Does the Phantom 4 have Battery and Range Issues?

The new DJI Phantom 4 would appear to be facing a troubled start to the drone/quadcopter industry with multiple reports of issues with battery and range.

An open letter to DJI…

In an open letter by a P4 owner, addressed to DJI’s Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs’, Brendan Schulman, David Bender wrote…

“When I, and many others purchased a P4, we immediately noticed a significant decrease in the range of the aircraft. Almost like a “crippled Lightbridge”. We have tested this in identical conditions back to back with our P3 aircraft, and in many cases we noticed approximately 1/2 the range with our P4s compared to our P3s. Upon further investigation, we noticed that in FCC filings, the RC power output (and aircraft transmission output) is 20-25% less than earlier P3 models. Many are theorizing this is the cause.”

…and concerning battery life he also wrote…

DJI claims a battery life of up to 28 mins (in ideal conditions). Dozens of people are posting their findings and none are finding this to be the case. In my case, in no wind, P mode, with collision avoidance turned off and very little stick input, hovering from 100% down to zero percent usually gives about 24 mins of flight time. I understand that DJI claims “ideal conditions” for its claim (although an executive told me in writing that it should achieve 28 mins in “typical” flying conditions) – but that manifests the following: DJI publicly claims a significant improvement in flight times over the P3 series. As of now, all testing shows, at best, equal or less performance in regard to flight time.

These points are a concern as these two elements make the P4 a key milestone for DJI considering that range and battery life are two of the key drivers for those upgrading to this new flagship model.

Opposing views…

However, contrary to the observations of some are posts which entirely contradict the findings of others, as per the following post:

Post supporting DJI's claim of longer battery life and satisfactory range - https://www.facebook.com/groups/675337805903071/permalink/688474007922784/
Post supporting DJI’s claim of longer battery life and satisfactory range – https://www.facebook.com/groups/675337805903071/permalink/688474007922784/

Swapping controllers…

Some users have reported that pairing an Inspire or Phantom 3 controller with the new Phantom 4 resolves the range issue, this would suggest that the limitation is imposed via the transmitter rather than the aircraft itself, but this is not a viable nor acceptable solution for most users, it has also not yet been proven in a ‘scientific’ sense.

Phantom 4 Remote Control/Transmitter.
Phantom 4 Remote Control/Transmitter.

In the ‘DJI PHANTOM 4’ Facebook group, one user wrote…

commentary_facebookpost_v3

…whilst another gave a contrary view…

commentary_facebookpost_v4

Possible cause…

Range and battery life are in many ways interlinked and the longevity of both will vary on multiple elements, such as the altitude at which the pilot is flying, their style of flying, and also weather/pressure. Another possibility could be manufacturing defects but we would expect to see a more consistent complaint if that were the case.

Some pilots were previous owners of Phantom 3 aircraft and so it could be suggested that they can compare directly, but weather is key and can drastically affect battery life and range from one day to the next.

phantom4_underside

In summary…

There are a variety of mixed and conflicting views concerning the range and battery life of the Phantom 4, on that basis it is impossible to conclude, but we can be fairly sure that the cause/mitigation will be one of the above.

Will DJI respond…

Whether or not DJI will respond to these claims is anyone’s guess but they should, and do so quickly because such negative views of the Phantom 4 have been increasing this past week and will soon hamper DJI’s efforts to compete against the ‘new kids on the block’ this year, the impressive Intel-powered Yuneec Typhoon H and the currently mysterious GoPro Karma.

And finally…

The dreaded cracks might be back, this evening one user has reported that after just 5 flights with his new Phantom 4, what would appear to be a stress fracture has appeared.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1501319910176659/permalink/1518609111781072/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1501319910176659/permalink/1518609111781072/

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