This DJI Spark review was originally published in July 2017.
In a world of flying cars and teleportation, the good people of earth enjoy a few old world pleasures. This includes launching a small drone to take high quality photos and videos of themselves doing fun things. Oh wait, that’s today with a quadcopter like the DJI Spark.
We’ll admit there is room for improvement, but overall, DJI has nailed it with the new Spark quadcopter. Small, very portable and easy to operate, this is a drone that we imagine many will incorporate into their lives. Update: Looks like DJI took all of our complaints to heart, they’ve now released the new DJI Mavic Air – combining the best features of the Mavic Pro and the Spark, adding more and improving on it all.
Join us for our full review of the new DJI Spark.
We’re refreshing this article, but there have been no major updates to the DJI Spark in a while now. The DJI Spark is still a solid starter drone, but for those that can afford it, we recommend the Mavic Air or even the Mavic 2 Zoom or Mavic 2 Pro drones instead. Each of those alternatives is twice the price or more of the Spark, but they offer superior cameras and flying experiences.
May 2017Release Date
The DJI Spark introduced a brand new segment for the drone company, launching a tiny machine that packs more fun features than powerful specs. This drone had everyone talking about the Jedi mind tricks you can play with the machine, using the front camera and object detection to accept hand gestures for some basic controls. All of these fun flight features made for a focus on two other features, the ability to fly without a remote control in hand and making you the object of the flight.
The DJI Spark is small enough to easily pack around wherever you might like to go. It's powerful enough to combat some decent winds and the 12MP camera can snap some fun photographs. While the camera may have a 4K sensor on the inside, it only records 1080p video. The HD video resolution allows the use of the extra pixels for image stabilization. The Spark mechanically stabilizes two-axis of movement, using the sensor cropping to handle side-to-side image stabilization. Admitting that this makes for some of the worst video capture from a DJI drone in the last 5 years, we can't deny that that is still pretty good, and the compact nature and low price of the drone make it well worth consideration.
Update: Summer 2018 – The DJI Spark has some serious competition on the market now, look to the Parrot Anafi, Yuneec Mantis Q and the GDU O2 for more expensive drones that are still less expensive than the Mavic Air.
In the same way that we credit the Phantom drone line as being an iconic quadcopter in the market, we feel like the DJI Spark, and drones like it, will be around for a while. The small machine, with a fuselage about the length and width of a smartphone, and only a few inches tall, becomes almost pocket sized when the propellers are folded in.
The front camera looks like the FPV camera on the Inspire 2, forward and downward visioning systems add safety to the mix. Most important, however, DJI has included intelligent flight features that roll all of the best gesture and tracking features into one.
That’s right, if you haven’t heard yet, you can launch, fly and land the DJI Spark completely by hand gestures.
In terms of control-ability options, the DJI Spark is the most capable DJI drone to date, that we know of. You can fly by hand, fly by mobile device or opt for the remote control. The remote looks like a scaled down Mavic Pro remote, offering familiarity and a compact size.
Make no mistake, the DJI Spark is not the best drone out there. It serves a role based around the selfie experience, and it performs that very well. However, range and overall flight capabilities are far fewer and inferior to the likes of the Mavic Pro.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a fun and capable selfie camera that flies, there is nothing better in the DJI camp, perhaps in the market as a whole. If you are looking for a highly capable drone, or just 4K video recording, Spark may not be your thing.
Drone legal and safety
The DJI Spark is built of a rigid frame of grey, much like the Mavic Pro, but then has a colored cap on top. Five colors are available for the cap, including white, red, blue, green and yellow. The battery attaches on the bottom, sliding in from the back. Removable, quick-release propellers are a folding design.
As with other DJI drones, two matching propeller motors have white markings on them, the propellers, and optional propeller guards, have white to match.
The front of the craft has a flat cover, much like on a TV remote, that houses the forward facing visioning systems of object avoidance and more. Below that hangs the tube-like camera on 2-axis gimbal. The camera tilts straight down to a few degrees up, it also tilts sideways both directions to keep things level when the craft banks, but it does not turn left or right at all.