DJI Spark Vs DJI Phantom 3 SE | Best Budget DJI Drone
The Spark and the Phantom are very different drones, the Spark is a super portable ‘selfie’ style drone while the Phantom 3 is a substantial, more traditional style of drone. The one thing they do share in common though is price. The Spark comes in at £519 ($499) for just the drone or £699 ($699) for the ‘fly more combo’ while the Phantom 3 Standard is £509 ($499) and the Phantom SE is £599 ($599).
The Phantom 3 is 4 times heavier than the Spark. The length and width of the the Phantom are twice as big and it’s a whopping 4 times the height of the Spark. So right there you have an important buying factor of how you want to use the drone.
Are you going to do planned days out and shoots or do you just want it to throw in a bag spontaneously. If it’s the latter then it’s worth remembering that the best camera is the one you have on you. The Spark is easier to charge on the go while the Phantom realistically needs a dedicated backpack or case for travel. The Phantom can be quite an imposing drone with a very obvious camera which can draw unwanted attention in public places. DJI Spark on the other hand looks more like a colourful toy, so it is a bit less intimidating to some people.
The Spark clearly has the war on size and portability won and that is no surprise.
The Spark has a 2-axis gimbal and 1080p camera while the Phantom features a 3-axis gimbal and 4K resolution with 60fps for 2.7k and 1080p filming.
Both have cameras that shoot 12 megapixel stills, the Phantom has not only the ability to shoots raw photos but also the ability to shoot them during filming.
The Phantom’s camera is clearly superior with its additional panning movement and higher resolution shooting. Not everyone has the technical capabilities to edit 4K video but it’s great for cropping in to shots or just creating stunning high resolution visuals. The Spark is more focused on people who are not interested in post production and just want to quickly get shots and post them online easily.
The Phantom can fly at speeds of up to 34mph (54kph) against the Spark’s 31mph (49kph) top speed. Although that is with the Spark set in sport mode, so it’s more like 13mph (20kph).
The tiny Spark packs in 16 minutes of flight time while the Phantom can offer an additional 36% of battery life with a 25 minute flight time.
Both offer 720p live view at 30fps but the Phantom blows the Spark out of the water in terms of flight distance with an operation distance of up to 2.5 miles (4km). Spark can fly up to a distance of 1.2 miles (1.9km), you do need to remember that obviously height and distance from the controller are taken in to account in that distance. For non commercial users this will likely not be an issue though due to local flying restrictions.
Spark has front facing obstacle sensors and this is where the Phantom 3 does start to show it’s age a little with its lack of onboard obstacle avoidance. It does have downward facing vision positioning though for stable flight even without GPS.
In terms of flight modes the Spark has a lot of simple flight modes that create professional looking camera moves in the touch of a button.
This is a really hard one to call because the Phantom has Spark beat on speed, flight time and distance but it does lack obstacle sensors and some of the preprogrammed advanced camera moves.
In short the Phantom will produce much better results than the Spark but you need to work for those results. The Spark will give you instant gratification in terms of flying and shooting, but you are much less involved in both the flying and creative process. The Spark with its smaller size and racing mode can be more of a versatile fun drone while the Phantom just is a tool for shooting great looking photo and video and it does that job very well.