The DJI Phantom 3 Review
Here’s a quick recap before we get into the DJI Phantom 3 review. DJI’s third generation in the Phantom series becomes the benchmark for most drone users. The three versions of the Phantom 3 targets basically anyone looking for a new drone, from casual flyers, hobbyists, and professionals. Its price varies from $500 onwards, depending which package you buy. Packed with some pretty impressive features, the Phantom 3 is the go-to drone for many people.
A couple of years ago DJI launched Phantom 2 and was widely appreciated with high reviews, and still Phantom 3 remains the center of attraction. It’s clear that DJI has worked hard to design the perfect drone for an affordable price.
In this DJI Phantom 3 review, I’ll be taking you through the different versions of this model, including their features, as well as the pros and cons I found with this amazing quadcopter. I decided to combine the 3 versions into one review, hopefully, to make it easier for you all to compare the 3. Now I was lucky enough to be able to fly both the Advanced and the Professional, while my very good and trusted friend, Cody, tested out the Standard for this review.
I mentioned earlier that there are three different versions of the Phantom 3: Standard, Advanced, and Professional. So what is the difference between the Standard, Advanced and Professional? In terms of looks, it’s basically identical. DJI have used the same body for the three versions. The biggest change, obviously, is the camera. The standard uses a Panasonic one, while the other two use the popular Sony Exmor R sensor. Let me briefly compare the three further in this DJI Phantom 3 review…
Phantom 3 Standard
The standard model is most popular with beginners, especially if this is your first quadcopter; you’d want to at least master the controls of the standard before deciding a $1000+ drone is for you. It has a 12-megapixel camera and can shoot video up to 2.7K and 30fps. You can fly the Standard up to 1000 meters away and has a flight time of 25 minutes with a fully charged battery. Keep in mind that in certain places, eg, the UK, you cannot fly a drone further than 500m.
The Standard has noticeably fewer features than the Advanced and Professional based on the transmitter alone. There are many fewer buttons and switches. However, there are many automated features included so you can literally get this wonderful drone flying without having any previous experience as a drone pilot. You can set it to take off, fly, follow you, and land automatically.
As I write this, the Standard currently costs $399 from Amazon.
Phantom 3 Advanced
The Phantom 3 Advanced has a Sony Exmor 12.4-megapixel camera, 1080p/Full HD video. You can reach a flight distance of 1000 meters when you’re outside and in an unobstructed area. Unfortunately for the Advanced, you can only fly this quadcopter for 23 minutes with a full battery. There is even a “Beginner-Mode” in the menu that you can turn on if you are an inexperienced pilot.
As I write this, the Advanced currently costs $739 from Amazon.
Phantom 3 Professional
DJI designed Professional with one thing in mind: aerial photography with a high-quality UHD 4k video quality. Due to 4k video quality, you can enjoy the resolution of 3820 X 2160 pixels. This model has a few similarities to Advanced, for instance, this also has a flying distance of 1000 meters and 23 minutes of flying time.
As I write this, the Professional currently costs $799 from Amazon.
The DJI Phantom 3 Review:
DJI have designed the Phantom 3 beautifully with 3 small and narrow rotors equipped with a powerful motor. The body is made up of plastic with a wide landing gear that keeps out of your camera’s view. Weighing at just 1280g including the battery, it’s light enough to carry with one hand. In the box, it’s actually packed so neat and compact, that it is small enough to fit with you as carry-ons in most airlines.
The transmitter is quite compact and easy to handle. It’s really great! You have full control of the drone’s camera, allowing you to take photos, start/stop record, change the angle and much more. One excellent feature is the ability to connect your smart device (supports both iOS & Android) via USB to your controller, enabling you to watch live 720p HD footage directly from your drone. This will not drain your phone or tablet’s battery as it charges whilst connected.
All you have to do is download the DJI Go app, connect it with your drone and you’re good to go! Within the app, you’re open to a variety of features, including the ability to edit your videos and pictures and share them online. You can even live-stream your filming sessions on YouTube, though, I can’t say I’ve done this just yet.
There are plenty of settings in the menu that you can configure to suit your preference and flying ability. There are also notifications that will inform you of a number of things from signal strength to battery level.
Of course, if none of that is important to you and you just wish to fly the drone, you can always keep the settings to default.
When it comes to unboxing and setting everything up, there’s not actually a lot you have to do. Before you get started, plug in the battery for charging, which takes around 40 – 50 minutes, download the DJI Go app from your tablet or smartphone, then attach the propellers. Installing the battery to your drone is quite easy as you simply slide the battery into the slot and make sure it’s secured. I usually have a hard time with this on other drones, but that was not the case with the Phantom 3. Now you’re all set to fly your Phantom 3.
Prior to using your drone, there is a start-up video tutorial to guide you through operating the quadcopter. And a quick note, always take the time to read the attached manual for correct setting up of your drone.
Now the fun part, and honestly, I found the Phantom 3 to be a delight to fly! After the battery is charged and inserted, the props are fitted, you’re ready to turn on the drone by pressing “On” on the battery. It will beep and light up for a bit. Before we can take off, we have to calibrate, which is very easy and there are prompts to assist you. Basically, you pick up the drone and hold it out in front of you and spin in a circle. Then tilt it sideways and spin again. The whole process should take about 15 seconds, and I do this every time I want to fly.
In the menu, you can configure the settings to your likings. For example, you can set the Phantom 3 to return home after flying further than 250 meters, which is great if you’re flying in a city, etc.
When you’re ready to fly, take-off is as easy as tapping the DJI Go app, unless you’re old-school and wish to take off manually using the sticks. When you take off automatically, your drone will automatically lift off the ground and hover at a pre-set height until you take control and direct it. Controlling the drone couldn’t be smoother. Gently tilting the sticks will move the drone in your desired direction. Start slow, and low to the ground. Get a feel for the controls and the transmitter itself.
Landing the drone is easy as there’s simply a button you press and there is no further action required by you. The drone itself will fly back to the location it took off from, and bring itself to a slow decent until it has touched down. The propellers will automatically turn off almost immediately.
Always check surrounding buildings on the map as it will alert you if you’re flying near restricted airspace or hospitals and such.
The Failsafe is an amazing feature and could save your drone if you ever lose the connection from the controller. The Phantom 3 remembers where you took off using GPS, and will return to that exact place on its own.
The Phantom 3 has the greatest transmission distance compared to other drones available today. If you’re out in the open, the range of the Phantom 3 can reach up to 3.1 miles (5 kilometres) while the range goes down to 3.5 kilometres when in obstructed space.
The built-in video transmission system in this quadcopter is DJI Lightbridge video downlink. The range of video transmission remains same as mention above. Believe me, this will give you an amazing new look of the world, and in full HD.
Weight with Battery and Propellers: 1280g
Diagonal Length including Propellers: 590mm
Hover Accuracy: +/- 10cm vertical, +/- 1cm horizontal
Max Speed: 16m/s (ATTI mode, no wind)
Mobile App: DJI Pilot
Required Operating System: iOS 8.0 or later, Android 4.1.2 or later
Where To Buy
Popular Questions & Answers
Q: I’m considering the Standard or the Advanced. Any tips?
A: Between the two, the main difference is the new vision positioning system (VPS), meaning your Phantom can fly low to the ground and even indoors. Advanced also has uses GLONASS, which connects your quadcopter to Russian satellites, giving it more accuracy when flying.
Q: How much control do you have of the camera?
A: You can control the horizontal movements of the camera, as well as moving it up and down. You can use the transmitter or install the DJI Go app for your iOS and Android for camera controls.
Q: Do I have to register my Phantom 3 after I purchase one?
A: Yes, you do. This can be done here https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
Q: Can you also record audio?
A: Unfortunately, not. The propellers would likely drown out any other sound anyway.
Q: Is the Phantom 3 waterproof?
A: No, it isn’t. You won’t want to take your quadcopter out on a rainy day.
Q: Does it come ready to fly out of the box or do I have to connect it to my phone or tablet to fly it?
A: You control it using the DJI GO app which needs a smartphone or tablet to use. The app guides you through the process and allows you to view real-time video of the flight. I used my iPhone 6+ which worked flawlessly. I know people who have also used tablets with great results.
Q: If I buy another battery, will this double my flying time or will I have to land it first?
A: You’ll still have to land the drone again and swap the batteries. It can’t carry two at once.
Q: When recording with my Phantom 3, am I able to pause and start recording again later?
A: Yes, you can. Within the DJI Go app, you have full control of the camera features.
Q: Is the transmitter (controller) compatible with the Inspire 1 quadcopter?
A: No, it isn’t.
I hope this Phantom 3 review will help in decided what version is best for you. Remember, one’s not “better” than the other, they’re all fantastic quadcopters in their own respect. The Standard is still on top in its range. DJI launched 3 versions to suit everybody’s needs. If video quality isn’t that important to you, for instance, there is no need to fork out the price for the Professional, the Standard version would suit you much better.
There is no doubt that the DJI Phantom 3 is way ahead of everyone else in the drone race, pun intended. It features, video and picture quality and flight controls triumph its competitors by a long shot.
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