DJI Phantom 4 first impressions have been a fun ride, to say the least. In the past, the best quadcopter I used was about $150 on Amazon. While it was enjoyable to fly around, it doesn’t surmount to the level of the Phantom 4. No duh…Captain Obvious, right? Until you’ve got some experience with the Phantom 4, coming from a minor league quadcopter, you just don’t appreciate what you have in front of you. The DJI Phantom 4 is a quality-built machine that packs tons of features! Not to mention rather easy to fly.
DJI Phantom 4 Unboxing
One of the great things about the Phantom 4 is its packaging. The box it comes in can be used a case itself. No need to go out and buy a case to protect the drone. The Phantom 4 isn’t cheap, so it’s appreciated by DJI to help the user save some money. I’d rather buy an extra battery than worry about how the drone will be stored.
This Phantom 4 is the base model and ships with…
- 8 propellors/blades
- 16GB Lexmark 633x SD card
- Power cable/brick
- OTG and USB cable
In this base package, there is everything needed to get started. The next couple of accessories to get for the drone would be an extra battery or two and a large 4k supported SD card. Apart from those accessories, you can get by just fine without the need to get anything else.
Thankfully, the case comes with a couple of extra slots for more batteries, which is great! Personally, when I get a chance I want to get more batteries to increase the time to fly the drone in one setting.
Phantom 4 Setup
The biggest piece of advice about getting the drone all set up is to do two things. 1) At least read the Quick Start Guide. 2) Watch as many tips and guides YouTube videos as possible. This will help familiarize what the controls are and how to successfully fly the drone.
More advice includes…
- Use a device that can easily be seen outdoors in direct sunlight. Such as a Galaxy S6/7, Note 5, or a tablet.
- Get the app downloaded.
- Use the tutorials on the DJI Go app.
- Don’t be a hero. Take your time and gradually increase your skill level.
- Let the controller and battery charge fully before the first flight.
- During the first flight, simply maneuver circuits and practice flying inverted.
- If shooting video with the included SD card, drop the resolution to 1080p to save space on the card. 4K can eat up some storage space quickly.
Last, be safe and make sure no people, animals, or obstructions are nearby. Safety is very important. Make sure to know what your local regulations are for flying drones.
Ease of Setup
One of the things that I was pretty impressed with was how simple the setup process was. Basically, as far as the parts go all there is to be done is twist on the props and slide in the battery. Getting the software going was a little more tricky, but not too difficult.
Long story short, upon first flight setup, connect the remote controller to the phone or tablet of choice > download the DJI GO app > follow the instructions via app > and turn the drone on. Overall, the entire setup took me about 20 minutes and that’s with reading the Quick Start Guide provided step-by-step.
Got to be honest here, nerves were pretty high because I didn’t want to mess the drone up on the first attempt to fly. I’ve got a little bit of experience flying less of quality quadcopters, but nothing used comes close to this level of drones. Not to mention the cost involved. The Phantom 4 is no inexpensive/cheap toy, it is a piece of equipment and is to be respected.
Again, to reiterate the importance of knowing your surroundings and equipment. The more you know, the better. “Knowing is half the battle.” G.I. Joe.
After reviewing many YouTube videos, one of the repeating pieces of advice was to start slow and steady. Don’t be a hero the first day. Gradually increase difficulty and skills. Part of the advice of starting slow was to work on circuits. Basically, make a square pattern. Left, forward, right, backward, and repeat. Then once comfortable with the square pattern, move onto a rotating pattern.
Completing small tasks will help lead to bigger more exciting maneuvers.
First Flight First Impressions
Being that nerves were high, it was best to discipline myself to basic maneuvers. However, the Phantom 4 is actually easy to learn and fly. That said, I took the Phantom 4 to new heights!
After completing and getting to know the Phantom 4, I was able to take the drone high enough to capture some fantastic footage of the surrounding area! The camera on the Phantom 4 by far one of the best you can get and is definitely better than the $150 quadcopters previously flown. The difference is literally night and day.
Speaking of night and day, one of the most desired subjects to capture is a sunset. Lately, there have been spectacular sunsets, which then became a mission to get some sweet footage. The Phantom 4 did not disappoint!
Other notable features that pretty great (for first flights) are the auto take-off and auto home. A simple button touch will raise the drone for a safe and easy takeoff. Likewise, the auto home will safely return the drone to the original take-off spot. Obviously, the better the phone/tablet, the better the screen, the better the viewing experience. But the Galaxy S7 Edge really adds a clear and crisp view from the app. Truly amazing!
Camera First Impressions
I’m no camera buff, but I do know if something looks good or not. The Phantom 4’s camera is top-notch. This is actually my first time working with gimbal technology and now I want all the things gimballed! The Phantom 4’s camera setup is smooth, crispy, and high quality. It supports 4k resolution to give the best video from an entry-level consumer drone.
What excites me the most about the camera the most are the creative possibilities to capture the footage you normally couldn’t get. Ariel footage adds an element and flavor to videos giving viewers an enjoyable scenic experience.
“Use drone footage to tell your story, “Casey Neistat, one of my favorite YouTubers explains how he uses drone footage for his vlogs. That perspective will help operators/creators focus on what makes great videos from drones. That’s how I plan to use my Phantom 4. It’s more than just capturing amazing footage.
The Phantom 4 comes with a battery and optimization that can last up to 28 minutes. During the time of flight, the Phantom 4 seemed to last about 23 minutes, because of the setup process and installing the latest firmware. The actual flight time was about 20 minutes, which is much much more than any quadcopter used before.
The best feature about the battery is how fast it charges up. It can be to full strength in less than an hour! The reason that’s awesome is that if you’re like me at this time I only have one battery. If you want to fly more, it won’t take too, too long to charge it back up and hit the skies again. Obviously, the more batteries you’ve got, the more flight time. Simply pop in a new battery and start again. More than likely I’ll be getting another battery to be able to have more flight time. Think about it, two batteries just about equal to about an hour of flying!
Overall, I am really impressed and very happy with the Phantom 4. It seems like one of those products that have endless possibilities for creating awesome content and just plain having fun! The build quality is top-notch, camera results look fantastic and rather simple to operate. All those characteristics combine for a great experience. Yes, the price seems heavy, but you get what you pay for.
- Auto tracking
- Auto-detection – will avoid hitting objects (not a feature in sports mode)
- Auto home, landing, takeoff
- Gimbal stabilizer
- Simple props install/removal
If you are in the market for a new drone that will be easy to get going and give quality results, the Phantom 4 is the way to go! Amazon.com has been pushing out some nice deals lately as well, so be sure to grab one for a discounted price when it the price drops. There are also bundles to take notice of that to come with extra batteries, SD cards, and props. At some point you’re going to need those extras, so minds as well snag ’em while you’re at it.
What are your thoughts about the Phantom 4? Is it cracked up to what all the hype has made it out to be? I think so.
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