best drone less than 500

Is the Mavic Mini the best drone for less than $500?

The new DJI Mavic Mini is the best drone you can buy for less than $500. But is it the only option? We will take a look at the Mavic Mini and four other solid options that won’t cost quite as much as the Mini.

Mavic Mini front view

DJI Mavic Mini

The new DJI Mavic Mini is an excellent drone for anyone looking to get into the hobby. It is small and lightweight and foldable. Tipping the scales at only 249 grams it doesn’t require FAA registration like the other drones on this list. It has a full three-axis gimbal with a 12 MP camera that can capture 2.7K video footage. With a flight time of up to 30 minutes and a range of 4000 meters it is an incredibly capable drone.

Mavic Mini front angle view

It is clearly the best drone you can buy for less than $500. In fact, the Mavic Mini starts at $399. We recommend adding the Fly More package. You’ll get three batteries, propeller guards, multi-charger, a carrying case and more for $499. If you want to know more about the Mavic Mini click here.

Alternatives to the DJI Mavic Mini

The DJI Spark has been the best beginner drone under $500 since its release. If you wanted to take good pictures and video and you had a $500 budget until now the Spark was clearly the best option. It has now been dethroned by the Mavic Mini. The Spark is still an excellent machine and a clear second-best option for less than $500. With the release of the Mavic Mini, you can expect the price of the Spark to fall.

These two drones are all solid alternatives to the two DJI offerings, but the question still remains. Are they better? The Hubsan Zino ($379) and Xiaomi FiMi ($259) are two new and viable options for people looking to buy a high-quality drone on a budget.

The Parrot Bebop 2 ($299) is a drone that has been around for quite some time. It is a solid option and the price continues to fall but it is probably a little bit too outdated to really compare. Should you buy a Spark, a Mavic Mini or try one of these alternatives? Let’s take a closer look at how they compare to the DJI Spark so we can figure out which is the best drone under $500.

What is the best drone under $500?

DJI SparkHubsan ZinoDJI Mavic MiniXiaomi FiMi
Price$399$379$399$259
Flight Time16 minutes23 minutes30 minutes25 minutes
Range2000 meters1000 meters4000 meters1000 meters
Camera12 MP8 MP12 MP8 MP
Sensor1/2.3″1/2.3″1/3.2″
Lensf/2.6f/2.2f/2.8f/2.0
Obstacle AvoidanceFrontNoneNoneNone
Gimbal2-axis mechanical (plus EIS)3-axis mechanical3-axis mechanical2-axis mechanical (plus EIS)
Top Video Mode1920 x 1080 @30fps3840 X 2160 @30fps 2720×1530 @ 30fps1920 x 1080 @30fps
Intelligent Flight ModesReturn to home, follow me, Orbit, Dronie, Quickshots, Panoramic, Image TrackingReturn to home, Follow Me, Orbit, Waypoints, Line-fly, Panoramic, Image TrackingReturn to home, follow me, Orbit, Dronie, Quickshots, Panoramic, Image TrackingReturn to home, Follow me, Orbit, Fixed-Wing, Dronie, Image Tracking

Xiaomi Fimi A3 ($259)

The Xiaomi FIMI A3 GPS Drone
The Xiaomi FIMI A3 GPS definitely looks like a Spark killer.

The new Xiaomi FiMi is probably the most intriguing alternative because of its low price of $259. It also has the second longest flight time at 25 minutes. Its 1000 meter range is half that of the Spark and only 1/4 that of the Mavic Mini, but that is likely fine for most beginner pilots. The camera utilizes the same strategy as the Spark, with a two-axis mechanical gimbal aided by electronic image stabilization. While we have yet to test this drone, its camera capabilities are certainly promising. Learn more about the Xiaomi FiMi HERE or order one HERE.

Hubsan Zino ($379)

Hubsan Zino drone

The Hubsan Zino has two big things going for it. It is the only one that can video in 4K. It also is the only one other than the Mavic Mini with a full 3-axis mechanical gimbal.  Those are two large advantages for the Zino. The flight time of 23 minutes is only two minutes shy of the Xiaomi and Parrot. The Zino does claim a range of 2500 meters, however, that is only for controlling the drone. Having a video feed, which is of utmost importance, limits your range to 1000 meters. A great bonus is that you can pick up an additional battery for only $20, which is an excellent deal compared to other drones this size. We are still waiting to get our hands on a Zino to fully test out its capabilities. Learn more about the Zino HERE or order one HERE.

DJI Spark ($399)

Mavic Air vs DJI Spark
The DJI Spark is still an awesome drone and at $399 is half the price of the Mavic Air.

The DJI Spark may not be the most impressive in terms of specs. It has the shortest flight time of the four drones at only 16 minutes, but it does have a solid range at 2000 meters. However, there is something to be said for its quality, ease of use and finish. The Spark really is an excellent drone and its camera is top-notch.

  Using the Spark is super intuitive and having the front obstacle avoidance is definitely a great feature that none of the other drones has. The flight modes work well, and the DJI Quickshots offer unique flight patterns. If you ask me, the DJI Spark is still a solid option for less than $500 and if the price dips under $300 it is something you should snatch up. Learn more about the Spark HERE or order one HERE.

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This is just a small sampling of the whoops I’ve been flying

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