DJI Phantom 3 Professional Review & Rating
DJI’s Phantom range
DJI’s Phantom range had already been established as the most popular line in the consumer drone market before the Phantom 3 Pro came along. As we ogle the cutting-edge features of the Phantom Pro 4 in 2017, it might seem ages ago that we were first getting excited about drones. But the original Phantom Pro only hit the proverbial shelves in 2013, making the technology little over four years old.
So, what can the Phantom 3 Pro do that its predecessors can’t?
Well, firstly, the Phantom 3 Pro features more advanced technology, enabling users to control their drone better and take higher quality pictures using the app. This tech was inherited from the DJI Inspire 1. The pro droner’s choice when it comes to film and television production.
Secondly, most of the drone interior had a complete redesign, despite how strikingly familiar it appears. For example, there is a built-in Lightbridge (wireless HD video broadcasting system) and Ultrasonic, ‘optical flow’. Even, more sensors lurking underneath the shell.
But most importantly, the Phantom 3 Pro comes pre-packaged with all the juicy bits that made the Phantom so irresistible in the first place. It is easy to put together, the smartphone software is user-friendly, and users can pretty much learn to fly immediately.
Setting up the DJI Phantom 3
As with any of DJI’s drones, you’ll need to charge the Phantom 3 Pro before your first flight fully. You’ll also be prompted to go through the safety tutorial on your device after you’ve installed the app. The props screw on easily. It will automatically sync like in previous Phantoms.
How the drone performs
The specified range of the Phantom 3 Pro is 1.2 miles in the distance and roughly 100m in height. Though like with any drone this is variable according to weather conditions and WiFi signal. The flight time of the Phantom 3 Pro is higher in capacity than previous models. And, will easily hit 20 minutes without interruption.
Regarding responsiveness, the Phantom 3 Pro will respond more quickly and smoothly when you tilt the view or change direction using the controller. And even when you release the controls, and the drone moves laterally, the motors will break automatically if they need to.
When you want to bring the Phantom 3 Pro down to the ground, the descent rate is limited to 2m per second. Meaning the aircraft will be prevented from spinning wildly out of control. A problem some Phantom 2 users may have experienced.
The Phantom 3 Pro taps into more satellites to improve its overall stability when in flight mode.
The drone’s technology
Unlike previous Phantom models, the Phantom 3 Pro comes with a brand new VPS (vision positioning system) fitted on the underside. It boasts two sensors: the ultrasonic (send and receive) and the optical flow camera. These sensors allow the drone to measure how far it is from the ground. Plus determine whether it is moving horizontally, without needing to rely on GPS.
So, when you fly your drone in busy environments with tall buildings or trees etc., you are far less likely to lose control if the WiFi signal suddenly drops. However, the range is shorter when using the VPS, and maximum height is about 15 feet.
The drone’s camera
The Phantom 3 Pro has a 4k camera that shoots at 30 frames per second and up to 12mp DNG in resolution (raw stills). Although the lens is bigger, and the casing is more robust, this doesn’t add to the weight. Like the DJI Inspire 1, there is a 3-axis gimbal, allowing for smooth shooting and – in theory – 360-degree movement. However, unlike the Inspire 1, the landing gear does not move. So, you can shoot in front view only. It is arguably a slight criticism of the Phantom 3 Pro.
One thing that does stand out as an improvement on the Phantom 2 Plus is the enhanced exposure change when shooting video. The change is more gradual and less noticeable in playback, and you can even change it manually. The Phantom 3 Pro has also done away with the fish-eye lens.
The drone’s controller
Although the aircraft itself looks very similar to previous versions, the controller doesn’t. Instead, the Phantom 3 Pro controller takes on the characteristics of the Inspire 1 radio. The casing, button layout and antenna arrangement are the same, allowing the user to maintain full control of the camera without taking their hands off the controller.
Why choose the Phantom 3?
Priced at £819.99 on Amazon (at the time of writing), the Phantom 3 Pro is a cheaper alternative to subsequent models and affordable for hobbyists who want a drone that consistently performs.
Don’t confuse The Phantom 3 Pro with the co-released Phantom 3 Advanced, which has slightly different though not necessarily better features. For instance, the Phantom 3 Pro comes with a more powerful charger than the Advanced model, allowing you to charge more quickly.
But both these models are extremely well engineered. Also are ideal for both novice droners and avid Phantom fans on the lookout for their next upgrade.
If you’re still unsure about which drone is right for you, visit our article: How to Choose the Best Drone