Hey – it’s a busy world.
You might not have time to take in all 2870 words of our comprehensive “first impressions” review of the newly released Phantom 4 Pro (and P4P+). We get that. So let’s get straight to the point.
Main Difference In Phantom 4 Pro
The new P4P is a significant step up from its older sibling, the Phantom 4 (which was released in spring of 2016). The main difference is that this version has a major leap in camera quality. It utilizes a 1″ Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor. That translates into higher resolution (20 megapixels), better colors, and better video. The video can also be compressed using the newer H.265 codec – which allows you to store more high-quality video on the same amount of memory.
The camera has a manual aperture control (F2.8 – F11). In combination with shutter and ISO controls, you’ll have a greater degree of manual control than with the P4. Plus, it’s got a new lens that DJI itself manufactures.
There are actually TWO new models. The one with the “+” designation comes with an integrated, phablet-sized Android screen that has the DJI GO app bundled in. The 5.5″, 1080p screen is super bright (1,000 nits), so you can easily see what your camera is doing or app controls on a bright sunny day without requiring an umbrella or some sort of hood device. The “standard” Phantom 4 Pro requires you to use your own phone or tablet device with the DJI GO app, just like previous remotes.
But unlike previous remotes – these units have some very special features.
Each includes a micro-sd card reader and can handle the H.265 codec (something your home computer likely cannot do). They also feature a mini-HDMI port, allowing you to connect a cable and, if you happen to have a satellite truck or television studio nearby, stream low-latency 1080p television images to a network. Yes, it’s not just social media anymore – this machine could stream a live HD signal suitable for broadcast (something The Digital Circuit is sure we’ll see before long).
The motors haven’t changed, but the battery has. It’s more efficient, providing up to 30 minutes of flight time. And while you’re up there flying, you’ll be less likely to collide with anything. That’s because the new machine has stereo optical avoidance sensors on the front and rear. What’s more, its downward-facing sensors (two optical, two sonar), help your P4P land precisely where it took off from, and can even help you avoid landing on uneven ground and water. (We lament the potential loss of YouTube videos of people unintentionally landing in lakes and ponds, but applaud the technology.)
The obstacle avoidance also detects potential trouble from farther away (up to 30 meters). What’s more, infrared sensors on the sides of the aircraft can sense obstacles up to 7 meters away. Providing you’re not flying in Sport Mode (up to 72 kph, or 45 mph), you effectively have a safety “bubble” surrounding your drone. (The Digital Circuit was particularly impressed when we flew the P4P+ inside a white cyclorama studio. With three white walls and a white floor, we thought it might get mixed up. Uh-uh. It knew at all times how far away those walls were.)
In flight, the P4P handles like you’ve come to expect a Phantom to behave: Solid. Once again, engineers have built in plenty of redundancy for safety: The P4P comes with dual GPS, IMU and compass units.
What’s more, you can actually choose which frequencies to operate on. A toggle within the DJI GO app will let you choose 2.4 or 5.8 Ghz wireless transmission. This is a real bonus if you’re in an area where the 2.4 frequency is jammed with other interfering signals. (The 5.8 Ghz feature is not available in Japan or Russia.)
And range? Well, no complaints there. You can stream up to 1080p from up to seven kilometers away. That’s well beyond visual line of sight, and would require special permission in most places – but it’s nice to know these machines are that capable.
Finally, the P4P is packed with brains. It has multiple intelligent Flight modes, can track and orbit people or vehicles, follow a subject in parallel with camera locked – and even track someone climbing up terrain while maintaining a constant altitude above the shifting ground. Believe it or not, you can even experience a bit of augmented reality by simply “drawing” with your finger on your tablet. Got a whimsy to fly a question mark in the sky? The symbol for infinity? Trace it with your fingertip – and the P4P (and P4P+) will make it so.
For more details, read our full review.
If you’re inclined to get in line for the P4P+ now, using this link will support our work and won’t cost you a thing.