7 Best Drones under $500 – Ultimate Guide

These drones offer superb performance with 30-minutes flying time, 1 Km transmission range, 4K Camera, 50 mph speed, Gimbal for image stabilization, RTH, FPV.
Banner - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

A $500 drone is best fit for beginners, photographers and drone racers.

Gone are the days when drones at this price range used to deliver low performance. Today, the story is different because of the constantly evolving technology. Leading brands are manufacturing affordable drones with excellent features.

A $500 drone offers 30-minutes flying time, 1 Km transmission range, 4K Camera, 50 mph speed, Gimbal for image stabilization, RTH, FPV and more

List of Best Drones

  1. DJI Mavic MiniEditor’s Choice
  2. Ruko F11 ProBest Overall
  3. Holy Stone HS720
  4. Holy Stone HS700D UpgradedBest Budget-Friendly
  5. DJI Spark
  6. Potensic D88

But before we jump-in and start discussing,

If you need any assistance regarding the fundamentals of drone-flying then continue reading following section otherwise click here to jump to the discussion of best drones under $500.

You should know fundamental concepts of drone flying in order to make sure that you won’t waste your single buck on any low quality Chinese-special drone.

Things to know before buying a Drone

  1. FAA Regulations
  2. Flying Time
  3. Flying Range
  4. Image Stabilization
  5. Camera Quality
  6. FPV (First-Person-View)
  7. RTH (Return-to-Home)
  8. Extra Features (Gesture Control, Follow-me, One-key handling, etc.)

Let’s discuss them briefly,

#1 – FAA Regulations

The FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administrations. It is responsible for the regulation and implementation of aviation aspects.

You can’t fly your drone anywhere without the permission from US Government. Yes! You heard it right!

In case of drones weighing more than 55 pounds (250 gm), registration with FAA is compulsory. Few areas are drone-restricted. This B4UFLY app by FAA will help you identify those areas.

For detailed information about FAA Regulations, check this website.

#2 – Flying Time – is the key

How long your drone is going to stay in the air is described by Flying Time.

At this price range, your drone will have flying time up to 30 minutes.

It depends on the battery capacity of the drone. Generally, people purchase an extra battery to double the flying time.

#3 – Flying Range

This defines how far your drone can fly from you. Further it goes, the more fun you will experience!

Drone flying range at this price is going to be between 1500 to 4000 meters.

Note that a drone transmitter and receiver communication is based on radio waves. So, sometimes due to the interference, drones will fail to travel the distance specified by the manufacturer.

Ex. This can happen in case of a drone flying near a cell phone tower.

#4 – Image Stabilization

This feature is particularly useful for people planning to capture aerial photos and videos.

Excellent stabilization is must to capture sharp and clear images. Because your drone should hover with superb stabilization regardless of the motion and tilt of the drone. This feature will avoid shakiness and jello effect in photos.

Image stabilization can be achieved through,

  1. Gimbal
  2. Altitude Hold
  3. Digital Stabilization

The Gimbal offers maximum image stabilization.

If you are a pilot and not a photographer then you may need not emphasize on this feature. But for a drone photographer, it is must!

#5 – Camera Quality

The drone at this price range will have a camera of 1080p, 2.7k, or 4k resolution.

Along with the resolution look for the frame rate, FOV (Field of View), shutter speed, and aperture.

If you plan to mount an external camera to the drone, consider the additional weight because it will directly affect the flying time.

#6 – FPV – First Person View

I remember, at first sight, we were not a big fan of this technology because we were busy in capturing excellent images and videos.

But after experiencing FPV once, we have become a huge fan of it.

With this FPV feature and a set of VR Goggles, you can view the real-time footage captured by the drone camera and start feeling like sitting in the aeroplane’s cockpit and flying like a superhero.

Yup! It exactly feels as it sounds.

#7 – RTH – Return-to-Home

This feature allows your drone to return to the starting position when it senses low battery or signal loss.

Sadly, we have lost two of our drones after exceeding the maximum flying range.

Often times beginners are lost in enjoying the drone flying and fail to notice if the battery is running out of charge and they have exceeded the maximum flying range. In such a case, if there wouldn’t be a RTH function, then your drone might get away from you forever.

Almost every drone on this list have RTH feature.

#8 – Additional Features

Even at the price of $200, a drone is packed with the variety of features. It depends upon the brand.

  • Intelligent Geofence: With this function, you can define the area within which your drone should fly to avoid too high or too far travelling of the drone.
  • Follow Me: It allows drone to follow you by tracking a smartphone or remote controller kept in your hands.
  • Waypoint Mode: It will let you point a location on your smartphone where the drone will travel by himself.
  • One-key Take-off and Landing: This feature would prevent you from destroying your drone due to your beginner-level landing.

Okay! So that was all about the drone basics.

Now let we jump-in to the main discussion without any further ado,

1. DJI Mavic Mini

DJI Mavic Mini - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

Discussion about best drones is incomplete without mentioning DJI. This brand is popular for manufacturing high-end and professional-grade camera drones.

This Mavic Mini Drone form DJI has no competition at this price range. Compact, lightweight, foldable and made for those on the move.

It weighs 249gm meaning that you don’t need to register it with FAA!

The drone equips 3-Axis Motorized Gimbal for stabilizing 12MP Camera. The DJI Mavic Mini is capable of capturing 2.7K video at 30fps or 1080p video at 60fps.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 30 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 4000 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 4000 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: 3-Axis Gimbal
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 2600mAh

It packs an insane flying range of 4Km! The drone has DJI’s enhanced Wi-Fi technology capable of transferring live video at the resolution of 720p from the distance of 4Km.

The speed of DJI Mavic Mini will be around 30mph. Additional features include Find My Drone, Altitude Hold, Intelligent Geofence, Waypoint Mode etc.

Benefits

  • Light-weight and compact
  • Excellent flying time
  • 3-Axis Gimbal
  • Brushless motors
  • FPV compatible
  • 2.7K camera
  • RTH (Return-to-Home)

Drawbacks

  • Charging time is 3-hours

2. Ruko F11 Pro

Ruko F11 Pro - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

The Ruko F11 Pro offers excellent performance and rivals DJI Mavic Mini. It has robust aluminium body making it capable of surviving mid-level crashes.

The 2500mAh battery allow this drone to fly for 30 minutes.

This drone has 4K Camera with 120ᵒ wide-angle lens. You will be able to capture nice and sharp UHD photos. It can shoot videos with 2.7K resolution.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 30 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 1200 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 500 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: Altitude Hold
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 2500mAh

This drone is packed with bunch of additional features like One-key landing/take-off, Headless Mode, Tap to Fly, Follow me Mode, Gesture Control etc.

Benefits

  • Compact and durable design
  • Easy to use
  • FPV compatible
  • Excellent flying time
  • Brushless motors
  • Comes with extra battery
  • RTH (Return-to-Home)
  • 4K camera
  • GPS

Drawbacks

  • Long charging time

3. Holy Stone HS720

Holy Stone HS720 - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

When it comes to budget-friendly drones, the Holy Stone is discussed often times. The HS720 from this brand offers unbeatable performance on this list.

The design of this drone is very similar to the DJI Mavic Mini!

The drone comes with the stunning 4K UHD camera mounted on a 2-Axis Gimbal for Image Stabilization. It is capable of recording 2K (2048×1052 resolution) video with 30 fps.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 26 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 1600 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 800 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: 2-Axis Gimbal
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 2800mAh

Unlike other drones from Holy Stone which equips brushed motors, the HS720 comes with brushless motors that require less maintenance.

Additional features for this drone includes Follow Me, Orbit Mode, One-Key landing/take-off, Waypoint Mode etc.

Benefits

  • Compact design
  • FPV compatible
  • 2-Axis Gimbal
  • Brushless motors
  • Good flying time
  • RTH (Return-to-Home)
  • 4K camera
  • GPS

Drawbacks

  • Long charging time

4. Holy Stone HS700D Upgraded

Holy Stone HS700D - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

This is another budget-friendly drone from Holy Stone. Recently the HS700D has been upgraded from being a 2k Camera Drone to 4K Camera Drone.

Camera is mounted on 1-Axis Gimbal for image stabilization to capture fantastic photos with the resolution of 3840×2160 pixels.

It packs high-quality 1500KV brushless motors to make them fly with excellent speed.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 22 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 1000 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 800 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: 1-Axis Gimbal
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 2800 mAh

Other feature includes One Key Return, Waypoint Mode, Follow Me, Intelligent Geofence, Headless Mode and more.

This drone is our highly recommended budget-friendly Photography Drone costing only $229.

Benefits

  • FPV compatible
  • RTH (Return-to-Home)
  • Good flying time
  • 1-Axis Gimbal
  • Brushless motors
  • 4K camera
  • GPS

Drawbacks

  • Long charging time

5. DJI Spark

DJI Spark - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

The DJI Spark was launched back in 2018 considering the need for light-weight and compact drones. This cute-looking drone is available in five different colors (white, red, green, blue and yellow).

The drone equips 2-Axis Motorized Gimbal to stabilize 12MP Camera. It can shoot beautiful videos with 1080 pixel resolution at 30 fps.

The impressive drone-flying and FPV experience by DJI Spark make it standout on this list.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 16 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 2000 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 2000 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: 2-Axis Gimbal
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 1480 mAh

Additional features include Tap-to-Fly, Gesture Control, Follow Me, Orbit Mode, One-Key landing/take-off, Waypoint Mode etc.

Both drones, Mavic Mini and Spark from DJI costs $399. Our choice is Mavic Mini but if you wish to gift someone a cute looking little flying machine, then you can go for Spark.

Benefits

  • Light-weight and compact
  • Excellent FPV experience
  • 2-Axis Gimbal
  • Brushless Motors
  • RTH (Return-to-Home)
  • 1080p camera
  • GPS

Drawbacks

  • Long charging time
  • Average flying time

6. Potensic D88

Potensic D88 - Best Drones under 500 - ULTRAdvice.com

This is a value for money deal by Potensic. It costs $299 only.

The Potensic D88 offers live video (FPV) transmission up to 300 meters which is quite disappointing. Yes! Because we are expecting at least 1000 meters at this price.

The Potensic D88 is featuring 4K FHD Camera with 110ᵒ wide-angle lens. This Camera is mounted on 1-Axis Gimbal for image stabilization. You will be able to capture good looking, nice and sharp images with this drone.

Specification

  1. Flying Time: 20 Minutes
  2. Flying Range: 1500 meters
  3. FPV Transmission Range: 300 meters
  4. Image Stabilization: 1-Axis Gimbal
  5. RTH: Yes
  6. Battery: 3400 mAh

The drone is shipped with an extra battery to double the flying time by 40 minutes. The drone is compact and foldable, making it extremely portable for the people on the go.

Additional Features include Follow Me, Orbit Mode, Waypoint Mode, Headless Mode etc.

Benefits

  • Compact and foldable
  • FPV compatible
  • 1-Axis Gimbal
  • Comes with extra battery
  • Brushless motors
  • Good flying time
  • 4K camera
  • GPS

Drawbacks

  • Long charging time

Conclusion

The clear winner on this list is DJI Mavic Mini with the bunch of features and performance that cannot be compared with others at this price.

Also, the Ruko F11 Pro with relatively less price compete very closely with DJI Mavic Mini.

If you are looking to gift a Drone Camera to your kids, then the compact and cute looking DJI Spark is good to go.

Finally, if you feel like I am missing a awesome drone under $500 category, then don’t forget to comment below. I will look forward to adding it to this list.

Pia Jacobson
Pia is a tech enthusiast and software developer. She is a DIY geek who loves 3D Printing and Drones. Passionate about travelling the world and designing and 3D printing her stuff. Recently started sharing her experience and knowledge about Drones and 3D Printers at ULTRAdvice. Lives in Austin.