DJI has a rich catalog of drones, and are the makers of perhaps the most iconic drone design around, the quadcopter Phantom line. The latest of the bunch is the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, but not long before that was the original Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+. They are largely the same machine, being a reliable quadcopter with a superb camera, ready to take to the sky. The Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ are over two years old now, but they still pack some of the best features in any quadcopter out there.
As far as current drones are concerned, the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ are tough to beat. Don’t just take my word for it, let’s explore what makes them so good.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+
November 2016Release Date
When you think about drones, it's possible that the first image that comes to mind is the iconic design of the DJI Phantom line. DJI knows it, continually iterating their Phantom drones to be some of the best high-end consumer class quadcopters on the market. That trend continued in the fall of 2016, launching the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ alongside the Inspire 2.
The Phantom 4 Pro series was DJI's best drone at launch for object avoidance technology. Safety is one thing, long flight times and a powerful 20MP 4K camera is another. The Phantom 4 Pro captures superb photos and video from the sky. It has been outclassed with newer drones, but it remained the cream of the crop for drones under $2000 for almost two years before the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 was announced.
The difference between the Phantom 4 Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro+ is the inclusion of a 5.5-inch built-in display on the remote of the Pro+. It's a good looking, Android powered display, but it's the only difference between the two machines.
Phantom 4 Pro discontinued
DJI has officially discontinued the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+. Plenty of stock is still available at many retailers, but no new machines are in being built. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the superior machine, so we’re not too upset.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ were announced in November 2016. As the latest in the Phantom line, these machines rocked the best of features and camera in the series, and even had some best-in-class features when compared to far more expensive machines as well.
To save myself some writing, and you from having to see DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+, let me explain the difference between the two.
I hope you were not expecting too much, the real difference is that the Phantom 4 Pro+ comes with a display built into the controller. That is about all. Actually, there is much to be impressed about with this, we’ll talk about it below.
Unless otherwise stated, when I say “Phantom 4 Pro” I am referring to both models of the craft. One last bit, the Phantom 4 Advanced is a different enough machine, we won’t lump it in here.
Drone legal and safety
Let’s get started.
For the longest time, DJI pumped out drones with a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor. In the Phantom line, the last machine to do so was the Phantom 4. Stepping things up, the Phantom 4 Pro packs a 1-inch sensor. Offering a significant upgrade over previous Phantom drones, this is one of the best cameras on flying machines under $2000. The Phantom 4 Pro is ideal for amateur, and even semi-pro drone photographers.
Considering that a base package Phantom 4 Pro is little more expensive than a Mavic Pro Fly More combo, you’ll have to consider your needs when comparing these two. Basically, if you need the more portable machine, and if camera work is less important to you, the Mavic Pro is awesome, but if you are a little more serious with your image capture, the Phantom 4 Pro is the way to go.
6. Collision sensors
Look out for that… Oh, never mind, the Phantom 4 Pro noticed it and came to a halt. Simple enough, this machine packs obstacle avoidance sensors on all four sides, and on the bottom. Whether you are manually piloting or enjoying one of the self-piloting modes, the only way you can really crash this thing is by flying straight up into something.
Please do not go try to crash your drone and then blame me if you are successful, you know these things are not bulletproof. As good as these types of sensors get, DJI is looking to avoid as many mishaps as they can.
5. Camera, again
Forgive us, we don’t want to talk about the sensor again, we want to talk about the overall image capture. Whether shooting stills or video, the camera setup, including 3-axis gimbal, produces very stable imagery. This is in part due to the stable flight of the craft, which we almost made its own item on this list.
In short, the image output from this machine is as smooth as you can expect from a flying craft.
4. Phantom 4 Pro+ remote control
For the extra few hundred dollars, DJI packs a display into the remote of the Phantom 4 Pro+. This is not some cheap display, it is, in my opinion, worth the money. Actually, it’s more than just a 5.5-inch 1000 cd/m2 panel, you get the full DJI GO 4 app built in.
If you were needing to purchase a mobile device to connect as your drone display, the Phantom 4 Pro+ is a very cost effective purchase compared to buying a modern, well equipped smartphone or tablet.
Don’t forget that you can connect the Phantom 4 Pro remote to your DJI Goggles.
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
3. Third party accessories
The Phantom line has been around for a while. It is often imitated and really is one of the most iconic drone designs around. What I’m getting at is that this is a popular drone. Popular drones get attention, and when that attention comes from third-party accessory manufacturers… Well, just look at the iPhone, I think it’s a useless phone and OS, but the accessory market has more than a few nifty and tempting tools and toys.
Unlike my opinion that accessories made the difference between success and failure of the iPhone, the plethora of accessories for the Phantom 4 Pro take a great machine and add even more value.
Was that too harsh? I mentioned I’m an Android fan, right?
Enjoying another benefit of being popular, there is tons of support out there for the Phantom 4 Pro. I’m not just talking about DJI customer care, you’re likely to find many local drone shops with experience on this machine.
The same goes for when you need help with the software, if you are looking for ideas, tools, tips and tricks, you are bound to find them floating around. We might have a few ourselves.
1. Commercial value
If you are Part 107 certified, or looking to get certified and start up a drone business, the Phantom 4 Pro is the sort of drone a customer can respect. Most people that are willing to give you $500 to fly, know that they can buy a Spark for that much money. If you show up to a professional aerial shoot with a Spark, you may not be wasting their time, but they sure might feel that way. The Mavic Pro is also a capable machine, but trust me, you’ll hear the words “where’s the good drone?” if you take it to a shoot as well.
No matter the reality of the capabilities of a drone, the Phantom 4 Pro is one of the smallest drones that a non-drone person will assume is a pro rig. I hope that makes sense, we’re talking about a customer’s perception of you and your machine, not the reality of your skills or the functionality of your machine.
Related reading: What to expect from a Part 107 training class
We dare admit this is the least appealing reason to choose the Phantom 4 Pro specifically, but we can’t deny, this new Obsidian color is good to look at. That’s really all there is to the fall 2017 refresh, a new color.
2 reasons to skip the Phantom 4 Pro:
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
May 2018Release Date
The DJI Phantom series of drones are some of the best machines on the market, every iteration makes improvements on the previous and in the case of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, we're talking about improved motors, more efficient propellers and the first Phantom drone to rock OcuSync connectivity.
The Phantom 4 Pro series was DJI's best drone at launch for object avoidance technology, a trend that continues and is improved upon with the V2.0 series, adding radar and more obstacle avoidance goodness. The newer drone comes with the same 20MP 4K camera as previous, still one of the best camera drones on the market.
The difference between the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 for around $1,499 and the Phantom 4 Pro+ V2.0 for $1,749 is the inclusion of a 5.5-inch built-in display on the remote of the Pro+. The bright, Android powered display is the only difference between the two machines.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
August 2018Release Date
Introduced in August of 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro instantly became the best consumer-class folding drone that DJI had to offer. A marked upgrade over the original Mavic Pro, the Mavic 2 Pro rocks a 1-inch camera sensor for 4K video capture at 100Mbps, multi-direction obstacle avoidance sensors for some of the safest drone flight possible, and much more. OcuSync 2.0 enhances connectivity to the remote control and other accessories, now able to transmit 1080p live stream video well beyond the legal line-of-sight.
With an initial launch price of $1449, plus another $319 to get the Fly More kit with extra batteries, there is a barrier to entry with this machine, but if the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is within your budget, we think you will not be disappointed.
Let’s buy the Phantom 4 Pro
Let’s stop there for today. I am sure you have some ideas on why this is a great drone, and I’m sure some of our Phantom 4 Pro pilot readers will ping us in the comments below to let us know why they fly this drone.
If you are sold on this machine, you are looking at $1,899 for the Phantom 4 Pro, jump up to $2,160 for the Phantom 4 Pro+ on Amazon today. (Regular price is $1,499 and $1,799, prices may be inflated because the machine is discontinued and a little rare.)