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.
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.
What about the Mavic Mini vs the Mavic Air 2? Starting at $799 the Mavic Air 2 is double the cost but it adds a ton of great features. For those looking to stretch their budget a bit, you will get a more capable drone with the Mavic Air 2.
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 ($499) are two viable options for people looking to buy a high-quality drone on a budget. The newer Fimi X8 SE 2020 edition has a 4K camera and an incredible 35 minute flight time. On paper, it is better than the Mini in almost every way. How does it compare in real life?
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 It is a solid option and the price continues to fall but it is probably a little bit too outdated to really compare.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 Spark||Hubsan Zino||DJI Mavic Mini||Xiaomi FiMi X8 SE|
|Flight Time||16 minutes||23 minutes||30 minutes||35 minutes|
|Range||2000 meters||1000 meters||4000 meters||8000 meters|
|Camera||12 MP||8 MP||12 MP||12 MP|
|Gimbal||2-axis mechanical (plus EIS)||3-axis mechanical||3-axis mechanical||3-axis mechanical|
|Top Video Mode||1920 x 1080 @30fps||3840 X 2160 @30fps||2720×1530 @ 30fps||3840 X 2160@30fps|
|Intelligent Flight Modes||Return to home, follow me, Orbit, Dronie, Quickshots, Panoramic, Image Tracking||Return to home, Follow Me, Orbit, Waypoints, Line-fly, Panoramic, Image Tracking||Return to home, follow me, Orbit, Dronie, Quickshots, Panoramic, Image Tracking||Return to home, Follow me, Orbit, Fixed-Wing, Dronie, Image Tracking, Time Lapse, HDR|
Xiaomi Fimi X8 SE 2020 ($499)
The new Xiaomi FiMi X8 is probably the most intriguing alternative. It beats the Mini in almost every category. Right now it is even cheaper on preorder at $421. The X8 has a 4K camera on a full three-axis gimbal with a ton of excellent flight modes. With an incredible 8000 meter range and a 35 minute flight time, this drone is competing spec-wise with drones 3 times its current price. While we have yet to test this drone, there is a lot to like. We have one on preorder and you can bet we will be putting it through the paces. Learn more about the Xiaomi FiMi HERE or order one HERE.
Hubsan Zino ($379)
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. Don’t forget there is a Zino 2 on the way, we have ordered one and will be testing it soon. Learn more about the Zino HERE or order one HERE.
DJI Spark ($399)
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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