Best Drones Under 500

Best Drone Under 500

If you're looking for the best drone under $500, you've come to the right place. Today, drones are very popular, and they continue to improve in their modifications as users are willing to pay for better options. With drones, you can take aerial photography, explore unreachable places, and even take to the air for surveillance.

If you have wanted to purchase a drone, but aren't sure of which style or type to buy, there are a lot of options in the market place today. Today, RC Hobby Review will be going over the best drones under $500 that not only offer value, but quality and options. 

If you are a beginner to flying drones and not sure where to start check out our Ultimate guide !

Comparision table of our drones Picks:

Table could not be displayed.

DJI Spark Mini Drone

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Can't talk about the top drones less than $500 with out mentioning the DJI Spark and it happens to be our top pick. The DJI Spark is a great entry for anyone who is looking for a portable drone that is easy to control and takes great "dronies". It is an affordable drone with many great features that outshines its few flaws. Overall this is definitely my top pick for the on our list.


The body of this drone is about the size of a soda can and weighing in at just over half a pound (0.66), this truly is a take anywhere drone. Although it is small and light, it feels well-built and sturdy. The sleek and stylish body is available in five distinct colors: alpine white, sky blue, meadow green, lava red and sunrise yellow.


While it doesn't shoot in 4k, the 12-megapixel camera mounted on a mechanical two-axis gimbal combined with electronic image stabilization captures Full HD video and still images at a 3,968 x 2,976 resolution, more than adequate for the "dronie" crowd. The software offers a few one tap video options with rocket, dronie, circle and helix modes to help novices take great cinematic shots with ease. The real treat is the software that catalogs all of your content and lets you combine clips into highlight reels automatically.


While the Spark does have powerful motors, it's small form and light weight work against it when dealing with a strong breeze. In doors this drone can perform reliably, and it's gesture controls make for one of the coolest flying experiences I've ever had in a at this price point. The spark can take off from your hand, recognize your face and lock on to you, and then be controlled by simply waving your hand to command the Spark to fly up and away. With another simple picture frame gesture with your fingers and the spark knows you want a selfie. The gesture controls may not be the most reliable, but they are definitely super cool when they work. With just a smartphone, the flight range is listed at just over 300 feet, but the actual effective range is about half that before the signal degrades and gets a bit shaky. Purchasing the optional controller boosts the effective range to the advertised 1.2 miles, and additionally allows the drone to shift into sport mode where it can zoom around at up to 31 miles per hour. The Spark also offers front facing obstacle detection sensors.


The biggest drawback of the Spark is it's relatively low flight time, listed at 16 minutes but in reality only offering about 10-12 minutes. The battery is able to be charged via usb, so you can charge it easily from a variety of locations, but if you are looking to do any extended flying or take lots of aerial video and stills, you are going to want to invest in a spare battery or two.


  • - Sleek drone design with color choices for personalization
  • - Cool gesture-based flight controls
  • - Pre-programmed cinematic flight maneuvers
  • - Software catalog for all captured content


  • - Lacks 4k video
  • - Short battery life
  • - Low range without additional controller

Check out the video below of our top pick for the best drones under $500 for more information on the DJI Spark!



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DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD is known for being easy-to-use because of its user-friendly remote control, and a stable camera. It is an improvement of its predecessor Phantom 2 Vision+.

This drone is best suited for those familiar with using smart-phones and joystick controls. It could be adapted by any age group that doesn't have problems using these control methods. It also may not be for those who want to spend longer amounts of time as it can have limited battery life as we will see below. This may be the best drone in our list for beginners and then move on to a more advanced drone, like the drones under $1000.

If you are looking for one of the best drones with a camera check out this review!


The design of DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD still keeps the design that is similar with it previous versions and models. It is generally white, and has four pylons and each pylon has a rotor.

Moreover, it has a camera that is mounted at the bottom, and the landing struts as what can normally be found in most drones today. Its length from one side of the wing to another opposite side is 23 inches. It is light being under 3 pounds.

It has LED lights that are attached at the bottom of the wing, so it can easily be seen in the dark or at high altitude in broad day light. It rotors and motors are color-coded, so they can be easily installed.

The Remote

The remote control has an integrated clip, which you can use to put your smart phone or tablet in order to view the footage being taken while in the air. In this way, you are also able to see where the drone is heading. Therefore, your mobile device may serve as your flight monitor.

You won't find it hard to clip a mobile device with different sizes even a full-size iPad. It only requires a cable that will connect your phone to the remote control using a standard USB-A cable.

The remote control also has dual joy sticks to control while determining the direction of the drone. The emergency return-to-home button and the power button are placed in front, so you can quickly push such buttons at any occasion.

Lastly on the remote control, there are control dials you use to manipulate the camera while the drone is in the air. There are also buttons you can push to record a video or take a photo. There is a playback button you can click to see what you have missed or noticed. This remote control uses a rechargeable battery. All of these features make the DJI Phantom 3 a close second to the top drone on our list.

Battery Performance

The DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD can fly for about 23 minutes. This isn't that long, so you have to make sure the remote control, and the drone are fully charged before each use. Nevertheless, the drone will automatically produce a warning sound when the power reaches 10 percent.

If not you are not able to notice this alarm, the drone will automatically land when power reaches a critical level. However, it takes 1 hour to recharge the battery, so it's better to have a backup battery to avoid any inconveniences.

Flying the Drone

There are two options you can choose to control the flight. One is manual control using the joysticks, and the other one is touch control using your smart phone and the flight app. If you choose the use of your smart phone, you can fly the drone by just tapping the buttons on your screen. You can choose to switch to joysticks anytime.

It is easy to fly DJI Phantom P3-STANDARD using both ways. When you push the left joystick, you are increasing the drone's altitude, so you are decreasing it when you push it to the opposite direction. The left and right direction will rotate the drone. It is the right stick that moves it forward, backward, or toward either left and right side.


  • Automated Flight Modes
  • Emergency Return-to-Home Option
  • GPS
  • 4K Video
  • Live Feed
  • Stable
  • Easy to Fly


  • Short Battery Life

Take a look at the quick overview of the Phantom 3 Standard, our 2nd pick for the best drones under $500


Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon

Yuneec Q500 YUNQ4KUS-R90 4K Typhoon Quadcopter Drone RTF with CGO3...
  • Personal Ground Station with built-in...
  • 4K/30fps ultra high definition video and...
  • User controlled video resolution, white...

Last update on 2022-09-04 at 09:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If you are looking for a 4k and willing to sacrifice a bit on the quality of the materials, the Typhoon offers a great entry at a solid price and brings a good amount of features to the table. There are other entries in the market that do what the Typhoon offers, but not at this price point. At the time of this writing a refurbished Typhoon comes in pretty affordable. It is not quite as modern a design as our other two options, but still a nice looking flyer.


The Typhoon is built with a lightweight plastic chassis measuring 22.2 x 16.5 x 9.4 inches and weighing in at around 2.5 pounds. Fly carefully because it's cheaper materials are not likely to survive a crash, and its 4k gimbal camera hangs low on the front of the craft just off the ground when landed. The bundled controller is also a very nice addition with solid performing analog sticks and a 5.5 inch android based touchscreen built in with the only caveat being it takes a considerable amount of time to recharge.


Where the Yuneec shines and truly gives the most bang for your buck is in its 4K camera that can capture ultra-high definition video but only at 30fps. If you prefer a smoother frame rate you have to drop down to 1080p in order to get up to 60fps. There is also a slow motion video capture mode capable of shooting at 120fps! The gimbal offers a 115 degree field of view on a 3-axis system, and the 12-megapixel sensor takes great still shots as well.


Being very lightweight, stability in the air can be a bit of a concern, wobbling in the breeze at times. Fortunately, the video captured seems to be immune to its effects. The Typhoon offers two autonomous flight modes with "follow me" and "watch me", either following the controller via GPS or maintaining the pilot in the camera's frame respectively. The Typhoon also boasts a massive 2,624' range as well, although when operating in smart mode, the GPS will maintain a geofence of 300 feet. With the GPS enabled the flight speed is also limited to about 18mph.


20 to 25 min


  • - Excellent 4K Video Capture
  • - All-in-one included controller
  • - Good battery life boasting 20-25 min flight time
  • - Excellent flight range


  • - Lightweight plastic = low durability
  • - Larger size not travel-friendly
  • - Not a fast flyer with GPS enabled

Have a look at the Typhoon in action below.


Traxxas Aton Plus

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The Traxxas Aton Plus is another one of the best drones under $500 that is easy to use for pilots of all skill levels. This drone comes with three different flight modes (Film mode, sport mode and expert) to suit diverse skill levels and flight use cases. This drone is an excellent choice for those with little or no flight experience.

This drone does not come with a camera but you can mount one to the unit with the attached 2-Axis Gimbal. The included mount is designed for use with GoPro Hero 3 and GoPro Hero 4 series. We recommend the Spy Tec GIT2 action camera as a cheaper camera alternative.


Traxxas is known for making  high-performance, durable drones and this one is no exception. This drone is built with a tough composite frame, that is red, black and white. It has a very clean, sleek look. The Aton plus is equipped with a 2-axis gimbal, which will help with smooth camera shots and the camera mount is designed for use with GoPro and other action cameras. The drone comes with landing legs and a spare rotor blade set. The drone stands about 8.57 inches with the landing gear attached and about 3.70 inches without it. The Aton also has a sensorless brushless motor. A brushless motor is sealed which reduces the amount of contaminants that the enter the motor and generally has only one component that suffers wear, which is the bearings.

Battery Performance

With the included 5,000 mAh battery, the Aton Plus will give you about 25-28 minutes of flight time. If the battery gets too low, the drone will automatically return home. If you want to extend your flight time you can purchase a spare Traxxas 5,000 mAh battery. The battery will recharge in one hour or less. The long battery and relatively quick charge time makes this easily one of the best drones under $500.

Flying the Drone

This drone doesn’t require any complicated setup or calibration, although. This makes it perfect for the drone pilot with little or no flight experience. The controls are well laid out and easy to understand and makes it extremely easy fun and easy to fly.

To start flying the drone, turn on the transmitter and plug in a charged battery. The Aton will then start searching for GPS signals. When the four green LEDs all light up, you are ready for launch.

This drone has three different modes that will allow an inexperienced pilot to grow into this drone. These three different flight modes help make this drone one of the top drones in this list. Let’s take a look at the three different flight modes.

Film Mode

This mode allows you to focus on capturing stunning photos and video, with no previous flight experience required. Use the return to home feature when you are finished with your aerial photography or videography and your drone will land at its take off point effortlessly. Film mode is also best for beginners looking to learn to improve their pilot skills.

Sport Mode

This is a fun mode for pilots who are already experienced or who are ready to bring their skills up a notch. This mode allows for more speed, which can be helpful for following a fast moving target. You can also press a button to do rolls or flips.

Expert Mode

This mode unlocks the drone’s full performance and allows for exhilarating aerobatic feats. The drone can reach top speeds of up to 50 mph. If you happen to lose control of the drone, just use the air brakes feature to have the drone stop and hover in place. This mode is for the most experienced hard-core pilots.


  • 3 Modes for varying levels of flight experience
  • Film mode is easy to fly and control for beginners
  • Longer flight time of 25-28 Minutes
  • High Visibility LED lighting
  • Stable Flight
  • Easy to Control


  • Long Recharge Time
  • No Built-In Camera

See the Traxxas Aton in action below:

IN AT #5

Parrot BEBOP 2

Parrot Bebop 2 - Red
  • Enhanced 14 megapixel fish-eye lens offers...
  • 25 minutes of flight time thanks to a...
  • Equipped with powerful motors for flight in...

Last update on 2022-09-04 at 09:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to camera capability the Parrot Bebop 2 Drone is ideal for just about everyone. In fact, this drone is usually referred to as a camera drone. It is an update of its previous version, and this updated version has doubled its flying time. In addition, Parrot Bebop 2 Drone can fly autonomously. Basically, it offers attractive video and long battery life, and these are the significant features of Parrot Bebop 2 Drone.

However, its touch screen control is not that sensitive, so it is not as responsive as it should be. This drone is revamped since the original Parrot Bebop and is recommended to all drone enthusiasts as its sleek design, battery life and control systems make it one of the best drones under $500.


Bebop 2 looks almost exactly the same as the original Bebop version. They are both similar in shape, plastic frames, and front lens. The only difference is that the Parrot version is tougher and more durable while keeping the drone lightweight. The only thing that adds to its weight is the battery, which is a 2700mAh Li-Polymer battery that weighs 6.8 ounces. Parrot's battery is heavier than that of the previous version, but this new battery is more powerful and has a flight time of around 25 minutes.

Best drones under 500

Parrot Bebop 2 has a fish-eye lens that is placed in front with 170 degree views. This lens is like an eagle's eyes that can see everything downward and forward. It can also view both sides such as left or right. Although it cannot record all that it views, the video feeds are very clear and stable. It is actually its software that makes the video stable. Most drones tend to shake while its engine is running. This makes a camera unstable. With Parrot, its fish-eye lens is designed to endure a shock.

Remote Control

Some drones can only be controlled well using smart phones. For Parrot Bebop 2, you have two options. You can either use your smart phone or the Sky Controller Black which is not a common feature with on drones in this list. If you want to use your smart phone, you will have to install FlightAware 3 app, which is compatible for both Android and iOS.

Flying the Drone

Flying Parrot Bebop 2 is convenient because it can be done through touch screens. It has user-friendly buttons that can easily be understood. The only problem with it is sensibility. There are times that the screen quickly reacts while the actually drone has delayed response.


  • High-Quality Video
  • User-Friendly Controls
  • Longer battery Life
  • Lightweight
  • Stable
  • Durable
  • Replaceable Parts


  • Lens is vulnerable to flares
  • Touch screen has response issues at times

Here's a look at the official launch video of the Parrot BEBOP 2, our #5 pick 

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3DR Solo Aerial Drone

3DR Solo Aerial Drone (Black)
  • Live HD GoPro stream to iOS and Android
  • Get the shot, every time with Smart Shots...
  • 880 KV motors work with self-tightening...

Last update on 2022-09-04 at 09:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Another drone for less than $500 designed for shooting aerial video with autonomous flight modes and the ability to directly control an attached GoPro via the receiver, this offering from 3DRobotics sports easy controls and sporty flight options as well making it one of the highest-rated drones available at this price.


A very modern and sleek design combined with a well-built body using quality materials make this quadcopter a great overall design. Easily the heaviest drone on the list weighing in at 3.31 pounds before adding a camera and measuring 14.6 x 14.6 x 7.1 inches. The controller is simple and easy to use, but to access the drone's more advanced features you will need to connect a smartphone and go through the solo app.


Unfortunately, the Solo does not offer an included camera but is compatible with the GoPro Hero models. Not only is it compatible, but 3DR partnered with GoPro to directly integrate controlling the camera from the 3DR controller once it's plugged in. Another benefit is that you can upgrade your GoPro to a newer model without needing to buy a new drone!


A top speed of 55mph let's this drone also double as a fun sporty flyer when you aren't using its autonomous flight modes, of which there are many to choose from. Expect a decently long range listed at 5 miles also, but spotty GPS means you may want to keep it a bit closer to you than that. One particularly interesting feature is an aerial analytics platform called Site Scan that allows the drone to inspect, survey and scan work sites, making this drone a powerful tool for certain fields of work.


Expect to get about 20-25 min of flight time depending on whether or not you are using the camera/gimbal or not. The battery loads from the top and completes the overall look of the drone. 3D Robotics also offers a nice kit with a carrying case, 6 additional batteries, two sets of propellers and a battery charger. This is definitely an accessory worth picking up if you plan to travel or use the drone for work-related projects often.


  • - Fast and Sporty Flyer
  • - Excellent autonomous flight modes for aerial photography
  • - Well-built and sleek design


  • - Camera not included (not a con if you own a GoPro Hero already)
  • - Spotty GPS
  • - Advanced flying features controlled via smartphone app only

Here is some footage of the 3DR Solo in action. Our honorable mention for the best drones under $500

Buying a Drone With a $500 Budget

A 2018 article on states that “The Future of Flying Is All About Drones". The writer claims, “…the future of aviation is on display in a cavernous exhibition hall at Asia’s largest airshow. And it’s drones.”

Drones are no longer a thing of the future. They are here today and here to stay; quickly becoming a part of everyday life. There are a number of different types of drones, geared toward various applications. We can break them down into simple categories.

Hobby: Drones have replaced remote controlled planes. The most common drone for personal use is a quadcopter; more maneuverable than RC planes of the past. Many hobby drones are equipped with cameras and other user-friendly features.

Camera: Quadcopters are also used for photo and video purposes; built for stability and control. Camera drones open the door to a wide range of amazing options that were once difficult or unreachable to the eye of the photographer. Aerial views make remote landscapes and allusive wildlife more widely accessible.

Commercial: Drones have been used in business for years and their popularity is exploding. For agriculture, filmmaking, industry and the military, drones are used for surveying, inspecting and monitoring. Scientists are using drones for data collection, mapping and more. First responders use drones to survey accidents and catastrophic events to plan a more prepared response. Most recently, drones are beginning used to deliver packages to rural areas.

With the current popularity of drones, the market is flooded. For newcomers, choosing the perfect drone can be a confusing endeavor. With a variety of sizes and varied features come corresponding price tags. Choosing the right features depends upon the drone's purpose, whether for commercial use or personal enjoyment.

Commercial Applications

  • Aerial Photography & Videography
  • Real Estate Marketing
  • Scientific Surveying, Mapping and Research
  • Industrial Inspection
  • Structural Assessment and Monitoring
  • Agricultural & Construction Monitoring
  • First Response Crisis Inspection
  • Military Intelligence
  • 3D Modeling

Features of Drones In This Price Range

Due to their varied uses, drones are built with a wide range of capabilities. Pricing is not necessarily a reflection of quality, but of available features. More expensive drones claim to fly longer and farther. Some have stabilizers and more advanced GPS. Research each drone by features, then read reviews, to make an informed buying decision.

Common Features:

Battery Life
Drones are powered by rechargeable batteries, topping out at about 30 minutes of flight time. Extra batteries are an additional cost and must be figured into the final price.

Range of Flight
Every drone has a maximum range, how far the drone can fly away from the controller. Passed this maximum it can lose control and crash.

Camera Resolution
Most drones today are equipped with a camera. The higher the resolution, the better the pictures. The highest resolution drone camera available is 24 MP. The current high-end video standard is 4K UHD, but a 6K drone is available.

Brushless Motor
Simply put, there are no brushes in the motor for quieter operation. A brushless motor is just a perk.

Headless Mode
For easier navigation, no matter which direction the drone is facing it follows the controller. If the joy stick is pushed away from you, the drone will move away and vice versa. This is an excellent feature for novices.

Integrated GPS & Return-To-Home (RTH)
Like the “Location” feature on a cell phone, Integrated GPS allows the drone to know where it is, which allows for RTH. With the push of a button the drone will return to the spot of take-off. RTH is an awesome feature for beginners, as well as experts, to keep from losing their drone. Always label your drone with contact information, kind of like a beloved pet.

Most drones come equipped with a remote control using radio waves for navigation. Others use an iPad or iPhone as a WiFi controller. The WiFi version will inhibit control to a much short range.

Advanced Features (May not be available in this price range)

Follow-me Mode
Follow-me allows your drone to track you as you go. This is an excellent feature for bicyclists and even wind surfers to video their activity. Read reviews on the functionality of this feature to keep from losing your drone on a trail or, worse yet, in the ocean.

An Integrated Gimbal keeps the camera steady. For commercial grade photography and video footage, a Gimbal is a must.

Obstacle Avoidance
Obstacle avoidance will help avoid crashes into free standing objects.

First Person View (FPV) and Virtual Reality (VR)
In both instances, a camera on the drone broadcasts live video to the pilot. The pilot navigates from the video on the controller or through goggles, rather than by sight. VR has a slight time lag which could result in crashes. Both options offer longer range flight.

Altitude Hold
This allows the drone to maintain a consistent altitude using a sensor to measure barometric pressure.

Intelligent Flight Mode (IFM)
IFM includes all aspects of “self driving” drone capabilities. By choosing a target, a point of interest or moving object, the drone will fly there and move with the target.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying

Now let’s try to focus on our purchase equipped with all this information swimming in our heads. It will help to ask yourself some basic questions. The answers will lead you in the right direction and keep you on budget.

  1. Will I be able to learn to fly?
    We are not all pilots. An inexpensive drone is less of a risk for beginners.
    How to fly a Drone - A to Z Beginners Course
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  2. What is the purpose of my drone?
    Even if commercial use is the ultimate goal, you need to learn to fly first.
  3. How much can I afford?
    For these purposes, $500 out the door.
  4. What will a budget of $500 buy in the drone market?
    Quite a bit if you do your due diligence.
  5. What is your flying ability?
    For beginners RTH is worth a few extra dollars.
  6. How much battery life do I need?
    Additional batteries need to be in the budget.
  7. How far away do I need the drone to fly?
    Check range specifications and reviews on accuracy.
  8. What resolution does the camera need to be?
    Your phone or personal camera resolution may be a gauge.
  9. Am I going to need the drone to follow me?
    Your activity level with answer this question.
  10. Do I need any advanced features?
    Commercial applications are usually the place where these features come into play.

There are an abundance of resources to help you learn more about drones and flying. Here are just a few.

Keep in mind that drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) where the majority of drones must be registered. Small hobby drones for personal use are normally excluded (check before you buy). The price at the time this article was published was only $5.00. The FAA has a legal code for all drones stating that drones:

  • drones must fly below 400 feet
  • are prohibited near airports and airfields
  • must remain 150 feet away from people and property
  • may not be flown above a crowd
  • drones cannot be flown under influence of drugs and alcohol.

Top Drones Under $500 - Wrap up

Nowadays drones are no longer treated as toys or just drones for kids. They are now packed with so many features that provide benefits not only for enthusiasts but also for professionals.

They can be used in many ways aside from sports and entertainment. Some are still pricey, but you can still find some affordable ones. If you are looking for the best drone for under 500, the above list will guide you in your decision. If you are looking for something a little lower in price check our best drones under 300 guide.

Ready to step up to the next level? Check out these awesome beasts!

Zoe - July 4, 2018

Great deals for the price!

    Jake Carter - July 15, 2018

    Yep, you can get a great drone with great features in this price range.

Tiffany Woodson - July 16, 2018

Thanks for this, it helped me a lot in deciding what drone under $500 should I acquire.

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