Earlier this year, Forbes estimated that DJI held up to 70% of the consumer drone market share. 2016 appears to be the year where DJI has gotten bored of waiting for others to step up to the plate and decided to compete against itself. First, there was the rather strange move to release the excellent DJI Mavic Pro just over six months after the release of the also excellent Phantom 4. We speculated at the time that the Mavic would likely cannibalize sales of the Phantom 4, but DJI didn’t seem concerned.
Now the company has announced two new drones, the Phantom 4 Pro and the Inspire 2. The Phantom 4 Pro is an update to the Phantom 4 that was released earlier this year. The Phantom was recently usurped by the Mavic as clearly DJI’s best consumer level drone, boasting all the features of the Phantom 4 in a smaller, more portable package.
The Phantom 4 Pro aims to widen the gap again, bringing more professional fliers back to the Phantom with a number of upgrades, including vastly improved obstacle avoidance. Where the Phantom 4 could only sense obstacles that were directly ahead of it, the Phantom 4 Pro has sensors on four sides. ‘Return to home’ now see the drone retrace its steps, as it were, making crashes even less likely. The Pro also boasts an improved 30 minutes of flight time, topping the Mavic’s 26 minutes and the Phantom 4’s 28.
In terms of photography, the Phantom 4 Pro includes a redesigned 1-inch sensor that shoots 20MP stills and 4k video at up to 60fps with a bitrate of 100Mbps. The new sensor has 11.6 stops of dynamic range, and should be adept at shooting in even the most challenging of conditions.
Unlike previous Phantoms, which relied on smart devices for control, the Pro can be ordered with an advanced remote which includes a 5.5 inch touch display.
The Inspire 2, meanwhile, is an upgrade to DJI’s prosumer offering. It borrows some features from the Phantom line, including obstacle avoidance, and its flight time has been upped from around 18 minutes to 27 minutes. It’s also a supreme flier, going from zero to 50 in four seconds and hitting top speeds of 67mph. The Inspire 2 is compatible with a range of cameras, including the Zenmuse X5S and the Zenmuse X4S.
The Phantom 4 Pro is available for preorder now. For US$1,500 you’ll need to use your own device as a screen, but for an extra US$300 on top you’ll get the remote with a built-in display. The Inspire 2 is also available for preorder today. It costs US$3,000 and upwards depending on your camera options, and should ship in December.
DJI is now running (if not flying) circles around the competition, having released three consumer level drones in one calendar year – the Phantom 4, the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro. It’ll be interesting to see where DJI go from here, and if anyone can hope to challenge their dominance of the industry.