DJI Drone Comparison: DJI Mavic Pro vs Phantom 4 Pro

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DJI consistently makes the “Best Drones on the Market” lists, whether it be through their Phantom series, Inspire series, Mavic Pro, or newest Spark. Between their slew of other products, DJI spans the entire spectrum of the drone industry regardless if they are professional or consumer grade. However, there are two drones from DJI that are both the top competitors for the best “middle-tier” drone from DJI -- the Mavic Pro or the Phantom 4 Pro.

Mavic Pro vs. Phantom 4

In our eyes, DJI offers 4 different tiers of drones -- Beginner, Middle, Photographer, and Industrial. Since the clear-cut winner of best Beginner drone by DJI is their Spark model, and their Photographer and Industrial drones are intended for professional drone-pilots (see Inspire and Matrice models), we want to really focus on the distinct differences between the middle-tier models, as you have probably asked yourself: “What is the difference between the Mavic Pro and the Phantom Pro besides price?” or “Which one should I buy?”. Here are the factors that we recommend considering (or ignoring) when deciding which drone from DJI is right for you.

Drone Cost

Instead of focusing on cost as a factor, this comparison is only going to look at the technical differences between the two, as that should really be the deciding facts since they are relatively the same price. The goal of ignoring cost is simply to help you make a better decision about what drone is right for you because, believe it or not, it matters!

DJI Mavic Pro Flight Time and DJI Phantom Flight Time

DJI states that the Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro have flight times of 27 and 28 minutes, respectively. However, I have always found those estimates to be a bit exaggerated, and have seen more realistic flight times around 22-23 minutes for the Mavic Pro and a slightly longer time of 25-26 minutes for the Phantom 4 Pro. Flight time is a large factor for any drone, but these times are so close it is likely the middle-tier drone pilot will not take notice of the difference in this factor, so I would recommend ignoring this for the sake of argument.

Mavic Pro Transportability

Mavic Pro DJI Drone

For this factor, the Mavic Pro simply takes the cake. If you’re an adventure seeker, world traveler, or just a lover of small backpacks, the Mavic Pro is much more packable in every way. The rotors on the Mavic Pro do not need to be removed, which means that is 4 less items to keep track of. The arms of the Mavic Pro fold into the body itself, so you do not have to worry about the extra space for your rotors and rotor arms. And lastly, the controller for the Mavic Pro is about 3 times smaller than the controller for the Phantom 4 Pro.

In-Flight Controls: Drone Video Transmission

1117 Controller DJI Phantom 4 Drone - 21117 Controller Mavic Pro Drone - 2

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Actually flying the drone is, as you might guess, pretty important. Since the Phantom Pro (left) and the Mavic Pro (right) are both based off the same system of controllers, they are very similar flight experience. There are, however, a few noticeable differences. Video Transmission Systems vary between the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro, which means that the way the drone communicates to your control screen is different. This also means that the Mavic Pro automatically can communicate with the DJI Goggles, since it uses DJIs OcuSync transmission technology, and provide extremely low latency video transmission between the two devices. The Phantom 4 Pro, on the other hand, uses the more legacy video transmission system called Lightbridge. This does not end up making a drastic amount of difference, but it is noticeable between the two. So once again, the Mavic Pro has an edge.

Obstacle Avoidance

Both the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro have obstacle avoidance, which makes them both great drones, no doubt. However, the Phantom 4 Pro has was DJI calls 360-degree Flight Autonomy. This consists of 5 directions of obstacle sensing. The Phantom 4 Pro utilizes a 6-camera navigation system, which calculates the relative speed of the drone between itself and an object, as well as provides fine-tuned flight for indoor or confined applications. It also uses infrared sensors on the left and right side of the drone to detect the distance away from something the drone is up to 23 ft. away. Lastly, the Phantom 4 Pro features ultrasonic sensor on its underside to precisely calculate how far from the ground it is at all times. This allows for seamless landing procedures and in-flight relative altitude data to be collected and provide the making for a safe flight. All this combined gives the Phantom 4 Pro 360 degrees of flight assurance to protect the drone from obstacles. The Mavic Pro has very similar features, including 5 cameras and the ultrasonic sensors, however it cannot boast the 360 degrees of obstacle awareness that the Phantom has.

Mavic vs. Phantom 4 Camera Compared

DJI Phantom Drone

This factor is what makes the purchasing decision a bit trickier because up to this point the Mavic Pro has stolen the show. However, when it comes to camera capabilities, the Phantom 4 Pro begins to really shine bright. Rather than dumping loads of camera specifications on you, instead I want to point out the differences that make the Phantom 4 Pro the clear winner when it comes to the cameras. First off, the Phantom 4 Pro has a larger camera assembly, which means it has a larger image sensor on board. 2.3x bigger than the Mavic Pro sensor, in fact. The on-board camera system for the Phantom 4 also has a faster image processor, full aperture control, and a mechanical shutter.

These features combine together and really make the camera for the Phantom 4 Pro much better. They allow for a higher ISO range for both video and still images, which means that the camera performs better in low light conditions, like flying during a sunset or during dusk. They allow for a larger field of view, which means that you can capture those “big gaping landscape shots” that you only see in movies, even more so than the Mavic Pro is already capable of. You also get faster video frame speeds with the Phantom 4 Pro as well as a larger image size overall of 20 MP, instead of the Mavic’s 12 MP. Flying a drone is fun, but filming drone footage is what we are all here for, so definitely consider the camera in your decision.

Final Answer

It depends on the person! If you are deeply interested in photography and want to have the best possible camera on your DJI drone, then you know what your answer is. However, if you are like most of us - a 4K camera is a 4K camera - and the decision would be in favor of the Mavic Pro, simply because it is much easier to transport. There are obviously a lot of things to consider, but the decision completely comes down to the personal preference. Both are great drones that are certainly worth the price, but for the everyday drone enthusiast, the Mavic Pro is the better buy.

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