DJI Innovations is currently one of the most well known quadcopter manufacturers in the drone industry. This is due to their release of the incredibly popular and advanced Phantom “ready-to-fly” model released in 2012. Since then, DJI has introduced the Phantom 2 along with a number of other models based on the Phantom 2 platform.
The DJI Phantom has literally change the playing field for personal drones and quadcopters available to consumers. The Phantom models pack a lot of technology and feature for the money, and compete with far more expensive and “professional” grade drones. Finally, high quality drones are in an affordable range for almost everyone.
Understanding the differences between the various Phantom models can be confusing, especially for new drone pilots. To help you understand the model differences and so you can determine which Phantom model is best for you, we’ve put together this DJI Phantom Model Comparison guide for you.
DJI Phantom Model Comparison
|Model||Key Features||Camera||FPV||Flight Time|
|Phantom 1||None - but can be equipped with aftermarket camera like a GoPro||No||10 minutes|
|Phantom FC40||Featherweight 2.4G Wi-Fi Camera With 720p/30fps HD Video||Yes - Using a Smartphone||10 minutes|
|Phantom 2||Camera ready, but no built in camera||FPV ready, but not camera||25 minutes|
|Phantom 2 Vision||Built in 1080/30p or 1080/60 camera 14 megapixel stills, supports RAW and JPEG picture formats||Yes - Using a smartphone. Camera can be remotely controlled.||25 minutes|
|Phantom 2 Vision+||- Full HD video at 1080p 30, 720p 60. - 14 megapixel stills, supports RAW and JPEG formats. - 3-axis camera stabilization||Yes - Using a smartphone. Camera can be remotely controlled.||25 minutes|
Key Model Differences:
The Phantom 1 fight time is about 10 minutes. The Phantom 2 models added Lipo batteries and advanced power saving features that extend flight times to 25 minutes. The Phantom 2 batteries do cost more, but last longer.
Both the Phantom 1 and Phantom 2 models use a built GPS system for stabilization and control. Both provide a Return to Home feature that causes the quadcopter to return to a home position if it gets out of range of the transmitter.
Phantom 2 models add a waypoint feature that lets you pre-program the Phantom 2’s navigation path using an iPad or similar device.
Both base models of the Phantom 1 and 2 do not include a camera, but are camera capable, allow you to mount your own gimbal and camera.
The Phantom FC40 is a Phantom 1 equipped with a lower resolution HD camera. The camera cannot be remotely controlled and must be positioned prior to flight.
The Phantom 2 Vision and Vision+ come with built in cameras of slightly differing quality. The Vision+ adds 3-axis stability and full tilt control.
First Person View (FPV)
All of the Phantom models with cameras support FPV via an iOS or Android device. The Phantom 2 Vision and Vision+ adds an additional 300 meters to the FPVs range. Also of note is that the Vision and Vision+ add radar tracking, and the Vision+ ads real time flight information, both viewable on the FPV screen.
The Bottom Line – Which Phantom should you buy
If you’re a beginner drone pilot, and just getting into quadcopters and aerial photography, we actually don’t recommend purchasing any of the Phantom models, or at least not immediately.
We recommend that you buy an inexpensive, but quality quadcopter so you can learn how to fly it before risking damaging a $500+ quadcopter like the Phantom line. We recommend the Hubsan X4 for new pilots and even as you get more experienced, you’ll still enjoy flying it.
Once you get your flight skills up, you can then look to upgrade to a more sophisticated unit, like the Phantom or the Parrot AR.Drone. This is particularly true if you plan to use the drone for aerial photography.
If you’re an experienced quadcopter pilot and looking for the ultimate in quadcopters for aerial photography, than we definitely recommend the Phantom 2 Vision+, due to the 3-axis Gimbal or the Phantom 2 equipped with GoPro 3+ Black and Zenmouse Gimbal. Both of these units deliver very high quality and smooth video.