After months of speculation about the return of DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro, it’s back in stock as the company is using the P4P as a backstop as new competition emerges.
It’s been an interesting journey for V2.0 of the Phantom 4 Pro. It was actually out-of-stock longer than it was ever in stock. Hopefully, DJI has shaken off the tough 2019 it endured with camera drones and is ready to impress in 2020.
It’s hands down my favorite out of DJI, so count my voice in wanting to see a refresh of the Phantom 4 Pro with all the latest specs. Especially the battery technology used in the Mavic Mini.
8K video? Considering we consume a ton of media on our phones, I’d rather have the 4K bitrate pushed higher than 100Mbps over flashy CES buzzwords. Add in better dynamic range alongside interchangeable lenses. Fighting a megapixel war is a losing proposition. Yeah, it’s a one-inch sensor, but the focus should be on quality over marketing materials.
What Makes the Phantom 4 Pro Relevant in 2020?
While it’s over three years old, it remains one of the few camera drones on the market with a one-inch sensor capable of 4K video at 60fps. The Mavic 2 Pro is locked at 30, and the upcoming Autel Evo II Pro is the wildcard. Can it convince the masses there’s a legitimate contender other than DJI in the consumer drone space?
What makes the Phantom 4 Pro worth it? It’s subjective, but there is such a thing as too portable. The Mavic 2 Pro is the current flagship out of DJI with the one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor. There’s a but coming. What holds it back is it’s too small. Usable pixels work out to around 17-ish pixels depending on the test parameters. That’s due to the heat the drone has to dissipate. The Phantom 4 Pro does not have that problem.
That’s not to say the Phantom 4 Pro isn’t portable. It is, just not in your side pocket. A small backpack can easily hold the drone with a few extra batteries.
Next is 4K video at 60fps. Since the P4P went out-of-stock, DJI has been without a drone capable of 4K60p. That changes with the reintroduction of DJI’s former flagship camera drone.
Another feature on the P4P that’s missing on the Mavic line are landing struts. Two advantages to having them. One, you don’t have to worry about landing the P4P on gravel like you do the Mavic 2 Pro.
Two? You can snatch it out of the sky. Try timing that with a Mavic 2 Pro. Better have fast hands, or you’re left with bloody fingers. The Phantom 4 Pro can be plucked right out of the sky with zero issues making it perfect for those on the water or otherwise sketchy landing areas.
Personally, it’s my favorite camera drone on the market. Tons of features while sacrificing very little on portability.
What Holds the Phantom 4 Pro Back in 2020?
Age. It’s getting old, and while the features outstrip in some areas, there are others where the competition is getting geared up to take on DJI. That doesn’t mean Autel and others like Skydio can succeed, but reintroducing the Phantom 4 Pro needs to be a stopgap before Mavic refreshes start occurring and a potential Phantom 5.
Price. I get the company is still under pressure from tariffs thanks to the trade war, but once a deal is signed, the company needs to push the price lower than $1729. That’s steep for a drone older than three years old. DJI gets by with it in no small part of the P4P being the superior camera drone over the Mavic 2 Pro. I’d think with a Mavic refresh; the price needs to be pushed well under $1500.
DJI Mavic 2 or Phantom 4 Pro?
Again, this will be subjective. My take is unless you are doing some serious traveling where weight becomes a concern, the Phantom 4 Pro is the superior camera drone. It’s not even close. 20 megapixels that are usable. 4K video at 60fps. The same flight time. Easy to launch. The list goes on. I’ve also noticed the P4P can handle inclement weather better than the Mavic 2 Pro. The wind is brushed off by the Phantom, while the Mavic will start to suffer the breezier it gets outside.
At the current price, I’d choose the Phantom 4 Pro. It just works. If you’re planning on a trip with a ton of hiking, get the Mavic 2 Pro. It’s all about the use case. For me, most of those will settle on the Phantom 4 Pro. Those cases when I need a Mavic? Luckily, it’s always charged up.