DJI Phantom 4 Drone Review & Rating
The moment you unpack the Phantom 4 you know you’re in for a treat. It’s compact, light and looks fantastic.
The packaging not only helpfully stores everything away neatly, but also doubles up as a robust carrying case. It holds the quad, the propellers, controller and either two batteries or a battery and a charger.
That’s just about all a recreational user will need, although there’s still room for accessories like hard cases and backpacks for the pros.
How to set up the DJI Phantom 4
The setup process is easy thanks to the documentation, but still a little tedious. For instance, it’s not immediately clear how to turn on the Phantom 4 once you’ve fully charged the batteries. You have to do a quick press followed by a long press on the button on the quad.
You also need to screw on the propellers, find a suitable lightning cable (an iPhone 6s cable will do fine), update firmware on your mobile phone and carry out a latency test of the first person view camera feed.
The Phantom 4 is without doubt responsive enough to ensure professional photographers and videographers never miss a shot.
The outer casing of the Phantom 4 has got a lot of people enthusiastic. It’s what you might call ‘sexy’ if you’re especially enthusiastic about drones. However, it’s the underlying technology that sets the Phantom 4 apart from its competitors.
The done’s speed & distance
The motors have been upgraded from the Phantom 3 to perform 20% better. That means this bad boy can run at up to 72kmph in Sports Mode and last up to 28 minutes in the air (though it’s unlikely to reach this time unless conditions are perfect). So if you ever wanted to go drone racing, you’re more than equipped to do so.
Stability when flying
The Phantom 4 isn’t only fast, but it’s incredibly stable in the air.
What really stands out is its incredible in-flight stability.
(P) Position Mode uses a combination of GPS, downward facing cameras, ultrasonic emitters, a new inertial measurement unit and the upgraded motors to achieve an exceptional standard of control and stability.
It is ideal for when there are mistakes, e.g. accidentally letting go of the movement sticks, or accidental changes in the wind speed occur.
The Phantom 4 can be flown on autopilot or manually, serving both beginners and purists. (A) Attitude Mode, which turns off the GPS system and lets you drift through corners much more naturally.
Rather than collaborating with other market leaders in videography such as GoPro, which might have made usability much easier and therefore DJI a more successful brand, DJI took the decision to develop their proprietary camera system.
However, in the event, it seems DJI’s self-invested method has paid off. The sharpness of the Phantom 4 camera is akin to the Inspire 1 – DJI’s most advanced model. Plus the gimbal has an added support link for better stability. The performance of the Phantom 4 camera in low light conditions is also excellent and certainly sufficient for commercial use.
This is where the Phantom 4 really impresses.
ActiveTrack mode allows you to drag a box around an object on your screen that you want to track, and the Phantom 4 will follow it using its front-mounted cameras to either avoid oncoming obstacles or go around them. Rather than a wireless link to the remote control unit, it uses visual, motion-censored tracking to follow objects.
However, a sudden change of direction may cause the Phantom 4 to lose sight of the object and sometimes the collision prevention system kicks in when there isn’t any danger, causing it to stop dead in the air.
Is the DJI Phantom 4 worth the money?
Coming in at £1,099, the Phantom 4 is only £200 cheaper than the next model up, the Phantom 4 Pro, which you can read all about here. Obviously, buying either drone would be quite a substantial investment, but if you’re craving the best drone-flying experience possible – either for recreational or professional use – then this is the price you must pay.
The Phantom 4 feels more like a tool to use as opposed to a toy to go out and play with but is still a joy to fly. It behaves smoothly, predictably and according to your user preferences. Bottom line: you pay for what you get. And what you get is top of the range with the Phantom 4.