The Future is Here…Now
** Heads up! The Phantom 4 Pro has been discontinued as of January 2017. What was once true for this review is now overshadowed by it’s big brother…Check out our new review of the Phantom 4 Pro here! **
DJI’s Phantom 4 drone (or quadcopter) is the first true combination of features that drone pilots have been looking for at a reasonable price point. As pilots, we’ve been clamoring for features such as improved ease of flying (drones for the people!), accident avoidance, and moving object tracking for a while now. We think that this could be the first true breakthrough for DJI and is the right call for the consumer with a taste for flying robots and a bit of cash in their pocket.
Bottom line, TL;DR: The Phantom 4 is sexy, easy to fly, and packed to the brim with technology…but save your money for the Phantom 4 Pro instead!
Notable Key Features
Sexy New Design
Smooth, sleek construction
Max Speed: 45 MPH
Sport mode enables lightning quick performance
Flight Time: 28m
DJI’s best flight time yet keeps you in the air longer
4K & 1080p Video
4K: 24/30 FPS | 1080p: up to 120 FPS
Total manual control over ISO, shutter speed, and bracketing
Includes tap-to-fly, motion tracking, and collision avoidance
A Drone For Everyone
The Phantom 4 will take some getting used to if you’re new to the series. Besides the sexy design, there’s the DJI Go App to load on the phone or tablet of your choice, there’s the physical controls on the remote, and then there’s actually piloting the thing. Here’s the trick though, once you start it up for the first time and familiarize yourself with the experience, it will be the best pilot experience that you’ve likely ever had.
The controls are responsive, you can fly with confidence knowing that there are features like return-to-home and obstacle avoidance (front-facing only), and the drone is just plain fast. 45MPH fast in sport mode, which can cause even seasoned drone pilots some pause.
It does an incredible job with flight stability, claiming to be 5x as stable as it’s predecessor, the Phantom 3 Professional. Expect to have your craft hover within inches of it’s vertical position, even at winds up to 15 MPH, due to the technological improvements made by DJI. Connectivity to lightbridge is fast and responsive, enabling bright and clear real-time visual feeds from vast distances. If you’re flying indoors, the improved sensors will help maintain a precise position for accurate and deliberate movement.
Capturing The Shot
If you’re an aerial photographer by hobby or profession, this is the drone that will do it all for you. The Phantom 4 packs some impressive specs, delivered via a gimbal-controlled camera that takes 12MP pictures and video in 4K. It also has the capability to create amazing slow motion videos in 1080p HD @ 120FPS, which is a step up from the Phantom 3 Pro. The fact that the camera is integrated into the drone helps with design consistency, but leaves you with few options should you damage the camera due to lack of modularity. The gimbal has been redesigned to improve video stability, which when combined with the additional IMU sensor, should give you all that you need for both hobby and professional work. You’ll simply pop out the SD card when you land the drone and upload to your computer for editing, sharing, and the like. It doesn’t matter if you’re using drones for instagram aerial photography, duck hunting, or bridge inspections, the Phantom 4 has the specs to deliver what you need.
The Phantom 4 could be the first semi-autonomous drone for the masses. It’s new automation features, slick exterior, and (mostly) intuitive user interface is both appealing and exciting. That being said, this isn’t the drone that you get your 7-year old daughter can fly easily, but the ease of use incorporated in this model (ActiveTrak, Tap to Fly, obstacle avoidance) is a huge step in the right direction. The Phantom series is the gold standard for value-minded enthusiasts who are serious about how drones enable their passion, be it hobby or profession. It’s not a completely value-minded purchase, being that the Phantom 3 Professional can do most of the technical camera work for several hundred bucks less, and for that reason we dinged the overall score a bit.
Long Story Short: If you’ve got the cash to splash and a passion for drones, save up a little more for the Phantom 4 Pro.
The Phantom 4 brings a ton of new software to the game that differentiates it from the pack. ActiveTrak technology allows the drone to track motion in real time, based on a box that you draw on the screen. It’s a huge step up from requiring your subject to have some kind of linked GPS tracker, and DJI is really pushing new boundaries with this technology. TapFly is another new add that allows the user to tap the screen to direct where the drone will go, smoothly, and with turns automatically calculated. It’s another innovation that we love to see as the new standard. The most exciting software to be updated has to be the new collision avoidance feature, which is made possible by two sensors that enable a 30 degree field of view in front of the drone. If the drone recognized obstacles in it’s way, it will hover in place and refuse to move forward without manual override. It’s a slick feature that is a step in the right direction, however begs repeating that it is front-facing only. If you back up into a wall, you’re hosed either way. These features are a huge leap forward, and are setting a blazing pace of innovation….but they come with a higher price tag as reflected above.
“The DJI Phantom 4 is hands-down the best drone I have ever owned. And I’ve owned a lot of drones”FAA Licensed Remote Pilot (Oct. 2016)Click Here
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