DJI Phantom 3 vs Phantom 4

Posted on
3D Insider is ad supported and earns money from clicks, commissions from sales, and other ways.

Drones aren’t cheap, so it really pays to do your research before you start flying. We are to help you with a complete comparison of DJI’s Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 range. This will involve the key data on every model across both ranges.

Flight Performance

Let’s find out how powerful each drone is once airborne. The maximum flight distance is how far each drone can fly before it no longer receives commands. Most drones have a range of 3.1 to 4.3 miles. This is due to them using DJI’s Lightbridge downlink technology, which allows signals to be relayed between controller and drone, over a significant distance and with minimal interference.

Unfortunately the Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 4K lack this technology. They rely on more dated Wifi downlink techlogy, which has a much shorter range. Just remember it’s not necessarily a good idea to test these limits, as the further the distance reached the greater the change of a crash or flyaway occurring.

The Phantom 4 Advanced and Pro are the clear winners for flight time while the Phantom 3 Advanced and Pro lag behind at 23 minutes. As for top speed, the Phantom 4 range is 9.2miles faster than the Phantom 3 range.

Overall the Phantom 4 range wins out in all three areas.

ModelMax Flight RangeMax Flight TimeTop Speed
Phantom 3 Standard0.6 miles25 minutes35.8mph
Phantom 3 4K0.75 miles25 minutes35.8mph
Phantom 3 Advanced3.1 miles23 minutes35.8mph
Phantom 3 Pro3.1 miles23 minutes35.8mph
Phantom 43.1 miles28 minutes45mph
Phantom 4 Advanced4.3 miles30 minutes45mph
Phantom 4 Pro4.3 miles30 minutes45mph

Camera Quality

Whether you’re a professional photographer or barely know how to use a camera, you’re still going to be wanting to make the most of your drone’s aerial photography opportunities. That’s why camera specs are crucial. A high megapixel rate makes for the best photos, while the ability to stream in 4K, at a high frame rate, allows for the best HD video capture.

This makes the Phantom 4 Advanced and Pro the clear winners. They have 20-megapixel cameras and can stream 4K at 60fps (frames per second).

The Phantom 3 4K and Pro are the top models in their range. They can both stream 4K at 30fps.

ModelMegapixelsMax fps (3840×2160)
Phantom 3 Standard1230 at 2.7K
Phantom 3 4K1230 at 4K
Phantom 3 Advanced1230 at 2.7K
Phantom 3 Pro1230 at 4K
Phantom 412.430 at 4K
Phantom 4 Advanced2060 at 4K
Phantom 4 Pro2060 at 4K

The .4 MP difference between the Phantom 3 series and the Phantom 4 Standard does not sound like a lot but there’s more to the picture than just megapixels. The Phantom 4 provides much clearer video thanks to a new camera design.

Wobbly Horizons

Now the Phantom range doesn’t just have a more powerful camera. Some key issues that were prevalent throughout the Phantom 3 range have been corrected. A major problem was wobbly horizons turning up in the footage. This problem is exactly how it sounds: curved and crooked looking horizons. This problem has been solved with the Phantom 4’s camera.

Obstacle Avoidance

A major difference between the Phantom 3 range and the Phantom 4 range is their safety features. The Phantom 3 range lacks any automatic obstacle avoidance systems, while the Phantom 4 range can detect any forward obstructions (up to 50m) and automatically prevent users from smacking into them.

Now the Phantom 4 Pro takes this to even greater levels. It has obstacle dectors on the rear and sides, giving 360 degrees of protection.

Considering how much drones cost, you may want to get a Phantom 4 drone. While they are more expensive then Phantom 3 models, they may save you money in the long run by preventing costly user errors (such as crashing into a tree!).

Satellite Positioning

All drones (except the Phantom 3 Standard) come with both GPS and GLONASS positioning. This allows them to connect to the maximum amount of satellites (both American and Russian) and determine their location with the highest level of accuracy.

Visual Positioning

Another feature that the Phantom 3 Standard lacks, but is present on all the other models, is a vision positioning system. This uses ultrasonic and infrared sensor to accurately determine a drone’s position when low to the ground, allowing it to hover in place with much greater accuracy than GPS alone. Horizontal and vertical displacement is significantly reduced.

Phantom 3 StandardAll Other Phantom 3 And 4 Models
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)

Controller Design

Not a lot of difference here. The only real one is the signal range that we have already discussed. When it comes to actually mashing on the keys, then every controller is pretty much the same for both the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 range. However, the Phantom 3 uses an older (out-dated!) controller that lacks the same array of dedicated and customisable buttons. Whats even worse is that the controller’s mount is too small to hold a tablet.


Each drone has a variety of intelligent flight modes available, which can be operated with the DJI app. These include:

  • Follow me: Instructs drone to follow operator.
  • Waypoints: Allows users to set waypoints so that the drone’s flight is automated.
  • Course Lock: Causes controls to operate relative to the drone’s flight direction
  • Point of Interest: Can be used to select a person, object, structure, or landscape feature. The drone will then continuously circle around
  • Beginner mode: Limits flight speed and distance.

The Phantom 4 range has some new modes that are not included with the Phantom 3 range. These are:

  • Tapfly: This mode is self-explanatory. Just tap a point using the DJI app, and the drone will fly to it. The Phantom 4 Pro also includes a backward tapfly mode as it has rear sensors.
  • Active track: This mode is handy for photographers. The drone will actively follow subjects and keep them in the center of its camera frame.


These are the approximate prices for new standalone drones. Have a look at Amazon to get the latest prices. You will also find that second-hand and refurbished models will be noticeably cheaper.

ModelApproximate PriceCheck Current Price
Phantom 3 Standard$500
Phantom 3 4K$600
Phantom 3 Advanced$700
Phantom 3 Pro$800
Phantom 4$850
Phantom 4 Advanced$1150
Phantom 4 Pro$1,400

Which One Should I Buy?

If you can afford it then at least get the Phantom 4 (regular). It’s not significantly more expensive than the Phantom 3 range. However, it does have obstacle avoidance systems which may end up saving you money from a crash. It also has a powerful camera, equivalent to that of the Phantom 3 Pro.

Now if price isn’t an issue get the Phantom 4 Advanced or Phantom 4 Pro. The key difference between the two is that the Phantom 4 Pro has 360 degrees of obstacle avoidance, otherwise pretty much everything else is the same.

If you consider yourself a professional or semi-professional photographer (or are just a hardcore amateur) then you will also want to consider the Phantom 4 Advanced or Pro. The camera is just so much better with 20 megapixels and the ability to record 4K video at 60fps. Don’t forget about its active track mode as well.

If you’re really on a tight budget, then you may want to consider the Phantom 3 4K or the Phantom 3 Advanced. We don’t see much point getting a Phantom 3 Pro considering the Phantom 4 is similarly priced and better overall. We also don’t recommend getting the Phantom 3. DJI has discontinued its production, and while you can still pick up new and second-hand models on Amazon, we just feel that its technology is too dated.