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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Rock-solid hover mode
Easy to fly
Controller sync issues
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 is a best in class drone that provides enough depth and features to suit amateurs and professionals alike.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 is the latest in a long line of Phantom drones from DJI dating all the way back to 2013. In this time period, DJI has managed to take this consumer-friendly line of quadcopters from a fun but labor-intensive toy to a class-leading aerial filmmaking platform that’s easy enough for just about anyone to use.
A lot of the more notable features and improvements in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 are specifically aimed at protecting your investment, with features like Obstacle Avoidance, Terrain Follow, and Active Track. Camera performance is second only to DJI’s own Mavic 2 Pro. Needless to say, things have come a long way for DJI, and shoppers purchasing a Phantom 4 Pro get a wealth of features that weren’t available until now.
If it weren’t for DJI one-upping itself and releasing the Mavic series of drones, we would probably be talking about how small and portable the Phantom is compared to the competition. However, given the Mavic 2 Pro exists, the Phantom 4 Pro doesn’t seem quite as compact.
It’s still true that the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 ships in a beautiful reusable case complete with a handle for carrying, and everything packs neatly inside, making portability very simple. All things considered, the Phantom is still a relatively small drone, it’s just not the smallest, or most portable option for buyers these days.
When it comes to build quality, DJI really knocks it out of the park. The Phantom might be constructed out of relatively lightweight materials as a matter of practicality for an aerial device (and weighs in at a hair over 3 pounds), but everything about the construction feels rock solid. The drone is as premium as you can hope for in a drone of this size and class.
One of the biggest areas of improvement in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0, when measured against its predecessor, is the camera. DJI has updated their device to include a 1-inch sensor that takes some really stunning photos and videos. We have a lot to say about the camera, but we’ll save the bulk of it for the camera section later in this review.
While DJI has done a fairly good job, making setup easy and accessible, there’s no way to get around the fact that there are still a great deal of steps involved, and a lot of reading and familiarization that should be done before flight. Because of all the features DJI has packed into this product, it means there is some effort required before you really know your way around the drone, the controller, and the software.
Starting with assembly, the first thing users should do is remove the drone body from the box and attach the propellers, making sure to match propellers with black rings to motors with black dots, and propellers with silver rings to motors without black dots. Installation of these propellers is as simple as pressing them onto the mounting plate and turning them in the marked lock direction until secured.
One of the biggest areas of improvement in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0, when measured against its predecessor, is the camera.
DJI provides QR codes in the quick start guide, both to download the DJI GO 4 app and to watch tutorial videos that they have created. Keep in mind that both the battery and remote controller need to be charged, and while the battery itself takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, the controller takes a staggering 3 hours and 40 minutes. So go ahead and plug both of these in, and maybe take the opportunity to watch a couple of feature-length movies in the meantime.
Once you’re charged and ready, it’s time to prepare for flight. Attach your phone or tablet to the remote controller, adjust the clamp, and connect the device using a USB cable. Turn on both the aircraft and the remote controller by pressing the power button once, releasing, and then pressing and holding until turned on. Make sure the gimbal clamp is removed from the camera, and start the DJI GO 4 app to complete first-time setup and take off.
If you’re fortunate, everything will go smoothly and you’ll be flying right away. We were not so lucky. When we first turned on the remote controller, it made a loud beeping tone non-stop. The remote controller was having trouble pairing with the drone after completing the pairing steps, and something was interfering. It took a lot of searching and troubleshooting before we found a solution that worked. In our case, it was updating the firmware on both the remote controller and the drone itself. Throughout this process, we had to endure the constant, undying beeping. We sincerely hope you don’t have the same experience.
After this initial snag, however, it was smooth sailing. We didn’t encounter any other issues with setup once this was out of the way. Needless to say, if you’re having issues, making sure to update the firmware before spending too much time pulling your hair out looking for other fixes.
A lot of the more notable features and improvements in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 are specifically aimed at protecting your investment.
Controls are really where the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 starts to shine. Not only is this Phantom easy to fly for first-timers (requiring a single button press in the app to takeoff and hover at an altitude of four feet), it also contains plenty of graduated forms of manual control to allow for satisfying flight control for those on the more professional side of the quadcopter spectrum.
The front of the remote controller features two antennas, a display/phone mount, two control sticks, a Return To Home button (RTH), a series of status LED indicators, and a power button. On the top, you’ll find a sleep/wake button, microphone, flight mode switch (P, S, and A modes), video recording button, gimbal dial, micro USB port (for firmware upgrades), a microSD card slot, camera settings dial, intelligent flight pause button, HDMI port, USB port, and shutter button. Finally, the rear of the controller features two customizable buttons (selected through the DJI GO 4 app), and a power port.
Once you’re off the ground (either by tapping the Auto Takeoff button in the app or by using the combination stick command to manually start the motors) it’s time to fly. The default control schema assigns altitude/hover and yaw (rotation) to the left stick (up/down, left/right respectively), and pitch and roll to the right stick. This is referred to as Mode 2. Modes 1, 3 and a custom mode are also available. We found control with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 to be very responsive, and once we adjusted the length control sticks to suit us better as we found it even easier still to control the craft accurately.
During flight, you can toggle between P, S, and A modes by changing the position of the flight mode switch located on the top of the remote controller. P, or positioning mode, works best with a strong GPS signal and uses GPS, the vision system, and the infrared sensing system to keep the craft stable, avoid obstacles, and track subjects. Only in P mode can you access TapFly and ActiveTrack.
As far as we’re concerned, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is absolutely worth $1500.
S-mode (sport) adjusts the handling for maximum maneuverability and unlocks the drone’s top flight speed of 45mph. Keep in mind that obstacle detection and avoidance systems are disabled in this mode, so you’ll need to be extra careful. Finally, A-mode (attitude) uses only the barometer for positioning and altitude control, for use when the vision system and GPS system are unavailable (or just by user choice). Keep in mind, DJI has disabled everything but P-mode by default, and toggling the position of the flight mode switch won’t do anything unless the user has specifically enabled “Multiple Flight Modes” in the DJI GO 4 app.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 also contains a wealth of intelligent flight modes. TapFly, for example, lets users simply tap on the desired location on the screen, and have the drone automatically fly there, avoiding obstacles and adjusting elevation as it needs. ActiveTrack lets users tap to select a subject (people, bikes, and cars are ideal) and have the drone automatically follow the selected subject using either Trace (tracking at a constant distance), Spotlight (only keeps camera automatically pointed at subject), or Profile (like trace, but front the side) modes. Draw mode lets users plot a flight path by simply using their finger to draw a course.
Tripod mode is great for filmmakers looking to take shots closer to the ground, dramatically reducing the maximum speed to 5.6mph and slowing down the responsiveness of the stick movement for smoother control, similar to what one might expect from a dolly or slider shot. Gesture mode allows users to perform a series of gestures when in Photo mode to select a subject, confirm distance, and take a selfie using gestures only. Finally, Terrain Follow mode utilizes the downward vision system to attempt to maintain a constant height from the ground (between one and 10 meters) on uneven and changing terrain. Officially, DJI only recommends using this function on grassland, and on slopes no greater than 20 degrees.
This might seem exhaustive, but fully half of the functionality still yet to be covered is centered around the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0’s obstacle avoidance, return to home functionality, and landing functions. We will spare you every detail, but in a nutshell, DJI has attempted to account for everything that could possibly go wrong during flight and has a protocol in place to handle it. This includes everything from automatic return to home functionality when the craft falls out of range or loses contact with the user, to landing protection that will keep the aircraft just above ground until the drone bottoms out at zero percent power before resorting to landing on unsuitable terrain.
Both the photo and video quality of the improved 1-inch sensor on the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 are extremely impressive, and a real testament to how far aerial filmmaking has come in just a few short years. The 24mm lens opens up to f/2.8 at the widest, and f/11 at minimum, while providing a clean sharp image across this entire spectrum. In Photo mode, the camera handles an ISO range of 100-3200 during Auto mode, but up to 12800 in Manual mode. In Video mode, the ISO range is identical for Auto mode, but tops out at 6400 during Manual mode.
At maximum, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 takes 20-megapixel photos. We’ve seen some really great results from the Phantom 4 Pro, but it’s also not a magic wand. The same photography principles still apply in the air as they do on the ground, and an aerial platform does not make a great photographer. That said, those coming from earlier Phantoms, even as recently as the non-pro version of the Phantom 4, are certain to notice the difference in quality.
Video quality is superb, delivering 100 Mbit 4K (3,840 x 2,160) and C4K (4,096 x 2,160) footage in both H.265 and H.264 codecs at 24/25/30 frames per second (fps). 60fps is also available, but is limited to H.264 only. Step down to 1080p, and the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 will shoot at 120fps in both codecs. Sharpness is second to none on the Phantom 4 Pro as well, delivering very crisp and satisfying results.
From a flight perspective, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 is a dream to fly and performs extremely well. It’s fast (up to 45 MPH fast in S-mode), responsive, and the maximum transmission range is 4.3 miles, up from 3.1 on the vanilla Phantom 4. This is certainly a big leap, and perhaps a bit of peace of mind for pilots, although we’re not sure how many people are really taking advantage of the full range. Nonetheless, having the increased maximum is certainly still an advantage, since range will be dramatically decreased in non-ideal transmission scenarios.
The battery on the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 is rated for up to 30 minutes of flight time. It managed a respectable 28 minutes and 50 seconds in our outdoor real-world hover test. We rarely see drones hit their full advertised time in outdoor scenarios, and mileage varies significantly from user to user, but this is definitely within an acceptable range. One of the more humorous aspects of the Phantom 4 Pro is that the remote controller has a larger battery than the drone itself (6000mAh and 5870mAh respectively).
Most drones in DJI’s portfolio operate using the DJI GO 4 app, including the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. We were fairly happy with this app's performance and its assortment of features. If you’re used to reviewing cameras with confusing menu systems, the DJI GO 4 app is a pleasant surprise. Its highlights are its diagrams, illustrations, and iconography.
However, even though we didn’t experience any issues with the app, it's worth noting that it has a fairly subpar rating on Apple and Android’s app stores. The common problems, according to users, were that the drone crashed on certain devices, the drone and the app sometimes lost connection, and that app updates broke down certain features or required firmware updates.
The prices of drones at the consumer level have risen in step with the advancements they offer. Fast forward to the current day, and that means that you’re looking to spend $1,500 on a top-tier consumer-grade drone. Is it a lot of money for a hobby product? Probably. Is it a lot of money for a semi-professional product, assuming you use the Phantom 4 Pro to making you money in some capacity? Not at all.
We could argue all day about the things that people choose to spend their money on and the various merits of whichever hobby. Ultimately we all decide how much things are worth to us. As far as we’re concerned, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is absolutely worth $1,500. It easily feels like $1,500 worth of product and functionality, especially when you consider how easily you can spend $1,500 on a decent (not even high-end!) camera body without even a lens.
This is the only meaningful comparison anyone cares about when it comes to the Phantom 4 Pro. Not only is the Mavic 2 Pro identically priced and have nearly identical functionality, it’s significantly smaller and folds up to be tiny enough to fit into a backpack. That’s a huge game-changer for most people. But is the Mavic 2 Pro a complete upgrade from the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0? Not entirely.
The Phantom 4 Pro still wins in a few areas in camera performance and stability, winning sometimes sheerly because the size of the device makes it more stable in the air. Some will simply have a preference for the way the Phantom 4 Pro flies. There is still plenty to like about the Phantom 4 Pro even in the face of the Mavic 2 Pro.
A delight to fly for casuals and professionals alike.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V. 2.0 is an absolute joy to operate and a very easy recommendation for drone shoppers. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to purchase, the only other consideration is probably going to be the Phantom 4 Pro or the Mavic 2 Pro. Either way, we are confident that you will feel like get at least $1500 of value out of your drone.