The DJI Phantom 4 was finally released to the world from New York last night. With the new obstacle avoidance and subject tracking technologies, DJI have once again raised the bar for in-flight commercial drone technologies. Finished in gloss white plastic with newly integrated gimbal it appears the spy shots seen in our earlier blog were indeed of the new model.
Low-key New York Launch
Chosing a simpler affair than the live international Phantom 3 launch, the New York launch was tweeted by the official @DJIGlobal account. Michael Perry, Randy Jay Braun and other DJI staffers were on hand to present the new craft to the media. DJI’s Frank Wang proclaimed it ‘The sexiest drone that DJI ever designed’ and introduced us to ‘the era of VISION’.
New Phantom 4 Features
Now in its fourth revision, the Phantom brings improvements across the board.
In summary those changes:
- Avoids obstacles automatically thanks to updated Visual Positioning System
- Track moving subjects automatically using ActiveTrack.
- TapFly lets you fly with a tap of the finger.
- Smart Return Home allows the Phantom to avoid obstacles as it returns home.
- 28 minute maximum flight time, maximum control range of 3.1mi (5km).
- Maximum speed of 44mph (72kmh).
- Integrated gimbal for greater camera stability and smoother footage.
- Optimized Vision Positioning System raises positioning altitude up to 10 meters.
What’s new on the Drone?
The big change to the outside of the DJI Phantom 4 is the integration of the gimbal into the lower half of the composite shell as seen in the below photos by Eric Cheng:
The shell itself is now a smooth shiny plastic which has had a love/hate reaction from staff in our office. The arm lights have been relocated under the motors and the compass’s have been moved from the legs into the body. The result is a simpler, sleeker craft that has been aerodynamically optimised to maximise flight performance.
The motors have been raised out of the shell to aid cooling and give greater blade clearance to the body. Propeller fixing has changed from the screw thread to a simple push and twist fitment, hopefully simplifying installation for new pilots.
Perhaps the most important change to the body is the inclusion of stereo vision sensors mounted at the top of the front legs. With some powerful onboard video processing, these enable it to identify the landscape infront of it and react accordingly.
Expanding on the sensors offered on the Phantom 3, DJI have installed a pair of vision sensors to complement the pair of ultrasonic sensors on the bottom of the body. Like the gimbal, these are integrated into the composite shell and with revised VPS software are operational at up to 10m from the floor. Its worth noting that the system is not foolproof; Facing down and forward, the VPS cannot save you from reversing into a tree.
What’s new inside?
In what was an unpopular move Phantom 2 to Phantom 3, DJI have again altered the intelligent flight battery for the Phantom 3. This time round the 5350mAh 4S cell has been reshaped, appearing to be shorter and wider to fit the evolved body. DJI are claiming the new craft has a maximum flight time of 28 minutes thanks to these and other advancements.
The phantom now features redundant navigation systems, the data from the dual compass modules and dual Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) are compared through advanced algorithms to check accuracy and any inaccurate data is simply discarded without affecting flight.
Powerful new processors are on board to crunch all the data the additional VPS sensors feed it .You can learn more about this ‘most powerful technology’ in the video below:
Updated flight modes
All of the above technology gives the DJI Phantom 4 more potential autonomy than any of its predecessors. Coupled with the front VPS cameras, features like sense and avoid mean a beginner pilot is crash their drone straight into a wall on its first flight. In fact with the new TapFly navigation, a pilot need never touch the sticks to fly the craft. You can press to take off, double tap your mobile device fly into the scene or press smart return home to have the craft navigate its way back whilst avoiding any obstructions.
The raw power of the new systems is best demonstrated with the new Activetrack mode. Simply select a target you wish the craft to follow on the screen, press go and the Phantom will pan and track through the sky to keep it in frame. Its achieved by processing the vast amount of data coming from the array of visual sensors found on the craft . Its worth watching the video below to see the system in action.
For experienced pilots, DJI have included a new ‘Sport’ mode for performance flying. This provides the maximum top speed available from the craft and enables a greater angle of attack when flying but it does apparently disable the VPS safeguards.
All of these modes are additions to the current smart modes found on the Phantom 3.
Should I buy a DJI Phantom 4?
Always a difficult question to answer but for the first time we can say unequivocally, yes. If you are a beginner in the market for a drone that has headroom to provide more functionality as you improve as a pilot then this cannot be beaten. If you currently fly an original Phantom then the capabilities of this craft will simply blow your mind. Look out for our upcoming hands-on blog where we will show the craft in action ourselves.
How much is the Phantom 4 and where can I buy it?
At £1229 we feel the Phantom 4 offers fantastic value considering its advancements over the Phantom 3 Professional which was priced similarly not a year ago.
The new 9450S quick release propellers will cost £7 a pair and additional intelligent flight batteries will retail at around £129. DJI have also released a revised multi functional hard shell backpack for the Phantom. Costing £169 we expect to stock it later this quarter.
You can learn more or watch other videos of the DJI Phantom 4 in action on its product listing at our web store.