The Phantom 4 Pro+ is an exceptional drone, but some of the newer releases from DJI have jeopardized its top spot in the consumer drone market. For instance, the Phantom 4 Pro+ once offered the best video quality of any consumer model, but the DJI Mavic 2 Pro now provides slightly better video quality in a much more portable package that can both fly for as long and as fast. This severely limits the niches in which the Phantom 4 Pro+ is the best tool for the job. The Phantom does have a mechanical shutter and can shoot in 4K at a higher framerate (60fpd versus the Mavic 2 Pro's 30fps). So if you often film very fast moving subjects (like cars and motorcycles), or you tend to film a lot of slow-motion sequences, the Phantom 4 may still be the best choice, but for the vast majority of cinematographers we believe the Mavic 2 Pro is the better option.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ Review
Pros: Top quality, stable video, great flight performance, built in controller screen
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Our Analysis and Test Results
With the release of the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, DJI has again made its Phantom line a bit confusing, so here are the details:
The V2.0 is mostly the same as its predecessor: same camera, same gimbal, same body, same flight sensors. It is also available with a basic controller ($1500) or with a controller that has a built-in, 5.5" screen ($1800). The difference is in the new propellers, which are meant to be more efficient and quieter (and can be purchased separately here), and a new OcuSync transmission system that can link to the DJI Goggles for an FPV flight experience.Bottom line, if you're getting a new Phantom 4 Pro you may as well get the V2.0. However, if you already have the original Phantom 4 Pro we see no reason to upgrade. But next time you break a prop, you may as well try out the new propellers, since they are compatible with the entire Phantom 4 line.
The Phantom 4 Pro+ is an exceptional filmmaking tool, but it has been mostly outstripped by the new Mavic 2 Pro, which actually creates slightly better footage and is much more portable.
The Phantom 4 Pro+ earned a rare perfect 10 out of 10 in our video quality, a score it shares with the Mavic 2 Pro. We think the Mavic 2 Pro creates a slightly better color profile, but the Phantom films in 4K at double the framerate (60 vs. 30fps).
DJI put a one-inch sensor in the Phantom 4 Pro+'s camera, and it shows. The footage this 4K rig produced in our testing was crystal clear with bright, vibrant colors. It is easy to manually focus and set exposure by tapping the screen. The gimbal stabilization was likewise superb. Even when we flipped it into sports mode and tried to recreate our favorite scenes from Top Gun the camera stayed locked in with the horizon and didn't shake or bounce. The only minor weak point was some propellor intrusion when turning at higher speeds, but generally this happened at speeds far above what you'd reach in normal aerial videography (unless you're trying to get a follow shot of the Millennium Falcon).
Increased Frames Per Second, Aperture Control
One major improvement in the Phantom 4 Pro+'s camera is the ability to film 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps). All of the other models we tested max out at 30 fps. This higher frame rate results in incredible, high-resolution slow-motion footage and gives you the flexibility to slow the footage down if you captured that panning shot going just a bit too fast. Another upgrade to the mechanics of the camera is the ability to adjust the aperture (from F2.8 to F11), which allows you to point the camera at the sun without lens flares dominating the entire image. This feature is generally only found on professional level camera drones, with the Mavic 2 Pro being one of the only other consumer drones to offer such functionality. The 4 Pro+ also records at a bitrate of 100 Mbps, which minimizes compression and lends a higher quality video.
Finally, for all of you camera geeks out there the Phantom 4 Pro+ opts for a mechanical shutter with a maximum speed of 1/2000s, which should eliminate any rolling shutter distortions. This can be important if you're looking for the best possible shot when filming a very fast moving subject, or filming with the drone flying at maximum speed. It is also one area where the Phantom's camera is superior to that of the Mavic 2 Pro.
No 10-bit Dlog-M Color Profile
The Mavic 2 Pro is one of the first consumer drones to offer 10-bit Dlog-M recording, something the Phantom 4 Pro+ lacks. This advanced shooting mode essentially gathers more image information, allowing you do do a lot more with color correction in the editing room. This often results in some amazingly vibrant footage from the Mavic 2 Pro which just can't be matched with the Phantom 4 Pro+. However, taking advantage of this technology requires investing in and learning fairly complicated video editing software, so this difference is only really important for professionals or very dedicated amateurs.
Ease of Use
Generally, we've found that DJI provides a great user experience out of the box, and the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ is the cream of the crop. It shared the top score of 9 in our ease of use testing, putting it well ahead of the low score of 3.
Out of the box getting the drone and controller charged up was simple, and using the large touchscreen made creating the required DJI account easy. The propellers also installed easily with a simple push and quarter turn, as opposed to other models that use a screw and require lots of spinning to get the propeller secured.
Best in Class Controller
Where the Phantom 4 Pro+ sets itself apart is the controller. Like most other DJI controllers it has nice, long joysticks with beveled edges that provide a solid grip. The joysticks have just the right amount of resistance to allow precise, controlled maneuvers. The pièce de résistance is the integrated 5.5" touchscreen LCD, which is so bright that images look sharper even when in direct sunlight. Not only is this screen slightly larger than most smartphones, it eliminates the need to bring extra cables to connect a smartphone. That larger size also better accommodates the additional interface for controlling the aperture. Additionally, smartphone batteries tend to last only 3-4 flights or less in cold weather. Having your phone die in the middle of a flight could leave you flying somewhat blind. The built-in LCD mitigates these types of issues. Also, it's nice to save your phone's battery for things like making phone calls, or Instagramming your amazing filming location to hype the release of your next amazing drone footage cut.
The Phantom 4 Pro+ shared the top score of 9 out of 10 in our flight performance testing with its predecessor, the Phantom 4 and the new Mavic models. All of these models clearly lead the flight performance pack and are nearly identical in this regard. This score put the Phantom 4 Pro+ a good bit ahead of the lowest scoring gimbal model, which scored a 6, and even further ahead of the non-gimbal models, which both scored 5.
All aspects of the 4 Pro+'s flight is incredibly stable, from takeoff and landing to smooth, panning landscape shots to breakneck flybys (the 4 Pro+ can reach 45 mph in sport mode). Its autonomous flight functions were similarly stellar. Both the orbit point of interest and cable cam functions provided superb and stable footage. Like all of the models we tested, the follow mode was somewhat lackluster, you'll get much better results using a pilot to manually follow a subject. We had no issues when testing the 4 Pro+'s automatic return to home function, but we'd like to stress that this is a feature that should only be used if some sort of malfunction prevents you from flying the drone back yourself. This model also got a souped-up new battery that gives it a field-leading maximum flight time of 30 minutes.
Leading Obstacle Avoidance System
One area where the Phantom 4 Pro sets itself apart is its obstacle avoidance system. It has obstacle sensors that point down and out from all four sides of the aircraft (the old Phantom 4 only had front facing sensors). We certainly wouldn't recommend pushing the limits of this system because it is not foolproof, but we tested it from all five directions and found it to work well in situations where you might accidentally get too close to a wall or tree. This obstacle avoidance is slightly better than that of the Mavic 2 models, as their side-facing obstacle avoidance only works while in certain autonomous flight modes.
The Phantom 4 Pro+ was a leader in every metric except portability. It comes with a sturdy foam case that carries everything you would need for a full day of flying. In its case the Pro+ is still the same size as most people's daypacks, making it prohibitively large for people who want something that is easy to carry around. Despite earning the low score of a 3 for portability it is still easy to carry around for those who are trying to take videos in places that don't require much of a hike. The Phantom 4 Pro+ is best if you're going out with the primary mission of getting footage since it is far too large and heavy to carry along as an afterthought or for lightweight travel. If you're looking for high-quality video in a portable package, we would recommend the Mavic 2 Pro.
At a list price of $1800, the Phantom 4 Pro+ is one of the most expensive drones we tested. It is an incredible drone, but now that the $1500 Mavic 2 Pro can match it in almost every regard while being much more portable, we think it is a better value for most people than the Phantom 4 Pro+
The Phantom 4 Pro+ is a professional-quality camera drone in a package that will be familiar to anyone who has used any of the many iterations of DJI's Phantom series. However, the Mavic 2 Pro is likely a better choice for most people.
Phantom 4 Pro Battery
- Cost: $169
Phantom 4 Propellers
- Cost: $18
Phantom 4 Charging Hub
- Cost: $90
- Can charge 3 batteres at once
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata