On Wednesday, DJI unveiled the latest in consumer drone technology, the Phantom 3. Upon seeing the first official photos of the Phantom 3, both newbies and veterans alike observed that it looks very similar to DJI’s last iteration of the Phantom, the Vision 2 + (or for the newbies, that drone that you see people getting in trouble with on the news).
So what is the big deal with another Phantom coming to market?
I am so glad you asked!
1. The DJI Phantom 3 is the company’s most user-friendly drone to date
Engineering the perfect drone is far from an exact science. But DJI has taken all the lessons it has learned since the first Phantom launched in early 2013 and addressed some of the issues that were points of frustration for their customers or may have been turn offs for people looking to get into drones.
GPS connection and calibration has always been one of the most common (and frustrating) issues among Phantom pilots.
The Phantom 3 tackles this problem head on with DJI’s most advanced flight control center to date. It uses GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite system) to connect to satellites faster, control more precisely, and hover steadier than ever before.
This new level of location detection lets users track their Phantom in real time on a live map in the all new DJI Pilot app.
In addition to all-new GPS data, the Main Controller also collects data from the Phantom 3’s motors, sensors (more on that in a moment), and user inputs to offer a new level of precision movement and position hold.
And that’s just on the software side. Hardware-wise, the Phantom 3 has three ultrasonic and visual sensors on the bottom of its body that recognize patterns on the ground beneath the Phantom. This allows more stable flights close to the ground as well as more accurate position hold when flying indoors (without a GPS connection).
2. The camera
The old saying “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” applies to everything from celebrity reality TV shows to Dan Brown books, to drone puns, but it most certainly does not apply to drone videos. People all over the world are creating amazing new footage and, by extension, new ways to experience our world, every day with their drones. The Phantom 3 is about to take the way people capture that footage and the way they share it… (*sigh*) to new heights.
The 4K resolution of the media captured by the Professional Edition of the Phantom 3 is not exactly new, but it is still breathtaking. And the new 3 axis gimbal that the camera comes mounted on literally adds another dimension to the Phantom 3’s camera.
But it’s not just the images themselves that make the Phantom 3’s camera special. DJI’s new Pilot app gives users an all new way to control, manipulate, and share the footage captured by their drone.
On top of new video editing tools built right into the app that can automatically create a highlight reel of your best footage, the app also supports YouTube Livestreaming so users can create livestreams of their flights in real time.
Basically it’s Twitch for drone flying and I can really see it becoming extremely popular.
Once the FAA sorts out flying regulations it’s only a matter of time until you will be able to tune in to aerial live streams of New Years Eve in Times Square or the Kentucky Derby.
During DJI’s announcement on Wednesday, attendees were thrown around to Phantom 3 livestreams from all over the world and, if I am being completely honest, the livestream from Singapore in which the Phantom started close up on a DJI rep and then flew out the 30-somethingeth floor of a hotel to give us a beautiful panoramic shot of Singapore at night was my “Holy Shit” moment.
It doesn’t quite translate, but you can get a sense of what it was like right here:
Personally, the new integration of camera and app is what has me most excited for the Phantom 3
Up until yesterday, DJI’s high end Phantom, the Vision 2+ was priced at $1,169. The only 4K drone they make, the Inspire 1, started at $2,899. So it was reasonable to predict the price of the Phantom 3 would split the difference and be priced around $2,000.
Seriously, he could have dropped the mic at that point and walked off stage. Event over.
For the Phantom 3 to launch at roughly the same price as its predecessor did was very unexpected.
For current Phantom owners, this means they can upgrade to the latest and greatest for about the same cost as their last drone. For new customers, it means the cost of entry has been established at about the $1,000 mark.
DJI CEO Frank Wang has always said he wanted DJI to be the Apple of the UAV world and with a pricing structure like this, he is quite literally putting his money where his mouth is.
The sky’s no limit
The Phantom 3’s integration of DJI’s Lightbridge image transmission technology, new motor ESCs, new charging system, and new controller (which now more closely resembles the Inspire 1’s controller) are all features that will undoubtedly make it great. But we will have to wait until we actually get a Phantom 3 in our hands when it launches early next month.
You can preorder your very own Phantom 3 using the links below.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com