Phantom 4 /DJI SENSE Rumors Leaks & Release Date (Updated March 2, 2016)



Updated March 2, 2016


Given DJI’s status as the No. 1 drone-maker, it’s no surprise the Web’s abuzz with wonder over its next-gen hardware. Most of that buzz is directed toward the Phantom, the best-selling consumer drone on the market. And the fourth-generation is just about to make its debut.

So, just what is the rumor-mill saying about DJI’s next-gen wonder?

Phantom 4

 What We Know

DJI will release a preview in New York on March 1st, with retailers taking deliveries that same month A few purported Phantom 4 images have leaked on the Web, showing a larger battery and motors. If the leaked images are genuine, they point to a logical direction: Improved thrust, range, and flight time. The Phantom 3 Professional can fly for 23 min. and up to 35 MPH. Those are solid benchmarks for any next-gen aircraft. Bet that DJI will pass them.

Phantom 4 vs Phantom 3

What We Hear...

A LOT. Many analysts disregarded the idea of a detachable camera like the Inspire 1's, but the latest leaks point to just that. Bloggers say DJI will offer a detachable and upgradeable 4.6K camera. There also seems to be some sort of "panoramic" mode, but no certainty as to whether or not the camera offers 360-degree rotation. No 360 camera signals no dual-remote.

It also sounds like the Phantom 4 will be even smarter. Taking cue from Yuneec's Typhoon H hexacopter, DJI may include an enhanced object-avoidance system for the next Phantom. This will be a cause for celebration to many drone owners who've seen their beloved machines fall victim to tree branches and power lines. 

Phantom 4

Alleged leaks hint that DJI is making the Phantom even sturdier. The latest prototype seems to sport a more aerodynamic body made from a tougher composite, no doubt addressing complaints from current Phantom owners about the 3's frailty. Addressing another complaint: easier and bigger access to the battery. The landing gear still looks fixed, meaning pilots will have to yaw their way out of an interrupting landing gear shot. 

DJI's made much of its new Lightbridge 2 system. Lightbridge 2 streams live 1080p, 60fps video wirelessly. The new system automatically adjusts channels to prevent latency at up to 1.2 mi., or 2 km, yielding 30-50% better range and video quality The Lightbridge 2 is cutting-edge tech even by commercial standards; having it integrated into the consumer-grade Phantom would be a game-changer--just don't expect SDI signal output...that's Inspire territory.

Phantom 4 Camera

The most recent leaks have pointed to DJI’s patent for “Systems and Methods for Target Tracking.” Simply put: DJI patented a drone system where a user taps on a subject on his tablet/smartphone screen and the drone tracks that subject. The drone will automatically pitch, yaw, zoom, and focus to maintain a steady and clear shot. If true, this would lift the burden that a drone operator has piloting and filming. (Interestingly enough, DJI trademarked the name TapFly™ on Feb. 8th.) An auto-adjusting, auto-targeting system done with a simple tap on a screen is a monumental step toward simplifying drone operation for the masses.

Bloggers have counted nine DJI patents from Oct. 15, 2015 to Feb. 11, 2016. These patents include "Transformable Aerial Vehicle," "Impact Protection Apparatus," and "Multi-Zone Battery Exchange System." Pretty wild stuff.

Another interesting rumor: DJI might avoid applying the number "4" to this updated Phantom. DJI's CEO has been open about his admiration for Apple, and word is he may want to go the Apple route when it comes to naming. (Think Phantom 3, 3+, or Phantom Sense.) Don't expect anything clear about this till March 1st.


The most we have? DJI's teaser video seen above.

The teaser video points to a larger battery with grips and some elements from DJI's "Guidance" system. Here's DJI's explanation of Guidance taken straight from its website:

Guidance is a revolutionary visual sensing system. With a powerful processing core, integrated visual cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and the most advanced computer vision algorithms in the world, Guidance protects your platform and gives you a new level of safety and confidence in flight. Guidance includes five sensor modules and one central processor.

Look closely at the above video (around 0:25) and you will spot what appears to be a mesh screen ventilation cover for the taller motors. (Those taller motors look to generate 20-40% more thrust.) Also notice the holes at the end of the arm tips (about 0:35), just around the motors, which may be for better prop guards. If so, this would be in response to the failure of many prior aftermarket guards. 

What of price? The number bandied about--and it's unclear for which variant--has been around $1,400. That's $700 more than the Phantom 3 Pro, which points to the 4 as being an addition to (not a replacement of) the current range.


In the Meantime…

Don’t discount the Phantom 3 yet. DJI’s bread-and-butter drone is still the segment leader, consistently ranking at the top of comparison tests. It also accounts for the overwhelming majority of the consumer drone sales, and will likely continue to for quite some time.

> You can discover Drone World's upcoming lineup of Phantom 4 kits, bundles and accessories by clicking here.