A drone can be tons of fun or quite useful for work, depending on what you use it for, but either way, they are super cool. And in the recent past, drones have become so popular and accessible that drone prices are actually dropping. Affordable drones are now within reach of most people and are no longer just a toy for people with loads of expendable income. Today, you can find good drones for less than $500 (or even lower) if you snap one up while it’s on sale. To help make this easier, we’ve rounded up the best drone deals available right now.
Hiturbo foldable FPV drone with 1080P camera — $76, was $90
Great for aspiring pilots of any age, and suitable for a variety of activities from photography and sightseeing to a bit of aerial fun, this drone features a 1080P HD camera built-in. Features include voice controls, gesture support, an altitude hold mode, a one-key start, and 3D flips and maneuvers. It comes with two batteries, which you can swap for extra flying time, each providing 12 minutes of fun.
Holy Stone HS440 foldable FPV drone with 1080P WiFi camera — $107, was $139
The built-in 1080P WiFi camera in this drone has a 112 wide-angle lens for fantastic shots. The modular battery offers up to twenty minutes of flight time too, which is quite good. It comes with the remote, a case, and, of course, the drone. Plus, it supports voice and gesture controls, has an auto hover mode, and makes it super easy even for beginners and first-timers to fly the system.
Syma X500Pro GPS FPV drone with 4K UHD camera — $174, was $280
If you’re looking to capture ultra-high-definition 4K quality shots, this drone is a great choice. The brushless motor is relatively quiet, yet powerful, and the system offers up to 50 minutes of flight time, thanks to two upgraded batteries — which are included. GPS-assisted and intelligent flight options are available, with some added modes like an auto return home, follow me, custom fly path, point of interest, and more.
DJI Mini 2 Fly More combo quadcopter with remote — $510, was $600
In the drone space, DJI needs no introduction with its exceptional designs, and the Mini is no exception to that rule. It’s lightweight and portable, but mighty enough to fly in level 5 winds, or at a max altitude of 4,000 meters. The 3-axis gimbal supports the camera allowing for stabilized shots, whether taking a 12MP still photo or a 4K-quality video at 30 frames-per-second. This bundle includes the drone, three spare batteries, spare propellers, a gimbal protector, a two-way charging hub, a shoulder bag, and more. It’s everything you need to get started and then some.
DJI Air 2S Fly More drone combo with remote — $1,110, was $1,300
DJI is back here with this capable and large drone that’s phenomenal for taking aerial shots. You get intelligent HDR, RAW format photos for high-resolution capture results, and a 1-inch large image sensor capable of 5.4K videos at 30 frames-per-second or 4K videos at 60 frames-per-second. The bundle includes batteries, a carrying case, a remote, the drone, and more.
The right drone for you depends on what you are looking to do. A drone — especially those that are under $250 or so — will offer the fewest features and may lack some functionality that might not make it the best solution for you.
Generally (and this is not a hard and fast rule), a drone typically features 720p video and a relatively low frame rate, usually 30 frames per second. While for most of us this will be fine, the video will lack that cinematic smoothness. Stepping up to a midrange drone (typically in the $250 to $750 range) gets you 1080p video and often at 60fps, which results in higher-quality video.
Most modern higher-end drones offer 4K video, but you’ll likely need to spend north of $1,000 to get 4K 60fps video. If video quality is a primary concern, expect to pay more.
A drone will also lack other useful features, including tracking capabilities, and video and drone stabilization. In ideal flying conditions, this won’t be an issue. But you’ll want these features if you plan to fly in a variety of conditions or allow it to operate without a great deal of user input.
We’ve also noticed many cheaper drones either lack obstacle avoidance or aren’t as good as more expensive drones. If you’re flying in wide-open spaces, you won’t have much of an issue here. But if you plan to fly in areas with obstacles nearby, you’ll want to ensure the drone you select has sufficient obstacle avoidance capabilities.
Do drones make noise?
All drones will make some noise. Most describe it as a buzzing sound, kind of like a bee. The propellers are spinning at an extremely high speed, and this is what causes that noise. It’s most noticeable when you’re closest to the drone, but you’ll barely hear it if at all once it is higher in the air.
Can you fly a drone at night?
Most drones can be flown at night, although we wouldn’t recommend doing so until you’ve had a good deal of experience. We recommend keeping your drone within eyesight when flying at night — and drones that can operate at night include lights so that they can be seen during night flying.
Do remember that most drones do not have night vision capabilities, so the video that you take during night flying will only be illuminated by any ambient lighting available, such as moonlight, street lighting, and so forth.
Can you fly a drone in the rain?
Most drone manufacturers recommend against flying your drone in the rain. Most drones are neither waterproof nor water-resistant, so even small amounts of water could do damage to your drone, especially to the motor and battery. The moisture causes a short circuit, which will cause your drone to stop functioning with little or no warning. Thus as a general rule, do not fly your drone in the rain, fog, or excessively humid conditions.
If you’re caught in these conditions, land as soon as possible and get your drone somewhere dry, disconnect the battery, and allow it to dry. You may also want to shake the drone itself gently to get water out of the interior housing and let that dry as well. Use similar techniques to drying out a wet phone to dry out your drone, and the first time you fly it afterward, take some time to test out the drone at a low altitude before flying it normally again.
Do drones have to be registered?
The Federal Aviation Administration requires that you register your drone based on how you plan to fly it and mark your drone with your given registration number. Any drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds must be registered, which covers just about every drone currently sold on the market. This registration must be renewed every three years.
You must also carry proof of registration at all times when flying, and are prohibited from flying for commercial purposes under the terms of the license. Drone flight is only permitted below 400 feet in altitude and Class “G” or uncontrolled airspace. It is your responsibility to follow these rules.
Some states require drone pilots to follow additional regulations, so be sure to check the laws of the state you are flying in before you take off.
Do you need a license to fly a drone?
At this time, there is no license required for recreational or hobbyist drone pilots. However, flying for commercial purposes may require additional certifications.