DJI has just announced the latest update to its Phantom line, which looks set to be a direct replacement of the Phantom 2—the Phantom 3. Initially, two versions will be available, the Advanced Edition, identified by silver stripes on the prop arms, and the Professional Edition, likewise distinguished by gold stripes. The most notable feature of these new quadcopters, at least as far as the aerial market is concerned, is the incorporation of a purpose-built, three-axis, gimbal-stabilized camera system similar to the one currently found on the Phantom 2 Vision+. Differentiating the Advanced and Professional models is the video resolution of the camera. The Advanced tops out at 1080p, while the Professional bumps recording capability I suspect, up to 4K-UHD (3840 x 2160) but have not yet confirmed. On the photos side, both cameras are equally blessed, able to capture 12MP stills in either JPG or DNG RAW format.
The flight control system carries over the same GPS-assisted features to which we've become accustomed with other DJI Phantoms. These included IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control) to keep stick orientation on the transmitter relative to the pilot regardless of which way the aircraft is pointing, automatic Return Home if contact with the transmitter is lost or at the press of a "panic" button, plus the ability to hold in a fixed hover, the latter a crucial feature for aerial filmmaking. On top of GPS, the Phantom 3 introduces to the Phantom line the optical flow sensor that originated on the Inspire 1. This technology combines a ground-facing camera taking rapid-fire photos with sonar to enable reasonably precise positioning where GPS is unavailable—especially close to the ground or indoors.
Along with the radio control system, the camera-equipped Phantom 3 aircraft also feature a digital downlink, which can beam a live video feed to a mobile device on the ground end at up to 720p resolution (most likely the device will need to be USB-tethered to the transmitter, as with the Inspire 1, but this is unconfirmed). The app used to access this feature is an update of the previous Pilot app. In addition to monitoring and camera operation, it enables recording of a lower resolution copy of what the camera sees for in-app editing, upload to social media, or even live streaming to YouTube ( where an Internet connection is available). Another feature of the app is a flight simulator, allowing pilots-in-training to get some practice in before taking to the air.
Performance also sees a boost with the Phantom 3. I don't have the exact numbers at hand, but I would expect to see a redesigned propulsion system along the lines of the Tuned Propulsion System, perhaps similar to what the later Phantom 2 models use. If so, enhancements would include more powerful motors and a more efficient prop design. This translates into a higher top speed, better stability, and longer battery life.
For more information on these new products as well as updates on estimated availability, please visit their product pages on the B&H website.