The DJI Phantom 3 is currently the best drone on the market, however with the increasing number of Phantom models to choose from, it’s gotten quite hard to figure out which one to buy. That’s why today I’ll be talking about each Phantom 3 model and pointing out all of the most important differences between them. That way, you can make the best buying decision based on what you’re needs are.
DJI PHANTOM 3 STANDARD
The Phantom 3 Standard is the lowest cost model and with a price like $499 it’s great for people on a tight budget. It was originally released a few months after the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced as a more affordable Phantom that didn’t have all the expensive features of the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional.
The first thing you will notice is that it doesn’t shoot 4K video, however it does shoot 2.7K video which is good enough for most people and the FPV (first-person-view) video feed is 720p. It also uses a less expensive Panasonic image sensor instead of the popular Sony Exmor R sensor found in the GoPro Hero 4, but most people wouldn’t notice the difference in image quality.
Another feature that the Phantom Standard lacks is the optical flow vision positioning system. This might not seem like a needed feature (and it isn’t), but it’s one of the only things that makes the Phantom 3 so much better than it’s competitors at holding it’s position and landing.
A much less obvious fact about the Phantom 3 standard is that it uses a much more simple controller design than the other three models. Its actually a borrowed design from the old and iconic Phantom 2. This means that you won’t be getting any dedicated controls for things like changing exposure, video recording, video playback and there’s no custom buttons on the back either. Oh, and if you want to use your iPad there’s no way of easily mounting it to the controller because the older mounting clamp design is too small.
It might seem like there’s a lot missing from the Phantom 3 Standard, but you have to remember that it costs less than half the price of the fully featured Phantom 3 Professional.
DJI PHANTOM 3 4K
To be clear, the Phantom 3 4K is not the best Phantom 3 money can buy. Its actually not even the second best Phantom 3 (in my opinion). It has all of the features of the Phantom 3 Standard, but it also does 4K video recording, comes with the much more advanced (iPad friendly) controller and has vision positioning.
It was released at the beginning of 2016 as the cheapest Phantom capable of shooting 4k. It’s priced at $799 right now which is amazing, but even at the retail price of $999, it’s still the most affordable 4K drone you can buy. With all of the most popular features of the other two more expensive Phantom 3 models at a better price. The Phantom 3 4K seems like the perfect drone, however there are three things it lacks that I’ll talk about in the next section.
DJI PHANTOM 3 ADVANCED
For $799 the Phantom 3 Advanced has all of the features of the Phantom 3 4K except for the 4K? So why should you buy it?
Why would you buy the Phantom 3 Advanced for the same price as the Phantom 3 4K? Because the range, reliability, and video streaming quality of the Phantom 3 Advanced is much better than the Phantom 3 4K (by a lot). The main reason for this is because the Phantom 3 Advanced uses a technology called Lightbridge which is used to get a much more reliable video and control signal.
In good conditions, Lightbridge will allow the Phantom 3 Advanced to travel as far as 5000 meters (3.1 miles) from the pilot. In other words, you can travel over 4.1 times farther than the Phantom 3 4K and 5 times farther than the Phantom 3 Standard!
Another thing that makes the Phantom 3 Advanced more reliable than the other Phantoms is the GPS module which connects to American and Russian satellites at the same time. This basically doubles the amount of satellites you can connect to which will make the GPS signal around 2 times more reliable.
There’s one last thing that makes the Phantom 3 Advanced a better choice. For some reason, the Phantom 3 4K only streams 480p video even though all the other Phantom 3 models (including the Standard) can stream 720p video. Why DJI made the decision to lower the streaming quality of the Phantom 3 4k is still a mystery to me, but if I had to choose between the Phantom 3 Advanced and the Phantom 3 4K, I would go with the Advanced just for the better video feed.
DJI PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL
Like the Phantom 3 Advanced, the Phantom 3 Professional uses Lightbridge, has the better GPS, the higher quality 720p video feed, but it also shoots in 4K. The only other difference is that it comes with a larger 100W charger which charges in less than an hour, compared to one hour and twenty minutes with the other models.
The Phantom 3 Professional is currently $999 which is a new sale price and it’s an all out, no compromise drone. It’s what the Phantom 3 is known for and it’s arguably the best drone you can buy. I currently own the DJI inspire 1, DJI F450 and the DJI Phantom 3, but I choose to fly the Phantom 3 eighty percent of the time because its small, easy to carry (especially with the Phantom 3 backpack), reliable, easy to repair by myself and it’s a blast to fly!
None of the Phantom 3 models are a bad choice, but some might be better for your needs than others, so you should think about how you’ll be using the Phantom 3 before purchasing one.
To see a more technical Phantom 3 comparison, click here.
If you didn’t already know, all of the Phantom 3 models have GPS position hold, follow me, point of Interest, waypoints, course lock, home lock, return to home, real-time battery monitoring with flight time estimation, stabilized video and photos, manual camera exposure controls and more.