10 Best Drones Under 500 Dollars for Beginners
Flying a drone has become a hobby for some, while for others, it is a means to earn a livelihood or simply scout the neighborhood to keep watch. In any case, there are different types and price ranges of drones built with different features. In our case, knowing the best drones under 500 Dollars for beginners requires the following two things.
- One, we need to know what are the qualities of the best drones under $500 meant for beginners.
- Second, we will go through the top drones under this price range and the required features.
If you are a follower of the quadcopters from the time they made entry, you will concur that there weren’t many choices in the beginning when it came to drones. Either you had to buy the cheap ones, which not only had a negligible battery backup, but it wasn’t even sure that it would even fly after the first landing.
The other option you had was buying the expensive rigs that cost more than $1000. The risk here was that if a costly drone crashes, you will be scarred for life and most probably would never want to buy a drone again, especially if you are a beginner.
Let’s start with the features and functions of the best beginner drones under $500.
What Can You Expect from a Drone Under 500?
You are ready to spend $500 on a drone as a beginner means that you mean business and are dead serious about learning to fly a drone or at least learning to fly one. You can expect that a $500 drone will have intermediate features like a camera, navigation, and a few other functions to justify the cost.
Also, the drone industry is moving at a rapid pace, and just as everything loses its value after some time, the same in the drone industry is also happening at an accelerated pace. This is because new drones are coming into the market with better and innovative features not found in the drones released a few months back. The real deal-breaker is that the new and innovative ones have the same price as the older ones.
Have you heard about DJI? Yes, the globally acclaimed drone designer and manufacturer. When the DJI Phantom was released, the price was $1259, but now its price is $999. The price slashing is just because the drones that cost the same as the previous price do not have the advanced features possessed by the new ones.
So, not decreasing the price would only mean that DJI will have a large stock of DJI Phantom drones to manage due to low sales. The point is that your expectations from a drone can change, irrespective of your budget. Right now, the drones that we have listed in this price have some good features, which will be discussed in the subsequent sections.
Shall I expect robustness and a solid body from my $500 drone?
Of course, if you are spending $500 on a drone, the least you can expect is that it should be durable, within reasonable limits. But if you are expecting it to work smoothly or work at all after crashing from 100 feet is not a good option.
Drones are sensitive machines, period. They need to be handled with care, and not doing so is not good for anyone around that drone. Also, any sort of damages that are out of the scope of the guarantee norms will only lead to burning your cash.
Drones in this range are good for beginners to test the waters and get the hang of things. Due to this, these drones are also built to make it easy on first-time users and augment their learning.
Uses of the best drone under $500
Here again, we want to reinforce that drones can be used for several purposes other than shooting videos or clicking pictures for your Instagram. Drones are built as utilitarian devices, and they have proven their worth in almost every sector.
Be it surveillance, security, recreational, photography, videography, racing, entertainment, etc. Along with this, disaster management and damage control agencies have been using them to assess the situations and replace the person who would have to go into a burning house or a burning forest for an inspection or find people.
Depending on your purpose of buying a drone, you can choose the quadcopter that either has the features required for the job or it is specifically built. Because you are looking for the best drones under $500 dollars, you will find that most of the drones in this category can suffice as a drone for recreational purposes and a couple of commercial ones.
While flying a drone, it is also important to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the local, state, and federal governments. In the US, several states allow flying a drone up to 400 feet, while others allow flying it above the limit. There are several small yet important details that must be followed according to the state you live in.
To sum up this section, we can say that the best drones under $500 are good for recreational purposes, surveillance purposes, photography, and limited videography. We will mention the functions and specific purposes of the drones in the following section that will focus on reviewing the best drones under $500.
Features and Functions of Best Drones Under 500 Dollars
Wouldn’t it be great to have a drone that can capture jaw-dropping pictures of the landscape and have hours of fly-time? Or how about a drone that has obstacle-identifying abilities and can stop automatically at a safe distance from the obstacle even if you are not able to identify the obstacle?
Well, rest assured that the latest tech-savvy drones does have these possibilities. Unfortunately, these advanced features are not available in the best drone priced under $500. That is why to ensure you can set realistic expectations from a drone on which you will be spending up to $500, we have listed down some best features.
Most probably, you may have thought of buying the best drones with camera under 500 in the first place because you wanted a camera-mounted machine in the air and clicking pictures. You are not alone because most of the buyers in this category want to buy a drone to either clicking pictures or learn to become a better drone pilot.
For the best camera drone under 500, there are two things to look at;
- Is the camera pre-attached to the drone? OR
- Do you need to mount an external camera?
Both options are good to go, but with a caveat. If you choose a drone with a pre-attached camera, you will have to make do with the inbuilt quality and specifications. However, the second option gives you the freedom to choose a camera you want to mount, but at the cost of losing some flying time, the extra weight will stress the drone’s backup capacity.
Along with this, with the pre-mounted cameras, you can expect to shoot high-resolution videos in 4K, 1080, and 720 HD quality. For still photos, some drone cameras have the abilities to click pictures in 5 MP to 12 MP quality.
Even if you may not consider it, the fly time of a drone is much more important to know while looking to buy one of the best drones under $500. Fly time of flight time is the duration for which the drone will stay aloft in the air before its backup reservoir diminishes and the drone crashes.
Now in your budget, that is below $500, the maximum flight time that we have seen is 30 minutes, with the good quality drones. Furthermore, depending on the exact amount you want to spend, some drones have a flight of 5 minutes too.
So, there is a range here too, which gives you the option to adjust your budget according to the features. The best approach would be to get a drone with the highest flight time, lowest price, and best camera configuration.
The ideal range that you should go with depends on your purpose. For instance, a drone required for photography and videography needs to have a higher range relative to a drone used for recreational purposes or to have some fun.
As a result, you will find several types of drones (range-wise), with some that can only go as far as 30 meters without losing contact with the transmitter. While there are a few which can travel far, at least, till the point where it won’t be visible to the naked eye.
So, deciding why you want to buy a drone is important to choose a quadcopter as you can make a better decision on the basis of the range.
Some things to understand in association with the range;
- Every drone, no matter the cost, won’t as far from the transmitter as claimed in the advertisements. So, always stay in the range of the drone lest you want to lose your quadcopter.
- Flying a drone in the city or near power lines, nuclear power plants, cell phone towers is always going to interfere with the transmission. So, it will also impact the range, and the same goes for trees, mountains, etc. The point of all this is that no matter the claims made by the drone manufacturers, your drone won’t be able to achieve the said range. Ergo, fly the drone accordingly.
Try to buy a drone that offers the highest range at the best price. Since you have the freedom of choice here, it will be easy to find the right combination.
3-Axis Gimbal is not something that you will find in all the best drones under $500. But if you are getting it from a drone and it costs less than $500, we suggest that you go for it without thinking twice. The benefit of the gimbal is that it will help you fly the drone and click better pictures because a drone with a gimbal can hold the camera still and move it in different directions with the drone controllers.
The number “3” in the 3-Axis gimbal symbolizes the three types of movement, pitch, roll, and yaw. It is clear that if you are buying a drone under $500, gimbal is one of the best things that you will need.
You won’t get GPS in a $100 drone, period. Even if it is there, you cannot trust it to help you read your drone’s location. Moreover, you won’t even need a GPS in a $100 drone because it won’t have a range to justify the GPS abilities.
GPS will be available in drones that are closer to the $500 threshold. A GPS function is also complemented with a GPS Home function. The latter records the drone’s journey from Point A to B. If it gets merged into the mountains and big trees, the drone will know how to find its back home.
Here again, do not expect this feature to be present in every $500 drone. So, the best drones under $500 will have simple GPS functions to help you navigate the way and get the drone back safely.
Live Video Feed
The best drones with camera under 500 will have the option to view the live video feed as it is necessary to preview the setting before clicking the picture. Rest assured that the ability to see the world from a drone’s eyes is an exciting and thrilling experience.
So, when you are looking to buy any one of the best drones under $500, prefer the one which has a live feed option. Even if you have to buy a separate camera and mount it on the drone, make sure that your camera can connect to a device with a screen so that you can view the camera feed.
Now that we have covered the basics of buying the best drones under $500 let’s move on to know which are the best drones in this category. Our choice of drones depends on their functions and their ability to satisfy your purpose.
Ergo, we have tried to include drones that will suffice to work for a specific purpose, or they can be used for all sorts of purposes.
Top 10 Best Drones to Buy Under 500 Dollars
Yuneec Mantis Q
Appropriate For: Recreational Use, Photography, and Videography
The Yuneec Mantis Q was released in August 2018 and is currently priced at $449 on Amazon. Mantis Q is one of the few foldable and compact best drones under $500 on the list, and it is here for a reason.
For shooting videos and clicking pictures, the Yuneec Mantis Q has a pre-attached camera with the ability to shoot 4K videos that is strengthened with electronic image stabilization (EIS).
Want to know the best part about this drone? Well, it has a flight time of 33 minutes, which is one of the highest flight times you will find amongst the list of best drone under 500.
Among the advanced technologies, it also has gesture control and can take a photo from 13 feet away. Its top-of-the-line features include face detection, which means that the drone will click pictures when the person smiles while facing the camera.
With three flight modes, Journey, Point of Interest, and Return Home, coupled with a range of a few feet shorter than one mile, the Yuneec Mantis Q is worth buying if you want to use it for professional photography and videography.
Appropriate For: Learning to Fly a Drone, Photography
DJI has become a household name in the drone industry. The DJI drones give a formidable performance. They are strong, durable, and can successfully satisfy a long list of purposes. Coming to another one of DJI’s drones, Spark is one of the most incredible compact and smart quadcopters under $500.
Starting with its 12 MP camera that boasts 2-axis stabilization, the DJI Spark offers picture and video quality of 1080p HD quality. The DJI Spark can be controlled and piloted from the DJI Go App downloadable on your phone.
Added to the basic features, it has some pretty cool advanced features like quick launch and face detection. Added to this, it has a simple control feature that allows taking pictures with hand gestures, not to mention a flight time of 16 minutes, which is a big drawback.
Even though you can use this drone for several purposes, some of its features complement the drone’s usage for photography and videography tasks. These include intelligent flight modes and intuitive control systems that are meant to bring exemplary cinematic experience into the video recording aspects.
These cinematic features enable every type of drone pilot to shoot high-quality videos irrespective of their flight experience. Last but not least, the DJI Spark is one of the drones under $500 with obstacle detection abilities, which is rare in this range.
Hubsan Zino Pro
Appropriate For: Photography, Cinematic Experience, Surveillance
Hubsan entered the big boys club with its Hubsan Zino Pro as before it was only making toy drones meant for kids and children. Hubsan has added some pretty impressive features in the Hubsan Zino Pro, including a 4K camera, a 3-axis rotating gimbal, and brushless motors.
With a range of 4000 meters, you can expect the drone to stay in the air for 23 minutes on a single charge. Another aspect that you might like about this camera drone under 500 is its futuristic looks and a comprehensive suite of smart features.
This includes Orbit, Waypoint, and a 360° Panorama feature. The camera mounted on the Hubsan Zino Pro produces stunning photos and videos, which photographers and videographers will particularly love.
The Hubsan Zino Pro also has a Follow Me function. When enabled, it will automatically program the drone to follow you and its Altitude hold function is also a welcome feature mostly liked by the photographers to take aerial shots. Among its beginner-friendly features, the Zino Pro has One Key Takeoff and Landing, making it easier to fly and control the drone during takeoff and landing.
Appropriate For: Amateurs and beginners pilots and recreational activities.
The Potensic T25 is by far one of the most cost-effective and feature-rich, and best drones under $ 500, costing not more than $160. The wide vision 2K fitted into the drone has a 120° field of view with adjustable angles meant for capturing clear, crisp, and stunning pictures.
The camera in this drone has built-in WiFi that offers seamless transmission of the photos from the drone camera to your device. Even though the drone’s cost is friendly, it has features like Dual GPS and Automatic Return Home that are rarely found in a drone that costs less than $200.
It has a customized flight path function along with the Follow Me feature to add fun and a cool vibe to your drone. This is not even the best part. Unlike other drones, the Potensic T25 drone is compatible with VR goggles bringing the true 3D experience to your door.
Because this drone is also meant for beginners, it has safety protection guards added with One Key Take-Off and Landing function for better controlling.
Ruko F11 Pro
Appropriate For: Long flights, photography, and for those wanting to learn
If you are looking for a professional best drone under 500, this is the one you should buy. Performance-wise, the Ruko F11 Pro matches the quality and authenticity of DJI Mavic. Starting with the battery backup, you can operate the Ruko F11 for up to 60 minutes. The default battery backup gives it a flight time of 30 minutes; the extra 30 minutes come from an extra battery.
When it comes to the camera, our reason to include it on the list of best drones with camera under 500 is its ability to shoot 4K UHD videos, which is enough to impress everyone. It also has live video transmission up to 500 meters from the transmitter that too with shock absorption abilities.
GPS positioning system built into the drone gives it the ability to hover over an object and capture clear pictures while retaining its vivid color scheme. If you are a beginner, the Ruko F11 Pro is fitted with Auto Return, FPV, Headless Mode, One-Key Take Off.
The word “Pro” in its name is justified by a few other features like circle point-of-interest, whereby the drone will rotate around the pointed object. Lastly, your Ruko F11 Pro won’t get lost in the midst of mountains and trees, as it’s location is recorded and it appears on the screen that will help you locate it.
DJI Mavic Mini
Appropriate For: Suitable for Every Purpose and Function.
Don’t be surprised to find two or more than two quadcopters by DJI on our list of best drones under $500. Buying a DJI Mavic Mini is akin to a dream come true for kids and adults alike. Even if you are not interested in knowing anything else, Mavic’s aesthetics and the brand value of the drone is enough to influence you to buy it.
However, we are here to know everything about this cool machine, so let’s begin with the top speed, which is close to 30 mph, and its 2600 mAh battery provides a flight time of up to 26 minutes.
There are three modes of this drone having three different speeds. Its high speed and bigger flight time even with a small battery is due to the small-sized and lightweight body. Even though the drone has a compact size, we cannot deny that it is a powerful and robust machine.
The camera quality is great. It helps click in 12 MP and videos in 2.7K HD along with a 3-axis gimbal giving extra stability to the camera, not to mention ultra-clear imagery.
Ryze Tech Tello
Appropriate For: Occasional flyers, normal use, and for kids to play.
One of the cheapest yet the best drones under $500 on the list, the Ryze Tech Tello has in-built high-quality image processing abilities, giving you the chance to click stunning photos.
Another good thing about this drone is that it is a great tool for the kids to learn to fly a drone having a flight time of 13 minutes. The 5MP camera lets you record videos in 720 HD quality. Not only is this drone affordable, but it is also a compact machine without any dangerous protruding parts, making a perfect way for the kids to get into drone piloting at an early age.
Another beginner-friendly featured embedded into this drone are the stability sensors. Because when you are learning to pilot a drone, things can go haywire rather quickly, due to which accidents can happen.
So, the Ryze Tello has sensors to stabilize the drone. The usability of the drone is something that you should consider, and Ryze Tello’s usability is limited to its ability to help you learn. Plus, it is indeed a lightweight drone, which means that a slightly fast wind can drift the drone off in all directions.
Lastly, the range of the drone is claimed to be 100 meters by the company, but we have found from several users that it is not more than 30 meters. Again, cementing the fact that if you want to buy a slightly expensive toy for your kid, this is one the best drones under $500.
Appropriate For: Recreational users, hobby enthusiast, and aerial photography
There are two things that we particularly love about this drone. One, it has a pre-attached 1080p HD camera. Second, you can also mount a GoPro camera onto the drone for better shots and bring out the best in aerial photography. The two-camera option with a 30 minutes flight time at an affordable price is nothing to sneeze at.
The Force1 F100GP can also be proxied as a stunt drone and can perform 360° flips easily. Due to this and several other similar features, this drone beats several others in this category in terms of the price range.
It is worth mentioning that like every other best drone under 500 on this list, the Force1 GP100 boasts brushless motors giving smooth and noise-free flight operation.
Holy Stone HS720
Appropriate For: Photography, Recreational piloting, and landscaping
With intelligent flight modes, 26 minutes flight time, connectivity to the phone via an application, and a compact design, the HolyStone HS 720 is everything that a recreational drone flyer will want and much more.
Combined to the flight time, you can take it as far as up to 1000 meters without losing control due to transmission loss. After that, it has dual GPS, One-Key return, and FPV functions to ensure that your drone does not get lost in the woods.
Another aspect that we love and one of the reasons to include in the list of best drone under $500 is the built-in LCD. Attached with a 4K UHD camera, the Holy Stone HS 720 lets you shoot high-quality videos and images. The result is even better with the shock absorption aspects, which create an even clearer image.
The built-in display is meant to display the crucial drone information, and it also has several sensors allowing hovering the drone over a spot for better pictures. The wide-angle lens can go up to 110°, creating a wide-angle lens for wider image capturing.
Holy Stone HS120D
Appropriate For: Beginners learning to fly and recreational use.
Holy Stone HS120D is an impressive and well-designed drone meant for those who are just learning the trade. It boasts an impressive performance augmented with several smart features, including the Follow Me mode, which means you can take it with you while backpacking to a new spot.
Coming to the camera configuration, the 120° field of view camera lets you shoot videos in 2K UHD and capture high definition videos. The camera is also built with gesture control features, and the clicked images can be directly sent to your smartphone.
You would think that when priced at just $159, it may not have too many smart features. But wait till you read this! The Holy Stone HS 120D has smart return home features, which means that if the drone is lost in the woods or the battery is about to finish, it will automatically return home.
Along with Follow Me, it has functions Object Trace and Custom Path that helps clicking eventful selfies and pictures when and where you want. To make it easier for beginners, the drone also has one key take-off and landing, not to mention that it can stay in the air for about 26 minutes because of its two batteries.