UPDATE: The Phantom 4 has been introduced starting at $1399. It has a number of improvements over the Phantom 3 line. Here is the DJI order page which contains specs and more.
Update 2: DJI has just announced sale pricing on the Osmo (handheld gimbal/cam) and Inspire product lines. I was tempted and bought an Osmo ($569 now- down from $649) which I will review. The Inspire is still expensive – just less so! Check out the sale prices at this link.
NOTE: The Phantom 4 is not available yet on Amazon and/or at dealers due to limited quantities and the introductory pricing (according to DJI). DJI claims shipments start in 2 weeks – how quickly you will receive yours depends on when you order.
The Phantom 4 is a refined Phantom – the next step up from the Phantom 3 Professional. Here is a listing of the refinements and their relative importance to most mid-level hobbyist pilots.
1. Longer Flight Time (28 minutes) – this is not important to most pilots since most pictures and video can easily be taken in the 15-20+ minutes that other models fly.
2. Better Lens on the Camera – this is an improvement on the Phantom 3 Pro camera, however it would not be of great importance to most photographers.
3. Heavier duty construction of the shell and camera/gimbal – this is a nice upgrade for those who use their Phantoms often (travel with them, etc.).
4. Obstacle Avoidance in forward flight – this is a truly new and revolutionary feature that allows the Phantom to stop immediately if it senses an obstacle (building, trees, etc.) in front of it. Whether or not this is of use to you depends on your flying grounds and the care you take as a pilot. As an example, I am a conservative pilot so have never flown my Phantoms into any obstacle in the past 3 years. But newer pilots who desire the utmost in “insurance” may enjoy this feature.
Our First Take
The Phantom 3 is NOT being replaced or discontinued. Rather the new Phantom 4 is an upper-end evolution of the Phantom line. The majority of newer buyers should still consider the P3 line – it is more than good enough and costs much less. The Phantom 4 is tailored more for the “prosumer” as well as those who have extra money to spend and want the top of the line. If your garage contains a BMW or Lexus, you may want to take a look at the P4. If it has a Camry, Accord or Passat you’ll be a P3 buyer.
Which Phantom should you Buy?
With a total of 5 models now available, a new buyer might get confused. Let me instead suggest which model NOT to buy and then list the others with a basic recomendation.
1. The newer Phantom 3 “4K” should probably not be your choice. It uses the weak WiFi communication of the cheapest Phantom (Standard). If you really want 4K in a Phantom 3 model, get the Phantom 3 Pro.
2. In terms of total value for the $$ – the Phantom 3 Advanced is probably the winner. It has what most need and more for a price of about $800.
3. For those on a strict budget the Phantom Standard at $499 offers a great way to get started in Aerial Photography.
That leaves the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 3 Pro – both of which are great machines and good value for the dollar – but are for those who have a bit of a fatter wallet. I have a Phantom 3 Pro and will probably get a Phantom 4 also – however, if I still had kids at home or in college I’d settle for the Advanced model and spend the difference on family matters!
Amazon now is taking orders for the Phantom 4.
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Here is a DJI Video explaining the obstacle avoidance system and some of the other basics of the Phantom 4
————–original article below—————
The dead of winter is a slow time for consumer drone sales. The weather, Chinese New Year and tapped out budgets from the holiday period combine to make drones sales more difficult. Manufacturers respond by cutting prices AND perhaps announcing new models for the coming Spring season. In this article we will mention some of the price reductions as well as the rumors of the new model(s).
It seems ALL of the consumer drone companies have shaved their prices. Here are some recent examples:
1. 3DR Robotics Solo with/Gimbal – This combo was originally $1399 and is now available for $999 – that’s a serious price reduction. Here is an Amazon link to the package at that price.
2. DJI Phantom 3 Pro – DJI has already lowered the prices on every model in the P3 line – except for the Pro. Now they have lowered that model from $1259 to $999. Many foreign countries have also seen a price reduction.
Here is the DJI Store link (worldwide shipping)
Here is an Amazon US Link to the same.
If you need to suss out the difference between the various DJI Phantom 3 Models (4 of them), check our guide at this link.
3. Yuneec Q500 4K – This machine was originally close to $1400 with two batteries and the case.
It also comes with extras such as a hand-held gimbal attachment and a built-in smart device (no phone or tablet needed). The complete package is now $925 on Amazon at this link:
Other New Machines for Spring, 2016
Yuneec introduced their Typhoon H model at CES – it’s a $1800 machine with basic obstacle avoidance, folding arms and 6 propellers (Hexacopter). Our opinion on this model is somewhat neutral – the problem being that it has a similar camera to their existing Q500 4K. Although a decent camera, it is not up to par with DJI’s Phantom 3 Pro and presumably will not match the Phantom 4 cam (if such a thing exists).
Autel Robotics is releasing a number of machines which appear to be clones of the Phantom 3 design – one of them can use GoPro cameras and features full camera control…this may be worth looking at for GoPro fans.
Airdog is yet another “sports action” quadcopter designed for close-in action shots of surfing, skiing, biking and the like.
GoPro will sooner or later release their Karma drone – however, it may be too little too late for the company, which has already lost 85% of it’s value in the stock market. If AirDog and other models are of high quality it will make the Karma harder to sell, especially at the rumored price point ($1500).
That’s it for the mid-winter consumer drone wrap-up. Our usual advice applies – don’t buy any new model in the first couple of months after release – instead watch the forums and reviews and make certain the major bugs are out of the system and that it performs as advertised.