Drones – Best Bang for Your Buck
Let’s be real; most drones are costly unless you buy a toy. However, if you get enough bells and whistles, you don’t mind paying more for premium quality.
Which drones on the market provide the best value?
Here is a collection of great bang-for-your-buck drones:
- DI Mini 3 Pro
- Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
- BetaFPV Cetus Pro
- Ryze Tello
- DJI Air 2S
- PowerVision PowerEgg X
- Holy Stone HS720E
Ahead, I’ll review each drone, helping you decide which one provides the best value. Keep reading for pros and cons, specs, and more!
1. DJI Mini 3 Pro
Dimensions: 171 x 245 x 62 mm unfolded
Weight: Under 249 g
Max Range: 16 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Altitude: 4,000 m
Max Speed: 36 mph
Max Flying Time: 47 mins
Video Resolution: 4K
- Lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it
- A great traveling companion
- Exceptional 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera for videography and photography
- D-Cinelike Color for beautiful footage you’ll adore
- Need to upgrade the battery for the longer flight time
The Mini 3 Pro is one of DJI’s most accessible drones to date, so it only makes sense to start the list with it.
Pilots love it for its weight. At under 249 grams, you can enjoy looser drone restrictions in many countries when flying the Mini 3 Pro. Additionally, you don’t have to register it!
DJI designed the Mini 3 Pro with aerodynamics in mind. It’s all in the way the drone’s body can tilt, the size of its props, and its exceptionally improved obstacle detection.
This drone is also portable, and you could stash it in a large pocket if you fold it.
Its flight time with the standard battery is average at 34 minutes. However, DJI gives you the option to upgrade the battery and fly for 47 minutes, which is much more impressive.
The 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera can shoot by day or night, producing 48 MP RAW images and 4K HDR videos. You can also take slow-mo video footage in 1080p at 120 frames per second.
The camera features D-Cinelike Color for injecting more brightness into your world with every image and video you take.
The Mini 3 Pro is equipped with enough Intelligent Flight Features to warrant its price tag, including panoramas, Hyperlapse, MasterShots, Digital Zoom, FocusTrack, and more.
2. Autel Robotics EVO Lite+
Autel Robotics Evo Lite+ Premium Bundle
1” CMOS Sensor with 6K HDR Camera, No Geo-Fencing, 3-Axis Gimbal, 3-Way Obstacle Avoidance, 40Min Flight Time, 7.4 Miles Transmission, Lite Plus More Combo.
Dimensions: 427 x 95 x 384 mm
Weight: 835 g
Max Range: 7.5 mi
Max Altitude: 5,000 m
Max Speed: 42.5 mph
Max Flying Time: 40 minutes
Video Resolution: 6K
- It’s orange!
- It has an incredible average flight time
- The video and image quality is out of this world
- The SoundRecord feature can pick up ambient sounds and voices
- It’s very weighty
The EVO Lite+ from Autel Robotics is another exceptional bang-for-your-buck drone to add to your list.
» MORE: Autel Evo Lite+ Review
The 1-inch CMOS sensor is equipped with an intelligent moonlight algorithm, an Autel exclusive that reduces noise and maintains crisp detail when filming at night.
You can even increase the ISO and still expect a quality boost.
Of course, you often need permission to operate a drone at night, but it will be worth jumping through some extra hoops to get to use the intelligent moonlight algorithm.
The camera shoots in 20 MP image quality and 6K video quality, so you won’t be left wanting for much!
It’s easier than ever to become a cinematic master in a matter of days with the EVO Lite+. You can adjust the aperture and exposure as you shoot.
Toggle between automatic shooting modes like Rocket, Fade Away, Flick, or Orbit, or take a group photo using the SkyPortait feature.
Track whoever you wish with Dynamic Track 2.1, from vehicles to animals or people on the move.
I quite like the inclusion of Defog Mode, as it’s an uncommon feature. Defog Mode is designed to reduce fog or haze by toggling the vibrance settings so your photos and videos come out crystal clear.
The wide-angled cameras at the front of the drone expand its field of view to 150 degrees so, obstacles will be the last thing on your mind when you fly.
3. BetaFPV Cetus Pro
BetaFPV Cetus Pro FPV
Ready-to-fly kit that’s easy to control, can hold its position, is durable, and can handle crashes, not to mention something that is low cost.
Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 5 in
Weight: 33.19 g
Max Range: ~ 90 m
Max Altitude: ~ 80 m
Max Speed: N/A
Max Flying Time: 5 mins
- Automatic features for beginners to learn FPV
- Emergency landings and Turtle Mode for safer operations
- Durable shell to stand up to some wear and tear
- Very short flight time of under 10 minutes
What if you’re into flying FPV drones?
Finding a good value for the money doesn’t have to be hard when you can buy the BetaFPV Cetus Pro. It’s often sold as part of a kit so you can get all the accessories you need to start flying FPV.
This quadcopter with brushless features is built for durability, maneuverability, and power. Its PA12 frame can handle drops and impacts without shattering.
What about the modes included with this drone? One of the starring features is Altitude Hold. Once you enable this mode, the Cetus Pro will hover thanks to a built-in barometer.
That’s not the only beginner-friendly feature!
This FPV drone will make an emergency landing if the battery is too low, you’ve lost control, or if the Cetus Pro collides with anything.
If the drone lands upside down, don’t panic! It’s got Turtle Mode to right itself.
Fly in Manual, Normal, and Sport Modes depending on how daring you feel.
The Cetus Pro is compatible with a variety of FPV simulators, from Liftoff to EreaDrone, so you can practice virtually before flying in the real world.
4. Ryze Tello
Ryze Tech Tello
What you get: RyzeTech Tello powered by DJI, 4x Propellers (Pair), Propeller Guards (Set), Battery, Micro USB Cable, Propeller Removal Tool.
- Sub $100 price-point
- Remote not included
- Base package includes 1 battery only
- No SD card slot
Dimensions: 98 x 92.5 x 41 mm
Weight: 80 g
Max Range: 100 m
Max Altitude: 30 m
Max Speed: 8 m/s
Max Flying Time: 13 mins
Video Resolution: HD 720p
- Lightweight enough that you can skip registration and fly with looser drone laws
- Powered by DJI but ultra-affordable
- Prop guards and collision detection for safe flights
- EZ Shots to photograph like a pro
- Only an okay flight time
- Its camera could be better
Is there a better definition of a bang-for-your-buck drone than the Ryze Tello?
If so, I’m hard-pressed to think of one. It’s inexpensive, lightweight enough that you don’t have to register it, beginner-friendly, and built for fun.
Oh, and on top of that, it’s powered by DJI (but without the DJI prices) and is compatible with VR headsets. As you can tell, this drone has many great features.
You can launch the drone by throwing it, and you can even bounce the Tello in your hand for a bit of fun.
This drone will flip all day, and automatically too, so you never have to worry about crashing it. It even hovers.
Included collision protection and prop guards are designed to failproof your drone. The Tello will land on its own (even if your connection is spotty) and let you know when it’s about to run out of battery.
It flies for 13 minutes at a time, which admittedly isn’t great but is fine for the price.
Its 14-core Intel processor lets it shoot in 5 MP image quality and HD video quality. Again, not the best, but for beginners, you won’t mind.
EZ Shots modes like Circle, Up & Away, and 360 help you take videos if you’re inexperienced, and electronic image stabilization retains the stability of your footage.
5. DJI Air 2S
DJI Air 2S Fly More Combo
Drone with 3-Axis Gimbal Camera, 5.4K Video, 1-Inch CMOS Sensor, 4 Directions of Obstacle Sensing, 31-Min Flight Time, Max 7.5-Mile Video Transmission, MasterShots, Gray
Dimensions: 183 x 253 x 77 mm unfolded
Weight: 595 g
Max Range: 18.5 km
Max Altitude: 5,000 m
Max Speed: 19 m/s in Sport Mode
Max Flying Time: 31 mins
Video Resolution: 5.4K
- High-quality camera for shooting daytime and nighttime footage
- Rich color profile
- Four-way environmental sensing
- O3 transmission system can transfer footage in 1080p up to 12 kilometers
- Doesn’t have the latest DJI tech
- Average flight time
Lauded as one of DJI’s best all-in-one drones, the Air 2S has rightfully earned its place on this list.
The Air 2S supports all sorts of drone activities. Videographers and photographers can appreciate its 5.4K video quality at 30 fps and 20 MP image quality, achievable due to the 1-inch image sensor.
The camera reproduces the same depth of colors when photographing at night, retaining a high resolution and awesome dynamic range too.
If you can’t legally use your drone at night, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out.
The Air 2S boasts a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile with support for a billion colors. You can take more immersive and colorful shots during the day.
I don’t want to talk all about this drone’s photography and videography elements, but I do want to mention its built-in HDR technology.
This smart tech will save you time in post-production as it merges images into one to create the penultimate photo.
You know the Air 2S has them in spades, from Sphere to Hyperlapse and 180-Degree to Wide-Angle.
MasterShots will launch the Air 2S. Watch as it does up to 10 amazing maneuvers to capture footage at a variety of angles.
Do you like tracking subjects with your drone?
Luckily for you, the Air 2s includes ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and Point of Interest. Considering this drone is from 2021, this isn’t the newest tech, but it does just fine.
You needn’t be a pro to fly the Air 2S. It can sense its environment in four ways, and it has DJI’s Advanced Pilot Assistance System or APAS 4.0.
There’s an APAS 5.0 in newer DJI drones, but 4.0 is still plenty sufficient.
6. PowerVision PowerEgg X
PowerVision PowerEgg X
Explorer Drone with SyncVoice Technology, 4K60FPS Camera, 6km Transmission Range, Vision Obstacle Avoidance, Landing Protection, and Precision Landing.
Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 4 in
Weight: 1.2 lb
Max Range: ~ 3.7 mi
Max Altitude: 4,000 m
Max Speed: 13 m/s
Max Flying Time: 30 mins
Video Resolution: 4K
- Unique features like AI facial recognition technology and SyncVoice
- Its AI gets smarter the more you use it
- Can switch to a handheld camera
- Has an ergonomic, appealing shape
- Good for tracking
- It’s quite a heavy drone
- Its battery life is okay, nothing special
Talk about a cool drone for the money! This egg-shaped drone will dazzle by looks alone, but the aptly-named PowerEgg X has so much more to offer beyond its exterior.
For example, it includes AI-driven facial recognition technology.
Since the PowerEgg X can remember faces, it’s very easy for the drone to track people when you fly it. Its facial recognition tech only gets better as the drone learns more.
SyncVoice technology is another very cool feature you don’t see in every drone. The PowerEgg X can capture sound using wireless headphones or your phone’s mic.
The camera is crazy cool, as it has a 170-degree field of view for keeping subjects in the frame.
The Autonomous Personal AI camera responds to gestures for taking group photos/videos and selfies and for tracking people.
However, I think one of the best features of the PowerEgg X by far is how it converts into a handheld gimbal camera.
That’s right! Now you can harken back to those camcorder days and film stably without flying the drone.
Whether you’re holding it or flying it, the 4K UHD camera with its triaxial anti-shake gimbal will help you become the photography/videography guru you’ve always wished you could be.
As if all that wasn’t great enough, the PowerEgg X is waterproof, so you could launch it and land it on water. Not like it’s legal to do that in most places, but it’s nice that you can.
You’ll also fly safer, as this drone has automatic obstacle avoidance that reads threats up to 65 feet away.
On top of that, the PowerEgg X flies for 30 minutes, which is a lot considering this drone weighs more than a pound!
7. Holy Stone HS720E
Holy Stone HS720E
Drone camera for adult beginners and easy to use.
- 4K Videos
- 3000+ foot control range
- Odd control issues periodically
Dimensions: 337 x 240 x 58 mm unfolded
Weight: 495 g
Max Range: 500 m
Max Altitude: 1,000 m
Max Speed: 44 mph
Max Flying Time: 46 mins
Video Resolution: 4K
- Basic intelligent features to make flying a drone more hands-off
- Sony image sensor for good video quality
- EIS for clear, stable shots
- Low cost
- Amazing flight time
- You must use two batteries for the drone to last in the air longer than 23 minutes
- Adding extra batteries increases its weight
- It has an okay photo resolution
A 4K camera for a drone that costs less than $400? It’s possible with the Holy Stone HS720E, the last bang-for-your-buck drone we’ll look at today.
The camera features a Sony sensor with image-capture technology, and it has electronic image stabilization.
When you collect some breathtaking footage, you can transmit it on the go with a 5 GHz transmission range of up to 1,640 feet!
Hover your drone for a while, track its location with GPS, and send it back to you with auto RTH.
You can also toggle through the HS720E’s intelligent, advanced flight modes, including Point of Interest, Tap Fly, and follow me. These fun tracking modes are a must in any drone.
One battery promises up to 23 minutes of flight. Equipping the HS720E with two batteries increases its max flight time to 46 minutes.
However, you will make the drone heavier by adding a second battery. That said, it might not matter to you as much considering this drone is already over the registration threshold anyway.
A bang-for-your-buck drone isn’t always the least expensive UAV on the menu. If you’re going to pay more, you want features that make the drone worth your money.
Each of the drones I reviewed today meets those criteria.
I included drones at a variety of price points, so whether you’re looking for an easy-to-fly beginner’s drone or something more for seasoned pros, you can get a good value for your money!