The Phantom 3 was the first drone that really opened up the idea for a high-quality camera drone. It was released in January of 2013, and it was sort of the foundation on which a huge industry was built. The Phantom 3 has a bunch of different versions: Phantom 3 Standard, Advanced, and Pro, along with Phantom 3 4K and Phantom 3 SE. The only ones DJI still sells are the SE (released 2017) and the Standard, so I’ll be reviewing the Standard, and if you want to look at the SE, click here.
The Phantom 3 Standard comes at a quite reasonable price: $500. This is far cheaper than the more recent Phantom 4 series. However, ‘you get what you pay for’, and this is no exception. The P3 has great features, but the P4 is newer and has a better overall performance. However, for 500 dollars, you’re getting a great drone with an excellent camera. You can also buy extra batteries for $150, which is kind of a rip-off seeing as the Mavic’s extra batteries are only 90, and they are better batteries. But the 150 dollars might be worth it if you want to fly for long periods of time.
I think the Phantom 3 was the first drone to introduce GPS tracking. This allows the drone to know where it took off from, where it is, and how to get back home. Thus, the return to home feature is very accurate. It also can hover precisely in place when you tell it to stop moving. DJI created its user-friendly app so that with your P3, you can see everything the drone sees, and see your speed, distance, and other measurements.
It achieves a flight time of 25 minutes, which, at the time of release, blew away the competition. Its smart batteries know what battery level they’re at, as shown by the LED lights on them. The P3 can cruise at a max of 16 m/s, about 35 mph. Considering that this was released 4 years ago, before anything like it, that’s crazy! You could film your car driving down a road with that speed. The one disappointing feature (relative to other DJI drones) is that the range is only a half-mile. Now, for most people that will work just fine, but if you want to fly this thing a long ways away, consider the DJI Spark or Parrot Bebop 2. This drone has a few intelligent flight modes: follow me, point of interest (drone circles around an object), and waypoints, where you can set a specific course. Overall the flight is very good for a beginner drone hobbyist. For more professional flyers, the Phantom 4 series would be a better option.
The P3 Standard was the first DJI drone with a 3-axis stabilized gimbal. This is a huge upgrade: 2-axis gimbals can only move up and down, and rotate clockwise and counterclockwise. But with the 3-axis gimbal you can actually move the camera from side to side, giving you a 360 field of view. This also results in super stable videos, because the camera will automatically tilt to ensure smooth footage.
The camera quality is also impressive: the Standard can shoot 2.7k video at 30fps, but of course can also shoot normal 1080. It has a 12 megapixel camera and a 1/2.3” Sensor for clear pictures. The camera is definitely a credit to this drone. For almost every hobbyist the camera will be perfect, especially considering that 500 bucks won’t empty your wallet.
The controller is similar to the phantom 4’s, because it’s huge. It’s bigger than the entire Mavic Drone (when folded up).The big size of it I guess isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s quite annoying. On the picture to the left, you can see there’s a place to put your phone, along with a dial to move the gimbal, and of course joysticks to control the drone. Despite the size, it’s got everything you need on a nice layout.
I should also comment that this drone is not a small drone like the Mavic. You can’t toss it in a bag and head out to take some videos, because it’s pretty big. You can easily fit it in your car, but keep in mind that if you’re looking for a drone that you can take anywhere, the Phantom might not be right for you.
The Phantom 3 is the ultimate drone for beginners and people who just want to get a good drone for less money. It’s got an unbeatable camera for its price range, and the flight time is great.
If you want something that’s got a better camera and flight, and are willing to spend the extra cash, look into the DJI Mavic or Phantom 4. For a smaller size in the same price range, try the Parrot Bebop 2. In general though, the Phantom 3 will not disappoint you.