The DJI Spark has been the best drone under $500 for quite some time now. At its new reduced price of $399, the Spark is officially the beginner drone for most people. There really haven’t been many other options for people who want a good aerial photography drone on a budget. That’s changing now, with some smaller players moving into the affordable consumer drone space. Let’s take a closer look at the best drones under $500.
Recently we’ve seen some new drones that are solid competitors to the DJI Spark. The Hubsan Zino ($379) and Xiaomi FiMi ($259) are viable options for people looking to buy a high-quality drone on a budget. The Parrot Bebop 2 ($299), a drone that has been around for quite some time, continues to drop in price. Should you buy a Spark or try one of these alternatives? Let’s take a closer look at how they compare to the DJI Spark so we can determine what is the best drone under $500.
What is the best drone under $500?
|DJI Spark||Hubsan Zino||Parrot Bebop 2||Xiaomi FiMi|
|Flight Time||16 minutes||23 minutes||25 minutes||25 minutes|
|Range||2000 meters||1000 meters||2000 meters||1000 meters|
|Camera||12 MP||8 MP||14 MP
(significantly cropped for EIS)
|Gimbal||2-axis mechanical (plus EIS)||3-axis mechanical||Electronic (EIS),
|2-axis mechanical (plus EIS)|
|Top Video Mode||1920 x 1080 @30fps||3840 X 2160 @30fps||1920 x 1080 @30fps||1920 x 1080 @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, Waypoints, Orbit (some require in-app purchase)||Return to home, Follow me, Orbit, Fixed-Wing, Dronie, Image Tracking|
Xiaomi Fimi A3 ($259)
The new Xiaomi FiMi is probably the most intriguing alternative to the Spark because of its low price of $259. It also boasts the longest flight time at 25 minutes. Its 1000 meter range is half that of the Spark, 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.
Parrot Bebop 2 ($299)
The Parrot Bebop 2 has been around for a while and is certainly a solid option for any beginner. The image stabilization is all done electronically, so expect the image quality to suffer a little bit. While it claims full 1080p HD video, the final result is closer to 720p in quality. The Bebop has the longest flight time (25 minutes). The range is tied with the Spark at 2000 meters and beats the other two drones on our list. The flight modes work well, but you’ll have to pay extra to get the Waypoints and Follow Me modes. Learn more about the Parrot Bebop 2 HERE or order one HERE.
Hubsan Zino ($379)
The Hubsan Zino is the only one of these drones that can shoot 4K footage and it also is the only one that utilizes a full 3-axis mechanical gimbal. Those are two big bonuses for the Zino. The flight time of 23 minutes is solid. While it claims a range of 2500 meters, that is only for controlling the drone. Having a video feed, which is imperative, 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)
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 there is something to be said for its quality and finish. The Spark really is an excellent drone and its camera is top notch. It may not spec out much better than the other drones but it has proven to be very good. I’ve even used it to do real estate photography in a pinch. 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 the best drone under $500. Learn more about the Spark HERE or order one HERE.
If I had to choose I’d still recommend the proven DJI Spark over the other three drones. However, other manufacturers seem to be closing the gap quickly. Maybe DJI will release a Spark 2 soon. Time will tell.
Honorable mention: Uvify Oori ($389)
The UVify Oori may not be a direct competitor to the Spark, as it is a different kind of drone, but it is worth mentioning. UVify is a company focused on innovation in the drone racing space. With a top speed of almost 50 miles per hour, the Oori holds true to its racing heritage. The remote has a built-in screen, which is one of the best features of this drone. The Oori is more of a beginner racer than a camera drone, don’t expect great video quality from it or the ability to look down very far with the camera. Learn more about the Oori HERE or order one HERE.
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