With so many drone models now available (many of which can be explored at DRONELIFE’s Buy-A-Drone section), enough models have now been introduced that offer similar features. The two most popular beginner models (the ones that pop into most people’s mind when they hear the words “consumer drone”) are the Parrot AR 2.0 and the Phantom FC-40 by DJI. They compare pretty favorably across product lines, but which one is right for you?
Let’s see if we can help…
DJI Phantom vs AR Drone 2.0
1. Ease of use: Both models are designed with the newbie UAV pilot in mind. Having said that, the Parrot edges out the Phantom slightly with its ease of use. It includes a free mobile app that allows the user to send the Parrot skyward using a smartphone or tablet. For beginners who want to practice before outdoor launch, the Parrot AR 2.0 handles very well indoors.
The Phantom is not necessarily more difficult for the beginner to operate. There are definitely more contingency protocols for when you get yourself into a bind. For example, its Naza-M V2 GPS multi-rotor autopilot system will return the UAV to its starting position if it loses communication with the controller. Both the Parrot and the Phantom feature position hold; so if you let go of the controller, the drones will just hover in space wherever you left them. That being said, the Parrot is much more susceptible to getting blown away on a windy day.
2. Price: While both are in the “under $500” range, the Parrot flies in at $299 and includes the drone, a battery, a battery charger and a propellor guard. You supply the controller in the form of a smartphone or tablet. However, one could argue that the Phantom’s $499 price tag is well worth the investment, given it offers the Naza-M V2 flight controller, which “boasts intelligent orientation control (IOC) which means you can lock in the direction the Phantom perceives as forward” and can be reconfigured to work with other DJI models as well as other drones on the market. Another handy bell and/or whistle are the Phantom’s high-intensity LED lights which guide the pilot’s sense of orientation during flight.
3. Video and Photography: Both drones capture pictures and video in 720p HD and can live-stream video right to your smartphone for FPV flying. The major difference between the two is the Parrot’s camera can not be controlled independent of the drone itself whereas the Phantom’s camera can. While this sounds like a clear win for the Phantom, it really requires a lot of practice to properly manage two sets of controls (for the camera and the drone itself) at the same time.
The point-and-shoot nature of the Parrot may not be as technically impressive, but it is one of the reasons the AR 2.0 has a much lower barrier of entry.
Additionally, the Parrot saves your pictures and videos right to your smartphone or tablet and can be shared to your social media networks or uploaded to YouTube in-app. The Phantom saves your footage to an onboard micro-SD card. You then have to either transfer the video to your phone via WiFi or plug the SD card directly into your computer. This extra step shouldn’t be a deal breaker by any means, but it is a surprising oversight by DJI.
4. Range: Not even close – the Phantom wins easily with a range of 1 kilometer vs. the Parrot’s 50 meters.
5. Battery Life: Again, the Phantom beats the Parrot with a slight battery-life edge: 15 minutes vs. 12. It’s not a huge factor since both UAVs will automatically land if the battery charge drops too low.
6. The “Cool” Factor: Each model boasts features that will make the other kids on the block jealous. The Phantom is faster (speeds up to 10 m/s horizontal and 6 m/s vertical) and is a much more imposing piece of hardware. But it takes some time to set up and get used to and, if it gets away from you, it could do some serious damage.
On the other hand, the Parrot’s touchscreen and/or gyroscopic controls on your phone really make you look like a tech-wiz. Its shallow learning curve makes it really easy for anyone to become a sufficient pilot in a matter of minutes and crashes aren’t quite as nerve-wracking. The Parrot is also equipped with a propeller guard that is easily installed for added safety during indoor flights.
Both DJI and Parrot are looking to fly over new territory as well. Parrot has developed the new Bebop drone (releasing in Q4 2014) which boast a new 1080p HD camera and optional controller for extending the drones range beyond that of a smartphone’s WiFi signal. The Bebop is also more muscular in memory, featuring a Parrot P7 dual-core CPU, quad-core GPU and 8 GB of flash memory. And for the DIY crowd, the Bebop operates on Linux.
DJI is also looking at releasing new Phantom models in the near future. The company recently announced a price drop on the Phantom 2 series – believed by industry experts to portend a new model release.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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