Best Drones Under 1000

Drones have become an almost daily sight for many people and their popularity is catching on for both personal use and in a number of different industries. The right drone for any individual is going to depend on a number of different factors, starting with what they are using it for. Today we are going be looking at the best drones under 1000 you can buy in 2017.

One of the currently most prevalent uses of drones is for aerial photography and videography, but drone capabilities are rapidly expanding. At the moment, drones are available that are useful for everything from aerial geological surveys to agricultural use for everything from watering to inspecting vines to spraying pesticides. There is no limit to the way in which drones will one day be used in the future, but for the moment their primary use is for photo and video, so that's what we've focused on.

Here’s the deal:

With thousands of drones currently on the market, ranging from a few dollars to several thousands of dollars, it can be hard to sort through the vast number of features to find just the right drone for you. Here, we've curated a collection of some of the top photo and video drones available for less than $1000.

At that price point, however, no matter how user friendly it is, you probably don't want to "give it a rip" without having a least some experience at piloting a drone. Before you go drop a grand on a Pro-sumer drone, here's a list of some entry level drones you might want to practice on first.


See below for our top picks for the best drones under 1000 bucks. Click on the links to view on amazon!


1

DJI Phantom 3 Professional 4K

Best Drone Under 1000 with Camera

It’s not a coincidence that three of the top rated drones are all made by DJI. They genuinely produce phenomenal products, utilizing advanced technology that makes them both user friendly and durable at the same time. The Phantom 3 comes in three different levels, Pro, Advanced and Standard. The Pro and the Advanced are both top rated drones at this price point. The Standard drone is also an excellent drone but comes at a significantly lower price point, which is why it is not on this list. The DJI Phantom 3 Pro is arguably the best drone for under 1000 dollars you can buy at the moment.

The Phantom 3 Pro is significantly larger and heavier than the Mavic Pro, which means you can’t just throw it in a bag or backpack like the Mavic Pro. Conversely, however, the size and weight of the Phantom 3 make it better for use in less ideal weather conditions and offers a significantly greater ability to deliver longer shots that are smooth, steady and stable throughout.

The Phantom 3 Pro also uses many of the same technologies that make the Mavic Pro such a great option for beginners or amateurs, but includes more advanced features, making it a more attractive option for more experienced pilots. It also features an advanced camera, which makes it a more attractive option for more professional photographers, videographers and filmmakers.

Since many of the basic features of the Phantom Pro 3 – such as a controller that utilizes a smart phone or tablet - are covered below in the review for the Mavic Pro, I’ll stick to what’s different or advanced in the Phantom 3 Pro.

Phantom 3 Pro Features:

GPS assisted hover:

Although this feature is the same as the Mavic Pro’s, the Phantom 3 Pro takes it to the next level by combining it with GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) which allows it to hover even more precisely and accurately and locks onto satellites much faster. With the DJI Go app, you can even track its location on a live map and record your takeoff point so you can call it back with just a simple tap of a finger. When you release the control stick, the Phantom 3 immediately stops and hovers in place.

Vision Positioning System:

The Phantom 3 Pro processes information from a vast array of sensors and completes a mind-boggling array of calculations in real time so it actually helps you fly –which allows you to focus on getting great shots and gives you a totally worry-free flying experience.

Automatic Flight Logs:

​The Phantom 3 Pro actually logs and remembers details of every flight you take, including flight route, time, distance and location. It also caches thumbnail versions of any photos or videos you took during the flight for future reference. In addition, the Phantom 3 is constantly recording data from its own interior mechanisms which you can choose to share with DJI’s support team in the event of an problems or malfunctions.

Intelligent Battery:

The Intelligent Flight Battery has a number of built in sensors that can detect the exact status of the battery and give you remaining power data in real time through a series of bright LED’s. A higher voltage and more power and energy combine to give you a significantly improved flight experience. The Phantom 3 is also capable of continuously calculating its own remaining battery power and current distance to determine just much charge it needs to return, so you always know exactly how much time you have remaining for flying.

Superior Propulsion:

Brushless motors work with lightning-fast Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC’s) to make your Phantom 3 fast, agile, and responsive. Motors with ESC’s give you the ability to speed up quickly and rapidly increase or decrease altitude, while DJI’s powerful air braking mechanism allows you to stop on a dime. The ESC’s not only relay vital motor speed information to the Main Controller, but also send commands based on your input back to the motors. This constant back-and-forth communication keeps the Phantom stable during flight, allowing you to capture everything from gentle pans to smooth shots during rapid acceleration.

Dynamic Maneuvering:

Performing dynamic aerial maneuvers requires a superior stabilization unit. The Phantom 3 contains an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that utilizes a 6-axis gyroscope and an accelerometer that is constantly working to detecting the slightest changes and compensate for them automatically. Aerodynamic self-tightening propellers will stay firmly in place no matter how erratically you fly.

Einstein- level Controller:

The Main Controller of your Phantom 3 collects massive amounts of flight data from the entire system, including the IMU and ESC’s and analyzes it in real time. This includes command inputs, GPS location, motor speed and information from a full array of automatic sensors. The controller analyzes data on the spot to tell your Phantom 3 exactly how to behave or respond at any given moment.

DJI Software Development Kit:

The Phantom 3 operates on a fully customizable platform that allows you to program apps that meet your individual needs.

Camera and Video:

The Phantom 3 Pro is Ultra HD 4K capable at 30fps and utilizes a 12 MP camera with an f/2.8 lens that helps eliminate unwanted distortion. Below are two photo's displaying actual images taken by the Phantom 3 Pro.

​Image Source

​​Amazing Phantom 3 Pro footage taken in Iceland of the Bardarbunga volcano !

Pros

  • Easy for novices to fly but offers advanced features for pros
  • Heavy and stable
  • UHD 4K Video
  • Camera and gimbal are one unit, but they can be removed, which leaves options open for DJI to offer a camera upgrade as technology advances

Cons

  • Not a very portable unit
  • Only offers 20 minutes of flight time, but additional batteries can be purchased
  • Can't use your own camera
  • Not waterproof

ADDITIONAL NOTE: DJI is well known for having some of the best products on the market, but they have developed a reputation for having some of the worst customer service. This doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Mavic Pro, since it doesn’t seem that many user of the Mavic Pro had serious issues with their units. However, since Phantom Pro users seem to be more on the professional end of the spectrum that use their units more frequently and in a wider variety of conditions, they seem to need service more often and this seems to be DJI’s Achilles heel.​

What’s the bottom line?

The DJI Phantom Pro is for more serious professionals who need higher performance and aren’t as concerned with portability.​ The Phantom Pro takes our number one spot for the best drones under 1000 dollars.

Click here to check the price of DJI Phantom 3 Pro on Amazon!


2

DJI Mavic Pro

DJI is one of the top names in drone technology and the Mavic Pro doesn't disappoint. One thing you can definitely count on with DJI is high performance and reliability. Anyone familiar with Apple knows that they curate only the highest quality products to sell in their Apple stores. When it comes to drones, DJI tops their list, which means their products deserve a serious look. DJI products are also certified by Apple in their Works with iMovie and Works with Final Cut Pro X programs, so if you are a Mac/FCP user, then you can shoot with confidence knowing there won't be any export issues.

This drone could arguably be one the best DJI drone under 1000 dollars. If ease of packing around a drone is the deciding factor then the Mavic Pro is the drone for you. The Phantom 3 Pro has a slight advantage with a wider field of view on the camera and the Mavic camera requires the focus to be set manually each flight.

Probably the best feature of the DJI Mavic Pro is its size. The wings actually fold up into the unit and when folded, the quadcopter is small enough to fit in a purse, messenger bag or camera bag. Weighing only 1.62 lbs, it also won't weigh you down, no matter where you take it. When unfolding the wings, they "lock" into place, so there is no worry about a wing snapping out of place mid-flight. In spite of its compact size, however, there is no question of the Mavic Pro being a solid piece of equipment well worth its price tag.

Massive Tech in a Tiny Package

Don't let its tiny size fool you about its capabilities either. The minuscule body hides a monster degree of technological complexity that makes the Mavic Pro one of the most sophisticated camera drones on the market. It features 24 high-performance computing cores and an advanced transmission system that is capable of streaming 720p HD at a range of up to 4.3mi (7km).

Shorter ranges offer the capability of streaming in full 1080p HD, while video can be recorded in full, dynamic Ultra 4K at 30fps, with no Electronic Image Stabilization. This means all recorded footage, is full rich bona-fide 4K – shot on a 12-megapixel camera with Adobe DNG RAW support.

Here is a sample of video shot with the Mavic Pro.

Mavic Pro Turns Novice Operators Into Immediate Pros

Leigh Miller | www.leighmiller.ca

"DJI Mavic Pro" by Leigh Miller is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

The Mavic Pro is packed with features that allow amateurs to operate like pros and pros to operate like NASA personnel.

A miniaturized, ultra-precise 3-axis gimbal is capable of stabilizing the camera even during high-speed motion for smooth video and sharp photos, while satellite positioning technology helps the drone remain almost stationary while hovering in an unobstructed outdoor area. Forward and downward vision sensors also allow the drone to hover incredibly precisely, even while indoors or in areas with no access to GPS. The Mavic can hover almost perfectly still or fly (and shoot video) up to 40mph in Sport Mode.

FlightAutonomy technology allows the Mavic to sense obstacles up to 49 feet (15m) away and respond appropriately by bypassing them, braking or hovering. This also protects the drone when descending from an inadequate height when it is in Return to Home Mode.

One of the most tricky maneuvers for novice pilots is simply flying in a straight line. It takes time to become familiar enough with joysticks to be able to fly and operate the camera at the same time. The TapFly features allows you to simply tap where you want the Mavic to go and it will fly smoothly in that direction, leaving you free to focus on controlling the gimbal and capturing great photos and video.

The latest feature on the Mavic Pro is Tripod mode, which slows the Mavic down, making every movement slow and precise for sharp, crisp, detailed photos and videos.

For more info on what it will take to get you up and running like a pro, check out this video:

Other Features That Make Mavic Pro One Of The Top Drones Under $1000

ActiveTrack technology:

This tech feature allows you to designate a specific person for the camera to track and Mavic Pro does the rest.

Gesture Mode:

This mode allows you to make a simple gesture to tell the Mavic Pro to snap a photo – making it easier than ever to get great “Dronies”.

High  Quality Components:

Powerful high efficiency motors and a heavy-duty battery give it a maximum flight time of 27 minutes (actual users report closer to 20 minutes) and a maximum distance of 8 miles (13k). The battery can be fully charged in as little as 30 minutes. (Actual users report a charge time of up to 50 minutes.)

Bluetooth Controller Capability:

The included controller actually operates via a smartphone (both iPhone and Android cables are included), but it also offers Bluetooth technology that allows you to operate the drone using just your phone. Users have also reported that the controller will also easily accommodate an iPad mini or other smaller tablet.

Pros

  • UHD 4K capable camera and advanced flight technology make it user friendly for both novices and pros alike
  • Lightweight portability allows you to take it with you so you have it on hand right when you need it most. Never lose a great shot you could have had if you had your drone with you!
  • Operates with your cell phone and comes with a great app that gives you a wide variety of features and control
  • Apple seal of approval and guaranteed integration with FCP and other Mac OS apps

Cons

  • Camera is built in, so as technology advances, you can’t switch out the camera for a more advanced one
  • Not waterproof
  • While the controller is technically capable of operating without a smart phone, it’s severely limited since it doesn’t have a screen and the camera requires you to hit the screen to focus. Conversely, using just the phone severely limits the speed and distance at which the Mavic can operate
  • Poor Audio
  • The controller only displays telemetry data such as altitude, orientation, speed, distance, etc
  • Being small, light and portable is a plus when you are carrying it around, but it also makes it more susceptible to damage due to high, sudden or unexpected winds. Many users reported it still working quite well in moderate winds, but weight will always be a factor in any flying module. The heavier it is, the more stable it is.

​BOTTOM LINE:

The Mavic Pro is great for novice or amateur videographers or filmmakers, or those who just want the ability to take quick "Dronies" of their adventures. Being small, light and portable is a huge advantage as long as the weather and terrain cooperate, but can be a disadvantage if you need to use it in poor weather or adverse conditions.

The Mavic Pro will cost you a few hundred dollars more, but like we said if portability is important to you then the extra few hundred dollars may be well worth it.

The advanced features of the Mavic Pro also help novices get great shots without a huge amount of experience at operating a drone. All of the great features of this drone push it to number two on list for the best drones under 1000 bucks.

Click here to check the price of the Mavic Pro on Amazon!


3

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium 4K

The X-Star Premium is a heavier drone, much like the DJI Phantom 3 and even offers many of the premium features of the DJI Phantom 3, such as the Dual GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning. The X-Star Premium even offers a slightly better camera with a 104 degree field of view, at a slightly lower price tag. Where X-Star seems to fall behind, however, is in many of the stabilizing and balancing features offered on the Phantom 3.

The X-Star comes with a camera that is capable of shooting 12 mp single shots. It also can do burst shots and time-lapse shots. As far as video it has a stunning 4K Ultra HD plus QHD, FHD and Superview settings. Below are some amazing still pics from the X-Star Premium 4K!

Source:

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The X-Star’s Starpoint Positioning System optically tracks its position, just like the Phantom 3 and offers many of the same automated features like follow and orbit. The controller also uses a smart phone or tablet for a screen. An available Starlink App allows you to stream 720p HD video from up to 1.2 miles away.

X-Star also offers a Beginner Mode, which provides a geo-fence that limits your aircraft’s range and speed. It also offers a unique customizable failsafe feature with two pre-set options. When preset to 25% battery, the failsafe will return the X-Star Premium to its home point. When preset to 10% power remaining, the X-Star Premium will automatically land at its current location.

The X-Star Premium is powered by a lightweight, intelligent 14.8V LiPo battery that provides up to 25 minutes of flight time, but it also takes an hour and a half to charge with a fast charger. With a longer run time and a slightly lower price tag on additional batteries, the X-Star Premium might offer you a bit more bang for your buck over the Phantom 3 if you want a basic drone with some high end features that doesn’t have quite the stability and maneuverability of the Phantom 3.

The X-Star Premium also comes with a hard sided case, which has to be purchased separately with the Phantom 3. Many users of the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium seem to give it very high praise, and one YouTuber called it the BEST drone for beginners. Here's a little more of what he had to say and a better look at the Autel.

Pros

  • Many of the same Pro features as the Phantom 3 but at a lower price point
  • Heavy weight, but good maneuverability
  • UHD 4K video with a 104 degree field of vision
  • Longer run time and lower battery price than the Phantom 3
  • Camera and Gimbal are removable for future upgrades
  • A set of ND filters is available, which is not an option on the Phantom 3. This is useful in bright light conditions to help prevent overexposure.

Cons

  • Not as maneuverable or as stable as the Phantom 4
  • Batteries take and hour and a half to charge
  • Any camera upgrade would have to be bought from Autel Robotics
  • Not a well known company/ brand yet!

Check out the video below with flight footage on the Autel X-Star Premium

BOTTOM LINE:

If you are an amateur or semi-professional that wants many of the same premium features as the Phantom 4 at a lower price point, but don't need the portability of the Mavic Pro, then this is probably the drone you are looking for. This is also a great option for people who want to use a drone semi- professionally but also may have kids anxious to try their hand at flying a drone. While the DJI drones offer a number of features that seem to make them suitable for beginners, the Beginner Mode on the X-Star Premium seems to be a better fit for those genuinely just starting out. 

Click here to check the price of the Autel Robotics X-Star premium on Amazon!


4

DJI PHANTOM 3 ADVANCED

Literally the only difference between the Phantom 3 Advanced and the Phantom 3 Pro is the price and the ability to shoot UHD 4K. Every other feature is exactly the same, so if you want an advanced quadcopter but are happy shooting 1080p HD rather than 4K UHD, then you can save a few hundred dollars and go for the Phantom 3 Advanced rather than the Phantom 3 Pro. Despite the similarities of the two drones, the Phantom 3 Advanced still makes the cut for the best drones under 1000.


5

Yuneec Typhoon H UHD 4K

Finally, in the number five spot for the "best drone under 1000" is the Yuneec Typhoon H. The Yuneec Typhoon H is a hexacopter arial drone with six rotors that give it the ability to carry and advanced payload while simultaneously maintaining an almost unprecedented level of maneuverability. A carbon fiber body gives it advanced strength while keeping it feather light. The Typhoon H is an advanced aerial photography and videography platform that gives skilled pilots and photographers alike the complex maneuverability they desire and demand.

The Typhoon H is capable of 4K ultra-stable and UHD video, 12 MP still images all with unlimited 360 degree rotation. 

It has a maximum flying speed of 43.5mph, a maximum climbing speed of 11mph and maximum descending speed of 6mph. It offers a full 25 minutes of flight time while filming in UHD 4K resolution. The landing gear is fully retractable to give you a full 360° view without anything obstructing it.

The hexacopter is controlled via an ST16 All-In-One Ground Station Controller which features a 7" Android-based touchscreen, with an effective range of up to 1 mile. An integrated transmitter and receiver that works on the Android platform gives you total control over the Typhoon H via use of a combination of joystick, push button and touch screen controls. The controller also allows you to program autonomous flight, leaving you free to concentrate on capturing stunning photos and panoramic videos.

A single battery charge offers up to 25 minutes of flight time while filming in crystal clear 4K UHD video, but requires 2 hours of charge time. A 3-axis anti-vibration CGO3+ 12.4 MP gimbal camera features a 98° wide-angle fixed focus lens and can be rotated in an unlimited, 360° range of motion. Images are stored on a microSDHC Class 10 memory card (not included) of up to 128GB.

On the downside, the Typhoon H can only be flown outdoors, as it requires a suitable GPS signal/lock in order to start the motors.

The Hexacopter offers three main flight modes - Smart, Angle, or Home. Smart mode is best for first-time flyers, but Angle (Pilot) Mode is the mode preferred by experienced pilots. Intelligent front sonar sensors with an effective range of 5’ will detect obstacles and allow the Typhoon H to stop automatically when flying in either Smart or Angle Mode.

One feature that is unique to the Hexacopter is a Dynamic Return to Home, which allows you to actually move locations while the drone is in flight and it will return to your current location, rather than where it lifted off.

Yuneec's offers downloadable Typhoon H Graphical User Interface (GUI) software but it is not compatible with Mac. The software allows you to update the Typhoon H to the newest firmware. And to check all of the Typhoon H’s sensors; including the GPS, pressure, temperature, compass, esc, and accelerometer.

Pros

  • 6 propellers offer unparalleled speed and maneuverability
  • Controller comes with its own screen - no need to use your smartphone or tablet
  • 4K UHD Video capable
  • Memory card storage
  • 25 minutes of run time
  • Allows a full 360° range of motion
  • Yuneec customer service gets high marks and good ratings!

Cons

  • User Interface not Mac Compatible
  • 2 hour battery charge time
  • Any camera upgrade would have to be bought from Autel Robotics
  • Can only be flown outdoors where a clear GPS signal can be located

BOTTOM LINE:​

If are an experienced drone or RC pilot that doesn't work predominantly with or on Mac or Apple products then this is probably the drone for you. As much as DJI products provide superior stability almost invariably the more inbuilt stability you are provided, the more you lose in quick maneuverability and functionality. If you want the lightest, fastest, most maneuverable drone that puts ultimate control in your hand, then this is probably the drone for you. On the other hand, if you are a somewhat new or inexperienced pilot, the DJI is probably going to have some protective features that are more suited to your level of expertise, and if you are predominantly a Mac user that works with Apple products, then you might also want to opt for a DJI product.

​Check some  video shots of the the Yuneec Typhoon H!


Conclusion: What is the Best Drone Under 1000?​

There you have it, our list for the best drones under 1000 bucks. Hopefully you are now more informed about the capabilities of these awesome drones. Although there are more expensive drones on the market, we tried our best to keep this list under a grand. Which ones are your favorites from this list? Feel free to leave a comment below!

 Looking for something a little lower in price? Then check out this list of drones under 500

If you are a beginner and looking to learn to fly you should check our "How to Fly a QuadCopter - The Ultimate Guide"

"Drone vs Cow" by Mauricio Lima is licensed under CC BY 4.0 is the featured image in this post.

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