Top 10 drones you can buy for less than $1000 [2017]

Hello boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen… and welcome to our Best Drones Under $1000 article. Today, we will be focusing on premium models that, you’ve guessed it, have premium price tags to their names. But, don’t despair if your budget isn’t that deep – there are a few models that go for much less than $1000… but still provide somewhat of premium-grade performance.

Last update : Sunday, August 13, 2017

UAVs under $1000 Table of Contents

10. AEE AP11
9. DJI Spark
8. Parrot Bebop 2
7. Yuneec Q500
6. GoPro Karma
5. DJI Phantom 3 Professional
4. DJI Phantom 4
3. Yuneec Typhoon H
2. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
1. DJI Mavic Pro
drones under 1000

All drones featured on the list down below can either be used for causal or professional use. If you’re more interested in the latter, bear in mind that you are required to have a Remote Pilot in Command license before you can fly your drone for commercial purposes.

On the other hand, for all of you who just want to buy the very best drone out there so they can play with it and fly it around wherever they want… my oh my, we have a couple of special treats for you… But, before jumping straight to the list, first we have to make sure you get your expectations straight. That’s why I came up with a couple of introductory chapters that will guide you through the most important aspects.

READ LATER : Drones under $500 / Drones under $300

Average specifications of drones under $1000

If you’re looking to buy a drone under $1000, I’ll presume you’re aiming at somewhere around $700-$1000. Luckily, there are plenty of models in this price range and you will have a lot to choose from. Ultimately, that does not have to necessarily be a good thing since some of you won’t be able to make up their minds. This is due to an incredible number of top flight models, all of which have somewhat similar performance…

With that in mind, you should still be on the lookout for “scam” drones which look pretty, have good reviews… but fail miserably when it comes to performance. That’s why, I’ve decided to give you some general insight about what to look for while purchasing your drone. So, let’s jump straight to action!


If you are looking for an amateur aerial photography platform, then you have to make sure your drone has an above average camera. By above average, I mean that it should at least have a solid 12MPX sensor that’s capable of recording in FHD or 4K. Make sure your drone has a CMOS and not CCD camera – it will give you much better image quality. On a side note, if you’re serious with your aerial photography, it might be good to examine image stabilization solution of your drone-to-be. Look for 3-axis or 2-axis gimbals because typical software image stabilization isn’t exactly the best method.
Even though you can always go ahead and buy additional batteries, if you’re paying slightly under $1000 for your next drone, you should make sure it has at least 20 minutes of airtime. If it’s less than that, mark my words – you’ll spend more time waiting for the batteries to recharge than actually flying your drone. Don’t say I did not warn you!
In terms of features, one thing is for sure – you should not settle for a drone that lacks GPS or GLONASS. This is the most crucial feature on which your entire flying experience heavily depends. Let me elaborate on that a bit further – you see, GPS allows a huge variety of additional features including smart flight modes, follow me, return to home and even altitude hold in some cases. Other things you should look for are obstacle avoidance sensors and hardware imaging stabilization in the form of 3-axis gimbals.
Operating range represents the geographical area around your transmitter, inside of which your drone can fly freely without any interference or lag issues. In this price range, you should ideally look for more than 1 or even 2 kilometers. For reference, newest DJI models have 7 kilometers which is an absolute overkill for most real life scenarios.

Frequently asked questions about drones under $1000:

Are there any high-end drones on this list?
Yes, this list is definitely filled with high end drones. As a matter of fact, it would be crazy if it was not since we’re talking about under $1000 drones here. Still, not all drones featured below can be considered high end. First 3 models, even though they are awesome in their own right, cannot be placed into the same basket with premium drones such as Yuneec Typhoon H or DJI Mavic Pro.
Can I use these drones for aerial photography?
There’s a simple answer to this question and that’s a loud and clear – yes! If you’re an amateur (or even a semi-professional) aerial photographer, there’s no doubt any of the below-listed drones can help you capture perfect aerial shots and videos. That’s because most of them comes with hardware image stabilization in combination with top quality cameras which get the job done quickly and with buttery smoothness.
Are these drones compatible with FPV goggles?
Even though this cannot be said for all drones featured on this list, most of them indeed have full support for FPV goggles. However, if you would like to buy FPV goggles but you don’t know which ones to go for, I am afraid I cannot give you a straight-out answer. That’s because it all depends on the type of frequency your drone emits FPV video feed through. So, if you want more precise answers, you’ll have to examine the manual of your drone once it arrives… but for the most part, you should look into the most popular FPV brands such as Fat Shark which have a ton of great models to choose from.
What about drone insurance?
If you are using your drone for commercial purposes or you’re planning on doing just that in the near future, then I warmly recommend getting an insurance policy for it. Similar to car insurance, drone insurance policies will cover all damage and liability costs in case of an accident. As a matter of fact, many clients will require you to have drone insurance before doing business with you. Furthermore, by getting yourself a drone insurance policy, you are showing thorough professionalism and you’re bound to attract more clients in the future.

 

Table : 10 Best Drone Under $1000 :

NameImageCameraRangeTimeBest Price
10. AEE AP1116 MP500m22 minSee price now
9. DJI Spark1080p2000m15 minSee price now
8. PARROR BEBOP 212 MP2000m22 minSee price now
7. YUNEEC Q5004K1000m20 minSee price now
6. GoPro Karma4K1000m20 minSee price now
5. DJI PHANTOM 3 PRO12 MP2000m22 minSee price now
4. DJI PHANTOM 44K5000m25 minSee price now
3. YUNEEC TYPHOON H4K1000m23 minSee price now
2. AUTEL X-STAR4K2000m25 minSee price now
1. DJI Mavic Pro4K6000m25 minSee price now

10. AEE AP11

If you are looking for a great mid-tier drone with solid camera, GPS and great flight speed, then AEE AP11 is the right one for you. Before jumping to the explanation of this drone, I must warn you that it’s not a mainstream model. It’s made by AEE, a rather unknown company… but a company which did a fairly good job with their lineup of AP drones. In addition to this one, there are also AP9 and AP10, both of which offer pretty solid value for money. But, today we’ll be focusing on AP11 so let’s jump straight to action and see what’s it all about!

Not only does AEE AP11 have an exceptional camera that records 16MP still images and FHD footage at 60 frames per second, but it also possesses a great 3-axis gimbal stabilization system that ensures optimal image and video stability. 6800mAH LiPo battery is in charge of its operations and, quite frankly, it does its job really well by offering up to 25 minutes of flight time on a single charge. I doubt you will need more than that for casual use. Add roughly 500 meters of operating range to the equation and you’ll realize what a great mid-tier choice AEE AP11 is.

Features wise, this little fella comes with failsafe function, auto return to home and (as we already mentioned) GPS. All things considered, it is a solid looking drone with more than good specs and features. It definitely has what it takes to give you a ton of drone-flying fun!

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9. DJI Spark

Truth be told, when I first started making the Best Drones Under $1000 list, I wanted to place DJI Spark on a much higher position than this one… But then it hit me – people want to see more expensive models on this list so they’ll hate it if there’s a $500 sitting at the top. That’s why I pushed it back to 9th spot and am introducing it as a great value for money alternative…

For those of you who don’t know about this little birdie, we’re talking about the newest drone made by DJI which is, size-wise, on a completely different level than all previous models… Heck, even DJI Mavic Pro seems like a big bulky chunk of electric circuitry in comparison to this little fella. As a matter of fact, it’s so tiny you can easily place it into your front pocket – as simple as that. It’s pretty much why people love it so much – DJI Spark is insanely easy to carry around. Plus, it has some serious power underneath that stylish hood. We’re talking about roughly 15 minutes of flying time and cca 2 kilometers of operating range if you pair it up with its dedicated controller. Furthermore, it’s also noteworthy to add that DJI Spark incorporates a miniature FHD camera with 2-axis gimbal for optimal image stabilization.

So, needless to say, this little birdie is a genuine aerial photography platform. Even more so considering it has excellent features to go alongside its already magnificent overall performance. You see, DJI Spark comes with full DJI GO app support which means it has access to a ton of handy features including ActiveTrack and TapFly. Moreover, it also has a couple of specialized ones such as PalmLaunch and PalmControl. You’ve guessed it – what these features do is they essentially allow you to take full control over the Spark by using only hand gestures.

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8. Parrot Bebop 2

parrot-bebop-2Parrot is yet another extremely popular drones manufacturer. Their collection includes awesome drones such as Bebop and AR, but just recently they came out with an upgrade to their Bebop flagship. It’s the second generation of that model so it is only logical that they give it the name Bebop 2. But, what is this upgraded version capable of? Well, why don’t we take a closer look and see what’s it all about!

On the outside, Bebop 2 looks quite similar to its predecessor. There are a couple of design tweaks here and there but most of it has remained the same. On the inside is where things are much different. Take battery for example, Bebop had a 1200mAh one that could last up to 11 minutes in air while the Bebop 2 has 2700mAh one and it can last up to 25 minutes. Bebop 2 is significantly faster than its predecessor and has superior flight range. This is especially true when paired with the Sky Controller which boosts the range up to 2 kilometers which is, how should I put it lightly… spectacular!

And last but not least, the camera, and believe me when I say that it’s not to be taken for granted either. Bebop 2 sports a full HD wide lens camera that is able to capture quite the aerial shots. If you are looking for a solid all-around drone with great specifications, it is quite clear that you cannot go wrong with Parrot’s Bebop 2!

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7. Yuneec Typhoon Q500

Yuneec is one of the most popular drone manufacturers nowadays. Some would say they go shoulder to shoulder with DJI, even though I am not sure whether that’s true or not. But, what I am sure about is the fact that Yuneec Q500 is an excellent choice for all of you who are looking for a great aerial photography platform. Is that really so? Well, there’s only one way to find out…

First of all, let’s start with photography. At an unbelievable price, Yuneec Q500 offers a breathtaking experience with its 4k camera capable of providing you with FPV flight. Moreover, it also comes with an excellent controller featuring a large LCD display for FPV purposes. Additionally, it also sports GPS as well as other interesting features including return to home and altitude hold. All things considered, Yuneec Q500 seems like a proper refreshment in the higher end drone market with its spectacular performance… and we haven’t even gotten to its respective specifications!

With over 800 meters of range and up to 25 minutes of flight time is some serious power. Even though it still cannot be compared to Phantom 3’s (and above) specs, the Q500 manages to compensate for that in other aspects such as the build quality. All things considered, Q500 is a great drone that will continue making a name for itself on the market.

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6. GoPro Karma

Truthfully, GoPro took much longer to enter the drones’ market than I initially expected. But is their Karma drone any good? Well, that heavily depends on what sort of experience you want from your next drone… and quite frankly, Karma gives out an outright unconventional one. Why is that so? Well, here’s the thing…

Even though it was supposed to be a direct competitor to DJI Mavic Pro, GoPro Karma had a particularly tough launch due to technical issues which ruined its chances. Luckily, that’s all fixed now… but it still cannot go anywhere near DJI’s foldable masterpiece. However, what GoPro Karma does better is provide more versatility to its users with included Karma Grip, a specialized stabilizer which can either be handheld or body-mounted. With Karma Grip, it’s obvious that GoPro aims not only at drone enthusiasts but at professional photographers as well…

And they’re making that quite clear with 3-axis gimbal in combination with one of their HERO action cameras. With such exceptional imaging solution, there’s no doubt GoPro Karma can capture extraordinary aerial footage. But, when it comes to specifications, that’s where it lacks the most… at least in comparison to DJI Mavic. GoPro Karma has operating range of up to 3 kilometers and its battery lasts approximately 17 minutes. It’s a bit bulkier than Mavic Pro too, but it’s nothing drastic. Foldable format keeps it out of the dirt and rounds up what seems to be a decent package… but nowhere near DJI Mavic Pro!

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5. DJI Phantom 3 Professional

dji-phantom-3-professionalAfter that miniature DJI Spark model which took up the 9th spot on this list, it is time to go for the golden middle… and this time around, that place belongs to none other than DJI Phantom 3 Pro. The third installment in DJI’s Phantom lineup is nothing short of spectacular. Especially the Pro edition which has some good upgrades including better camera (4K at 30fps), longer flight range, Lightbridge video downlink and GPS/GLONASS dual positioning modules. All of this makes the Professional version a much more versatile drone that can be used for a wide variety of possible applications.

When it comes to build quality, I am sure you already realize that DJI did not let anything bad slip away under the radar. The quality is perfect as expected, even though there aren’t that many changes in the entire Phantom lineup. As always, DJI takes good care when it comes to features as well so it is no surprise to see that DJI Phantom 3 Professional has a whole plethora of them. Needless to say, these are just some of the reasons why this drone is considered as one of the best ever made.

Even though time has obviously taken a fair share of toll, DJI Phantom 3 Pro is still not falling too short from newer models… at least when it comes to specifications. To elaborate, DJI Phantom 3 Pro has approximately 25 minutes of flight time and roughly 5 kilometers of range which is, you’ll have to admit it, pretty good for an aging drone…

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4. DJI Phantom 4

Even though it is pretty difficult to find this drone under $1,000 (then again, it is on sale frequently), we decided to place it on our list because, let’s face it, what kind of a list would it be without DJI Phantom 4, the God among drones… This little fella has it all. In other words, if you are looking for a premium drone and money is not an issue, then this is definitely what you are looking for. For those of you who aren’t familiar (although I don’t think there’s too many of those reading this) with DJI or their awesome Phantom 4 model, I’m going to give you a brief 101 in the next few paragraphs.

First of all, with its 4K camera, 3-axis motorize gimbal, a whole bunch of smart features, obstacle avoidance and more, there is no doubt that Phantom 4 is one hell of a drone. And that’s just for the starters! So, obviously, its features aren’t the only thing awesome about it – specifications are too! With 27 minutes of flight time, 45mph top speed, and roughly 7 kilometers of operating range and an ultra-responsive controller, there really are only few drones that are worth comparing to this beast.

Still, as I already mentioned in the first sentence of this short review, it is not that cheap. It comes in a wide variety of bundles that will give you bunch of accessories, spare parts, extra batteries and so on and these can go up to more than $2,000. Still, if you are lucky enough, you might just be able to find the drone itself bundled together with just its controller and battery on sale for just a bit less than $1,000.

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3. Yuneec Typhoon H

Ranging on the upper margin of our price tier today, Typhoon H sure has a ton of features to talk about. With brand new technologies being implemented in this little birdie (and by that, I mainly think of Intel RealSense which could stir up the entire market) and an aggressive price tag that could interest both casual and professional users, Yuneec Typhoon H is ought to make it good out there on the market…

This bulky, powerful hexacopter comes with an ST16 controller and sports a CGO3+ camera capable of providing you with FPV live feed. More importantly, this camera supports 4K resolution and is mounted on a motorized 3-axis gimbal that is going to give it all the stability it needs, even during the stormiest of flights. The great thing about this model is the previously mentioned Intel RealSense module which is unlike anything we had the chance to see thus far. It is basically a collision avoidance system that enhances obstacle avoidance by providing real time detection from all directions. It is pretty clear that this is an innovative technology and it really makes this drone stand out in front of the competition.

Features-wise, Yuneec Typhoon H comes with everything you’d expect from a drone with this price tag. Autonomous flight modes are here, and so is altitude hold, GPS and all that good stuff. Combine that with awesome specifications (1 mile of flight range and cca 25 minutes flight time) and you will understand why people are going crazy about it.

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2. Autel Robotics X-Star Premium

autel-robotics-x-star-premiumAnd the title of the second best drone under $1000 goes to X-Star Premium by Autel Robotics. In fact, this is the only drone that can be mentioned in the same sentence with DJI Phantom 4  and DJI Mavic Pro without me feeling bad about it. I swear it’s true! Come to think of it, the two are pretty similar in terms of both design and specifications, but the X-Star Premium is much cheaper than DJI’s flagship. But, can its performance match that of DJI Phantom 4? Let’s take a closer look and see for ourselves!

With its 4K camera that’s, of course, mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, this drone effectively captures the very essence of aerial photography and produces extremely smooth recordings and crystal clear still images. Remote controller that comes bundled with the drone is quite good and allows for seamless connectivity up to 1.2 miles away from it. This is especially praiseworthy considering the live FPV feed works without any issues over the entire length.

When it comes to airtime, you can be sure that the included 4900mAh battery works exceptionally well. Believe it or not, this thing can last up to 25 minutes on a single charge, almost to the point of beating DJI’s flagship. To top it all off, it is also worth mentioning that its packed with smart features such as GPS+GLONASS navigation systems, magnetic interference protection, auto takeoff/landing, hovering, return to home and more.

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1. DJI Mavic Pro

Feast your eyes, ladies and gentlemen, because we have finally reached the best drone that you can purchaser under the $1000 mark. Of course, there wasn’t any real competition for DJI Mavic Pro, an absolutely magnificent foldable drone which isn’t shy when it comes to showing off its abundance of features. So, without much further adue, let’s check this baby out and see why exactly is it considered the best under $1000 drone currently available on the market!

Surely the best thing about DJI Mavic Pro is its incredibly compact design. Furthermore, it’s foldable as well, allowing you to pack it with ease and transport it wherever you please. The fun starts with the fact DJI Mavic Pro does not have any compromises in terms of specifications due to its incredibly small size factor. On the contrary, it is an outright beast. With up to 7 kilometers of operating range and roughly 27 minutes of airtime, DJI Mavic Pro can go head to head with the best out there.

Moreover, DJI Mavic Pro also bears an incredible number of features at its disposal. We’re talking about several autonomous flight modes, GPS, obstacle avoidance, altitude hold, facial recognition and many more. Combine all that with a fully-fledged 4K camera with its own dedicated 3-axis gimbal and you’ll begin to understand why it’s the favorite drone of choice for aerial photographers all around the globe. And for that reason, DJI Mavic Pro deservedly stands tall at the number 1 spot!

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3 comments

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1

I haven't seen any reviews of the Autel Robotics X-Star drone, regular or premium. Do you have a review on-line?

2

Might also mention that the price of building is usually 250 USD - ∞. There are many great communities such as the one I'm a part of with people willing to help you choose parts and help get you in the air.

- GJH105775 from quadcopterforum

3

I want my son and I hes 13 to get into this bigtime I have 1000 bucks to spend full budget can you recommend 5 of your best picks need good camera and ease of operations and also from a good reputable company that has great support also id like to be able to hook up my tablet to fly with option of controller . thank you so much for any help. Gerry Maloney. [email protected]

Top 10 drones you can buy for less than $1000…

by Vito Dronelli time to read: 17 min
4