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Best DJI Phantom3 alternatives carefully compared

You’re searching for a Phantom 3 alternative, a staple by which drones were compared for a long time now. Even with the release of the new Phantom 4 series and DJI Mavic Air and Pro, the Phantom 3 is still an amazing quadcopter.

DJI Has released the Phantom 3 SE if you’re interested, which is basically an improved version of the original.

But let me tell you I have compared it personally and tested the P3 against some newer drones and you’ll be surprised of the results!

 

My top 6 Phantom 3 alternatives in 2018

This list is in order of what I consider to be better overall AND what value for money that drone has. 

All these quadcopters are super high quality and you can’t really go wrong. It’s up to you to decide!

  • Many Flight modes
  • Super Cheap for what it does
  • comes with 4k cam
min
Battery Life
km
Range
  • Super compact (amazing fo real)
  • Super fast
  • Comes with 4k cam
min
Battery Life
km
Range
  • many flight modes
  • GPS
  • Comes with 4k cam
min
Battery Life
km
Range
  • GPS
  • Can use camera handheld
  • controller with monitor
min
Battery Life
m
Range
  • Great Signal Range
  • GPS
  • Works With Go Pro or standard camera
min
Battery Life
m
Range
  • Pretty cheap
  • GPS
  • Works With Go Pro
min
Battery Life
m
Range

What Phantom 3 model are we comparing?

phantom3-gimbal

As you might know, there are three Phantom 3 models currently available.(actually 4 if we count the newer 4k version).

So first hand you must know what you desire from your aerial video platform to begin with.

Phantom 3 Standard

Is the cheapest of them all, coming with a really hard to beat price and pretty good features.

You must make some compromises in range and camera quality, though.

Dji-Phantom-3-Standard
  • It comes with a very great(actually the greatest of the 3) flight time, somewhere at about 25 min
  • The gimbal is super stable and smooth which is hugely important for a drone whose main purpose is video quality. Trust me, nobody wants any jiggle in their video.
  • Comes with a built in camera that captures 2.7k video and 12 mp photos. The camera is amazing in and by itself, and coupled with the great stabilization, you can get some pretty professional looking shots right there.
  • 2.4G downlink Wifi that reaches up to 1km in range

Phantom 3 Advanced and Pro

I put these two together because they’re very similar. 

The only difference is that in the Pro version you get a maximum video quality of 4k and for the Advanced you get a maximum of 2.7k at 30 fps. 

phantom-3-advanced-and-pro-versions-alternatives

The Pro version also charges batteries way faster, which can be helpful, but not always worth the price for everyone.

Here are the bonuses compared to the Standard version:

  • The Pro version has a higher 4k resolution for the camera
  • Both advanced and Pro come with improved controllers that also have a technology called LightBridge. Which enables you to fly it and see live feed on the controller for up to 3km.
  • They both have improved camera quality thanks to the Sony Exmor sensors. This thing is big because the image quality is visibly improved and makes it very hard to beat for the competitors.
  • Faster charging for the P3 Professional

What should you look for in a camera drone?

phantom3-gimbal

Gimbal Stability

I’ve seen many so called competitors for the phantom 3 failing miserably when it came to the camera being unstable and jittery. A good 3 axis motorized brushless gimbal is a must.

Camera Quality

The actual camera quality itself is very important, as that’s the main purpose of an aerial video platform. I’ll present down below drones that come with an included camera but also some to which a GoPro can be attached.

Price and Features

The price/features rapport has to obviously be as good as possible for it to pass the test and be a viable replacement for the DJI products.

Xiaomi Mi 4k drone - The perfect alternative

Most drones on this list have a reason for being there, so the perfect drone for you might even be one down the list. 

Maybe you want to use it with and action camera or what to use the camera handheld. 

However, this first choice of mine is absolutely a beast that comes with all that you need for a super cheap price!

  • Flying Time: 25 min
  • Maximum Speed: 57 Km/h
  • 4k camera
  • Shoots in 2.7k 60FPS
  • Flying Distance: 3km

Here I made a full video comparison between the XIaomi MI 4k and the Phantom 3

What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting the XIaomi MI 4k versus the Phantom 3 models?

Positives

  • Xiaomi Has longer flight time (25 vs 20)
  • Camera is more solid
  • Better GPS Stability
  • Way Cheaper!
  • It's Modular (you can change broken parts)
  • Less proppellers in the frame

Negatives

  • Xiaomi is a little bigger (but has a lower profile if the camera is not mounted}

Xiaomi Mi 4k Footage

Overall I consider the Xiaomi 4k the best “budget” camera drone that doesn’t compromise. You get what you need, which is a very capable aerial platform, although it isn’t the smallest.

Xiaomi is a very trustworthy Chinese company, just like DJI. They excel when it comes to quality control and well made products, so don’t be afraid to order.

Here’s a video showing how well the xiaomi can record footage

What did I like most about the XIaomi MI 4k?

I was really surprised how well it records and that I could record in2.7k 60fps. This means super smooth footage that can also be slowed down 2x.

I also loved how well it flies and how stable it stays in the air, hovering.

The longer battery life also is a great plus compared to the Phantom series. 

xiaomi mi 4k flight features

The only complaint I have about it is that the live feed is not as good after you pass 2km or so where it has some interference.

Conclusion

If you're on a tighter budget, but still want the best, don't hesitate!

Flight Quality
Very stable 88%
Price
Amazing 93%
Build quality
Very Good 83%
The Camera
Probably even better than Phantom 3 81%

Mavic Air - The perfect portable alternative 2018

First I was a little hesitant to put the DJI Mavic Pro, because it was a little more expensive even than the Phantom 3 Pro.

However, with the release of the new DJI Mavic air, things have changed a lot!

This new drone costs about as much as a good Phantom 3, but delivers WAY more and all this in a super compact package.

Picture by Gizmondo

Most drones on this list have a reason for being there, so the perfect drone for you might even be one down the list. 

Maybe you want to use it with and action camera or what to use the camera handheld. 

However, this first choice of mine is absolutely a beast that comes with all that you need for a super cheap price!

  • Flying Time: 20 min
  • 4k camera
  • Weight: 430g
  • 168×83×49 mm
  • Flying Distance: 4km
  • Foldable Design

Mavic Air review - is it the best DJI Drone?

The new Mavic is smaller and faster and all that, but  it must compromise in some way, right?

Not really, just like the Mavic Pro didn’t compromise on the Phantom 4 quality, this time, Air delivers everything better than it’s Phantom 3 and 4 counterparts.

It’s true that the flight time is not the best, but it’s about the same as a Phantom 3 and  I haven’t yet started talking about the new features.

  • the camera is in fact better than Phantom 3 (and even Mavic Pro)
  • It comes with Gesture controls just like The Spark
  • It’s super damn fast and fun to fly
  • The GPS stability is insane
  • Has sensors in front, back and bottom, so you won’t crash it ever!
  • The follow me modes and other flight modes are way more advanced than on Phantom 3

I have done a complete compliation and overview on all the best youtube reviews

How good is the Mavic air camera compared to Phantom

Ok, so besides the fact that this drone is super small and foldable (you can literally put it in your pocket)! There’s also an improvement when it comes to the camera.

The Camera on the phantom 3 is very good, but, surprisingly enough, this super small drone takes better photo and video than that!

The sensor is not huge, but keep in mind that it records in 100 megabits per second, which means more information is going to be captured in the video. This will make it easier to edit in post processing.

This entire video bellow is shot only on the Mavic air

Positives

  • Incredibly small
  • Records in 100 bits/s (very good quaity footage)
  • Bigger flight range
  • Very fast in sport mode ( 68kph)
  • A ton of Smart Flight modes
  • Way better GPS positioning

Negatives

  • Really nothing I can think about. Maybe you can find a cheaper Phantom 3 and that could justify it... but still.

Conclusion

Frankly, I have this on the second place just because the Xiaomi is soo cheap!

Flight Quality
EEEExtremly stable 96%
Price
Amazing 85%
Build quality
Very Good 91%
The Camera
Absolutely stunning 86%
Portability
Best in the world 100%

Autel Robotics Xstar - an improved Phantom

Autel is a relatively new company on the block, but still has a few years of experience behind it.

Their Xstar Premium drone is quite a Phantom 3 killer and very much a look-alike to it.

Camera, gimbal and flight modes are all stellar, but what keeps it from being higher on the list is the price.

  • Flying Time: 25 min
  • GPS+GLONASS
  • 1h fast charging
  • Good package
  • Flying Distance: 2kn

My opinion on this drone is that it’s a good Phantom 3 alternative as long as you find it at the same price. Autel sells it on Amazon in different packages and they cost depending on what you get inside. 

Overall the drone has built and improved on what DJI already created. A slightly better controller, smoother flight, modular camera and wider legs to prevent tipping when landing.

Here’s a full comparison between the Phantom 3 Pro and the newer Xstar drone

What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting the XStar vs Phantom 3?

Positives

  • Better controller (Has small screen with some data)
  • Modular camera allows for change in the future
  • Smoother flight means better videos
  • easier to see in the sky
  • slightly better battery life

Negatives

  • No real apparent disadvantages, but drones like Xiaomi Mi 4k and Mavic Air might be better for most people.

Conclusion

The Autel is probably the most similar drone to the Phantom 3 and I argue it's actually a little better.

Flight Quality
76%
Battery
A little better than Phantom 3 78%
Build quality
Pretty well built 85%
The Camera
Records very sharp (even for 2018) 77%

Yuneec q500 4k - more than just a drone

I would say that at the time being, the yuneec typhoon q500 drones are more than alternatives to the DJI Phantom 3 series. 

The Yuneec drones I’m reffering to are the q500+ and the newer 4k version, which compares best to the Phantom 3 Pro.

  • Flying Time: 25 min
  • Very complete package
  • removable camera
  • Flying Distance: 400m
yuneec-typhoon-q500-4k-front-shot

The most unique feature this drone has is the removable camera.

Not only is it removable, but you can also put it on a handheld device and film super stable ground footage with it!

The most complete package a drone can offer

This drone is very high on my list because of all the cool stuff it can offer.

If you get it on amazon right now, for the price of a Phantom 3 pro you’ll get ALL the accessories you need:

  • a very good case
  • extra spare batteries
  • micro SD cards
  • handheld gimbal
  • extended waranty and more

The transmitter is absolutely amazing. Keep in mind that it comes with a built in touch Screen that works perfectly. This means you won’t have to connect your phone and have problems with it all the time (* cough * DJI).

Here’s a youtube review made by some nice guys

Both the Phantom 3 series and the Yuneec drone have a lot of things in common. They both have stellar GPS, very well stabilised cameras and useful features like: return to home, follow me and others.

But what are advantages and disadvantages of getting the Yuneec instead of the Phantom?

Positives

  • a way more complete package for about the same price
  • is a complete ground and aerial imaging solution (with the handheld stabilizer on which you can attach the camera)
  • can be seen from afar easily
  • no need to carry or own a mobile device to control it (also less things to charge)
  • it's more beginner friendly

Negatives

  • Flight distance is only 500m at most

Conclusion

If you're looking to do both stabilized footage in the air and the ground with a super cheap package in 4k, then don't hesitate!

Flight Quality
Very stable 88%
Range
Could be better 60%
Build quality
Pretty well built 77%
The Camera
Pretty good 69%
Price
Amazing! 91%

Xiro Xplorer - P3 alternative in 2 versions

I researched lots of cheaper brushless drones, from the Cheerson cx-20 to the walkera 350 and blade 350qx, but to say frankly they weren’t up to par with the Phantom in the gimbal category (which is very important).

 The gimbals were poor on non-existent and the cameras either lacked or they could barely lift a GOPro.

  • Flying Time: 22 min
  • Comes with Full HD cam or GO Pro Mount
  • Modular design
  • Flying Distance: 600m

Luckily there’s a badass looking quadcopter released relatively recently that has not only a good price tag, but also some features that make it a worthy competitor.

I have also made a complete review of the Xiro drone(opens in a new tab) some time ago where I also compared it with a Phantom 3 and pointed out the main differences.

The guys at Xiro made the Explorer drone in two variants: one for GoPro camera(camera bought separately) and the other with a camera included.

  • Shoots full HD video at 1080p/30fps and 720p/30fps
  • 5,200-mAh battery for up to 25 minutes in the air
  • Modular design(things can be easily assembled)
  • stills of 14 megapixels
  • “Follow Me” and “Circle Around Me” functions
xiro-explorer-g-and-v

The fact that it only shoots full HD video is disappointing when compared to a Phantom 3 Standard for example, but many people don’t even need higher resolutions as most computer screens are pretty limited anyway. 

If you’re in that category and don’t care for 4k resolution, here’s some video footage of the Explorer V camera:

As you can see from that video, the gimbal is doing an incredible job in stabilization and the overall quality is astonishing, even for a camera that shoots just full HD.

Now let's see if the GoPro version is worth it

The Xiro Explorer G versions is pretty much the same thing but just comes with a better price and with a gimbal made for a GoPro4 camera that’s just as smooth as the previous one.

dji-phantom-3-camera-vs-gopro-hero-4

The biggest plus compared to the Explorer V is that the GoPro has higher quality image coming at up to 4k resolution, which will make for better videos overall.

Now, let’s see a GoPro version footage:

Positives

  • Really stable flight
  • The camera has an 180 degree angle (captures more), but the fisheye might not be liked by everyone.
  • comes with a modular design where every piece can be removed and easily replaced(very useful for light transporting).
  • The GO pro version is cheaper and will enable you to use the camera for other activities (plus, it films in very high quality)

Negatives

  • Camera for the V version is only 1080p
  • Controller only works with phones, not tablets

Conclusion

A great modular drone with the ability to improve in the future and can also work with GOPro.

Flight Quality
Very stable 88%
Battery
Could be better 60%
Build quality
Pretty well built 69%
The Camera
Great footage, but subjective. 58%

3DR Solo Drone - modular, smart, for Action

This drone, just like the XIro Xplorer before is a modular quadcopter that has many uses. You can attach a variety of cameras and it does compete quite well against the Phantom 3.

Now, let’s see if the Solo Quadcopter is in fact better for your custom needs.

 

  • Flying Time: 20 min
  • Modular build
  • Can carry go pro or custom camera
  • Flying Distance: 500m

When it comes to size, they’re both pretty comparable, but the main distinction here is that the Solo is heavier than the Phantom 3 Pro and quite considerably going for 1.28 kg for the phantom and 1.8kg for the Solo.

This means the following:

  • the phantom 3 has a harder time facing the wind, compared to a heavier drone that can balance better
  •  the Solo drone takes more juice out of the battery to stay in the air, and so the overall flight time is reduced.

When it comes to flight time, the Phantom 3 stands at well over 20 min while the solo is somewhere between 17 and 20.

But the flight time is also relative to how much time you need in the air to complete the shot, and here is where the Solo excels.

Camera options and quality

As you may know, the Solo can be purchased with a very high quality gimbal that can be used with the GoPro Hero4 which makes for some great footage quality.

3dr-solo-camera-compared-to-phantom-3-professional

The main differences between the gopro and the onboard Phantom3 Pro camera are:

  • the GO pro Hero 4 shoots in higer FPS in HD and Full HD, which is perfect for getting slow motion shots
  • The GoPro has a wider viewing angle compared with the phantom and a fish eye effect that can be a drawback for some people.

Here’s some great GoPro Hero4 footage from the 3DR Solo​

Positives

  • has a smart waypoint navigation system that enables you to take full control of the gimbal and take the perfect shots(perfect for videographers)
  • has a modular design, which means in the future can be upgraded when new cameras come up.
  • the landing gear is wider, which could mean safer landings without tipping over
  • good customer support

Negatives

  • the gimbal must be aquired separately(which makes the price quite high
  • if you don't have a GOPro camera and you're buying it just for this drone, it's probably not worth the investment.

Conclusion

The Solo drone is very smart and can be used professionally. A great modular drone, but with certain limitations. However a very good Phantom 3 alternative!

Flight Quality
Very stable 75%
Battery
Could be better 56%
Build quality
Pretty well built 74%
Features
A lot of versatility 75%

 The big advantage, in my opinion, is that the Solo is more automatic than the Phantom, which at proper times can leave the flight factor from the equation and let you focus on filming alone. 

I’d recommend the Solo for anyone who’s seriously interested in aerial photography and wants to use a GOPRO video platform.

 I hope you found this article informative and that the Alternatives for the DJI Phantom 3 I presented were satisfactory enough to share this with your friends and see if they agree with your pick.

I'm a big drone enthusiast, the owner of DronesGator.com and I also make weekly videos on my drone YouTube channel.

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