The Phantom 4 Pro boasts a better camera, more advanced obstacle avoidance, greater battery life, and additional intelligent flight modes. It puts some space between the top of the Phantom line and the new Mavic Pro as well—a cheaper, smaller drone DJI released in October 2016.
The Phantom 4 Pro has a few other improvements over the Phantom 4. It has a focus button integrated into the shutter button, HDMI out, and an SD card slot for viewing your footage if you have an external display. There’s even an optional controller that has a built-in tablet-like display.
The Phantom 4 Pro has a 1-inch CMOS sensor that shoots 20 megapixel stills and can capture up to 11.6 stops of dynamic range. Greater dynamic range means the camera’s sensors will be better able to balance and resolve differences between light and dark. This is a common problem in aerial footage, when you often have a brightly lit sky against dark terrain below.
A new mechanical shutter on the Phantom 4 Pro will help to alleviate the “rolling shutter” effect, especially when filming quick pans or chasing fast-moving subjects. And it has added the ability to adjust the lens aperture, giving filmmakers greater control over depth of field in their images. The camera can now shoot 14 photos per second in burst mode and capture slow motion video at 60 frames per second.
The DJI Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro have obstacle avoidance, but it only works when you are flying forward. The Phantom 4 Pro has sensors on all four sides, meaning the drone can see and avoid obstacles while moving in any direction.
Another big change with the Phantom 4 Pro is that you can buy a remote with a built-in display, something other competitors like GoPro, 3DR and Yuneec had in their models. The new remote is much brighter than your average smartphone, and offers the perk of allowing you to fly without burning the battery on your primary communications device.
The battery life on the Phantom 4 Pro has increased a touch, from 25 minutes to 30. The new drone will fly autonomously through much tighter spaces and more complex environments. And you can have it navigate to waypoints simply by drawing a line on your map with a finger.
It has cameras in the back and infrared sensors on the sides to give it 360-degree obstacle avoidance. With all of these new sensors, you can now fly backward, forwards and even sideways with more confidence that you won’t crash. It can also travel 10MPH faster in than the other two drones with obstacle avoidance turned on.
If you just want to buy a drone for a fun-flying experience, cheaper and easier to fly, the Mavic Pro or Karma will do the trick. But if you're looking to start a career in aerial photography, then the Phantom 4 Pro is your best choice and a real upgrade to the previous Phantom 4.
The Pro+ version is a little more expensive if you opt for the controller with the built-in screen.