The decision to purchase a DJI Phantom is one of the great double-edged swords of the drone world.
Being that DJI is a massive and well-respected company with extensive support and spare parts options, you can’t go wrong with your purchase, but the ever-growing list of options can leave a technophile pouring over every single specification of the craft while trying to decide which one is right for him or her.
Do I need 4K video or should I settle for 1080p? Do I need advanced vision positioning or not? Honestly, we could keep this list going all day.
I’m here to tell you that this choice became extensively more difficult with the new introduction of the DJI Phantom 4 — one of the top drones to buy on the market today.
The new choice in the Phantom 4 is a welcomed addition to the DJI Phantom family. With the Phantom 4, DJI is really trying to establish itself as a provider of user-friendly prosumer drones. This new drone makes some impressive technical upgrades that will have any gadget lover pondering whether or not it’s time to make an upgrade.
First of all, the Phantom 4 is DJI’s quickest and most agile Phantom, yet. The drone accomplishes this task through a feature it calls Sport mode that allows it to reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour, which makes it notably faster than my first car in high school.
With the increased speed capabilities it would be reasonable to expect a diminished flight time but fortunately for us, DJI has found a way to squeeze a respectable 28 minutes of flight time out of its new 5350 mAh LiPo 4S battery.
If you’re not buying a Phantom to use as an aerial racecar, don’t worry, it has plenty of other features to place it in your consideration. The new Phantom 4 has, by far, the most robust video capturing options of any member of the Phantom fleet.
With a built-in camera capable of recording video at 4K, 2.7K, 1080p and 720p, it leverages an advanced sensor system to offer the widest assortment of frames per second options of any Phantom to date. The drone even hosts slow motion capabilities with a native 120 frames per second option in the camera.
Trust me, with these capabilities, you’ll want to pick up a spare Micro SD card (or three) as the 64GB maximum capacity is sure to fill fast.
So, yes, from a hardware note, it’s a considerable upgrade, but don’t be fooled into thinking that is where its true perks reside. Some of the biggest steps forward for this high-powered remote control quadcopter are seen in the incredible software inclusions.
The most notable of the upgrade can be seen in DJI’s highly publicized Tap To Fly system. As the Phantom 4 includes DJI’s new Obstacle Sensing System capable of intelligently positioning and maneuvering around obstacles mid flight, the pilot is able to make use of the DJI Go app to click waypoints or flight paths for the Phantom 4 and trust the craft to figure out the best route to get there. When you’re finished, it’s merely another tap to bring it home. It’s this feature that allows DJI to position the Phantom 4 as a drone truly built for anyone.
Continuing on the software note, DJI also included a visual tracking feature called ActiveTrack that allows the Phantom 4 to recognize and track a subject throughout a scene. By simply drawing a circle around the subject in the app, the drone is able to track and follow a moving subject in any environment.
This is all possible due to increased refinements in DJI’s Vision Positioning System that has seen a 300% increase in effective range over the Phantom 3 models, which also greatly increases its indoor and poor-GPS flying capabilities.
ActiveTrack and the Object Sensing System combine to create a fluid system capable of safely navigating a course as the drone follows a subject while being intelligent and fluid enough to make split-second decisions on whether to continue, avoid, dodge or stop along a flight path. It’s an incredibly impressive and forward-thinking system.
To make the decision even more difficult, the Phantom 4 starts at $1,399, which means it is only marginally more expensive than the Phantom 3 Professional. With a current Phantom line ranging from the incredibly affordable Phantom 3 Standard all the way to the new Phantom 4, any prospective DJI owner is faced with quite the decision.
My recommendation is to closely consider the features of each model and decide which are most important for your needs. Remember, there are always accessories to purchase, as well, that can greatly enhance your flying experience, so don’t let the purchase of a more expensive model than you need prevent you from flying safely and smartly.
With that being said, if you’re looking for a fast, agile, and intelligent video-capturing machine capable of easily deploying with the tap of a finger and returning home just as easily, then the Phantom 4 just might be the drone for you.
Alan Perlman founded UAV Coach, a drone pilot and sUAS industry training community, to help push the drone community forward and to help new pilots break into the sUAS industry.
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- A Comprehensive Breakdown of the DJI Phantom 4: Features and Specs – May 4, 2016
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- How to Choose a Quadcopter: 6 Expert Tips – February 25, 2016
- Buying a Drone? Here Are 5 Things to Remember – August 10, 2015
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