Top 10 drones you can buy for less than $500 [2020]

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!

Table of Best drones under $500:

ImageNameCameraRangeTimeBest Price
10. Altair 818720p150m15minSee best offer
9. Potensic T351080p300m15minSee best offer
holy-stone-hs700_table8. HStone HS700D2K1km20minSee best offer
potensic-d85_table7. Potensic D852K1.2km20minSee best offer
6. HStone HS7202K800m25minSee best offer
ruko-f11_table5. Ruko 114K1km30minSee best offer
4. UpAir Two4K1.2km23minSee best offer
DJI-Mavic-Mini-table3. DJI Mavic Mini2.7K4km30minSee best offer
Parrot Anafi Table2. Parrot Anafi4K4km25minSee best offer
hubsan-zino-table1. Hubsan Zino4K4km22minSee best offer

Drones reviewed in this article

Best Drone under $500: Table of Contents

10. Altair 818
9. Potensic T35
8. Holy Stone HS700
7. Potensic D85
6. Holy Stone HS720
5. Ruko 11
4. Upair Two
3. DJI Mavic Mini
2. Parrot Anafi
1. Hubsan Zino


The first thing you should do when choosing your next drone takes 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.
READ NEXT: 10 Best Drones below $50 / 10 Best Drones below $100 / 10 Best Drones below $200

 

 

altair-818_with_transmitter

10. Altair 818

We’ll start off with one of Altair’s most popular drones – the 818, AKA Hornet. It’s a pretty fine looking drone, this one, featuring yellow and black decals with aggressive two-bladed propellers and thick propeller guards. Overall, we’re talking about a bulky drone here, but that’s not a bad thing considering the fact it flies well even in the windiest of conditions.

Camera and Features

Altair 818 Horner comes with a dedicated camera module sprung down underneath the hood, right in between its landing gears. Unfortunately, the camera is not this drone’s greatest aspect. It’s capable of capturing 720p videos and the provided FPV feature can reach up to 50-60 meters. While neither of these is ideal, you have to keep in mind we’re talking about a ridiculously cheap drone that goes for around $150.

The provided feature set is not ideal either. There’s no GPS module, which means Altair 818 doesn’t fly as smooth as the rest of the drones featured on this list. On the bright side, it does have the old fan favorites like altitude hold, and 3-speed settings. The aforementioned FPV is here too, and so is the extra layer of safety, courtesy of the thick prop guards.

Specifications

Specs-wise, Altair 818 Hornet does amazingly well. It exceeded my expectations in both battery and range departments. The latter stretches out to approximately 150 meters, not bad at all for such a cheap drone. And get this – Altair 818 Hornet has half an hour of flight time straight out of the box. Yeah, that’s when you combine the 15-minute flight of each of the two included batteries.

 

 

potensic-t35_with_transmitter

9. Potensic T35

Potensic T35 is an all-white drone featuring a DJI Phantom-like appearance with a massive camera placed underneath the main portion of the body. At roughly $130, Potensic T35 leads the charge in the affordable section of the market and does so with plenty of confidence thanks to the built-in features.

Camera and Features

Yep, we’re looking at one feature-packed drone here. Not only does Potensic T35 feature GPS, dual GPS mind you, but an additional set of precise and handy features like altitude hold, return to home, follow me, and waypoints. It’s stable when flying, has little to no drift, and is pretty fast for its size. A fun drone to fly, but also a good choice for people who want to start off their aerial photography journey.

While the provided 1080p camera is solid for the money, it doesn’t exactly deliver professional-grade quality. There are certain drawbacks that had to be made, and the stabilization seems like the biggest one. The videos are jittery, choppy, and you can’t really use them for much. The same goes for the photos, but I guess they’re a bit better since they don’t reproduce the nasty jitteriness.

Specifications

Potensic T35 features a hefty smart battery. We’re talking about a 2500mAh LiPo that can endure around 15 minutes in the air. You can purchase additional batteries off Amazon and significantly increase your per-session flight time. However, keep in mind that investing in a charger, especially if you end up buying two or more batteries, might be a good idea. Last but not least – Potensic T35 can reach up to cca 200 to 300 meters, depending on obstacles and signal interference. It’s a solid distance for slightly above $100, that’s for sure!

 

 

holy-stone-hs700-with-transmitter

8. Holy Stone HS700D

The HS700D is the first of two Holy Stone models in our list of the best drones under $500. Even though it is not the best drone under $500, you should definitely know about it. We’re talking about a cool looking drone featuring powerful brushless motors and a sleek looking camera. It doesn’t fail to deliver in the specs department either. Overall, for roughly $250, it doesn’t get any better than Holy Stone HS700D!

Camera and Features

I already mentioned this little bugger features a camera. However, we didn’t mention it’s a neat 2K sensor featuring a hardware vibration dampening system. Thanks to that, Holy Stone HS700D has a much smoother aerial footage, great for beginners who want to test the waters of professional drone photography.

A healthy set of features will help their aspirations, too, because HS700D is a proper GPS drone. With features such as advanced selfie modes, altitude hold, follow me, and return to home, it won’t disappoint you. Its flight stability won’t disappoint you, either. HS700D is capable of flying straight and without drift even in windy conditions, making it a breeze to fly for everyone.

Specifications

As for the specs, you’re looking at a 2800mAh smart LiPo battery that can handle up to 20 minutes of flight time. Not too shabby by any means. On top of that, Holy Stone HS700D can reach up to a kilometer, with almost 700 meters of clear and lag-free FPV. If long-range is your thing, don’t steer too far away from the HS700D!

 

 

potensic-d85_with_transmitter

7. Potensic D85

Here we have another Potensic model. This time around, we’ll be taking a closer look at their D85 model, my favorite one in their new lineup. Not only is this drone pretty big and robust, it has a great set of features, but it’s also pretty viable in the aerial photography department, and all that for a ridiculously cheap price…

Camera and Features

Potensic D85 comes with a 2K HD wide-angle camera with a simplistic anti-vibration mechanism. It does the job fairly well, although a bit of jitteriness is still noticeable. The 2K resolution is nothing special, though, don’t let that fool you. It’s basically 1080p, could even be upscaled from 720p, but it will do fine as long as you don’t have your expectations set too high. Remember – even though this list features the best under $500 drones, we couldn’t skip this affordable bugger because it offers great value for money.

Features-wise, Potensic D85 sports dual GPS with the standard array of GPS-powered features (with improved accuracy) such as altitude hold and return to home. This cool-looking flyer is pretty fast too, able to reach around 10 meters per second in normal, windless conditions.

Specifications

The spec sheet is where this little fella shines the most. Thanks to its 2800mAh 2S (7.4V) LiPo battery, Potensic D85 can handle approximately 20 minutes of flight time. On top of that, it can reach 1.2 to 1.5 kilometers. Which is a highly respectable range at this price point? Last but not least, the FPV range extends to about 500 to 700 meters, not too shabby at all!

 

 

Holy Stone HS720 with Transmitter

6. Holy Stone HS720

I’m sure you know foldable drones are all the craze these days. They took the market by storm, and thanks to their portability, captivated thousands of moment-chasers all around the world. Holy Stone HS720 is one such drone, featuring a sleek foldable design and a solid 2K camera. Let’s check it out!

Camera and Features

First things first, Holy Stone HS720 features one of those 2K cameras (read slightly wider 1080p). To be completely honest with you, it’s not that good. At this price point, it’s okay, especially considering the rest of the HS720 package. However, if you want a better camera at a slightly higher price point, Upair Two is a much better option.

GPS assisted intelligent flight is marketed at every corner, and rightfully so, as it helps smoothen out drone’s flight and helps even the biggest beginners take full control of it. Stuff like auto return to home, and follow me are here too, even further boosting this drone’s feature set.

Specifications

The specs of this bugger aren’t too shabby either. Holy Stone HS720 can go up to 800 meters, a pretty solid number for such a small and relatively affordable model. 25ish minutes is the battery duration, and that’s okay considering all the sensors, GPS, FPV, and other features this thing supports. All in all, HS720 is a solid purchase, mostly thanks to its foldable design, included carrying case, and GPS. But, once again, if you’re looking for a much better camera and you’re not worried about spending a little extra, then Upair Two is the one for you!

 

 

ruko-f11_with-transmitter

5. Ruko F11

Ruko F11 is the first true 4K drone on our list. It’s foldable, sports a clean metallic finish, and smallish two-bladed propellers that are surprisingly fast and power-efficient. There’s more to it than looks and efficiency, though – Ruko F11 is a prime candidate for one of the best bangs for your bucks… And here’s why:

Camera and Features

Even though we’re talking about a drone possessing 4K camera capabilities, I’d say it’s an upscaled resolution, for sure. It lacks the smoothness and has a bit of a fish-eye effect. The stabilization is surprisingly good, although there’s still a bit of vibration going on.

Ruko F11 does well in the features department too. It’s easy to fly thanks to onboard GPS, and it possesses the typical safety/accessibility features like headless mode, one key takeoff and landing, altitude hold, and auto return to home.

Specifications

You’re getting two batteries with Ruko F11, which effectively gives you close to an hour of flight time right from the box. Yep, that’s close to 30 minutes per battery, woohoo! The range won’t let you down either. The FPV feature can live up to 500 meters while the operating range stretches out for more than a kilometer. Considering all things, for roughly $300, Ruko F11 is a proper steal. It’s foldable, has a solid camera, excellent range (both FPV and operating), as well as an extra battery to extend your flight sessions.

 

 

upair-two_with_transmitter

4. Upair Two

Everything about Upair Two is simplistic, the all-white body, the all-white propellers, and a gorgeous white controller resembling those of older DJI Phantom models. Or should I say, everything about Upair Two is simple except for its camera. Let’s talk about that…

Camera and Features

See that image above? That’s not a regular camera. There are three sensors there. Yep, Upair Two drone, thanks to its 3-axis gimbal + 3-eye lens, can capture brilliant, highly stable, 4K footage. The main camera shoots 4K while the additional two shoots in 2K FHD and 16mpx still images. Upair Two is miles ahead of all previously featured drone. The footage it captures is smooth, crisp, and has absolutely no jitteriness or vibration. Heck, it’s suitable for professional use. There, I’ve said it!

As for the features, Upair Two builds on the legacy of the original One. GPS is here, just like a sophisticated optical flow positioning system. Other smart features include flight route planning, altitude hold, one key takeoff/return/landing, pretty much the things you’d come to expect from premium drones. And that’s exactly what Upair Two is – a premium drone at a highly aggressive price point.

Specifications

This thing has plenty of range too, capping out at roughly 1 to 1.2 kilometers for both FPV transmission and controls. Pretty sweet, huh? Furthermore, Upair Two can fly around for 22 to 24 minutes, depending on how far you push it. It’s a great all-around drone, that’s for sure, sporting a unique camera module that would put to shame even some pricier models.

 

 

DJI Mavic Mini with Transmitter

3. DJI Mavic Mini

Believe it or not, our list of the best quadcopters under $500 features a drone made by DJI. Yep, they’ve broken through the $500 deadlock with their Mavic Mini model that seems like a real champ. As far the bang for your buck parallels goes, DJI Mavic Mini is a behemoth. It’s affordable, yet possesses professional-grade qualities across all departments.

Camera and Features

Let’s start off with the camera. Even though it’s not a 4K sensor like that of similarly priced Hubsan Zino, DJI Mavic Mini’s 2.7K max resolution still does a splendid job in all possible scenarios. Whether you’re in it for the smooth aerial footage, to up your selfie game, or just shoot awesome nature-Esque cinematics, DJI Mavic Mini won’t disappoint you.

It’s feature-packed too, supporting the crème de la crème of DJI’s lineup of features. This includes the obvious starting point, GPS, and goes on to the more advanced autonomous features like tapfly, and active track. Best of all, DJI Mavic Mini is foldable, meaning it can easily fit into the palm of your hand and can be carried in even the smallest backpacks.

Specifications

In terms of the specs, DJI Mavic Mini can go toe to toe with the best of them. 4 kilometers of operating range and close to 30 minutes of flight time are outright impressive. It’s basically the same range of Hubsan Zino, but with a bit of extra flight time.

 

 

parrot-anafi-with-transmitter

2. Parrot Anafi

Parrot Anafi is the second-best drone on this list even though, realistically speaking, it should be at the top spot. Then why is it here? Well, this list covers the best and safest drones under $500, and Anafi’s price tag slightly exceeds that number. It’s not by a lot, and it’s often on sale for slightly more than $500. But, if your budget is flexible and you don’t mind spending a bit extra, then you’ll like the uniqueness of Parrot Anafi’s aerial photography arsenal!

Camera and Features

Parrot’s newest drone models are targeted for film, photography, and work, featuring an all-around near-perfect feature set that turns it into a highly versatile device. Responsive controls, cinematic presets, vision tracking, advanced autonomous features – this little bugger has them all!

Parrot Anafi boasts with a 180-degree vertically rotating 4K HDR camera, that can shoot pro-grade videos straight upward. Not only is this a mesmerizing factor for cinematic footage, but a great addition to every drone-based work fleet. So yeah, let’s just say Parrot Anafi’s camera is by far the best one in our UAVs under $500 list. It does come at a price, though…

Specifications

The base model of Parrot Anafi can be found for roughly $600. That model comes with the actual Anafi drone, the dedicated Sky Controller 3, and one battery. That single battery can endure for around 25 minutes, marking the perfect middle ground between Zino and Mavic Mini. The range, on the other hand, caps out at around 4 kilometers. If you want more flight time right out of the box, you’ll have to go with Parrot Anafi Extended which packs an additional battery along with a carrying case. There are more options too, including Anafi Thermal which costs $2,000 but features a ton of accessories as well as a sophisticated thermal camera.

 

 

Hubsan Zino with Transmitter

1. Hubsan Zino – Best drone under $500

Realistically speaking, Hubsan Zino is the best drone you can get for under $500. It’s really a masterpiece by the popular mid-tier brand – Hubsan. In fact, Zino is the first proper attempt of making a high-end model at an aggressive price tag, and judging by its popularity and quality, Hubsan has done a great job!

Camera and Features

Hubsan Zino sports a potent 4K camera capable of shooting at 30fps. Obviously, it features both software and hardware stabilization which ensures professional-grade anti-vibration and buttery footage each and every time. The max bitrate amounts to 60mbps, which is just enough to capture plenty of details. It’s one monster of an aerial camera at just $400, so it’s rightfully at the top spot.

Hubsan went out of their way in the features department, too. Their Zino model has all the fine makings of a high-end models, including the essential stuff like GPS, follow me, altitude and safety features (auto return to home and failsafe modes).

Specifications

Last but not least, Hubsan Zino pro can tackle up to 22 minutes of flight time. That’s a bit shorter than DJI Mavic Mini, so bear that in mind. The range is roughly the same as that of the newest DJI model, cca 4 kilometers. Basically, the only reason why Zino took the top spot is because of the slightly sharper image and higher resolution, coupled with a more affordable price tag. If neither of that is important for you, then feel free to snatch the DJI counterpart, Mavic Mini… or even the slightly pricier Parrot Anafi.

 

 

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

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 that cost less than $500 (and feature FPV live streaming) support FPV goggles.

READ LATER: BEST INEXPENSIVE DRONES IN 2020

 

Old drones - November 2019

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.

The 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…

 

9. Yuneec Breeze

yuneec breeze drone

After making a few stellar high-end drones such as Q500 and Typhoon H, Yuneec is 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 best drone under $500… 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 you 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…

 

8. 3DR Solo

I’ve already mentioned 3DR Solo above when I laid out a comparison between its price with and without the dedicated gimbal. Now, we are going to take a closer look at it and see why exactly is the Solo priced so low… especially considering its price tag a year ago… Don’t worry, it’s still the same device.

I reckon the decision was made by the 3DR board who wanted to pivot to a completely different market and needed fast money from 3DR Solo’s growing sales… With that said, let’s see what’s this beauty all about and can it provide you with quality aerial footage from the very first flight.

Specifications

As far as Solo’s specifications are concerned, the situation looks rather awesome. It sports slight more range than Yuneec Q500 (800 meters in total) and is priced at just a fraction of its price tag. However, battery duration is somewhat of a different story with 3DR Solo falling behind to roughly 18 minutes… even less with the gimbal and camera mounted. While it is not bad by any means, I was still a bit disappointed the number wasn’t a bit higher.

Moving forward to the actual packaging, you will notice that the 3DR Solo standard package comes with just the drone and all necessary parts to get it up and running. So, if you want silky smooth footage, not only will you have to get the dedicated gimbal for 3DR Solo but a GoPro Hero action camera too. Those things aren’t cheap and will set the overall price of 3DR Solo much higher than the initial package… so bear that in mind, guys.

Camera and Features

Features-wise, 3DR Solo shines in full light. We are talking about an incredibly smart drone that is bound to amaze you. Among its set of features, you will find Smart Shot technology for cinematic aerial footage, Follow Me mode, Selfie, Cable Cam, Orbit and plenty of others. They’re all powered by 3DR Solo’s twin microcomputers running on 1GHz processors which do all the work. Their synergy does wonder which is something you’ll witness… if you end up buying 3DR Solo, of course.

 

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 become 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 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?

 

6. UpAir One

With 2 different versions available (50$ is the price gap), Upair One is definitely one of the most interesting drones under $500. 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. The 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, the 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!

 

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 enjoyable 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 an 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.

 

4. MJX Bugs 2W

mjx-bugs-2w_webMJX Bugs 2W comes as a spiritual successor to the ever so popular Bugs 3 model. If you are not familiar with it, MJX Bugs 3 offered an exceptional entry-level experience to wannabe aerial photographers. With a camera mount supporting GoPro and other brands of action cameras, the possibilities were endless for this bulky (and cool looking) drone.

However, some people were unhappy with just the mount so MJX had to fix this issue… and they did with Bugs 2W. With a smaller form factor and a built-in camera, MJX Bugs 2W is hoping to conquer the entry-level aerial photography market just like its predecessor did a while back. Can it do so? Well, let’s see…

Camera and Features

First of all, we need to say a couple of things about its brilliant built-in camera. We are talking about a microlens that can, believe it or not, capture aerial footage at full HD. Despite the obvious lack of any kind of stabilization (software or hardware), there is still little to no vibration and jello effect present. For those two reasons I really recommend MJX Bugs 2W for people wanting to get the best aerial footage out of their drone.

The fun doesn’t end there. You see, this birdie also sports a handful of features and can be considered a smart drone thanks to the integrated GPS module. It allows a handful of additional features we rarely see at this price point. Among them, there are the likes of telemetry, FPV, Altitude Hold and even Return To Home.

Specifications

As for specifications, MJX Bugs 2W doesn’t fail to deliver. This is partially due to its excellent airtime (thanks to 2S 1800mAh LiPo battery) which goes from 15 to 18 minutes; plus, operating range which can supposedly reach over 800 meters. Not bad for such a small drone, right? Lastly, the FPV range is a bit shorter, ranging in at approximately 150 to 200 meters. Once you reach 150 you’ll undoubtedly experience some cutbacks so don’t go any further or you’ll risk losing your brand-new drone.

 

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 the great build quality. Do 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.

 

2. Hubsan H109S

This is the 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 the camera, Hubsan didn’t disappoint any of us. Their H109S comes with a 1080p HD camera with support for live video transmission to its dedicated remote controller.

I should also mention that the 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 a 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.

 

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 that 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 an 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 feels 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.

Old drones - Early 2017

8. Xiro Xplorer V

Finally, a drone that cannot be labeled as a miniature 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 aggressive 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 following 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!

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 a 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 the 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 the control range is 500 meters. All in all, a really powerful drone that (in my opinion) offers great value for the money. It’s ideal for everyone looking for a relatively advanced drone with a quality camera for a still affordable price.

Old drones - 2016

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.

[easytable]
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
[/easytable]

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.

[easytable]
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
[/easytable]

 

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.

[easytable]
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
[/easytable]

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.

[easytable]
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
[/easytable]

 

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?

Drones under $500 Review
  • Flight time
  • Range
  • Camera
  • Design
4.8

Summary

What is your favorite quadcopter on this list? Now that you know the features and specifications of the best quadcopters under $500 currently in the market, it’s time for you to make your choice. Choose wisely, pick the one who best fits your areal needs and be ready to take on the sky!

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3 comments

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1

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.

2

You say the mjx bug 2w is the best for the price but when you click the link it takes you to a different drone made by force 1 which did you review? The force 1 or the mjx just wondering before I buy!

3

Hello Vito. Thanks for your reviews! What about test new version upair one plus, think it is a better version. Best regards.