Ready to find the best drone under $500 on the market?

The truth is that even when spending $500 on a drone, you could still end up with a dud, especially if you buy one from one of the fly-by-night low-quality importers.

The good news for you is that we spent 5 days testing various drones, reading user reviews, and coming up with a comprehensive list of the best picks that will ensure you find a gem in the rough! 

Let's dive right into our list of top-performing mid-range drones under $500 that won't break the bank.

Our Top 3 Under $500 Drones for 2022

Our #1 Rated

DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo – Ultralight Foldable...

DJI Mavic Mini 2

"Editor's Choice"

  • The Mavic Mini is equipped with a 4K UHD Camera that can also stream live video
  • It offers a generous flight time of 301 minutes, as well as a flight range of about 10km
  • Regardless of its low price, the DJI Mavic Mini 2 makes very few compromises, which is why we have made it our Top Under $500 Pick

Our #2 Rated

Holy Stone HS 720

"The Best Budget Option"

  • This drone is equipped with a 4K FHD Camera with Image Stabilization and Shock Absorption
  • Flight Time is up to 26 minutes and the Flight Range is 1600 meters
  • Aggressively priced, the HS720 is our clear budget pick for 2022

Our #3 Rated

Ruko F11 with Gimbal

"Best if you want a little bit of everything"

  • Full 4K HD Camera with Stabilizing Gimbal, Superior Range, and Foldable design
  • Features up to 56 minutes of Flight Time and Fly Speed up to 15 m/s
  • Intelligent Flight Features for beginners and pros

What to Expect from a Drone Under $500?

Average Flight Time

Batteries and drone firmware have become much more efficient in the last couple of years, and we've come a long way from drones that could provide less than 10 minutes of flight time. Therefore, you should expect an average flight time of 15 to 30 minutes. Some brands prioritize flight time while others focus on other specs. However, keep in mind that increased payload results in decreased flight time. Know the expected flight time of your drone in different flight modes and act accordingly. No one wants to lose a shot because their drone died - and by Murphy's Law, it would've been the best shot you've ever made!

Average Battery Life

The battery life of a drone directly influences its flight time. Usually, a drone battery lasts up to 30 minutes, corresponding to the average flight time for this price range. That said, the battery life will depend on many factors. Primarily, the weight and the aerodynamics of your drone will affect its battery life. Next, there are some less obvious factors, such as unnecessary accessories that you have attached, that can lower it. Some outside factors - such as the wind - will also have an impact on the battery life. If you feel like a drone's battery life isn't enough for your needs, you should always have spare batteries to back it up and get more flight time. Also, some drones have a low battery alarm that notifies you when you should charge your battery.

Average Control Range

It is one of the most commonly highly prioritized specifications by drone enthusiasts. Of course, one wants to have a long-range when investing this amount of money in a drone. Fortunately, the control distance is quite satisfactory for the best drones under $500. Nowadays, an average control range for a drone in this price range is around 500 to 1000 meters, which is pretty decent. What's more, some brands focus on long-range and manufacture products that can go as far as 4000 meters without losing the signal.

Average Performance

Of course, you must expect (and demand) perfect performance from any drone that made it on the best drones under $500 list. Accurate controls, great capability in flying in windy days, and steady hover even without any pilot's input are all a must. We have only picked the quads that have top-of-the-line performance compared to other drones at this price point. You'll find that some best drones under $500 even offer better performance, flight time, and battery life than other, more expensive picks!

Average Features

As technology advances, more and more new features are added to drones as companies compete with each other for sales. Therefore, the best drones under $500 products come with a wide variety of features. Expect a decent amount of drones in this price range to feature autonomous flight, Headless Mode, Altitude Hold, and similar flight modes that make the drone easy to use. Next, there are functions that enhance camera usage such as Follow Me, Orbit, Point of Interest, GPS-assisted flight, optical flow sensors, etc. You can also get a GoPro compatible drone for under $500, if that's what you seek. Finally, there are nice little "extras" that aren't paramount but are certainly nice-to-haves, such as a low battery alarm, One key return, and live video feed.

Average Camera Quality

Most of the best drones under $500 come with a 720p HD camera, and even a 4K camera drone. They are able to produce amazing quality footage, even to semi-professional standards. In addition to the onboard camera, many drones can carry a GoPro camera and other types of action cameras. Although the onboard camera is usually not good enough for, let’s say, recording commercials or transmitting Live Video feed of sports events, it's definitely able to record amazing photos and videos for semi-professional projects, film school projects, YouTube vlogs, etc.

Best Drones Under $500 for 2022 Ranked & Reviewed


1.DJI Mavic Mini 2 - 2022's Best Drone Under $500 Overall

DJI Mavic Mini 2

"Simply the Best - No need to consider another drone in this review until the competition catches up"

DJI just launched an upgrade to the biggest gamechanger in the drone industry, the Mavic Mini drone.

The foldable, under 250 g drone is getting all of its specs and features improved with the new Mavic Mini 2.

I'm sure you have already heard, seen, or even flown a DJI Mavic Mini drone. It is one of the most recent drones by the famous brand DJI. 

Well, right now, the Mavic Mini 2 brings the amazing 4K camera and stability, plus class-leading flight range and flight time from the Mavic series to the under $500 price point.

Shipping for the original Mini started on the 11th of November 2019. Moving forward to 2022, these models remain the best drones under $500.

It's extremely easy to carry around in a backpack, and it's one of the best for holidays, filming outdoor events, vlogging, or pretty much anything.

Very compact and lightweight, not only can it be carried anywhere, but it's also the most accurate and stable drone under $500.

Everything you need to truly experience an out-of-this-world performance. From beginners to seasoned drone pilots, this 4K drone is a wonder in any hands. Even a baby can fly this thing.

Specifications:

The Mavic Mini 2 also presents some fantastic specs, such as the 10-kilometer max control range, an upgrade from the previous 4 kilometers. Flight time is pretty impressive, too, if we take into consideration how small the drone is. Per battery, the Mini has a max flight time of 31 minutes, which means that the battery life is excellent.

Camera:

Housed on the drone’s front is a camera supported by a three-axis motorized gimbal, and fitted with a 1/2.3-inch sensor

The DJI Mavic Mini camera's HD video-capturing capabilities cap out at a 4K HD resolution, with a 30fps frame rate. The alternative here is a 1080p HD video at 60fps. Moreover, it’s capable of capturing 12 MP images, as well. 

DJI Mini 2

The drone, of course, can also transmit Live Video in high-quality, real-time with 0 latency. The best FPV experience you can get from a drone within this budget.

Features:

Another thing this DJI drone doesn't lack is safety-oriented features:

For instance, the integrated altitude hold limit prevents you from getting carried away - literally. Even more so, the return home function kicks in automatically when the battery gets critically low, ensuring that your drone comes home safely.

I had some doubts about its mid-air performance, considering its lightweight frame. However, I couldn't have been more wrong: 

It felt stable and precise at all times, partially due to the downward vision sensors that allow it to detect the ground for safer landings, as well as more stable flights and hovering. 

It can stay stable at an altitude of 4000 meters while in level 5 winds!

Not to mention it's foldable, too!

Are there any downsides, though?  

The one trade-off that I should mention is that it doesn’t come with object tracking. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this feature added as a part of a future update, though.

If you'd like a detailed comparison between the two, see our in-depth DJI Mavic Mini review here.

PROS

  • Very easy to control & fly, foldable and easy to carry
  • 12MP built-in camera, 4K video
  • Up to 31 minutes flight time
  • Amazing photos and videos
  • Class-leading specs and performance
  • Amazing Set of autonomous features, such as Altitude Hold

CONS

  • This package doesn’t include a spare battery

2. Holy Stone HS720E - Top Budget Option under $500

Holy Stone HS720E

"Plenty of great features at a fantastic price"

Holy Stone is generally regarded as a strong competitor to DJI. Some of their drones have started to stand out from the rest and the company continues to prove itself to its customers, showing that it deserves their share of the market.

One of their better drones has to be the recently updated Holy Stone HS720E, also featured in our recent buyer's guide (drones currently for sale).

I must admit I was very surprised by HS720's performance. It genuinely feels like I'm controlling a high-end drone, much more expensive than the mid-range. Highly responsive, very maneuverable - and capable of flying in windy conditions.

I must add if you're a fan of aerial photography and videography, but do not have a high budget, Holy Stone's HS720 is one of the best drones you can get. At the price well under 350 dollars, it won't disappoint you.

Specifications:

The Holy Stone HS720 has specifications that rival even the mighty DJI Mavic series. Yes, I'm serious. 

For starters, the drone is capable of flying as far as 1600 meters. If, like me, you're a fan of long-distance drones, you'll love HS720. It will fly way past your eyesight - and still manage to return safely thanks to the auto-return feature.

As for flight time, each battery will allow up to 26 minutes of flight time - something I was genuinely excited about.

Camera:

Camera-wise, Holy Stone attempted to do what Syma and DJI did. The brand manufactured its own action 1080p HD drone camera instead of requiring its customers to buy an SJCam or GoPro camera, or other. And they absolutely nailed it. The HS700 had a good quality drone camera with 12MP, capable of shooting 1080p video and transmitting live video, the HS720 upgrades that into a 4K video full HD Camera (3840x2160p resolution).

The drone also transmits Live Video via Wi-fi directly to a smartphone device through a free-to-download app (Android and iOS). The camera can be placed on a phone holder attached to the 5G remote controller.

Holy Stone HS720E

Features:

HS720 packs a great set of features - as expected of a drone within its range. The highlight surely is the GPS drone system with Follow Me Mode and Custom Flight Path. Draw a route on the App screen - and the HS720 will move in that direction or in a circle and send back a real-time landscape view to you.

On top of that, it also features auto-return and 5GHz Live Video transmission. It lacks some basic features, such as automatic takeoff and landing. But considering it packs a good GPS and waypoints path system, we can't say it lacks a good set of features.

If you need any more info on this drone, be sure to check out our Holy Stone HS720 in-depth review.

PROS

  • Travel-friendly casing and easy to fly
  • Smart flight modes, such as return home and one key tap fly
  • 4K camera drone for under $300
  • Live video Wi-fi transmission
  • Powerful brushless motor, great flight time

CONS

  • Long charging time

3. Ruko F11 with Gimbal - Most Versatile Drone Under $500

Ruko F11

"Amazing set of features and impressive camera quality"

As a recent addition to the market, the innovative and rather impressive Ruko F11Gim offers a plethora of high-end features, which is precisely why it's one of the best drones under 500. Even though Ruko is a mini, foldable quadcopter drone, its design comes off as sizable in comparison to Holy Stone's HS720E.

Being a small camera drone that has an air of bulkiness, the Ruko F11 is still compact because it is foldable, and I have to say that its set of capabilities amazed me. 

It managed to outshine its price scope on multiple fronts.

I enjoyed how easy to fly this drone was due to its agility and the three intelligent flight modes that it offers. Because of this, Ruko F11 allows smooth flights while being durable enough to sustain any in-air impacts.

I have to say that paying a little over $300 for a drone with an exceptionally long flight time along with an abundance of outstanding features is one of the best investments you can make - and not regret it later.

Specifications:

Ruko F11 Gim’s specs make it valuable competition on the market. The drone boasts a control range of 1.2 kilometers, which narrows down to 500 meters for live video transmissions. You can safely let it reach beyond your eyesight as it’s equipped with a return to home feature.

Concerning its flight time, on paper, THE Ruko F11 Gim states that it can hold up to 30 minutes. However, in my experience, it offers a solid 26 minutes of flight time per single battery charge. It also comes with a spare battery, meaning you can get about 52 minutes per session with this great drone.

Camera:"Amazing set of features and impressive camera quality"

As a recent addition to the market, the innovative and rather impressive Ruko F11Gim offers a plethora of high-end features, which is precisely why it's one of the best drones under 500. Even though Ruko is a mini, foldable quadcopter drone, its design comes off as sizable in comparison to Holy Stone's HS720E.

Being a small camera drone that has an air of bulkiness, the Ruko F11 is still compact because it is foldable, and I have to say that its set of capabilities amazed me. 

It managed to outshine its price scope on multiple fronts.

Ruko F11Gim

I enjoyed how easy to fly this drone was due to its agility and the three intelligent flight modes that it offers. Because of this, Ruko F11 allows smooth flights while being durable enough to sustain any in-air impacts.

I have to say that paying a little over $300 for a drone with an exceptionally long flight time along with an abundance of outstanding features is one of the best investments you can make - and not regret it later.

What I like the most about Ruko’s F11 drone is its 4K camera drone, which allows you to capture detailed videos in high resolution. That being said, it’s worth mentioning that DJI Mavic Mini’s camera still has the upper hand when it comes to color reproduction. 

F11 Gim comes equipped with electronic image stabilization so that your footage can come out clear and distortion-free. Its 2-axis gimbal also contributes to the overall stability of the drone and keeps the footage it takes less blurry. 

You can choose to store your videos either by transmitting them over Wi-Fi directly to your phone or on the 128GB SD card that the drone supports.

Features:

F11 Gim is a functional fusion of many high-end features that you wouldn't expect to see in its price scope.

With several intelligent modes, flying the drone is a really enjoyable experience. It has a one-key landing or takeoff, Return to Home, as well as Headless mode, which allows for a diverse flying experience.

The impressive battery life extends the flight time so that you can get around 50 minutes of your flight time with your drone. That said, the battery does take a bit longer to charge compared to some other drones.

PROS

  • 4K high-quality camera drone under $500
  • Easy to fly and operate
  • About 50 minutes of flight time because it comes with a spare battery
  • Three intelligent flight modes
  • Foldable and easy to store and carry
  • Comes with a carrying case

CONS

  • No obstacle avoidance (but with so many features, it's easy to forgive the lack of this one)
  • Battery charge time is a bit long

4. DEERC DE22 Pro Drone - Best Foldable Drone Of 2022

DEERC DE22

When it comes to the balance of features and price, DEERC drones are among the best on the market. And you’ll be glad to know that they offer cheaper alternatives than their competitor, the Hong Kong-based DJI.

DEERC DE22 Pro drone comes with a few significant advantages, like the fact that it includes two batteries, providing you with more than 50 minutes of flight time. It also comes with a sleek remote controller that features a small LCD that shows the essential stats for your flight.

This impressive drone is priced at about $400 and serves as a great all-in-all option for our top drones under $500 round-up.

Specifications:

The drone features brushless motors, meaning you’ll find that it’s much quieter than most other drones when it flies. In addition, these motors last longer - and they don’t overheat quickly.

The construction of this drone’s housing feels solid and durable. It serves well in protecting the interior electronic parts. Even if the drone were to crash, we believe it would absorb most of the impact.

As we already mentioned, the DEERC DE22 Pro drone comes with two batteries - and each can give you about 27 minutes of flight time. However, due to dynamics, you won’t get the promised time.

Nevertheless, even 25 minutes of flight time per battery is very good.

Camera:

The DEERC DE22 Pro features a 4K camera that's mounted on a two-axis gimbal. In addition to that, the drone is equipped with electronic image stabilization. Thus, even if the drone tilts, it still takes proper footage.

The camera has the zoom function - you can zoom up to five times - and it boasts an advanced Sony sensor.

You can enjoy an excellent FPV experience directly on your smartphone. If you want to store the footage you make with your drone, you can do that by using a TF card. Yes, the drone has a slot for one.

Features:

This drone comes with a 2.4GHz remote controller that has very low latency. Additionally, it has a small display that provides all the important information, such as battery statistics and how far out the drone is flying.

DEERC DE22 GPS Drone

The DEERC DE22 Pro also packs all sorts of flight modes such as GPS flight, Follow Me Mode, WayPoint and Circle Fly, Altitude Hold, and One-Key Take Off.

PROS

  • Long control range 
  • Excellent flight thanks to brushless motors
  • Stable hovering
  • Two long-lasting batteries
  • Fail-safe features

CONS

  • Might take some figuring out for beginners
  • Long charging time

5. Force1 F100GP - Best Entry-Level Drone Under $500

Force1 F100GP

"Just getting started at flying drones? All the features a beginner might ask for"

Right off the bat, the Force 1 F100GP is not the best drone that you can get for under $500 - nor is its camera. However, it's one of the best drones to get if you're just starting to fly drones and have no experience as a pilot.

The drone comes equipped with everything you need to get started and fly it right away. It's also worth mentioning that it's GoPro compatible, so if you decide to expand your possibilities once you hone your skills, it's entirely possible.

And did I mention that it comes with three shells in different color schemes, black, blue, and ghostly white? 

You can customize your drone, which is a great bonus.

Also, the manufacturers offer a money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the drone. That's very unlikely to happen, but it's always good to know that you're backed up!

Specifications:

The flight range of this drone, propelled by powerful motors, goes up to 500 meters. They market it as "long-range," which isn't really the case compared to some other, more expensive picks - but at this price, the range is more than satisfactory.

The battery lasts around 17 minutes on average, though you can get a longer flight time if you only fly the drone at the second speed. Also, the included battery charger is pretty efficient for this price.

Camera:

This drone has a 1080p HD camera that can capture high-quality photo and video material.

Now, you may ask yourself:

Why should I settle for a 1080p HD camera when some of the other picks offer a 4k one?

And the answer is: 

A 1080p HD camera is realistic to expect from a drone with this price tag and its target audience - beginners who want to have fun while learning to fly a drone and maybe record a video for their home or school projects.

Force1 F100GP

Even though it's not the best out there, this camera has a wide angle and captures the scenery in vivid colors.

It's very easy to select the video mode due to the 2.4GHz remote controller. Not to mention that this drone can do 360-degree flips, too!

Features:

In terms of features, the Force1 F100GP doesn't offer bells and whistles, but it doesn't promise them, either.

While you can't expect some advanced features, like the Altitude Hold, 1-key return, and the like, you get a fully balanced, ready-to-fly drone that caters to beginner's needs in every aspect. It even comes with four spare propellers and propeller guards that allow for some trial and error as a beginner without serious consequences.

PROS

  • Easy to control and fly, can perform flips
  • Sleek design with 3 different shells you can use
  • Solid flight time, powerful motors
  • Has LED lights for safe night flight

CONS

  • The 720p HD camera might not satisfy everyone's needs
  • It doesn't have advanced features

6. iFlight Nazgul5 - Best Racing Drone Of 2022

iFlight Nazgul5

When it comes to racing drones, iFlight Nazgul5 is definitely this year's winner in the category below $500:

It’s a perfect beginner FPV quadcopter that’s also affordable - and of very good quality.

First, we should mention that the iFlight Nazgul5 comes as a BNF or PNP.

The BNF (Bind to Fly) version provides two different types of receivers - FrSky XM+ and FrSky R-XSR. On the other hand, the PNP (Plug and Play) version comes without a receiver, so you’ll have to purchase a separate receiver.

At the time of writing this round-up, the Nazgul5 comes with an affordable price of about $400 - a steal for a good quality racing drone if you ask us.

Specifications:

The quadcopter comes with an iFlight Cidora 5-inch frame - a 215mm wheelbase Carbon fiber frame, to be more precise. It supports mini and micro cameras - and 20x20mm and 30.5x30.5 stacks.

Unfortunately, the battery isn’t included in the box, so you’ll have to buy it separately. We highly recommend looking for a 6S Lipo battery with a capacity of between 1000 and 1300 mAh.

While looking for a battery, keep in mind that there are a lot of different brands out there, and the C rating isn’t always accurate.

Some brands we would recommend here are TATTU, CHNL, GNB, and Lumenier.

Camera: 

The Nazgul5 comes with a Caddx Ratel camera that features a 2.1mm lens, has a resolution of 1200 TVL, and a 1/1.8” sensor.

The camera comes with a small joystick used to change the camera settings. However, do note that the actual connector is rather hard to reach, so if you want to plug it in, you will have to take the top plate off.

Nevertheless, the image quality is outstanding. The camera performs exceptionally well - even in low-light conditions.

 Nazgul5

Features: 

This racing drone comes with the iFlight SucceX-E Flight Controller and ESC stack.

This flight controller is equipped with the Betaflight 4.0.4 flashed. It also features OSD and 8MB of BlackBox memory. Oh, and it also has eight motor outputs - and LED strip support.

The Nazgul5 features XING-E 2207 motors. The motors are smooth and are of high quality. The screw on the bottom of the drone’s motors allows you to remove the bell easily.

PROS

  • Excellent camera
  • A great choice for FPV racing
  • High-quality motors 

CONS

  • Battery not included

Frequently Asked Questions: Best Drone Under $500

Are drones under $500 ideal for learning?

There isn't a uniform answer to whether you should use these drones for learning. Yes, they can be useful. But ideal? It all depends on your skill level - and what you expect from your drone.

The thing is that drones you can get within this budget often have a certain level of autonomy and pilot-assist features, such as one-key return and GPS tracking. They can also maintain a steady height and hover in the air, even when the weather conditions are not-so-ideal. Even without much input on the pilot's side, these drones can stay stable.

Plus, they're ready-to-fly right out of the box.

The features I've mentioned above make these drones an excellent option for beginner pilots who haven't completely mastered controlling their drones.

On the flip side, you will still pay more for them than for some entry-level drones, such as toy drones. And consequently, the repairs can get costly - at least more than what you would pay to fix a beginner's toy drone.

The bottom line? 

Yes, drones under $500 are definitely suitable for beginners. Still, toy drones made of plastic are even more practical, and if you're a complete novice, you should use them first, just to get the hang of the basics.

P.S. If you've already flown a drone or two before - even if it was your friend's - and this is something you consider getting for your first personal drone, it's safe to practice with it.

P.P.S. DJI drones (the top drones on our list today) and the Force1 F100GP drone are entirely beginner-friendly. If you're just getting started and decide to go with a drone under $500, go with one of them. They are easy to control and fly; you won't make a mistake.

Can I fly a drone indoors and outdoor?

Again the same answer: It depends.

Beginners shouldn't try flying their drones indoors; practicing in wide, outdoor environments is a must.

That being said, most of the drones from this list offer enough stability if you want to fly them indoors safely. Therefore, if you have some previous experience flying a drone, you can do it. But ensure that you have enough space for that. The propellers and walls don't mix well together!

Are these drones safe for children?

No, drones on this list aren't drones made for kids. They could hurt themselves or cause significant damage to the drones - and the repair can get costly. If you're in search of a perfect drone for your child, you should check out our Top 10 Best Drones Under $100 round-up, where you'll find some viable alternatives.

Do I have to register my drone with FAA?

Do you live in the USA? If so, yes - you'll need to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55lbs (250 grams), according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Do these drones support GoPro and other action cameras?

Yes, they do. The majority of drones on our list are compatible with GoPro and other action cameras.

Some of these drones already come with a high-quality camera that ranges from a 720p HD to a 4K camera. Still, if you wish to use your GoPro, there shouldn't be any problems. You can attach it and remove it as you'd like.

Are there drones under $500 suitable for filmmaking and professional video recording?

Some of the picks we singled out today are. While many drones under $500 tend to be used by semi-professionals and film students, others are suitable for professional video recording - especially the ones with a 4K camera. You should consider a slightly higher price range for the most professional drones designed for serious commercial purposes (under $1000).

Which drone brand is the best?

The world's most reputable drone brands are DJI, Force1, Holy Stone, and Hubsan - the ones you frequently see on our lists, including this one. Their models always come equipped with the best-in-class features, such as a high-quality camera, excellent flight time and battery life, and a variety of smart add-ons. Add the confidence derived from their excellent customer service to the equation, and it's easy to see why these brands rank the highest. That isn't a comprehensive list, though; there are many other drone brands that put out top-notch models.

What is the best drone under 400 dollars?

Holy Stone HS720E is currently the best drone under 400 dollars. Its highlight features include 26 minutes of flight time, long control range, and some advanced features like GPS-assisted flying, low battery indicator, the Follow Me and Return home modes, and so on. Last but not least, this model has a 4K (3840 x 2160) UHD camera with a built-in shock absorber and adjustable, 90-degree rotation lens.


Final Words

Did you like our best drones under 500$ article? Please share it with fellow drone enthusiasts, and let us know if you have any more questions!

Have fun and Happy flying!



Last update on 2022-08-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API This article contains affiliate links which for which the owner of the site may receive a commision.

About the Author
 Nikola

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