How much does a drone cost? Actrually the average drone price can range from $30 all the way up to $13,000 and beyond.
Toy drones typically cost between $30 and $90 on average, while drones used for photography and considered entry-level can range from $299 to $499. For mid-level consumer drones, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,000.
To ensure you’re getting the most value for your money when purchasing drones, one of the first things you should consider is its intended use, or what you’re trying to achieve with your drone.
As you’ll see in this article, drone prices can vary significantly.However, in this article, we’ll try to examine drone prices by category and determine which category is best for you.
As I mentioned before, drone prices can vary greatly… The gap between $30 and $13,000 covers a myriad of features and utilities, some of which you might not even need. This brings us back to my original point: know what you want from your drone.Let’s go started!
What kind of drone fits you best and how much does it cost?
Okay, so you’ve spent the last 10 hours watching cool drone videos on YouTube and you’re ready to take the plunge and get a drone of your own…
The multiple crash videos didn’t discourage you from getting a drone anyway? No? Great, keep reading then!
First and foremost, define what you want from a drone. There are different types of drones available at various price points (which we’ll discuss in this article).
Whether you’re looking to entertain your younger siblings, participate in drone racing, or capture professional videos, there’s a drone for every purpose.
How much does a beginner drone cost?
These drones are fail-safe options. Often referred to as toy drones (because they’re small and look like… well, toys), these drones typically fall in the $30 – $110 range and are perfect for anyone looking to venture into the world of drones.
There are several reasons why I believe everyone should start with toy drones. First, their affordable price allows you to fly more comfortably and not worry too much about crashes. Second, even IF they do crash, toy drones are usually very light and made of plastic, meaning they can withstand a crash or two.
Lastly, I believe they’re a great way to get accustomed to drone flight and handling the remote control. This way, you’re less likely to crash a $1,000 drone if you decide to get one.
There’s also an additional bonus benefit to toy drones. Flying them for a while will help you determine whether you truly have a passion for drones or if it was just a fleeting interest. It’s better to spend $50 to discover that than to shell out $1,000.
Here are a few good examples of inexpensive drones to begin your drone journey with:
- Hubsan H107
- Syma X5c
- Ryze Tello
How much do intermediate drones cost?
So, you’ve spent some time flying toy drones and you’ve decided that drones are for you!
You’re likely seeking something more advanced now. After all, toy drones can only be so entertaining before they start to feel mundane. I would recommend that you upgrade by getting a drone that isn’t classified as a “toy”, but also isn’t considered a photography drone.
Drones like these typically retail for around $199 – $299 and are perfect for beginners who have gotten a taste for drone flight and are craving something more… but at the same time, they aren’t yet proficient enough to safely fly a more expensive drone.
Drones in this range usually have cameras, albeit not high-quality ones, and they often include GPS sensors, making flight a bit easier. You’ll also bid farewell to the 10-minute flight times that are characteristic of toy drones.
Some good examples of drones in this category are:
- Hubsan H502S Desire
- Walkera Rodeo 110
- Hubsan H501S
Entry-level drones for photography enthusiasts
Like most drone pilots, you’re probably aiming to capture some impressive photos and videos from your drone. If that brings you more excitement than maneuvering agile drones in the air, then this type of drone is for you.
As you can imagine, being entry-level, they’re not exactly outstanding in terms of features and specs. BUT, they’re good enough for you to capture professional, YouTube-worthy footage, and usually fall within the $300 – $500 range.
Drones in this range typically have video quality of 720p and higher, usually @30fps. It’s also worth noting that drones with good gimbals, and therefore can shoot stable videos, are on the higher end of this price range.
Some good examples of drones in this category are:
- DJI Mavic Pro
- Potensic Dreamer 4K
- DJI Mavic Mini
Mid-level drones (prosumers!)
Wow… and to think just three sections ago we were discussing toy drones, time sure does fly…
Alright, bad puns aside, things start to get serious here as mid-level (or prosumer) drones typically fall within the $500 – $2500 range. At this point, expect to see entirely different features and specs (though not that much different from some really good entry-level drones). You’ll also notice improved camera stability, as nearly all drones in this range have a 3-axis gimbal.
You’ll also start to see larger sensors (mainly ½ inch) that can capture up to 48MP. These drones typically capture 4K footage at @60fps. The camera software also takes a leap forward as you move from entry-level to mid-level drones.
Moreover, it’s not just the camera that improves in this price range. Intelligent flight modes, enhanced flight safety, AI, obstacle avoidance… You name it!
This type of drone is ideal for you if you’re seriously considering building a career around drone footage, or if you’re willing to invest more money into your hobby.
Good examples of drones in this range include:
- DJI Inspire 2
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- DJI Air 2S
Professional drones (high-end)
ypically used by filmmaking studios, these drones are quite expensive as they range from $3,000 and upwards. These drones are generally larger in size and weigh more than the ones we’ve discussed so far.
This is fairly expected, considering they typically carry large cameras used for shooting films. As a reader, you might not be interested in these types of drones, but if your goal is professional filmmaking, you need to familiarize yourself with them.
Good examples in this range include:
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro
- Yuneec Typhoon H Plus
- DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
Commercial & Enterprise drones – La crème de la crème of drone technology
We’re at the forefront of drone technology here. Enterprise drones are the type of drones you’ve seen in movies… Thermal imaging, infrared, 200x zoom capabilities, and crystal clear live feeds, you name it.
Drones in this range are typically designed for specific tasks like surveying, search and rescue, fire control, and so on… As for the price, it’s in the five-figure range. Most enterprise drones will cost $10,000 and above, depending on what accessories you add to them.
Some good examples of these types of drones include:
- Matrice 30
- Yuneec H520
- UVify IFO-S
That’s generally the types of drones you can expect to buy. This article is far from over though, because next we’ll look at the price for specific use-case drones (camera, surveying, etc…).
I’ll also delve into some “hidden costs” of drones you should expect. So let’s continue…
How much does a camera drone cost?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this, but I’ll do my best to give you a clear idea. By “camera drone,” I’m assuming you mean a quality camera with which you can shoot viable videos… not some shaky 480p camera.
Expect to pay between $400-$1000 for camera drones that are good enough to capture clear pictures and smooth videos. Cameras on the lower end of this range are suitable for filming but don’t have the additional functions that those at the higher end do (like waypoints, hyperlapse, etc…).
By “good enough,” I mean a quality feed that is higher than 720p, a good gimbal that stabilizes the camera, and at least 20 minutes of flight time so you have ample time to capture your shots and videos. A good drone that comes to mind is the DJI Mini 2, you can check out my full review of it here.
How much does an agriculture drone cost?
Another case where a drone is designed for a specific task is surveying. When you hear “surveying,” it’s not only about land surveying but also power line inspections, construction site surveying, and mining surveying.
Since we’re talking about enterprise-level drones here, like the DJI Matrice 30, they’re not cheap. Drones used for surveying can cost up to $15,000 depending on the specs. Drones that have thermal imaging and high-quality cameras cost more, and depending on which accessories you add, they can shoot up to $20,000.
You’re probably noticing a theme here where drones for specific use-cases are priced in the five-figure range. Firstly, it’s because, although commercials make these drones sound simple, the specs and technology on these drones are advanced.
Secondly, these drones are targeted at businesses rather than individuals, which is, as you guessed, merely a deductible expense that businesses can afford to take. This makes drone manufacturers a bit more… “liberal” with their pricing.
How much does a Toy drone cost… and is it worth it?
Toy drones are often dismissed and treated by many people as disposable. That is, they don’t last long. There is some truth to this, but as I mentioned earlier, they’re great if you want to get a feel for flying an object in the air.
Toy drones cost from $30 to $90 and are worth the price depending on the brand you choose. However, keep in mind they aren’t designed to last and will likely break or stop working at some point.
Does that make them an unworthy choice? Absolutely not. Pick one up for 50 bucks and have some fun.
The “hidden” costs of drones
When purchasing a drone, you should keep in mind that additional costs may apply depending on the type of drone you want to buy. These costs include: insurance costs, registration costs, and licensing costs.
How much does drone insurance cost?
That depends on your plans and what you’re willing to pay. There are different insurance plans with different coverage options.
Generally, for a one-time flight, you can get drone insurance by the day for about $30-$40 per day (this can be easily done through various apps that I’ll cover in another article). If you need $1,000,000 liability coverage for one month, expect to pay $60-$100 for a 30-day policy. The same coverage for an annual policy will cost around $500-$750 per year.
The subject of drone insurance is something I’ve covered in more detail if you’re interested in checking that out.
How much does drone registration cost?
To legally fly your drone in the U.S., you must first register your drone with the FAA, which isn’t really that expensive.
You can register your drone with the FAA for $5, and your registration will be valid for 3 years. Once registered, you’ll get a registration number that you’ll be required to place on your drone.
You can visit the FAA’s official page for more information on this topic.
How much does a drone license cost?
A drone license is also an additional cost you may need to plan for. First things first, who needs a license?
Both recreational pilots and those flying their drones commercially need a license, just not the same one. If you’re flying just for fun, you’ll need to pass a free test called the TRUST, and then you’ll be able to fly with no problems.
However, if you’re flying commercially, you’ll need to pass the Part 107 test and get a commercial flight license. The Part 107 test must be taken in-person at an FAA-authorized testing center and costs $175. If you choose to take a prep course for the test, you’ll also incur learning fees.
These are basically the three additional costs that come to mind. Aside from these, you should be good to go.
Which is cheaper, buying a drone or building one yourself?
Looking at drones that are priced over $20,000 may have prompted this question in your mind. Or perhaps it’s not the price, but your passion for building that made you consider constructing your own drone. Whatever the case, in this section we’ll break down the cost of each component you need to build a drone yourself.
Generally, building a drone yourself might be less expensive than buying a pre-made one. However, it greatly depends on the specific parts you’re planning to incorporate into your drone. It could even end up being more expensive than a branded drone.
I have good news! When I say building a drone, I don’t mean you’ll be building it entirely from scratch. It’s more like building a gaming PC. That’s why there are drone frames already available that you can get for as low as $20 or as high as $200, depending on the weight, material, and design.
Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC)
An Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) is a piece of hardware that allows you to control the drone’s speed. Typically, it’s a good rule of thumb to have as many ESCs as the motors on your drone. A set of 4 ESCs will usually cost around $50.
That’s right, motors! You can’t fly your drone without these. The number of motors you’ll need depends on the frame you purchased.
If it’s a quadcopter frame, then you’ll need 4 motors. You’ll need 6 motors for a hexacopter and 8 for an octocopter. A good rule of thumb is to start by deciding on the number of motors you’d like to have, and then choose the drone frame.
Typically, a single drone motor can cost up to $100.
Your drone can’t take off without these. Again, the number of propellers you choose will depend on the number of motors you have.
Propellers can be as cheap as $2 and go up to $50, depending on the quality and blade diameter. A good rule of thumb is to avoid large and heavy propellers as they can wear down the motors over time.
The flight controller is the brain of a drone. It’s a small box filled with intelligent electronics and software that monitors and controls everything the drone does.
Needless to say, you CAN’T build a drone without it! For a good quality flight controller, expect to pay between $100 and $250.
Transmitter & Receiver
As the name suggests, you need a remote control (RC) to control the drone remotely and a receiver to receive the commands from the RC.
It’s somewhat challenging to provide a specific price for this because it depends on the quality and range of the transmitter/receiver set. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $400.
Expect to need extra batteries in addition to the one you’ll be using for your drone. Drones use LiPo batteries, which I’ve previously written an article about.
Generally, a drone’s battery costs around $20.
So… is building your own drone worth it?
If you’re building a drone purely to save costs, I would strongly advise against it. As you can see from our discussion, we haven’t even touched on the gimbal and the camera, which will add significant extra costs on their own.
For instance, if you were to build a drone that has the same specifications as, say, the DJI Mini 2, you’d end up spending far more than if you simply bought the DJI Mini 2. Plus, you’d end up with a more rudimentary design and less efficient aerodynamics.
The reason for this is the economy of scale. DJI manufactures millions of drones in their factories, which allows them to optimize their production process and reduce both their costs and prices. It’s simply not possible for you to compete in terms of price.
However, if you enjoy building and tinkering with things, then yes, building your own drone could be worth it and can also offer a satisfying experience.
What to look for in a drone?
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. By now, you probably have an understanding of different types of drones and their typical prices. So, which type of drone is best for you? There are a few factors to consider when deciding what might suit you best.
Range & Flight Time
A critical factor to consider before buying your drone is its flight time and range. Toy drones typically won’t exceed 10 minutes of flight time and about 100 meters of flight range. This might be adequate for beginners trying to get a feel for the drone world, but not for anyone intending to use their drone for filming.
If your goal is to take pictures and shoot videos, I recommend choosing a drone with at least 25 minutes of flight time. As for range, well, you’re not allowed to let your drone fly beyond your line of sight anyway.
Size & Weight
Drones weighing more than 250g can sometimes be restricted from flying in areas where sub-250g drones can operate without any issues. So, keep this in mind when planning to purchase a drone.
As for the size, it really depends on what you prefer.
Most drones nowadays come with decent remote controllers. Some are more aesthetically pleasing than others. If that’s important to you, I recommend checking out a drone’s controller before purchasing it.
Is speed important to you? It should only matter if you’re already skilled in drone flying and want something that’s quick and agile in the air.
Most decent drones nowadays will have a speed that ranges from 30 to 50 mph, which is fine for most people. But if you want something faster, you’ll need to consider racing drones.
However, keep in mind that you’ll be sacrificing stability and the drone’s filming capabilities if you choose a racing drone.
Portability is a valid factor to consider before purchasing your drone, and it largely depends on the size of the drone you want to get.
Small drones are easy to carry in a backpack or their own pouch, and they’re also easy to set up when you want to fly them.
On the other hand, larger drones (usually used for professional photography & filmmaking) will have bigger cases and sometimes even wheels on their cases for transportation. While this may not be the most efficient, you probably won’t be carrying around a $15,000 drone all the time, so people who actually use these types of drones typically don’t mind that much.
Bonus section – Best drones under $1000 (Ranked by Price)
In this bonus section, we’ll take a look at what I believe are the best drones in various price categories: under $50, $100, $200, $300, $500, and $1000.
Let’s start with what I think is the best toy drone…
Eachine Ex010 – the perfect beginner drone under $50
This is the perfect beginner drone for anyone trying to see if drones are their thing. It’s also great for kids as it’s very lightweight and its propellers aren’t exposed.
You can get it for as cheap as $25.
You can also check out my full article about the top drones under $50.
DJI Tello – cheap drone with a great camera (under $100)
This is my favorite drone under $100. It can fly for 12 minutes and even comes with a stabilized HD camera. Moreover, it has sensors that allow you to have a more stable flight.
I honestly think the DJI Tello is the crown jewel of drones under $100. The people who’d benefit most from it are those who’ve tried toy drones, got a feel for what it’s like to fly a drone, and are now looking to step up a bit.
While I categorize it under $100, in some places it retails at a little bit over $180, but you can get it for a cheaper price if you know where to look.
- Electronic Image stabilization
- 12 min flight time
- 100m range
- Bottom sensor for stable flight
- Basic Flight modes
For my full article about the best drones under $100, you can check it out here.
Eachine Ex4 – the Best Cheap GPS drone (under $200)
The Eachine Ex4 (also known as the JJRC X12 Aurora) is a drone that I’ve personally tested, and I can confidently say it’s one of the best drones under $200, if not the best.
It features a 3-axis gimbal, which is rare in this price range. It also has a 1km flight range, which is more than enough for the people this drone is aimed at; beginners starting to feel comfortable flying a drone.
You can find this affordable GPS drone at a great price on certain sites, and it also features an automatic return-to-home function.
- 1km range
- Long battery life (25 minutes!)
- 1080p camera
- Stabilized 3-axis footage
- Powerful brushless motors
I have a full article on other drones in this price range that I believe are worth the cost.
Hubsan Zino – the Best Cheap 4K drone (under $300)
If you’ve been interested in the drone space for a while, you’ve probably heard of the Hubsan Zino. It’s the best 4K camera drone you can get right now for less than $300!
With a more than adequate 1km flight range, a 3-axis gimbal, and a 4K footage camera, it’s actually a valid competitor of the likes of DJI. If you’re interested in capturing professional-looking footage or pictures and are on a tight budget, this drone is for you.
You can often find the Hubsan Zino, along with its various accessories, available at great prices.
- 4K camera
- 20min battery life
- 1km range
- Stabilized 3-axis footage
- Powerful brushless motors
- Stable GPS
- Good wind resistance
While the Hubsan Zino comes out on top for drones under $300, there are other excellent drones in this price range. You can check my full article for more details.
DJI Mini 2 – the Best Cheap Professional Drone (under $500)
The DJI Mini 2, somewhat the face of the drone industry at this point, is hands down the best drone you can get in this price range. I honestly can’t believe it’s this affordable given that it rivals drones priced much higher.
This drone is perfect for both hobbyists and budget-conscious professionals. It’s under 250 grams, which means you’ll have a lot of freedom when flying it. It also has intelligent flight modes that make flying and filming really easy. Add to that the 4K camera, the 3-axis gimbal, and the 31-minute flight time… what more could you want from a drone at this price?
- 4K camera
- 31min battery life
- 10km range
- Stabilized 3-axis footage
- Stable GPS
- Under 250g
- Great wind resistance
There are other drones that actually compete with the DJI Mini 2. You can check out my full review of drones under $500.
DJI Mavic Air 2 – Best drone under $1000
This is a reliable drone that never disappoints. It’s perfect for budding professionals who want the most for their money and are looking for something efficient, durable, but also don’t want to spend four figures.
- 12km range
- 4K at 60fps or 5K video capability
- 32-minute battery life
- Six sensor cameras
- Excellent build quality
- I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a good drone and is willing to spend around $750.
Final words about Best Drone Prices
Well, that’s it, folks. This has been an in-depth and comprehensive guide reflecting the current state of the drone market. My goal was to give you a clear idea of what to expect and help you decide which drone will best suit your taste and budget.
If you’ve found some of your dream drones to be expensive and you’re wondering whether you’ll actually enjoy them if you do end up buying them… Don’t worry, there’s also the option of renting a drone. Renting a drone is a fantastic way to test a drone firsthand and determine for sure whether you like it or not.
I haven’t discussed it in this article because I’ve already written a comprehensive article on that topic, which you can check out here.
FAQs about Best Drone Prices
1.How much do drones cost?
Beginner toy drones range from $30 to $90, while entry-level camera drones range from $299 to $499. Mid-level consumer drones are expected to range between $600 and $1,000. High-end professional drones are priced at $3,000 and above.
2.What is the average flight time for a drone?
The average flight time of toy drones is about 10 minutes. The average flight time for mid-level drones is about 22 minutes. The average flight time of high-end consumer drones is about 28 minutes. The exceptions to this are some high-end drones and fixed-wing aircraft, which can even fly for several hours.
3.Why are drones so expensive?
One major factor is the advancement in technology. As drones continue to improve, they incorporate more advanced features such as higher quality cameras, longer battery life, and better stability. These improvements require higher production costs, which are then passed on to consumers.
4.Are drones cost effective?
Drones generally offer a low-cost and easy to use means of collecting high-quality geospatial data after disaster. In many countries and scenarios, drones represent the only realistic or affordable means of collecting aerial imagery: manned aircraft and usable satellite images are not options.
5.How far can you control a drone?
It depends on the drone performance. Toy drones typically have a short range of about 20 to 100 yards, while mid- to high-end drones tend to have a higher range that can extend to several miles.