A drone can be loads of fun or very useful for work depending on what you use it for, but either way, they’re super cool. And in the recent past, drones have become so popular and accessible that drone prices are actually falling. Affordable drones are now within the reach of most people and no longer just a toy for those with lots of expendable income. These days you can find good drones for less than $500 (or even less) if you snag one while it’s on sale. To make this easier, we’ve rounded up the best drone deals currently available.
Today’s best drone deals
Hiturbo Foldable FPV Drone with 1080P Camera – $76 was $90
Great for aspiring pilots of all ages, this drone is suitable for a variety of activities from photography and sightseeing to some fun in the air. It has a built-in 1080P HD camera. Features include voice control, gesture support, an altitude hold mode, one-button launch, and 3D flips and maneuvers. It comes with two batteries that you can swap out for extra flight time, each providing 12 minutes of fun.
Holy Stone HS440 Foldable FPV Drone with 1080P WiFi Camera – $107 up from $139
The built-in 1080P WiFi camera in this drone has a 112 wide-angle lens for amazing shots. The modular battery also offers up to twenty minutes of flight time, which is pretty good. It comes with the remote control, a carrying case and of course the drone. It also supports voice and gesture control, has an auto-hover mode, and makes it super easy for even beginners and novices to fly the system.
Syma X500Pro GPS FPV Drone with 4K UHD Camera – $174 was $280
If you want to capture ultra high-definition 4K quality footage, 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 that are included. GPS assisted and smart flight options are available, with some additional modes like auto return home, follow me, custom flight route, point of interest and more.
DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo Quadcopter with Remote Control – $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 is lightweight and portable, yet strong enough to fly in force 5 winds or at a maximum altitude of 4,000 meters. The 3-axis gimbal supports the camera and enables stabilized shots, whether you’re shooting a 12MP still image or 4K quality video at 30fps. This bundle includes the drone, three spare batteries, spare propellers, a gimbal protector, a two-way charging dock, a shoulder bag, and more. It’s everything you need to get started and more.
DJI Air 2S Fly More Drone Combo with Remote Controller – $1,110, was $1,300
DJI is back with this powerful and large drone that is phenomenal for aerial photography. You get intelligent HDR, photos in RAW format for high-resolution recording results and a 1-inch image sensor that can record 5.4K video at 30 frames per second or 4K video at 60 frames per second. The package includes batteries, a carrying case, a remote control, the drone, and more.
How to choose a drone
The right drone for you depends on what you want to do. A drone — especially ones under $250 or so — offers the fewest features and may lack some features that may not make it the best fit for you.
In general (and this is not a hard and fast rule), a drone will typically offer 720p video and a relatively low frame rate, typically 30 frames per second. While this will be fine for most of us, the video will lack that cinematic smoothness. If you upgrade to a mid-range drone (usually in the $250-$750 range), you’ll get 1080p video and often 60 fps, resulting in higher video quality.
Most high-end modern drones offer 4K video, but you’ll probably have to spend upwards of $1,000 to get 4K video at 60 fps. If video quality is a primary concern, you’ll have to pay more.
A drone also lacks other useful features, including tracking capabilities and video and drone stabilization. In ideal flight conditions this is not a problem. However, you will need these features if you are flying in a variety of conditions or want to allow operation without much user input.
We’ve also found that many cheaper drones either don’t have obstacle avoidance or aren’t as good as more expensive drones. If you fly in wide spaces, you won’t have much trouble here. However, if you plan to fly in areas with nearby obstacles, you should make sure that the drone you choose has sufficient obstacle avoidance capabilities.
Do drones make noise?
All drones make noise. Most describe it as a buzzing sound, similar to that of a bee. The propellers spin at extremely high speeds, and that’s what makes this noise. It’s most noticeable when you’re closest to the drone, but you’ll hardly hear it once it’s higher in the air.
Can you fly a drone at night?
Most drones can be flown at night, although we wouldn’t recommend this until you’ve gained a lot of experience. We recommend keeping your drone in sight when flying at night – and drones that can operate at night come equipped with lights so they can be seen when flying at night.
Keep in mind that most drones do not have night vision capabilities, so the video you capture during night flight will only be illuminated by available ambient lighting such as moonlight, streetlights, etc.
Can you fly a drone in the rain?
Most drone manufacturers advise against flying your drone in the rain. Most drones are neither waterproof nor water resistant, so even a small amount of water could damage your drone, especially the motor and battery. The moisture will cause a short circuit that will cause your drone to stop working with little or no warning. As a general rule, do not fly your drone in rain, fog, or overly humid conditions.
If these conditions surprise you, land as soon as possible and take your drone to a dry place, disconnect the battery and let it dry. You may also want to shake the drone itself slightly to remove water from the inner casing and let it dry as well. Use similar wet phone drying techniques to dry your drone and the first time you fly it after that, take some time to test the drone at 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 intend to fly it and tag your drone with your provided registration number. Any drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds must be registered, which covers almost every drone currently sold on the market. This registration must be renewed every three years.
In addition, you must carry proof of registration with you at all times when flying and, under the terms of the license, are not permitted to fly for commercial purposes. Drone flights are only allowed under 400 feet altitude and Class “G” or uncontrolled airspace. It is your responsibility to follow these rules.
Some states require drone pilots to follow additional regulations. Before you take off, be sure to check the laws of the state you are flying in.
Do you need a license to fly a drone?
No license is currently required for recreational or hobbyist drone pilots. However, flying for commercial purposes may require additional certifications.