When you are flying a drone you wanted to be in for as long as possible. The latest drones on the market can handle a flight time of approximately 35 minutes but you will have to pay upwards of $1700 to access this amount of flight time. The cheapest drones on the market generally flight for only about 10 minutes but they only cost about US$30. It seems reasonable, therefore, to compare a range of different drones, their flight time in minutes, and their cost, to create a table which shows you the amount of dollars per minute of flight time. In this article, I have gone through the most popular drones on the market and find out the lowest amount of money you can spend per minute of flight time.
The cheapest drone reviewed in this article can fly for about 10 minutes. This equates to a flight time of three dollars per minute. The cheapest drone with the longest flight time is the Zuhafa T5. This drone only has a price of US$140 and can fly for approximately 20 minutes. This equates to a seven dollars per minute of flight time. This drone was the best combination of price and flight time reviewed in this article. It was closely followed by the Ruko U11 GPS Drone which had a cost of $11.50 per minute of flight time.
For a full rundown of the different types of prices and flight times that is currently available on the drone market I have created a table which you can find in the section below.
Flight time versus cost table
Not all drones are made the same. Some of them come from very well-known manufacturers and the focus of these drones tend to be their ability to take high-resolution photos and videos. For this you will be paying a premium as camera technology does not come cheap.
Other drones, mainly for beginner and hobbyist drone flyers, are much less expensive and typically you sacrifice flight time and stability in the air to achieve the lower price.
Depending on what you want your drone for the mid range of consumer level drones combine the perfect amount of price – for example they only cost about US$150-US$250 – with the amount of time they are able to fly.
Here is a selection of drones from a range of price ranges and the amount of flight time you can expect to get from one of the supplied batteries. Some manufacturers quote the flight time as the maximum flight time that is delivered with the package and sometimes this includes two batteries. In this instance I have divided the flight time by two so that each drone is able to be compared to the rest.
I have ordered the list by the cost per minute of flight times starting at the smallest (three dollars per minute) to the highest (over $68 per minute)
Cost per minute table
|Drone||Flight Time (min)||Cost of drone||$ per minute*|
|4DRC V2 Foldable Mini Drone||10||30||3.00|
|4DRC V4 Drone||13||62||4.77|
|Ruko U11 GPS Drone||20||230||11.50|
|DJI Mini 2||31||499||16.10|
|DEERC DE22 GPS Drone||26||419||16.12|
|DJI Mavic Air 2||34||799||23.50|
|Parrot PF728000 ANAFI||25||700||28.00|
|DJI Mavic Air||17||750||44.12|
|Autel Robotics EVO 2 Pro||40||2100||52.50|
|DJI Phantom 4 Pro+||30||2050||68.33|
The least expensive drone to flight per minute
The lowest price per minute of flight time was achieved by the 4DRC V2 Foldable Mini Drone. This drone only has a flight time of approximately 10 minutes so it could not be used for long-range missions or photography.
Despite the low flight time this drone comes with a surprising array of different features such as altitude hold – this means that the drone will hold its altitude when you let go of the throttle stick which allows for easier flight and makes the drone perfect for younger drone flyers.
It also has auto takeoff and landing which means that the drone will take off and land by simply pushing one button. Once again making it perfect for the younger members of your family.
Here is the full rundown of the features that come with this drone.
- Altitude Hold- The drone will hover at the certain height when you release the throttle stick. Easy operation with extra fun.
- 3D Flips Stunt – The robust and fantastic 360°flips & rolls stunt reveals effortlessly with the 6-Axis Gyro flying control system.
- One Key Return – The drone will instantly take off/land/return by a simple push of one single button. Fair idiot-proof with ultra-responsive motor.
- 3 Speed Control – 3 speed control to meet the needs for beginners, intermediate and experts. Mini pocket size makes it ultra portable.
- Mini size & free flight – Compact, lightweight design, our drone can fly between bookcases, tables and so on. Even you can take it out just in your pocket. Will be the best gift for Christmas, children’s birthdays, new year and holidays
This mini foldable drone is really for flying around your house and lacks any advanced flying features that you would expect from a mid-range camera drone. However, at only US$30 it is the best bang for your but if you want to balance the price that you pay with flight time.
I would not buy a drone with any less than 20 minutes worth of flight time for this reason…
The cheapest drone with long flight time that you should take seriously
A good amount of time for a drone to fly is about 20 minutes. This gives you enough time to explore the local area and capture the shots that you need before having enough battery power to return to your takeoff location safely.
The first drone on the list to achieve a 20 minute flight time (as stated by the manufacturer) is the Zuhafa T5. You can expect to pay $7 per minute of flight time for this drone.
This drone comes with a range of different features and also has a remote control that you can plug into your smart phone for a first person view of the flight. It has a range of other features that you would only expect from much more expensive drones such as a 4K camera and image stabilisation – through shock absorbers not Gimbal.
The drone also has GPS assisted intelligent flight mode and automatic flight capturing modes such as 360° fly around mode.
Here is a list of the full features of this drone.
- Double Flight Time & Foldable:2 pcs of Modular Li-Po Battery yields(1800mAh 7.4V) up to 40mins Max flight time, you can immerse yourself in a substantial flight. The foldable design makes the drone small and portable. Our drone weighs only 215 grams and less than 250 grams, you do not need to register the drone or get a drone pilot certificate.
- 4K FHD Camera with Image Stabilization: The optimized full HD Camera built with a Shock Absorption holder ensures shooting 3840 x 2160P high-resolution images and videos without camera vibration. 5GHz FPV transmission provides about 200 meters of real-time image transmission and a 60° adjustable lens enables you to see the world from different angles.
- GPS Assisted Intelligent Flight: Never worry about losing a drone. It returns automatically whenever the battery is low, the signal is lost or you press one key return. Design a flight path by tapping several points on App screen, which help you dedicated yourself on more creative and amazing photography.
- Circle Fly: The drone will fly around the point you set,360°capturing the beautiful shots of the point by controlling the radius, speed and direction.10 different styles of audio tracks for drone video, you can shoot cool MV and share them on social media.
- GPS Mode & Fixed Height Mode: You can fly indoors or outdoors by selecting the appropriate mode. To avoid loss, do not use the fixed-height mode in outdoors. Four bright LED lights for night flying. If you want to buy more batteries or accessories, please search B082F8Z6VS on Amazon.com.
For the price of only US$140 this is the first level of drone that I would consider purchasing. It has a long flight time and can give the beginner drone flyer a fantastic opportunity to explore with its long flight time and advanced flying features.
What if you want more features from your drone?
Like I have mentioned above, the cheaper drones often sacrifice flight stability and camera specifications. If you want to start taking drone photography and video seriously you need to look beyond the amount of flight time you get and you need to spend a little bit more money on the hardware that the drone is carrying to capture the images.
The DJI Mavic mini 2 is the first drone in the list which you can use to capture high definition photos and videos at a reasonable cost per minute of flight time. It costs only $16 per minute of flight time for this drone and you get up to 31 minutes of flight time.
That is an incredible amount of time for such a small amount of money packed into an incredible amount of technology.
The DJI Mavic mini 2 is under 249 g which means that you do not need to register it in many countries. This, in combination with this 31 minute maximum flight time means that if you want to capture crystal-clear 4K video with a level 5 wind resistance you should seriously consider purchasing this drone.
Even though this drone is relatively small it packs a ton of power and can resist winds of up to 38 km/h. It can even fly up to a maximum altitude of 4 km so your footage will be stable even when flying above windy coastlines.
Not to mention, that this drone is from a very well-known manufacturer and the DJI ecosystem of drones is one of the best in the world. They make drones which are incredibly easy to fly and you can be confident that when you are purchasing a DJI drone you will be getting excellent hardware and user friendly software.
This camera also has a 4 times digital zoom which means that you can perfectly frame every shot with the click of a button without having to act closer to your subject.
If you want a drone is not at the beginner level but can handle some more advanced creative ideas you should consider buying the DJI Mavic mini 2.
More expensive drones
Beyond the DJI Mavic mini 2 the price of the drones increases quickly. For this price point you do not get any more flight time because that is limited by the technology used. The lithium polymer batteries can only store so much energy before they become too big and heavy for the drone to lift.
As the price of the drones increases you are getting better quality camera hardware which means that your photos and videos will have much better colour depth and will be easier to edit into amazing looking footage and photos.
If you want to find out more about the best drone for photography check out my other article – click here. In this article I go through everything you need to know about the best drones for taking some of the best images that you can either sell or capture for clients.
If you are thinking of taking your drone to the next level and becoming a professional drone videographer or photographer you should consider buying a drone which has professional level hardware. And this article will help you decide what drone is best for you.
In this article, I have shown you some of the best drones to purchase if you want the best value for money. The table, above, will give you the ability to compare drones based on the amount of money costs to purchase and how much flight time you get for one battery worth of energy.
There are many decisions that go into choosing the best drone for you and if flight time is important I would recommend purchasing the Zuhafa T5 drone. This drone gives you the best balance between cost and flight time. A 20 minute flight time is important if you want to enjoy your flight and not have to rush back to your landing spot.
If, you want a drone that is a little bit easier to fly and has a load of quite advanced features you should check out the DJI mini 2. This drone is an incredible bit of kit which packs a ton of features and allows you to fly for up to 31 minutes at a relatively low cost. At only $16 per minutes of flight time this is the best consumer level drone for your money.