Ten months ago I reviewed the DJI Phantom 4. It was an amazing piece of technology and still is as it introduced things like obstacle avoidance, intelligent flight modes like active track and had a 12.4 megapixel camera and shot video in 4k at 30 frames per second and 1080 at 120 frames per second. It boasts speeds of up to 45 miles per hour with a 28-minute flight time. So what more could you ask for?
|Model||DJI Phantom 4 Pro|
|Diagonal Size||13 inches|
|Weight with Battery and Propellers||3 lbs|
|Camera||1” CMOS; 20 MP; 4096×2160 24/25/30/48/50p|
|Hover Time||30 minutes|
|Range||up to 5-6 miles, depends on weather & terrain conditions|
|Price||Check on Amazon.com|
Well, less than a year goes by – 8 months to be exact – and DJI releases a brand-new drone the Phantom 4 Pro. But before we jump too far into the review I do want to explain the differences between the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 4 Pro.
Upgrades over the Phantom 4
The upgraded camera is probably one of the biggest differences between the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 4 Pro. The new Phantom 4 Pro has a 1-inch CMOS sensor capable of shooting 20 megapixel stills and 4k Ultra HD video at 60 frames per second compared to the Phantom 4 which only had a 12.4 megapixel camera and shot 4k at 30 frames per second. A new sensor in the Phantom 4 Pro is four times the size the one that was in the Phantom 4 and this allows more information, better detail, crisper pictures and better low-light performance. The new Phantom 4 Pro now also has a mechanical shutter compared to the digital shutter that was on the Phantom 4 – this reduces rolling shutter that you would often see when going at fast speeds on the Phantom.
Now record a UHD 4k video at 60 frames per second and that’s at a hundred megabits per second where the Phantom 4 could only record 4k at 30 frames per second with the 60 megabit per second bitrate. The Pro version also has a variable aperture from f2.8 to f11 where the Phantom 4 only had a fixed 2.8. Also it has manual focus and automatic focus while before it was set to infinite on the Phantom 4 but now you can manually adjust where your focus is going to be or you can just simply tap to focus or set it to automatic mode.
Let’s move on to the transmitter. There’s two types of transmitters for the P4 Pro – there’s a standard and the plus and there is a $300 difference. The standard transmitter allows you to use your phone or tablet as the screen and then you download the app on your phone or your tablet where the plus transmitter has a 5.5 inch display built in with the DJI Go app pre-loaded to it and it actually runs off of DJI software so there’s no native apps allowed to be downloaded to this. Which I see is a downside, however.
It does come with the HDMI port, micro SD card slot a microphone and a loudspeaker. If you choose to get the plus transmitter you cannot use your phone or tablet with it and vice versa. Both new transmitters have an extended range up to 4.3 miles. I noticed right away between the Phantom 4 and the Pro that I got much further with next to no breakup – this is a huge improvement over the Phantom 4. This is possible because the new transmitter switches between 2.4 gigahertz and 5.8 gigahertz. It will scan all of its channels and find the best one and switch to that one and give you a decent 30 frames per second livestream.
The Phantom 4 introduced obstacle avoidance from the front and the bottom of the drone and the Phantom 4 Pro now has obstacle avoidance in the total 360 radius along with the bottom, a total of five directions. There’s new added infrared sensors on the side of the drone and they’ve added a back camera sensing system.
Now just because you have 360-degree obstacle avoidance detection doesn’t mean that it will avoid everything. For instance, thin tree branches or chain-link fence things like this are very hard to see from the drone and you might end up running into them so always fly with caution.
Not a whole lot has changed with the battery itself between the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 4 Pro. The Pro battery is a little bit bigger (520 milliamp hours to be exact) and will give you roughly three minutes more flight time so 30 minutes total where the Phantom 4 only flew for 27 minutes. Now if you do have older phantom batteries they will work with the new Phantom 4 Pro and vice versa so that’s a very good addition in case you have the previous model.
The Phantom Pro comes with everything you need to fly except for a smart device to use for your screen. It includes:
- Battery and charger
- Data cable
- USB adapter
- Instruction manuals
They also include a 16 gigabyte SD card to get you going. The new DJI Go app is available for both Android and iOS devices and it has been optimized for the Phantom 4 Pro but will also work with the Phantom 4.
The app is where all the magic happens. It’s loaded with everything from a video editor to live streaming to your flight logs. You’re required to create an account and the app will automatically log your flights; this gives you access to the dates photos from your flight, flight location top speeds and more. The app is also your main interface for your intelligent flight modes and adjusting your camera settings overall. It is fairly intuitive with popups pointers, warnings and basic instructional photos.
Even though the app allows you to fly the drone and do everything directly from the app it’s not totally reliant. The buttons on the transmitter allow you to do things like adjust the shutter, the ISO, the aperture; adjusts the gimbal, take pictures, take video and also has two programmable buttons on the back.
Flying the Drone
Flying the Phantom 4 Pro is super easy and just about anyone could do it. It’s GPS along with its positioning system keeps the drone in place so if you’re flying towards something and you’re worried you’re going to hit it take your hands off the sticks and the drone will come to a halt and hover. You don’t even need to use the sticks to fly you can actually fly directly from the app.
You don’t need a landing pad to take this thing off you can take it off from just about anywhere because the Phantom 4 Pro has a new and improved return to home function. As you’re flying it creates a 3d map of your flight path and stuff it sees along its way so when you hit that return to home button and it comes home it will land exactly where you took off. Also and it’s supposed to take a picture of the ground as it takes off. And that’s why flying it first time I laid this drone on the ground because I want to see how close it was and the first time I tried, it landed right on the target. However, the second time I tried it it landed about a foot away from the target.
Phantom 4 Pro has three flight modes that are built into the transmitter. They’re labeled P, S and A. P mode stands for position mode, S mode stands for sport mode and A mode stands for altitude mode.
Let’s look at P mode first. In this mode you’re locked in with the GPS and the GLONASS satellite positioning; your front and rear vision system is active and your side system is active. Obstacle avoidance and vision positioning is in play so it’s locked in and using all of its sensors and its GPS to hold its position no matter which way I pull it or lift. It is the safest way to fly the Phantom 4 Pro and if you’re a beginner I suggest you fly in P mode until you’re more experienced. You must also be in P mode to use any of the intelligent flight modes.
Moving on to S mode or sport mode. Sport mode allows you to go as fast as 45 miles per hour and even faster. I’ve hit speeds up to 54 miles per hour with the sport mode. It does use satellite and vision positioning but obstacle avoidance is off so fly with caution.
Last but not least we have A mode or altitude hold. In this mode the GPS is off it uses the barometer to hold its altitude but that’s it so you’ll notice it just starts to drift. It no longer holds its position and no return to home option is available so you must be an advanced pilot to fly in this mode.
Intelligent Flight Modes
Thanks to DJI intelligent flight modes you don’t have to be a professional drone pilot to get professional drone video. There are 10 intelligent flight modes overall. The first one is draw which is an awesome new feature for the Phantom 4 Pro as it allows you to draw the path that you would like your drone to fly. It’s kind of like waypoints but you’re just drawing on the screen and then your drone will follow where you draw. You can even set it to free mode so you can rotate the camera around.
The second mode is gesture which allows you to give signals to the drone to take pictures or to wave your hands at it and track you. Now my only problem with this one is that when you’re going to take a picture it waits three seconds and then it takes the picture. I have got it to work but I don’t think it’s very practical because you don’t know if your signal it and if it doesn’t signal back to you so how do you know that it’s actually taking your picture unless you actually have the screen in front of you.
Next up is active track. Active track is awesome – it will allow you to just draw a square around an object (a person, a car, a bike etc.) and then the drone will adapt to whatever it is and it will follow that. There’s different options for active track like trace, profile and spotlight.
Next we have tap fly which isn’t necessarily new to the Phantom 4 Pro but it does have some added features like tap fly backwards and tap fly free which allows you to tap in the direction you want to fly and then go ahead and rotate the camera around in 360 degrees as it’s going in the way that you directed it to go. It acts as a pilot assistant basically.
Next up tripod mode which is pretty sweet. It kind of resembles the effect you would get from a camera crane: it slows all the movements down on the joystick in the speed down to 5.6 miles per hour to allow you to get super smooth movement.
Next we have terrain follow which allows you to set the drone to a certain height and then it will follow the terrain and as it flies it will go up. However when you have slopes and downwards it will not go downwards. Now you don’t want to do this on the snow or on water. Mostly you want to do it on something like a field, something that has distinctive characteristics where the drone can see how high it is off the ground.
Next is point of interest. Point of interest allows you to say fly above a house of building, a playground and then circle it while the cameral focus on the point of interest. This is easy to use: all you do is fly above your point of the interest. You’d like to set the diameter and hit go, and in mid-flight you can speed it up slow it down and also switch directions and tilt the camera.
Next is follow me mode. Nothing new there but it allows the drone to follow the transmitter so, for instance, if you got into a car with the transmitter and you turn on this mode it would follow the transmitter initially following the car.
Moving on to waypoints. Waypoints allows you to set certain points and then it will fly the route by itself. However you do need to fly to each point and set it physically before it can fly its mission.
Next we have headless mode. It’s a really good mode for people who have no experience to fly in because no matter what the direction of the quad goes your controls will always be forward or back. When you pull the quad it will always come back to you so it’s a good mode for beginners.
Last but not least we have home lock which allows you to stay on a single path but freely pan the camera in any direction.
So with these intelligent flight modes it gives you endless possibilities and it will definitely give you professional results.
Pros And Cons
So there you go. The Phantom 4 Pro drone is an awesome piece of technology. It’s super easy to fly and it captures stunning photos and videos. If you have the Phantom 4 and you’re thinking if you want to upgrade I’d say if you’re flying professionally the Phantom 4 Pro would definitely be worth the upgrade. If you’re flying for fun and a personal use if you do have the extra money I’d go for the Phantom 4 Pro but if not, the Phantom 4 is still an excellent quadcopter.
Another question I get asked a lot is where is the best place to buy the Phantom 4 Pro. Well, in my opinion DJI does not have the best customer service or customer support and I always like to deal with Amazon sellers. I put links to the best Phantom 4 Pro deals on Amazon so please check them out and thanks for reading this review!