April 11, 2016
Cruising through the skies has never been smoother or easier thanks to the recently released DJI Phantom 4. Already making waves in the consumer drone market for its user-friendly features, the Phantom 4 comes newly equipped with a refined design, a novel obstacle avoidance system, and new intelligent flight modes, making it the most effortless drone to get in the air yet.
The Phantom 4’s exterior has received a fresh makeover, keeping the classic white colour but opting for a new clean and glossy surface for a more aesthetically appealing look. The skeleton has also been upgraded from plastic to high-quality magnesium. The new magnesium material reduces vibrations in flight and moves the drone’s weight to its center of gravity for additional stability in the sky.
The Phantom 4 can now charge through the skies at full throttle with a speed that is 50% faster than the 3. With the brand new feature Sports Mode, the 4 can reach an incredible 72 kilometers per hour at full tilt, making it an excellent mode for capturing quick shots. However, if flying straight the propellers can potentially show up in the frame.
The motors on the Phantom 4 are now less noisy and raised to improve their cooling efficiency. With raised motors, the propellers are now able to rise so that they show up less in camera footage.
DJI has made major improvements to the design of their gimbal. The gimbal is now built into the Phantom’s body to bring it closer to its center of gravity. Generally, the gimbal on the Phantom 3 was the first to break, but DJI has created a new U-Frame design to keep footage steady and balanced. The new design provides extra stability for smooth and level footage while in flight.
When it comes to the camera there are no major upgrades, though a newly designed lens provides extra sharpness and less chromatic aberration. As an added bonus, the ND and UV filters from the Phantom 3 still work on the Phantom 4.
Tap to Fly is an easy to use new feature that allows the user to tap any spot on their screen and have the drone automatically fly to that specific place. With Tap to Fly the pilot can now capture automated shots that maintain their speed. Filming with Tap to Fly makes shooting video footage much smoother but this feature does need some work as it can only fly forward. Overall it is a great flight mode for pilots who want to capture a steady shot.
The brand new intelligent flight mode ActiveTrack allows the user to tap on any object in their app screen, have the Phantom 4 lock onto it, and then actively follow the object while keeping it in the center of the shot. ActiveTrack works best if the subject is large and in high contrast to its corresponding environment. The drone can lose track of the object if it is small or moving randomly at a fast pace, but generally, this feature works great and is an awesome new addition to the Phantom 4.
Any potential crashes will be significantly easier to avoid thanks to the Phantom 4's new obstacle avoidance system. The system is designed to have the drone come to a full stop or fly around obstacles by analyzing its surroundings and intelligently dodging the obstacle on its own. The system is limited to only being able to sense objects in front of the drone, and struggles during higher speeds or when trying to avoid smaller objects. Overall, this is an excellent feature for beginners but handlers should not solely depend on it.
The Visual Positioning System (VPS) on the Phantom 4 has been greatly enhanced with built-in, bigger sensors and two additional cameras for better depth perception. The VPS is now also capable of flying at altitudes of up to 33 feet, even without GPS.
The new gray Styrofoam suitcase is extremely durable and compact. The case can now hold two batteries instead of one along with the drone, controller, propellers, and an iPad Mini. The case is a great plus compared to the cardboard box that came with the Phantom 3, and saves you from buying an additional carrying case after your initial purchase.
With up to 20% longer battery life the Phantom 4 can now stay in the air for an extra three minutes compared to the Phantom 3, for a total flight time of 28 minutes.
Innovative new quick-release propellers and pro guards make fitting and removing the propellers much more convenient, and overall setup much faster.
DJI has made some positive practical changes to the Phantom 4's controller. The new pause button which allows the user to have their drone stop and hover has been added to the right side, a convenient feature to have when using the intelligent flight modes. Additionally, the Phantom 3's HDMI output module is still compatible with the Phantom 4's controller.