What is The Best Drone Under $500

There are some good drones you can buy for less than 500 dollar. That is the good news. The bad news is that you either have to look a little longer for cheap models or you have to make compromises in quality.

Why this is so and what you should pay attention to when buying is explained in this article. To make this search faster for you, I also list 5 drones under 500 USD and show the advantages and disadvantages of the listed models. In case you need more info on this topic, check out this guide from Rene Peters of Dronepedia, by clicking here.

Why are good drones rare in this price range?

In the introductory sentence I mentioned compromises that you will probably have to make when buying your drones for under $500. You will be stuck between the two market segments: On the one hand the inexpensive entry level models up to $200, on the other hand the premium flagships well above the 1000 dollar mark. The area thus created is virtually a grey area: too demanding for low-budget manufacturers, too cheap for high-end manufacturers.

Nevertheless, with a little effort, good drones you can buy for under $500 can be found. When choosing drones, one should not stick to rigid price limits but rather pay attention to the features of the quadcopter. After all, some quadcopters listed here are reduced or discontinued models of former high-end series.

Which features are mandatory on a 500 dollar drone?

not good

  • <5 Megapixel
  • bad apps
  • no (good) FPV

Good features

  • 5-12 megapixel camera
  • 2,7K – 4K Video
  • good FPV in HD Video
  • Selfies & Dronies

very good

  • 12+ Megapixel
  • 4K Video
  • Obstacle detection
  • Flight time 20+ minutes

Within this price range you can expect a lot from a drone! Starting at 300 Euro, the quadcopter should have a solid GPS navigation and position keeping, carry a Full-HD (2.7K) camera and be FPV capable.

FPV stands for First Person View and means that you will see a live image of the camera on your tablet or smartphone during the flight. Ideally you can also fly this way, but for this the transmission must be stable and the frame rate (FPS) must be sufficiently high.

Tip: Quadcopters like the DJI Spark can also be controlled directly via the smartphone. This connection is established via WIFI and therefore limited in range.

The best drones up to 500 dollar

DJI Mavic Mini

  • Flight time: 30 minutes
  • range: 4 kilometers
  • Camera: 12 Megapixel / 2.7K video
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes
  • Price: 400 dollar

Rating: 10/10

The DJI Mavic Mini is the best drone up to 500 dollar. The drone has all the features you are looking for in this price range: foldable, high flight time, long range and a high-performance camera. The Mavic Mini even achieves profi drone standards  in many features and costs only 399€.

Huge plus: the DJI Mavic Mini weighs less than 250 grams, making it ideal for travel and non-labeled flying.

In short: If you’re looking for the best drone under 500, you need to buy the DJI Mavic Mini!

Yuneec Mantis Q

  • Flight time: 33 minutes
  • Range: 800 meters (CE), 1500 meters (FCC)
  • Charging time: 60 minutes
  • Camera: 13 Megapixel / 4K
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes

Price: 380 Euro

Rating: 8,5/10

The Yuneec Mantis Q is another good drone under $500. As the unofficial successor of the Yuneec Breeze, the drone scores high especially with its foldable design, long flight duration and the 4K, 13 MP camera.

As a point of criticism is its gimbal, which cannot compensate for vibrations mechanically. In addition, digital image stabilization is only possible from Full HD.

For this reason the Yuneec Mantis Q is especially interesting for pilots who value a low-cost 4K drone that is easy to transport and control.

Yuneec Q500

Without camera but with GoPro-compatible gimbal: Yuneec’s Q500

  • Flight time: 25 minutes
  • range: 1 kilometer
  • Charging time: 50 minutes
  • Camera: –
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes

Price: 300 USD

Rating: 7/10

The Q500 series from Yuneec is available in several versions, which differ in terms of their camera and of course the price point. The cheapest version for a little less than 500 Euros is the Q500 without camera – ideal for all GoPro owners. These can put their action cam into the camera mount on this drone and film from the air. The copter can stay in the air for about 25 minutes and has a range of more than one kilometer.

UPair One

  • Flight time: 18 minutes
  • Range: 600 meters
  • Charging time: 90 minutes
  • Camera: 16 Megapixel / 4K Video
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes

Price: 350 USD

Rating: 8/10

If you don’t want to buy a branded quadcopter, you can also buy smaller brands in the price range of 500 dollars. There are also good offers from small companies, such as UPair One. This quadcopter has a 4K camera, has a range of 600 meters (video transmission) or 1 kilometer (radio connection) and can shoot single images with respectable 16 megapixels. Another positive feature is the display, which is permanently installed on the remote control and can be used to receive FPV live data. With a price of not even $350 the UPair One is also the cheapest modern copters in this guide.

On the negative side, inferior manufacturing quality and the high charging time of the batteries is unfortunately noticeable.

DJI Spark

  • Flight time: 15 minutes
  • range: 2 kilometers
  • Charging time: 35 minutes
  • Camera: 12 Megapixel / 1080p video
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes

Price: 400 USD

Rating: 8/10

In 2017, DJI Spark was the smallest and youngest member of the DJI family, which featured a  consumer sector of Phantom, Mavic Pro (1) and said Spark lines.

Basically, Quadcopter is a very high performance and high priced selfie drone, ideal for small, spontaneous videos.

Compared to the DJI Mavic Mini, the camera has a significantly lower resolution, is not stabilized on a 3-axis gimbal, the flight time is shorter, the range is also shorter…

The smallest multicopter of this guide can be kept in the air for up to 15 minutes.

The maximum range is 2 kilometers (remote control) and 80 meters (WIFI).

Parrot Anafi

  • Flight time: 25 minutes
  • range: 4 kilometers
  • Charging time: 25 minutes
  • Camera: 21 Megapixel / 4K Video
  • Smartshots & Dronies: Yes

Price: 599 USD

Rating: 9,5/10

The Parrot Anafi, launched at the end of 2018, is a foldable drone with bear-strong characteristics: Not only does the quadcopter offer long flight time, fast charging, long range, dronies etc. – no – the real star of the Parrot Anafi is the camera! It is not only high resolution (21 megapixels in the single image, 4K at 30 FPS in the video) but also swivels 90° up and down.

Exciting and high quality aerials are almost guaranteed with this smart drone.

Only problem: The Parrot Anafi breaks the budget of 500 Euro and therefore gets half a point deducted. One does not find a comparable bird however at this price.

Result: Which sub-$500 drone to buy?

As already explained at the beginning, the price range up to 500 Euro is jamm packed and occupied by big and small brands alike. On the one hand there are 4K Selfie-Copter like the Parrot Anafi (high quality) on the other, there are nice drones for in between like Yuneec Mantis Q (cheap).

Author: 99 Tech Post

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