WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PHANTOM 4 AND THE PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL?
The first and most important difference between the two Phantom models is obstacle avoidance. The Phantom 3 has two cameras. It has one camera for video and one for stabilization. With the Phantom 4, they have added three more cameras for improved stabilization and obstacle avoidance. This is a huge feature for new pilots who are worried about crashing on their first drone flight, but it is also a nice feature for keeping you out of trouble when shooting tight close up shots.
SPEED AND AGILITY
The second distinguishing feature of the Phantom 4 is the new sports mode. In this mode, it disables the obstacle avoidance and increases the max speed to 45mph (about 10mph faster than the Phantom 3 Professional. Although the motors will be visible in forward facing shots, it is a great feature for shooting what’s below you at high speeds.
With the Phantom 4, you are getting 25% more flight time. This might not sound like a big difference, but if you are out flying, every extra minute will count. The new battery also has more connection pins so that the Phantom 4 and the battery charger can monitor the battery more accurately.
With the Phantom 3, almost all of the moving shots that you take are done by manually moving the sticks on the controller to fly the drone in a particular direction. This is another thing that can be hard for new pilots, especially if you want to track a moving subject without making any jerky movements. With the Phantom 4, there’s a new feature called active track and Tap Flight. With Active record, you can just select the subject that you are trying to track, and it will automatically lock on and start tracking it. This is different from the Follow Me feature built into the Phantom 3 because it uses machine learning algorithms to visually track, instead of just following a GPS signal from your smartphone.
Tap fly is another feature aimed at beginners. It allows you to smoothly fly to different locations just by tapping where you want to go on the screen.
REDUNDANCY AND RELIABILITY
Although the Phantom 3 is still one of the most reliable consumer drones you can buy, the Phantom 4 is on a completely new level. It has two gyros, two compasses, and two accelerometers. These are all of the sensors that let the Phantom know what its orientation is so it can remain stable. If any of these things happen to fail one day, a typical drone (Phantom 3 Professional included) will no longer be able to stabilize itself, causing it to fall out of the sky. The main reason for these additional sensors is to add extra redundancy, but the nice thing about the Phantom 4 is that the flight computer can also look at the extra sensors to get more accurate data, which makes it even more stable in the air.
Getting the Phantom 3 Professional set up and prepared for flight has always been a painless process for me, but sometimes it can be time-consuming to screw each propeller onto the motors. That is why the Phantom 4 now has self-locking quick release Props. With the new propellers, you can mount them within 10 seconds, and never worry about them falling due to not putting them on tight enough.
GIMBAL AND OPTICS
Unfortunately, we have not had a chance to test the Camera on the Phantom 4 to see if it is any better than the Phantom 3 Professional, but according to DJI, the camera has a new lens that reduces distortion (that fisheye effect) and increases sharpness.
WHY WOULD YOU BUY THE PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL?
There are two small advantages that you get when buying the Phantom 3 Professional over the Phantom 4. The first is the price. Right now the Phantom 4 is about $400 more than the Phantom 3 Professional, so if you are on a tight budget, that could be a deal breaker. That probably isn’t the case if you are reading about the Phantom 4 though. The other small advantage of the Phantom 3 is the fact that DJI offers all of the replacement parts for the Phantom 3 on their website. This is great if you are good at fixing electronics, but for most people using the DJI, Care plan will be a better idea.