Drones are rapidly increasing in popularity due to their performance, ability to take amazing aerial photography, and for being plain fun to fly. If you’re keen to hit the skies, then you should consider DJI’s range of high-performance Phantom 3 drones.
Now there is some subtle and significant differences between each model: the Phantom 3 Standard, Phantom 3 Advanced, Phantom 3 4K, and Phantom 3 Pro. We will examine what these are, so that you can be confident in selecting the perfect product.
All of the Phantom 3 drones come with a powerful 12-megapixel camera for taking some nifty shots from the air. This includes features such as single shot, burst mode, and time-lapse shooting. Overall, when it comes to taking photos, there is little difference between models.
Recording video is another story. The Phantom 3 Standard and Advanced can only record 2.7K video while the Phantom 4K and Phantom 3 Pro can record at 4K. What does this mean? Well, for those unaware, 2.7K and 4K refer to the resolution of the video. At 4K the quality of the video footage is significantly higher.
4K also has a higher file size than 2.7K, meaning a decent amount of computer hardware is required to edit (and even watch) 4K video. Just keep this in mind as some users may find it easier to record 2.7K video.
|Model||Megapixels||Max fps (3840×2160)|
|Phantom 3 Standard||12||30fps at 2.7K|
|Phantom 3 Advanced||12||30fps at 2.7K|
|Phantom 3 4K||12||30fps at 4K|
|Phantom 3 Pro||12||30fps at 4K|
All the Phantom models can stream video in 720p, except for the Phantom 3 4K. This is sort of a strange letdown, and you can’t be blamed for wondering why didn’t DJI allow for 720p streaming just like its other drones (even the Phantom 3 Standard!). It feels like the advantage that the Phantom 3 4K has over the Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 Advanced (being able to record 4K video) is suddenly offset by its lack of 720p streaming.
The amount of time you can spend flying each session is crucial. The Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Pro have approximately 23 minutes of flight time, while the Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 4K can stay airborne for up to 25 minutes. Not really a significant difference among the range.
There is no variation in flight speeds. Each drone can hit a max speed of 35.8mph. They can ascend at 11.2mph and descend at 6.7mph. This is because each drone is the same shape (same aerodynamics) and a similar weight (the Phantom 3 Standard is 1216g while the other three top out at 1280g).
DJI’s vision positioning module helps drones stabilize their flight at low altitudes (3 meters or less). This is achieved by using a combination of ultrasonic and motion detecting sensors, to maintain vertical and horizontal balance. This means that the drone can maintain a stable hover when close to the ground.
Typically vision positioning it is used when flying indoors and/or in areas where there is no GPS signal.
The bad news is that the Phantom 3 Standard is not equipped with this module, while the other three models are. While the Phantom 3 Standard will still operate safely and effectively without, it just lacks that extra layer of security when hovering.
|Phantom 3 Standard||Phantom 3 Advanced, Phantom 3 4K, Phantom 3 Pro|
|Vertical Hover Accuracy||±0.5 m (with GPS Positioning)||±0.1 m (with Vision Positioning)±0.5 m (with GPS Positioning)|
|Horizontal Hover Accuracy||±1.5 m (with GPS Positioning)||±0.3 m (with Vision Positioning)±1.5 m (with GPS Positioning)|
GPS And GLONASS
GPS is the standard system used by the Phantom 3 range. However, the Phantom 3 Advanced, and Phantom 3 Pro also use GLONASS. Not sure what it is? Well, GLONASS is Russia’s version of GPS. This means that drones outfitted with it can connect to more satellites (American AND Russian). Also, determining location using both GPS and GLONASS gives a more accurate result.
All four drones have the same mode options. This includes all the intelligent navigation modes such as course lock, point of interest, and waypoints. These modes can all be controlled via the DJI App. You can install this on your smartphone or tablet before mounting the device to the drone’s controller. A brief summary of the modes is shown below.
|F-mode (Function)||Enables use of the intelligent flight modes (Follow Me, Waypoints, Course Lock, Home Lock, Point Of Interest).|
|Follow Me||Keeps drone flight locked onto phone/tablet.|
|Waypoints||Used to set an automatic flight path.|
|Course Lock||Sets controls to be relative to a drone’s current flight direction.|
|Home Lock||Sets controls to be relative to the drone’s home point.|
|Point Of Interest||Makes the drone continuously circle around a selected building, object, or natural feature.|
|Beginner||Limits max speed and distance.|
|P-mode (position)||Standard flight mode using GPS positioning.|
|A-mode (altitude)||Drone flies based on altitude, not GPS.|
The Phantom 3 4K, Advanced, and Pro all use the same controller. This has dedicated buttons (for functions such as return to home, video record, and video playback), customizable buttons, and two large, sensitive, control sticks. There is also a mount for attaching a tablet or iPhone. Overall the controller is effective, user-friendly, and pretty comfortable.
The problem is that the Phantom 3 Standard is stuck with an older, simpler controller. This lacks the same array of dedicated and customizable buttons, while having a mount that is too small to hold a tablet. If only DJI could upgrade the controller for the Phantom 3 Standard.
The figures below show just how far you can fly each drone away from its controller, without disruptions to the signal. These are DJI’s recommended maximum limits. However, they can vary depending on interference caused by factors such as the terrain and atmospheric conditions. Users have reported flying further and less than these limits before losing radio contact. However, these figures should still be considered fairly accurate in most situations.
|Model||Maximum Transmission Distance|
|Phantom 3 Standard||0.6 miles|
|Phantom 3 Advanced||3.1 miles|
|Phantom 3 4K||0.75 miles|
|Phantom 3 Pro||3.1 miles|
As you can see, there is quite a difference between the models but just keep in mind that it is illegal in the US (and many other countries) to fly a drone outside your line of sight. This means that if you are following the law, then you will never need to hit these limits. Even the Phantom 3 Standard’s smallest range of 0.6 miles is still way out of sight. Of course, if you do want to fly further then we won’t tell anyone. Just make sure you are aware of the increased risk of losing your drone and the possible legal ramifications.
Just ask yourself how cautious you’re planning to be. If you do plan to utilize the maximum range of your drone, then the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Pro are obviously much better options for you.
Lightbridge Video Downlink Vs Wifi Video Downlink
The Lightbridge technology, used by the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Pro, allows for a much more effective video signal between the drone itself and the controller. This not only makes for good video streaming but is also the reason that the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Pro have a much greater control range.
The more basic Wifi video downlink used by the Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 4K, while still effective, is turning into a bit of a dated technology. It really can’t compare to Lightbridge’s interference-free 2.4GHz video downlink, with a range of 3+ miles.
The approximate Amazon prices for each new drone model can be seen below. Of course, these are subject to change, so we recommend checking the latest offers.
|Model||Approximate Price||Check Current Price|
|Phantom 3 Standard||$500|
|Phantom 3 Advanced||$700|
|Phantom 3 4K||$600|
|Phantom 3 Pro||$800|
Overall there is not a big price variation across the range.
Which One Should You Get?
If price isn’t a factor then just get the Phantom 3 Pro. It’s not significantly more expensive than the other models, and you will be getting a high-quality camera, excellent video quality (both for recording and streaming), and a 3.1mile range. It appears to be the best overall performer and the best value for money.
If you need to go cheaper, then you may want to choose between the Phantom 3 Advanced (only records at 2.7K) and the Phantom 3 4K (only streams in 480p, only has a range of 0.75 miles, lacks GLONASS). It’s a bit of a coin toss between the two and really depends on how you plan to use your drone.
Lastly, if you’re on a very tight budget, and don’t need 4K video, then just get the Phantom 3 Standard.