After exploring some of the least expensive drones on the market, and bumping things up to the $500 range, it’s now time to get serious about quadcopter shopping. Join us for our list of the best drones under $1000.
At this price point, we’ve moved beyond toy class drones and the majority of FPV racers, we’re now looking at the lower-end of the camera drones. These are the entry level drones for those looking to capture those epic aerial photos and video. Let’s dive in.
DJI Mavic Pro
Are you getting tired of hearing about this drone yet? I hope not, we’re as stoked about it as ever. DJI has packed an amazing set of features into an extremely compact and portable flyer, the Mavic Pro really is about as good as it gets in this price bracket.
This folding quadcopter offers up 4K video recording, extremely stable flight, feature rich automated flight controls, one of the smallest controllers around and it fits in a water bottle holder. Connect your Android or Apple smartphone to the controller for FPV flying and camera controls, particularly with the new DJI Go 4 app, and a newer update to the app that increases the top speed for the drone.
The DJI Mavic Pro may not be the best camera drone around, nor the best racer or an affordable toy class unit, but in terms of overall usability, convenience and bang for the buck, you’ll be hard pressed to find better at the going price of $999.
You can grab the drone itself for about $799, but we recommend at least getting the base pack, including controller, for $999. The optional Fly More combo is what we’d recommend, it’s well worth it, but will bring you up a little. Grab the DJI Mavic Pro Fly More bundle for to $1299 on Amazon today.
DJI Phantom 4
Also seen in our Best camera drones list
Thanks to the recent launch of the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+, the original Phantom 4 is now under a grand! Built on one of the most popular drone frames in recent history, the Phantom 4 is a powerful, fast and highly capable 4K recording drone.
The Mavic Pro is all of the best parts of the Phantom 4 packed into a folding package, which should give you an idea how great the Phantom 4 is. Let’s ignore that the newer Phantom 4 Pro is superior, and not forget that the Phantom 4 itself is ready to fly when you are. Basically, these three drones offer fairly similar functions, at least on paper, so if you like the larger frame, but don’t want to dish out for the new Pro drone, the Phantom 4 is a solid and respected drone under $1000.
Check out the DJI Phantom 4 for $849 on Amazon today.
Yuneec Typhoon H 4K
Also seen in our Best drones list
There is a reality in which $1000 is not your purchasing limit today, in which case you would be looking at the Pro version of this drone. However, for less than $1000, the Yuneec Typhoon H 4K is a favorite drone for many pilots. Unlike most the other options you’ll see in our lists, this is not a quadcopter, instead it packs six propellers, if you haven’t seen the term for that, we call it a Hexacopter.
4K video recording, 12MP still photos, 360 degree gimbal rotation, the ability to remain in the air if a rotor fails, smart tracking software and collision detection all make for a powerful, stable and safe flight. The only thing missing at this price point is the Intel RealSense advanced collision avoidance system, which only bumps you about four hundred over budget.
Check out the Yuneec Typhoon H 4K for $999.00 on Amazon.
Parrot Bebop 2
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget that the base model Bebop 2 is well under five hundred dollars. That out of the way, a decent combo kit with the Sky Controller and some extra tidbits will bump you up over six hundred.
The same great Parrot Bebop 2 drone we’ve seen before packs convenient autonomous flying modes, decent battery life and a super light build. The addition of the Sky Controller is what brings the price up, and also the tool that takes the Bebop 2 from good to great on our list of best drones under $1000. The newly added Follow-me modes are handy as well.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
Ticking all the right marks on a spec sheet, the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is a 4K camera equipped drone. Providing dual GPS tracking, safety features and convenient autonomous flight options with 25 minutes in the air per charge.
A highly decorated brand, and highly praised drone, the X-Star Premium keeps things simple, getting you and the 4K camera into the air to capture some scenery.
Check out the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium for $749 on Amazon.
Walkera F210 3D FPV racer
We’ve spent most of this list looking at flying cameras, now to a drone that has a little different focus, racing! There are many great FPV racing drones out there, it’s a growing sport that may even land in the Olympics, if rumor is accurate. This Walkera F210 3D is one such racer that promises all the high speed thrills of VR goggle racing.
Designed for high speeds and crazy maneuverability in tight quarters, this is a low range drone with night vision cameras offering up to 8 minutes of intense flight. Carbon fiber keeps thing light and strong, which we suspect will be important at some point.
Check out the Walkera F210 3D racer for $349 on Amazon.
DJI Phantom 3
We recently took a closer look at the Phantom 3 from DJI, it is two generations old already, but we determined that it is still worth it. Not to say you are getting the same great features or camera capabilities as can be found on the Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 or Phantom 4 Pro and newer, but for the new, low price, it’s totally worth it. The iconic drone design with a range of varying capability cameras make for a compelling enthusiast drone for as low as $400.
We recommend you start your research with the 4K camera equipped DJI Phantom 3 Pro for $734 on Amazon today.
Allow me to be 100% clear, I have not yet flown the DJI Spark myself. My review unit should be in hand any day now, it is mid-June after all, but I am adding this drone to this list based on technical merit. I hope I don’t have to remove after I get the chance to fly. Enough validation, Spark is a compact flying quadcopter with a few tricks up its sleeve. Actually, the tricks are up your sleeve, you can fly this drone by hand gesture alone.
In addition to specific drone features, DJI has also introduced a few new flight modes. Quickshot includes four autonomous flying modes that are exclusive to Spark for now, but we don’t see why they can’t be added to other DJI drones through software updates. Basically, DJI Spark is one of the easiest drones to fly with the least amount of training and effort from the pilot. It’s also quite small, so you can pack it around and, as they say, be ready to seize the moment.
Announced at InterDrone 2017, the new GDU O2 is a compact drone that not only attaches to it’s own remote, it also slides in the propeller arms to protect the folding propellers for transport. The entire enclosed package makes for one of the most portable machines we’ve ever laid hands on. Our initial reaction is that this drone sits perfectly between the Spark and Mavic Pro, in terms of capabilities and features, and it definitely sits between those tow for price.
Check out the GDU O2 for $732 now, or hang off for an updated version coming soon that improves remote connectivity and increases the amount of internal storage. The drone will ship in late September.
With the many great drones on the market, and a handful of awkward and low-quality ones as well, we hope this list helps steer you to the right drone for your needs. If these units do not suite you, be sure to check out some of our other more specific lists:
What do you say, is there a drone out there between $500 and $1000 that you think a new flyer should look at? What is the best drone under $1000 in your opinion?