New Year, new drones! We're all running round the office like little children at the moment, awaiting the latest releases from DJI - which we imagine you probably are too. So to try and whet your appetite, we've compiled this list of our best educated guesses for the 2018 release schedule. Now whilst we may be completely wrong, we are a bunch of nerds, so this should at least carry some weight...
But first, here are all the juicy details of DJI's releases at CES 2018:
Osmo Mobile 2:
Coming in at an impressive £129, the successor to the highly successful Osmo Mobile is looking very promising. Featuring all-new simpler controls, full support for portrait recording and a massive 15 hour battery life - the Mobile 2 is certainly a hot release from DJI. For aspiring filmmakers, the new built-in zoom slider lets you completely operate your smartphone camera from the handle with more fluid, cinematic zoom. Impressively, the Mobile 2 has managed to pack all of this into a unit that weighs in at only 485g! Due to be available from March this year, we hope to be hearing more about this soon, but for now - enjoy the following DJI release video:
The first of its kind from DJI, the Ronin-S is a one-handed stabiliser capable of handling the payload of a typical mirrorless or DSLR camera. The Ronin-S's framework design elevates the camera above the Roll Axis, making the camera's built-in display obstruction free, always. Furthermore, DJI have riddled the Ronin-S with accessory mounts, providing full support for add-ons such as a microphone, LED lights, and even a wireless video transmitter. The Ronin-S brings with it the release of DJI's SmoothTrack technology which allows you to transition smoothly from motion to camera angle. Two customisable parameter groups (responsiveness and deadband) enable you to store your favourite SmoothTrack settings, switching between them in a single click. Furthermore, the Ronin-S' new Sport mode now intelligently increases SmoothTrack responsiveness to keep up with any movement.
DJI have also hinted at some devices called the "Master Wheels" and the "Master Force", now whilst we have absolutely no idea what the Master Force is - the given info leads us to believe that the Master Wheels is a remote control device that allows an operator to control the gimbal from afar - a very useful addition to go hand in hand with the Ronin-S' new mounting solutions. DJI boasts that the Ronin-S can "be easily mounted to an RC buggy for low-angle shots or even act as a stabilised remote head when mounted to a jib."
This is just about all of the information that has been released so far - so we eagerly await the price point and tech specs, which will hopefully be released in the coming weeks. However, the Ronin-S is not set to be available until the second quarter of 2018, so you budding cinematographers have some waiting to do! Regardless, here's the release video to get you even more excited:
[video width="640" height="360" mp4="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0263/8469/5395/files/Ronin-S.mp4"][/video]
Phantom 5 and Phantom 5+ (Imminent):
Now it'll be no surprise when the newest version of the Phantom range is released, but the big questions are; when, how much and what new features will we get? We've conferred in the office and formed a list of the top features we'd love to see on the Phantom 5.
Retractable Landing Gear:
- Now whilst we're not expecting this to become a reality - as the Phantom isn't exactly meant to be a highly portable drone - we would absolutely love to see the Phantom 5 come with removable or retractable landing gear. However, this would likely require the gimbal to either be smaller, or to be removable - so we're not sure how feasible this really is. On a similar note - we'd also love to see foldable propellers on the Phantom - a simple feature that really helps with portability.
Improved Flight Time:
- Now whilst a 30 minute flight time is industry-leading, we really hope to see this pushed even further. When take-off and landing times are taken into account, the realistic flight time is much closer to 25 minutes, which drops further still in sport mode.
Greater Top Speed:
- Admittedly, this is more of an expectation than a want. We expect the P5 to come equipped with more powerful motors and potentially a more powerful battery, as there are rumours of DJI releasing a battery "never before seen in a drone". Coming hand in hand with these advancements would likely be a greater top speed.
- We expect that DJI will aim to improve further on one of the Phantom's best selling points - the intelligent obstacle avoidance feature. Now whilst the Phantom 4 Pro already sports 5 directions of collision avoidance, we expect DJI will release a more complex software solution to improve the obstacle detection system, whilst keeping the same hardware. We would love to see a drone that could detect obstacles such as tree branches - but this would likely require very advanced hardware improvements that would rise the cost of the drone considerably.
- Finally, we hope to see all of the new and interesting flight modes that have been introduced on the Spark, to transfer across to the Phantom range - with a few new ones if we're greedy.
Osmo 2 (Second Quarter):
Before CES, I would have marked this, along with the Osmo Mobile 2 as "Imminent", but seeing as the Mobile 2 has been released with no news about the Osmo 2, I've pushed my estimation back to the second quarter of 2017. I'm reluctant to push it back any further, as the Osmo 2 is way overdue, especially considering that the Osmo 1 is effectively discontinued now. We would hope for a new handle unit which houses the SSD itself, rather than the camera being responsible for this, as well as an extended battery life, a quieter fan and an autonomous active track mode.
"Phantom R" (Second Quarter):
I'm sure the die-hard DJI fans out there have already seen the video in which DJI "leak" the announcement of a "Phantom R?". For those of you who haven't seen it, I'll include the video below.
[video width="640" height="640" mp4="https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0263/8469/5395/files/DJI-Goggles-RE.mp4"][/video]
Now whilst DJI releasing a racing drone is very exciting, we highly doubt that it'll be called the "Phantom R". DJI surely can't create a racing drone that contains enough of the high tech features that we'd expect from a Phantom-range drone. To draw the speed and agility needed for an FPV racer, the drone would have to be lightweight and more compact, features such as collision avoidance, a 4k camera and return to home functions would surely be forfeited in the quest for speed.
Now whilst this may all just be a ploy to draw attention away from a potential Phantom 5 release, a DJI FPV racer would go perfectly hand in hand with the new DJI Goggles RE (Race Edition) that were released at the end of 2017, so we do expect to see a DJI racing drone before too long.
Mavic 2 (Third Quarter):
We love the DJI Mavic, and we're certain that a Mavic 2 is on the cards, but due to the past release schedule and the amount of overdue releases, we've pushed our estimate for the release date of the Mavic 2 back to the third quarter of 2018. Whilst we doubt the overall look of the Mavic will change much, we hope for improved stability for the gimbal, as well as a larger camera sensor to improve the low light performance. However, this would certainly mean increasing the size of the gimbal/camera unit - which DJI would likely want to avoid doing for their ultra-portable drone range.
A more realistic prediction would be an increased number of sensors. The Mavic Pro currently sports only frontward and downward facing sensors, we wold hope for a minimum of leftward and rightward facing sensors to be incorporated into the Mavic 2, with the potential for a backward facing sensor too. Finally, we'd love some extended landing gear to increase to the ground clearance, and the potential for the remote to hold, at least, a small tablet would be great.
Spark 2 (Fourth Quarter)
Now seeing as the Spark only came out this summer, we aren't expecting much movement on this front for a while, but we hope to potentially see a Spark 2 in the fourth quarter of 2018, or maybe even as a release in CES 2019. In terms of features, we absolutely love the Spark, we just hope for an improved flight time and we'd even push for a 4k camera if we were being really greedy.
Notes for the Future:
Looking ahead, we'd hope that DJI can implement the benefits that we've seen on some drones, across its whole range. For example, we'd love to see wireless connectivity with the DJI goggles on more than just the Mavic range - it'd be great to have full integration with any future Phantom models. Furthermore, re-designed charging hubs for the Phantom, Mavic and Inspire ranges that charge all batteries simultaneously, rather than sequentially would be really useful. However, this would ideally have to be achieved without sacrificing charge speed.
Be sure to check back to our blog throughout the year to find more in depth analysis of all the new releases.
Can't wait? Check out our current stock on the official RC Geeks website