The Phantom 4 Goes That Bit Further
Now on worldwide release is the China-based drone manufacturer DJI’s new leap forward, designed to further enhance their range of quadcopters, with the exciting, new look Phantom 4.
Right from the off, things have improved. Your phantom 4 comes to you in a grey, ridged Polystyrene carry case. Remembering the Phantom 3 which came to you with nothing more than a cardboard box with a carrying handle, which was as durable and long lasting as a chocolate teapot, you have the impression that DJI has given more thought to the real world of, not only owning and flying a drone but to its care and ease of transport.
Phantom 4 sports a more slender aerodynamic design with a glossy livery of white with a contrasting grey underside. Phantom 4s controller is similar to that of the Phantom 3 except DJI have ditched the dull matt surfaces and gone with a high gloss finish to match the drone. The motors now have a shiny metal outer casing which, overall, creates a very attractive “sky Maiden”, by comparison, the phantom 3 now resembles an aging “plain Jane” of the DJI family.
Phantom 4 is a much more stable drone than its predecessor, which could sometimes seem like it had been drinking on the job! This new found stability comes from the addition of another IMU and a doubling of the downward looking cameras. Phantom 4 operates with a good range of speed, in normal flight mode topping out at around 35 MPH. Click in the obstacle Avoidance mode and Phantom 4 returns a very respectable 22 MPH.
For those who enjoy an adrenaline rush, switch to sports mode and Phantom 4 will have you under the control of a 45 MPH drone racer. Phantom 4 is equipped with all that you would expect with its Intelligent Flight Mode, which relies on GPS, waypoint navigation, orbit, follow and track. The Auto Track facility can lock on to a person, vehicle or any other moving object by building its own 3D image of the target and its surroundings allowing it to orbit and track whilst streaming crisp images back to your mobile device.
Phantom 4’s capabilities and new found stability makes for an excellent drone for newbie pilots whilst also being an exciting, and challenging enough platform for more experienced flyers. Phantom 4 has also banished any semblance of amnesia, its improved “return home” function is remarkably accurate, better than that of some of its more absent minded forebears, Phantom 4 becomes a homing pigeon, bringing itself back to within a few inches of its take off point.
Phantom 4’s Obstacle Avoidance system could be accused of having tunnel vision, seeing only in a forward direction with a field of vision spanning 60 degrees, thus giving a turning arc of around 30 degrees. To execute a tighter turn you will need to resort to the control sticks, or tap on the “return home” feature. Auto Track can have a tendency to be slightly myopic, to operate efficiently it wants to be at a fairly close range, around 12 feet or so. At times, it can also lose its target. If a target person moves into a crowd for example, then Phantom 4’s short-sightedness can be a drawback.
Phantom 4 is supplied to you with just a single battery, unlike some other market competitors. With a price tag of around 1,230 pounds (1,400 dollars US), this may seem rather less than benevolent on behalf of the China-based company. As with all technology-based industries, and quadcopter development is no exception, the advances are rapid.
DJI are perhaps pushing the boundaries at a greater rate than any comparable manufacturer at this present time. So you may wonder whether, given the price tag of Phantom 4, whether or not in a years’ time, or perhaps less, DJI may well have a better offering. A new Phantom which doesn’t suffer from tunnel vision and myopia, which will also come better equipped and accessorised, thus making you more reluctant to trade in your sky maiden for a new, more attractive model. But then, maybe DJI would see that as counterproductive to their bottom line and their desire for an ever increasing market share.