Plenty of companies are jostling to get drones in the air, but in our experience over the last few years, DJI always seems to be a step or two ahead of the rest. With the entry-level Spark just launched, the company now has a drone for everyone from amateur aviators to pro pilots. To help you pick which model is best for you, let's compare each model in DJI's lineup.

DJI drone specs at a glance

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Spark

  • Flight time: 16 mins
  • Top Speed: 31 mph (50 km/h)
  • Range: 1.2 miles (2 km)
  • Camera: 12-MP stills, 1080p video
  • Size: 5.6 x 5.6 x 2.1 in (14.3 x 14.3 x 5.5 cm)
  • Takeoff weight: 11.6 oz (330 g)
  • Other features: Follow me, Return home, Obstacle avoidance, first person view (FPV)
  • Price: US$499

The baby of the family, the Spark is designed to be a lightweight flying camera that you can slip in a bag and take anywhere. It's a lot more expensive than your average learner-level drone, but then it packs in a bunch of the good stuff that has made DJI's high end machines so popular. Like GPS and vision position stability, obstacle avoidance, a mechanically stabilized camera and a high-res 720p video downlink to your phone, so you can see what you're shooting in high detail. The Spark also has gesture control; you can move it and get it to take photos using hand movements like some kind of Jedi, and a few other smart flight modes you won't find in the average hundred-dollar AliExpress special.

Buy DJI Spark

Phantom 3 Standard

  • Flight time: 25 mins
  • Top Speed: 36 mph (58 km/h)
  • Range: 0.6 miles (1 km)
  • Camera: 12-MP stills, 2704 x 1520p video
  • Size: 13.8 in diagonal (350 mm)
  • Takeoff weight: 2.6 lb (1.2 kg)
  • Other features: Follow me, Return home
  • Price: US$499

It may be two years old at this point, but there's still plenty of life left in the Phantom 3. The release of several newer models means the price has come right down to $499 – on par with that of the Spark. Compared to the Spark, it's a whole lot meatier and will fly much better in windy conditions – but it's a lot bigger and less portable. With a stabilized 2.7K camera, video quality is terrific. It's not 4K, but you'd struggle to tell the difference in most use cases. Likewise, you can watch your flight in 720p on a smartphone up to one kilometer away, but this drone lacks the ludicrous 4.3 mile range and 1080p transmission systems on the more expensive drones.

Buy DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Phantom 4 Advanced

  • Flight time: 30 mins
  • Top Speed: 45 mph (72 km/h)
  • Range: 4.3 miles (7 km)
  • Camera: 20-MP stills, 4K 60fps video
  • Size: 13.8 in diagonal (350 mm)
  • Takeoff weight: 3 lb (1.4 kg)
  • Other features: Follow me, Return home, Obstacle avoidance
  • Price: US$1,349

The Phantom 4 Advanced is a beast of a thing, with an excellent 4K/60fps camera, a genuine 30 minute flight time per battery, and a forward-facing obstacle avoidance system. Like all DJI's gear, it's easy to fly – but if you want things to get a little crazy, you can engage a Sport mode that makes it cut through the air like an angry wasp at up to 45 mph. An awesome machine that can take stunning footage in the right hands.

Buy DJ Phantom 4 Advanced

Phantom 4 Pro

  • Flight time: 30 mins
  • Top Speed: 45 mph (72 km/h)
  • Range: 4.3 miles (7 km)
  • Camera: 20-MP stills, 4K 60fps video
  • Size: 13 in diagonal (350 mm)
  • Takeoff weight: 3 lb (1.4 kg)
  • Other features: Follow me, Return home, 3-direction obstacle avoidance
  • Price: US$1,499

At a glance, the Phantom 4 Pro's specs look an awful lot like the Advanced, but it's well worth the extra $150. It has the same generous flight time and powerful, high-bitrate camera, but the Pro packs an extra set of sensors in the back, so its obstacle avoidance system works if you're flying forwards, backwards or downwards. In addition, the controller comes with an ultra-bright built-in touchscreen - no more fiddling around with phones and tablets - and that alone would cost you another $300 with the Advanced model.

Buy DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Mavic

  • Flight time: 27 mins
  • Top Speed: 40 mph (65 km/h)
  • Range: 4.3 miles (7 km)
  • Camera: 12 MP stills, 4K video
  • Size: 13.2 in diagonal (335 mm)
  • Takeoff weight: 1.6 lb (743 g)
  • Other features: Follow me, Return home, Obstacle avoidance, folding arms
  • Price: US$999

They say the best camera is the one you've got with you – and this is the one we throw in our camera bag just about every time we go out on a shoot. The DJI Mavic strikes a very compelling balance between power and portability. The ingenious folding form factor of both the drone and the controller makes it extremely easy to carry around on a whim, while the 4K camera and suite of flying modes make it well worth its weight on a hike. You can think of it as a Phantom 4 Standard that you can fit in the pockets of your cargo pants. Its light weight makes for some tense moments when it's windy, and the narrower angle on its camera has positives and negatives for filming, but the fact it's so small, light and quick to set up and pack away makes this one of our favorite bits of gear.

Buy DJI Mavic

Inspire 2

  • Flight time: 27 mins
  • Top Speed: 58 mph (94 km/h)
  • Range: 4.3 miles (7 km)
  • Camera: 20.8 MP stills, 4K/5K video
  • Size: 16.8 x 12.5 x 16.7 in (42.7 x 31.7 x 42.5 cm)
  • Takeoff weight: 8.8 lb (4 kg)
  • Other features: Obstacle avoidance, Spotlight Pro/Broadcast/Composition mode
  • Price: US$2,999, or $6,198 with camera/gimbal

A monster in every sense of the word, the Inspire 2 is a genuine piece of professional-grade cinema gear. It's big; if the Mavic fits in a pocket and the Phantoms fit in a backpack, this is a small suitcase. When you break one of these bad boys out and put it in the air, people give you plenty of space. With the micro 4/3rds Zenmuse X5S camera on board, you can shoot in 5.2k, 30fps, 12-bit RAW with 12.8 stops of dynamic range. Master and slave controllers let you fly as a two-man team, with a pilot flying and a cameraman operating the completely independent, 360-degree rotating camera. It connects to a satellite truck to allow live broadcast in 1080i. That's the level the Inspire 2 is operating on, despite a relatively approachable price tag in the scheme of things.

Buy DJI Inspire 2

Made your decision? Now it's time to learn to fly your drone.

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