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Is it worth upgrading to Phantom 3?

The Phantom 3 comes in two models: Advanced and Professional.

The Phantom 3 comes in two models: Advanced ($999 or £899) and Professional ($1259 or £1159).

I’ve only had my Phantom 2 Vision+ for about six months. I don’t really need anything better and financially an upgrade is out of the question for me. However, out of curiosity I wanted to know what all the fuss is about – is it worth the upgrade for those who can afford it, and if you’re new looking for your first quadcopter should you go for the flagship Phantom 3 or a cheaper, older version?

The specs

Check out the Phantom 3 specs on the DJI website versus the specs of the previous flagship model Phantom 2 V+.

The two models, battery and propellers included, weigh in at about the same level, just shy of 1.3 kilo. Speed is also largely unchanged, with notably a slightly slower ascend but faster descend for the Phantom 3 (ascent: 6m/s for P2V+ vs 5m/s for P3, and descent: 2m/s vs 3m/s for the P3). The slow descend speed is something that has sometimes bothered me with the P2V+, which on the other hand can take of incredibly fast. The difference should be less noticed with the Phantom 3.

The remote controller and included range extender of the Vision+ officially goes as far as 5-700 meters. The Phantom 3 has a proclaimed range of 2000 meters! Unobstructed and under good conditions, of course.

Flight time? Officially 25 minutes for the Vision+ and 23 minutes for the Phantom 3. Nothing major there, though note that the Vision+ battery is not compatible with the Phantom 3.

dji_phantom_3_6The camera

This is where the Phantom 3 stands out. The Phantom 2 Vision+ shoots decent quality photos at 14 megapixel and records in HD 1080p30 & 720p. This is similar to GoPro cameras – a slight difference perhaps and people will argue over whether a high-end GoPro is better than the built-in camera of the V+ or not. I’ve watched loads of Youtube videos comparing the two and it seems to be a matter of what time of day you’re filming, but no real difference.

Check out my own evening video filmed with the Vision+, recorded just after the sun’s gone down but before it’s pitch black (at night, both cameras suck):

The Phantom 3 hosts a Sony EXMOR 1/2.3”, total 12.76 megapixels. There are several photo modes where the Vision+ only has one (single shot):

  • Single Shot
  • Burst Shooting: 3/5/7 shots
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5
  • Bracketed Frames at 0.7EV Bias
  • Time-lapse

This is very interesting to me! Where it get’s even more interesting, though, is in regards to video. The Phantom 3 comes in two models: Advanced and Professional. They both offer HD video recording at 1280x720p 24/25/30/48/50/60, and Fine High-Definition (FHD) at 1920x1080p 24/25/30/48/50/60. The Professional even goes as far as 4K UHD: 4096x2160p 24/25, 3840x2160p 24/25/30.

The Vision+ only offers HD: 1080p30 & 720p.

Neither of the two Phantom 3 models or the Phantom 2 Vision+ have the option to remove the camera and replace it by your own GoPro or similar – the camera is fixed. Both offer a 3-axis gimbal of similar type. Both can angle the camera straight forward, straight down and anywhere in between.

Phantom-3-RemoteThe app

Another plus for the Phantom 3 is the fact that the remote controller has a holder for tablets. The controller of the V+ can hold phones, but is not nearly large enough for tablets. It would be great to view the live video stream and the app in general on a large screen while flying.

The app of the Phantom 3 – DJI Pilot – has been improved compared to the Vision app. It’s the app already used for the Inspire 1. Most interesting to me is that fact that there’s a “Directors” mode which automatically let’s you create videos of several clips – very handy and something the Vision app does not offer.

Both offer Ground Station, the feature where you can set waypoints on a map. But the Phantom 3 has two other amazing features I would love to have:

  • “Follow” mode – The Phantom 3 can automatically follow you around.
  • Point of Interest – The Phantom 3 can focus on a set point no matter what direction you’re flying in.

Vision positioning

A final feature I love about the Phantom 3 is called Vision Positioning and it allows the quadcopter to realize its position in GPS free areas. It also works for indoor flight, but I’m not sure I would want to let a Phantom lose in my house.

The price

So here are the million dollar questions – or rather, thousand dollar questions: how much are the different models and is it worth an upgrade?

The Vision+ is listed at £1099 (£799) on the DJI website – it’s gone down since I bought mine at around £900 six months ago.

The Phantom 3 Advanced is listed at $999 (£899) and the Professional at $1259 (£1159).

DJI-Phantom-3-Pricing

Conclusion – Should you upgrade?

To me, especially the Advanced would be a great deal – if I were to buy my first model! Were I to buy my first quadcopter today I would go with the Advanced over the Vision+, but I would pass on the Professional. I’m more interested in the app features of both Phantom 3 models than the increased video quality between the Advanced and the Professional. The higher price tag of the Professional would simply not be worth it to me.

However, would I upgrade today? No. I’m quite happy with my Vision+ which is still a great piece of equipment. Flight wise and even in regards to looks there’s not that big a difference. The difference in weight, speed and flight time is minimal. I like the improved app and the features such as “follow”, “point of interest” and the vision positioning, but it’s not worth buying a brand now quadcopter even if I resell my Vision+ at a decent price.

What are your thoughts on the Phantom 3?

DJIp3hero

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5 replies »

  1. The coolest thing. Very easy to fly. But sometimes the controler looses contact with the drone, I think. From a stable hoover, it just starts falling, out of control. It won’t respond to control inputs. We’ve allways recovered in time. But the last two times have been very near misses.

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  2. I’ve heard the Phantom 3 is much more powerful and good at flying steady, even in wind gusts. Probably not worth upgrading to unless you’re big into photography.

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  3. I would only make the upgrade if you have a business involving photography. I have the same problem but I also have the vision 2 with a gopro attached along with a vision 2 + I also have 5 batteries that are worth a pretty penny and you can buy them cheap for the Visions. I have the iosd attached to the gopro. Not worth the upgrade if your happy with thy our old one.

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