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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).


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?



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.


  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.


  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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