Top 10 drones you can buy for less than $500 [2017]

After taking a closer look at lower end price points, today we will be focusing on mid-tier models! More specifically, we will be looking into the best drones under $500. Undoubtedly, there are plenty of drones to choose from, so it is of crucial importance that you don’t make a bad decision!

UPDATED ON : Sunday 13, July 2017

UAVs under $500 Table of Contents

10. ZeroTech Dobby
9. Yuneec Breeze
8. Xiro Xplorer V
7. Traxxas Aton
6. Upair One
5. Hubsan H501S
4. AEE AP10
3. Parrot Bebop 2
2. Hubsan H109S
1. DJI Spark

First thing you should do when choosing your next drone is take a thorough look at its specifications. I’m mostly referring to camera quality, battery life, operating range and all that good stuff. Those are the most important aspects of every drone out there, which is why it is so important for you to thoroughly examine them. Keep in mind that you most likely will not be able to find a drone that’s awesome across all departments. For that sort of performance, you will have better luck with checking out our Best Drones Under $1000 list. In other words, settle down for what you want (for example, some of you will want a fast FPV racer, others will want a stable aerial photography platform while some will test their luck with a casual drone for beginners. Whichever option might seem like the best one for your needs, you need to make sure your next drone has solid specifications to back it up.

With all that being said, below you can find :

The average specifications of best drones under $500

Realistically speaking, drones in this price range usually come with FHD camera and no hardware image stabilization. Despite that, you can still find a few models sporting 4K cameras… In fact, some of them even feature specialized gimbals which are, unfortunately, sold separately in most cases.
In terms of flight time, it’s safe to say that drones under $500 aren’t much worse than premium ones. If we are to be more precise here, most of the drones listed below can fly (on average) for around 20 minutes, 2-3 minutes give or take. When you take into consideration that premium models have approximately 25 minutes, it really puts things into perspective and shows that these under $500 drones are not to be taken for granted.
In terms of range, things heavily depend on the type of drone you are looking to buy. If you’re buying a drone for exploring or aerial photography, chances are you’ll be looking at 600, 700 meters or even a kilometer. On the other hand, if you are aiming to purchase a fast FPV racer, those birdies usually have much lesser ranges. We are talking about just 200 or 300.

Features, especially in this range but in others as well to a certain extent, are kind of complicated. In some cases, there will even be a slight dose of false advertising (don’t worry, we haven’t featured any of such drones on the list below) where companies state certain functions are supported… while in reality they’re not. Realistically speaking, you should always look for a GPS-enabled drone. I cannot stress that enough! GPS allows an incredible number of supporting features including essential ones such as altitude hold and one key return. These can be critical for providing you with an enjoyable flying experience… and as such, you must make sure your next drone has them!

Benefits of having a small drone

First two drones on this list (and the last one) are insanely small and possess a whole bunch of benefits over full sized models. Obviously, the main benefit of owning a small drone is the fact you can fly it indoor. They’re lightweight and possess solid flight stability which will prove give you plenty of fun time flying around. Additionally, It’s also noteworthy to add that small drones make excellent travel companions. Due to their small size, you can pack them in backpacks (some can even fit inside your pockets) which makes for a seamless travelling setup.

Can I use FPV goggles with these drones?

If the drone you plan on purchasing sports FPV live transmission, then chances are high that you can set up a FPV system with your own FPV goggles. That’s even more likely an option if your potential drone sports FPV through 5.8g and not WiFi. Still, keep in mind that you need to do some research because all of these tech-savvy things heavily depend from model to model… But generally speaking – yes – a good portion of drones which cost less than $500 (and feature FPV live streaming) support FPV goggles.

 

Table of Best drones under 500 dollars :

NameImageCameraRangeTimeBest Price
10. ZeroTech Dobby4k100m9 minSee price now
9. Yuneec Breeze1080p500m20 minSee price now
8. XIRO XPLORER Vxiro-xplorer-vcustom1000m18 minSee price now
7. TRAXXAS ATONGoPro300m20 minSee price now
6. UPAIR ONEupair-one4K500m20 minSee price now
5. Hubsan H501S1080p300m18 minSee price now
4. AEE AP10 PRO1080p500m23 minSee price now
3. PARROT BEBOP 214 MP2000m22 minSee price now
2. Hubsan H109s1080p1000m25 minSee price now
1. DJI SPARK1080p2000m15 minSee price now

10. Zerotech Dobby

I decided to start this list off with a miniature selfie drone called Dobby. It’s made by Zerotech and has gained a ton of media space, being referred to as the best selfie drone out there… News flash – that title belongs to DJI Spark… but we’ll get to that one later on in this list. For now, our concentration goes solely to Zerotech Dobby!

GPS and GLONASS – both navigation systems have found their way into this miniature birdie. Together, they provide Zerotech Dobby with pinpoint precision and give it an extra dose of charm as well as additional features such as follow me, return to home, altitude hold and so on. Furthermore, it also needs to be said that this baby has software image stabilization and works on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Last but not least – it is operated fully via smartphones (both iOS and Android) through the official app.

Best thing about Zerotech Dobby is definitely its awesome built-in camera. Zerotech states it incorporates 4K image acquisition and 1080p vibration-free video. In reality, all I can say is that it shoots great selfies and is even capable of providing with solid FPV quality up to 100 meters away. Regarding airtime, it’s not looking so good though – just 9 minutes on average…

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Features Specifications
Vibration-free 1080p videos  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Follow Me  Control distance: 100 meters
Altitude hold  Flight time: 9 minutes
Return to home  Navigation : GPS+GLONASS

 

9. Yuneec Breeze

yuneec breeze droneAfter making a few stellar high-end drones such as Q500 and Typhoon H, Yuneec are back at it again… but this time with a miniature fella with an excellent camera. From this introduction, you can all conclude that we are talking about another miniature selfie drone… but not a foldable model for a change. What does it bring to the table? Let’s see…

First of all, it needs to be pointed out that this insanely small drone comes with a 4K-ready built in camera. So, with that being said, there is no doubt Yuneec Breeze is a powerful selfie machine. Moving forward, it’s also noteworthy to add the sheer stability and ease of flight this birdie possesses. Even though yu can only control it with your smartphone, the schematic is intuitive and you will get used to it in no time!

Furthermore, Yuneec Breeze incorporates a whole bunch of advanced features. More precisely, we are referring to its indoor positioning system, altitude hold, return to home and auto land. Last but not least – if you want your selfie game to be stronger than ever, then Yuneec Breeze has you covered with instant social media sharing of taken photos and videos. If that is not a good reason to buy this little fella, then I really don’t know what is…

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Features Specifications
Dedicated full HD camera  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Follow Me  Control distance: 500 meters
Circle around me  Flight time: 20 minutes
Return to home  Battery type : 5200 mAh Li Po

 

8. Xiro Xplorer V

Finally, a drone that cannot be labeled as a minaiture selfie one. Even though XIRO has one of them (XIRO Xplorer Mini), it’s not the one in focus here. Here, our topic is XIRO Xplorer. More precisely – the V version which comes with a dedicated FHD camera. Anything else interesting about this one? Well, let’s start with its specifications, shall we?!

XIRO Xplorer V and G both have identical specifications. Both of them come with the same 5200mAh LiPo batteries which give out approximately 25 minutes of flight time per charge. Moving forward, this little bugger also has up to 600 meters of range which isn’t half bad at this price range. So, with those numbers and an agressive price tag to its name, it’s safe to say XIRO Xplorer V has a deadly combination. But can features sway the odds in its favor?

Yes they can! You see, thanks to follow me, circle around me and return to home, XIRO Xplorer V seems to be a well-balanced drone. As a matter of fact, with its solid image quality and smooth flight, I’ll even dare to say it can pose as an exceptional aerial photography platform as well! Kudos to XIRO!

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Features Specifications
Dedicated FHD camera  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Follow Me  Control distance: 600 meters
Circle around me  Flight time: 25 minutes
Return to home  Battery type : 5200 mAh Li Po

 

7. Traxxas aton

Now we have reached the 7th spot on our list! And which drone do we have here? Well, it’s the powerful Traxxas 7909 Aton. Traxxas is USA based company that’s famous for their RC cars, trucks. It looks like they’ll became famous for drones too… all thanks to their Alias and Aton models.

If you want to know more useful info about this birdie, why don’t we start off with its specifications. You see, Traxxas Aton comes with a 5000mAh 3-cell LiPo battery, which should provide you with 20 to 25 minutes of flight time (with camera). Also, it comes with a 2-axis gimbal that’s designed to work with GoPro and other action cameras, but only if you’re buy Traxxas Aton Plus package. It’s under $500 so it’s definitely worth a shot if you are into aerial photography.

In terms of features, Aton is packed with a huge load of them: one key return, GPS, LED lights, air brake and so on. It is also very important to say that Aton has 3 different flight modes: Film mode, Sport mode and Expert mode. So, it’s pretty clear that this drone is a great choice for any drone enthusiast wanting to get into more professional quadcopters. Do you agree? Is Traxxas 7909 Aton among the best drone under $500?

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Features Specifications
Gimblar support for GoPro  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Autopilot  Control distance: 300 meters
GPS  Flight time: 22 minutes
Return to home  Charging time : 100 minutes
Led lights  3 flight modes
Air brake

 

6. UpAir One

With 2 different versions available (50$ is the price gap), Upair One is definitely an interesting drone. The models are actually identical in terms of design and features with the only thing differentiating them being their cameras. We are talking about 2.7K and 4K ones; of course, the 4K model will cost you roughly $50 more. Sleek design is not the only good thing about them, not by a long shot.

You see, these mid-tier drones represent the new generation of smart models available to the masses. They’re not ridiculously expensive as certain high-end models (I won’t mention any names but I think we all know who I’m talking about) and they possess great hardware and a ton of features. It’s a win-win situation if I’ve ever seen one!

The first thing you will notice about Upair One is its design which looks a lot like the Phantom series by DJI. People usually start to assume it’s just a cheap knockoff, but that’s far from reality. With a solid camera and gimbal combination, excellent smart battery (can endure more than 16 minutes of flight time) and GPS, it’s pretty safe to assume Upair One is no joke. Likewise, range is nothing short of excellent too – roughly 800 meters for controlling and 500 meters for FPV. The controller is a lot like the old DJI models as well, except it features a giant 7-inch LED screen for FPV monitoring. All in all, if you’re aiming to get a great drone with an outstanding camera, Upair One is surely worth checking out!

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Features Specifications
7-inch LED display  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
5.8g FPV  Control distance: 500 meters
GPS  Flight time: 20 minutes
4K camera  Charging time : 100 minutes

 

5. Hubsan H501S

At the 5th spot we have first Hubsan model on this list. It’s a great entry level drone that can make up for an enjyoable flying experience for first-time users. It’s stable, intuitive and sports a whole bunch of features to make your lives a lot easier. Let’s start from that and see why do people love this birdie so much!

First of all, it needs to be said that Hubsan H501S is probably the cheapest drone that comes with a dedicated GPS module. I’m sure some of you know that GPS brings a ton of useful features alongside, including altitude hold, follow me and one key return to takeoff location. All of them make up for a highly enjoyable experience, allowing you to focus more on capturing aerial shots than actually flying the damn thing. Additionally, Hubsan H501S also sports a FHD camera which is capable of recording excellent footage.

When it comes to specifications, Hubsan H501S doesn’t fail to impress. This little birdie is quite a lengthy flier with up to 18 to 20 minutes of airtime. On the other hand, range perhaps isn’t the biggest treat with up to 300 meters of interference-free fun. Luckily, due to FPV properties, great camera, and smart flight features, I doubt you’ll need more than 300 meters.

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Features Specifications
Built-in FHD camera  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Follow Me  Control distance: 300 meters
GPS  Flight time: 18 minutes
Return to home  Charging time : 150 minutes

 

4. AEE AP10 Pro

Manufactured by AEE Technology, AP10 Pro is one of few drones that offer the best value/money ratio. I remember when I first started flying drones few years ago, we could only dream about getting machine with this specifications for $300. Why am I becoming so nostalgic? Well, here’s the deal:

Let’s start off with camera, AP10 Pro comes with 1080p Full HD camera. It can capture videos at 60 FPS and take still images in 16MP resolution. They created 90-degree capable vertical tilt camera with live first-person view streaming to your smartphone. AEE Technology put a lot of effort to create stable, semi-autonomous drone. That’s why they implemented automatic position hold and hover functions. Furthermore, AEE AP10 Pro comes with solid 10 inch propellers that will provide you maximum flight stability and maneuverability.

In terms of specifications, here is what you need to know – the declared top speed is 44 MPH, while cruising velocity is 20-30 MPH. When it comes to battery and flight time, I’m happy to inform you that AP10 Pro comes with 5300 mAh “intelligent” battery that should provide you with up to 25 minutes of flight time. I should also mention that control range is 500 meters. All in all, really powerful drone that (in my opinion) offers great value for the money. It’s ideal for everyone looking for relatively advanced drone with quality camera for still affordable price.

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Features Specifications
Position hold  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Smooth 60fps videos  Control distance: 500 meters
44mph top speed  Flight time: 23 minutes
Return to home  Charging time : 120 minutes

 

3. Parrot Bebop 2

parrot-bebop-2Parrot Bebop 2 is one of the best-looking quadcopters that’s currently available on the market. But it’s not just design that stands out, Bebop is also loaded with awesome features and state of the art specifications finely poised with great build quality. You want to know more about it? Well, here are some useful insights!

Parrot Bebop 2 is made of ABS Plastic, heat-resistant, lightweight and impact resistant, to ensure great resistance it is reinforced with glass fiber. It is incredibly stable and is generally easy to control no matter whether you’re using your smartphone or the optional Sky Controller (sold separately). In terms of flight time, you will have to agree with me that there has been a huge upgrade when compared to the original Bebop. We’re talking about roughly 20 to 22 minutes which greatly surprise that of the first Bebop.

Furthermore, I’d like to make one thing clear – Parrot Bebop 2 is a high-performance quad, there is no doubt about it. It’s using four brushless motors and is able to fly 13 meters per second horizontally. The 14MP camera is built-in and has a recording angle of 180º. It is controlled only by smartphone or tablet, allowing FPV (real time video) directly to your device’s screen. If you opt to buy the Sky Controller Remote from Parrot manufacture, Bebop 2 flight range will increase to outstanding 2 kilometers. On a side note, Parrot Bebop 2 also took its place on our list of best drones for sale.

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Features Specifications
14MP Built in FPV Camera  Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
Glass fiber material  Control distance:  300 meters (2KM with Skycontroller)
Skycontroller remote compatible  Flight time : 20 to 22 minutes
Autopilot  Charging time : 120 minutes
GPS Top speed : 38mph
Return to home; Brushless motors

 

2. Hubsan H109S

This is most advanced drone Hubsan has made, ever! It’s basically their only truly “premium” model that’s actually making a decent name for itself out there on the market. Why is that so? Well, let’s start with its features, shall we…

Hubsan H109S comes with all modern features such a GPS, headless mode, altitude hold, automatic returnfollow me and so on. Also, Hubsan H109S comes in two 3 different versions : low, standard and high. The main differences are in gimbals and controllers – other specifications are identical across all 3 versions. When it comes to camera, Hubsan didn’t disappoint any of us. Their H109S comes with 1080p HD camera with support for live video transmission to its dedicated remote controller.

I should also mention that remote controller comes with Android 4.2 OS. It has plenty of options and features that will make your life easier. Everything is well designed and intuitive, so you shouldn’t have any problems using it. Flight time of Hubsan H109S is somewhere around 25 minutes. Hubsan claims it’s ~30 minutes but I believe 25 is little more realistic. And finally, Hubsan H109S has up to 1 kilometer of operating range. All in all, there’s no doubt this little fella is a great quadcopter. It sports premium grade features (and build quality) at an aggressive price tag… so it’s unsurprising to see it become a big hit with drone enthusiasts.

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Features Specifications
GPS  Camera : 1080p
Follow me  Flight time : 25 minutes
Altitude hold  Weight : 17 LB
Automatic landing  Range : 1000 meters

READ NEXT : Drones under $200 / Drones under $300

1. DJI Spark

And finally, you’ve all come to the best drone that can be bought for less than $500 at the time of writing this article. As if there were any questions – the number one spot goes unanimously to DJI Spark, an absolutely brilliant drone which will never cease to amaze you. What’s so special about it and why is it our top ranked drone under $500? Find out that and more in the next 2 paragraphs!

Before jumping to its wide array of features and outstanding specifications, first we’ll take a closer look at its camera. Believe it or not, this soda can sized drone incorporates a FHD camera with 1-axis gimbal stabilization system. Yup! Talk about pushing the limits… It’s absurd when you come to think of it – hardware image stabilization and crystal clear FHD quality in a smartphone-sized drone. Crazy! Now that we got the camera out of our way, let’s talk a bit about the features that give DJI Spark that premium feel to it. It includes GPS, altitude hold, follow me and plenty more smart functions that will definitely come in handy. ActiveTrack and TapFly are here as well, and so are 2 new features called PalmLaunch and PalmControl. Their abilities are pretty self-explanatory so there’s no reason to dig into that.

DJI Spark is incredibly fast and agile (which was kind of expected from such a lightweight drone) and flies smoothly without any issues. True, wind can mess its path a bit, but realistically speaking – DJI Spark is not meant for extremely windy conditions. When it comes to performance numbers, DJI Spark (when paired with its dedicated controller and not via smartphone) can go as far as 2 kilometers and has airtime of roughly 15 to 16 minutes. With such numbers, it’s pretty clear that it’s not only the best selfie drone out there but undoubtedly the best drone under $500, period.

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Features Specifications
GPS  Camera : 1080p
ActiveTrack  Flight time : 15 minutes
TapFly  Weight : 300 grams
PalmControl  Range : 2000 meters

 

Drones from 2016 Edition of this list.

11- Dji Phantom 1

DJI Phantom 1

DJI Phantom 1

Phantom 1 is Dji’s first quadcopter and one of the first greatest UAV to hit the market. It’s not the average toy quadcopter. It packs great features and excels in its specifications. Comes with a camera mount suitable for a GoPro 3. It has IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control) meaning the drone is able to memorize its position. Compatible with Naza-M software, for autopilot flights. Amazingly agile quadcopter, easy to maneuver, a little bit harder to master, but thanks to its return to home function you won’t be afraid to fly it too far.

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Features Specifications
Camera mount for GoPro 3 Remote frequency : 2.4GHz
GPS Control distance: 800 meters
Autopilot function Vertical speed : 10 m/s
IOC Horizontal speed : 6m/s
Fail safe Flight time : 15 minutes
Return to home Charging time : 60 to 100 minutes
Drone size : 30 x 30 x 18cm

10- XK Detect X380

xk-detect-x380

XK Detect X380

XK Detect X380 is a WLToys product, an upgrade of the 303 Seeker. XK X380 is an advance from the average toy/hobby to a professional drone. Able to carry a SJ4000 or a GoPro 3, great for aerial photography. Among its feature it has one key take off and one key landing, this is done through a GPS that remembers the X380 position. One of its coolest features is the circle hovering, you can set a radius distance and the drone will fly around the fixed point recording a 360 degree panoramic video. Looking for something more expensive? Read top 10 drones for less than $1000.

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Features Specifications
Gimbal for GoPro 3 Remote frequency : 2.4Ghz
GPS Control distance : 1000 meters
One key take off Flight time : 30 minutes
One key landing Charging time : 2 hours
Return to home Drone size : 30.5 x 30.5 x 21 cm

 

9- Walkera QR X350 Pro with DEVO F7

walkera droneYou probably have already heard about Walkera and the renowned model QR X350 it is a big success in the drone industry. Its powerful DEVO-M GPS system enables great features such as auto-return to home function and (the coolest of them all) Arducopter Mission Planer. In other words, auto-pilot function. Program Waypoints on the map and QR X350 will fly to them automatically while recording video. Another great thing about this quadcopter is the DEVO F7 transmitter with an integrated LCD screen for FPV (real time video) flights. Also, in case it loses connection, a safe function will automatically activate and X350 will return itself to the position of take-off.

Check price on Amazon

Features Specifications
G-2D Gimbal Remote frequency: 2.4Ghz
GPS Control distance : 2000 meters
One key take off Flight time : 25 minutes
One key landing Charging time : 2 hours
Return to home Altitude and compass sensor
Compatible with Arducopter mission planner Drone size : 28.9 x 28.9 x 20.5cm

For a list of top 10 drones for sale, visit our homepage.

 

8- WLToys V303 Seeker

WLTOYS-V303

WLTOYS-V303

V303 quadcopter is WLToys alternative to DJI Phantom 1. Even though some hobbyists do not yet consider it a professional drone, it does pack some great features. V303 has two flight modes, one enabling the quad to hover perfectly steady over the ground thanks to the enhanced altitude sensors which allow altitude hold, great for aerial video. Other flight mode is manual. But, V303 uses its GPS to allow for autopilot flights, and automatically returning to position of take-off.

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Features Specifications
Camera Mount for GoPro 3 Remote frequency : 2.4Ghz
6-Axis Gyro Control distance : 500 meters
GPS Flight time : 13-15 minutes
Autopilot function Charging time : 2 hours
One key landing Vertical speed : 10.2m/s
Return to home Horizontal speed: 4m/s
Failsafe function Drone size: 30.5 x 30.5 x 21cm

 

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Why don’t you take a look at our list of top 10 drones for less than $1000 instead?

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Hey. Can you double check your numbers for the range on the DJI phantom 3? You say 3km. Their website says 1km. I almost bought this drone using your information. Thanks.

Top 10 drones you can buy for less than $500 …

by Vito Dronelli time to read: 19 min
3