The GoPro Karma was recalled last year due to sudden loss of power which would cause the drone to crash mid-flight. The re-release for the Karma drones fixed the issue by adding latches to keep the battery secure during flight.
Note that since we did not have the New GoPro Karma in our hands at the moment, we can only rely on what the manufacturer says about the old version, namely the technical data sheet.
Control and functionality
Let’s start with the item that we have … the least information. Indeed, for lack of test, difficult to get an idea on what is worth the GoPro Karma in flight. However, on paper, the Phantom 4 seems to us far better provided than its competitor.
The TapFly has two very interesting functions: the TapFly, which allows it to fly to a destination marked on the smartphone and tablet, and the ActiveTrack, which is the tracking mode. Without target beacon) of the Phantom 4.
These automatic modes require the presence of an obstacle detector at the front of the drone, which it is actually equipped with.
The GoPro Karma only has an “auto path” mode, which aims to optimize the shooting and avoid the hazards of manual driving by making the flight more fluid.
As for controlling, DJI and GoPro have taken quite different paths: when the first one is displaying on a smartphone (or a tablet), GoPro proposes a dedicated controller, with a large screen rather bright on the paper (900 nits ). The counterpart is that if this controller is damaged, you have no choice but to replace it.
Finally, GoPro allows, with its Passenger App, to share video in real time with other users (available on iOS and Android). The latter can, while you are piloting the drone, take care of the capture and the shooting.
Performance and autonomy
Regarding performance and autonomy, once again, the Phantom 4 seems to be still ahead of GoPro Karma. Whether it is the top speed (20 m / s, compared to 15 for the Karma), the range (3.5 km, versus 1 km for the GoPro drone) or the maximum altitude (6,000 meters, while the Karma only “4,500 meters”), the Phantom 4 data sheet surpasses that of the Karma drone.
From the point of view of autonomy, the observation is identical; DJI announces 28 minutes of flight, against 20 minutes for GoPro. The battery onboard the Phantom 4 (81.3 Wh against 75.4 Wh for Karma) is probably not unrelated to this difference of 8 minutes.
The GoPro Karma is considerably heavier: counting the mass of the drone, the battery, the camera and the stabilizer, we arrive at 2,144 kg. The Phantom 4 is 300 grams less. Its width and length are also larger than those of the DJI drone (411 x 305 mm, compared to 229 x 229 mm for the Phantom 4).
On the other hand, it is less than 6 cm high and above all, its articulated structure allows it to take more compact dimensions, which allow it to fit in a backpack (delivered by GoPro). A real asset for Karma.
The quality of the shot
It is certainly in this area that the difference between the two drones is the most significant. The Phantom 4 has a dedicated camera, this is not the case with Karma, where you can adapt a GoPro Hero 4 (Black or Silver), a Hero 5 Session or a Hero 5 Black.
This choice makes the GoPro Karma very scalable, and from this point of view, GoPro was rather smart, rightly focusing on the quality of its pocket cameras.
In the case of the Phantom 4, a 9-element lens overhangs a 1/2-inch sensor that shares 12 million pixels, an aperture at f / 2.8 and a sensitivity that ranges from 100 to 3,200 ISO. GoPro is less hard on the subject: just know that the GoPro Hero 5 has a 6-element aspherical glass lens, which brings light to 12 million pixels as well.
In video, performance is similar, but GoPro reaches 30 fps in 4K, where the Phantom 4 is content with 25 fps. Both drones can shoot in Full HD at 120 fps.
This comparison between these two drones highlights their different orientation: when GoPro Karma relies on the simplicity and the quality of the videos, trying to attract a large audience, Phantom 4 are oriented more towards the users more demanding, which will have uses more exotic than a “simple” shot.