That Didn’t Take Long: DJI Introduces Intelligent Flight Modes on Phantom 3 and Inspire 1

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

When 3DR announced its Solo consumer video quadcopter with Smart Shots [B&H | Amazon], it set the filmmaking community atwitter (no, not the social network, though that too) with the tantalizing possibility of Technocrane -style shots by one-man bands. Today, just a few months after the Solo has been released, DJI responds with its version of Smart Shots for its Phantom 3 [B&H | Amazon] and Inspire 1 [B&H | Amazon]  which it calls Intelligent Flight. You can download it from Apple’s App Store or Google play.


Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots. Frazier/Ali. Borg/McEnroe. Canon/Nikon.

And now, DJI/3DR.

Competition is a wonderful thing, and we have 3DR to thank for pushing DJI to make its consumer and entry-level pro quadcopters even more videographer-friendly.

It was only a few weeks ago that we tested DJI’s Phantom 3 and 3DR’s Solo. We concluded that both companies were targeting the same market space and would inevitability meet there with comparable technology, pricing, and service. It really did seem to reduce to who would get there first and best – and at that moment, we felt DJI had the lead.

DJI nudges further ahead with Intelligent Flight Modes. Here’s how the two offerings line up as of today:

3DR Solo DJI Phantom 3 Comment
Cable Cam Waypoints & Course Lock Cable Cam is essentially a two point waypoint capability with beginning and end points; it appears that DJI’s Waypoints is more sophisticated with more waypoints. Course Lock is perhaps best thought of as,less sophisticated than Cable Cam, as it addresses the bird’s orientation in a straight line rather than two specific way points (which can include elevation on the Solo).
Orbit Point of Interest The advantage at this moment goes to the Phantom with its onboard gimbal – but these two functions should be equivalent once 3DR’s gimbal is widely available to the general public
Selfie Home Lock The edge probably goes to 3DR, which also ascends as the Solo pulls back
Follow Follow Me These should be functionally equivalent, but I now know enough to wait to see how they are actually executed (smoothness will be the key).

Even So, Both Companies Have Room to Improve

3DR continues its struggle to get the Solo gimbal to market and regain the goodwill of its earliest customers — as of today, September 7th, it is still listed as pre-order or back-order on sites like B&H and Adorama, and isn’t even listed on Amazon.

But DJI has its own issues, especially around stress cracks in its Phantom 3 motor arms (a Google search on “Phantom stress cracks” pulls up 140,000 results including this video and this aftermarket arm reinforcement kit.

We’re not whining: it’s the nature of new technology and early adopters that these kinds of things are common (just think about how long Gmail was in beta).

Exciting times!

Visit DJI’s site to learn more about Intelligent Flight Modes; visit 3DR’s site to learn more about Smart Shots.

DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 Intelligent Flight Modes

Via DJI:

DJI is happy to announce the release of Intelligent Flight Modes for the Phantom 3 and Inspire 1. To take advantage of these features, visit your product’s download page at, download and install the latest firmware, and update the DJI GO app to the latest version (iOS V2.2.0 and Android V2.1.0 ).

With this firmware update, the Phantom 3 Advanced will also be upgraded to support 2.7K (2704x1520p30) video recording.

Intelligent Flight Modes

Learn more about DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 Intelligent Flight Modes.

(cover photo credit: snap from DJI)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

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