The Best Drones Under $500 – Great Options

It’s really hard to say which are the best drones under $500 simply because there are so very many from which you can choose. So, if you don’t like any of the four we’ve picked here, you’ll find it quite easy to locate another sub-$500 drone that fits your needs and wants better.

Our top drone under $500 is really two that are of equal quality, largely because they are made by the same company – DJI. We think the best quadcopters under $500 (and not too much under that mark or we would have put them in our best drones under $300 review) are the DJI Mini 2 and the DJI Mavic Mini.

If you’re in a hurry right now and just want to check the pricing and availability of the drones we’ll review later in this article, you can click the links in the list just below. Otherwise, continue scrolling and reading to learn more about each of these great machines.

List of Best Drones Under $500

DJI Mavic Mini

The DJI Mavic Mini is very similar to the Mini 2 (see below). As you’ll soon see, the Mini 2 is basically a slightly more expensive upgrade to the Mavic Mini.

Both of these collapsible drones measure 140 by 81 by 57 millimeters when folded and 159 by 202 by 55 millimeters when opened (without propellers). They both weigh just under 250 grams, so you won’t need to register them with the FAA. Both are rated at 30 minutes of flight time.

The camera included in both the Mavic Mini and the Mini 2 gives you shots that have 12 megapixels, and it uses a 1/2.3” sensor. Both quadcopters use the same DJI Fly app and support the same SD cards.

Once you compare these features and specs to the Mini 2 below, you’ll be able to determine if you need the extras the Mini 2 provides. If you don’t, then save a little cash and get this Mavic Mini instead, because it’s quality and acceptance are just as high as that of the Mini 2.

Specifications

  • Rated Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Battery: 1 – 2400mAh
  • Camera: 12MP
  • Video: 1080p (or better)
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.2 x 2.2 inches (folded); 6.26 x 7.95 x 2.16 inches (open)
  • Weight: 249 grams

Pros

  • Foldable for portability
  • FAA registration not needed
  • Quality stills and video

Cons (vs the Mini 2)

  • Slower
  • Fewer features
  • Shorter range

DJI Mini 2

It’s virtually impossible not to compare the Mini 2 to the Mavic Mini, so we’re not going to try to separate the two.

Compared to the Mavic Mini, the Mini 2 is faster in all three flight modes – Sport, Normal/Position, and Cine(Smooth).

Only the Mini 2 camera lets you shoot RAW (an advanced option, but important to some users) and 4K video. So if high quality output is important to you, the Mini 2 should be on your short list.

The Mini 2 remote control can transmit its signal up to 6 kilometers, giving you more freedom than the Mavic Mini. However, this may not matter much to you because it’s farther than what is often allowable in most locations.

Specifications

  • Rated Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Battery: 1 – 2400mAh
  • Camera: 12MP
  • Video: 1080p (or better)
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.2 x 2.2 inches (folded); 6.26 x 7.95 x 2.16 inches (open, no props)
  • Weight: 249 grams

Pros (vs Mavic Mini)

  • Faster
  • More features
  • Longer range

Cons

  • More expensive

Now that you know what makes the DJI Mini 2 worth more than the Mavic Mini, you can decide which one does all you need and make your choice accordingly. Or you can choose one of our other picks below.

Ruko F11 Pro

The Ruko F11 Pro drone is similar in several ways to the DJI models above. (Compare the Specifications section for each.) This is something you should expect because it’s a quality drone in the same price range.

A major difference is that the Ruko gives you 2 batteries for the price. So theoretically, you should be able to fly twice as long before you have to wait for a recharge to finish.

Another difference is that the Ruko is not a “mini” drone. It weighs significantly more than the DJI drones, so you’ll have to register it with the FAA before flying.

Users say that the camera gives good quality photos and videos. While not as versatile as some, you can adjust the angle of the camera while in the air.

App features include Follow Me mode, Waypoint Flight, Gesture Photographing, and more.

You should be able to fly about 3/4 of a mile away from “home” before losing contact between your Ruko F11 quad and your remote controller.

Specifications

  • Rated Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Battery: 2 – 2500mAh
  • Camera: 4K
  • Video: 1080p
  • Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 3.15 inches (folded); 17.51 x 15.94 x 3.15 inches (open)
  • Weight: 520 grams

Pros

  • Good flight time
  • Multiple flight modes
  • Good photographic quality

Cons

  • Weight requires FAA registration

Holy Stone HS720E

Like the DJI drones, the Holy Stone HS720E is a foldable, mini drone. It’s an upgrade from their earlier HS720 model. There are just a handful of differences between them. The main one has to do with image stabilization.

While the HS720 has basic image stabilization, the HS720E adds electronic image stabilization (EIS). We assume that this has to do with the internal programming of the drone module.

Another upgrade has to do with the camera’s field of view. The HS720E ranges through 130 degrees, which is 10 more than the older drone.

The HS720E weighs 608 grams, so flight time is just 23 minutes at best. Holy Stone likes to advertise that, since you get 2 batteries with your purchase, you actually get 46 minutes of air time.

Specifications

  • Rated Flight Time: 23 minutes
  • Battery: 2 – 2800mAh
  • Camera: 4K
  • Video: 1080p
  • Dimensions: 8.66 x 8.66 x 6.1 inches (open)
  • Weight: 608 grams

Pros

  • Good flight time: 23 minutes
  • Battery: 2 included (2800mAh)
  • 4k Camera
  • Video 1080p
  • Dimensions 8.66 x 8.66 x 6.1 inches (open)
  • Weight 608 grams

Cons

  • Weight requires FAA registration

Conclusions about Best Drones under $500

As we said at the top, there are too many drones in this under $500 category to really pick the best of the best. As you can see, even among the four we settled on, there are so many similarities that it’s really tough to make a decision.

So, we suggest you simply pick one you can afford and let it fly. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of these.

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