Have you finally got your hands on your favorite DJI drone that had been on the wishlist for a while?
If so, there is a good chance that you are already on the quest to find the perfect companion app for your drone. Good for you as you are on the right track!
DJI has gone beyond the bounds in creating an unbeatable position in the drone market. Along with their extraordinary drones, the manufacturers have also developed control system apps as well.
But your options don’t end there. Most DJI drones are compatible with a variety of third-party apps as well. These alternatives have also gained popularity in recent years. They offer some outstanding features that are used to operate DJI drones.
To help you find the best companion app(s) for your drone, I have done my research on some of those that do their jobs quite well. Rooting for you to find your perfect match in this post!
A large part of this post will be about the best apps for DJI drones — both created by manufacturers and third parties. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
Some of the best apps for DJI drones include DJI GO 4, DJI Fly, Autopilot, Litchi, and UGCS. These apps help in making the most out of your drone experience by offering unique varieties of flight features and shooting modes — all simply from the access of your smartphone.
These apps are a great addition to your drone in offering what a remote controller alone might not be able to.
Don’t get me wrong though: the controller is the most essential part of a drone flight. But to gain a much deeper insight and control of your flight, these drone apps will come in pretty handy for you.
Allow me to talk about each of these in detail.
DJI GO 4 wins as the app which will offer you the best value in the marketplace. That’s because this app is free – making it a good place for you to start.
Its user-friendly interface is another winning feature – thanks to its numerous intelligent modes. They will allow you to get excellent shots with almost no hassles. These include Hyperlapse, Quickshot, Active Track, Point of Interest, Waypoints, Tapfly, and Cinematic Mode.
While these modes are pretty decent, many people will find them way too basic to fit their needs. Let me explain this point by using the example of its Point of Interest feature.
When it comes to allowing your drone to orbit around a fixed object, this mode does a fairly good job. But I can't say the same for a more complex task.
For instance, if you want your drone to follow a relatively complicated, predetermined course, DJI GO 4 won’t deliver the desired results. You ultimately can’t aim for shots that are a bit complex.
On the brighter side, this app allows real-time image transmission as well as good control of camera settings. Even if you grow out of this app and go on to try some others, this will always be your home base for default adjustments.
In a nutshell, as someone who is looking for a more sophisticated operation, you would be left wanting more. However, if you are a newbie or a recreational hobbyist, this app will be a delight for you.
Recommended for: Mavic Pro Series, Phantom 4 Series, Inspire 2 Series
DJI Fly is almost the same as the previous app on my list, except that it is compatible exclusively with the Mavic Mini, Mavic Air Series, and DJI FPV.
The experience of using this app is also somewhat similar to DJI GO 4, considering that it offers more or less the same specs. Additionally it also features intuitive UI controls and in-built tutorials that will help you as a beginner.
If you are a content creator or a photography enthusiast, here’s something of interest.
A great part of this app focuses on providing integrated access to SkyPixel. It is a social media platform that allows users to share their pictures and video masterpieces captured from your drone, all across the world. You can not only browse or post, but can also save your favorite photography spots near you to explore later on.
It also features three unique modes that are special for the Mavic Mini and Mavic Air Series. These include Position Mode for stable shots, Sport Mode for speedious shots, and CineSmooth mode for cinematic footage.
Plus, it also provides live reports of the flights which include aircraft status, RTH altitude, Max Altitude, and Max Distance.
If you need the basic features for your Mavic drone, this will be your go-to app.
Recommended for: Mavic Mini Series, Mavic Air Series, and DJI FPV
Not everyone is on the quest to find an app that offers only basic flight operations. If you are one of them, Autopilot is an excellent choice for you. It offers mind-blowing features that can enhance the creative aspect of shooting.
Speaking of features, with Autopilot, the possibilities are simply endless. Allow me to walk you through some of my personal favorites.
Let's say that you are going up on a hill with your drone connected to this app, as well as in the Follow Me mode. Now, Autopilot comes with a built-in barometer. Along with following you, your drone will also adjust its height. By doing this, your focal object will remain the pivot of your shot.
Airspace is another cool feature that this app offers. It will allow you to spectate another drone from your app.
You can even record your screen during mission planning and flights. This is helpful in the learning process and you can always go back to your older mission setups whenever needed.
That said, let me tell you that this app does have a pretty complex user interface. However, there’s always a quick fix for that. There are many in-app tutorial videos and ample Youtube videos available to help you figure out the functions.
The video below, for example, will help you start up the app.
If you are a professional or an extremely dedicated amateur, I would suggest you invest in Autopilot. All you need is to initially put in some extra time to understand how the app functions.
Once you get the hang of it, the creative freedom that it offers is matchless. Stable flying experience, unbeatable features, and an amazing degree of customization — this app surely has it all!
Recommended for: Inspire Series, Phantom 3 Series, Phantom 4 Series, and Matrice Series
Many people are looking for good customizability but do not have the luxury (or inclination!) to invest a lot of learning time in apps like Autopilot. If that’s the case for you as well, I think Litchi will be a better alternative for you.
With this app, there are so many extraordinary things that I need to highlight. You’ll find a walkthrough video below.
As I mentioned earlier, Litchi is particularly easier to navigate. While it doesn’t offer as wide a horizon of customization as Autopilot, it still has numerous other features. Allow me to put some light on them.
If I talk about image stability, Litchi takes victory like none other. It has features that allow automatic gimbal adjustments of the object of interest. You can also smoothen out your shots further using Orbit, Track, and Focus. And if you are fond of getting the perfect panoramas, its Pano mode will end up being your favorite.
Another great aspect of this app is its Waypoint mode. With that, you can set up an irregular flight plan with various points of interest along the way.
Interestingly, it will also pinpoint the best gimbal angles for the route of your flight. You can stick to the automation, or can even override the controls manually so that they fit your needs.
This is not all. Litchi comes with a desktop program as well. This allows you to plan your flight from your PC/Mac way more easily rather than having to fiddle through your mobile screen. Once your mission is saved, you can access it from your phone too.
Litchi allows you to screen record your in-app activities, just the way Autopilot does. Plus, it also creates a readable flight log so that you can have a post-flight analysis.
It goes without saying that with this app, you will not only have a good flight but will also improve your flying skills in the long run.
Price: Android - $24.99, IOS - $22.99
Recommended for: Inspire Series, Phantom Series, and Mavic Series
Like Litchi, UGCS also has both desktop and Android versions.
The mobile version is only the tip of the iceberg, designed to create instant access to your drone. While you can use it as a stand-alone app for your DJI drone, UGCS is a powerful flight planning software when combined with the desktop version as well..
Whether you are a beginner, a recreational hobbyist, or a commercial pilot — UGCS has features for all.
It features outstanding intelligent modes including Waypoints, Circle, Perimeter, and Area Scan tools. These modes, together, allow for one of the most versatile photography and videography settings.
It also provides telemetry data, drone survey planning tools, facade scan tools, and post-flight analytic tools.
With all of those points out of the way, my personal favorite is its immersive 3D mission planning environment.
It’s similar to the Google Earth interface, where you can plan your flight from a much more realistic perspective. Plus, you can view different angles and look out for terrains and buildings.
It offers three different tiers priced at different values so that you can pick the one that fits your needs perfectly. While some will find them to be a bit more pricey for their budget, I think that it's a great investment for those who seek absolute perfection.
Price: $65, $600 and $2000
Recommended for: Matrice Series, Spark Series, Inspire Series, Phantom Series, Mavic Series
As I mentioned earlier as well, DJI Fly App offers pretty basic features that most people tend to grow out of. This is why they eventually turn to other drone app alternatives.
I’ve already alluded to this before, but here’s more to know.
There are many alternatives available to the DJI Fly app. These include Autopilot, Litchi, UGCS, AirMap, and Hover among many others. These are all third-party apps that are compatible with DJI drones. As a matter of fact, many pilots believe them to be much better than the DJI Fly app itself.
It is their unique features and advanced flight modes that have made them so popular among drone users. They are versatile and will allow you to capture pictures and videos with enhanced levels of creativity.
And of course, their customization options rarely disappoint!
By now, you have learned a lot about apps that are compatible with the DJI drones. Now the next important question is: do you even need one in the first place?
While getting an app isn’t a necessity to fly a DJI drone, it is still highly recommended. That’s because apps enhance the flight experience to a great extent. Without one, you would miss out on intelligent flight modes and safety features; including the Return To Home feature.
No matter how experienced a pilot you are, there is always room for human error. With these apps, you can have an increased chance of minimizing these errors and having a much more efficient flight.
To get the best features, it is even possible to use multiple apps at the same time!
You must already have an idea of how much a drone app costs. Now allow me to give you an overall pricing approach to these drone apps.
Not all drone apps are free. While some apps such as DJI GO 4, DJI Fly, and DroneDeploy are free of cost, others come with a price that can vary with respect to their features. For instance, Litchi and Autopilot will cost you under $30. On the other hand, others charge more and can up to $2000.
However, if you are a beginner or a recreational hobbyist, there is no point in investing in these high-priced apps. If you feel like you have outgrown the basic apps and need something more advanced, Autopilot and Litchi will do the job for you.
Once again, drone apps are not supposed to be too fancy. I’d recommend only experts to buy anything that's worth more than a hundred dollar bill.
There are many drone apps available in the market. Here’s how you can know which one will work for your drone.
As a general rule, to fly a drone, the app needs to be compatible with the drone model. Every action taken in the app is translated in such a way that it is understood by the drone. Thus it is highly important to make sure that the app you use corresponds with the model.
Once the compatibility matches, you can link your drone to that particular app. Here are few alternative apps that sometimes work better than DJI official app.
You must note that not all apps will offer this compatibility. Drone apps are specific in this regard, therefore, it is always a good idea to cross-check before investing in one.