September 06, 2016


There are a lot of entrants into drone technology as the industry develops. Da-Jiang Innovations Science and Technology Company Ltd. (DJI) has been in the business for a decade, strengthening their brand in the market with regular revisions. Founded by Frank Wang, the technology firm has expanded up to three continents – North America, Europe, and Asia – with lists of products developed increasing as well. DJI’s products center on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and related products. The Economist ranks the company as one of the leading innovators in the civilian drone UAV market, transforming it from just a hobby a while back to a promising business that has been attracting venture capitalists. 

DJI produces flight platforms and controllers, gimbals, cameras and camera stabilizers, propulsion systems and helicopter parts. The Phantom is the company’s flagship product, with revisions that have earned the company an enviable reputation. The Phantom is produced for the photography and aerial cinematography market. DJI started with the Phantom 1 released in January 2013 and then revised it with the Phantom 2 series. There’s Phantom 2 Vision, Phantom 2 Vision+ and Phantom FC40. In light of the success the series recorded, the company introduced the Phantom 3 series in 2015, and it took DJI to a whole new level. The Phantom 3 series has several revisions as well. There’s the Phantom 3 Standard, Phantom 3 4K, Phantom 3 Advanced and the Phantom 3 Professional. However, in March 2016, DJI took the lead in the game of drones with the release of the Phantom 4, adding artificial intelligence features.      

On the other hand, 3D Robotics (3DR) started in 2009, with headquarters in Berkeley, California. Entrepreneur and founder of, Chris Anderson partnered with Mexican engineer Jordi Munoz to develop UAVs mainly for aerial photography and mapping. 3DR released the first product of its legacy models, the IRIS+ in September 2014, incorporating latest technology like Follow Me, Auto Mission Planning, Live View, and Geo Fence. Barely two months later, 3DR released the X8+ for aerial photography and cinematography and the X8-M for mapping. 3DR released a fixed wing UAV about the same time as the X8 series, but the AERO-M model has automated mapping capability. 3DR stopped the legacy series and introduced the SOLO drone, the smartest drone at the time. The SOLO uses a GoPro camera and is powered by two computers. More revisions are awaited by users as other manufacturers have done.  

Comparing both technology companies, they have grown with time, and remain very relevant in the civilian drone market. The SOLO has features that compete well with the Phantom 3 series, as the release dates are close. The SOLO flies for 20 minutes, but the Phantom 3 for three more minutes. Comparing cameras, the SOLO and the Phantom 3 have similar 4K cameras, but the Phantom 3 has a slight edge with their image sensors. The SOLO was less pricey when they were both released, but revisions in the Phantom series have forced the prices down. The Phantom 3 would be a winner over the SOLO, and the Phantom 4 has taken it to new levels with the incorporation of more artificial intelligence features.    

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