Is the DJI Phantom 3 still worth buying? Guide to all the models.

 

DJI Phantom 3 morning

 

Is the DJI Phantom 3 still worth it? Yes, absolutely! Despite being superseded by the Phantom 4, the Phantom 3 range offers something for everyone and carries a lot of relevant and useful tech. for current buyers.

 

Long live the Phantom….

 

DJI Phantom 3 flying above houses

 

The basic design hasn’t really changed much between the Phantom 3 and the Phantom 4 – this is testament to the longevity and suitability of the drone, even today. The basic design has not changed much from the Phantom 1, and DJI have been refining the Phantom since 2013.

The DJI Phantom 3 has a 25 minute flight time (in still conditions) and is a very stable drone indeed. Many other drones have a three axis gimbal, but very few are as stable in the air as this. This is also true when flying close the ground – all Phantom 3 models have excellent stability and don’t seem to be badly affected by ground effect, like some other drones.

All cameras are very good, and feature distortion-free, wide angle f2.8 lenses, and capture good quality footage and stills.

 

The  Phantom 3 models have a bunch of tech and capabilities that are still relevant today:

 

Phantom 3 Standard

  • Advanced flight modes

Phantom 3 Advanced

  • 6562 ft range (‘Lightbridge’ technology)
  • GLONASS system enables more precise hovering and faster satellite acquisition

Phantom 3 Pro

  • 4K resolution
  • 60mbps maximum bitrate
  • 3 mile range

 

DJI Phantom 3 – is it still worth it?

 

DJI Phantom 3 flying in forest

 

The Phantom 3 models still make sense in the lower price brackets, with the tried and tested Phantom design and relevant tech. However, price drops in the Phantom 4 range are making it the best pick in more and more price brackets – this will only continue over time.

If money is no object, then it’s simple – buy the P4 Pro Plus!

For the rest of us, see the recommendations below based on available budget:

 

Under $500

 

There is only one! The Phantom 3 Standard is now available under $500! This is incredible value for a such a capable drone, and highly recommended so long as you don’t need 4K resolution, and can live with the 3281 feet range.

 

$500 – $800

 

The Phantom 3 Pro is king in this bracket – it delivers 4K resolution and a 3.1 mile range at a excellent price. The ability to fly such a long way whilst capturing 4K footage covers the vast majority of use cases.

 

$800 – $1200

 

Price drops in the Phantom 4 line give you (at the time of writing) two options – the Phantom 4 Advanced, and the Phantom 4 Pro. These models offer roughly 5 minutes extra flying time over the Phantom 3, a DSLR quality camera, obstacle avoidance, and a longer range.

 

$1200 +

 

The Phantom 4 Pro Plus is the upper range pick as, not only does it have the excellent camera, obstacle avoidance, and the long range of the Phantom 4 Pro – it also has an EXCELLENT 5.5 inch HD display integrated into the controller.

Disclaimer: price bands are approximate, and based on prices at time of writing. For pricing, click on the ‘CHECK ON AMAZON’ boxes.

The Phantom 3 models

 

Phantom 3 Standard

 

VIDEO: 2.7K Ultra HD video at 30fps

PHOTO: 12MP

FLIGHT TIME: 25 minutes

SIZE: 19.3in X 19.3in X 7.6in

 

CHECK ON AMAZON

 

If you don’t need portability, long range, or 4K video resolution – this is a capable and great value drone.

Pros:

  • Excellent value as has been superseded by the Phantom 4
  • Very good footage and stills

Cons:

  • A lot of reports of poor DJI customer support
  • Variable build quality
  • Limited range
  • Wi-Fi only

For more information, see my article on the best camera drones.

 

Phantom 3 Advanced

 

 

VIDEO: 2.7K Ultra HD video at 30fps

PHOTO: 12MP

FLIGHT TIME: 25 minutes

SIZE: 19.3in X 19.3in X 7.6in

 

CHECK ON AMAZON

Can you make do with 2.7K? If so, this is a good bet – it has an increased range of up to 6562 ft, and streaming video thanks to DJI ‘Lightbridge’ technology

For more information, see my article on the best camera drones.

 

Phantom 3 Pro

 

 

VIDEO: Resolution 4K at 30FPS

PHOTO: 12MP

FLIGHT TIME: 23 minutes

SIZE:  19.3in X 19.3in X 7.6in

 

CHECK ON AMAZON

Great value due to newer Phantom models being introduced. Has a long range (3.1 miles) and excellent video capture. Still holds up well today.

For more information, see my article on the best camera drones.

 

Note:  In case you’re wondering where the Phantom 3 4K is – we do not recommend it and we feel the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Pro are far better options. Both feature HD video streaming, and a far greater range.

 

Should I buy a Phantom 4 instead?

 

We’ve boiled the decision down to four questions. Answering the following questions will go a long way in helping you make the right decision:

 

Will I view video and photos on a large TV, or do I want pro quality? If not, you may not need a 4K camera drone and it would be worth looking at the Phantom 3 range.

Do I want to fly a drone over long distances? If not, then you could consider a Phantom 3 Standard or Phantom 3 Advanced.

Do I need to take DSLR quality images? Do I want or need pro quality video? If the answer is yes, then look at the Phantom 4 models, as they have a large (1”) sensor and a mechanical shutter.

Will I be flying close to objects to get shots? If so, you might want to get a Phantom 4 drone with advanced obstacle avoidance.

 

Differences between Phantom 3 and Phantom 4

 

The main differences between the two ranges are as follows:

  • Phantom 4 models have longer flight times – approx. 5 minutes longer
  • Phantom 4 models have obstacle avoidance
  • All Phantom 4 models listed in this article feature a DSLR sized image sensor camera sensor

 

 

 

New features on the Phantom 4

 

  • 5 direction obstacle avoidance (Pro models)
  • Large sensor camera – 1 inch sensor (compared to 1/2.3” in Mavic Pro), which is similar size to what is featured in a typical DSLR camera
  • Mechanical shutter  – eliminates ‘Rolling Shutter Effect’ of electronic shutters. This shows itself as a wobble, or distortion
  • Excellent battery life – approx. 30 minutes
  • ‘Draw mode’ which enable you to draw a flight path on the screen with your finger….the drone then follows this path. This is great for concentrating on operating the camera controls whilst the drone flies itself
  • Tough magnesium alloy frame
  • Ground collision sensors enable easy navigation close to the ground and indoors, as well as enabling incredible hover accuracy
  • Super long range – 4.3 miles
  • The Phantom 4 controller is quite large, but it is very comfortable and easy to use
  • 24mm lens
  • Weight 10.3 pounds
  • Top speed 45 mph
  • New batteries are smaller and easier to remove than previous model

 

The Phantom 4 models

 

DJI Phantom 4 snow

 

Note: Please see our article on the best camera drones for further details on the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 models

Phantom 4 Advanced

Same as the Pro model, but does not have 5- direction obstacle sensing, only front and rear sensors, which are the most important. Also doesn’t have the ability to switch to the 5.8GHz frequency band in areas of high interference. This is a consideration if flying in built up areas.

Phantom 4 Pro

5 direction obstacle avoidance, mechanical shutter, 1″ camera sensor (similar to DSLR camera), 30 minute battery life, and 4.3 mile range.

Phantom 4 Pro Plus

Same as Pro model but has a much improved controller with a  large (5.5 inch) integrated display

Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian

Same as Pro model, but with a black paint job!

Phantom 4 Pro v2.0

This model has OcuSync video transmission system found on more expensive models. The main benefit of this technology is that the drone automatically switches to the frequency band with the lowest interference to help avoid connection issues

 

Wrapping up….

 

Phantom 3 hovering

 

The DJI Phantom 3 range still cuts it today. Just because it’s not the latest and greatest, it does not mean that it is a bad buy or cannot meet your needs.

The Phantom 3 Standard makes a great first drone, as it features the enduring Phantom design, stability in the air, and other typical DJI hallmarks such as ease of use, robustness and good software. Furthermore, the 2.7K camera is good for the vast majority of use cases.

 

 

 

There are other good beginner drones like the DJI Spark, if you want a small drone, or the Yuneec Q500 4K Typhoon, if you want a removable gimbal (can be used as a handheld solution) or you don’t like the Phantom design – see our reviews here.

The Phantom 3 Standard and the Phantom 3 Pro are the best picks under $800, but the Phantom 4 models have dropped in price, and may do again, so keep an eye out. If or when the Phantom 4 Advanced drops to Phantom 3 Pro money, the P4 is the better pick.

 

 

 

If you’ve read this article all the way though, you will probably know that I am a fan of the Phantom 3’s competence and value. However, not all P3 models are created equal. Earlier on, I recommended the Phantom 3 Standard and the Phantom 3 Pro as the best picks in their price brackets and did not recommend the Phantom 3 Advanced or the Phantom 3 4K.

The Phantom 3 Advanced is still a great drone, but the Pro offers a lot more for not a lot more money. If your budget won’t quite stretch, then pull the trigger on the Advanced – it won’t disappoint.

 

The Phantom 3 4K on the other hand seems like a slightly cynical release – essentially taking a Standard model and sticking a 4K camera on it. For a little extra cash you can get a ‘Lightbridge’ equipped Advanced or Pro model, with a much further range and live HD video streaming.

 

Wrap it up!

If you want the most capable drone, and have around $1000 to spend – get a Phantom 4 Advanced or Pro.

If you want a DSLR quality stills, pro quality video, or want to fly close to objects – get a Phantom 4 Model.

If money is no object, and you want the latest and greatest – get a Phantom 4 Pro Plus.

EVERYONE ELSE – get a Phantom 3 Standard or Phantom 3 Pro.

Easy!

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I'm the person behind Come Drone With Me and a 20-year aviation industry professional. Drop me a line on the contact page, and I'll get right back to you. Happy flying!

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