DJI Releases New and Improved Phantom 3

DJI has announced the long-awaited successor to its highly popular Phantom line of quadcopters — the DJI Phantom 3, — in glitzy product launch events that were held simultaneously in 3 different cities around the world: New York, London and Munich.

At first glance, nothing much appears to have changed on the surface and the new Phantom 3 has an exterior that’s very similar to its predecessor. But underneath that familiar X-shaped exterior lies a host of new features and improvements which include:

  • A new distortion-free camera with full manual control
  • More powerful and efficient motors
  • Impoved ESCs
  • Improved flight stabilization
  • Improved GPS which can lock on to more satellites faster and with better accuracy
  • YouTube live streaming
  • Lightbridge with 1 mile range
  • Inspire 1-style transmitter
  • Optical flow sensors for more accurate indoor flying (trickle-down technology from the Inspire 1)
  • Director feature in Pilot app for automated on-site video editing
  • Automated flight logs and Flight Simulator in Pilot app

Many of these new improvements and features are centered on the Phantom 3 stock camera which makes it a highly formidable aerial photography platform. To emphasize this point, DJI refers to the Phantom 3 as a “flying camera” instead of just a quadcopter with camera and gimbal.

The Phantom 3 will be sold in two variants — the Phantom 3 Professional which comes with a 4K 24/25/30fps camera and the Phantom 3 Advanced which shoots 1080P video at 60fps. Both cameras are capable of shooting 12MP photos with flight times of about 23 minutes. But the thing that has truly got many people excited about the Phantom 3 is its retail price. The Phantom 3 Professional is priced at $1,259 while the Advanced goes for $999. Both models are now available for pre-order and will start shipping at the end of April.

With such attractive prices, the Phantom 3 will certainly put a lot of pressure on its rivals, namely the Yuneec Q500, Walkera QR X350 Premium, Hubsan X4 Pro and upcoming sub-$2,000 drones from companies like 3DRobotics. At this point, its obvious DJI rivals have only two options. Either reduce the price of their existing drones to remain competitive or release new drones with similar or better features to the Phantom 3. DJI has certainly dropped the gauntlet in the drone business again and the ball is now in its rivals’ courts.

The Phantom 3 may have a really impressive list of features but whether it lives up to all the hype remains to be seen. Features will remain features until they are proven to work flawlessly in real situations. But DJI has already proven its worth in producing reliable products accompanied by excellent after-sales service so it’s going to be interesting to see if the Shenzhen-based company can continue to maintain its status as the gold standard in consumer drones with its latest offering.

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