Drones have spiked in popularity over the last few years, meaning many people want to give them a try. However, if you’re looking to buy your first drone, chances are you don’t want to spend a heap of money on it. The good news is, there are tons of affordable options out there!
We have hand selected four of our favorite drones under $500, giving you options to choose from no matter what your budget or preference. Let’s see what makes these great choices for you!
- If you’re on a strict budget, the Holy Stone HS120D could be the drone for you. It’s very affordable, and still has tons of exciting features.
- If you have a high quality action camera, check out the Potensic D85. It has a removable camera, and allows you to attach your GoPro or action camera below.
- If you want a long flight time, the Ruko F11 is the way to go. This model gives you two batteries with a whole hour worth of fly time each.
- If you want the best video quality, there’s nothing better than the DJI Mavic Mini. Their gimbal systems and stabilization make DJI the leader in drone footage.
Who Should Buy This?
If you’re new to the world of drones, these will make great first purchases. While quality, the models are not so expensive that you’ll have to hold your breath if they get into an accident. They are still quite functional, especially given the price, and allow you to fly without breaking the bank.
These items are also great for teaching kids how to fly a drone. If you want to pick up a drone that’s not a toy, any of the following four would make a great choice. They are much more functional than toy drones, but are cheap enough that you can replace them should you need.
Best Drones Under $500: What to Consider in 2020
You can only enjoy your drone as long as it is in the air. As such, if the battery life is under 10 minutes, you aren’t going to get much time to enjoy your new gadget. Try and make sure the model you get gives you adequate battery power in all flying conditions.
One of the main reasons people get drones is to record awesome video footage. That is why you must find a drone that provides excellent video and captures amazing shots. Many lower-priced models come with poor video quality. Always check to see how the drone camera works before purchase.
The last thing you should take into consideration is the drone’s range. The further the range, the longer you’ll be able to fly the drone away from yourself and still have control. Make sure it is a range you are comfortable with because losing control over your expensive new drone could lead to disaster.
If you want to prioritize one of these make it the camera quality. As most people buy drones strictly for video and images, having a good camera is extremely important. Behind that I would put the battery life, followed by the range. Going in this order will ensure you get the most for your money when buying your new drone.
Best Drones Under $500: Our Picks for 2020
Holy Stone has made quite a name for themselves in the drone market, offering a ton of drones at affordable prices. They still pack in quite a lot of features in their drones, but don’t expect top quality build materials if you go this route.
The HS120D has a pretty short range of only 300 meters, but that is more than enough for most beginners. You get a decent 1080p video out of the camera onboard, and the 36 minute battery life is respectable. Overall, you get a lot of drone for much less than what you would pay for more expensive models.
- Range: 300 meters
- Video Quality: 1080p
- Battery Life: 36 minutes
2. Potensic D85
Potensic may not be a brand that is instantly recognizable, but don’t let that put you off from this drone. The D85 is a fantastic option for those on a budget, and it has a ton of features that you could find on extremely expensive drones only a few years ago.
With a range of 1,500 meters, this drone can fly for ages without getting too far out of range. That makes it perfect for users who always want to have control. The replaceable camera also works well, giving you a 2k resolution and decent image quality. The battery life is 40 minutes, which is pretty good in the drone space. Overall, you get high quality features without having to take out a second mortgage.
- Range: 1,500 meters
- Video Quality: 2k
- Battery Life: 40 minutes
3. Ruko F11
The Ruko F11 is very similar in both build and design to the popular parrot drones on the market. That gives it an appealing overall aesthetic, but it’s much more than its looks. This drone is able to stand up to just about any premium brand on the market in terms of features and specs.
The F11 has a great max range of 1,200 meters. The 4k image quality is not the sharpest out there, but it is more than enough for most uses. With 2 batteries, each lasting 30 minutes, you get a full hour of battery life with this drone. Overall, the Ruko F11 is a fantastic option that you should definitely consider if your budget is under $500.
- Range: 1,200 meters
- Video Quality: 4k
- Battery Life: 60 minutes
Last, but certainly not least, is the DJI Mavic Mini. If you know anything about drones, the DJI should be a familiar name. They create many high-quality models, and the Mavic Mini is one of their best. It is small and light, but feels more premium than any other drone on this list.
WIth a max distance of 4 kilometers, it blows the other drones away in terms of flight range. The 30 minute fly time is not the best, but that’s just with a single battery. The video quality, however, is fantastic, utilizing a 2.7k resolution that provides sharpness and clarity rarely seen outside of a Hollywood movie.
- Range: 4 kilometers
- Video Quality: 2.7k
- Battery Life: 30 minutes
Useful Tips and Resources
When you pick up your new drone, it’s a good idea to get a landing pad as well. This will give you a nice flat spot to take off and land your drone, and allow those equipped with an auto home function a place to return to in case of a connection issue.
Another great accessory you should look into grabbing to go with your drone is a nice shoulder harness that attaches to the remote control. Often, the remotes are heavy and rather bulky. Having the ability to clip it onto a shoulder harness and take the weight off is nice. It also gives you the peace of mind to not worry about dropping it and causing damage to the remote.
Drones can be expensive, but, as shown above, there are many great models for under $500. Each one in this guide will give you great results. Some are more expensive and have more features than others, but you’ll be happy no matter which one you pick.
Have you ever flown a drone? Which ones do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.