The DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter is a brand new release from the company that has pretty much dominated the drone market with its awesome features and classy, sleek designs. Before the Phantom 4, there was the Phantom 3. This RC drone came in a couple of different models, including the Advanced, Professional and the Standard variant. All of them came packed with different features and technology. They were all the rage, and seemed like the top tier of drones until the newest model came along. While DJI has changed and added a lot to the Phantom 4 quadrotor, some features have remained the same. The prices? Vastly different. So what exactly are the differences between each tier of Phantom 3 and its new addition to the family? Let’s find out.
DJI Phantom 4 vs DJI Phantom 3 Professional And Advanced
Both the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced were pretty much the same drone, with a couple of key differences. The first was the camera. The Professional variant has a camera that boasted video recording at UHD 4K resolutions, whereas the lower-priced Advanced RC drone could only record at FHD 1080p resolution. This, and the intelligent charging unit (100W on the Professional and 57W on the Advanced) are the only differences. For the purposes of this comparison, the Phantom 4 will be compared to both models at the same time, with the differences being noted where applicable.
Design And Box Contents
The Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional and the Phantom 4 were both created for the purposes of high level aerial photography and video. They were made for expert fliers who used drones for capturing footage for professional purposes including production and video editing. The size of these are the same, at 350mm diagonally. The Phantom 4 weighs about 100g more than the Phantom 3 Advanced or Professional, both of which weigh 1280g. Both the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 3 Professional quadcopters come with a 100W charger in the box, whereas the Phantom 3 Advanced includes a 57W charger. 4 extra propellers are included with both Phantom 3 models, but no extras are sent with the Phantom 4. It must be noted that the gimbal of the Phantom 4 is inside the chassis of the RC quadcopter, but is more exposed on the Phantom 3 models.
Time, Features And Speed
In terms of time, the official consensus is that the Phantom 4 has 28 minutes total optimal flight time, but the Phantom 3 models have about 23 minutes. The maximum flight speed of the Phantom 4 is 45mph, and the Phantom 3 both clock in at 36mph. A major difference is that the Phantom 4 has a built in set of sensors for detecting and avoiding nasty collisions with obstacles in the flight path. This array of sensors, including the integrated optical sensor with a range of up to 15m, doesn’t exist on any of the Phantom 3 quadcopter variants. All three drones have a GPS system with GLONASS support, and include another positioning system with 4 optical sensors and 2 ultrasonic sensors. These help with the hover feature available on all the drones.
The accuracy with which the drones hover is more refined in the Phantom 4, but only by a small amount. Where the accuracy of the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional is off by about +/- 1.5m horizontally, the Phantom 4 has leeway of about +/- 0.3m.
There are lots of newer features on the Phantom 4. An inbuilt Sports Mode is available that isn’t on the other two. There is also the new ActiveTrack feature, allowing a custom radius to be set that allows the drone to track objects within the radius and record them. TapFly is also present on the Phantom 4, allowing a user to tap a location on the camera feed within the DJI Go App, and send the drone to that location to hover automatically. These features aren’t present with the Phantom 3 drones. Some similar features include standard GPS follow features, return to home, point of interest, waypoint route mapping, course lock and home lock.
Camera, Remote Controller And Battery
The camera on the DJI Phantom 4 is no different to the Phantom 3 Professional. They both make use of a 1/2.3” fixed aperture, with a total pixel depth of 12.4million pixels. The Phantom 4 records in UHD 4K resolution, at 4096x2160p (Cinema 4K), 3840x2160p (Standard 4K) and at 2.7K as well. The Phaantom 3 Professional camera has the same features, but doesn’t have recording capability for a 2.7K resolution. The framerates on both range from 24 to 30fps. Both cameras are capable of HD 1080p recording, but the Phantom 4 can be set to record at a 120fps rate, whereas the Advanced can only go up to 60fps. Both also have 60fps 720p resolution available. The Phantom 3 Advanced camera doesn’t have 4K recording. It starts at 2.7K, and has 1080p HD as well as 720p HD. The still quality is the same, although the Phantom 4 appears a little sharper than the 3. The lens on all three have a 94 degree FOV, and have an f/2.8 focus. The filter ring can be removed to put in external ND filters.
The remote controller on all three are nearly the same in terms of design. They all have dedicated buttons on the remote for the return home feature, video recording, shutter control, switching flight modes, adjusting the gimbal, 2 additional customization ready buttons, and 2 joysticks. The Phantom 4 also has an intelligent dedicated “pause” button for emergencies, something the Phantom 3 variants don’t have. The Phantom 4 doesn’t have a dedicated video playback button, though. All three drones have a maximum distance for signal and video transmission of 5 kilometers (5000m). The bitrate for video transmission is 10Mbps for the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 3 Pro, but is 2Mbps for the Phantom 3 Advanced.
Battery life is about 28 minutes on the Phantom 4, but it lands forcefully at about 25 minutes based on the setting to prevent crashes. Battery life on the other two Phantom 3 drones is 23 minutes. All three drones feature a 4S 15.2V battery, but the Phantom 4 is 5350mAh, and the others are 4480mAh. They both also feature a DJI Lightbridge Video Downlink with a range of 5km.
DJI Phantom 4 vs DJI Phantom 3 Standard
The standard edition of the Phantom 3 is a little different to its more professional variants. The standard quadcopter is made for casual flight and for hobbyists, in contrast to the expert-oriented Phantom 4. It is more of a beginner drone.
Design And Box Contents
The same contents in the box as with the Phantom 4, with the exception of extra propellers in the Phantom 3 Standard. It is lighter than the Phantom 4, at 1216g to the newer drone’s 1380g. The Phantom 3 Standard comes with a 57W charger, not the 100W of the Professional or the Phantom 4.
Flight Time, Features And Speed
The flight time of the Phantom 3 Standard is 25 minutes optimally, whereas the Phantom 4 is 28 minutes. The speed difference is the same, with the Phantom 3 having a top speed of 36mph to the Phantom 4’s 45mph. There is neither collision sensing nor GLONASS positioning on the Phantom 3 Standard, and it doesn’t have the Visual Positioning System for hovering in place. The features in the application and drone are the same as for the Advanced and Professional variants of the drones. There is no Activetrack or TapFly like there is for the Phantom 4.
Camera, Remote Controller And Battery
The camera on the Phantom 3 Standard quadrotor is a Panasonic with a 1/2.3” fixed aperture. The Phantom 4 uses a Sony with the same aperture. 12M pixel depth is available on the Standard as opposed to 12.4M on the Phantom 4. It can only record at 2.7K with 30fps and 1080p HD up to 30fps too. The Phantom 4 has UHD 4K recording, and it has up to 120fps recording in 1080p HD. Still pictures remain the same on both, as does the FOV of the camera and gimbal. The filter ring on the Phantom 3 Standard cannot be removed.
The remote controller on the Phantom 3 Standard doesn’t have dedicated buttons for returning home, recording video, controlling the shutter, pausing the flight, customizing buttons, and a playback button. The Phantom 4 has all of these except for the playback button. Both have a switch for flight modes and a dial for gimbal control. The range for transmission and video feed is 1km on the Phantom 3 and 5km on the Phantom 4.
Battery life is the same difference as between the Phantom 4 and the Phantom 3 variants.
Currently, the Phantom 4 is priced at $1,399.00, while the Phantom 3 Professional is $999.00, and the Phantom 3 Advanced is $799.00. The Phantom 3 Standard comes in at just $499.00.
If you are a beginner in the drone game, the $500 price tag on the Phantom 3 Standard is perfect for getting used to drone flight. If you are an expert photographer and require ultra-high stabilization and 4K, and you have money to spare, the Phantom 4 is the next-gen drone to have. If you’re a pro on a budget, the Phantom 3 Professional is right for you.