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DJI adds affordable new ‘Standard’ edition to its Phantom 3 drone lineup

A few months back, DJI — the biggest name in consumer drones — pulled the curtain back on its long-awaited Phantom 3 quadcopter line. Initially there were only two flavors to choose from: the fully equipped Professional edition with a 4K camera, or the slightly less tricked-out Advanced version, which only shoots in 1080p. Today, however, the company has unveiled a new addition to the family — the Phantom 3 Standard.

Geared toward consumers looking for a more affordable option, the Standard edition is basically a watered-down (but cheaper!) version of the Advanced and Professional models. It doesn’t sport DJI’s ultrasonic/visual range sensor for easy indoor flight; it only has GPS (instead of the GPS/GLONASS combo the other two drones have); and it doesn’t feature DJI’s new Lightbridge technology, so it can’t transmit live video quite as far as the Pro or Advanced models can.

It’s not quite as fancy, but aside from these high-end specs, the Standard series is basically the exact same drone. It’s got the same motors, the same battery, and a pretty formidable camera to boot. Oddly enough, according to DJI’s spec sheets, the camera on the Standard version is capable of shooting in higher resolution (2.7K) than the Phantom 3 Advanced does (1080p) — although DJI representatives tell us the image sensor isn’t quite as good in the cheaper model.

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In addition to the powerful new camera, DJI has plans to equip the Phantom 3 line (Standard included) with a handful of new piloting modes that will presumably make it easier and more enjoyable to fly. They’re not available quite yet, but DJI’s nest firmware update will (allegedly) give the Phantom 3 Standard features like “follow me” autopilot, intelligent orientation control, waypoint flying, and a new “point of interest” mode in which the drone will circle a point of your choosing.

Assuming that DJI makes good on these promises, the Phantom 3 Standard will likely be a handy tool for shooting aerial video. It’ll probably be another month or two before the new features roll out to the Phantom 3 line, but if you’ve been waiting for the right moment to hop on the drone bandwagon, this might be it.

The DJI Phantom 3 Standard is available for $800 starting today.