When I came across the Phantom 4 drone, I had already been flying drones for over 5 years as a hobbyist and half that many professionally. Since then, as a fully licensed Part 107 (Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations in Canada) I have a few different drones on rotation, with the Phantom 4 firmly at the center of my daily use.
It’s an absolute workhorse of a drone that has yet to fail me in my time of need (excluding maybe user error). That being said, all drones will have problems from time to time and the Phantom 4 is no exception.
I am going to go through some of the most common problems, what can cause them, and how to fix them.
I have compiled a list of the three most common problems.
To find the most common problems affecting the Phantom 4 drone I have included both primary and secondary research, including DJI forums, repair blogs, and the input of real commercial drone pilots.
This list spans all the drones in the Phantom 4 series, including the Pro, Advanced, V2.0, RTK, Multispectral, and Obsidian editions.
This list was created by means of a survey of a Facebook group of Commercial Drone Pilots with over 17,000 members.
Of the over 60 industry professionals who took part, the results were clear:
- Gimbal Failure – 30% of Pilots
- Battery Issues – 9% of Pilots
- Connection issues – 6% of Pilots
I am going to explain each of these problems in greater detail, what could cause them, and what you can do to prevent them from happening.
I will also explain a few key caveats, recommend other resources, and discuss some great fixes.
In a recent Facebook poll conducted of commercial drone pilots, when asked what the most common problems they experienced with the DJI Phantom 4, the results were clear, and yet not at all what I was expecting.
Of the most commonly experienced problems, around 30% of pilots reported having problems with gimbal failure.
The second most commonly experienced problem at just 9% stated they had battery issues. Whether that is “the blinking light” or just declining battery wasn’t specified.
In third at a tiny percent of drone pilots, 6% experienced connection issues.
The fourth most reported problem coming in at 3% is a mechanical shutter failure, but did not make the list as 3% of pilots is not what I consider a common problem. This is however something to look out for and keep in mind.
One shocking statistic is that 46% of commercial drone pilots polled stated they had “no problems at all” with the DJI Phantom 4.
Although surprising in a poll of common problems, it is expected given the overall popularity of the Phantom 4.
This is because the Phantom 4 drone and those from the Phantom series have long been thought of as some of the most reliable, trustworthy, and well-built drones on the market.
This in part, explains why the Phantom series has long been a star of the DJI brand and part of what has propelled DJI to the forefront of the consumer drone market.
Let’s look at each of these common problems.
1. Gimbal Failure
At a whopping 30% of pilots polled, gimbal failure is by far the most likely problem to occur.
The gimbal is really at the heart of the drone and is working every time the drone is powered on, even before takeoff.
The stabilization it provides is a three-axis (pitch, roll, yaw) stabilization, and if even one axis is not 100% functioning you would immediately notice a difference in performance and have a hard time filming.
That’s three motors working in sync to stabilize your image as you are flying through the air, so there’s a lot to potentially go wrong.
A failure such as this often will take the form of the gimble overload error message, and can be experienced as whirring, clicking, sitting at an angle, non-responsiveness, lag, or all-around playing dead.
This can be a hardware or software issue, but you can often diagnose a fix at home.
2. Battery Issues
Battery issues can range from the gradual loss of power that all commercially available batteries face, to the more serious blinking warning lights, to even complete failure to charge.
Firstly, the flight batteries in the Phantom 4 series drones offer a thirty-minute flight time. With a 5350 mAh capacity, at only 462 grams that’s pretty impressive.
They are lithium-ion batteries and so can handle more charge cycles than other battery types.
You can expect that a single Phantom 4 Pro battery will last approximately 300-400 charge cycles or approximately two years for the average user.
If your batteries won’t charge, more common than not it is a faulty charger.
Other battery problems can often stem from firmware updates, software issues, overheating, amperage inconsistencies (which could come from the charger), connection problems, or even just poor build quality/incompatibility in using a non-DJI battery in a DJI drone.
For a full diagnostic, and many ways to go about fixing any battery-related problems, read our guide over here.
» MORE: DJI Phantom Battery Won’t Charge? Here’s How to Fix It
3. Connection Issues
At a mere 6% of drone pilots polled, connection issues are quite a rare problem to have.
This does make sense as DJI is the market leader in drone sales and has an enormous 76% (in 2021) market share, leaving them both a large budget to allocate towards software, hardware, and updates.
Of course, issues do happen, and when they do oftentimes low batteries can be the culprit.
Controller syncing issues could be another problem and could potentially be resolved by a software update, new app install, or even just on the iOS/android side of things a full restart on both the drone, controller, and phone device is always a good start.
For a more detailed analysis of the connection issues your Phantom 4 might face, and how to fix them see this guide.
» MORE: Drone not Pairing (Connecting): Why, and How to Fix It
The Phantom 4 series drone
Of all the commercial drone pilots I polled and spoke to, the overwhelming message was positive. It was at times hard to coax out the bad, the worrisome, and the faults of the Phantom 4 drone.
Plenty of pilots like myself use any one of the models in the Phantom 4 series in daily operations and create incredible content with them.
This is why by far the largest segment of the poll were pilots who experienced no problems at all. I myself fall into that category.
The DJI Phantom 4 series, when released in 2016 was an amazing drone and a great buy, in my opinion, it remains so to this day.
However, when things do go wrong and there are problems, these are the three most common fixes, and either how to fix them or at the least where to look to find the answers.
Other resources, more reading, and great fixes
Although there are many ways to go about fixing your drone if you encounter problems, a good starting point is always some basic level research and diagnostics to determine the problem.
When you do locate the source of the problem DJI will fix drones shipped to them, or a local drone/electronics repair can usually handle the repair.