Looking to find the best drone money can buy? That is why today we are analyzing and comparing the Top 10 Best Drones Under $1000 currently available in the market in 2018. These are some of the most powerful, feature-rich and overall top quality drones you can possibly buy. This is where technology and design truly come together. If you wish to get amazingly beautiful aerial shots and run the sky with autonomous flight features, this is the Top 10 list for you.
Read Next: Best Drones Under $500 [Summer 2018 list]
What should I expect from Best Drone under $1000?
In order to get the best bang for your buck, it’s important to be aware of the average specifications and features of the products under such price and category. That’s why we have written a brief summary on what you should expect from such a product.
Nowadays, you should expect an average flight time of 20 to 30 minutes. Some brands focus on an increased flight time as a selling factor, while others prioritize other specifications or features. This being said, don’t worry, these drones have some of the best batteries in the market and they know how to make use of it properly.
It is one of the most commonly highly prioritized specifications by drone enthusiasts. Fortunately for you, if you are able to invest this kind of money on a drone you will be very well served. Nowadays, an average control distance for a product under $1000 price tag is considered to be around 1500 to 3000 meters. However, some brands, such as DJI, focus on long range and has products that can fly as far as 5000 meters.
Of course you must expect (and demand) top quality performance from any drone under the $1000 price tag. Very responsive controls, ability to hover without pilot’s input, fast and low speeds. Everything you deserve from a high-end drone.
You can expect these drones to have the most advanced technology and features currently present in commercial drones. I’m talking about Autonomous Flight such as Auto-Pilot, Tap&Fly, Follow Me, etc. Practically all have very accurate Return-to-Home, Automatic Takeoff & Landing, GPS, etc. We will mention the features in each drone section.
The camera quality of these drones is impressive. Most are 4K and Full HD, capable of capturing breathtaking footage. There isn’t much to say about camera quality besides: it’s amazing and you should check for yourself! The Live Video of course it’s only perfect, high-quality real-time video, no latency.
Now for our Top 10 Best Drones under $1000 list:
10- Chroma w/ CGO2+ 16 MP
Blade Chroma is not a recent product on the market, however, it remains to this day as one of the most viable choices to anyone looking for an affordable and yet very powerful and capable camera drone. An all you need FPV package with built-in 5” monitor on the awesome ST-10+ Transmitter.
Chroma has one of the smoothest performances of any camera drone, besides the DJI Phantom series. It’s mainly used for outdoor FPV exploring and even recording sporting events. Stable and responsive, Chroma is also capable of flying in medium wind conditions thanks to the brushless motors.
As we previously said, Blade Chroma is an all-in-one ready to fly out of the box FPV drone. It comes with a 3-axis brushless stabilized gimbal that holds a 16MP camera capable of recording 1080p video. The camera is actually very good quality, as well as the gimbal. The lens is no-distortion and eliminates fisheye effect. The Live Video is transmitted directly to the 5” FPV screen built-in on ST-10+ the remote controller and if you want to find some drone with a worse camera quality you should look at our drones under 300 list.
Blade Chroma is a smart drone and includes a wide set of very useful features. Smart Mode (much like Headless Mode, but also creates a Safe circle barrier that prevents the drone from flying too close to you; ideal for beginners), Aerial Photography Mode, Follow Me Mode,
Tracking Mode, Return to Home, Adjustable Flight Boundaries and GLONASS and GPS. As you can see most features are focused on enhancing camera usage.
Blade Chroma’s has amazing specifications, as expected from a drone within this budget. Flight time is a superb 30 minutes (depends on payload), which is amazing even compared to DJI products. Chroma’s control range is also pretty astonishing, especially if we consider the drone was released a few years ago. I’m talking about a max control distance around 2000 to 2500 meters! Many people wrongly say it’s only 200 meters due to factory limit settings.
Note: Chroma’s factory settings set a Geo Fence safety max range of 200 meters, but you can access drone’s software and change or disable the max range.
Note 2: Keep in my video range is only 600 meters, so even if Chroma goes further than that, you won’t have video transmission and therefore we wouldn’t recommend you to fly that far.
9- Xiaomi Mi
You probably already are familiar with Xiaomi brand. They manufacture a wide range of products such as smartphones, action cameras, and now they have gotten into the drone market space. Their first addition is the incredible Xiaomi Mi.
Made to rivalize with products such as the DJI Phantom and UPair One, when it comes to performance indeed Xiaomi Mi is able to rank among the best within this budget. In fact, we were surprised at how Xiaomi was able to excel in their first try. Xiaomi Mi is a stable and easy to fly quadcopter with about the same performance as a Phantom 3 drone.
Xiaomi Mi is available in 2 different packages, one with a 1080p camera and a second one (the most recent version) with a 4K camera. Although both cameras are amazing and provide GoPro-like image quality, we believe the 4K version is worth the difference. The camera is placed on a 3-axis stabilized gimbal, thus eliminating vibration and always ensuring good image. The lens is low-distortion and has a wide angle. Mi of course also transmits Live Video on real-time in amazing quality directly to the pilot’s smartphone device (controller comes with a phone holder).
Xiaomi has taken great care when designing Mi drone. They realized the importance of features, mainly the autonomous features, of drones within this price range. Indeed, drones such as the Phantom line are very appealing due to their amazing features. That’s why Xiaomi Mi doesn’t fall behind. It comes with: Automatic Takeoff and Landing, Slide Button to Return-to-Home, Return on Low-Battery and Weak Connection, Auto-Stop in No-Fly Zones, Circle Around Object, Route Planner, Send to Location, GPS & Glonass Positioning, and Vision Positioning. A wide range of functions that will mostly enhance the camera usage of the drone and assist pilot.
Are you ready to be amazed? Because we were. We didn’t expect this kind of specifications in Xiaomi’s first drone, but we were wrong, Xiaomi managed to surprise us! Mi drone has a maximum flight time of 27 minutes and a maximum control distance of 3kms!
8- Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon
It is a favorite among drone enthusiasts that began flying drones due to videography and photography purposes. Yuneec Q500 ensures power, camera quality, Live Video, and everything for one of the cheapest prices of our Top 10 Best Drones Under $1000 list.
At his price point it’s hard to find a better aerial photography drone. Yuneec Q500 is not fast, it’s not acrobatic, it’s a very stable quadcopter that perfectly fits any aerial photography and videography fan. It’s very wind resistant, stable even during medium wind conditions. It performs exactly as necessary for a camera drone.
Everything about Yuneec Q500 was designed to enhance the aerial photography and videography experience. It is a drone that ensures amazing image quality and ease of use. Perfect for film school students, semi-professional use, and much more. Comes equipped with a 12MP CGO3 camera capable of 4K/30fps ultra high definition video and 1080p/120fps slow motion video. It also transmits Live Video. The integrated 3-axis stabilized gimbal eliminates any vibrations. The lens is 115º wide-angle distortion-free. If you are reading our article looking for the cheapest and most reliable camera drone under $1000, you just found it.
As we already mentioned, everything about this quad was made focused on camera usage, features included. For example: Follow Me mode (drone follows whoever is holding the remote controller), Watch Me mode (camera targets and locks), Return to Home, Automatic Landing and Geo-fence. Plus, the remote controller has a touch-screen with Android.
Unfortunately, Yuneec Q500’s factory control range is a bit disappointing, only going as far as 400 meters (in perfect flight conditions and connection). However, there’s something called “Carolina Drone range extender” that can extend the max range to a detailed 3000 meters (bought separately). So compared to other drones on this list max control range sure isn’t Q500’s highlight. The flight time, however, is a good 23 minutes.
7- Yuneec Typhoon H
Most drones we review are quadcopters (4 motors), however we had to include this amazing hexacopter (6 motors) by Yuneec. It’s the ‘6-legged’ brother of Yuneec Typhoon Q500. Typhoon H is regarded has one of the best drones for aerial photography and videography. It is an award winning drone, Winner of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show ‘Best of Class’.
6 motors truly make a difference, which translates to: a highly stable hover and high payload capacity. Keep in mind it’s a large and heavy drone, a bit nosier than most and not the best fit for first timers, although it’s easy to fly even if you have low experience.
Note: You can fold the hexacopter’s arms down making it easier to transport.
One of the highlights of this drone is without a doubt its camera. The 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ gimbal camera captures 4K Ultra High Definition video and 12MP still photos; can be rotated on a 360º range of motion. It also features a high quality glass 98º FOV (Field of View), wide-angle lens, and offers manual camera settings during in flight. It also transmits Live Video directly to the Android-powered ST16 Ground Station 7-inch touchscreen.
Yuneec Typhoon H is a feature-rich hexacopter, it has all the needed features to enhance camera usage. Such features are: Orbit Mode, Point of Interest, Journey Mode, Curve Cable Cam (program an invisible route for Typhoon H to fly between pre-set coordinates while autonomously controlling camera position) and Sonar Collision Prevention (basically is Obstacle Avoidance). As you can see a wide of features that can rivalize with Phantom 4.
Yuneec Typhoon H has right on average specifications, nothing too fancy but enough to make it one of the best. Maximum control distance is 1.6km, slightly above average when compared to other same price drones. In terms of flight time, Yuneec details a max of 25 minutes but the reality is around 19 minutes (it of course depends on payload).
6- DJI Spark
It is one of the DJI’s most recent releases. The drone that aims to be the perfect portable quad for travelers, vloggers, holidays, or just a casual day at the park. Indeed DJI Spark lives up to its name and is one of the best drones for beginners who prioritize ease of use, camera quality and a complete bundle for a very low price.
Note: We are referring to a very complete package that even includes FPV goggles.
As expected from a drone aimed at beginners, it is of course extremely easy to control and maneuver. It has a very steady hover, even without pilot’s input. However, take into consideration that due to the drone’s small size it’s not a good idea to fly it in medium to strong wind conditions. On the other hand, Spark is also an amazing drone to fly indoor.
Spark is the ideal compact camera drone to carry around with you. The built-in camera has 12MP and records 1080p video at 30 frames per second. It also makes use of a 2-axis stabilized gimbal that eliminates vibration and ensures a steady high-quality image. The drone of course, can also transmit Live Video in high-quality, real-time with no latency whatsoever. The best FPV experience you can get from a drone within this budget.
DJI Spark presents a wide range of top-notch features that take the whole experience an all another level. Such features are: Gesture and TapFly Control (tap the screen and the drone will fly in that direction autonomously), FlightAutonomy with Obstacle Detection (don’t worry about hitting objects during flight), GPS Tracking, Vision Position-Based Navigation, 31mp/h top speed in Sport Mode, Auto-Return, among many other incredible features!
On top of all this, DJI Spark also presents some amazing specs, such as the 2km (1.2 miles) max control range. Flight time is also quite impressive if we take into consideration how small the drone is. Per battery, Spark has a max flight time of 16 minutes.
5- DJI Phantom 3 Standard & Professional
It is one of the most popular Phantom drone line and it was the first to feature DJI’s own action camera (they previously supported GoPro and didn’t provide their own camera). Even though it’s not the most recent product from the Phantom line, it doesn’t fall behind. Phantom 3 indeed still is one of the best quads to own (especially now that the price dropped due to Mavic Pro, Spark and Phantom 4 being released).
Note: We have put standard and professional versions together in the same rank but we will provide different Amazon links and main differences between the 2.
I’m sure one of the main reasons why you know this quadcopter is due to its popular above average performance, and indeed it’s true. Many people opt to buy a Phantom drone because they are extremely easy to control, have an amazingly accurate hover and fight wind very well. When it comes to performance, Phantom 3 truly excels.
Remember when I wrote we would be mentioning the main differences between Standard and Professional versions? Well, while the differences between the 2 are very thin, the one that truly makes a difference is the camera. Standard comes with a 2.7K video camera and 12MP still photos, while the Live Video is 720p. Professional comes with a 4K video camera and 12MP photos, Live Video is the same resolution. The 3-axis stabilized gimbal is the same and the 94ºField of View lens with f/2.8 Aperture is also the same.
Phantom 3 is a semi-autonomous drone, meaning it comes with a nice set of autonomous features but isn’t fully autonomous as its successor. Features are: Built-in GPS + GLONASS (records your Phantom’s takeoff point and remembers it as you fly), Auto-Return, Auto-Return when a signal is lost, Vision Positioning, Point of Interest, Follow Me, Waypoints, and of course the Live Video.
Note: Standard version doesn’t have Vision Positioning System, GLONASS and DJI Lightbridge extended range.
Phantom 3 specifications are pretty amazing, if you are flying in perfect flight conditions (good environmental conditions for signal transmission + unobstructed and no interference path). In perfect flight conditions and in the hands of an expert, Phantom 3 Professional can fly as far as 5km while Standard only goes 1km (due to DJI Lightbridge)! However, we wouldn’t recommend this to beginners and even intermediate pilots. When it comes to flight time, Phantom 3 has a decent duration of 23 to 25 minutes per battery.
Note: Standard only has 1 km range and Professional has 5km.
4- Walkera Vitus 320
Vitus 320 is the main competitor of the Mavic series. After the big success DJI had with a foldable drone, Walkera followed its footsteps and designed a worthy competitor. Vitus 320 combines a compact design with an amazing camera and awesome smart features.
When it comes to performance Vitus 320 matches Mavic Pro perfectly. Amazingly steady hover and responsive controls, making the whole experience truly joyful. Flying Vitus 320 feels as it is supposed to feel, giving you the confidence every beginner seeks. Even in wind conditions, Vitus performs amazingly well.
Vitus 320 camera is slightly better than the Mavic Pro, but not as good as the Mavic Air. Vitus 320 comes with a 4K High-Definition camera that supports 4K videos with 30fps, 1080p in 60fps, and still photos with 12MP. The lens is ultra-low distortion and has an 85º FOV. It is placed on a mini-sized 3-axis gimbal to eliminate vibration and ensuring high-quality footage. It is also capable of transmitting Live Video. Unfortunately, the remote controller has no built-in FPV monitor. Instead, it makes use of the pilot’s smartphone. The controller has a phone holder where you can attach your phone.
Besides the foldable design and the Live Video, Walkera Vitus 320 also has a wide set of interesting and useful features, some being the latest additions in drone technology. The set of features is as follows: Smart Obstacle Avoidance (through TOF technology and 3 high-precision sensors), Satellite + Visual Positioning (dual module GPS + GLONASS), Hand-gesture Selfie Mode, Smart Follow, One-Key Takeoff and Landing, Telemetry (flight data), Out-of-Control Course Reversal, Flight Path Planning and POI flight. On top of all this, you still have a very unique feature, only present on 2 Walkera drones, the AiBao and this one. I’m talking about Augmented Reality games (Collection Mode, Racing Mode and Combat Mode). To access these features you will have to download the free Walkera app on your phone (Android and iOS).
When it comes to specs Vitus 320 doesn’t impress but it also doesn’t fail to do please. The flight time is around 25 minutes per battery, which is pretty good. Control range however is only 1.5km. Although 1500 meters is probably more than what the average pilot requires, if we compare it to DJI products, it does make significant difference.
3- DJI Mavic Pro
Mavic Pro was DJI’s first product aimed at easy transportation by making use of a unique and very efficient foldable design. For quite some time it was the only serious high-end drone capable of perfectly matching the foldable + autonomous + high quality camera, criteria.
One of the reasons why Mavic Pro was such a hit among people who had never flown a drone before, it’s in part due to its top performance. Even a baby could fly this. That might be an overstatement, but it’s almost true. DJI Mavic Pro has the perfect hover, perfect stability, perfect responsive controls. If you never have flown a drone before and you got the money, DJI Mavic Pro is the ideal choice.
If you follow YouTube Vloggers such as the widely famous Casey Neistat, you will surely be familiar with the breathtaking aerial video quality of Mavic Pro. This is Casey’s (the youtuber) favorite drone to carry around with him to film day-to-day sightseeing’s and capturing the world’s beauty from an aerial point of view. Mavic Pro’s camera can take 12MP still photos and shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second. If you wish to have 120fps however you must shoot at 720p. The camera is on a 3-axis gimbal that eliminates vibration. Lens has a 78.8º FOV (Field of View).
Besides the already mentioned foldable design and Live Video transmission, Mavic Pro also comes with a wide set of amazing features. These are: ActiveTrack, Tap&Fly, Obstacle Avoidance, Vision Positioning, GPS + GLONASS, Sport Mode, Gesture Mode, Follow Me Mode, Tripod Mode, Trace, Profile, Spotlight, Selfie Mode, Terrain Follow, and Auto-Return if the battery runs low or loses signal. Yes, as you can see Mavic Pro is a feature-rich drone, featuring all the latest amazing technology one could possibly require on a drone. Embrace the future, because it fits right in your backpack.
Of course as expected, Mavic Pro doesn’t fall behind in its specifications. In terms of flight time, maximum is 27 minutes (depends on payload, speed and wind). Max control range, in perfect flight conditions, is an astonishing 7km!!
Note: Control range actually exceeds battery time. In other words, the drone will lose battery power before it loses signal.
2- DJI Mavic Air
Air is the most recent addition to the Mavic series by the renowned brand DJI. It is a significant upgrade to its predecessor the Mavic Pro. Air features a slightly better camera and sensors, but Pro does have more control range. Let’s find out more about DJI Mavic Air.
When it comes to performance, Mavic Air behaves the same as its older brother Mavic Pro. Both have astonishing performance, being able to steadily hover in place without any pilot’s input on the remote controller. Very gentle flyer, ideal for beginners. Feel free to fly it even on medium wind conditions, with caution of course. Air can reach a max speed of 88.4km/h
One of the main characteristics of Mavic Air is without a doubt its camera. If you love aerial photography and videography you will want to take this ‘baby’ everywhere with you. Mavic Air comes with a 1/2.3” CMOS image sensor able to capture 12MP still photos with HDR and create 32MP spherical panorama shots. The camera can also shoot 4K video at 30fps, 2.7K at 60fps and Full HD video at 120fps. If you are a fan of aerial footage and you occasionally travel or go to outdoor events, this is the drone to capture it all in high-quality and without any hassle. And it of course also transmits Live Video.
As expected from a DJI drone, Mavic Air is no stranger to amazing features powered by powerful technology. These features are: ActiveTrack, QuickShots (Asteroid and Boomerang), SmartCapture, Tap&Fly, Vision-Based Protection, VIO Technology, Smart Obstacle Avoidance (through TOF technology and 3 high-precision sensors), One-Key Takeoff and Landing, and Automatic Return. As you can see most of the features are focused on enhancing the photography and videography experience.
Let’s discuss specs. Unfortunately, Mavic Air specs are not as good as Mavic Pro, however, we must take into consideration Pro is a larger quad. This being said, Air has a flight time of 21 minutes and a maximum control range of 4km.
1- DJI Phantom 4
The drone everyone wants. The drone everyone desires. The one and only DJI Phantom 4. It is DJI’s biggest success and one could argue, the most famous commercial drone on earth. Notorious for its performance, autonomous features, ease of use and camera quality. The world loves Phantom 4 and we at BuyBestQuadcopter love it too!
Yes, you already know what I’m going to say. It’s true, Phantom 4 has a performance out of this world, a performance that can only be matched by Mavic, Vitus 320, and Yuneec. Extremely easy to control, it’s such a smooth flyer, even a baby could fly it. Powerful and precise, even in wind conditions, Phantom 4 is a must-have to anyone that prioritizes top performance.
Phantom 4 comes with an amazing high-performance camera capable of shooting sharp and clean video in up to 4K at 30fps and Full HD 1080p at 120fps for slow motion. It has a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, a lens with 94º FOV (Field of View) and a f/2.8 aperture. Still, photos are taken in 12MP HDR and max video bitrate is 60mbps (keep in mind Mavic Air already features 100mbps video bitrate; newer model). No wonder Phantom 4 is one of the top choices for aerial photography and videography. It is able to capture stunning and breathtaking photos and videos. And it can of course also transmit Live Video in amazing high-quality with no latency in transmission.
DJI Phantom 4 is well-known for its autonomous flight features, and overall above average feature set. It is one of the main aspects about this product that drives so many people to buy it. The features are as follow: DJI Go (share photos, create flight paths, connection with friends), Tap to Fly (Tap on the Screen and the drone will fly to that location), Obstacle Avoidance (high-precision sensors that prevent the drone from hitting objects during flight), Precision hovering and Automatic Flight Positioning (GPS + GLONASS), ActiveTrack, Automatic Return to Home, One-Key Takeoff and Landing, POI, Follow Me, Waypoints, Home Lock, Course Lock, and Sport Mode. I think we haven’t forgotten any! It’s that overwhelming. Truly a feature-rich quadcopter, there is no other commercial drone under $1000 that can compare to this.
On top of all what we already mentioned, Phantom 4 also has over the top specifications. When it comes to flight time, Phantom 4 has an astonishing 28 to 31 minutes per battery (it of course depends on the speed you are flying at and overall flight conditions). Maximum range is 7km! Yes, you read that correctly, 7000 meters!
Note: Control range actually exceeds battery time. In other words, the drone will lose battery power before it loses signal.
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