Rumors Swirl Of Phantom 5 Drone Coming

dji-phantom-4-pro

The current Phantom 4 Pro

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Almost the very second after DJI announced they were eliminating the Phantom 4 standard from their drone line and were closing down for a few weeks for the Chinese New Year, the speculation started about when we’d see a new Phantom 5. Now it seems like we’ll get one sooner, rather than later. But will it look like?

The first rumor points to the Phantom 5 being unlike any other drone, as hinted by its supposed price. According to Drone Enthusiast, the MSRP for the Phantom 5 is around $2200, nearly seven hundred dollars more than the current Phantom 4 Pro, which lists for around $1500. That’s a huge difference, which leads me to question the rumor.

But let’s say for a moment the $2200 figure is accurate, or as accurate as a rumor can be. What does that mean? Well, it could mean the Phantom is going through a ground up design change, which would keep it in line with a tick-tock development cycle of major design changes for one release, then modest improvements in the next.

Perhaps the Phantom will get retractable landing gear? Or that it will incorporate one of DJI’s Hasselblad designed cameras? One rumor suggests the camera will have a 20MP sensor, remain 4K at 30p and 1080p at 240 fps. But there’s also talk DJI is developing a new 360 degree gimbal, which could point to the possibility of a augmented reality type design for 360° video, or at the very least give the camera array the ability to shoot video and panoramic stills in a 360° arc. If so, that does lend credence to the notion the Phantom will get retractable landing gear to get out of the way of the pan.

Battery life and flight time: The bane of every drone’s existence is how long it can stay up in the air. 30 minutes is about the limit of today’s current Phantom battery technology and the maximum limit in optimal conditions. The improvements in battery life by DJI over the last few generations as been moderate, squeezing out a few extra minutes with each new model. And while some suggest a radical new LiPo battery design will give it 33% more flight time, I’m rather conservative in the belief that, at best, it’ll be a modest 10% improvement.

The real improvement could be in charging time, with a super fast high power charger that can give the battery a full charge in shorter time. The Phantom 4 battery charges in about an hour. So could we see a 30-45 minute charge?

dji-phantom-3-Tx-300x194Flight controls: Here’s where DJI can really make some improvements. First, by offering a live stream in full HD, and improving the range. From what we’re hearing, the Phantom 5 may have an extended range of 5 miles away. I rather doubt it for one major reason: FAA guidelines. There’s really no point in extending the broadcast range of your video stream, if the rules state that consumer drones must stay with sight of the operator. But making for a more consistent connection, maybe with an improved Lightbridge design, will give shooters a more crystal clear image to see from first person view.

In addition, the Phantom 5 is rumored to have several flight modes to be engaged with a switch right on the controller. They include Flight Mode, which offers a max speed of 22 mph and will gives the pilot access to all settings and features. Then comes the Sports mode, which allows the operator to put the spurs to it and flight much faster, but comes at the sacrifice of flight time. And then there’s the Altitude Mode switch, which will provide a preset altitude ceiling and other features the Phantom 4 currently enjoys. Other modes available will be auto takeoff and return, dual compass mode, improved GPS tracking, tap to fly and auto tracking of a subject of your choosing.

Image Credit – Drone Enthusiast

The Phantom 5 is also rumored to have improved anti-collision features with a new 360° Obstacle Sensing System, which will put sensors on all four sides with overlapping monitoring zones, and an improved AI which can process the obstacle data faster so the Phantom can take swifter action.  The motors themselves will be improved for better flight time, and promise to be quieter.

App wise will mean a brand new companion app to monitor from your smartphone or tablet, a built in director software to edit and add music and text on the fly, and better software controls. Lastly, the rumor mill believes we should see the Phantom 5 in mid-April, its release happening right before NAB.

All rumors, to be sure. But with DJI being quiet right now, you can bet they’ll be coming out roaring like a lion. Stay tune.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.