If you’re interested in buying your first drone but still unsure of how to get into this new – and quite expensive – hobby, you’ll be happy to know that you probably already own your first drone controller: your smartphone.
While professional drone pilots rely on complicated and costly transmitters, a beginner or hobbyist can get away with using their smartphone to control their drones.
Not all drones are smartphone-controllable, but all of DJI’s most recent consumer and prosumer drones are. Just connect the drone to your phone, and you can fly with virtual joysticks in the DJI GO 4 app. (To learn more about flying with a smartphone, check out our DJI GO 4 Manual: The Pilot’s Handbook.
Below, we’ve listed the all the DJI drones that you can fly your phone.
Phone-Contolled Drones for Sale:
1. DJI Spark
They say the best camera is the one you always have with you. So by that rationale, the best drone remote controller is the one you have with you too. It just makes sense that you can fly Spark with a smartphone. It’s a fun, quick and easy flying experience. All you need to do is turn Spark on, connect via Wi-Fi on your phone or tablet, launch DJI GO 4 on a supported iOS or Android device, and you’re ready to fly!
The maximum transmission range while flying Spark with your phone is 100 m (262 ft), and 50 m (164 ft) in height. If you choose to buy the dedicated Spark controller – sold separately – that range is extended up to 2,000 m (6,561 ft), all while maintaining a live video feed!*
*Height limit = 500 m (1,640 ft)
DJI has not only included all their signature GO 4 app features, found other drone products, but a lot of other bonus features as well. For example, there’s one button for takeoff and landing, full camera exposure controls, and the QuickShot mode, to name a few.
QuickShot is a great feature on Spark and includes intelligent shooting modes like Rocket, Dronie, Circle, and Helix. Right from your fingertips, Spark will record a video according to the selected shooting mode and then automatically generate a 10-second short video. The video can then be viewed, edited, and shared to social media from the Playback menu on your phone’s screen! Plus, fun modes TapFly and ActiveTrack allow you to set up waypoints for Spark to follow or track an object/person automatically.
- Weight: 300 g
- Camera resolution: 12 MP
- Video resolution: 1080p
- Lens FOV: 81.9°
- Sensor: 1 / 2.3” CMOS
- Flight Time: Approx. 16 minutes
- Range: 2 km (with RC)
2. Mavic Pro
When using a smartphone, the Mavic Pro will operate on a Wi-Fi connection. This limits the maximum transmission distance to 80 meters with a maximum altitude of 50 meters. The speed of the drone also reduces when controlling it with your phone, and Sport mode is disabled.
You can’t get around the speed and distance limitations that come with flying the Mavic Pro with a smartphone, but most functions are still available, and you can save some weight by not carrying the RC around.
To fly in Wi-Fi mode, all you need to do is open the protective cover on the right hand side (make sure the Mavic is switched off), flick the switch to Wi-Fi mode, turn it on, connect drone camera to your phone via Wi-Fi, launch DJI GO 4, and you’re ready to fly!
- Weight: 734 g
- Camera resolution: 12 MP
- Video resolution: 4K
- Lens FOV: 78.8°
- Sensor: 1/2.3” CMOS
- Flight Time: Approx. 27 minutes
- Max Range: 7 km*
3. Mavic Air
Sitting in between Spark and the Mavic Pro is the smartphone-controllable Mavic Air. Like the Mavic Pro and unlike Spark, the drone isn’t available without an RC, but you can fly it with your phone if you choose to do so.
Flying with just your phone is even easier with the Mavic Air because of SmartCapture, an updated gesture control mode that uses the Mavic Air’s optical sensors relatively long-range precision control.
Get the Mavic Air with an RC for $799 or get the Fly More Combo for $999.
- 21-minute flight time
- 3-axis 4K gimbal camera
- Foldable & portable
- SmartCapture mode
- Shoots 32 MP Sphere panoramas
- 3-directional environment sensing
- New QuickShots: Asteroid and Boomerang
Conclusion: Should you fly your drone with a phone?
With an RC, you can fly farther with more precise control and full functionality. But if you choose to fly with your smartphone, you’ll still have access to lots of features, and you don’t have to carry as much weight when you travel with it. So each control method has its advantages. Just make sure you make the right decision based on your needs!
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