DJI Phantom 3 Standard review
- Longer use
- Low weight
- Live camera view
- Great app
Could be better
- Low range
- No 4K
- Low bitrate
- No HDMI or tablet support
- No lightbridge
This drone may be getting old and cheap, but it can still fly with the best of them.
There was a time when majestic cinematic landscape videos were strictly reserved for professional movie makers. But thanks to the rise of YouTube and social media videos, plus the increasing affordability of drones, the barrier to entry for people wanting to capture iconic video is much, much lower.
If you’re keen to explore the joys of drone flying without breaking the bank, the Phantom 3 standard from DJI could be for you.
Design and features
Looking at the Phantom 3 Standard, you wouldn’t confuse it for anything but a drone. Measuring 35cm diagonally excluding the propellers, the Phantom 3 Standard houses its camera between the landing feet and under the drone itself, protecting it from impact or outside interference. All the technology that makes the Phantom fly is located inside the drone’s plastic body with four “arms” protruding from the drone’s corners. These arms are where the four propellers are attached to actually give the Phantom 3 Standard the gift of flight.
The controller is constructed from the same white plastic as the drone itself. While noticeably smaller than controllers from other drones like the Yuneec Q500 or Bebop 2, it’s still quite large overall. The Phantom 3 comes equipped with a microSD card slot and an 8GB microSD card in the box. It has a physical gimbal integrated into the unit and comes with a camera that shoots up to 2.7K quality video.
While flying the controller gives you a nice 720p 30fps live feed with almost no latency through the DJI GO App. The intelligent flight battery is also impressive, with the ability to discharge itself after a predetermined amount of time selected in the app. Checking how much charge is left is only one click away, with the battery offering a huge 25 minutes of flight time.
|Video format||2704 x 1520p at 30fps|
|Photo resolution||4000 x 3000|
|Storage||MicroSD, comes with 8GB card|
|Live FPV (first person view) video:||720p at 30fps|
Advantages: Why you’d want a DJI Phantom 3 Standard.
- Affordable. The Phantom 3 Standard has a lower price than almost all other drones with similar specs.
- Longer use. Its flight time is longer than its competitors.
- Low weight. It's also lighter than other Phantom drones.
- Live camera view. The phone connected receives a 720p 30fps live fpv (first person view) feed with low latency.
- Great app. The DJI GO App stays mostly the same compared with other Phantoms and is far superior to other software.
Disadvantages: Why you might not want a DJI Phantom 3 Standard.
- Low range. The Phantom 3 Standards range is only 1km unlike the Advanced or Professional which both have a 5km range.
- No 4K. The Phantom 3 Standard does not support 4K video and its maximum is 2.7K.
- Low bitrate. The Phantom 3 Standard has a lower bitrate than most other Phantom drones.
- No HDMI or tablet support. The controller does not support large tablets or HDMI video output.
- No lightbridge. The controller does not support lightbridge technology meaning the live video transmission will get worse as the drone gets further.
|Litchi app||App||Adds Phantom 4 modes and more to the Phantom 3 Standard.||$35.99|
|Drone Deploy||Website/app||Creates a 3D/2D map out of photos taken by the drone.||free/$99/$299 Monthly|
|Backpack case||Case||A case to carry the drone in so it is convenient and safe.||$40|
|Range extenders||Attachment||Lets you fly your drone even further.||$6|
|Extra Battery||Battery||Lets you fly your drone for even an long time.||$149|
Litchi App $35.99
This app for iOS gives your Phantom 3 Standard some of the features of a Phantom 4,like “tap to fly”, “follow” mode and “orbit” mode. The Litchi app also adds new features, including a “trip creator” mode, which allows you to create a trip for the drone to fly on autonomously, whether connected to the controller or not. This functionality can make up for the Phantom 3 Standard’s short 1km range. The app can also be used inside a virtual reality headset like Google’s DayDream VR to give you a true fpv (first person view) experience.
Drone Deploy Free/$99 Month/$299 Month
Drone Deploy is 3D mapping software for drones. With the free trial mode, you can make 5 maps per month and view them on the website. Pro ($99) gives you unlimited maps, exporting and volume measurement. Business ($299) gives you everything you need for commercial use. Many businesses, including builders, architects, or farmers could find this service useful for regular drone utilisation. As a farmer, for example, you could send out your drone every two days and see how your crops are growing.
Backpack Case $40
Carrying the Phantom 3 Standard to a remote location by hand would be extremely inconvenient, which is why you should probably buy a case. This simple case has space for four batteries, the propellers, a tablet, the controller and the drone itself. On the side it has a water bottle holder, on the front a pocket for maps while the inside it is made with strong but soft foam to ensure that nothing gets damaged.
Range Extenders $6
The Phantom 3 Standard only has a 1km range, so if you want to fly further, you’ll need a range extender. This simple device slides onto the controller’s antenna and is compatible not only with the Phantom 3 Standard but most DJI controllers. They can be attached and removed at any time and have the added benefit of improving the first person video feed quality.
Extra Battery $150
The Phantom 3 Standard has an impressive flight time of 25 minutes, but that’s still not a huge amount of time. If you’re serious about flying your drone, extra batteries are essential, especially if you’re using the drone for aerial photography.
The DJI Phantom 3 Standard isn’t just a great entry-level drone for new enthusiasts. It’s a great drone overall. If you can live without 4K video resolution and you don't want to fly further than 1km away then this is a solid choice at an affordable price. The fact you get a great camera, insane “smart” battery and a flying machine in one compact package for under $500 is justification enough.
The controller may not be the best on the market, but fortunately it can be modified to suit your needs with options to add a neck strap, tablet stand, a USB and a HDMI video ports. Additionally, the features that make the Phantom 4 drone stand apart can be added through a third-party app, while the range limitations can be overcome with a range extender as well. All this adds up to an impressive device that is definitely worth consideration for anyone looking to explore the world of drone flying.