Personal drones under $500 have become really popular in the market these days and you can get yourself a pretty good deal within a reasonable budget but which one of these drones should you go for? Due to the advent of good battery-timing quadcopters and their excellent stability, people generally tend to go for these four-engined drones instead of the plane or chopper-type models that were so popular during the early days of the RC Drone era. According to the recent statistics, more than 2.5 million personal drones were sold in 2016 and the figure is expected to rise exponentially in the coming years.
Now for the best drones under $500, you need to have some kind of comparison and trade-offs to study before you can get the best deal and we are here to help you do that.
Now instead of comparing just a few of these products, we have gone for a whole range of these UAVs including First Person View (FPV) as well as simple video drones that people use to record video logs. Now what are the different types of drones available in this price range and what are their features? Here is a simple explanation of some drone-related nomenclature.
Table of Contents
- FAQs About Drones Under $500
- Best Drones Under $500
- Best Video Drones Under $500
- Best FPV Drones Under $500
- Verdict About Drones Under $500
FAQs About The Best Quadcopters Under $500
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What is a drone?
A drone is now a widely used name for wireless RC flying machines that have become increasingly popular at a personal level following tremendous advances and lowering of prices. Now for commercial purposes, a drone can mostly mean a quadcopter as seen below. This is the standard shape that you will be having in your new drone and it is much more stable, easier to fly and safer than fixed wing and chopper-style drones that were popular once.
What is a Video Drone?
It is a RC quadcopter that has video-recording capability as well as other nifty flying and camera features that you can use it to film your everyday life, adventures and pretty much anything. Now the camera quality is really important here and you should try to get as many pixels as you can on this thing.
What is an FPV Drone?
This is a drone that gives a first-person-view or the view seen by from the front of from the drone to the person standing below. You must have seen it in movies where armed driverless drones are used to bomb adversaries using the front camera that gives a pilot-like viewing ability to the person controlling the flying stick. Now an FPV drone is also a video drone and you can use it to film video as well but not like a regular video drone that generally has the camera situated underneath the drone.
What is the nominal range and battery timing of the drones under $500?
The range and battery timing of drones vary according to their functionality and the quality of battery present. At maximum, you can get twenty minutes of flying time on your drone and that is more than enough for a good video log and taking breathtaking overhead snaps from a distance. The range of these drones also varies significantly. The maximum range we are looking at is around 400-500 meters.
What is the average life expectancy of these drones?
While life expectancy is used for living things, we tend to use it about drones as well. Since there are a number of factors to consider over here, the average flying cycles a kind of drone can pull off are 100-200 so you have to use it wisely. While the drone itself is alright, the battery needs to be replaced and that major purchase.
Are there any other things I need to consider?
One thing that freaks some people out is the kind of assembly required before a drone can take-off in the air. So, if you are wary of any assembly, always buy drone that are marked RTF or Ready-To-Fly. If you enjoy assembling stuff, go for BNF or Bind-and-Fly drones and if you want even more tinkering, opt for a ARF or Almost-Ready to-Fly. These drones come equipped with drone kits and you can modify your drone according to the manual. There may or may not be a standard remote control with the ARF ones so you need to make plans accordingly. This nomenclature is easily available as labels on the packaging of these drones.
Also, not all drones are easy to fly. While quadcopters seem easy, what makes them so simple to fly is their onboard flight controller that stabilizes it. So, you need to look for a drone that customers have termed easy to fly in their reviews.
Best Drones Under $500
DJI Phantom 3 STANDARD Quadcopter Drone with 2.5 K Camera
Read Reviews About DJI Phantom 3 STANDARD
The DJI Phantom 3 that costs around $440 these days has been called the best drone under $500 by most of the reviewers and tech websites around the world. The quality of the product is evident from a noticeable difference in its performance as compared to its competitors.
For instance its maximum range is close to the 1 Km mark that many other drones in this list won’t come close to getting. The camera quality is great as well with the option to upgrade to 4K if you have couple of hundred bucks more on the budget. The battery timing of 23-25 minutes is an industry high and you will be hard pushed to find a drone that offers more. So, it is definitely our best pick in this range. Let’s have a more detailed look at it specs-wise and also list down some pros and cons for you so you can make it easier for yourself.
3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter
Read Reviews About 3DR Solo Drone
Now everyone doesn’t have the deep pockets to purchase a $450 drone and that is where our budget pick comes into play. The 3DR Solo is a decent drone that comes at half the price of our best pick under $500 drone. Let’s see what it is capable of.
Now the first thing you will like about the quadcopter is its gaming-style controls that feels as if you are playing a video game. As a result most of the users were able to adapt to the new drone very easily so it is a big plus point if you are buying a drone for the very first time. Rest of the features are pretty ominous as compared to the drone market like the camera is adjustable, you can pause flight in the mid-air and an HDMI port in the controller that you can use to stream the video on virtually any screen possible. It is a fairly simple drone and it has mostly garnered good reviews on Amazon.
Let’s have a closer look at it vis-a-vis specs and pros/cons.
Parrot Bebop 2 Drone
Read Reviews About Parrot Bebop 2
The Parrot Bebop 2 drone is a good drone under $500 that escapes that radar generally, but it is a really nice product if you look at it overall. Costing a bordering $480, the drone has some exceptionally strong motors that allows it to fly higher altitudes with ease as well as a few other great features.
While the range is its main feature, its flight timing is pretty impressive at all, clocking 25% more than average drones in this price range to the level that take it to 23-25 minutes worth of it. The flight time averages more or less than the DJI Phantom 3. Another great feature is its bright LED light in the rear that allows much improved visibility compared to other drones especially in low-lighting conditions.
UPair One Drone with 4K Camera Bundle
Read Reviews About UPair One Drone
Seeing 4K camera in the headline will make you ache for it but please while we are done with this review and then make a decision. Costing $349 at the moment, it is a mid-range drone price-wise and promises to be a really good one. One of the very noticeable things you will like about the drone is its huge LED screen controller. It is almost like a portable console and feels really good in the hands. It comes bundled with over 11 items in the packaging and it seems really good to see it all together.
While the battery accompanied with the drone is bigger than most, the flight time per charge is not that impressive at all with a maximum 18 minutes time being touted by the supplier which will likely mean around 15 minutes in practice. It has U-shape design that forms its fuselage that is linked to better video shooting capability and GPS features.
Best Video Drones Under $500
Yuneec Breeze Flying Camera with 4K video
Read Reviews About Yuneec Breeze
Now the quadcopters under this heading are specifically designed for the best video experience in this price range. While the drone’s performance markers could be down in this category of video drones under $500, you will be hard-pushed to find better video quality than these two.Now Yuneec promises a lot of good stuff in its product description.
We are immediately introduced to its stunning 13 MP 4K video recording capability that can shoot some incredible videos and capture some amazing pictures for you as well. It has been designed for novice users and thus special focus has been done for the ease of the media capture process. It has several modes for this purpose including automated flying modes like selfie, pilot, orbit, follow me and Journey. So, you can just do your thing and the quadcopter will just go around its business. It comes with a nice indoor positioning system as well so that it won’t crash into the ceiling or nearby objects while filming or capturing shots. With its companion app, you can share the snaps and videos in one tap as well.
Yuneec Typhoon G Quadcopter with Go Pro Gimbal and a Steady Grip
Read Reviews About Yuneec Typhoon G
Now this one’s price is currently quoted at a whopping $780 but it also includes a GoPro Hero and a few other extra items that you might be able to knock off from the price. There is also the condition of its delivery that it can’t be delivered anywhere else in the world except the mainland states which shows how much advanced its technology is.
Now it is from the same company as the previous drone in this category and this one too can be classified as a video drone. It comes with a 3-axis gimbal that stabilizes the camera and allows you to get the best snaps and videos. It comes with a familiar watch me and follow me features. There is also a live feed option and the drone’s battery lasts around 18 minutes maximum so while it is better than the previous drone by Yuneec, it is still pretty average compared to the best drones in the business.
Best FPV Drones Under $500
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If you have limited knowledge of drones and don’t know what an FPC drone is, you can see a detailed explanation in the FAQs we presented at the very start of this list. To summarize it, an FPV drone is a quadcopter with the ability to stream live video to the user below to the user’s FPV goggles or VR. This gives a first person feeling to the guy piloting the drone and is considered a revolutionary technology when it comes to the development of drones. Now RC drones under the price of $500 may not offer the best FPV experience but we were able to find some decent ones on Amazon. Lets us have a look at them now.
Walkera F210 3D Edition Racing Drone With Devo 7
Read Reviews About Walkera F210 3D
Currently costing $399, this FPV drone is a good place to start if you are looking for a worthy drone under $500. Normally FPV drones are also associated with drone racing so this one is also designed in part keeping that in mind and also named accordingly. It is a tough little RC plane and it can withstand a considerable number of crashes and failures and still live to tell the tale. Since it is meant for racing purposes, it is very fast as well and accelerates amazingly well.
It goes with many of the famous racing accessories like Headplay goggles and you can experiment with a GoPro slot as well. You can control and alter many of its perimeters with the help of your smartphone and it comes with a Devo 7 controller as well for high speed chase.
Here are its various specs
Walkera QR X350 PRO With Devo 7
Read Reviews About Walkera QR X350
Now this one is pricier than $500 but we have considered it if you don’t mind raising another $60 or so extra for your RC drone. It also comes with a Devo 7 controller for your FPV experience its camera has iLook capability. With a 5200- mAh battery that can provide between 20-25 minutes of flying, and advanced gimbal support, this one shapes up to be a great drone.
But, in some instances it doesn’t live up to its price as it is not pre-programmed with no-fly zones like the DJI copters are that don’t allow it to take-off in unsuitable places like cramped quarters. But, its range is considerable with the wireless experience ranging 1-2 Km outside and near flawless transmission of signals for big chunks of time.
Here are its specs
ARRIS X-Speed 250B 250mm Quadcopter Racer FPV 250
Read Reviews About ARRIS X-Speed 250B
One thing that visibly annoys me is the length of the name some companies have the audacity to associate with their products. We aren’t going to use this long name under any circumstances so let’s just call it ARRIS drone. It is a ready-to-fly drone that costs around $309 at the moment and comes with an FPV ability. It has a long-range AT9 transmitter and RD9 at the receiving end. You can adjust the angle of the FPV camera as well from 0-30 degrees so it is pretty cool to use and feels like a realy battle drone while we are using it.
Just like other quadcopters in the category, its flight perimeters can be adjusted with the help of a smartphone. It uses a vibration damping plate that according to the manufacturers can provide better media capture performance, stabilize the drone and prolong the life of the electronic parts as well. It is a very fast drone.
HobbyKing TBS Vendetta 240
Read Reviews About HobbyKing TBS Vendetta
Costing just a whisker below our price limit at $499.99, the HobbyKind drone is the last one in our current list. It is like other FPV drones in the category, meant to be a racing drone. It is reconfigurable through its RC unit down to each individual hardware part and uses Core Pro OSD for a better performance. Now it is a relatively inexperienced drone I would say in this list of heavyweights and its customer reviews are limited in number and none of them give a lower than 3 rating to the drone.
ts carbon fiber build and provides a base for a sturdy drone and has been machined by a 4-axis CNC machine to perfect its shape and hence the heightened cost.
It will be really interesting to see how the quadcopter performs in an FPV capacity. It is claimed to be built of serious flying by the manufacturer but I will see whether they really mean it or not.
Verdict About Drones Under $500
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Now the verdict part can be tricky as we had to cover such a large number of drone from various categories but it is fair to say that the DJI Phantom 3 drone is among the best in the business and has some serious background research and practical implications on the back of it. Its price is competitive and simply put there is no better balanced, “well-behaved” drone out in the market than the DJI Phantom one. Other notable picks include Walkera F210 for FPV drone and racing experience while in the video drone category, Yuneec Typhoon G really seems to be the better one.
Tell us what you think and which other drones need to be included on our Best quadcopters under $500 list.