DJI recently released Phantom 3 SE and now you can preorder one for a promotional price of RMB 2999 (The regular price is RMB 3499) before March 31. Our editor was considering getting a Xiaomi drone 4K but ended up of turning to a SE. In this post we would like to talk about these two eye-catching entry-level drones – the DJI Phantom 3 SE and Xiaomi drone 4K.
The improvements of Mi Drone (4K version) in appearance are its quick release propellers and foldable landing gears, however, it doesn’t come with a professional backpack which is a drawback. The Phantom 3 SE is built on the base of previous products, it is compatible with multiple accessories and fit with a series of professional backpack DJI launched.
4K Image Quality & 3-Axis Mechanical Gimbal
Aerial photography is the major selling point of today’s consumer drones.
Both of these two drones carry 4K cameras with aperture F2.8 and FOV 94°, are capable of recording 4K video and 12M stills, the shooting performance outperform most consumer drones in the market.
From my experiences of flying DJI Phantom series, I can tell that basically the Phantom families are almost the same with each other, and the Phantom 3 SE can also shoot cinematic videos.
The two drones are equipped with 3-Axis mechanical gimbals, which are more reliable than those built with the electronic anti-shake technologies, but the ultimate shooting performance of these two still needs to be seen. The image distortion of Mi Drone (1080P) is really terrible, I wonder if the 4k version has solved this problem.
4km Video Transmission
How far can a Wi-Fi video transmission system reach? Both Phantom 3 SE and Xiaomi drone 4K can transmit video away from 4 km (FCC compliant), but Mi Drone’s 5G frequency band beats the Phantom 3 SE in anti-interference performance.
Restricted Flight Distance: 500m
Restricted Flight Altitude: 120 m
What surprises me the most is the 500m restricted flight distance and 120m restricted flight altitude showing on the Mi Drone’s specification web page, are you kidding me? I am not buying a drone just to fly it indoors!
The maximum restricted flight altitude of the Phantom 3 SE is 500m, and the maximum service ceiling above sea level can even reach 6000m, plus the controllable distance is of 4000m, allowing me to take it in mountain climbing and fly it far. I hope the Mi Drone can loosen the restriction on the flight distance and altitude in its following products.
Flight Time of 25 min VS 26 min
The maximum flight time of the Phantom 3 SE is 25 minutes, while the 26 minute flight time of the Xiaomi drone 4K put itself in an intermediate level position among consumer drones. But if its actual flight time lasts that long still remains to be tested.
What you can’t ignore is the “Beginner Mode” in Mi Drone, the drone is automatically locked in “Beginner Mode” in your first 300 minute flight, if a battery can really ensure a 26 min flight, you will have to fly almost 12 times to exit the Beginner Mode….. it is so inconvenient and it’s one of the things that Mi Drone users are complaining about. I don’t know if this 4K version spares experienced pilots from the Beginner Mode.
Dual IMUs and Dual Compasses
Last year not long after the shipment of Mi Done 1080p version, crash accidents began to occur frequently, the poor performance of anti-interference and robustness in flight controllers, less powerful propulsion system were calmed to be the main reasons to these crashes, so last year Xiaomi offered its users “Free Maintenance” services (Free replacements with more powerful motors), which was essentially a recall.
This time in 4K version, Mi Drone adopts enhanced dual IMUs and compasses, thus the flight safety can be increased theoretically, but I would like to give it a violent test on its real performance. While the Phantom 3 SE inherits the same flight controllers and sensors in Phantom 3 series, there is no question of its reliability. (I really feel like comparing these two drones through violent tests.)
Both drones adopt vision positioning technologies, the Phantom 3 SE is able to hover indoors without GPS, however, when I flew Mi Drone last year, it failed to take off when GPS is less than 14 signals, I am not sure if the Mi Drone 4K can take off indoors and hover in place only relying on its downward vision system.
I think for beginners, the most common problem they have is crashing the drones before actually grasping the skills of how to fly them…Xiaomi’s drone forum was filled with all kinds of aftersales complaints last year, the company just didn’t expect that the aftersales of drones is such a troublesome problem. I even heard that an insurance company almost went bankruptcy due to its business on drone insurance.
But I do think the DJI Care for the Phantom 3 SE is very useful, especially for beginners, you don’t have to argue with an aftersales representative after a crash, just pay for extra RMB 399 and you will get a new drone, this DJI Care service costs only RMB 800 and it ensures you a worry-free flight, maybe it seems unnecessary for experienced pilots, but it is really a great deal for beginners.
It’s obvious that the Phantom 3 SE is launched to compete with Xiaomi drone 4K because the functionalities of both drones are almost the same, but one is from a well-known brand “DJI”, the other is from a new brand “Xiaomi”, both of their target consumers are beginners, I am super curious that is Xiaomi really be prepared for this competition?
The live broadcasting of Mi Drone launch in May last year was really impressing, because the drone crashed in front of millions of audients, and the 1080P version wasn’t ready for sale until November, the 4K version was supposed to be on the market in last July but being postposed to today, what was happening during this period? I think what Xiaomi’s the engineers were busy with is fixing bugs while DJI kept launching Mavic, Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2…
Apparently Xiaomi doesn’t have any advantages on high end drones, so the Xiaomi drone 4K is positioned as the best cheap entry-level drone, but we need to be aware that a drone can be a very dangerous product, manufacturers can’t ignore the reliability and safety of a drone just because it’s for beginners. By the way, stay tuned for our next violent tests! I will show you if the Xiaomi drone 4K is worth for the money and if the DJI Phantom 3 SE can continue to be a success.