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Best Drones Under $500: A Comprehensive Guide

Drones have come a long way since then. And many of us are witnesses to the apparent improvements done to many UAVs nowadays.


Others, however, are still new to this kind of interest. I, myself, for instance.

Well, I admit - I am (kind of) new to this hobby which is why I know the feeling of being lost and confused when I was about to buy my very own drone. So, I have come to put a comprehensive guide to buying the best drone under $500.

Many people wants to buy a drone according to their needs. This article will essentially help beginners, (also hobbyists), decide which of these drones under this price range would be the "right one."

What Are The Best Drones Under 500 Dollars?

In this guide, I have included seven drones along with the features that make them great and not. This will certainly help you know what you would get and what would be the best buy at this price range.

UPair One Plus 4k Camera Drone

Upair One Plus is essentially great for its camera functions. The 4K camera features a 16-megapixel resolution at its maximum. And out of all the drones in this list, this drone has the clearest images. Well, I find this very enticing since one of my reasons for getting a drone is aerial photography.

Quick Summary

  • 18 minutes Flight Time 
  • 4K Camera 
  • 900 meters Control Range
UPair One Plus 4k Camera Drone

As for the entirety, it's a decent one to get if you are still learning how to control and manage a drone. It features an automatic take-off and landing, flight modes like "follow me", and a flight path planner. Although, you will need to understand how the smartphone app works before you could execute these features.

Also, the "follow me" mode has restrictions. It can only fly at a certain speed with a standard height of 15 meters and within a 10-meter radius. Note that the camera will face towards you.

The maximum flight time can reach up to 18 minutes and flight range can reach up to 900 meters which are pretty decent in its price range.

PROS

  • Very clear images and videos
  • Has GPS and compass
  • Customer support is very responsive

CONS

  • It takes time to understand the user manual
  • Difficulties in calibrating the compass
  • Return-to-home height is standard (50 meters) and cannot be adjusted

Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Drone

In this list of best drone, I classify the Parrot Bebop 2 FPV as the unique one since it comes with an immersive FPV goggles called the Cockpitglasses. The idea of the headset is to immerse you in the views and sceneries that the drone could reach during flight experience.

Quick Summary

  • 25 minutes Flight Time 
  • Full HD 1080P
  • 1.2 miles Control Range
Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Drone

Another thing that makes this drone unique is that it has a dedicated smartphone application used generally for piloting and storage. Also, it is designed to be used with the Cockpitglasses. The only thing that I don't like about it is that it has in-app purchases.

Some of the great features of the Bebop 2 require payments first inside the dedicated app. These features include the flight plan, flight director, and the follow me mode. But, let's not forget the free features!

Bebop 2's camera can provide 1080P videos and 14-megapixel images. Accordingly, this drone can altitude hold, shoot live video and capture images stably due to its 3-axis digital image stabilization system. As for the flight time, it can reach up to 25 minutes which is an excellent range of time for a drone at this price.

PROS

  • Prevents fraudulent use due to its distinct serial number
  • Flight range can reach 1.2 miles (about 2000 meters)
  • Has an efficient GPS 

CONS

  • In-app purchase features
  • Not appropriate for newbies and entry-level users
  • Requires prior knowledge and preparation before a flight

Force1 F200W Shadow MJX Bugs 2 Drone

Among all the drones in my list of the best drones under 500 dollars, this is the only one that has a wifi module that can be connected to your smartphone. And it pretty much falls under the entry-level category.

Quick Summary

  • 30 minutes Flight Time 
  • 1080P HD Camera
  • 0.6 miles Control Range
Force1 F200W Shadow MJX Bugs 2 Drone

It has three Return-to-Home GPS functions which are essential to any drome. And any newbie would want to have this kind of feature to prevent quadcopter loss when the battery drains or the signal gets jammed.

Also, the F200W MJX Bugs has a 1-key lift and landing, altitude hold, and intelligent orientation control. These features are highly suitable for beginners.

As for the camera, it can provide 1080P resolution even during night time. Note that most drones and quadcopters cannot be enjoyed during night hours. So, I consider this as an edge.

The Bugs 2 can last up to 30 minutes which can be doubled due to the accompanying battery that comes with it in the package. But, the flight range can only reach up to 300 meters. Nevertheless, it’s still a decent buy for any newbie.

PROS

  • GPS and Return To Home functions is efficient
  • Quadcopter flies very smooth and stable
  • LED lights for night use

CONS

  • Difficulties in connecting smartphones to the wifi module is very apparent
  • User manual and smartphone app are hard to understand
  • Flight range is short for its price

DJI Spark Intelligent Quadcopter Drone Essentials Bundle

DJI Spark quadcopters are quite well-known today due to the wide variations of the Spark series. But, the Spark Intelligent drone is one of the Sparks that caught my interest and here are the reasons why I consider it as one of the best drones under 500 dollars:

Quick Summary

  • 16 minutes Flight Time 
  • 1080P HD Camera
  • 0.2 - 5 meters Obstacle Sensing Range
DJI Spark Intelligent Quadcopter Drone Essentials Bundle

As the name states, “intelligent”, the drone is smart enough to fly just by simply recognizing your face and your hands. It can lift off from your hands when it sensors your face due to the FaceAware feature.

In addition, the camera captures aerial images by simply using hand gestures. As for aerial videos, you will need simple a tap to start recording. All of the images and videos are stored in the smartphone app which can be manually edited and shared on social media platforms.

The maximum flight time can reach up to 16 minutes. Also, it is important to note that smartphones are mainly used as flight controller to control the drone.

PROS

  • Smart drone
  • Compact and convenient to bring anywhere
  • Comes with a cleaning kit

CONS

  • Flight range is too short
  • Unresponsive customer support
  • Controllers are a separate purchase

DJI Spark Quadcopter Drone Aircraft Bundle

DJI Spark Quadcopter is quite similar to the Spark Intelligent Drone. The only difference is that this drone is not as smart as the latter. While it does not have the same smart features as the one given above, it still has its own distinct features.

Quick Summary

  • 16 Minutes Flight Time 
  • 1080P HD Camera
  • 100 meters Control Range
DJI Spark Quadcopter Drone Aircraft Bundle

The maximum flight time is rated at 16 minutes per one charge of a battery. But, what I love about this product is that it comes with 2 extra sets of batteries which is quite beneficial since it lengthens the battery life. And this is also why I take it as one of my best drones under 500 bucks!

The equipped camera is stabilized by its 2-axis mechanical gimbal. So, taking photos and live video can be much convenient especially when strong winds are apparent. And with a tap of your finger, you can already control the video camera functions.

You will need your smartphone to control this drone too. And later operating systems only are compatible. The flight range can reach up to 100 meters only which I find not suitable at all for its price.

PROS

  • Comes with two more batteries
  • Great drone for starters
  • Easy to fly and set up

CONS

  • Controllers are a separate purchase
  • Flight range is too short
  • Difficult to connect with smartphones

Swagtrone SwagDrone 210-Up RC Racing Drone

Racing drones? Yes, I’ve included one on my list!

Quick Summary

  • 30 Minutes Flight Time 
  • 700TVL Camera 
  • 500 meters Control Range
Swagtrone SwagDrone 210-Up RC Racing Drone

The SwagDrone 210-UP has three-speed modes: Primary Level, Mid-Level, and High Level. So, for anyone who wants to practice their flying skills, this could be your best pick.

But, the main reason why I’ve included this as one of the best drones under 500 dollars is that it’s durable. I am so amazed by the quality of materials used in this drone.

It features a carbon fiber material that keeps the drone entirely light, aerodynamic, and very durable.The material is utilized to provide ultimate protection from stresses, crashes, and impacts that are normally obtained when flying.

As for its 120-degree-field-of-view camera, it has a night vision mode. Unlike other drones, this can provide you shoots and captures even in dark areas. The sensors then automatically adjust if its daytime or night time.

Furthermore, its flight time can reach up to 30 minutes and up to 500 meters for the flight range.

PROS

  • Has a self-repair system
  • Has a high-range transmission
  • Excellent flight time and flight range

CONS

  • Spare parts are hard to find
  • The user manual is difficult to understand
  • Not necessarily for beginners

DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone (For GoPro)

Are you an avid GoPro user and wants an accompanying drone to go with it? If yes, then this might work great for you!

Quick Summary

  • 15 Minutes Flight Time 
  • Tested with Hero2, Hero3 and Hero3+ models
  • 300 meters Control Range
DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone

The DJI Phantom Drone is entirely meant for GoPro users. It is a ready-to-fly quadcopter with a GoPro mount. But if you have other cameras that you would want to use for this drone, you may want to check first the compatibility structures.

It features the Naza-M Autopilot technology that allows you to control, manage, and locate the quadcopter through your smartphones. The transmission is quite good as it comes with a 2.4GHz transmitter.

But, be mindful of your GoPro’s wi-fi modules as it may interfere with the transmission processes since most GoPros operate on the same transmission range. So, be sure to turn off your GoPro’s wi-fi.

The flight time is seen to be at 15 minutes, maximum. As for its flight range, it can reach up to 300 meters line of sight.

PROS

  • Great GPS and internal autopilot modes
  • Has intelligent orientation control
  • Easy to fly and convenient to use

CONS

  • Short flight time
  • Flight range is not suitable for its price
  • Not durable

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying The Best Drone Under 500 Dollars?

Now, that I have given you my list of best drones under 500 dollars, it is essentially your time then to decide which could be the best one for your unique needs. Well, your drone is not necessarily included in this list, but it helps - right?

Along with the list are the factors that you need to consider before buying. These are the ones that you need to take a look into since they significantly affect everything that there is to flying drones.

1: The Flight Time and Battery Life

Basically, one of the things you will pay for your drone is the flight time and battery life. Most drones nowadays have an average flight time of 6 to 8 minutes. And they come at much lower costs. So, the much expensive drones are expected to last more than 10 minutes and even above!

2: The Flight Range and Distance It Can Cover

Another thing you need to look at when choosing your drone is its flight range. Averagely, drones can reach up to 100 to 300 meters. But, for a 500-dollar range of price, a much longer flight range is quite expected.

3: Features and Technology

Each drone has its own distinct features. And certainly, the best drones under 500 bucks have more to offer than those that come with a much lower price. Try to opt for the drones that offer smart features, quality materials, great transmissions, and innovative solutions.

Among The List of My Best Drones Under 500 Dollars

The one that really caught my eyes (and my bank account!) is the Parrot Bebop 2 due to these factors:

The overall flight time of this drone can reach 25 minutes. And the maximum distance that it can cover is around 2000 meters. Not to mention the immersive headset it offers is uniquely cool since I am very much attracted to sceneries and views.

Parrot Bebop 2 FPV Drone

Also, it features the prevention of fraudulent activities. I have no worries about losing it or someone reselling it due to its unique serial number registration and efficient GPS. While it may have a few in-app purchases for other features, I would be glad to pay for quality services. Besides, drones are investments!

Wrapping it all up, drones are great investments and they have become more innovative than just being simple flying toys. And under this price range, the possibility of getting a unique, exquisite, and quality drone is very much possible. You just have to be very watchful and surely, you’ll get what will suit you perfectly.