Finding the best drone under $1000 might be challenging. Even though there are many high-quality drones in this price range, it requires careful consideration of the features, specifications, and customer reviews to ensure that you get the best value for your money.
Hello folks! My name is Lavelle and I am a fan of all things drone-related. Over the past decade, I’ve spent most of my days flying drones for professional and recreational purposes. I adore the drone life so much that I write about it extensively.
In this article, I will cover some information that will hopefully help you in your drone-purchasing journey. I will go over some of the features you want to have and share a list of the best drones under $1000 in my opinion.
- Determine if you are looking for a recreational/hobby drone or a professional model.
- Pay close attention to the technical specifications of the drones you consider and research the features that apply to your goal of flying a drone.
- The Autel Evo Nano is the best choice for professional photographers and videographers, because of its 50 MP resolution.
What is a good transmission range for a drone under $1000?
The average transmission range for drones under $1000 is approximately 2.5 to 3 miles. There are drones in this category that can transmit between 6 and 7.5 miles so those are a great value.
Is a 12 MP camera drone good for under $1000?
Yes, under most conditions, a 12 MP camera is good quality on a drone. This size resolution usually provides a good pixel-quality image, however, the larger the pixel size, the more light each pixel captures, offering a more detailed image.
What Makes The Best Drone Under $1000
It’s important to realize that while many drones may seem similar, they are all not created equally. Here are some of the general features and specifications that you want to look for.
- Camera Quality: As you move up in quality and price, your camera option should be at the top of the must-have list. The 20MP camera might give you a good image but a 48MP camera gives you an exceptional image that is super clear and crisp.
- Sensor Size: Sensor size and resolution are key components of a high-quality camera. A one-inch sensor allows more light to come in and can produce a much clearer picture than a smaller sensor. Other things such as shutter speed, frame rate, white balance, and color rendering all matter. Additionally, you want to have the RAW image file capability if at all possible.
- Transmission Range: Another distinguishing feature of a good drone is the transmission distance. Drones in the $1000 or less range will offer longer transmission ranges and this will help you tremendously when flying.
- Intelligent (Smart) Features: Cameras in the lower price range indeed have many smart features. However, as you get up toward the $1000 budget level, drones have advanced smart features such as artificial intelligence and thermal imaging capabilities.
- Performance: Drones in this price range should offer higher power and performance specs. They should be able to withstand higher winds, fly faster, soar to higher altitudes, and have longer-lasting batteries.
When it comes to intelligent features, you may be tempted to reduce your budget and go after cheaper drones. However, let me caution you. In the under $500 range, the intelligent features will be basic, as some of the drones are under $50.
When shopping in the under $1000 category, you want to see things like Obstacle Avoidance features, Active Tracking, Thermal Imaging, and Damage Detection.
The 5 Best Drones Under $1000
Now let’s get to the good part! Here are my picks for the best drones under $1000.
1. DJI Mavic Air 2S (Best Overall)
- Camera: 1-inch sensor; 20 MP resolution
- Video: 5K video resolution
- Range: 7.5-mile transmission
- Features: 1 billion color capability
When it comes to the best in class, the DJI Mavic Air 2S is the cream of the crop. It offers some of the best features in its class and it rivals even some of the more expensive drones.
For starters, its 1-inch sensor can record up to a startling one billion colors. It records video in 5.4K and 30 frames per second. The 20MP resolution for still images is quality, albeit lower than some others in this category.
Another outstanding feature is the 7 ½ mile transmission range. It has DJI’s most advanced image transmission technology, the OcuSyn 3.0. With this kind of range, it can produce remarkable images and live feeds from long-range distances.
The Intelligent Features are second to none. Evolving from the popular QuickShots, the Mavic Air 2S has MasterShots, the advanced intelligent upgrade. This feature gives you the best shot from any location with just one tap of a button. Focus Track, Spotlight 2.0, Active Track 4.0, and Point of Interest 3.0 are additional amazing features.
The only drawback with this drone is the lengthy battery charging time. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to fully charge, which is longer than other drones in its class.
My Verdict: The DJI Mavic Air 2S is the best overall drone in this category. With all of the great features included on this drone and its 31 minutes of flying time, it is the easy #1 choice. If I could improve anything on this drone, it would be to up the resolution on the camera from 20MP to 48MP.
2. Autel Evo Nano (Best Resolution)
- Camera: .8 inch CMOS Sensor; 50MP resolution
- Video: 4K UHD video resolution
- Range: 6.2-mile transmission
- Features: Advanced Obstacle Avoidance
If you’re looking for the best image possible, then the Autel Evo Nano is the best you will find for under $1000. The whopping 50 MP resolution camera with the HDR On/Off feature is easily the top of its class.
Added to the amazing resolution quality is the .8-inch CMOS sensor which allows you to capture high-quality images even in low-light conditions. It also offers noise reduction and can track fast-moving objects in real time.
The drone is supported by Autel’s high-quality applications which allow you to create impressive videos using templates and allows you to download images and videos at a remarkable 160Mbps rate.
The Evo Nano is the only drone in its category that comes with an advanced obstacle avoidance system. It has front, back, and down binocular vision sensors that have auto braking and safeguard features.
Intelligent features are fully embedded in this 249-gram drone. The Cinematic Mode allows you to create dramatic, professional shots using four automatic shooting modes that include Rocket, Fade Away, Orbit, and Flick. The accompanying Sky App integrates easily with the aircraft and is perfect for post-editing production.
My biggest concerns are the cost and lack of high bit rates when shooting above 1080p resolution. At this price point, I’d like to have better camera quality on the high end.
My Verdict: The Autel Evo Nano is a close second to the DJI Mavic Air 2S. It’s number one in camera quality and is comparable in intelligent features. The only drawback of this drone is the 28-minute battery life.
3. DJI Mini 2 (Best Mini Drone)
- Camera: 12MP resolution (JPEG/RAW)
- Video: 2.7k resolution
- Range: 6.2-mile transmission
- Features: USB-C port
The number 3 spot goes to the remarkable little DJI Mini 2. This is arguably the best mini drone on the market. Backed by the globally recognized DJI brand, this model has a nice CMOS sensor, can withstand level 5 winds, stays in the air for up to 31 minutes, and offers a 4x digital zoom lens.
Although it is compact and can fit in the palm of your hand, the 249-gram weight can withstand extremely high winds while producing smooth images and steady video. It can also take off from a maximum altitude of 4,000 meters, which is quite remarkable.
The 12MP camera resolution is somewhat subpar for the Under $1000 category, but it makes up for this drawback with a 4K/30 frames per second video system. The drone also has a 3-axis motorized gimbal which makes it exceptionally stable in the air.
The built-in OcySyn 2.0 system is notable and allows the Mini 2 to automatically switch between frequencies and the 6.2-mile transmission range is another notable quality of this mini drone.
It also allows you to take JPEG and RAW images which is impressive for this size sensor. The obstacle-sensing technology is also noteworthy.
The most notable drawback of this drone is the 12MP camera. If DJI can remedy that feature, the DJI Mini 2 will be the standard in its class for years to come.
My Verdict: As far as mini drones go, this is my favorite drone. It’s durable, stable, and produces good-quality images. The DJI technology is the standard for the industry and this mini drone is great for recreational and professional purposes.
4. Parrot Anafi FPV (Best Immersive Experience)
- Camera: 21MP resolution
- Video: 4K video resolution
- Range: 2.4-mile transmission
- Features: First-Person View (FPV)
Sometimes you just want to feel like you’re the pilot sitting in the cockpit of your drone and experiencing breathtaking views in real time. That is exactly what the Parrot Anafi FPV offers!
The Anafi FPV was created by Parrot for explorers and dreamers, according to its site. The amazing FPV creates an exceptional viewing experience and is very useful for aerial photography and videography, offering the user the opportunity to see exactly what the camera sees in real-time.
Aside from the notable FPV feature, the Anafi offers a respectable 21MP camera resolution and can produce 4k video.
There are some nice intelligent features embedded in this drone as well. The Dolly Zoom feature offers visual recognition technology and a lossless zoom function that allows you to take aerial selfies automatically.
The 2.4-mile transmission range is decent, although not nearly as useful as the others in this category. Another concern with this drone is that there are no safety sensors which makes the drone much more susceptible to crashing.
My Verdict: If you want to be in the pilot’s seat, this is the drone for you. The FPV experience gives you a feeling of exhilaration that is unmatched in this category. However, when it comes to professional quality specifications, this drone is respectable but not above par for the category.
5. PowerEgg X Wizard Drone (Best Advanced Feature)
- Camera: 12MP resolution
- Video: 4K video
- Range: 3.7 miles
- Features: Artificial Intelligence Facial Recognition Technology
There are times when the weather is a deterrent to drone use. However, the PowerEgg X Wizard drone is the answer to wet conditions. The waterproof housing protects the drone when the rain comes out of nowhere or when conditions become unsafe for other drones.
From a technical specifications perspective, the PowerEgg offers a decent 12MP camera and 4K video production. It also has an impressive AI facial recognition feature which helps to secure its spot at number 5 on my list.
This drone does offer some impressive intelligent features as well. The Voice Sync Technology is a nice addition, allowing you to pick up high-fidelity sound using your phone’s microphone or by using a wireless microphone. The drone’s technology automatically synchronizes audio to video footage.
The battery life is good on this drone and the 30 minutes of flying time is very good as well. The drone is stable in windy conditions and the waterproof housing is great for capturing images in wet weather.
Unfortunately, this drone is unable to shoot in RAW mode. Additionally, the camera’s image quality is not as good as its competitors in this class.
My Verdict: This is an unusual pick for my list but very deserving of being here. The most intriguing feature is the waterproof housing. Other drones find water and wetness to be kryptonite-like to their functions. The relatively low 12MP resolution is my biggest concern here.
There are several good options for drones under $1000. Some of the most important things to consider are camera quality, sensor size, transmission range, and flying time.
If you are using your drone for photography and videography primarily, I recommend considering the first positions on the list. But depending on what you’re looking for and how you want to use your drone, you can certainly find a suitable option in this price range.
What do you think about drones from this price range? Do you have any other models in mind with a similar budget? Leave your comments or questions below and I will respond to you as soon as possible.
Until next time, happy flying and be safe!