Update: DJI has launched the Mavic Air today (January 23). You can pre-order it right now. We don’t expect to see the Spark 2 for many months, so if you are waiting for it consider the Mavic Air. Do you know what the Spark 2 will look like? Please email us.
Everyone sits up and takes notice whenever there’s a rumor about a new DJI consumer drone. It’s the same response when there’s an announcement for a major upgrade to an existing model. We’ve seen it with the Mavic Pro 2, the DJI Phantom 5, and now with the DJI Spark 2. This is quite a surprise when you consider they only introduced the innovative and popular Spark back in May 2017.
Drone technology is forever evolving and that means there’s always room for product enhancements. It also means DJI is forever in pursuit of the perfect craft. This in itself is a never-ending feat but a fascinating journey. It certainly keeps enthusiasts of unmanned aerial vehicles on the edge of their virtual pilot seats. It also keeps rivals competitive and that’s always good news for consumers.
What’s Wrong with the Original Spark?
There’s nothing wrong with the original DJI Spark per se. It was and continues to be a revelation in the world of camera drones. The Spark reached out to a much wider audience. It delivered good looks, simplicity, and ease of use. Heck, gesture controls and palm landings are still its major attractions. It’s both novel and practical on so many levels.
Still, the DJI Spark left plenty of room for improvements despite its popularity and broad appeal. These may not be obvious to the novice but they’re glaring to the experienced pilot who demands more.
It’s possible that we will get a Spark Pro before we get the Spark 2. The Spark Pro may be a souped up version of the existing Spark with a longer flight time and a 4K camera.
Introducing the All-New DJI Spark 2
OK, so that headline is somewhat misleading. We can still speculate about the DJI Spark 2 with some accuracy though. The company will always hold back a few surprises and that’s great. But there are some requests that are almost certain to materialize. It will be a sad day if they don’t.
There’s a lot of speculation going around about the DJI Spark 2. Most of this guesswork is blatant baloney from unauthorized sources. Other opinions are more practical and some highly probable.
Here’s a quick list of the eight enhancements we might see in the Spark 2:
- 3-Axis mechanical gimbal
- 4k camera resolution
- More responsive gesture control
- Longer flight time
- Longer flight range
- Voice commands
- 360° obstacle avoidance
- Foldable arms
There are a few other potential upgrades to consider but these are the ones on everybody’s lips. Let’s take a look at each of these and the reasons they’re so important.
#1 Spark 2 should have a 3-axis gimbal
The current DJI Spark has a 2-axis stabilized gimbal. Without wanting to get too technical a 3-axis gimbal would simply improve video stability and therefore quality. This is because a 2-axis gimbal only stabilizes on two-axis (pitch & roll). A 3-axis gimbal is better because it stabilizes on 3-axis (yaw, pitch & roll). The third motor helps to reduce jittery horizontal movement also called the jello effect.
#2 Embrace 4k camera resolution
One of the biggest disappointments with the DJI Spark was the 1080P camera. There’s nothing wrong with 1080P High Definition (HD) video. By that, I mean it’s perfectly watchable and the quality is pretty reasonable. The problem is that many camera drones nowadays—even cheaper models—have 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) as standard. The higher resolution means higher quality so it’s a big deal.
This is why everyone expects 4K-video to be a top priority on any new DJI Spark 2.
#3 More responsive gesture control
Everyone loves the DJI Spark’s innovative gesture control capability. It’s not only magical it’s highly practical for short range flying. It means there’s no need to use a remote controller (RC) or mobile device with an app to fly the craft. The gesture control has room for improvements as with all new-fangled technology. The hope is to enhance the drone’s sensors to make it even more efficient.
The current gesture control requires a fair bit of practice and precision. The pilot must be close enough to the craft but not too close so that it can recognize gestures. An improved sensor would be more accurate and thus have some leeway in the case of slight human error.
#4 Longer flight time
The flight time of some drones don’t even make double digits. No consumer camera drone ever reaches triple digits. The measly 16-minute maximum flight time of the DJI Spark was a major letdown. Spare DJI batteries are expensive too. Worse still is that their drones don’t accept cheaper third-party batteries.
The hope is that DJI will impress us with an improved flight time of around 25 minutes.
#5 Longer flight range
The DJI Spark has a max range of just 100 meters if you use the app. With the optional controller, the range is extended to a maximum of 1.2 miles. This is extremely low compared to the DJI Mavic Pro at 4.3 miles.
The max range of the Spark represents the ideal performance. 1.2 miles sounds like a lot but this can easily end up being a lot less with obstacles in the way. It’s possible that DJI will release a DJI Spark Pro version with longer range. Either way, there’s some work that can be done here.
#6 Voice commands
Why not introduce some voice commands into the new Spark. The technology is already available and it’d be a neat feature. It should include things like “Return to home”, “Fly out X meters”, “Follow Me”, and so on. It’s a popular conversation. If DJI has been monitoring user feedback and suggestions they will already know this. Alas, it’s one of the less likely enhancements but hey, never say never!
#7 360-degree obstacle avoidance
There are lots of public drones out there that don’t have obstacle avoidance. The DJI Spark does but it could be better than it is. Right now the Spark’s avoidance system uses infrared sensors. The DJI Mavic Pro uses RGB cameras which is a much better setup. Improving the Spark’s avoidance sensors would please a lot of pilots. The addition of side and back sensors would save a lot of branch collisions in particular. It would be especially useful when flying in more advanced modes like “circle” and “helix”.
#8 Foldable arms
The DJI Spark is already tiny, lightweight, and incredibly luggable. But imagine if those arms could somehow fold into its body. This would make it the most portable mid-range drone bar none. The Mavic Pro already has foldable arms but it’s bigger and has more room for such developments. Even so, surely the team at DJI could do something for the Spark.
Final Thoughts on the Much Anticipated DJI Spark 2
When you look closely at the innovative and popular DJI Spark it’s easy to see how much room there still is for improvements. We may get some surprises too. Things like new flight modes, water resistance or waterproofing, and a switch to Lightbridge technology. The introduction of a height or distance limitation would also be helpful.
Some of these upgrades are bound not to happen, if for no other reason than DJI needs to maintain a difference between the Mavic Pro series and the Spark so that people still see the upgrade as worthwhile. A 4K camera is one of the major things separating the two drones at the moment.
The eight considerations on this page are the most talked about and therefore the most likely. We can expect to see some, or all, of these things materialize in the new DJI Spark. What’s less likely anytime soon is an announcement of any Spark 2 release date. It’s going to happen—no one doubts that—but trying to put a date on it really would be a stab in the dark at this moment.
That said, it will most likely be at least a full year since the launch of the device that a new one comes out. In that case, it’s unlikely that we will see a new DJI Spark 2 before May 2018 and likely a few months after that.