Someone might be looking for a great drone, but they’re not willing to dish out 500 bucks just yet.
If that’s you, you’re in luck 🙂 . We’ve put together this list of the top 5 drones you can get for under $500 now in 2018.
Here’s what we have for you:
Best Drones under $500
|Drone Name||Flight Time||Range||Price|
|DJI Phantom 2||25 minutes||700m|
|Parrot Bebop 2||25 minutes||500m|
|DJI Phantom 3 Standard||23 minutes||965m|
|Walkera F210 3D Edition||9 minutes||800m|
|Force1 DYS Racing Drone||6 minutes||900m|
Drones for individual use, are now very popular these days on the market and you can get a good deal on a reasonable budget ranging under $500, but which of these drones should you be spending your money on?
With the introduction of a good battery-powered quadcopter and its excellent stability, people tend to opt for these four-engine drones instead of the helicopter typed or plane model drones which were so popular in the early days of these unmanned aircraft drones. According to recent stats, in 2016, more than 2.2 million of personal drones were sold and this number is expected to increase exponentially in years to come.
Getting a drone which combines power and functionality with great pricing gets difficult and tricky by the day. With the explosion of the drone technology industry, the makers of drones are now on the increase and there is need to understand which drone is worth the price for consumers.
At the time of putting this article together, all the drones listed are priced between $400 and $500. We will also make an effort to update this list periodically.
So without further ado let’s talk about the reason you’re here: The Top 5 Drones for under $500 in the market in 2018.
Features & Specifications:
- Remote Controller Frequency: 2.4 GHz
- Control Distance: 1000 meters
- Horizontal Speed: 15m/s
- Flight Time: 25 minutes
- Charging Time: 2 hours
- Weight: 1.76 lbs
- (Optional) Gimbal support for GoPro and similar cameras
- Features like Autopilot, Return to Home, etc
- Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
- Comes Ready to Fly
The commercial success of the DJI Phantom 2 has been phenomenal and it has become a bestseller on the market and with good reasons too. This is a powerful quadcopter and is the first choice for many enthusiasts who are looking for performance and good lifting power.
The Phantom 2 has incredible features like a built-in GPS that supports autopilot function (through the waypoint program preflight, the drone will fly the route by itself). It has got an altitude lock, which means during flight, the drone does not go above this level, maintains a particular position without a pilot control, this is also called position holding. It also promises a stable hovering.
- The remote transmission range is quite long which is fun to experience
- It has an excellent camera
- Comes with a Devo 7 controller
- The battery lasts between 20-25 minutes
- This drone has an average customer rating/reviews
- The flight pattern of the Walkera QR X350 PRO is unreliable
- It can have battery issues
- Issues reported with the product service
Features & Specifications:
- Comes Read-to-Fly out of the box
- Has a flight time of up to 25 minutes
- Real-time video transmission through smartphone app
- 14 MP camera offering 1080p video transmission
- Three-axis digital stabilization
- Control via smartphone or Sky controller
Even if we decide to put aside the price, the Parrot Bebop 2 really is one of the best drones to own when you consider the specs in general.
The design, coupled with some of its amazing features makes the Parrot Bebop 2 our personal favourite on the list. It’s listed second because 1) this list isn’t in any particular order and 2) we wanted to make it clear that it doesn’t have to be your favourite drone on this list.
This drone actually used to cost around $700, but at the time of writing this it costs less than $500. It has some amazing features which include exceptionally powerful engines that allow it easily fly higher, as well as other great features.
We think the Bebop 2 might be the best drone for freelance/YouTube video creators.
- The best range is with the Sky controller
- Perfect drone for beginners
- It has a beautiful camera, which is among the best in the range, so you’ve got no worries.
- The Parrot bebop 2 has the highest battery durability among drones that cost less than $500
- It utilizes fisheye lens for improved navigation
- The free flight app is easily one of the best and user-friendly drones apps available
- It’s a light but durable drone. Lightness and durability are mostly mutually exclusive when it comes to drones.
- Sky controller is easily disrupted
- HD recording starts as soon as takeoff starts, which could potentially lead to a memory space problem.
Features & Specifications:
- Flight time of up to 25 minutes
- Approximate range of 1km
- 2.7K video and 12MP stills from 3-axis stabilized integrated camera
- 720p HD real-time video transmission to your smartphone, via the DJI app.
- Point of Interest, Follow Me and Waypoint modes
And the Phantom 3, another DJI drone, makes the cut. DJI is known as one of the leading developers of drones both for racing, video and aerial photography.
The DJI Phantom 3 has an incredible combination of price and performance, making it a very desirable drone for beginners and experts alike. Many beginners love it for its user-friendliness, while experienced pilots love the many advanced features contained in this drone.
We must tell you that the price of the Phantom 3 fluctuates a lot, but always flirts around the $500 zone. At the time of putting this together, it’s just under $500. Sometimes it goes just over. That said, it would be crazy for us to not include this drone in this list – given that it falls within this price range a lot of the time.
- Top photo and video quality
- Easy to fly and the drone hovers very well
- Comes ready to fly
- Fast internal GPS processing
- Intelligent flight modes
- Spare batteries are costly
- No obstacle maneuvering technology
- Missing too many important features compared to the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced
likelypotentially run into memory issues with the 8GB SD card included in the package
Features & Specifications:
- Comes ready-to-fly straight out of the box
- Runs on Lithium-Polymer batteries
- Includes additional GoPro connection port for enhanced photography
- Flight time of 8-9 minutes
- Charging time of approximately 30 minutes
We definitely fell in love with the aesthetics of this drone. That said, the flight time really does suck. 9 minutes of flying time is terrible at first glance, but when you notice it takes only 30 minutes to charge the battery, then it kind of evens out. A lot of drones take 1-1.5 hours to charge.
It is a small but strong RC aircraft and can stand a considerable number of failures and crashes and still survive it.
The F210 3D contains many famous racing accessories like the headplay goggles and feel free to experiment with a GoPro slot. You can edit and control several of its perimeters using your smartphone and it comes with a Devo 7 automation system/controller for a high-speed chase.
- It serves as a great racing drone
- This drone is excellent for beginners and professionals
- It is a sturdy drone and can withstand many knocks and crashes
- Sometimes this drone is available for just under 400 bucks
- It takes 30 minutes to fully charge
- It does not have functions like Follow Me, Return Home, etc.
- No goggles come with it
- The flight time is too short
The DYS Racing Drone has been completely assembled and ready to fly out of the box. The SE2205-2300K brushless motors and premium propellers offer a very powerful engine and propulsion system. Its engines have some of the very best racing specifications that allow you to reach very high speeds without compromising the health of the drone.
The very crisp and clear images are incredible. With a camera possessing an enhanced and better HD CCD sensor, it offers better light sensitivity and some additional pixels for higher-quality images and with low noise too, a dynamic range and an excellent backlight.
It is one of the lightest drones on the market. The perfectly integrated electronics and a carbon fiber frame protect it and help reduce weight. This is why it is also one of the lightest racing drones currently.
It boasts a longer time of flight when compared to it contemporaries. Its ingenious carbon fiber structure makes the drone not only powerful but also fast with greater strength, durability, and bending resistance.
- The camera is hands down awesome and sensors for better quality images
- It comes with Color LCD screen with an intuitive configuration
- It’s a real-time (FPV) video transmission of course
- A balanced charger for increased performance and equal battery life
- Comes with a hardcover/shell for protection and an adjustable camera angle
- Makes use of a button for changing channels which allows integration ease
- The goggles are pretty neat
- Might not be the easiest drone for a beginner
- Interestingly, the package contains everything you would need except for batteries!
As mentioned earlier, we fell in love with the Parrot Bebop 2. It’s very beginner friendly, aesthetically appealing, camera is awesome, range and flight time are great.
It was not an easy call to make because we can vouch for the quality of all the drones in this list, but you must realize that this is based on our collective preference and the Bebop 2 does not have to be your personal favourite as well.
Here’s how you can make the best purchasing decision based on your own preferences…
How to Choose the Best Drone under $500
There are a few factors you need to consider while making this purchasing decision at this price range:
1. DIY/ARF vs. RTF
In simple terms, do you need to assemble anything before you fly your drone?
DIY is short for Do It Yourself (sometimes called ARF for Almost Ready to Fly), while RTF is short for Ready to Fly. Generally speaking, it is fair to expect an RTF drone to cost more than a DIY, but that’s not always the case.
This is a prime example of something that comes down to personal preferences. For some people, all they want to do is fly their drone. For others, they get excited by building up their drone.
2. Camera, Range and other Features
The first drone I purchased cost less than $100. It was relatively bland and I got it just to test the waters.
Knowing what I know now, there is the bare minimum you can expect from a drone at the $400 – $500 range. It’s fair to expect features like auto pilot and Return to Home for the price. Not only are these features great to have, but they also serve as a fail-safe option for inexperienced pilots.
It’s also imperative that the drone has a quality camera and a decent range to follow.
3. Materials used for Manufacturing
The quality of the material used in manufacturing the drone is important for several reasons, but the biggest one is durability.
The last thing anyone wants is to lose their expensive drone after one flight!
4. Accessibility of Replacement Parts
In the event that your drone does crash and you need replacement parts, it’s important to know those parts will be readily accessible to you. One day you might need propellers, batteries, controllers and so on, and it would be nice to know they’re available and affordable.
One way to vet this is to check how responsive the manufacturer’s support team is.
5. Flying Time and Charging Time
The expectation here should be between 20 and 25 minutes of flying time. However we included a drone that has significantly less flying time but takes only 30 minutes to charge.
6. Aesthetic Appeal
Most of my drone friends don’t consider this a big deal for some weird reason, but it’s huge for me. If I’m going to flaunt my drone I need to be proud of how it looks.
Design is definitely something to consider before committing to a purchasing decision.
7. Buyer Reviews
This is the most important factor to consider. There is nothing more informing to you as a potential buyer than the feedback of someone who has bought the drone.
All the drones included on this list have more positive reviews than negative reviews, but it’s worthwhile to read buyer reviews – both negative and positive. Learn what people love about their drone and learn why people hate their drone. Information is key.
There are many options available within this range, but we’ve tried to come up with a trimmed list of the best 5 drones available for under $500. Hopefully this guide has given you enough to make an informed decision.
Now we’re passing the baton over to you. If you have any questions/feedback, please leave them in the comments below. Feel free to share your drone experience and maybe even suggest what drone you feel should have made this list.