Phantom 4 Pro vs. Phantom 4
Early last year, DJI released one of the most prestigious drones to date: The Phantom 4. For the price, the drone industry had never seen anything like it. It was deemed the drone ‘anyone can fly’ – and with DJI-intelligent technology engineered for almost ‘full’ autonomy. Once the drone was released, a lot of people expected a Phantom 5 to come out in the succeeding year. It didn’t. Instead, DJI released the Phantom 4 Pro at not a huge price differential, and which was said to have been upgraded, optimized, and reengineered in various areas. Now that it’s here, a lot of drone pilots wonder is it worth the upgrade? While it’s always important to do your own research on big purchases like upper-end drones, we say it’s absolutely worth it. In this brief piece about the differences between the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4, we’ll explain why.
Design: At the core, these two drones look the same. Actually, they’re nearly identical. They have sleek white finishes and the same chassis. Where the differences lie between the Phantom 4 & Pro in design, are in the battery and the smart-sensor system.
The Phantom 4 has a 5350 Mah battery while the Phantom 4 Pro has a 5870 Mah. This becomes very apparent after testing the machine and realizing quickly that it outlasts its predecessor (and a lot of drone batteries in general). In terms of sensor placement, not only are they sensors placed a bit differently, but there are more in the Phantom 4 Pro than there are in the Phantom 4; this upgrade is quite possibly the one that makes the upgrade worth it. As opposed to the front sensors of the Phantom 4, the Pro has front and back sensors, and then on its sides as well (these infrared sensors can detect objects up to 30m as opposed to the front/back detecting up to 100m). This is important as the Pro now has 360 degree collision avoidance as opposed to just in the front. The sensors also allow for new features absent in the Phantom 4 original (we’ll get into this in a bit).
Camera: There have been improvements here too. The Phantom 4 takes 12MB stills and shoots in 4k at 30fps. DJI targeted all you serious photographers out there when engineering the newer Phantom 4 model; the Pro takes 20MB stills and shoots in 4k at 60fps. Instead of the fixed focus of the 4, the Pro now has touch focus like the Mavic. It comes with a mechanical shutter and an improved aperture. It handles low light much more efficiently than its predecessor and takes 14 images in burst mode with a Max Bitrate of 100Mbps (both of these stats are double what the Phantom 4 does). By all means, the camera system on the Phantom 4 Pro is a big upgrade. The one negative: despite being a better camera, it has a narrower frame of focus. In the grand scheme of things and in comparison to the earlier model, all of this has little effect on the value of the new system. Side note: the Phantom 4 Pro has twice the SD card capacity for more storage too.
Remote & distance: The Phantom 4 Pro has an extra 1.3 miles of range clocking it in at 4.3 miles in total. Not only is it a stronger signal, but it also uses 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz so that the transmission is never disrupted. With the Phantom 4 Pro you can now buy a controller with a built-in 1080 LCD display that has even less latency than you’ll experience giving commands from a tablet or smart phone. This is especially helpful when using the intelligent flight systems like TapFly, Draw, or Active Track.
Speed: The Phantom 4 Pro also contains two flight modes. The speed hasn’t really changed, with the newer drone clocking in with a 45mph max speed in sport mode. In beginner mode, the drone is faster – 31 mph compared to 22 mph.
Intelligent flight systems: Here’s the biggie. Now with the Pro you can fly with 360 degree obstacle avoidance on at 31mph rather than the original 22mph. What’s most impressive about this feat is that the sensor system on the Pro is a lot more advanced and efficient – so keeping it on is incredibly valuable. Now you can fly 14mph under the max speed and still count on your drone autonomously avoiding collisions. Especially in conjunction with other intelligent flight modes while filming.
TapFly is a system that’s improved: TapFly Free mode allows the pilot to send the drone in one direction while keeping the camera focused on a separate subject.
Return Home has improved too –now the Pro records its takeoff and is able to land exactly where it took off. It also computes and finds the smartest route home – taking weather, terrain, and distance into consideration. The recording is executed by the newly added side sensors.
A new feature called Draw is now in the cards; you basically draw a line wherever you want the drone to fly, and it’ll fly in that direction while maintaining altitude and speed. This is useful when you want to give longer, more stable direction to the machine.
Active Track has improved as well, since now the sensors will allow the drone to move backwards & forwards – within the sub modes of Active Track – profile has been added to the previously existing spotlight and trace. Now the Pro will follow alongside a moving subject and keep it in focus.
All in all – for the small leap in price (we’re not talking even a full thousand dollars here) the upgrades are one hundred percent worth it. The entire machine is optimized, there are more sensors, the camera is better, and all the intelligent flight systems have been given a friendly dose of let’s be even smarter. The Phantom 4 Pro truly takes its original form and optimizes it. We’re a big fan of the improvements, how it tests, and the current price range. If it’s in your budget, we definitely recommend the upgrade.