DJI has a rich catalog of drones, and are the makers of perhaps the most iconic drone design around, the quadcopter Phantom line. The latest of the bunch is the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro+, it’s a convenient and reliable quadcopter with a superb camera, ready to take to the sky. The Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ are over a year old now, but they still pack some of the best features in any quadcopter out there.
As far as current drones are concerned, the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ are tough to beat. Don’t just take my word for it, let’s explore what makes them so good.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ were announced in November 2016. As the latest in the Phantom line, these machines rocked the best of features and camera in the series, and even had some best-in-class features when compared to far more expensive machines as well.
I hope you were not expecting too much, the real difference is that the Phantom 4 Pro+ comes with a display built into the controller. That is about all. Actually, there is much to be impressed about with this, we’ll talk about it below.
Unless otherwise stated, when I say “Phantom 4 Pro” I am referring to both models of the craft. One last bit, the Phantom 4 Advanced is a different enough machine, we won’t lump it in here.
Drone legal and safety
Let’s get started.
For the longest time, DJI pumped out drones with a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor. In the Phantom line, the last machine to do so was the Phantom 4. Stepping things up, the Phantom 4 Pro packs a 1-inch sensor. Offering a significant upgrade over previous Phantom drones, this is one of the best cameras on flying machines under $2000. The Phantom 4 Pro is ideal for amateur, and even semi-pro drone photographers.
Considering that a base package Phantom 4 Pro is little more expensive than a Mavic Pro Fly More combo, you’ll have to consider your needs when comparing these two. Basically, if you need the more portable machine, and if camera work is less important to you, the Mavic Pro is awesome, but if you are a little more serious with your image capture, the Phantom 4 Pro is the way to go.
Look out for that… Oh, never mind, the Phantom 4 Pro noticed it and came to a halt. Simple enough, this machine packs obstacle avoidance sensors on all four sides, and on the bottom. Whether you are manually piloting or enjoying one of the self-piloting modes, the only way you can really crash this thing is by flying straight up into something.
Please do not go try to crash your drone and then blame me if you are successful, you know these things are not bulletproof. As good as these types of sensors get, DJI is looking to avoid as many mishaps as they can.
Forgive us, we don’t want to talk about the sensor again, we want to talk about the overall image capture. Whether shooting stills or video, the camera setup, including 3-axis gimbal, produces very stable imagery. This is in part due to the stable flight of the craft, which we almost made its own item on this list.
In short, the image output from this machine is as smooth as you can expect from a flying craft.
Phantom 4 Pro+ remote control
For the extra few hundred dollars, DJI packs a display into the remote of the Phantom 4 Pro+. This is not some cheap display, it is, in my opinion, worth the money. Actually, it’s more than just a 5.5-inch 1000 cd/m2 panel, you get the full DJI GO 4 app built in.
If you were needing to purchase a mobile device to connect as your drone display, the Phantom 4 Pro+ is a very cost effective purchase compared to buying a modern, well equipped smartphone or tablet.
Don’t forget that you can connect the Phantom 4 Pro remote to your DJI Goggles.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
Third party accessories
The Phantom line has been around for a while. It is often imitated and really is one of the most iconic drone designs around. What I’m getting at is that this is a popular drone. Popular drones get attention, and when that attention comes from third-party accessory manufacturers… Well, just look at the iPhone, I think it’s a useless phone and OS, but the accessory market has more than a few nifty and tempting tools and toys.
Unlike my opinion that accessories made the difference between success and failure of the iPhone, the plethora of accessories for the Phantom 4 Pro take a great machine and add even more value.
Was that too harsh? I mentioned I’m an Android fan, right?
Enjoying another benefit of being popular, there is tons of support out there for the Phantom 4 Pro. I’m not just talking about DJI customer care, you’re likely to find many local drone shops with experience on this machine.
The same goes for when you need help with the software, if you are looking for ideas, tools, tips and tricks, you are bound to find them floating around. We might have a few ourselves.
If you are Part 107 certified, or looking to get certified and start up a drone business, the Phantom 4 Pro is the sort of drone a customer can respect. Most people that are willing to give you $500 to fly, know that they can buy a Spark for that much money. If you show up to a professional aerial shoot with a Spark, you may not be wasting their time, but they sure might feel that way. The Mavic Pro is also a capable machine, but trust me, you’ll hear the words “where’s the good drone?” if you take it to a shoot as well.
No matter the reality of the capabilities of a drone, the Phantom 4 Pro is one of the smallest drones that a non-drone person will assume is a pro rig. I hope that makes sense, we’re talking about a customer’s perception of you and your machine, not the reality of your skills or the functionality of your machine.
Related reading: What to expect from a Part 107 training class
We dare admit this is the least appealing reason to choose the Phantom 4 Pro specifically, but we can’t deny, this new Obsidian color is good to look at. That’s really all there is to the fall 2017 refresh, a new color.
2 reason to skip the Phantom 4 Pro:
Phantom 4 Pro V2.0!
If you are looking to purchase your first Phantom-class drone, or replace an older model, we think the latest iteration is the way to go. The new DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 takes the Phantom 4 Pro and adds Ocusync connectivity, plus more efficient ESCs and propellers, to gain airtime and fly quieter. The advanced connectivity and more efficient flight is well worth consideration and a price jump over the Phantom 4 Pro. Check out the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 here.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
We can appreciate DJI’s efforts with the new DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, the 2x optical zoom is a powerful tool, but the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the machine that could take over for the Phantom 4 Pro. Equipped with a 1-inch camera sensor built by Hasselblad, the Mavic 2 Pro is equipped with the best yet flight modes and safety features, providing a great drone and a great camera experience. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is $1449.
Let’s buy the Phantom 4 Pro
Let’s stop there for today. I am sure you have some ideas on why this is a great drone, and I’m sure some of our Phantom 4 Pro pilot readers will ping us in the comments below to let us know why thy fly this drone.
If you are sold on this machine, you are looking at $1,175 for the Phantom 4 Pro, just up to $1,449 for the Phantom 4 Pro+ on Amazon today. (Regular price is $1,499 and $1,799.)