Day 3 of the Phantom 4 review has arrived and it’s time to get things off the ground.
Today, we’re going to find out how long it takes to charge the Phantom 4 and what the real world flight time is, but first, here’s some history on the Phantom models that we will be testing. The Phantom 3 was ordered in late 2015 and has had very light use over that period of time. The battery we used for the test had less than 10 discharges on it, so this should be a fair comparison. For the first test, we discharged both batteries, charged them up, and flew with them at the same time to get the most accurate results.
For the charging test, I first took the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 outside and ran the batteries down to 9% power. After that, I plugged both batteries in at the same time and shot a video to keep track of the time. At the 7 minute mark, the Phantom 4 battery started showing two bars of life, putting it in the lead by about 1 minute. At 20 minutes, the Phantom 3 had caught up showing 3 bars first and was in the lead by 1 minute.
At 59 minutes and 30 seconds the Phantom 3 battery won the race, turning off more than 4 minutes before the Phantom 4 battery. Based on how this test went, it seems that the Phantom 4 charges faster at first, but then slows down and takes longer to get up to the end voltage. I’m not really sure what to think of these results. My guess is that the bigger battery takes longer to charge since both of the battery chargers put out the same amount of power.
After charging both the Phantom 4 and Phantom 3 batteries at the same time, we waited about 3 hours before flying. Once we got to the park to do the test, it was about 5:30 PM, the wind speed was less than 5mph and the temperature was around 86º F. We did a compass calibration for each Phantom and then lifted off the ground. The battery started at 96% power for both of the Phantoms and we ran them down until the critical battery voltage warning came on at 10% power. The result was 19 minutes 40 seconds for the Phantom 3 and 20 minutes 50 seconds for the Phantom 4
After looking at the results we decided to do the test again. For the last test, the Phantom 4 was in Sport Mode and we recorded video in 4K on both models for the entire flight. In the next test, we put the Phantom 4 in Positioning Mode (enabling the obstacle avoidance) and didn’t record video on either of the models. This time both batteries started out at 98% power and just like before, we landed after the critical voltage warning. The results were very similar to the last test. The flight time was 21 minutes 10 seconds for the Phantom 4 and 20 minutes 6 seconds for the Phantom 3.
From the tests that we have done so far, it looks like the Phantom 4 has a max flight time of 22 minutes and an average flight time of 20 minutes. Right now, it’s consistently getting about 1 minute more flight time than the Phantom 3, but we will keep testing to see if that changes in the future. It might be disappointing learning that the Phantom 4 doesn’t get the flight time we all hoped for, but I don’t think people realize how long 20 minutes really is. After doing the test twice and watching both of the Phantoms hover in one spot for a total of 40 minutes, that’s when I realized, it was like watching grass grow.
I’m actually happy with the flight time from both of the drones, but I would be even happier if drone companies (DJI included) would be more honest about flight time. We didn’t just get the Phantom 4 to watch it hover for 30 minutes though, so keep coming back to see how the real features of the Phantom 4 perform, like Tap Fly and Active Track, or even Sport Mode.