Are you ready to find the best mid-range drone in the market?
The fact is that you can end up buying a low-quality drone by even spending 500 bucks. The good news for you is that we’ve spent days testing various drones of different brands and finally came up with a very comprehensive list of drones that will ensure you find the best among the best.
Let’s dive right into our list of top-performing drones that you are looking for.
What to expect from a drone under 500?
To get the best, it’s essential to be well aware of the specifications and features of the products under such price & category.
Sounds good? Let’s get to it then, here’s our list of Top 16 Drones Under $500:
DJI Spark – Best Drone Under 500
DJI Spark is one of the best latest products by the famous DJI brand. Its extremely easy to carry around in a backpack and it’s one of the best for vacations, outdoor events, vlogging, and pretty much everything.
Very compact and lightweight body, it can be carried anywhere, and it’s also the most stable, accurate and probably the best drone under 500 you can get on the market. Its features include GPS Assisted Hover, Obstacle Detection, etc. It has everything you need to experience, and its performance is far from above. It’s probably the best drone for beginners and experts.
DJI Spark possesses some fantastic specifications, i.e. It can be operated a maximum range of 2km (1.2 miles). Its flight time is quite good keeping in view the size of the drone. You can fly up to 15 minutes when fully charged.
DJISpark lets you capture beautiful aerial footages. It has a built-in 12 MP and records 1080p quality video at 30 FPS. It has a 2-axis stabilised gimbal that eliminates during flight vibration and ensures steady high-quality imaging.
The drone is capable of transmitting the Live Video in high-quality, real-time with zero latency.
The DJI Spark includes a wide range of groundbreaking features like Gesture and One Touch Fly Control, Flight Autonomy with Obstacle Detection and avoidance, GPS Tracking, Vision Position-Based Navigation, top speed 31mp/h in Sport Mode, Auto-Return, and many more.
2. DJI Mavic Air
This product is not entirely the best drone under 500 bucks, but the Mavic Air is too damn good to be included in the list. It is a successor of the Phantom three and Mavic Pro. Both of these products are now discontinued.
The Mavic Air features a far better camera and sensors and has an extra 20% operating range. When it comes to performance, Mavic Air is unmatchable. You could steadily hover it without any pilot’s input.
This drone is ideal for beginners. The Mavic Air can reach a maximum speed of 88.4 km/h, which makes it almost unbeatable in a drone race.
Mavic Air has a flight time of up to 21 minutes with a maximum operating range of 4 Kilometers.
One of the best features of Mavic Air is its camera. The camera can shoot 4K video at 30 FPS, 2.7K at 60FPS and Full HD video at 120 Frame Per Second. If you love taking aerial footages and imaging this flying machine is for you.
The Air comes with 1/2.3” CMOS imaging sensor capable of capturing 12 MP High Definition still photos and creates 32 MP spherical panorama shots.
Mavic Air comes with features including:
- Vision-Based Protection
- VIO Technology
- Smart Obstacle Avoidance
- One-Key Takeoff & Landing
- Automatic Return to Home
- Very Easy to Fly
- 4K and 2.7K shooting camera
- Great Set of Semi-Autonomous Features
- Amazing Performance
- Price Dropped Since Mavic 2 Released
- Sells well above 500 dollars
3. Altair Outlaw SE – Our Budget Pick
The Altair Outlaw SE is at number 3 in best drones under 500 list. It is a high-quality drone loaded with cool features. The drone comes with almost anything that a pilot wants. The drone is easy to fly; someone with little or no experience can efficiently operate it. It also has a feature of One-push take-off & landing.
This drone is operative within the range of up to 600 meters. To be able to operate this drone from half a mile is not a bad range at all. It has an impressive battery with a flight time up to 20-minutes.
Other high-end features include GPS function, One push take-off and landing, Altitude hold and Return to home function that can get the drone back to you safely with the push of a button.
A newbie drone pilot would love to have such features in his drones as this would allow him to operate the drone with minimum input and expertise.
Outlaw SE drone has a splendid camera that shoots in 1080p HD and returns some beautiful images. Whether you’re filming live video or taking still photographs, you’ll be impressed with the quality of the result.
The drone has a built-in GPS and altitude hold feature that lets you locate the drone anytime and from anywhere.
There are a bunch of quite unique features in this drone, here’s a complete list:
One-Touch Takeoff and Landing
Point of Interest Mode
Follow Me Mode
Return to Home feature
GPS Return Home Functionality
- 20 Minutes of Battery Life
- Fantastic Camera
- 1000 meters Control Range
- Beginner Friendly
- GPS Integration
- The great value of Price
- 600m Range is a Bit Low
4. Holy Stone HS720
Holy Stone has recently released Holy Stone HS720. It’s a great drone to have keeping in view the features it possesses. I was amazed at HS720’s performance. It feels great as I’m controlling a high-end drone. Its highly responsive, very manoeuvrable and is capable of flying in windy conditions weather. If you are a fan of aerial videography and imaging but do not have a budget, Holystone HS720 is one of the most viable options.
Holy Stone HS720 drone is capable of flying as far as 1600 meters. If you are a fan of long-distance drones like me, you will enjoy HS720, as it will fly way past of your eyesight, and return thanks safely to Return to home capability.
HS720’s every battery provides up to 26 minutes of flight time.
The HS700 has a good quality 12 MP camera, capable of shooting 1080p HD video transmitting, the HS720 model upgrades that into a 2K FHD 5GHz camera.
The drone transmits Live video via Wifi directly to a smartphone through a free app. The app is available for Android & iOS OS. The camera can be attached on a phone holder attached to the 5.0GHz remote controller.
HS720 packs excellent features, i.e. GPS with Follow Me mode and Custom Flight Path. Draw a route on the App display screen, and the HS720 will move in that trajectory or a circle and send back real-time footage to you.
It also features auto-return to home and 5.0GHz Live Video stream transmission. However, auto one push take and landing feature is not available.
5. 3DR Solo
3DR Solo remains one of the most recommend drones to this day for GoPro usage is because of its accurate performance. It is equipped with an on-board 1.0 GHZ computer with a Pixhawk flight controller, 3DR Solo is very responsive and stable. It has an incredible top speed of 88km/h (55mp/h); recommended only for experts as beginners cannot control a drone at such a pace.
3DR Solo specifications remain impressive. The base max control range is around 2 km; however, with range extension kit, it can fly longer than 4 km! The flight time without a camera is about 25 minutes and 20 minutes when carrying a camera.
We are referring a package that doesn’t include a drone camera. It would be too costly to fit under $500 category list.
The 3DR Solo features include autonomous flight modes, such as Selfie, Cable Cam, Orbit, and Follow me mode. These functions are useful for filming and still imaging. The drone’s operating system can also be upgraded to the latest version available.
6.UPair One 4K
The UPair package features a 4K camera. A complete FPV package with all the accessories you need to start flying FPV right away (FPV screen included inbox).
UPair is effortless to control and operate, even for a beginner. It’s Hovers steadily without any input from the controller. Its also comes with GPS assisted flight control
UPair One has an excellent flight time of around 15 to 19 minutes. It is powered by 11.1V 5400mAh battery, UPair’s maximum control range is around 1km, whereas Live Video stream transmission is limited up to 600 meters only.
UPair is equipped with a 4K High Definition camera that captures breathtaking aerial footages and still images. The 4K camera is attached on a brushless gimbal that you can adjust as per your requirement. It transmits Live Videostream to the 7 inches monitor screen installed on the remote controller.
Real-time video stream is of HD quality and has zero latency. In short, UPair is one of the finest drones available in the market at a very reasonable price.
UPair comes with all the fun and useful features you are looking for in a quadcopter. It has a fully functional GPS, Position Hold feature, MicroSD card slot (up to 32GB) and Automatic Return to home feature.
7. Rating RC
One of the most futuristic best camera drones under 500, Rabing RC comes with a 16MP Fish-eye Sony camera. Ideal for recording sports events such as cycling, skiing, basketball and skateboarding, etc. It is equipped with a GPS Visual Tracker.
This Rabing RC drone is not an ideal choice for beginners, but still, we consider it to be beginner-friendly. It is highly manoeuvrable and has a stable hold feature.
It can be flown both indoors and outdoors, but if you truly want to unlock its potential fly it outdoor. The quad can be controlled through a 2.4Ghz remote controller or a smartphone application. Max speed of the drone is 12m/s.
This drone has a maximum control range of around 600 meters. If you are using your smartphone or a tablet by connecting to the app through Wifi, the connection range goes as far as 300 meters. The flight time is around 20 minutes. It also includes an 11.1V 2000mAh lithium powered battery.
Rating RC pack comes with a 16MP 1/2.3” Sony CMOS Fish-eye camera with a 169-degree Field of View. It can record an HD video in 1080p resolution at 60 FPS.
This quadcopter has a built-in 3-axis electronic image stabilisation feature that eliminates vibration & rectifies image tilting / deflecting. It can also transmit Live Videostream directly to the pilot’s smartphone.
The drone features Visual Tracking, it can track the object by locking it into the centre of its lens, which gives the pilot more freedom. It also features a Dual-Positioning GPS System that operates both indoor and outdoor.
Other standard features include One-Key Automatic Return, Altitude Hold, and One-Key Takeoff & Landing.
8. Traxxas Aton Plus– Complete Racing Kit
Traxxas Aton Plus is easy to control the best drone under 500. However, it’s not the beginner-friendly quadcopter in the market. It’s a better fit for pilots who have flying and drone operating experience.
Experienced pilots will make the most of it, since it is a very supportive drone, extraordinarily agile and fast, with a maximum speed of 80km/h (50mp/h). In Sport Mode, the drone is easy to manoeuvre due to its 6-axis flight stability feature.
Aton Plus has a short control range and you can fly it within 300 meters only. Its flight time is impressive. It can fly up to 20 minutes, depending on the payload.
Aton Plus doesn’t include a camera. It comes with a 2-axis gimbal mount kit that supports GoPro cameras (3 & 4 series) and others like Xiaomi and SJCam.
Aton Plus is a very versatile and rich-featured quadcopter. It features three different flight modes: Film Mode, Sport Mode, & Expert Mode. Film Mode is best for capturing beautiful aerial footage and images, whereas Sport and Expert mode unlock the drone’s true potential features which are recommended only for experienced pilots.
Other features include Return to Home, Status Bar, Dual-Mode GPS, an open-source firmware that is compatible with applications like Mission Planner.
9. Parrot Bebop 2 + Skycontroller Bundle
Blue Heron is an awesome FPV quadcopter for anyone who is looking for a durable aircraft with Live Videostream feature.
Blue Heron is a great fit for any skill level, from beginners to experts. It’s very stable and responsive. It can be flown both indoors and outdoors. It has three-speed modes.
Blue Heron’s best characteristic is its flight time. You can fly this machine for 15-minutes. The package comes with two batteries. In terms of the control range distance, Red Horen can fly within the range of 100-meters.
This Live Videostream is transmitted directly to the pilot’s smartphone through WiFi, the app is available for both Android and iOS.
The standard set of features includes Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, Low Battery Alarm, One Key Takeoff & Landing. It does not feature a 3D-flip feature.
10. Walkera F210
Manufactured by one of the most renowned drone companies in the market, F210 by Walkera is the company’s entry-level FPV drone racer. Aimed for everyone looking to get into this new sport but doesn’t necessarily have the skills to build a custom-made drone from 0.
Once again, we must start by pointing the fact this is a racing drone. Therefore it’s not suitable for people flying an aircraft for the first time; despite being a drone for beginners, it’s beginners at racing and not overall rookies.
This being said, F210 is of course, extremely fast and highly manoeuvrable, very responsive to commands. It uses KV2500 brushless motors.
In terms of specifications, Walkera F210 has a decent maximum control range of 400 meters (with the included transmitter and factory settings), plus a below-average flight time of 8 to 9 minutes (14.8V 1300mAh 40C 4S Li-PO battery).
The Walkera F210 comes with the same camera as the Arris X-Speed 280, the Sony 700TVL. The most standard cameras among racing drones are the 600TVL and 700TVL, both being a perfect fit for beginners and even experts.
It transmits the Real-Time video of the race to an FPV monitor or FPV goggles. One particularity about F210 is that it comes with the famous DEVO 7 transmitter which luckily has an incorporated 3.5” LCD FPV monitor. However, if you are truly serious about drone racing, you will eventually need a professional set of FPV goggles.
The F210 makes use of the KV2500 brushless motors, F3 Flight Controller, Brushless ESC F210(CW/CCW), OSD, and of course the DEVO 7 transmitter. The essentials to compete in amateur drone racing without having to build your racer.
11. ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2
Are you interested in best racing drone under 500 but don’t know to build a custom-made racing drone? Don’t worry, that’s why Arris X-Speed 280 is here! A fully assembled, tuned and tested racer ready to get on the track. The package comes with all you need to start flying right out of the box (except FPV monitor, goggles and battery charger).
X-Speed 280 is for racing beginners but not for those who are flying a drone for the first time. We must point that out first. It’s highly manoeuvrable and fast.
To boot, it is very responsive to controls thanks to the Raptor 390 Tower 4-in-1 30A ESC + F3 + OSD + PDB. The ESCs are Flycolor 30A BLheli-s 4 in 1, and the brushless motors are S2205 2300KV. Therefore, expect a lot of power and speed.
Specs vary depending on battery being used, payload, flight conditions for 5.8Ghz connection, etc. However, you can expect a flight time around 12 to 15 minutes and a control distance around 900 to 1500 meters.
To keep your eye on the track, X-Speed 280 comes with a Sony 700TVL 3.6mm camera capable of recording and transmitting Live Video to an FPV monitor or FPV goggles. The camera is pretty good quality, so even if one day you want to make some upgrades to the drone, most likely you won’t feel the need to get a better camera.
Besides the already mentioned Arris 12A EScs and the awesome Raptor 390 and brushless motors, Arris X-Speed 280 also features a CC3D flight controller, one of the most commonly found in standard racers. It also comes with a RadioLink AT9S Transmitter + R9DS Receiver (an upgrade from the previous Radiolink AT9), and Foxeer 5.8Ghz antenna.
12. Xiro Xplorer V
Xiro Xplorer V is among our best drones under 500 review list. An award-winning drone, prizes include Red Dot Design awards in 2016 and ‘Red Dot: Best of the Best’ award. Xplorer V is not a newly released drone, but it has passed the test of time and remains to this day atop drone worthy of the best drones under $500 list.
Super easy to set up: pre-tuned by the factory and ready in minutes, Xplorer V ensures excellent performance, ideal for any inexperienced pilot who needs to record aerial footage without having to buy an $800 drone.
The Xplorer V has a stable hovering and powerful motors, able to fly even in windy days without any hassle.
First, we would like to mention that Xiro Xplorer V is also an outstanding fast drone, capable of hitting 55 km/h (34mp/h), which is very impressive. Secondly, the above-average flight time of 25 minutes, powered by a smart 11.1V 5200mAh Li-Po 3S battery! Its maximum control distance is decent, a good 500 meters.
The Xplorer V it’s one of the cheapest and most viable options for aerial photography and videography without investing too much money on a high-end super expensive drone. It’s equipped with a 14MP Full HD 1080p camera, placed on a 3-axis stabilised camera gimbal that allows for different recording angles. The gimbal will eliminate vibrations, ensuring you get a high-quality video and photo without any ‘jello effect.’
As the camera drone, it is, of course, it includes features that enhance videography and photography. These are: Follow Me Mode, Smart Follow (Follow Snap in-app), Altitude Hold, Position Hold, Flight Planning, Autonomous Flight, Automatic Landing, Return to Home, and GPS compatibility.
As you can see it has a comprehensive set of features, but the ones that truly make it stand out from the rest are the Follow Me, Smart Follow and of course Autonomous Flight (works through waypoints on the app).
13. Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0
Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0 has made it to the best drones under 500 list. The Ghostdrone 2 is one of those drones most people aren’t aware of, mainly because it hasn’t hit the leading stores. However, it provides a very unique and immersive experience.
Made for beginners, Ehang Ghostdrone is a “cheap luxury” drone. Meaning it’s an affordable alternative to the Phantom series. It’s easy to control but does have one particularity, doesn’t use an RC transmitter.
Instead makes use of the pilot’s Android and iOS device by connecting via Wifi through a free to download the app.
This is very common among toy drones, not so much on under $500 drones. However, the Chinese company Ehang did this to maintain Ghostdrone 2 as affordable as possible without sacrificing the camera.
Note that the VR Goggles are sold separately.
The Ghostdrone 2 has on average specs; in fact, flight time is slightly above average. It two can fly for periods of 25 minutes and go as far as 1km without losing connection (highly depends on flight conditions and connectivity).
The camera is one of the highlights of this drone, Ghostdrone 2 comes with a spherical Ehang Sports camera 4K 12MP camera and a 3-axis gimbal. Although it comes with its high-quality action camera, Ghostdrone gimbal mount easily supports others such as GoPro Hero 3, GoPro Hero 3+, GoPro Hero 4.
The included camera has an aperture of 2.8 as well as a 93-degree wide-angle lens and is capable of transmitting Live Video to the pilot’s smart device or even FPV goggles.
Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0 features a very nice set of functions, some that are often only found on higher-end drones. We are talking about Waypoint Mode, Companion Mode, Avatar Mode, and Flight Planning Mode, all available on the drone’s app. It also features Low-Battery Auto-return and GPS.
14. Walkera AiBao
Walkera Aibao is among the best drones under 500 list. AiBao is a unique aircraft that brought a whole other perspective to the drone industry. Let me ask you, have you ever thought about playing Augment reality (AR) games with your quad? Well, now you can.
While the AiBao doesn’t have an amazing performance than the top drones on this list have, it still is capable of performing incredibly high. Stable and very responsive to controls (as expected if you want to play AR games with it).
The Walkera AiBao is at the end of the day; it’s a skilful drone.
When it comes to specs, AiBao is also able to shine. We were honestly surprised at the specifications of this drone. Flight time is around 18 minutes, which is right on the higher-end of the average distance. The control range is a surprisingly long 1.5Km, something we didn’t quite expect, but it’s true.
The built-in camera not only allows you to record awesome aerial footage in 4K at 25 frames per second, but it can also take 16MP photos with a 100º Field of View. The image sensor is Sony, so you know you are in good hands. Walkera AiBao transmits Live Video directly to the pilot’s smartphone or tablet (remote controller has a tablet/phone holder).
Make use of the fantastic built-in 4K camera, AiBao presents a unique feature: Augmented Reality games. What does this mean? If you wear the VR (Virtual Reality) Goggle glass, or even on your app, you can watch virtual and play virtual games.
These games are: Racing (set up a virtual race track and experience it in the real world through the AR Drone App); Combat (powerful virtual weapons can be used to fight and shoot down enemy aircraft); Collection (collect coins in an augmented reality world and gain points to beat the level).
15. Wingsland M5
Wingsland M5 is among the best drones under 500. It is a complete FPV experience for beginners. Wingsland M5 is a beautifully designed drone that comes with a built-in 720p 25fps camera. Extremely easy for beginners thanks to the GPS-Assisted Hover.
M5 was designed for first-time pilots that want a complete FPV (First Person View) flight experience from a higher-end drone instead of a toy drone. The Optical Flow Sensor provides an incredibly stable and accurate flight and altitude hold. If you wish, M5 can become truly fast, able to hit 12m/s, although we wouldn’t recommend this to beginners.
The drone can be flown via 2.4 GHz remote controller or Android / iOS app.
If you are controlling the drone through your smartphone or tablet, the control range is concise, only 100 meters, way below average when compared to other drones. However, if you use the included controller than the max range is 500 meters. Powered by a 1500mAh battery, flight time is on average, a good 17 minutes.
The built-in camera has 720p resolution and records at 25 frames per second. The lens has a somewhat narrow-angle of 63º FOV. Although not the best image quality you can get for a drone within this price range, it’s good enough to ensure moderate image quality even for Live Video.
This Live Video is transmitted directly to the FPV monitor built-in on the 2.4Ghz remote controller.
Besides the already mentioned Optical Flow Sensor and Altitude Hold, Wingsland M5 also features GPS, Follow Me Mode and Return to Home. A decent set of features, but nothing too fancy. For its current price, it should have autonomous flight modes.
16. WLToys X380
Most likely, you have already heard of WLToys before. It’s one of the most active RC product manufacturers in the market, continually releasing new RC aircraft. One of their most exciting quads, it’s this one right here, the large X380.
Despite not being a newly released drone by no means whatsoever, it’s been around for quite some time. The reason why X380 is still on the market is precisely due to, in part, to is performance.
Used by many pilots has a cheaper alternative to camera drones, X380 large size and powerful motors (2212 950KV brushless) enable it to transport a wide range of cameras, GoPro for example.
One important characteristic that truly makes X380 stand out from the rest is its flight time. X380 can fly for periods of up to 30 minutes! Yes, you read that correctly half an hour. It, of course, will vary depending on payload. The control range is also surprisingly good, 1km.
Unfortunately, it does not come with a camera. You will have to purchase an action camera, such as the GoPro, or use one you already have. The drone, however, comes with a gimbal mount where you can easily fit the GoPro.
WLToys X380 features a beautiful set of useful features that will enhance and assist the flight experience. For example, Headless Mode, One-Key Takeoff and Landing, GPS Positioning, Air Pressure Height Sensor, and Failsafe Auto-Return. Not the most breathtaking set of features, but far from the worst.
Best Drones Under 500
- DJI SPARK
- DJI MAVIC AIR
- Altair Outlaw SE
- Holystone HS720
- 3DR Solo
- Upair One 4K
- Ratting RC
- Traxxas Aton Plus
- Parrot Bebop 2 + Skycontroller Bundle
- Walkera F210
- ARRIS X-Speed 280 V2
- Xiro Xplorer V
- Ehang Ghostdrone 2.0
- Walkera AiBao
- Wingsland M5
- WLToys X380
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are best drones under 500 ideal for learning?
It depends. This is a tricky question. Why? Because on the one hand, drones within this budget feature very accurate hovering and are incredibly stable even in windy conditions. Most feature autonomous functions that assist the pilot during the flight. These are drones that if you place the remote controller on the table and don’t touch it, the drone will still hover steadily without any pilot’s input.
However, on the other hand, they do cost a few bucks, so if you do any damage to hit, of course, it will cost more to repair than a toy drone. Therefore, while indeed these are suitable for beginners, we would advise you to start by flying a toy drone made of plastic, to get the hang of it before moving on to a higher-end product.
Note: If this is the first drone you own, but you have already flown a friend’s drone before, go ahead and practice with it, won’t be a problem.
Note 2: Many beginners started flying drones with DJI Spark and Phantom 2 (the top drones on this list), those we would recommend to any beginner.
Can I fly indoor and outdoor?
If you are a beginner no because you will need a wide-open area to practice, however, most of these drones are stable enough to be flown indoor without any problem, so if you already have some level of practice, then go for it. Throughout the article, we will mention which ones are suitable for indoor and outdoor.
Are these drones safe for children?
No. These are not toy drones. If you want to buy a drone for your kid, we will refer you to our Top 10 Best Drones Under 100 list instead.
Do I have to register my drone with FAA?
If you live in the US, FAA registration is required for any uncrewed aircraft for recreational and commercial use if it weighs more than 0.55lbs (250 grams).
Do these drones support GoPro and other action cameras?
Yes, practically every drone on our list is capable of carrying GoPro, Xiaomi and SJCam action cameras. Some of them, however, already come with a pretty good quality camera. However, if you prefer to attach your GoPro (or other) go for it.
Are there drones under $500 suitable for filmmaking and professional video recording?
Some of them are. We will mention the drones that are often used for semi-professional and academic filmmaking. Although not suitable for professional video recording (apart from the UPair 4K), they are still able to get top quality aerial footage. When looking for a great 4K drone for filming, you might want to up your price range just a bit.