As far as drones go, the DJI Phantom line really is the iconic design of the industry. The Phantom 4 Pro+ is as good as it gets as I write this, and that is a little more than a year after the quadcopter was announced.

With a year of service, we are long overdue with our DJI Phantom 4 Pro review. Note: we are reviewing the Phantom 4 Pro+, with the display built into the controller.

Phantom drones

Before we dive in, just wanted to point you toward our DJI Phantom drones guide. If you care to see the history and evolution of the Phantom line, this is it.


Overview

I’m not sure how in-depth I need to go here, I suspect you’ve seen this drone before. The Phantom 4 Pro is a quadcopter with a rigid design and tall landing gear. A camera hangs centered on the bottom. You can remove the propellers to ease transport, but there is no folding features on this one.

There are two variants of this drone, the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+. The Plus model includes a built-in display on the remote control, otherwise, they are the same machine.

The standard color of the Phantom line is white with some grey accents. There is a new Obsidian version available – it looks amazing, but is the same drone on the inside.

Obstacle avoidance sensors are on almost all sides of this drone. When active, the drone will prevent a crash in all directions except upward. The forward and downward sensors can also help maneuver the craft, to skirt around obstacles and for precision landings.

The camera is on a 3-axis gimbal and packs 4K recording in a 1-inch CMOS sensor at 20 MP. One of the best on the market, on a consumer level.

When it comes time to travel, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro does not fold down, you simply install the camera gimbal lock and protector (that’s just one piece) and then quick release the propellers. 

Specifications and Features

DJI offers many of the best flying features for the Phantom 4 Pro. There are follow modes and other self-piloting features, but they do not include the Quickshot features you’ll find on the Spark.

The remote control is part of the magic of this drone. Responsive controls are key to a successful flight, as is the low latency FPV on either the built-in display of the Pro+ remote, or your mobile device on the normal Pro model.

A single battery will net you up to 30 minutes of flight, but expect about 24 minutes in the air to be safe. That’s a 5,870 mAh battery hauling around a 3 lb drone at up to 45 mph.

Remember that you cannot legally fly more than 400 feet above the ground, but, the service ceiling on this machine is 19685 feet. You’ll be able to take flight everywhere in North America except the top of Denali in Alaska.

The spec sheet reports the same hover accuracy as the Mavic Pro and other DJI drones. While it does not use Ocusync, it is also rated for connectivity up to 4.3 miles as well, just like the Mavic Pro.

One of the best and most underrated features of the Phantom 4 Pro is the capabilities of the camera. The sensor is good, but the video capture speeds are better. 4K video comes in the form of standard 3840×2160 resolution or Cinematic 4K of 4096×2160, both at up to 30 fps. The kicker, those are at 100 Mbps.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

I won’t fully dive into what a 100 Mbps video means today, but rest assured, the image clarity is vastly improved over the 60 Mbps that you’ll find on most other drones. (Also note that YouTube generally tunes down 4K video to 35 Mbps or less, so I may never get to effectively illustrate for you the actual difference.)

Enough with the talk, here are all the details:

 DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+
StyleQuadcopter
Size350 mm frame
Weight3.06 lbs (1388 g)
Max speed45 mph (72 kph)
Max service ceiling19685 feet (6000 m)
Max ascent/descent speed19.69 ft/s (6 m/s)
13.12 ft/s (4 m/s)
Battery5870 mAh Lithium Polymer - Removable.
Battery lifeMax 30 minutes
Ensure safe landing: 24 minutes
RangeMax 4.3 miles from controller
Camera1" CMOS 20MP 4K
Video recordingCinematic 4K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (4096x2160) @100Mbps
4K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (3840x2160) @100Mbps
2.7K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (2704x1520) @ 60/65/80Mbps
FHD - 24/25/30/48/50/60/120fps (1920x1080) @ 50/60/65/80/100Mbps
HD - 24/25/30/48/50/60/120fps (1280x720) @ 25/30/35/45/60/80Mbps
StorageUp to 128GB micro SD
Remote controller2.4GHz and 5.8GHz range
Max 4.3 mile operating range
6000 mAh rechargeable battery
Up to 7-inch tablet
USB, micro HDMI ports

Pro+
Built-in 5.5-inch display
Flight modesATTI, GPS, Visual
Follow-me: behind, in front, circle, side
Tap to fly map navigation
Return to home
Hover accuracyHorizontal: 1.5m GPS, 0.3m Vision
Vertical: 0.5m GPS, 0.1m Vision
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Performance

The Phantom 4 Pro is a little like a sports car. Not a super car or a race car, just the kind of sporty car you and I can conceivably purchase on a modest budget. It is not super powerful, or super fast, but it’s more than enough to get out of control if you’re not careful.

Back to basics, the Phantom 4 Pro is equipped with obstacle avoidance sensors on four sides and on the bottom. Thanks to this, it is not as pleasant to fly the machine close to the ground, or close to yourself, the remote beeps at you, a lot. The solution is easy, fly. Get away from the ground, get away from yourself or a wall. The logic is sound.

This is a fast drone, it is rated for 45 mph at full tilt, but expect 31 mph while filming. It does accelerate quickly, but it is very smooth about it. Comparatively, the Mavic Pro flies at almost the same speeds, but it is a much more reactive drone. Responsiveness is fun while flying, but can be jerky for video recording.

We have more than a few words to share specifically comparing the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro, stay tuned for that.

Despite the smoothness to it, I did find that the default calibration for rotation was very fast. Too fast. It was a little difficult to get a full 360 pan in the sky. I love those pans, but anything more than the slightest pressure on the sticks sends the drone spinning faster than I would have liked. Not too fast for focus, just a personal taste here.

Object avoidance is very helpful with this drone. It is able to detect an issue up to 23 feet away, helping ensure you stay clear of trees or other hazards of the sky. Don’t get me wrong, you can still crash, particularly with smaller things like the bare branches of winter, or another drone, but it’s pretty good at avoiding walls.

Overall, the Phantom 4 Pro is a responsive drone, fast and able to go wherever you point it. As long as you remain within line of sight and under 400 feet. Keep it legal. That said, if your laws are different than mine, you can soar this machine up to 19,685 feet. This is a service ceiling, you’re probably going to want to be 19,000 feet or higher yourself when you launch – very impressive no matter how you look at it.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus and remote

Controls are easy to use and fairly precise. I put the controller in the hands of Adam Molina of Sound Guys, he’s flown, but is still a new pilot. It took no more than a minute for him to get the hang of it. Some of the footage in the video above is his doing. Good stuff Adam! Then I showed off and effortlessly landed the drone onto its case, wish I would have recorded that.

I do have one tiny complaint about the Phantom 4 Pro performance. Once landed, I find the machine spins up while shutting down the motors. The drone hops up just a tad and spins a little. This is no problem on the ground, but if you’ve landed on the case, it can be just enough to throw the drone over the side. This may be a calibration issue, or just our machine, but please be aware of it for your flights.

Camera

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus

The 20 MP shooter on the Phantom 4 Pro is a great little camera. There is no question it produces superior imagery when compared to the Mavic Pro and other sub-$1000 drones. More than anything, the fact that this is a full 1-inch sensor sets the Phantom 4 Pro in a league of its own for drones under $2000.

I must say, I am very impressed with the stability of the camera on this drone. It has been windy around here, not ideal conditions to fly a drone, but it’s a loaner that I have to return soon, so I take what I can get. As I am carefully watching the drone to see it jumping around in the wind, I am more than pleased to get home to the footage to find it as smooth as can be.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro first flight DR flying front

Getting propellers in the shot is more common than I had anticipated. I am not put off by this, but I know some of you are.

I recorded everything at full auto settings, this is what you will see straight out of the box. My recordings were all 4K at 30 fps, again full default. Additional video settings include 720p and 1080p up to 120 fps, 2720×1530 up to 60 fps, 4K up to 60 fps and Cinematic 4K up to 50 fps.

Photos are captured in three ratios. 3:2 ratio at up to 5472 x 3648. 4:3 ratio clocks in up to 4864 x 3648 and 16:9 ratio is up to 5472 x 3078. Strangely enough, the default photo capture mode straight out of the box is 3840 x 2160 pixels.

 DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Camera1" CMOS 20MP 4K
LensFOV 84° 8.8mm/24mm f/2.8-f/11
(Roughly equivalent to 35 mm)
ISOVideo ISO 100 - 3200 auto, 6400 manual
Photo ISO 100 - 3200 auto, 12800 manual
Shutter8s - 1/2000s Mechanical shutter
8s - 1/8000s Electronic shutter
Video recordingMP4 or MOV
H.264 or H.265 (H.264 has the higher fps and Mbps below)
Cinematic 4K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (4096x2160) @100Mbps
4K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (3840x2160) @100Mbps
2.7K - 24/25/30/48/50/60fps (2704x1520) @ 60/65/80Mbps
FHD - 24/25/30/48/50/60/120fps (1920x1080) @ 50/60/65/80/100Mbps
HD - 24/25/30/48/50/60/120fps (1280x720) @ 25/30/35/45/60/80Mbps
Photo capture5472 x 3648 resolution 3:2
4864 x 3648 resolution 4:3
5472 x 3078 resolution 16:9
Single shot or burst 3/5/7/10/14 fps
StorageUp to 128GB micro SD
Class 10 and/or UHS-1 minimum, UHS-3 recommended for 4K video
Remote controllerMax 4.3 mile operating range
Video record button
Photo capture button
Camera tilt scroll wheel
Camera exposure value scroll wheel
Center focus and auto exposure button
Mobile supportFPV video streaming 720p by default, 1080p optional
Tap to focus
Full manual controls available
GimbalShock mounted
3-axis motorized
-90° to +30° vertical pitch

Photo and video samples

As always, we have cropped and compressed the images and video to fit best on your screen, but they are otherwise un-altered. No color corrections, no white balancing, these are just the raw experience using the default settings of the Phantom 4 Pro. The first two images are actual photos taken using the camera mode, the remainder are stills pulled from the video. Enjoy.

Competition

Considering the class of drone here, there is a good amount of competition out there. We do not consider the Mavic Pro, Spark or other smaller folding drones to be competition. To us, competition comes in the form of larger drones that have, if nothing else, a hanging camera setup. The Phantom 4 Pro does not make flight compromises to ease portability, and the price is north of $1000. I think that sets the stage nicely.

From our normal coverage, we consider the Yuneec Typhoon H as one of the top competitors. The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium and GDU Byrd Premium 2.0 also hit the same notes. We just got the 3DR Solo in house as well, it is on a different level than the Phantom 4 Pro, but we’ll put that to the test soon.

3DR Solo GoPro drone

Short of actual comparisons at this time, allow us to give our opinion that the Phantom 4 Pro is one of the easiest to fly and produces some of the best aerial videos of all UAS under $2000. There are drones less than $2000 that can beat it, but they then need cameras and peripherals, putting them north of the mark.

Be sure we’ll be comparing the Phantom 4 Pro to a few of these contenders as soon as we can. We’ve got a busy month ahead of us, so look for some coverage into the new year.

Conclusions

We like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Particularly the Phantom 4 Pro+. It is a well built, well spec’d and easy to operate machine that produces near-pro level video and some solid still photos. We see why it is still being offered as the leader in the Phantom line of drones. We know a Phantom 5 is coming, and that it will surpass this drone in capabilities, but there are few additions that are actually needed.

I am constantly reminded when using the Phantom 4 Pro that it is not as compact and portable flying machine. Not that it is cumbersome at all, you simply need to plan ahead to transport this machine, unlike the Mavic Pro, which I just grab and go without much concern.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus

The flight package is convenient, providing the battery and all the necessary cables and connectors for a successful flight. As always, second and third batteries would be great to have, this is a pleasant drone to fly, it’s sad when there’s no more juice.

To answer the question simply, I do not recommend this drone to just anyone. If you are looking to fly as a hobby, and are not as concerned with capturing the very best aerial video, you can spend half the price and will be happy.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus

The Phantom 4 Pro is a machine that is best suited to those taking drone flight and aerial photography seriously. If that is you, and you have just the right budget for this machine, do it. I truly know of no drone in the $1500 – $2000 range that can best this machine. Indeed, I know of no other competing drone below $2000 with a full 1-inch camera sensor.

As I say, be sure to check out the Yuneec Typhoon H for a drone nearly as capable, but at a lower price. Stay tuned for an in-depth comparison of these two.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro first flight DR flying front

Best of all, the original sale price of the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ has dropped a lot in the last year. At launch, you needed $1499 and $1799, today you can get into the Phantom 4 Pro for $1199 and the Phantom 4 Pro+ for $1399.

We want to hear from you, have you flown the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, did we miss any good tips or features?

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