Phantom 4 VERSUS Phantom 3 Pro: Plus Our Take On The Apple Launch

Phantom 4 VERSUS Phantom 3 Pro: Plus Our Take On The Apple Launch

Heliguy compare the DJI Phantom 4 versus the Phantom 3 Professional and express their thoughts on both the new Phantom and DJI's launch strategy.

13 minute read

Phantom_4_versus_Phantom_3-blog_header_1b In April 2015, there was an outpouring of excitement when renowned drone manufacturer DJI released their Phantom 3 Professional model. Now, less than a year later, people are now able to get their hands on its successor, the Phantom 4. The P4 features a sleeker design and new features including collision avoidance and a 'Sport' flying mode which allows it to reach speeds of up to 45mph for those who live life in the fast lane. Due to the short timeframe between releases, it's crucial to compare the DJI Phantom 4 versus the Phantom 3 Pro before considering your next drone purchase. We will also be looking at the release strategy which saw DJI and Apple team up for an exclusive release strategy that, while undeniably gaining traction for the Phantom 4’s release, proved to be quite controversial. See our "Compare the Phantoms" chart below for a more detailed look at each model's specifications.
Phantom 4 Phantom 4 Phantom 3 Phantom 3 Professional

Created For

High-level aerial photography and cinematography High-level aerial photography and cinematography

In The Box

  1. Phantom 4 Aircraft
  2. Phantom 4 Remote Controller
  3. 3-Axis Camera Stabilization Gimbal
  4. Built-in Camera Captures 4K video & 12.4M Photos
  5. DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink, 5km range
  6. 4S 15.2V 5350mAh Intelligent Flight Battery
  7. Four Pairs of Propellers
  1. Phantom 3 Professional Aircraft
  2. Phantom 3 Pro Remote Controller
  3. 3-Axis Camera Stabilization Gimbal
  4. Built-in Camera Captures 4K video & 12.4M Photos
  5. DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink, 3.1mi (5Km) range
  6. 4S 15.2V 4480mAh Intelligent Flight Battery
  7. Four Pairs of Propellers

Aircraft

Diagonal Size (Excluding Propellers)

350 mm 350 mm

Weight (Including Battery And Propellers)

1380 g 1280 g

LiPo Battery

4S, 15.2V, 81.3WH 5350mAh Intelligent Flight Battery 4S, 15.2V, 68WH 4480mAh Intelligent Flight Battery

Charger

100W Flight Battery Charger 100W Remote and Flight Battery Charger

Flight Time

28 mins About 23 mins

Max. Flight Speed

20m/s 16m/s

OBSTACLE SENSING SYSTEM

Sensor

Optical Sensor N/A

Obstacle Sensor Range

0.7 - 15m (2-49 feet) N/A

POSITIONING MODULE

Outdoors Positioning Module

GPS+GLONASS Dual Positioning Module GPS+GLONASS Dual Positioning Module

Vision Positioning Module

Visual Positioning System utilizing four optical sensors and two ultrasonic sensors to for position holding without GPS. Visual Positioning System utilizing four optical sensors and two ultrasonic sensors to for position holding without GPS.

Hover Accuracy

Vertical: +/- 0.1 m (when Vision Positioning is active) or +/- 0.5 m. Horizontal: +/- 0.3 m (when Vision Positioning is active) or +/-1.5 m Vertical: +/- 0.1 m (when Vision Positioning is active) or +/- 0.5 m Horizontal: +/- 1.5 m

CAMERA

Sensor

1/2.3", Effective pixels 12.4M (Total pixels 12.76M) Sony Exmor R BSI 1/2.3", Effective pixels 12.4M (Total pixels 12.76M)

Video Resolution

UHD: 4096x2160 ( 4K ) 24 / 25p 3840x2160 ( 4K ) 24 / 25 / 30p 2704x1520 ( 2.7K ) 24 / 25 / 30p FHD: 1920x1080 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60 / 120p HD: 1280x720 24 / 25 / 30 / 48 / 50 / 60p UHD: 4096x2160p 24/25, 3840x2160p 24/25/30 FHD: 1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60 HD: 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60

Max. Image Size

4000 x 3000 4000 x 3000

Lens

FOV 94° 20 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.8 focus at FOV 94° 20 mm (35 mm format equivalent) f/2.8 focus at

Filter Ring

Yes, Removable to Allow for ND Filters Yes, Removable to Allow for ND Filters

REMOTE CONTROLLER & VIDEO DOWNLINK

Dedicated Buttons On Remote:

Return Home Button

Yes Yes

Video Recording Button

Yes Yes

Shutter Button

Yes Yes

Intelligent Flight Pause Button

Yes No

Flight Mode Switch

Yes Yes

Gimbal Dial

Yes Yes

2 Dedicated Customizable buttons

Yes Yes

Playback Button

No Yes

Max Transmission Distance

CE: 3500 m FCC: 5000 m (unobstructed and no interference) CE: 3500 m FCC: 5000 m (unobstructed and no interference)

Video Transmission System

Built-in DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink Built-in DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink

Video Transmission Distance

CE: 3500 m FCC: 5000 m (unobstructed and no interference) CE: 3500 m FCC: 5000 m (unobstructed and no interference)

Max. Video Bitrate

10 Mbps 10 Mbps

Max FPV Preview Quality

HD 720P @ 30fps (depending on conditions and mobile device) HD 720P @ 30fps (depending on conditions and mobile device)

APP

Mobile App

DJI GO DJI GO

Intelligent Flight Modes

Follow Me Point of Interest Waypoints Course Lock Home Lock ActiveTrack TapFly Follow Me Point of Interest Waypoints Course Lock Home Lock


DJI Phantom 4 Versus Phantom 3 Pro: Key Features

Before we delve into a discussion about the pros and cons of the Phantom 4’s release, let’s take a look at the two models head-to-head to establish how far the P4 has progressed and whether it’s worth the price tag. This rundown will focus on five key features: what’s included, appearance, performance, camera specs and battery life.

1. What’s Included?

[caption id="attachment_4992" align="aligncenter" width="555"]Both models unboxed Both models unboxed[/caption] It’s always important when making such a large purchase to know what you’re getting for your hard-earned cash. With this in mind, don't believe what it says on the DJI website when it comes to what is included. For example, some of our customers have been asking us why there will be no propellers in the box when they buy it. The truth is, you get four pairs of propellers in the box with your Phantom 4 just like you would have with the Phantom 3. This means that you get the exact same kit in the box when you buy a Phantom 4 or a Phantom 3 Pro:
  • Aircraft
  • Remote controller
  • 3-axis gimbal
  • Built-in camera
  • DJI Lightbridge video downlink
  • 4-cell battery
 

2. Appearance

The Phantom 4 is definitely easy on the eyes. Gone are the colourful stripes which identified the P3 range and in its place DJI have gone for a glossy, all-white finish tastefully broken up by a grey plastic undercarriage. This new look also boasts a thinner body and smooth curves which improve aerodynamics, as well as attractive mountings which house the quick release propellers. It may appear similar to its predecessor on first glance but plenty of small improvements become apparent on closer inspection. The shell’s new finish also makes it easier for users to apply bespoke paint jobs. This comes in handy when using the Phantom 4 commercially as you can apply business branding on your drone which increases the professional aesthetic and can also benefit advertising efforts. [caption id="attachment_4871" align="aligncenter" width="555"]The_Phantom_4_and_Phatom_3_Pro The Phantom 4 and Phantom 3 Pro side by side[/caption]

3. Performance

You get 10mph more out of the DJI Phantom 4 versus the Phantom 3 thanks to a new design which includes a low drag shape, taller motors and a bigger, more efficient battery. The weight of the new Phantom is slightly greater (3lbs) than the Phantom 3 (2.8lbs) but this small margin doesn't make too much difference. Also, while the functionality remains mostly the same for the P4, the DJI GO app has added two new features:
  • ActiveTrack: This makes tracking a moving subject as effortless as a few taps. Turn on Moving POI to circle around your subject as they move or reframe your shot by dragging the subject on screen. No band or beacon required.
  • TapFly: Double tap and you’re up in the air while the new Obstacle Sensing System keeps your Phantom out of danger. With another tap, Smart Return Home brings it back.
The big talking point of the new Phantom is its Sport mode, which now means it can match the Inspire 1's top speed of 45mph. The addition of Sports mode is an example of DJI providing more varied options to the consumer making the Phantom 4 more versatile and a lot faster. [caption id="attachment_4993" align="aligncenter" width="555"]Phantom_4_versus_Phantom_3 Upgraded options for Phantom 4[/caption] The range of the P4 is also expected to be longer, with DJI claiming 3.1 miles, but when you are abiding by CAP 722 rules which restrict flights to 500 meters (0.3 miles) this capability becomes redundant. DJI claim that this over-engineering allows the Phantom 4 operate much better in close range environments. So it's crucial to understand that it's not how far the Phantom 4 can fly from its remote pilot that's important, it's how much better it can operate within the safe distance. Improving on DJI’s previous models, the Phantom 4 is the first of its range to include a second, redundant compass and IMU allowing it to constantly compare the data it receives and navigate itself using the most accurate results.

4. Battery life

One of the key features everyone looks for now is battery life, so how does the Phantom 4 stack up? Due to its bigger size of 5,350 mAh, compared to the Phantom 3's 4,480 mAh, the additional capacity allows for an extra few minutes in the air. This can really help with getting that perfect shot at the last minute. Of course it's important to note that you can never expect the full 28 minutes advertised unless you are on a perfect flight in perfect conditions. The Phantom 4's extra features will also be a drain on the power supply, so keep this in mind.

5. Camera specs

Now let's look at the DJI Phantom 4 versus the Phantom 3 in terms of camera specifications. the sensor in the Phantom 3 model was either the Sony Exmor R BSI 1/2.3" on the Pro and Advanced, or the Panasonic Smart FSI 1/2.3" on the Standard. When inspecting the Phantom 4, it's notable that the sensor is unbranded. Without taking apart cameras from our new stock, we speculate that this is DJI's attempt to further position themselves into the optics market as well as the drone market. [caption id="attachment_4994" align="aligncenter" width="555"]Phantom_4_versus_Phantom_3 Camera quality comparison[/caption] The Phantom 4's camera has improved, with more accurate white balance settings and presets which give much better results. Dynamic range is slightly better on the Phantom 4 compared to the Phantom 3 Professional thanks to an eight element lens and sensor software which is only really evident in shadow rather than highlights and mid-tones. The Phantom 4 has the ability to record in full HD at 124 fps compared to 60 fps on the Phantom 3. While this isn't exactly revolutionary, it's a definite improvement. On the P4, the 3-axis gimbal is now held as part of its body with the SD card sitting within the structure rather than the gimbal itself. This also, the holds the camera on both sides, making it more sturdy and giving smoother pictures under extreme stress. However, if you are using a Phantom 3 Pro as part of your photography or surveying equipment, there is no real need to upgrade yet. Even if you are investing in your first Phantom, you don't really need to pay £1,299 for something that the Phantom 3 Pro can do for £350 less (price as of 31/03/2016). The only major difference between the two versions is the Collision Avoidance and TapFly. While these features are certainly creating a buzz for the consumer market, it's worth noting that the end product will most likely be the same.

DJI and Apple's Unprecedented Partnership

DJI always invest in big announcements for their consumer products and when rumours emerged that there was something new in the works, everyone (including the Heliguy team) was understandably excited. Then they dropped a bombshell. DJI dealers worldwide were surprised by the announcement that Apple would be given exclusive rights to take orders more than three weeks ahead of them. [caption id="attachment_4977" align="aligncenter" width="555"]DJI_Apple_Partnership DJI and Apple's exclusive agreement[/caption] Commenting on the decision to partner with Apple, DJI's director of strategic partnerships explained that many consumers who use their products are also Apple users. He also outlined how Phantom drones integrate tightly with iOS, allowing users to view and control their drone with their iPhone or iPad. The deal saw them providing the only drone available in Apple stores, which was something that both DJI and the smartphone giant were eager to announce. They also provided training to Apple's staff to enable them to demonstrate the Phantom 4 to consumers. While this attracted a lot of media attention, as is made clear below, it also provoked some less than happy responses from existing customers.

Insider Discussion: Our Views on the DJI-Apple Launch

The release of the Phantom 4 was an anomaly as far as DJI launches are concerned. Usually accompanied by a successful, massively hyped marketing campaign; the end result this time was quite underwhelming. For example, the Phantom 3 was released with special events occurring in London and other locations across the globe similtaneously, with frequent tweets giving excited consumers up to the minute information. Then there's the Inspire 1's launch which received widespread coverage on a global scale, with many European dealers posting videos and pictures across social media in the build up to a huge event in China. In both of the above examples, DJI employed an effective multi-channel strategy which closely involved dealers to create a buzz for these new must-have products. When looking at their approach to announcing the Phantom 4, it's clear to see why both customers and dealers were left feeling a bit dissapointed. The head of Heliguy’s sales team, Scott Henderson, explains: "When we all put our business hats on we could understand why DJI blocked dealers like ourselves from selling for a month. However, the way it was executed was poor and left us all feeling deflated." "While we recognise why DJI chose to go down the exclusive route with this release, there are clear advantages to purchasing your Phantom 4 through a dedicated dealer. Buying a drone from major retailers will not provide the in-depth, expert support that a drone company can give you." Matthew Cairns, UAV specialist at Heliguy, had this to say on the benefits of specialised drone suppliers: "DJI has had amazing success and their product innovation is second to none. Because of this, their stock can be found in many mainstream retailers who have no specialisation in drone technology." "What is fantastic is that our customers have recognised our expertise and desire to give unrivalled knowledge and support in this sector, remaining loyal to us and other businesses that came from RC sector where the Drone Revolution started." By paying the same price you can get full UK support over the phone and in person, full warranty and fast, easy delivery when you buy with Heliguy. Additionally, the team would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal customers who have waited (very) patiently for the pre-orders to become available. There was some initial friction due to DJI's release strategy for the Phantom 4 but now we're looking forward to roll out these new models and support our customer base in how to get the most out of them.

FAQs

Below are the most frequently asked questions Heliguy receives on the subject of both the Phantom 3 Pro and the Phantom 4:

Phantom 4 versus Phantom 3 Pro

What flight time should I typically see?  DJI claim the Phantom 3 gets up to 25 minutes. In reality the maximum is 19 minutes. The Phantom 4 is listed at 28 minutes. While this is unconfirmed, we like to apply a reduction of five minutes in a real world scenario. Can I access Waypoints and Point of Interest on both models? Yes, both the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 have Waypoints and Point of Interest functionality. Will the Phantom 3 Pro have the Phantom 4's collision avoidance as an update? No, the sensors are required for this and there are no plans for these to be added.

Phantom 4

Should I shoot in 2.7K with digital zoom or crop the 4K footage in post-production? It's recommended to shoot in 2.7K and when using the DJI Go app pinch to zoom in (and out) This is because the camera will only be recording a small percentage of the sensor and so less pixels to compress, making the video file much cleaner and less compressed than shooting in all in 4K and cropping in the post production suite. How do I calibrate the front sensors? You will need to download DJI Assistant 2 to allow you to calibrate the front sensors. This was not available from the start and users who were getting the error in DJI Go app were unsure what to do. Now you can calibrate the front sensors on the Phantom 4 via the updated version of the Assistant app. The camera and gimbal move horizontally, what should I do? On the Phantom 4 there is a new setting for FPV (First Person View) or Follow. When it is in FPV mode the camera will tilt to the angle that you are banking at. Keep this in mind when you are moving about whilst filming.
Check out the video below to see the Phantom 4 in action:  

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