Since the Phantom 3 was released, questions have been raised regarding its parallels to the Inspire 1. For example, the Phantom 3 Professional’s camera is very similar to the Inspire’s – 12 megapixels and video resolution of 4K at up to 30 frames per second on a 3-axis gimbal. The differences are not immediately noticeable, thus leading to the ultimate question – is the Inspire worth the extra cost? This article will clear that up for you by elucidating the different features of both products for you to make the most informed decision as possible.
Camera, Gimbal and View:
The camera of the Phantom 3 Advanced differs to the Inspire in its video resolution, only being able to shoot Full HD video at 1080p, up to 60 frames per second. The Phantom 3 Professional, on the other hand, shares the same 12 megapixel, 4K at up to 30 fps camera as the Inspire, including an f/2.8 lens with a 94° field of view. The only minor difference is the Inspire’s lens comprises 9 elements, and has Adobe DNG RAW support for anti-distortion. While both the Phantom 3 and the Inspire have a 3-axis stabilising gimbal, the Inspire has a more advanced 360° rotating Zenmuse X3 Gimbal.
What really sets the Professional and the Inspire apart when capturing footage is the Inspire offering a true 360° camera view due to its hardware design – its propellers rise up, enabling you to capture unobstructed video footage from every angle. With the Phantom 3, you might find that flying forwards or looking up often results in the propellers being in your shot. This creates the need to crop your footage during editing, which could give your video inconsistent aspect ratios. The Inspire’s propellers will generally not be visible within the frame in most scenarios because of its transforming design.
Dual Operator Control:
The Inspire comes with a dual pilot option, as opposed to the Phantom 3, which only supports single operator control. The Inspire can be bought initially with either one or two remote controllers. There is also the option to upgrade and get the second remote at a later stage if you initially purchased just a single remote.
The Inspire’s dual operator control allows for one person to fly while the other controls the camera. The remotes can be up to 50 metres apart from each other. The master remote will fly the drone while the slave remote will control the camera, and up to 6 slave remote controllers can actually be connected at the same time. This can be particularly useful in producing professional aerial photography and cinematography as the dual control caters for professional teams and planned shoots.
Another key difference between the Inspire and the Phantom 3 is the Inspire’s remote controller including a mini-HDMI port, but not the Phantom’s. This lets you watch the footage you capture on your Inspire live on mobile devices, FPV goggles and screens. You can even watch your live feed in Ultra HD if you have a 4K television or monitor. You can also record live footage to a video capture device and use a video switcher to broadcast your footage live. Although the Phantom 3 does not have an HDMI output, you are still able to view your video in real-time in 720p HD on a device running at least iOS 8.0 or Android v4.1.2 via the DJI GO App.
Something else to think about when deciding between the Phantom 3 and the Inspire is how much you would value a removable camera. Being able to detach the camera from the Inspire can be extremely useful in ensuring footage is consistent in the air and on the ground. This will come in particularly handy when the Inspire 1 Handheld Camera Mount is available.
Size and Weight
The Inspire weighs 2935g, which is more than twice the weight of the Phantom 3. The Phantom, weighing 1280g, is significantly smaller and lighter and thus more mobile and portable. If you will be travelling frequently, the Phantom 3 is probably the more hassle-free choice, especially if paired with the Hardshell Backpack.
The Inspire is more durable due to its size and weight; furthermore it has larger motors and propellers, and its arms are made of carbon fibre, which makes it an overall sturdier and more powerful drone. This enables the Inspire to handle higher wind speeds and makes for smoother flights. The Phantom 3 is made mostly out of plastic, and could drift away more easily in strong wind conditions. The quality of materials used is likely correlated to the cost of manufacturing, partially explaining why the Inspire is priced much higher than the Phantom 3.
The Inspire and the Phantom 3 share the same maximum ascent speed at 5m/s, and a similar maximum descent speed – the Inspire being 4 m/s and Phantom 3 being 3m/s. There is a significant difference in flight speeds, however, with the Inspire being faster. The Inspire can fly at a maximum speed of 22m/s, while the Phantom 3’s maximum flight speed is 16m/s, assuming both are in ATTI mode with no wind. If you are looking for a swift, smooth and agile drone, the Inspire wins hands down.
Both the Inspire and the Phantom 3 use Intelligent Flight Batteries. The Inspire uses a 6-cell LiPo battery with a capacity of 4500 mAh, giving the drone a maximum flight time of 18 minutes according to DJI’s approximations. The option to purchase a battery with a bigger capacity (5700 mAh, up to 22 minutes of flight time) is also available for the Inspire. The Phantom 3 uses a 4-cell 4480 mAh LiPo battery and offers a flight time of up to 23 minutes. Despite a smaller battery capacity, the Phantom 3 is still able to fly for a longer period of time than the Inspire. However, something to consider is that in practical application, the Phantom 3 may use more battery in windy conditions to combat the high wind speeds, decreasing its flight time. On the other hand, the Inspire may utilise its battery more efficiently in strong winds, as it is a robust drone built to handle the gusts, thus it may not necessarily be true that the Phantom 3 offers a longer flight time.
Due to the Inspire’s size, weight, structure, motors, propellers, and speed, its flight performance is unsurprisingly more stable and superior to the Phantom 3’s. The Phantom 3’s small and lightweight frame makes it more difficult to ensure flights are always steady, especially when flying outdoors. Having said that, the Phantom 3’s gimbal has been built with stabilising technology, which generally allows for smooth flights in varying weather conditions with skilful piloting. Both drones have been fitted with Vision Positioning technology to help in ensuring stable flights indoors, close to the ground and in areas with weak GPS signals and thus are similar in those aspects.
On the whole, both the Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 have excellent flight performances. The Phantom 3 offers an enjoyable flight experience, while being portable, easy to fly and suitable for beginners. The Inspire is able to achieve some of the best flight performances out there with its transforming design, dual operator control and impressive wind-withstanding capabilities, ensuring consistently stable and professional results.
Still need more information on the Phantom 3? Have a read through a recent article outlining the features of the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced – The Phantasmal Phantom: Why the DJI Phantom 3 is Out of this World.
Don’t forget to visit I-Drone’s store to get your Phantom 3 or Inspire 1 from a trusted Australian drone retailer – https://www.i-drone.com.au/.