Spark vs Phantom 3
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Spark vs Phantom: Which is Better for YOU?

With the recent release of the Spark, DJI now has two drones under $500. The Phantom 3 Standard and Spark both have a base price of $499. If you are reading this then you already know you want a DJI drone but you don’t have a 4-figure budget. How do you know which of these full-featured drones is right for you? That’s where we can help. We will take a look at the two drones including the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as hidden costs and camera comparisons. We’ve also done full reviews of both drones. You can learn more about the Spark here, or you can read about the Phantom 3 here.

Spark vs Phantom 3 Standard

Take a look at the Spark and Phantom 3 Standard

Both are excellent drones, but they are vastly different. The Spark is a small, lightweight drone designed to be easy to fly. The Phantom 3 Standard is a full-sized drone built for the budding aerial photographer. Let’s see where each excels…

Spark vs Phantom

Prices are subject to change. *Range with optional remote

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Advantage Spark

The Spark has a few advantages over the Phantom 3 Standard. They are:

  1. Size and portability
  2. Ease-of-use
  3. Forward Obstacle Avoidance
  4. Gesture control, Active Track, and new flight modes
  5. Longer range (with optional controller)
  6. Newer camera
The DJI Spark viewed from all angles

See the DJI Spark from all angles

The most obvious difference between the two is size. The Spark is roughly the size of a large smartphone while the Phantom is the size of a basketball. The Phantom will require a special case or backpack to be transported easily. They Spark, on the other hand, can be flown without a bulky remote. It can fly using hand gestures at a range up to 10 meters or as much as 100 meters using your smartphone or tablet. Not having to carry a remote makes the Spark even easier to take with you.

Lava Red Spark

Check out the Spark in Lava Red with the Optional Remote.

The Spark was designed to be able to get in the air in less than a minute. The Phantom isn’t difficult to set up, but installing the props, setting up the remote with your tablet or phone, and pairing the remote takes a couple minutes.

Once the drones are in the air, the Spark has the advantage of obstacle avoidance. It has sensors in the front of the drone that will help prevent collisions. The Phantom 3 has no avoidance system. The quick flight modes of the Spark were designed for quick videos with the push of a button. The Phantom 3 also has some advanced flight modes of its own, but they are more limited.

DJI Spark obstacle avoidance

Take a look at the camera, gimbal and front obstacle avoidance sensors on the Spark

Gesture control is an all-new feature that is only available on the latest DJI drones, including the Spark. The Spark is currently the only drone that you can control without a remote. It responds to your hand gestures and will even snap pictures. Luke Skywalker could lift an X-Wing out of a swamp with his hand, now you can do the same with the Spark. You’ll have to use your smartphone or the optional remote if you want to fly further than the 10-meter limit imposed when using hand gestures.

The Spark has a range of 2000 meters or 1.2 miles if you add the optional remote. That is double the 1000 meter range of the Phantom 3. You’ll have to add the Fly More package to the Spark in order to get the remote, it is not included in the $499 base price.

Spark Fly More

This is what you’ll get with the Fly More package. The Spark, two batteries, propeller guards, charging hub, remote, case, travel bag, USB cord, and instructions.

The Phantom 3 camera has some key advantages over the Spark’s, but the Spark also has an edge in some areas. The Phantom 3 Standard has a f/2.8 lens, while the Spark’s lens is a faster f/2.6. Both drones sport a 1/2.3 inch 12-megapixel sensor, but the Spark’s sensor is a newer design that is more sensitive and produces better colors. Because of the Sparks better sensor, larger aperture, and newer processing algorithms, the Spark’s images and video are likely to look better much of the time, without the need for any post-processing of your footage. Read on to learn more about the advantages of the Phantom, including some key advantages that its camera has.

Buy a SparkBuy a Spark Fly More Package

Advantage Phantom 3 Standard

  1. Better gimbal
  2. Better video options
  3. Faster and more stable
  4. Range (vs. base model Spark)
  5. Longer flight time
  6. Actual Cost

The Phantom 3 has an advantage over the Spark when it comes to video modes. The Phantom 3 camera is capable of shooting 2.7K video, whereas the Spark maxes out at 1080p. While 2.7K does have its advantages, 1080p is most likely good enough for most applications. When recording in 1080p, the Phantom 3 can capture video at 60 fps, whereas the Spark is limited to 30 fps. The inability of the Spark to record at 60 fps in full HD is a major limitation for many consumers.

DJI Phantom 3 silhouette

The Phantom 3 Standard can capture some great pictures.

The Phantom has a three-axis gimbal while the Spark only 2-axis gimbal stabilization. The Spark gimbal does not have the ability to stabilize yaw, but this is not a huge issue since drones are pretty stable in yaw, even in light winds.

The Phantom 3 is a little faster than the Spark with a top speed of 36 mph while the Spark tops out at 31 mph. The Phantom 3 is also more a stable drone in windy conditions. Its larger size and more powerful motors allow it to fight the elements and help capture smooth videos in light to moderate winds. The smaller, lighter Spark does not handle moderate or heavy winds as well.

DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Take a look at the Phantom 3 Standard.

Earlier we mentioned that the Spark had double the range of the Phantom 3. However, that is only if you purchase the optional remote. When we compare base models the Spark has a paltry range of just 100 meters. The Phantom has a range of 1000 meters out of the box, that is 10 times the Spark’s range for the base models.

The Phantom 3 also has a longer flight time than the Spark. The Phantom 3 can fly for a maximum of 25 minutes. The Spark is limited to only 16 minutes of flight time. You can, of course, purchase additional batteries for either drone to help extend your flying fun.

Phantom 3 Standard

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is a solid option.

Hidden Costs

The Phantom 3 Standard is a fairly complete drone out of the box. We recommend an extra battery for almost any drone and a carrying case for protecting your investment when you take it on the road. DJI has excellent package deals on Amazon for the Phantom 3 and you can add another battery, case, and other accessories for $629 and sometimes even less. Some second-party sellers have even better deals. While the second battery and case are nice for the Phantom 3, if you keep the original box for transporting your drone and you don’t mind being limited to 25-minute flights then you can always pick up accessories later.

Phantom 3 Package

You can get great deals on packages like this one on Amazon.

The Spark is quite limited if you only opt for the $499 base model. The 16 minutes of flight time will go by quickly and you’ll find out that flying with a smartphone isn’t ideal when you want a longer range or more precise control. To really enjoy the Spark you’ll need to pick up the Fly More Package. This package adds a second battery, the remote, a carrying case and a few other accessories. The Spark with the Fly More Package costs $699. We would highly recommend you buy the Spark with the Fly More Package.

Spark Fly More

This is what you’ll get with the Fly More package. The Spark, two batteries, propeller guards, charging hub, remote, case, travel bag, USB cord, and instructions.

Buy a Phantom 3 StandardBuy a Phantom 3 Standard Package

Which is Best for You?

If $500 is your maximum budget we would recommend the Phantom 3 Standard. That Phantom is also likely the right choice for you if you want a stable drone for near professional quality photos and video. The Spark is a better all-around drone for the weekend warrior. It’s smaller lightweight design and ease-of-use make it perfect for first-time pilots. Be advised, the $499 base Spark package will leave you wanting more out of your drone. The $699 Fly More Spark Package is the way to go. That gets closer to the price of the $733 Phantom 3 Pro or even the DJI Mavic.

Spark vs Phantom 3

The Spark on the back of the Phantom 3 Pro. Which may be a better drone for price comparison.

Buy a SparkBuy a Spark Fly More Package

 

Buy a Phantom 3 StandardBuy a Phantom 3 Standard Package

DJI has a lot of great drones. You’ll have to choose the one that best suits your needs. From the tiny Spark to the gigantic Matrice 600, chances are they have you covered. Would you like to see how the Spark stacks up against some other drones? Click here.

DJI Drone size comparison

The DJI Inspire 2, Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic Pro, and Spark all on top of the I Matrice 600

Disclosure:

This website contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures and disclaimers page.



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Best Drone Under $50

Best Drone Under $100

Best Drone Under $500

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Half Chrome • June 20, 2017


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