DJI has released yet another drone. A smaller more compact device that ticks all the boxes in terms of portability, but how does this new drone fare against the feature-full Phantom 4? This Mavic Pro vs Phantom 4 comparison review is going to take a closer look at both drones and compare the two on various aspects. This way you can decide for yourself which is better or more suited to your needs. You can also have a look at our full DJI Mavic Pro Review or any of our other pages where we cover the release date, price and specs. If you already know about the Mavic Pro and just want to grab yours today, you can click the link below:
Size and Portability
The most notable difference between the drones is their size. When the Mavic Pro is unfolded, both drones are pretty much the same size in terms of wing-span. The Mavic Pro can however be folded up into a compact, easy-to-transport package while the Phantom 4 has a fixed structure. The Mavic has foldable limbs and collapsible propellers which allow it to collapse into a small block shape that can almost fit into your pocket. The portability of the new drone is a main reason to buy the DJI Mavic Pro for Christmas 2016.
The Phantom 4 weighs in at 3 lbs while the Mavic Pro is far slimmer at just 1.1 lbs. The Phantom 4 charger as well as the Phantom 4 transmitter are far larger than the Mavic Pro’s. On that note, the Mavic Pro charger also has two additional USB ports, one for charging the remote and one extra which can be used to charge your mobile device that you use as a screen. The Mavic controller is also foldable and can fit into your pocket as opposed to the bulky Phantom 4 transmitter. The Phantom 4 battery itself is also far larger than the Mavic Pro battery. So overall, the Mavic Pro is far more compact and aims to keep things as simple and as portable as possible.
Set Up and Layout
In terms of setting up the drone, initializing it and getting it up in the air, tests have found that the Mavic Pro is faster in this category than the Phantom 4.
In terms of layout, there are a few things to note. To remove the battery from the folded Mavic Pro you must extend the two upper limbs and press two buttons inwards while lifting the battery off of the main body. Removing the Phantom 4 battery couldn’t be simpler, just press the battery release button and pull it out of the side of the drone.
To change the memory card on the DJI Mavic Pro, you will once again extend the arms and then have to open a plastic cap under which you will find the memory card slot. On the Phantom 4 the memory card slot is found on the under-side of the drone and doesn’t feature any sort of covering. Under the plastic covering of the Mavic Pro you will also find a Wi-Fi selection button and a remote reset button. When you switch the drone to Wi-Fi, you will be able to connect your mobile device to the Mavic Pro using a specific password. The Phantom 4 features a USB port next to the memory card slot while the Mavic Pro has a USB port under another covering on the opposite side of its body to the memory card and Wi-Fi selection buttons.
Let’s start with one of the most important aspects. Which drone produces a better image? The Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 cameras both use the same sensor. The Mavic has a different lens with a slightly narrower field of view than the Phantom 4 and so if your main objective is to gain the broadest possible shot then perhaps the Phantom 4 is for you. The Mavic has a 78.8 degree field of view while the Phantom 4 has a 94 degree field of view. This may seem like a lot but many have noted that most users won’t even notice this slightly narrower focus and that it will work for almost everyone’s needs. The camera on the Mavic is far, far smaller than the one found on the Phantom, yet is still 4k-capable.
The Mavic Pro drone’s camera utilizes a 3-axis gymbal with mechanical stabilization. The mechanical stabilization is a real key feature to this drone as instead of using digital stabilization by shooting a 4k image and cropping into the image, the Mavic actually has mechanical brushless motors that keep the camera steady, giving it a great image. Another difference between the two drones’ cameras is the Mavic Pro’s new Tap-To-Focus feature. This function allows you to tap on the screen to re-focus the camera on that specific part of the image for great clarity and professional looking shots. If you tap on something within 25 metres of the camera, it will focus on it for crystal clarity, while other areas may drift out of focus. If you tap on a part of the picture that is further away than 25 metres, then the Mavic will perform Infinite Focus, which is common on the Phantom 4, this is where everything is put into focus.
Both cameras shoot in 4k quality but they definitely have different styles which will appeal to different preferences. Most tests are conducted with both drones running 4k at 30 frames per second with auto white balance. In such tests some feel that the Phantom 4 just has the edge in terms of picture quality and crispness. The Mavic seems to have better saturation and seems to pick up colours very well. One issue that was found to be far more prominent on the Phantom 4 than on the Mavic Pro was the propellers cutting into the picture. This was severe when flying fast in the Sport Mode and was far less noticeable with the Mavic Pro where you hardly ever see the propellers enter the frame. The Mavic Pro also performs far better in low-light conditions than the Phantom 4.
Remote Control or Transmitter
The Phantom 4 remote has a bulky, fixed design which is far larger than the Mavic Pro controller which again features foldable limbs and is designed for easy portability. The Mavic controller has two limbs that fold out in order to hold your mobile device which acts as your screen and two foldable antennae which ensure a good signal.
The Phantom 4 transmitter used Lightbridge technology and before that it was simply a Wi-Fi connection. The Mavic Pro now uses a new technology called OcuSync which allows you to fly 4.3 miles away while retaining a 720p connection. When the drone is being flown in a closer proximity, the transmitter is capable of a full 1080p downlink. Another advantage of this new technology is that there are no longer any ‘glitchy’ or pixelated moments of flight that would sometimes occur with Lightbridge technology when flying the Phantom 4.
One feature that is missing on the remotes that is much needed is an HD port. This will soon be very important as demand increases for the virtual reality feature. DJI are even bringing out their own virtual reality goggles and so the transmitters will need some sort of output port to facilitate this.
DJI claims that the Phantom 4 has a range of 5km while the DJI Mavic Pro has a claimed 7km range. The Mavic Pro also has a Precision Landing function which allows it to land far more precisely than the Phantom 4 when using the Return-To-Home feature that both possess. You can do this by hovering in one place just after taking off so that the Mavic can register where to land again when you instruct it to do so.
The Mavic Pro is a lot faster than the Phantom 4 in both the Regular Mode. In the Sport Mode, the Mavic is only slightly quicker than the Phantom 4 but it also performs at a higher level in varying conditions such as when flying into the wind due to its lower surface area.
‘Tap-To-Fly’ allows you to tap an area on your screen and will send the drone off to that specific location.
‘Spotlight’ is a function whereby the drone will do whatever it needs to do in order to keep you in the frame.
‘Profile’ is similar however the drone will act like a cable camera and follow along side of you.
‘Trace’ locks the drone in front of or behind you and it will then follow you in that position. These features are great for personal use when you don’t want to have to control the drone yourself.
‘ActiveTrack’ remains and is the function whereby you draw a rectangle around the subject of focus.
‘Gesture Control’ is a new feature that allows you to actually wave your arms to get the drones attention and then create a picture frame with your fingers in order to instruct the drone to take a picture of you. In a sense, they’ve invented the drone selfie.
‘Tripod Mode’ is a cool new function designed specifically for indoors and allows you to set the drone at a certain height rather than lugging around a tripod. This mode also slows the drone down to 2.2 miles an hour which allows users even more flexibility in the type of panning shots and time-lapse style shots they wish to achieve.
Overall, both are great drones and will be much loved by their owners. In all honesty, the Mavic Pro does however appear to streak ahead of the Phantom 4 in many categories. In my opinion the enhanced portability is enough to convince most consumers of which is the better choice. In comparing the actual aerial footage of both drones, I would say that the Phantom 4 takes slightly better shots than the Mavic Pro but the Mavic is much smaller as well as much faster and maneuvrable. The Phantom 4 is still a great drone and does have certain advantages over this new drone such as having a wider angle of attack. The Mavic Pro has however been a major upset and is taking the industry to an all new-level. Click the link below to get yours today: