DJI’s Phantom series of read-to-fly quadcopters have been instrumental in bringing drones into mainstream consciousness. Particularly the Phantom 2 Vision+, which made silky-smooth aerial video possible for have-a-go pilots right out of the box (most other methods involve a fair amount of assembly). Today, the Phantom family grows again with two new members: the Phantom 3 Professional and the Phantom 3 Advanced. So what’s new? And, more importantly, which one do you want?
Historically, DJI sells a base model Phantom without a camera, and you could pay a bit more for a Phantom “Vision” to get one built-in. At launch, the Phantom 3 comes with a camera and gimbal (stabilizer) built-in by default. The “Vision” branding has been replaced by “Professional” and “Advanced” to identify which camera you’ll be getting: 4K(30fps)/12-megapixel and 1080p(up to 60fps)/12-megapixel respectively.
We asked DJI about a camera-less Phantom 3, and Director of communications, Michael Perry, tolds us “The only thing we’re announcing is the Phantom 3 Professional and the Phantom 3 Advanced. As you can probably tell by the name there’s scope for more.” We’re reading between the lines, but a Phantom 3 without a camera (and thus suitable for a third party cameras/a GoPro) at a later date seems very likely.
The Phantom 3 isn’t just about the camera, the drone’s been updated to include indoor positioning sensors (so if you film inside, it’s less likely to crash) similar to what we saw in the Inspire 1, and GPS has been improved with support for GLONASS also. Newbie pilots will benefit from auto take-off and landing (another feature inherited from the Inspire). But for the most part (at least the looks), it’s the same Phantom that we know and love (with swanky gold stickers!).