Phantom 3 vs. Phantom 4

After carefully comparing Phantom 3 vs. Phantom 4, our winner is the Phantom 4.

However, the main difference between the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 is the battery life. The Phantom 4’s battery has about 20% longer life than the Phantom 3’s.

That translates to 28 minutes of flight time for the Phantom 4, as opposed to 23 minutes for its counterpart.

Also, Phantom 4 is quieter and faster and has obstacle-avoidance capabilities.

Phantom 3 vs. Phantom 4: Key Features Comparison

Below are the major metrics of the two DJI Phantom models.

Feature
DJI Phantom 3
DJI Phantom 4
Flight range
6/10
7/10
Battery Life
6/10
7/10
Camera Quality
5/10
6/10
Speed and maneuverability
5/10
7/10
Obstacle avoidance
0/10
5/10
Ease of use
6/10
Value for Money
6/10
7/10

Phantom 4 is an upgrade of  Phantom 3 Professional, and both are great DJI products.

However, Phantom 4 does better in all aspects because it’s a product of various improvements made on the Phantom 3 Pro.

Although both give value for their price, Phantom 4 is a drone for all expertise due to its enhanced ease of use resulting from the obstacle avoidance feature.

You’ll have to pay more to enjoy the capabilities, as the drone is more expensive than Phantom 3.

Read on.

Phantom 3 vs. Phantom 4: Features Drill Down

DJI Phantom 3 and 4 differ in various aspects. Below is an in-depth comparison of the metrics: flight range, battery life, camera quality, obstacle avoidance, speed and maneuverability, ease of use, value for money, and more.

Keep reading.

Flight Range

Local regulations and environmental conditions determine a drone’s maximum signal transmission distance or flight range. 

Phantom 3 Pro has a flight range of 3.1 miles (5km). You can optimize for a longer range to a maximum of 16km by removing the camera and Gimbal. Such a case may apply to delivery services.

Hence, the professional Phantom 3 suits commercial aerial photographers seeking high-quality UHD 4K video features. 

The advanced version of Phantom 3 has an equal range to the professional version. Phantom 3 S.E. and Phantom 3 Standard ranges are 0.75 miles (1.2k) and 0.62 miles (1km), respectively.

The Phantom 4 Standard has an equal flight range of 3.1 miles (6.92 km) to its predecessor, Phantom 3 Pro. However, the Advanced and Professional model’s flight range is 4.3 miles (6.92km). 

The model is ideal for experienced drone users looking for wide coverage and shooting top-notch photos and videos. 

Winner: Phantom 4

Battery Life

The environmental conditions and flight modes influence the longevity of your drone battery. 

DJI has made a considerable improvement in the Phantom 4 battery life performance.

The Phantom 4’s 5350 mAh LiPo battery has a flight time of 28 minutes, while the Phantom 3 Pro’s 4480 mAh battery offers a flight time of  23 minutes.

Thus, the former has an extended battery life of 5 minutes, allowing you to enjoy your flights longer.

Phantom 4 Advanced and Professional have a longer battery life of 30 minutes. Additionally, Phantom 4 charges relatively faster with hot-swappable batteries.

Winner: Phantom 4

Camera Quality

The Phantom 4 camera has a massively improved video quality. It has a video resolution of 4K UHD video at 30fps (frames per second) and a maximum image size of 12MP (4000 x 3000p).

Phantom 4 supports two image formats, JPEG and D.N.G. (R.A.W.), with a maximum video bit rate of 60 Mbps. 

The Advanced and Professional Phantom 4 has more photo formats, including JPEG, D.N.G. (R.A.W.), JPEG + D.N.G., and video resolutions of 4K at 60fps and a maximum image resolution of 20MP

Additionally, Phantom 4 has an improved focus and field of view, fitted with a new lens configuration.

The onboard 4K camera image processing allows richer and deeper colors, reducing image distortion and improving UHD video image rate. The extra lens increases the video’s sharpness.

The professional Phantom 3, the predecessor to the Phantom 4, has a maximum video resolution of 4K up to 30 fps. Its advanced model is lower, with 2.7K at 30 fps footage.

All Phantom 3 series models have similar maximum image sizes and shoot 12MP photos. However, they provide different maximum video resolutions, frames, and bit rates.

The drone supports JPEG and D.N.G. (R.A.W.) photo formats like the standard Phantom 4.

Winner: Phantom 4

Speed and Maneuverability

The DJI Phantom 4 flies impressively faster than the Phantom 3. Its maximum speed is 20m/s (72k/h), while the ascent and descent speeds are 6m/s and 4m/s, respectively.

The drone’s maximum wind speed is 10m/s.

It has enhanced maneuverability in S-mode due to adjusting its handling gain values. 

Phantom 3, on the other hand, flies at a maximum speed of 16m/s, an ascent speed of 5m/s, and a descent speed of 3m/s. Its maximum wind speed is 4m/s.

Although Phantom 3 Pro’s wind speed can stretch to 10m/s, it may compromise video quality and control.

Phantom 3 Pro has a powerful controller that allows you to control and maneuver your gadget beyond 16,000 feet (5km)

Hence, Phantom 4 shoots better action-involving shots, maintaining more stable and maneuverable flights with extra weight ratio and power. 

Phantom 3 is incredibly maneuverable but loses to Phantom 4 due to the speed factor.

Winner: Phantom 4

Obstacle Avoidance

Phantom 3 lacks an automatic obstacle avoidance system. Phantom 4 has a forward obstacle-detector of up to 50 meters range. 

The feature automatically prevents your drone from crashing against objects during frights. Also, it aids the use of various automated features.

Hence, Phantom 4 is more user-friendly than Phantom 3 for starter pilots. It has fewer accident risks that beginners are exposed to.

However, the obstacle avoidance feature doesn’t work:

  • If an object flies into the drone when hovering.
  • On small, non-solid, and fast objects.

  • When flying too fast.

  • In sport mode.

One drawback of the collision avoidance feature is that it slows down the drone and limits its closeness to certain things. Also, it hardens launching and landing from your hands.

Winner: Phantom 4

Ease of Use

Both drones are easy to use, but Phantom 4 is more user-friendly due to its obstacle-avoidance capabilities. 

The drone’s app is easy to install on a tablet or smartphone. You can link the drone, controller, and smart device with a USB cable.

Phantom 3’s Rotors are easy to install. The controller easily connects to a smart device and drone, and the app runs through initial calibration.

Winner: Phantom 4

Value for Money

Despite the differences between Phantom 3 and 4 capabilities, both drones offer value for money. 

Since Phantom 4 is an upgrade of Phantom 3 Pro, it wins in all major metrics. They include a more extended flight range and battery life, better camera quality, higher speed, and obstacle avoidance feature.

Hence, Phantom 4 is a drone for all pilots, commercial or creational, experts, or newbies.

Phantom 3 Pro offers a more advanced flying experience and excellent video quality than its predecessors. It’s relatively easy for professionals to use but lacks collision avoidance capabilities.

Winner: Phantom 4

Phantom 3 vs Phantom 4: Additional Features

Design

There are slight changes to the Phantom 4 on Phantom 3. The upgraded model, Phantom 4, doesn’t have the stripes on its sides like its Phantom counterpart.

Phantom 4 has a significantly improved finish with refined grey plastic underneath to cover several elements exposed on the Phantom 3.

The former model has a branded front, giving a more professional look. Its enhanced finish allows for customization, where professionals can add their logo or customize the drone for advertising.

Generally, Phantom 4’s design is aesthetically pleasing and substantially improved compared to Phantom 3 Pro.

Subject Tracking

Phantom 4 delivers better subject tracking service and active tracking. The DJI GO app comes with the newest version of active track.

The track involves turning on the moving P.O.I. and highlighting the subject circularly to mark where you’ll follow and track. Wearing a band or creating a beacon isn’t necessary, but it’s brilliant.  

The Phantom 4’s camera has algorithms that learn the object’s appearance and follow it without using a controller. This feature is great for beginners but won’t provide cinema-grade dynamic shots from a computer.

However, if you’re a professional pilot who can fly a drone smoothly and dynamically, you can get fantastic cinematography shots from Phantom 4.

Wobbly Horizons

Besides the Phantom 4’s more powerful camera than its counterpart, it has solutions to some common issues in Phantom 3 Pro. 

Horizon turn-up (curved and crooked) is one of the major problems in Phantom 3’s footage. You won’t experience this challenge with the Phantom 4.

Satellite Positioning

Phantom 4 and its predecessor, Phantom 3 Pro, have a G.P.S. and GLONASS positioning. Thus, they connect to the maximum amount of satellites and determine their location with the highest accuracy level.

All Phantom 3 and 4 models have this feature except Phantom 3 Standard.

Reliability and Redundancy

Phantom 3 Pro ranks among the best and most reliable drones on the market, as it has a gyro, an accelerometer, and a compass. 

Its upgrade, Phantom 4, has a gyro, two accelerometers, and a dual compass to boost the drone’s overall stability. 

The sensors also help the drone to understand its flight path and stick to it.

Visual Positioning

Both Phantoms have a visual positioning system. 

The system accurately determines a drone’s position using ultrasonic and infrared sensors when low to the ground.

Thus, a drone can hover in one place more accurately than G.P.S. alone, significantly reducing vertical and horizontal displacement. 

Again, only the Phantom 3 Standard lacks this feature among the Phantom 3 and 4 models.

Controller Design

The controller designs of the two drones are pretty similar. The only difference is the signal transmission range (discussed earlier). 

The actual mashing of the keys is similar for both Phantoms. However, Phantom 3 uses an outdated controller that doesn’t have a collection of dedicated and customizable buttons like the Phantom 4.

Also, Phantom 3’s controller’s mount is too tiny to hold a tablet.

Flight Modes

Phantoms 4 and 3 Pro have various intelligent flight modes that are compatible with the DJI app. They include the following: 

  • Course Lock: Ensures that controls operate relative to the flight direction.

  • Waypoints: Allows you to set navigation points for an automated flight.

  • Point of Interest: Select the object on focus and continuously circle it.

  • Beginner mode: Restricts flight distance and speed.

  • Follow me: Controls the drone to follow you.

Also, there are new modes in Phantom 4 but not in Phantom 3, including the following:

  • Tapfly: Allows you to ‘tap’ a point using the app, and the drone flies there. The drone has a backward tapfly mode (rear sensors).

  • Active Track: Causes the drone to follow the subject actively and keep it at the camera frame’s center.

Conclusion

The Phantom 4 is the better option in the Phantom 3 vs. Phantom 4 comparison. As an upgrade to the Phantom 3, the Phantom 4 drone has a higher edge in flight range, camera quality, battery life, obstacle avoidance, and speed. 

Both are easy to use and offer value for money, but Phantom 4 still stands ‘taller.’ They’re good choices for their price category, as they can conduct surveying and take still images.

Hence, if you want a drone to capture videos and great flight performances without breaking the bank, go for the Phantom 3.

If you want excellent results and money isn’t an issue, Phantom 4 suits you perfectly well!

FAQs

Yes, the Phantom 3 is a good drone. Phantom 3 Standard is the best you can have for its price.

It provides reliability, stability, safety features, and some flight modes similar to those of its more expensive phantom models.

Phantom 4 is used for capturing stunning aerial videography and photography by professional content creators.

Its camera 1” CMO sensor captures 20MP photos and 4K/60fps videos and can stay airborne for 30 minutes maximum.

The Phantom 3 Pro can shoot 4K videos at up to 30 frames per second and capture 12-megapixel photos with a cleaner and crisper look than its predecessors. Its enhanced sensor produces greater clarity, better images, and lower noise.

Yes. You can use the Phantom 3 remote controller with Phantom 4. However, there will be visual differences.

The Phantom 3’s playback button is the pause button on the Phantom 4. Also, the formers’ P.A.F switch is the sports Mode on the Phantom 4 remote controller.

No. You can’t use Phantom 4 batteries on Phantom 4. The two aircraft use different batteries.  Hence, you must use each type with the exact drone model.

Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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