may offer multiple batteries or extended battery options to increase total flying time without the need for a recharge.
2. Video Resolution
Why it Matters: Video resolution determines the clarity and detail of the footage captured by the drone. Higher resolution means better quality videos, which is especially important for tasks like real estate photography, landscape shots, or creating content for social media.
What to Look For: Aim for drones that provide at least 1080p resolution. However, some drones under $500 now offer 2K or even 4K video capabilities, providing sharper and more detailed images.
3. Flying Speed
Why it Matters: Flying speed can affect how quickly you can get your drone to a specific location and how well it can keep up with moving subjects. This is particularly relevant for tracking fast-moving subjects or when flying in conditions with strong winds.
What to Look For: Consider drones with a flying speed of at least 15-25 mph. Some models may offer different speed modes, allowing you to switch between more precise, slower speeds for intricate maneuvering and faster speeds for covering large distances quickly.
4. Drone Type
Why it Matters: The type of drone you choose (e.g., quadcopter, fixed-wing, or hybrid) affects its flight dynamics, stability, and use cases. Quadcopters are popular for their stability and ease of control, making them ideal for photography, videography, and recreational flying.
What to Look For: Most drones under $500 are quadcopters, known for their versatility and ease of use. Consider the specific features that match your intended use, such as GPS stabilization, obstacle avoidance, or the ability to perform aerial maneuvers.
5. Auto Return Capability
Why it Matters: Auto return is a safety feature that commands the drone to return to its launch point automatically if it loses connection with the controller or if the battery is critically low. This feature is crucial to prevent loss and damage.
What to Look For: Ensure the drone has a reliable auto return function. This feature is invaluable in preventing losses, especially for beginners or when flying in challenging environments. Some drones offer enhanced auto return capabilities, such as obstacle avoidance during the return flight.
6. Flying Height
Why it Matters: The maximum flying height can determine the drone’s capability to capture shots from elevated perspectives and its ability to navigate over obstacles. A higher flying height expands the possibilities for aerial photography and videography.
What to Look For: Look for drones that can reach a minimum flying height of 100-400 feet. While regulations in many areas restrict flying above certain altitudes, having the capacity to go higher offers more flexibility in where and how you can use the drone, within legal limits.
Why it Matters: The range of a drone indicates how far it can travel from the controller while maintaining a stable connection. This is crucial for exploring vast areas or capturing footage from distant locations.
What to Look For: For drones under $500, a range of 400 meters to 4 kilometers is common. The specific range you need depends on how you plan to use the drone; for extensive aerial photography or exploring, look for models at the higher end of this spectrum.
Why it Matters: The control system of a drone affects how intuitively and precisely you can maneuver it. This includes the physical controller, any app integration, and features like gesture control or voice commands.
What to Look For: Seek drones that offer responsive and user-friendly controls. Many models now support smartphone app integration for additional functionalities. Features like one-touch takeoff and landing, programmable flight paths, and adjustable sensitivity settings can enhance your flying experience.
9. Size and Form Factor
Why it Matters: The size and form factor of a drone determine its portability and suitability for different environments. A compact, foldable drone is easier to transport and may be more suitable for travel or outdoor activities.
What to Look For: If portability is a priority, consider drones that are lightweight and have a foldable design. However, ensure that the compact size does not compromise the drone’s stability and wind resistance.
10. Warranty and Repairability
Why it Matters: Drones are sophisticated devices that can be prone to damage from crashes or technical failures. A good warranty and the availability of repair services can protect your investment.
What to Look For: Look for drones that come with a comprehensive warranty covering manufacturing defects and damages. Additionally, check the availability of spare parts and the manufacturer’s support services for repairs. Some manufacturers offer damage protection plans at an additional cost, which can be a worthwhile investment for beginners.
Choosing the right drone under $500 can be tricky, but fear not! Here are three top contenders based on key features:
- DJI Drone Under $200: This lightweight champion boasts a 2.7K camera with a 3-axis gimbal for smooth, stable footage. Its compact size makes it travel-friendly and FAA registration-free, while a 30-minute flight time offers ample exploration opportunities. Beginners will appreciate its intuitive controls and safety features like auto-return-home.
- Holy Stone HS720 Drone Under $500: For budget-conscious 4K enthusiasts, the HS720 delivers impressive value. Its gimbal-stabilized camera captures stunning visuals, and a massive 52-minute flight time lets you soar longer. Intelligent features like follow-me and waypoint navigation enhance creativity, while GPS ensures safe return. While build quality might not match DJI, it’s a compelling option for casual pilots.
- Ruko Drone Under $500: If extended flight time is your priority, the F11PRO reigns supreme with a staggering 60 minutes on a single charge. Its 4K camera captures decent footage, and features like auto-return-home and follow-me provide peace of mind. However, the lack of a gimbal might affect video smoothness, and its larger size requires FAA registration.
Remember, the perfect drone is the one that fuels your aerial adventures. So, take flight and capture memories that soar!