As the technologies of mobile phonescameras and lithium-ion batteries have evolved in recent years, drones have come a long way since the advent of expensive models that were once the sole domain of Hollywood productions. Now, for less than $1,000 at your electronics retailer of choice, you can get a drone that will pilot itself, shoot 4K video, and remain in the air for more than half an hour. Flying a drone is about as close as most of us will get to personal flight — at least, until we get to the point where everyone uses jetpacks.

But the low end of the market has also matured, and $50 (about £40 or AU$80) is now enough to cover a basic quadcopter drone with an integrated camera that can fly for nearly 10 minutes on a charge. And there are plenty of options that fall somewhere in the middle, offering various combinations of features, video quality and price for every drone enthusiast. Below, we’ve got recommendations for the best drones for beginner and intermediate pilots looking to spend less than $1,000.

Best drones, compared

Best drone for most people Best cheap starter drone Best camera drone Best racing drone for beginners
Model DJI Mavic Mini Hubsan X4 H107C Plus DJI Mavic Air 2 Emax Tinyhawk 
Buying info See it at Amazon See it at Amazon See it at Amazon See it at Amazon
Price $399 $35 $799 $165
Photo 12 megapixels 2 megapixels 12 megapixels 600 TVL
Video 2.7K at 30fps 720p at 30fps 4K at 60fps 600 TVL
GPS support Yes No Yes No
Flight time 30 minutes 6 minutes 34 minutes 8 minutes
Weight 249 grams 54 grams 570 grams 9 grams
Requires registration (in the US) No No Yes No

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