Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best phantom drones

No matter how you use your drone, reliability and great performance are essential for maximizing your enjoyment. Every Phantom drone is a well-built machine, whether it’s the versatile Phantom 4 Advanced or the more affordable Phantom 3 Standard. DJI drones are quality machines for experts and beginners, and their Phantom series includes their most advanced consumer-level models.

Today’s drones have a variety of features, designs, and price tags. Some common features include obstacle sensing, gimbal cameras, return home function, low battery warnings, and HD video recording. Phantom drones simplify your shopping decision by including all of these.

The latest drones come with some incredible features, but some may be missing features you might expect to be standard. It’s no fun to open up your drone thinking you have everything needed to fly when that’s not the case. Phantom drones are ready-to-fly and loaded with features.

Keep reading for our full guide on Phantom drones, or scroll to the top of the page for our top picks.

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Before flying in a new place for the first time, you should always calibrate your drone’s compass, and make sure you have a strong GPS signal.

What you’ll get in a phantom drone

Even Phantom’s entry-level drones are on the pricier side (like the Phantom 3 Standard at $499), but when you fly one of these, you’ll know why.

Many drones have flight times as short as eight minutes, but Phantoms can stay in the air for as long as thirty. The return to home function, while not something to rely on, is a great layer of added security.

If you plan to take your drone over water, a dead battery can be cataclysmic. The Intelligent Flight batteries in Phantom drones will warn you when you’re out of energy — a feature many drones lack.

In addition, the DJI GO and DJI GO 4 apps are loaded with useful features for a safe flight experience that you can record or stream.

Phantom features

Phantom drones come with features for the best videos, photography, and flying experience, whether you’re flying for fun or for professional use. Each Phantom drone is equipped well enough that if you start flying as a hobby and it turns into something more, you probably won’t need to upgrade — you’ll already own a quality, capable machine.

Below are some of the key features of Phantom drones.

Excellent flying range

The Phantom 3 Standard has a maximum range of 1 km, compared to the Phantom 3 Professional’s 3 km. Phantom 4 models have a maximum control range of 7 km. Video transmitting ranges will vary.

Intelligent flight battery

The Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 Intelligent Flight batteries are designed with long flights and security in mind. Both feature warning systems when energy is low.

The Phantom 3 battery sustains up to 23 minutes of flight. It features four LEDs that indicate low energy in real time — as long as your drone is in view.

The Phantom 4 battery sustains up to 30 minutes of flight and alerts you through the DJI GO 4 app when it’s time to fly back home.

Through the app, you’re also given an estimated remaining flight time based on energy level and distance.

Drones tips and tricks

Obstacle detection

Phantom 4 models offer obstacle detection, preventing unfortunate accidents. The Phantom 4 Advanced has forward obstacle sensing, while the Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ have obstacle sensing in five directions for maximum security.

Gimbal camera

Rather than a camera housed in the frame itself (which can result in a shaky, lower quality video), Phantom cameras are attached to a three-axis gimbal for versatile angles and easier video feed navigation. The gimbal prevents vibration, and it smoothly adjusts to maintain a level image as you fly. When paired with DJI Goggles, the gimbal in Phantom 4 models will respond intuitively to your movements as you turn your head.

Real time flight video

When paired with the DJI GO app or a remote controller screen, you can pilot your Phantom drone with real-time video for an amazing flying experience. You can take this another step further with DJI Goggles (around $349) for first-person-view flight.

Outstanding photo and video

Phantom 4 models record 4K video at 60 frames per second , while Phantom 3 models record 2.7K video at 30 frames per second (Phantom 3 Standard) or 4K video at 30 frames per second (Phantom 3 Professional).

When it comes to photos, Phantom 4 drones capture 20 megapixel photos, somewhat higher than the 12 megapixel photos of Phantom 3 drones.

Multiple navigation modes

All Phantom drones have a variety of flight modes and abilities, including hover flight, waypoint-based flight planning, points of interest, and a follow-me function.

The variety can be extremely useful for photographic events, filming sports like skiing or sailing, or exploring difficult-to-reach places.

With Phantom 4 drones, you also get ActiveTrack (a GPS-based following mode), Draw (a more organic route-planning mode), Tripod Mode for precision filming and shooting, Gesture Mode for intuitive commands, and other useful features.

In short, you get an intelligent machine that can take care of itself or follow your specific instructions.

"The Phantom 3 charges fairly quickly at around 60 minutes for a full charge. The Phantom 4 takes much longer to charge, at around 2.5 hours, but this gets you a slightly longer flight time. Both charge times are dependent on the wattage of your charger."
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Did you know?
For professional photos and stable, high-quality videos, the Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro+ are the best in the Phantom line.

Phantom drone prices

What will you have to spend to take home a Phantom drone, and what do you get in the box?

Though Phantom drones come with a remote controller, spare propellor blades, and an Intelligent Flight battery, consider budgeting for the DJI Care protection plan, DJI Goggles, a remote controller with a built-in screen, and other accessories.

  • $499 to $749

The Phantom 3 series falls in this range, putting them on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to entry-level drones. But if you plan on taking the hobby seriously, the features and reliability of Phantom drones make the price tag worth it.

  • $1,199 to $1,799

With the jump in price comes a bevy of features in the Phantom 4 Advanced and Phantom 4 Pro+. For the best video quality (up to 4K at 60 frames per second), consider a Phantom 4.

Hands on: best drones for your money


Q. How long do Phantom drones last?

A. This depends on your flight style, the conditions you fly in, and how frequently you fly. Many customers report flying their Phantom drones for thousands of kilometers without issue — and you can track your total flight distance with the DJI GO app.

Q. How safe are Phantom drones?

A. Exposed blade edges make Phantom drones slightly more dangerous than drones with blade guards. Phantom drones aren’t recommended for users younger than 18. When used properly and in open areas, Phantom drones are safe and easy to control.

Q. What skill level are Phantom drones intended for?

A. Phantom drones are more expensive than other DJI drones, which means the stakes are higher if anything were to damage your drone. It’s best to have some familiarity with drones before purchasing a Phantom, but Phantom drones are designed to be intuitive and easy to control. Consider looking into DJI’s training programs for the best experience.

Q. Can I livestream video online with Phantom drones?

A. Yes! With the DJI GO or DJI GO 4 app, you can stream live footage directly to YouTube.

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