10 Best Drones Under 500 Dollars in 2021 : Reviews & Buying Guide
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Whether you are a beginner, an enthusiast or a seasoned drone pilot, finding the best drones under 500 dollars can leave you in a tight spot. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult making a decision that’s worthwhile. For many, drones are simply a pass-time that grows into a fruitful hobby. For others, drones are a brilliant way to tap into the world of breathtaking aerial photography and videography. Whichever one you are, it is likely that you are always looking into the latest in drone technology.
Nowadays, drones are becoming much more popular and, as a result, less expensive. It’s not uncommon to find very good drones under $500 on the market, and they are usually of high quality, not like toy drones. You can still enjoy the thrilling features of high-tech drones while sticking to a reasonable budget. Choosing from a list of drones under $500 also means that you’re not losing too much when the inevitable crash happens. This guide will give you some of the best options to choose from.
- What You Should Know About Drones Under $500
- How to Choose a Drone in this Price Range
- Best Drone Under 500 - Reviews
- 1. UPair Two Drone with 4K UHD Camera
- 2. Xiaomi FIMI X8SE 2020
- 3. Holy Stone HS720E
- 4. DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone
- 5. ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2 Racing Drone
- 6. DJI Phantom Quadcopter for GoPro
- 7. Walkera F210 3D Edition Racing Drone with Devo7
- 8. DJI Mavic Mini Combo
- 9. HUBSAN Zino Drone Foldable Quadcopter
- 10. Ruko F11 Pro Drone 4k Quadcopter
What You Should Know About Drones Under $500
Getting a drone under $500 is a good middle ground between lower level drones with minimal features and flimsy hardware, and high-end drones worth thousands of dollars. In this price range, you can expect a drone that comes fitted with some of the best technology and hardware you can buy, despite its price. Though fairly affordable (as far as drones go), $500 is still enough to get you a flying machine that you can be proud of.
These drones include impressive features, going as far as offering HD camera quality, extensive flight time (generally 20 minutes and over), quality video feed, intelligent flight modes, GPS-based navigation, super steady hovering capabilities and, with many of them being racing drones, high speeds. A majority of them are also ideal for beginners, and come in sleek, light designs and styles.
Drones within this price range also go beyond the basics. If you are a fan of features like auto-return and TapFly control, there’s no shortage of that with these drones. For beginners (and even hobbyists), there’s still the option of getting a drone with obstacle detection and avoidance within this range. And for photographers or videographers in particular, you don’t have to worry about compromising on drone camera quality. Many of these drones include added camera stabilizers, beautifully bright picture quality, and wide-angle lenses that produce stunning shots.
How to Choose a Drone in this Price Range
This list presents quite a versatile price range. A hobbyist or enthusiast wouldn’t have much trouble finding a suitable drone within this range, but because of how easy it is to control some of the quadcopters (even in windy conditions), they can also be ideal for a beginner. The lightweight options are particularly appropriate for beginners who can’t be bothered with registering their drone with the FAA.
It's important to know what features you want before you start shopping. Here are some things to consider when choosing a drone under $500:
1) Flight Time - If you're planning on shooting video, then make sure you get something longer lasting.
2) Camera Quality - What kind of camera do you plan on using? There are two main kinds of camera used by drones; fixed lens and interchangeable lens. Fixed lens cameras use a single lens throughout their entire lifespan. Interchangeable lens cameras allow users to swap out lenses depending on situations.
3) Obstacle Detection/Avoidance - Do you plan on taking pictures or videos near obstacles such as trees, buildings, etc.?
4) Battery Life - How long will your battery last? Make sure you buy one with a large capacity battery.
5) Size / Weight - Does the size and weight of your new drone matter to you? Smaller drones tend to weigh less than larger ones, making them easier to carry around.
6) Features - Which additional features would you prefer? Would you rather have a model without any extra features or one that has more advanced options?
7) Cost - Is buying a cheap drone worth it? Cheap drones often lack key features including obstacle detection systems, autopilot, and other safety measures.
8) Customer Service / Warranty - This is especially important if you purchase a drone online. A good rule of thumb is to always check reviews first. They give you insight into whether or not a company stands behind its products.
But for now let's dive in to the collection of best camera drones under 500 that you can buy in the market.
Our Top Picks
Best Drone Under 500 - Reviews
1. UPair Two Drone with 4K UHD Camera
WEIGHT: 2.97 lbs | RANGE: 1200m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 24 mts | CAMERA: 3-Axis, 4K UHD | RECOMMENDED AGE: 16+
With a sophisticated flight system, this UPair drone is one of the best drones for flying in the most convenient ways possible. Intelligent flight modes include the Follow Me mode, which sets the drone to follow you, flying along a predetermined path set by the pilot, or flying in circles around a particular point. All of these automated modes allow you to focus on photos and video footage through a beautifully designed 3-eye camera that make drone photography fun. The main lens in 4K ultra HD, while its assistants are 2K full HD. For each battery charge, this camera drone allows 24 minutes of flight time.
- GPS FPV Quadcopter with Follow Me
- Auto Return Home
- 3-Eye 4K Lens Camera
- 5G WiFi Transmission
- Flight Route Planning
- Works with UPair App
- 4K/30FPS live videos from up to 4200 ft
- Brushless motors for quieter flight
- 3-axis stable gimbal
- FPV real-time transmission
- Stable in strong winds
- May take longer to calibrate
- Battery lasts less than expected at times
2. Xiaomi FIMI X8SE 2020
WEIGHT: 1.68 lbs | RANGE: 8000m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 35 mts | CAMERA: 3-Axis, 4K HDR | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
Xiaomi’s FIMI X8SE 2020 is a new - and a very capable - entrant on the scene that offers smooth and stable flight, along with a camera that performs well, even in overcast conditions. Incredible range, a flight altitude of 500m and a flight time of up to 35 minutes are all features that work together to give pilots ample opportunity to capture breathtaking scenes. It is among a few foldable drones in this list that are handy to carry about with you. And with a controlled rotation gimbal, footage is impeccably smooth.
- 12 MP Camera
- 8km Range Transmission
- 3-Axis Mechanical Gimbal
- 1/2.6” SONY CMOS sensor
- Smart Tracking Mode
- GPS+GLONASS+BEIDOU satellite positioning system
- Return to home function when signal is lost
- Multiple shooting modes
- Extensive flight time
- No collision avoidance
3. Holy Stone HS720E
WEIGHT: 3.84 lbs | RANGE: 1000m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 46 mts | CAMERA: 3-Axis, 4K HD | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
The Holy Stone quadcopter 720E is a relatively less expensive drone that comes in a stylish design for those who are concerned with the look of their drone. It is simply sleek and stunning to look at that is complemented with advanced flight features . Apart from that, this quadcopter offers intelligent flight modes like Follow Me mode and TapFly, giving pilots the opportunity to focus on capturing images and video. With two batteries that last 23 minutes of average flight time each, you can look forward to solid 46-minute flight time. The altitude control system means that this drone is not only super stable, but easier to fly. Detailed pictures and video come from its 4K camera with Electric Image Stabilization. As one of the best drones under 500 dollars, this Holy Stone offering is sure to entertain.
Brand: Holy Stone
- 130°FOV camera
- Brushless motor
- 2 batteries
- 5GHz transmission
- Smart Return Home
- Follow Me
- 4K EIS Anti-Shake Camera with Sony Sensor
- Return to Home feature
- Brushless motor for quieter flight
- Stable in windy conditions
- Lengthy charging time
- No gimbal
4. DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone
WEIGHT: 0.6 lbs | RANGE: 100m (Can be extended) | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 16 mts | CAMERA: 2-Axis, 2.7k | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
A small and nifty camera drone, the DJI Spark is one of the best affordable drone for beginner pilots looking for a few minutes of fun a day. It also allows for some beautiful shots. Its two-axis gimbal gives pilots the opportunity to capture smooth and fluid footage with a 1080p HD camera. With intuitive features like Tap Fly and gesture control, it is suitable for pilots of all levels. Flight Autonomy controller lends this drone an obstacle detection functionality, giving you less to worry about, especially when it comes to its vulnerable size. With an extra battery, you can extend the short flight time for some extra fun with this mini drone.
- Intelligent Flight Modes
- 2-Axis Stabilized Gimbal Camera
- 1/2.3" Sensor, 12MP
- TapFly mode
- DJI GO 4 app compatible
- Easily edit and share captured video and image with DJI app
- Quick launch feature starts flight through facial recognition
- Intuitive and easy to learn
- Delicate structure
- Short flight time
If you are interested, we also have an exhaustive drone buying guide for beginners, along with posts on best underwater drones and best drones for GoPro for your easy reference. And a simple and quick guide on how do drones work. Also, if you are looking for more options in a lower price range you can head over to our listing of the best drones under $300.
5. ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2 Racing Drone
WEIGHT: 5.35 lbs | RANGE: 1000m | FLIGHT TIME: 15 mts | CAMERA: HD FPV Camera | RECOMMENDED AGE: 15+
Compared to its predecessor, the X-Speed 280 V2 is much lighter, making it the ideal racing drone, with an industrial design to boot. You can expect a reasonable flight time of well over 10 minutes. For flyers who are keen to experiment or aren’t as confident in their skill level, this drone is particularly durable and can withstand a few bumps. And in the case of a broken part, replacement parts are fairly accessible for this model, though you may need to wait some time for them to be shipped (depending on where you are). Its powerful ARRIS 2205 motor allows speedy takeoff and flight, and pilots can enjoy both manual and auto fly modes.
- Racing drone, RTF
- Radiolink AT9S transmitter
- ARRIS 2205 motor and 5042 propeller
- Raptor S-Tower BHeli-S 2-4S
- Sony 700 line camera
- 4S 1500mah Lipo Battery
- A good racer
- Super strong and durable
- Arrives fully assembled and ready to fly
- Lightweight design
- No GPS system
- No LED lights - not ideal for night flight
6. DJI Phantom Quadcopter for GoPro
WEIGHT: 2.2 lbs | RANGE: 300m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 30 mts | CAMERA: GoPro | RECOMMENDED AGE: 18+
This is a pre-tuned quadcopter that is ready within few minutes. All you have to do after receiving the box is unbox it, charge the battery, attach the landing gear, propellers and add 4AA batteries to the remote control. Once you attach the GoPro, it is even better to record the action as it produced the most dramatic cinematic pictures from the air.
With the latest GPS positioning feature that compensates for light wind, outdoor flight is possible. This drone has got a fail-safe function which helps it fly to and also land at its original take-off position in case the connection to the transmitter is lost. It flies fast at 22miles/hour (10meters/second) and lets you capture even sports actions with ease.
This product will appeal the most to RC aircraft hobbyists who are looking forward to mount their camera in order to record flights, photographers and videographers who wish to open a new range of shooting possibilities.
- Advanced GPS positioning
- Tested with Hero2, Hero3 and Hero3+ GoPro models
- Fail-safe function
- Max speed of 22 miles/hour (10 meters/second)
- Naza-M autopilot system
- Well suited for photography hobbyists
- Latest version has several upgrades
- Easy to assemble and fly
- Worth your dollars
- Older model
7. Walkera F210 3D Edition Racing Drone with Devo7
WEIGHT: 0.81 lbs | RANGE: Upto 1000m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 10-15 mts | CAMERA: 120 degree, Night Vision | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
The Walkera F210 3D Edition is specifically designed for racing competitively. As such, it is a hardy drone with spectacular speed and stability. As a racing drone, it may not be ideal for a beginner but, if you know your way around the controller, it makes for lots of fun. The HD night vision also means that you can enjoy this quadcopter even after the sun has gone down. Its camera is adjustable up to 120⁰, and with photosensitive sensors, it automatically adjusts brightness based on its surroundings. Its flight time is between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on the quality of your batteries. It is recommended to get extra rechargeable batteries. On our list, it is the best drone under 500 for racers.
- 3D Aerobatic Mode
- HD night vision camera 700TVL
- 5.8ghz FPV video transmitter
- 4 cells LiPo battery
- LiPo balance charger
- Compatible with Futaba receiver
- Extremely fast
- Stable in strong winds
- Short battery life
- Susceptible to signal loss
8. DJI Mavic Mini Combo
WEIGHT: 1.1 lbs | RANGE: 4000m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 30 mts | CAMERA: 3-Axis, 2.7K Quad HD | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
Though the DJI Mavic Mini may not offer the best in camera quality when it comes to this price point, it is often considered the best drone amongst those on a budget. It makes up for its shortcomings with stable shots, thanks to its 3-axis motorized gimbal. It also offers an extensive flight time of between 25 and 30 minutes - impressive in comparison to many of its counterparts. This beginner drone also features a convenient return home function. Because of its lightweight design, you don’t need to register this drone with the FAA, a factor that some pilots may find appealing.
Overall, the DJI Mini is a sleek, modern and popular drone that is great for first-time buyers, and is somehow always included in conversations about the best drones under 500 dollars.
- Supports 12MP aerial photos and 2 7K HD videos
- Under 0.55 lbs (no need for registration in the US and Canada)
- Max speed 29 mph
- 1/2.3'' CMOS sensor
- Remote controller, battery included
- 3x Pairs of Spare Propellers
- 2x Micro USB Cable
- Gimbal protector
- Compact, foldable design
- 30-minute flight time
- Intuitive, easy-to-use app
- Works both indoors and outdoors
- Good for quick photography
- No obstacle avoidance feature
9. HUBSAN Zino Drone Foldable Quadcopter
WEIGHT: 4.99 lbs | RANGE: 1000m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 23 mts | CAMERA: 3-Axis, 4K UHD | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
This foldable quadcopter comes in a beautifully compact design that allows its pilot to take it virtually anywhere and, more importantly, store it safely. Apart from that, some of its most notable features include impressive 4K HD video capabilities, a 3-axis gimbal that allows for smooth footage, a fair flight time of just about 25 minutes, the chance to control your camera angle manually and, just in case one camera mode isn’t enough, there are several to experiment with.
The most exciting quality about the Hubsan Zino drone is that it presents much more than its price suggests, making it the perfect buy if ‘value for money’ is at the forefront of your search. With its high quality in-built camera and good video resolution, we would heartily recommend this as the best 4k drone under 500 for photography.
- Max flight distance 4 km
- 5G wifi transmission
- Powerful brushless motor
- GPS Return to Home
- Foldable arm, RTF
- Waypoint planning and memory
- Follow me and headless mode
- Altitude hold
- 11.4V 3000mAh battery
- Among best drones under 500 with camera
- Video transmission of nearly 1000 meters
- Great stability
- Multiple camera modes
- May be difficult to connect to phone
10. Ruko F11 Pro Drone 4k Quadcopter
WEIGHT: 1.2 lbs | RANGE: 1200m | FLIGHT TIME: Upto 30 mts | CAMERA: 4K Ultra HD | RECOMMENDED AGE: 14+
If you are looking for more than just fun while flying, this Ruko Pro quadcopter is fitted with a camera that photographers and videographers will approve of. In this design, Ruko prides itself in being able to deliver stunning picture quality and HD video. Adjustable to 90⁰, the camera is best for those who want to capture the fullness of the moment. A flight time of up to 30 minutes also means that whatever your reason for flying, you can do it to your heart’s content. As a GPS drone, it offers a stable signal that allows live video/real time transmission up to an impressive 500 meters. Pilots can also enjoy advanced flight modes, including headless mode. With all its capabilities, it still promises to be simple enough for even a child to fly.
- Return Home feature
- Brushless Motor
- Extra battery, Carrying case
- Max control range of 4000 ft
- TapFly, Waypoint planning
- Good flight time
- Return-to-home/recovery function
- Tap Fly function
- Lots of tech packed into one package
- Slow charging battery
- Shaky landing at times
So, regardless of whether you are new to flying drones or you’re a seasoned flyer, there are several models that are not only tailored to meet your needs but also that won’t break your bank. Choose the best one that suits your requirements and pursue your hobby!