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How Much Do Drones Cost? Drone Buying Guide 2021

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

There are many good drones to purchase out there and drones cost do vary; therefore, it is essential to think about which one best suits your intended purpose.

Drones are becoming increasingly popular as time goes, and they are getting cheaper as technology advances. So, how much does a drone cost?

Drones cost anywhere between $50 and $10,000. But drones designed for specific tasks may cost more than that. The cost of drones depends on the features they have, and how much you’re willing to spend should be determined by what you want to achieve with the drone.

Please keep reading to find out more about how much drones cost and how to choose one.

Drone Buying Guide:

Before we go into the various drone prices and categories, let’s briefly discuss some of the factors you need to consider when buying a drone.

The Purpose of Buying a Drone:

As I’ve already mentioned, you need to decide why you are buying a drone. Is it for fun for you or your kid? If that’s the case, a drone that costs between $30 to $150 will suffice.

Are you going to buy a small drone that you will be flying indoors or outdoors when it’s not windy (toy drones and nano drones fall in this category)? Some of them may also have basic cameras.

But if you want to try photography, expect to pay between $200 and $500. And you need to make sure the camera, gimbal, and all other features match the purpose.

Remember, you can use some beginner drones for professional photography, as I will highlight later in the post.

The same case applies to agriculture, survey, and other industries where you want to use your drone. Make sure they can handle the payload and technology advancements necessary in these industries. And expect to pay thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.

We can’t talk about purpose without mentioning drone racing. Racing drones aren’t always expensive, but they’re specially designed for that purpose. Most importantly, they need to be FPV-enabled.

How to Use Drones for Surveying?

A person holding a red color DJI Spark drone in his right hand
Why you want to buy a drone?

Buying vs. Building Your Drone:

You can choose to either buy a drone or build one. Either way, it will still cost you. If you’re not experienced in electronics, specifically building drones, always go for drones labelled RTF (Ready-To-Fly).

But if you want to challenge yourself a bit, look for BNF (Bind and Fly), which are still ready-to-fly drones, but you’ll have to use your controller.

Another term you’ll come across is the ARF (Almost Ready To Fly). These types of drones will need more assembly knowledge, so make sure you’re up for it. Remember, if you’re into racing, you may still need to build your drone or modify an existing one to ensure it has the features you need.

When building a drone from scratch, you may need to purchase all the accessories independently. This includes propellers, motors, ESCs, batteries, outer casings, controllers, and transmitters. If you’re savvy in that area, building a drone may be cheaper.

Credit: Short Circuit RC

Range:

This is how far the drone can fly from the controller. This distance ranges from a few metres to a few miles depending on the drone you choose. If you only need a drone for fun, then you shouldn’t worry about the range.

But aerial photography and survey may require drones with longer transmission ranges. Remember, in most regions, it is illegal to fly a drone past the line of sight.

Regardless of how long the range of your drone is, if the law requires you to fly the drone in the line of sight, you should adhere to that. Besides, you risk losing connection to your drone and eventually losing it if you fly too far.

Size, Weight and Portability:

Most toy drones and nano drones are pretty small and weigh just a few grams. But as you move up the pile, you may need to consider the drone’s weight and how it affects portability. Some drones also have foldable arms to make them easier to carry around when not in use.

Controller:

This is the device that allows you to control your drone remotely. Besides having a powerful connection to the drone, a god controller should also be comfortable in your hands and easy to use. Some drone tasks may need you to be holding the controller for hours.

A person holding a drone controller.
Drone Controller

Battery and Flight Time:

Most drones don’t last that long. You’ll be lucky to get a toy drone or racing drone with a flight time of more than 15 minutes. But photography drones and other high-end drones can last at least 30 minutes or longer.

How long the battery takes to charge also matters, especially when you need to use extra batteries.

Automatic Flight Modes:

As mentioned earlier, due to technological advancements, it’s now possible to find relatively cheap drones with more features. Some of the features you can expect to find include;

  • Return-to-home – This feature allows a drone to return to the last known point at the click of a button. It comes in handy when you’ve lost the connection to the drone.
  • Follow-me mode – This feature makes the drone automatically follow you. It’s great for filming.
  • Waypoint – You can mark specific coordinates that the drone should follow (waypoints). As it flies autonomously, you can focus on filming, surveying, or any other task you want the drone to carry out.

Maintenance and Accessories:

Besides buying a drone, you should also consider the maintenance costs and accessories. Propellers break often, and you’ll need to replace them often. If your drone lacks the necessary payload for a specific task, you need to factor that into the drone costs.

How Much Does It Cost to Own and Fly a Drone?

Beginner-Friendly Drones:

This is for pilots who are to exploring flying for the first time. You could be interested in trying photography, racing. You want to quench your curiosity regarding drone technology. Whatever way, your sure bet is to begin at the bottom of the pile.

Although, the more you spend in purchasing a drone, the easier it will be to operate. The higher the cost, the better and advanced the technology inbuilt is.

However, going by this logic will make you, as a beginner, run out of a pocket. Also, starting with a drone that can do everything for you will not make you a decent pilot.

Therefore, it is advisable to look for a moderately priced one, keeping in mind there is a high probability that one of your flights will end in a crash. You might also realize that drones are not your thing, and therefore spending much is not a good idea initially.

Here are the ideal starter drones for videography or photography in a tested list of best beginner drones.

DJI Mini 2- $449: Buy Now

It is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket and easy to fly thanks to its revamped controller. Although intuitive, this drone is advanced, allowing for nuanced input without overwhelming the pilot. It is fun to operate, and the 10km maximum range enhances the flying experience.

The hardware might be similar to other drones, but the upgraded motors, stability, and wind resistance gives out solid footage in every condition except the breeziest ones. The battery life is concrete with a flight time of 30 minutes.

DJI Mini 2: The Review

DJI Mavic Mini- $378.99: Buy Now

This is a solid choice for a beginner if you do not need 4K videos, but if you do, you can always go for the DJI Mavic Mini 2, which is an upgrade to this drone.

The drone is rock-steady camera takes superb-looking 2.7K videos and crispy 12mp photos. It also takes pride in a 30-minute flight time per battery charge and a range of 4Km.

However, both the Mini and Mini 2 do not have the anti-collision technology of more expensive DJI drones.

Credit: Billy Kyle

Ryze Tello- $99: Buy Now

This beginner drone is compact, affordable, and lightweight, perfect for mastering the basics. This drone is controllable through the smartphone on the Tello App and Wi-Fi.

Ryze Tello is responsive and fun, teaching and enhancing your flying skills and the ups and downs of double-stick quadcopter flying.

The stability sensors maintain a stable flight, and the 13-minute battery life is not that bad. However, the flight range is restricted, and the slightest breeze drifts the drone towards the direction it is blowing.

Potensic Dreamer 4K- $254.99: Buy Now

Do not be misled by the name- it cannot record 4K videos. Although the photos might be of 4K resolution, the videos are restricted to 2.7K. Despite this cheeky trick, much to this device is not reasonable as it first appears.

The build quality is excellent, has a high capacity battery, GPS, responsive controls, and feels like a “serious” drone. However, the camera is shaky and unstable.

A white color Potensic Dreamer 4K drone with its controller and propeller.
Potensic Dreamer 4k

Intermediate Level Drones:

Intermediate drones offer ultra-modern features in comparison to beginner drones. Most of them in this category can capture high-quality images with improved stability for superb aerial photography.

DJI Mavic Pro Fly More Combo- $985: Buy Now

The Mavic Pro has a slightly compact build that hides its complexity. It is the most sophisticated flying camera. This is a powerful drone with 24 top-accomplishment evaluating principals, and a 7-kilometre range transmission, a 4K camera stabilized by a 3-centre line automatic gimbal, and five vision sensors.

The Mavic Pro combo comprises of; Mavic car charger, the DJI Mavic Pro, shoulder bag, Mavic power bank adapter, battery charging hub, two extra intelligent flight batteries, and two additional sets of Mavic 8330 quick release foldable propellers.

Credit: DJI

Autel Evo II Pro 6K Drone- $2099: Buy Now

The drone is from Autel and gives you an adjustable focal length of f/2.8 to f/11, allowing for a wide range of control to the amount of light getting to the 6K 1″ sensor. The camera gives an ISO scope of 6400 for videos and 12800 for photos.

The drone gives quality specifications and abilities that go past photography and videography. This is thanks to the battery life of up to 40 minutes, a 7100mAh battery.

Autel Evo II can also accelerate to a speed of 44 m/h. The Evo II 6K can transmit HD quality imaging to the controller screen within the range of 5.6 miles.

Autel Evo II: My Review

Credit: Autel Robotics

Professional Level Drones:

A professional drone pilot is just as competent as the device they fly. No level of prowess can get the better of poor features such as poor camera and instability. However, they cost higher than the rest due to these features.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro- $2096.90: Buy Now

Despite being more expensive than its predecessor, this drone is mobile and goes in well in a camera backpack. It has a small adjustable cord to link to a smart device mounting beneath the controller. It has an excellent 4K video resolution, 31 minutes of flight time, a firm, collapsible make, and a barrier evading detector.

Credit: DJI

DJI Phantom 4 Pro- $1799: Buy Now

It has an onboard camera designed to use a 1-inch 20-MP CMOS detector that comes embedded in a custom-made lens made of 8 elements arranged in 7 groups.

The drone has an automatic blind that gets rid of rotating shutter deformation that takes place when capturing photos of quick-moving objects. The advanced detectors and processors make sure that everything is obtained with more precise detail.

Credit: DJI

Yuneec Typhoon H Plus- $1899: Buy Now

A 4K UHD 1” C23 camera, a dedicated android installed ST16 remote controller with a 7” touchscreen display showing live camera footage at 720P, the Yuneec Typhoon H Plus is definitely one of the best hexacopter camera drones that you can get your hands on, in my opinion.

The great thing about it is the great price that it comes for when you think that it’s one of the best professional videography camera drones out there in the market right now.

DJI Inspire 2 vs Yuneec Typhoon H Plus

Credit: Yuneec Electric Aviation

Conclusion:

The amount to spend on a drone should depend on the purpose and the extent to which you intend to use it. Flying for fun does not need to be expensive. You can buy an introductory drone to the industry or use a cheap drone and improve over time.

Whatever your reason to buy one is, conduct your research, be rational about your needs and expectations. I have detailed a guide of what you need to look for in a drone. If in doubt, begin at the lower end of the market and move up as you gain more experience.

Here is a great guide on how to buy and choose a drone

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How Much Do Drones Cost? Drone Buying Guide 2021
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How Much Do Drones Cost? Drone Buying Guide 2021
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Each drone price is determined according to their usage and features. Here we discuss how the cost of drones are determined
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Remoteflyer
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