Best Drones under 500$ 2020 Reviews – Top Drones for the moneyLast Updated: March 3, 2020
Before I delve into suggestions of any kind there are a few things to know when you’re looking to get a drone because if you’re going to purchase a drone without any prior knowledge some of the stuff written in the product description might fly over your head before the drone even gets a chance to. If you’ve already purchased one before you might be tempted to skip the upcoming part but stick around, you might learn something interesting.
Top 5 Drones Under 500$
1. DJI Mavic Mini
The Mavic Mini is light in weight which assists it in flying higher and longer when pitted against other drones in the market. It provides you with a flight time of 30 minutes which is higher than the standard of 25 seen in others.
The video quality of the Mavic Mini is unmatched and comes with various modes such as Dronie, Helix and Rocket.
It also comes with the companion app, DJI FlyApp which lets you access video feed and also provides you with flight tutorials and simulators. Though the application is fine, you can’t operate the drone without installing it and it can be a battery drainer for your phone.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 X 3.1 X 0.4 inches
- Weight: 1.8 lbs
- Lithium Polymer batteries used
- Companion App is a must to operate the drone.
- Great flight time
- Superb video quality
- Companion app enhances the experience
- Companion app drains phone battery
- Uses a micro USB and not USB-C.
- Though the companion app is well made, it’s a must to download the app to use the drone.
2. Holy Stone HS700D FPV
It has a 2K FHD camera with 5G transmission and a 90-degree field of view which can be upgraded to 110 for a panoramic view. The 5G transmission ensures that the video feed is always fast and never lacking in quality.
The flight time is around the average of 22 minutes which is lower than what some other drones offer at a barely higher price. (check Ruko F11).
One stand-out feature that the product gets to gloat about is the GPS assisted flight mode. This allows the drone to return back to the user when it’s out of range or if it’s the battery is low.
Design-wise the product is surprisingly well made with brushless motors that allow it to take flight without causing too much noise. This combined with it’s easy to control nature makes it a decent product that you should get only if you can’t chip in an extra 50$ for the Ruko F11.
- Weight: 608g
- Product dimensions: 8.66 X 8.66 X 6.10 inches
- Control range: 3280ft
- Video feed range: 1640-2600ft
- GPS assisted auto-return feature
- Good video quality
- Better options available in the market.
3. Ruko F11 Pro
It comes equipped with a 4K Ultra HD camera and 2.9K video which are sure to get those likes on Instagram. The camera has a FOV of 120 degrees.
The flight time of this one is well above the average 25 standing at 30 minutes and also comes with an extra rechargeable battery that can extend your session into a 60 minute one.
It has a stunning flying range of up to 3937ft and a video feed range of up to 1614ft making it stand well above its peers in that department.
The drone being easy to handle for beginners and veterans alike combined with other quality features makes it a must buy.
- Flight time: Up to 30 minutes
- Weight: 520g
- Product dimensions: 17.51*15.94*3.15 inches
- Flying range: 3937ft
- Camera feed range: 1614ft
- Great flight time
- Excellent flying and video feed ranges
- Compact design
4. Potensic T25 GPS Drone
The drone comes with an aluminum built carry case which makes taking it around a breeze.
As far as actual operation is concerned it has a one-key take-off/ landing function which makes it very accessible for children who want to have a go at it. Just like the HS700D, it has a GPS assisted auto-return function. In addition to that, there’s a very unique follow-me function which makes the drone follow you around hands-free. Another really cool feature this one has is the ability to make your drone fly a pre-determined path with the help of the companion app.
The drone comes equipped with a 1080p HD camera with a 120-degree FOV and an adjustable 75-degree wide-angle which aids in taking clearer images. The drone gives access to camera feed to a range up to 300m and has a modular battery of 100mAh.
The drone along with all these features also has rubber padding to prevent accidental injuries making this well thought out package worth your money.
- Product dimensions: 13.7 X 10.9 X 6.2 inches
- Weight: 4.1 lbs
- Video feed range: up to 300m
- Flight time: 22 minutes on average
- GPS Assisted auto-return
- Follow-me mode
- Good camera
- Shorter flight time when compared to other products on the market.
5. Holy Stone HS720
Coming equipped with a 2K FHD camera with a built-in shock absorption holder and a 90-degree adjustable lens, it edges out its sibling in the camera department.
Just like the HS700D, this one also comes with the GPS assisted auto-return in addition to the follow-me mode. A battery life of 26 minutes makes it a very viable choice assisting it in holding its own among its peers in the market.
Despite having complex features such as one-key start/stop, emergency stop, altitude hold, and electric fence it’s very beginner-friendly and easy to learn.
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 X 13.2 X 2.4 inches
- Weight: 1.01lbs
- Flight time: 26 minutes on average
- Drone operation range: Up to 3000 ft
- GPS Assisted auto-return
- Follow-me mode
- Great flight time
- Great camera
- Long battery recharge time
The bare minimum you need to know
- If this is your first time getting a drone, the best choice would be to get the cheapest you can find to get familiar with the flight physics implemented, so even if you end up crashing and breaking one, there’ll be no love lost.
- The cheap drones you can get under 100$ and are based on model toy planes.
- The drones in the higher ranges come equipped with high-quality cameras with photography and recording options.
- You’ll spend more time recharging your drone than actually mobilizing it so get spare batteries along with the drone to make the most out of the experience.
- All drones have a limited range so don’t stray off too far.
- If your drone crashes you need not worry as they can easily be repaired by a professional though depending on the model, the replacement parts may come exorbitant.
- If your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs, you’ll have to get it registered with the FAA.
Types of Drones
Now that we’ve settled the basics you need to know about your drones, let’s take a quick surf through the different types you have available:
You’ve probably seen them in malls being showcased in different stalls where you can pay to use them and take part in fun races. They’re hard to miss as those stalls make for popular hotspots for kids. But it’s not just in malls where they’re becoming increasingly popular as drone racing is on the rise as a leisure sport.
The price range for racing drones such as the Walkera F2103D averages around 200$ at the minimum making them a wise purchase decision. They like most drones come attached with a camera that feeds to the controller or your smartphone via the supplement application.
Toy drones such as the Sky Viper V950 can be purchased around a 100-150$ range making them some of the cheapest drones available. The price range is a dead giveaway of the performance to be expected from these drones as they’re meant for casual activities and not for competitive purposes like it’s racing counterpart. This, however, does not make them bad by any means and are for sure a fun time.
Video Recording drones:
Now keep in mind, almost all drones come with a camera attached that provides a feed, however, there are some you get exclusively for the video recording whether it’s to get cool shots for a youtube video, or just for your oh-so-precious Instagram followers. Amateur filmmakers are also employing these drones in a lot of their projects making for some wonderful scenery and camera work at an indie level.
The cameras in these drones are fitted tight and cushioned and remain unaffected by the movement of the drone ensuring there’s no blur in the videos. The battery life of these drones is different for each model but they all average to about 30 minutes of flight time which is not to be sneezed at. Videography drones such as the DJI Mavic Mini are great products if the good video quality is what you’re aiming for and can be easily purchased in a range of 200-250$.
The battery life of drones is pretty subpar and the best you can average out at this range is roughly 30 minutes. Carrying extra batteries is a must and different batteries give you different flight durations. However, they also weigh differently so the drone will be affected by the weight it carries. Cheaper drones don’t have swappable batteries and need to be recharged after each session. The time they take to recharge varies from an hour to an hour and a half.
Different models have different ranges. When you get a drone it’s essential to get familiar with the working range of your device. Most drones use 2.4 GHz signals which give them a range of about 35 meters. Higher-end drones have larger antennas furthering their range ever more so. Some fairly expensive drones come with a flyaway auto-pilot feature that allows the drone to return to the user using GPS if it goes out of range.
Laws you need to know regarding drones:
Before you get lovey-dovey with your new toy, there are some rules that need to be followed and some forms to be filled so that the people in your immediate environment aren’t affected in a negative way. These rules and regulations have been put to stone by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and should be followed if you don’t wanna get sued or fined. I won’t go over all of them, just the ones you need to know.
- It is illegal for anyone to shoot down a drone. The person doing so can be sued by the owner for damages.
- According to the FAA, as long as drones don’t endanger people or damage property, they can be flown over and across private properties in urban areas.
- You CANNOT fly your drone over a 400 ft altitude as per the FAA. Doing so results in an invasion of commercial and national airspace which is restricted.
- You CANNOT fly your drones within a 5-mile radius of an airport or airbase.
- You CANNOT fly your drones overall national park and wildlife sanctuaries. This rule was placed in an effort to protect the wildlife inhabiting them.
You can easily register your drone with the FAA using this link.
Toy drones don’t need to be registered but the high-end ones that could be used for projects need to be registered. You can also give a written test and register yourself as a professional drone user. Visit this link for more details
Once the formalities are in the rearview mirror you get a license plate that you have to put on your drone.
Get your Drones Insured!
If you’re investing a sizable amount of money on a drone it is best to get it insured. Many Insurance companies now offer policies that cover UAVs. These help you to cover for accidental damage your UAV may cause.
Drones may look like toys but they can cause real harm if you’re not careful. Rotors on these things are sharp capable of causing severe injuries if they hit you in the wrong place. Though most drones come with the rotors covered up for protection, I still wouldn’t risk it.
- Maintain a safe distance from your drone when you set it for take-off or landing.
- Get comfortable with your drone before flying it too high and fast and risking a potential crash
- Keep track of battery life. You don’t want to lose control of it mid-flight.
- Fly your drones in open areas to minimize potential damage.
- Most drones come with a flight simulator so get comfortable on that before taking on the real thing.
- Just like any other vehicle, never drive under the influence of alcohol or any other drug.
- As with the batteries, make sure to check your drone for damaged parts that may cause issues in flight.