Best Drones Under $500 Reviewed for 2017
Finding the perfect drone can be quite a difficult task. There are so many things to consider and it can easily be overwhelming. Not only is some of the tech lingo hard to understand but with some of the price tags on drones, it can be hard to spend that kind of money on a product you’re not entirely sure about.
I scoured the internet to find you the 10 best drones for under $500! Not only did I review the products for you but there is a complete buyer’s guide so you don’t waste your hard earned money on a product that doesn’t work for you! Let’s jump into it.
Table of Contents
- Best Drones Under $500
- Factors I’ve Considered
- Top 10 Best Drones Reviewed
- 1. DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone Quadcopter – Perfect All-Around Drone
- 2. DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro – Ready-To-Fly Drone
- 3. Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS100 – The Impossible-To-Lose Drone
- 4. Holy Stone HS700 FPV Drone – The Quietest Drone
- 5. Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone – Feel Part Of The Action With 3D Mode & VR Headset Drone
- 6. Holy Stone F181C RC Quadcopter Drone – Great For Night Time
- 7. DBPOWER X400W FPV RC Quadcopter Drone – Best Bang For Your Buck
- 8. Holy Stone HS200 FPV RC Drone – Drone For Day Or Night Flights
- 9. Potensic Upgraded A20 Mini Drone – The Drone For Beginners
- 10. DROCON Bugs 3 Powerful Brushless Motor Quadcopter Drone – The Professionals Drone
- Bonus Reviews
- Buyer’s Guide – What To Know Before Spending Any Money
Best Drones Under $500
When it comes to buying a drone, there are things you need to consider like the price, the camera quality, how long the battery lasts, and more. With plenty of different features, one drone may work for you, while another may not.
That is why I reviewed the 10 best drones for under $500 based on things like performance, price tag, camera quality and what features they come with. By the end of this article, you’ll be one step closer to picking out which drone is perfect for you!
Factors I’ve Considered
The 10 best drones for under $500 (more about that shortly) have some of the best features on the market today. There are options that have 1080p HD cameras to give you incredibly high-quality images. Other drones you’d able to control with your hand and have beauty filters to make whatever you’re filming look it’s best. Some drones we’ll talk about have GPS features, so you don’t have to worry about losing it if it’s out of sight.
You will learn about what makes a great drone, regardless of the price. When you’re reading the detailed reviews for each drone, we’ve provided a pros and cons list to make it even easier to see if the product fits your needs, along with a list of the key features each drone has.
An interesting thing about drones is that not all of them include cameras. Some of them are designed so that you add your camera to the body of the drone, which helps it get aerial views. We did include one of those drones in our review. This is a good thing to keep an eye out for when purchasing your (next) drone, especially if you don’t want to splurge on a drone with a camera.
Top 10 Best Drones Reviewed
1. DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone Quadcopter – Perfect All-Around Drone
DJI is a well-known company in the world of drones. Their Spark is a favorite among many flyers. Not only is this drone compact but the integrated camera is incredibly stable, giving you 1080p HD video and 12mp photographs. It can fly up to 31 miles per hour and the battery will last you around 16 minutes.
The shots you’ll get out of this drone are professional quality and great for film enthusiasts. There is also a GPS feature so you don’t have to worry about losing the drone whether you fly it indoors or outdoors. There are several flight modes and DJI’s famous 3D obstacle detection, keeping it safe from crashing into something.
- Several flight modes which are perfect for beginners and expert drone users alike
- 3D obstacle detection keeps your drone safe
- 1080p HD camera for taking high-quality photos and videos
- Worry-free flight – the drone returns to its starting place when you hit the Return to Home button, the connection is lost, or the battery gets too low
This is one of the highest quality drones for the price. It has incredible video quality with a lot of great features that anyone, from a beginner to an expert, could take advantage of when using!
2. DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro – Ready-To-Fly Drone
Whether you’re using this to make a short film, capture sports footage, or for your road trip adventure, this is a great drone. DJI is back at it again with making high-quality products. This is a drone quadcopter for your GoPro camera. The camera is not included in the price tag of this unit.
It’s easy to fly and control and has a slick design. It’s simple to add on your GoPro camera to the mount underneath the drone. There are lights on the legs, making it easy to see the drone while flying at night. The transmitter has a communication length of nearly 1,000 feet and the battery lasts around 15 minutes with one charge.
- Long transmitter communication allows you to fly far
- Battery life of 15 minutes
- Simple Design
- Fits all GoPros
- Ready-to-Fly design for no binding or complex turning
If you already have a GoPro but are looking for a great drone that can get you professional shots from above, this is an amazing option. There’s no denying why this is one of the best drones under $500.
3. Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS100 – The Impossible-To-Lose Drone
Holy Stone has another drone coming in at the third spot on our list with their GPS FPV RC drone. It’s in the name for a reason: this drone has a GPS that prevents you from losing the drone and can help you to find the perfect area to shoot. If you lose the signal of it, the drone will automatically fly back to you. This also happens when the battery is running low.
It’s equipped with a 1080p HD Wi-Fi camera that can be adjusted up to 90 degrees so you’re able to see everything you want while recording. It’s easy to control with a holding function that keeps the drone from flying any higher or lower.
One of the best features is Holy Stone’s Follow Me feature. This lets the drone follow you while you’re walking. This can come in handy when you’re trying to film yourself from above. There is one key take off and landing button, and you can easily see what you’re filming from your phone screen with their app.
- 1080p HD Wi-Fi camera provides high-quality video and photos
- Follow Me feature allows the drone to follow you
- GPS mode makes it easy to keep track of drone or find a great spot to shoot
- The drone returns to you if the battery is low
This is another great option brought to you by Holy Stone. If you worry about losing your GPS or are filming in dense locations, this may be the drone for you. It is advised to buy a back-up battery or two if you want longer flight times.
4. Holy Stone HS700 FPV Drone – The Quietest Drone
The second Holy Stone drone we have on our list is their HS700 model. This drone starts easily with the push of a button and is practically impossible to lose with the GPS follow me feature. This keeps the drone from getting lost but also allows the drone to follow you as you walk.
This drone will always fly back to the point it took off from or will also return if you’re out of range or is low on battery. You can map out a flight path on the app, which is unique to this drone. The battery on this drone should last you about 20 minutes and is quick to charge.
It has a 1500KV brushless motor, making the drone powerful while remaining quiet. It’s easy to set up and doesn’t require any tools!
- Brushless motor gives it extra power and better performance overall
- Follow Me feature lets you easily film yourself and surroundings
- Customizable flight path on the app
- The battery lasts about 20 minutes per charge
If you live in an area with a lot of people, this drone may come in handy since it’s a lot quieter to fly thanks to the brushless motor. The battery is longer lasting than most other drones and you’re able to easily film yourself with the GPS follow me feature!
5. Holy Stone HS110D FPV RC Drone – Feel Part Of The Action With 3D Mode & VR Headset Drone
Yet again, Holy Stone holds another place on our list with their HS110D FPV RC drone. With this lightweight drone, you’ll be able to film or take photos for about 10 minutes. There is an altitude hold feature that keeps the drone hovering even with your hands off the controls. The drone is easily turned on and lands with the press of the same button.
You can also unlock or stop the drone with one button, which is incredibly convenient if you’re new to flying drones. There is also an emergency stop feature on this drone. The camera is a bit more advanced on this machine and will give you beautiful high definition photos or video.
A unique thing about this drone is the 3D Mode that’s in the app. This allows you to put your phone in a VR (virtual reality) headset while flying the drone. You will feel like you’re in the air with your drone with this feature. Lastly, there is a gravity sensor mode that lets you control the drone simply by moving your smartphone in the direction you’d like the drone to go.
- 3D mode for VR headsets allows you to feel as if you are up in the air
- Gravity sensor makes the drone controllable with your phone
- It is easy to take off or land the drone with mobile control
- There is an emergency stop feature if it’s too windy
If you want to feel like you’re in the air with your drone, this is a great option. With the 3D feature, you’ll be able to see what you’re filming while feeling like you’re up in the sky. There are plenty of great features to this drone. The blade guards, however, are fragile, so it may not be great for young children to play with.
6. Holy Stone F181C RC Quadcopter Drone – Great For Night Time
One of the best drones under $500 on our list goes to Holy Stone’s F181C model. This drone is equipped with a 720P HD camera and has a 4 gigabyte micro SD card, so you’re able to get a lot of content before switching SD cards. It has a feature called Sky Perspective that allows you to see what you film in a whole new way.
There is no first-person view on this drone and it can’t connect to your phone. You receive a controller with purchase. There is an altitude hold feature that lets the drone hover safely. This drone is easy to control no matter which direction you’re flying in thanks to the controller.
Not only can you hover but you can easily take off or land this machine with Holy Stone’s One Key Take Off and Landing feature.
One reason this is one of the best drones available is the fact that it has built-in LED navigation lights, which make it easy to fly at night!
- You can fly it at night or during the day
- It has a 720p HD camera
- There is an SD card included, saving you money
- It can hover so you can fly hands-free
You won’t find a better drone out there for this price. There is a reason this is one of the best drones under $500 and it has a lot to do with the great features it comes with. This is a great pick if you fly a lot during evening hours.
7. DBPOWER X400W FPV RC Quadcopter Drone – Best Bang For Your Buck
This is another drone with an HD camera. One of the top features of this drone is the headless mode, which allows you to easily control the direction the drone flies without having to worry about which way it’s facing to get the shot you want.
With the press of a button and a push of the direction stick, the drone can flip to give you great 3D images or video. This drone is incredibly responsive, which makes it easy for anyone to learn how to use it. There are multiple speed options, so you can comfortably fly whether you’re an expert or a beginner.
Another feature they incorporated that just takes a touch of a button is the One Key Return Home feature. This allows you to push a button and the drone will immediately fly back in the direction of the transmitter. You’re able to download an app so you can see what you’re filming straight from your phone. The battery allows you to fly your drone for just under 10 minutes continuously.
- One key return home button allows the drone to return back to you
- Multiple speed options make it great for all users
- Headless mode gives easy control
- The drone can flip around easily, adding to the fun
If you want a drone but do not want to spend a ton of money, this is an amazing option. With plenty of great features, it’s no wonder why this drone made it onto our top drones under $500 list.
8. Holy Stone HS200 FPV RC Drone – Drone For Day Or Night Flights
Another one of the best drones for under $500 is the HS200 FPV RC drone from Holy Stone. You easily have a first-person view with the wireless transmission on this remote-controlled drone. You can see on the screen what you’re shooting, which makes it incredibly easy to film.
Like a few other popular drones on the market, this one has headless mode, which makes the multi-rotored drone easy to fly. You can easily take off and land whether you’re a beginner or intermediate thanks to the one key take off and landing feature.
You can easily see what you’re shooting and control this drone with your smartphone.
There are four different speed options available and it has LED lights, making it great for flying during the day or evening. The battery is easy to charge and lasts around 8 minutes.
- LED lights make it easy to fly at night or in dimly lit places
- Mobile controlled drone to activate multiple functions, like the Gravity SENSOR mode
- It is easy to take off or land the drone
- A variety of speed options available, making it perfect for all users
If you find yourself filming things like the inside of caves, canyons, or anytime in the evening, this is a great drone option for you. This is one of the best drones under $500 because it not only has LED lights but it is easy to control for just about anyone.
9. Potensic Upgraded A20 Mini Drone – The Drone For Beginners
Coming in at number nine on our list is the Potensic A20 Mini Drone. One of the coolest features of this drone is the emergency stop function. If it suddenly becomes windy or there is a reason you need to quickly stop the drone, it’s easily done at the press of a button. You can also fly this drone in headless mode, which allows the control to decide which direction the drone is flying.
This drone can also automatically hover if you find something you need to film above for an extended period of time. There is also a low battery alarm that will blink to let you know it’s time to fly the drone back and charge the battery. Like the other drones you’ve read about, this Potensic model also has a one key take off and landing button, making it easy for beginners to use.
They’ve upgraded the battery slot and the batteries last around 12 minutes per charge. This is an incredibly lightweight and easy to carry machine. Thanks to it being a mini quadcopter, you can easily store it in your pocket or purse for easy travel!
- The small drone makes for easy storage
- An emergency stop button is great for windy areas
- Headless mode allows you to easily control the direction of the drone in the air
- Low battery alarm helps remind you to charge the battery when it’s low
This is a great drone to choose if you’ve never flown a drone before. It’s easy to control and has features that a lot of the more expensive drones carry.
10. DROCON Bugs 3 Powerful Brushless Motor Quadcopter Drone – The Professionals Drone
The next drone we have on our list is the DROCON Bugs 3. This drone has a brushless motor that keeps it powerful and long-lasting. Though it’s made of plastic, you’re still able to fly the drone in high winds, which is something very few drones are able to do.
The battery will last 15 to 20 minutes per charge, depending on how high or fast you’re flying. There are two different speeds, which is a great feature if you’re a beginner and looking to learn. This drone is customizable and can perform things like flips, dives, and other impression maneuvers.
This is drone can carry some of the best 4k cameras on the market (the camera is not included with the drone). There are also LED lights, making it great for day or night use.
- LED lights for any time filming
- Brushless motor makes it a durable drone
- Can fly in and against high wind conditions
- The drone performs a number of tricks and maneuvers
If you consider yourself more of an expert drone flyer, this may be a great addition to your collection. This machine can perform several cool maneuvers all the while staying steady in high wind environments.
As a bonus, we’ve included reviews of two other great drones for under $500.
ScharkSpark Drone SS41 The Beetle Drone – The Millennial Drone
The ScharkSpark Drone SS41 has two cameras: the front one is 1080p HD, while the bottom is 720p. The benefit is you easily switch between real-time viewing modes and enjoy multiple perspectives. The battery lasts around 15 minutes per charge.
Not only does it has anti-shake features but there are also filters on this drone, including a beauty filter! It had intelligent identification that allows you to give a hand signal and the drone will take a photo or start recording. There are three different speeds on this drone as well as a one key take off and landing feature!
- Longer lasting battery, giving you approximately 15 minutes of flight time
- 2 different cameras: one on top, one underneath for multiple views to photo- and videograph
- 3 speed options for easy flight control
- Built-in filters for more video and photo options
- Gesture shutter control for taking photos and videos automatically
If you want a more hands-free option, this is an amazing option. This is easily one of the best drones for under $500 due to it having two cameras, beauty filters, and the unique gesture control. A good buy for any drone user!
Spacekey FPV Wi-Fi Drone – Kid-Friendly Drone
If you’re looking for a drone for a child, the Spacekey FPV drone is a great option. This drone can be used indoors or outdoors and is easy to travel with. It has a 720p HD Wi-Fi camera along with headless mode.
There is a 3D flip function on this kid-friendly drone and there are multiple different speed options and LED lights so you can see what you film in dimly lit areas. It also comes equipped with a low battery alarm so you know when to charge it and a convenient button that returns it to the same place it took off from.
- LED lighting to fly any time
- Low battery alarm tells you when to charge the drone
- Easy for kids or beginners to learn how to fly the drone due to multiple different speed options
- Can be used inside or outside
There are many options for children but this one is easily one of the top drones for under $500. With plenty of great features at an amazing price, you can’t go wrong by choosing this drone for your little ones.
Buyer’s Guide – What To Know Before Spending Any Money
When looking for a drone, there are certain features all drones should have. You want to make sure you pick a drone that is durable, has a decent battery life, and gives you the level of quality you’re looking for in images and videos.
There are other features that are not standard to every drone on the market. Below we talk about a few of the features to keep in mind before you make a purchase.
One of the main complains about drones is a poor battery life. You don’t want to spend hours charging your drone only to be able to use it for 3 to 5 minutes.
It’s important to look for a drone that has a long battery life. The most common seems to be a battery that lasts 15 to 20 minutes, especially in this price range of $500. It could also be an important factor for some to make sure the battery doesn’t take long to completely charge. If this is a big concern for you, you can always buy additional batteries, which means longer flight and recording time.
Drone camera qualities seem to range from 720p to 1080p. This is solely a preference but is a big deciding factor for most people. Some cameras are HD quality, while others are not.
Another thing is to look for wide angle cameras, which most drones have already. Feel free to look up images or videos taken with drones to get a good example of what the camera is capable of capturing.
Some drones have the feature where they return from the place they took off from, especially when their battery is running low. This will come in handy if you don’t want to fly it all the way back to where you are and land it safely. With this feature, the drone does the work for you. We’ve highlighted this feature on the drones that have it.
Several drones have a hovering mode that allows the drone to hover in place at what height it is when you select this mode. This is often a hands-free feature, which can be a great plus if you want to be in the shot the drone is capturing. This can also be a must-have feature if you film a lot of wildlife or sports.
Having multiple speeds can be crucial, especially if you’re new to flying drones. A slower speed not only makes the battery last longer but it’s also easier to control. Most drones have at least 2 speed options available. If you’re a beginner, try using the slowest speed first and then work your way up!
Don’t be caught up in thinking that a higher price tag automatically will give you a better product. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of drones on the market that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and still provide incredible pictures and videos with plenty of cool features. We chose the products above for their prices, the quality of the camera, battery life, and the overall features they come with.
Feel free to look back to the buyer’s guide when you’re window shopping for your next drone. Keep in mind things like having a long battery life or making sure the camera quality is up to your standards and you’ll find a great drone in no time!