DJI has in recent years conquered large parts of the drone world. Their Phantom project has become a dynasty. Today, these drones are among the most popular and best selection of drones that you’ll find. According to the price, these are not cheap drones for first-time buyers, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying one. However, we recommend looking at a cheaper drone, if you’re a first-time buyer, to learn the most basic things.
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The drones discussed in this article includes: The DJI Phantom 3 Standard, DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, DJI Phantom 3 Professional and the Phantom 4. Check the table for basic information regarding the drones or scroll down to read the reviews.
Scroll down to read reviews of each drone or simply follow the links below.
Review of Phantom 3 Standard
New drones are manufactured every day and this brings up the need for more and more comparison to find the best one out there that works effectively and that are even cheaper. This brings me to the DJI Phantom 3 Standard.
The Phantom 3 Standard has been designed to a great extent for beginners; it has some features which make it appreciated.
Its controller to a large extent is one of the major means of differentiating the three (3) different models of Phantom. The Phantom 3 Standard controller has a transmitter which has an inbuilt USB rechargeable battery and shoulder rocker dial used to control the pitch of the camera found in the drone. This transmitter’s range extender is inbuilt instead of being separated like does found in other models. Also, this transmitter needs to be connected to either an iPhone or an Android phone.
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard has some flight modes which makes it more interesting, these flight modes include point of interest and the follow me modes. The point of interest mode which is also known as POI gives the drone user the chance to fly directly over the object or area which seems particularly interesting in circles. To do this you set the drone to the POI mode then make it fly away to the distance of your choice. The drone will find its way to the area or object which you have chosen and fly in a circular motion pointing its camera at the centre.
The follow me mode needs your phone or tablet to be GPS enabled and also have a really strong signal for it to function properly. Using this mode comes in two ways, you can either push the phantom 3 standard drone away from you by making it start in front of your position or you can set it at your back and make if follow you from there. To do all this, a certain height needs to be attained, a height of about 10m minimum before you can proceed to use this mode.
Another wonderful feature of the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is the camera, apart from the fact that it records at a higher resolution of 2.7k, its image quality is also superb. The lens in the camera is larger and it has an improved sensor which makes the videos and photos made by this drone a lot sharper with less distortion.
Other things about the DJI Phantom 3 Standard which would interest you are;
Battery life & charge time: the DJI Phantom 3 Standard drone has a battery which is similar to the other phantoms battery, it has a limited time of flight which is about twenty-five (25) minutes maximum, and its recharge time is on the fast side compared to some other drone spec. to be completely charged up the DJI Phantom 3 Standard battery would need up to fifty-five (55) minutes. This means that users who are interested in making videos for a long period of time would need to get 1 or 2 extra batteries. Note the cost of one battery is about £100.
Durability: the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is a fairly durable drone and even though we have seen stronger drones the Phantom 3 Standard may not be able to carry on its duties if it gets a hard hit on any surface. It is advisable to handle it with care.
Camera: the DJI Phantom 3 Standard has a Panasonic 12mp sensor instead of the Sony Exmor R model which is been made use of in the advanced and professional model. The DJI Phantom 3 Standard has the ability to shoot 12mp photos, and sounds which is a lot better than what the phantom 3 advanced can do, it shoots up to 2.7K video (2704x1520 pixels) while the advanced is limited to 1920x1080.
Upgradeability: this product have been designed to be upgradeable as seen in the other models of the phantom 3, so if you think you need to upgrade you can check for it and if it is available at that moment then you do it.
Control: the DJI Phantom 3 Standard controls have been designed to be very simple to understand and operate because the drone itself was aimed at targeting users who are new into the use of drones. Though it’s simple to use, you still have to spend some time with it to be able to get everything about the controls especially when you want to enable the multiple flying modes.
In conclusion, some aspect of the drone may seem difficult to use at first but with time, you will enjoy it with easy and also the DJI Phantom 3 Standard allows you to get nice camera shots which you may not get from an earlier version like the phantom 2. It is worth saying that the DJI Phantom 3 Standard is a wonderful machine and its worth its price.
Review of Phantom 3 Advanced
There are two major features which differentiate the DJI phantom 3 advanced from its close relation the phantom 3 professional, and that is the camera quality of the drones and the charging speed of their chargers. The DJI phantom 3 professional has a 4k (3,820x2, 160 px) resolution and a fast charger which is a 100 watt charger, while the DJI phantom 3 advanced has a lower resolution for its video shoots at about (1,920x1, 080), in 1080p and its charger is slower with a wattage of 57. This does not need to make your opinion about the advanced poor because with the 1080p camera resolution it will give you a wonderful shot and good video coverage, the professional is only preferable when you want more resolution and have a computer strong enough to work with it.
The DJI phantom 3 advanced has a three axis gimbal below it which is used to stabilize the camera’s view and direction, and this, in turn, makes the video or picture which it takes to be smooth even when there is sudden movement in the video coverage area. Also, the camera of the advanced can be inclined at any angle within 90 degrees but the camera is permanently attached to the gimbal and any damage done to the camera will mean a change of both the gimbal and the camera.
At the back of the Phantom 3 advanced, there is a new vision positioning system installed, it serves as a sensor for the drone while it flies in an enclosed environment or a room when it cannot connect to a GPS. There are quite a few situations when this sensor may not work properly especially when it flies above a very reflective surface, sound absorbing materials or water surface, also for this sensor to work properly it has to get to a minimum height of 3 meters (10 feet).
When flying the drone outside the GPS is used to help the drone know your position and its own position, it makes the drone fly freely in a position when your hands are off the controller stick, and also for safety precaution such as flying back home automatically. Due to this, the manufacturers have designed the phantom 3 advanced with a Russian navigation system GLONASS which enables the drone to access as many satellites as possible. To make the drone fly properly the controller and the DJI go app is very important. The controller is called the pilot. In addition to the controller (pilot) an IOS or android device needs to be connected to really enjoy flying the drone, to use the device it needs to be connected to the controller with the use of a USB cable. On the top corners of the controller, you will find some sticks used for controlling the recording process, taking pictures, reviewing your shots and two wheels, one for adjusting exposure compensation, ISO and shutter speed and the other for the gimbal’s tilt. On the bottom, there are two buttons used for more gimbal and camera functions. This is a wonderfully designed controller but you will still need a little time to understand the use of all it buttons completely. Also incorporated in the controller is a return home button which serves as a panic button when you just want the drone to come back home.
The controller clamp can hold a big or small phone, but the DJI go app is best used in an iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus, it also works on some android phones but not as perfectly as it does on the iPhone. Some of the android phones it can function on are Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3, Sony Xperia Z3, Google Nexus 7 II, Google Nexus 9, Xiaomi Mi 3 and ZTE Nubia Z7 Mini.
The camera of the drone has a video recording option that includes full HD (1,920x1, 080-pixel) and HD (1,280x720-pixel) resolutions at 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 frames per second, it also gives you the option to choose between MOV and MP4 format. For pictures, it can snap and save in JPEG, DNG or both at the same time.
The DJI phantom 3 advanced also has the intelligent flight mode such as the POI (point of interest) and follow me mode. It is also worth knowing that it’s best to fly the drone in this mode in an open space especially if you are a beginner to avoid stories that hurt.
The battery life of the drone, when fully charged, is around 23 minutes tops so if you intend to make a long video with this drone be prepared to get some extra batteries along with you, and the batteries are not so cheap, you can get it for $149, £125 or AU$205 each.
Lastly, the DJI phantom 3 advanced is a nice machine for aerial video and photo shoots, and it comes with a fair price looking at it from the point of its features.
Review of Phantom 3 Professional
The phantom 3 professional drone has been designed almost like the earlier phantom 2 models which has a white plastic frame, four rotors which are narrow, a static landing leg that is fixed underneath the drone. The phantom 3 professional is quite light when it comes to its weight, one can carry it with one hand while unscrewing and screwing the blades of the drone. The phantom 3 professional drone has been designed perfectly to fit into a backpack when the blades have been removed. Its sensors have been improved to a large extent to provide better image quality and superb video tapes unlike those of the previous drone series.
When it comes to toughness, the professional beats a whole lot of drones, it has the ability to fly perfectly even when it has encountered a few bumps such as hitting a wall or landing badly on the ground. This would be a great source of comfort. Also, it is nice to know that the blades are replaceable just in case anyone breaks along the line of action.
The phantom 3 professional controller is a little similar to that of the previous models, it has two main control sticks and a clamp which is used to hold a tablet of an iPhone in place. The clamp holds the smartphone while it is used as a display for the drone’s camera through the use of the DJI pilot app and to control the movement of the drone in the air. The app does not support a lot of android phones but it still works perfectly in some others like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3, Sony Xperia Z3, Google Nexus 7 II, Google Nexus 9, Xiaomi Mi 3 and ZTE Nubia Z7 mini. On the top corners of the controller, you’ll find buttons used for starting and stopping the recording and for easy change of camera exposure and angle of view. This feature is a lot handier than the touch screen mode because it can be held and controlled easily.
Setting up the drone and getting ready to play with your new toy is quite simple, you don’t need to worry about much. Once it is unpacked all you need to do is to charge the battery and the controller and download the DJI pilot app on your iPhone or android device. When everything is fully charged up you are ready to go.
Another interesting thing about the sensors of this drone is that it has been enhanced so that it flies into a contained space by using the patterns on the floor as a lock on, and to remain stable as it flies around in the room.
Other features about the drones are;
Durability: the phantom 3 professional drone is strong to a large extent and can withstand quite a number of hard hits to its body, but for you to enjoy your new toy it is best that you avoid hitting it against an object such as a wall or tree too often.
Battery life & charge time: the battery of the phantom 3 professional drone at a normal and moderate flight mode will last for about 25 minutes, and it could take up to one hour for it to be fully charged and ready to fly again.
Camera: like the other drones before the phantom 3 professional the camera is placed below the drone, but in a more improved manner. It has the same 1/2.3 inch sensor and it has been modified in such a way that it provides better dynamic range, and its exposure is really balanced. It has been designed to shoot ultra HD 4k resolution (3,820x2,160-pixel), and it can shoot at a frame of 24, 25 and 30 frames per second depending on how long you want the shot to be.
Control: it is quite easy to control, and the sticks that are protruded out of the controller makes it a stroll in the pack, unlike the controllers that are in a touch sensitive mode.
Review of Phantom 4
When talking about the DJI Phantom 4 drone the word refined comes to mind because of the simplicity of the drone. Flying this drone for people with some experience will come with extreme ease because there are a lot of features which has been added to it apart from the fact that it has been designed to be flown without complications. For those who are beginners, this drone may not be pocket-friendly for you to learn with except your pocket is deep enough to bring out the sum of $1,399 in the US, AU$2,399 in Australia and £1,229 in the UK (prices can vary, for the newest price, simply follow this link). If you decide to go for the DJI Phantom 4 drone it won’t be a bad idea to read the user manual before setting up the drone for flight.
The DJI Phantom 4 drone has been designed with an obstacle sensing system which is also known as (OSS) which helps it to avoid obstacles to some extent. The drone has something that is similar to the eyes used for navigating around or over objects that are obstructing its movement. This optical sensor is placed in front of the drone so when it meets an obstacle it simply stops and floats in the air until you change its direction. This is a major improvement when it comes to drone design but it is worth knowing that the drone is only capable of avoiding obstacles in front of it, in other words, it can get crushed from the side or behind if not properly controlled.
Another interesting addition to the DJI Phantom 4 drone is the sport mode, with one flip of the button you can get your drone flying at a speed of 45 mph (72kph) when it is switched to the sport-mode. Its speed does not only work for its forward and backward movement but also in ascending and descending too. It can descend at a speed of 4 meters per second and ascend at a speed of 6 meters per second. This additional feature helps you get to a target location faster than before, and also if you love to race the DJI Phantom 4 drone can give you the much-needed fun. Also while in this mode the OSS does not work and when flying at top speed the DJI Phantom 4 drone takes longer time to stop movement so you should be careful where you choose to activate the sport mode, on the brighter side you will be warned by the DJI go app the first time you try to enter this mode.
The DJI go app for ios and android devices are used for getting the required view from the drone’s camera and changing some settings, for checking flight records and battery status. All this can be possible by connecting your device to the drone’s controller with a USB cable. The app also helps you to set up the drone to fly freely using the drone’s intelligent flight mode, in this mode the drone can fly in a way that it automatically follows the GPS signal coming from the controller or fly around a particular point of interest or fly through a stated flight route which you have mapped out for it.
The drone has other modes such as the active-tracking and the tap fly mode. In the active tracking mode, the drone uses the OSS to track a subject, on the screen of your device you will draw a box around what you wish to track and hit the go button that pops up and the drone would start following it by keeping the camera focused on the selected object or person. Provided the person is not moving too fast the drone will be capable of keeping track of the movement. For the tap fly mode, you just have to tap the screen of your device and the drone will fly to the location which you have indicated.
The camera of the DJI Phantom 4 drone is exactly like the phantom 3 professional which has been designed to shoot ultra HD 4k resolution (3,820x2,160-pixel), and it can shoot at a frame of 24, 25 and 30 frames per second. In addition to this, a slow motion option has been included and it captures 1080p at 120fps and with this, you have a sharp picture quality.
There have been some improvements when it comes to the battery of the DJI Phantom 4 drone compared to other models it can fly up about 30 minutes before automatically landing itself when the battery is at 10 percent.
The drone generally is quite portable but the fixed camera and the fixed legs make it almost impossible to fit into a regular backpack.