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DJI Phantom 3 Standard review: An entry-level drone that's much better than basic

The Standard can also snap 12-megapixel photos in both Adobe DNG raw and JPEG formats. The Go app also lets you manually change shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO and you can set it to do burst shooting, exposure bracketing and time-lapse photography.


The Go app works with the drone.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The Standard uses Phantom 3 Intelligent Flight batteries, which allow you to check the health of its individual cells via the Go app. This also means older batteries won't work. DJI claims flight times top out at 25 minutes. In my tests the quadcopter lasted 22 minutes with a mix of hovering and flying in light wind and factoring in time for takeoff and landing (which can be done automatically through the Go app). That's about average for this class of quadcopter and more aggressive flying or high winds will cut into that flight time.

To help you make the most of that time, the Standard has DJI's Intelligent Flight features including waypoint navigation, point of interest (POI) flight planning and a Follow Me function.

Waypoint navigation lets you set up a multipoint path for the drone to follow while you control the camera, while POI flight planning allows you to autonomously fly a circle around a subject, keeping it centered. Follow Me sets the drone to track your movement based on your orientation when holding the remote controller.

The modes are accessed by flipping down the S1 switch on controller's right side. You have to do it once you're in the air, so you'll have to be somewhat quick about setting up your shot as you'll be cutting into your overall flight time.

Video quality is fine. The gimbal keeps the camera extraordinarily stable even in high winds. Like most small-sensor cameras, the Standard's struggles with extreme highlights so you end up with blown-out details. It does a relatively good job of adjusting for lighting changes -- another area where these cameras can struggle. You may also notice some horizontal banding, which is a rolling shutter artifact that's common to these cameras as well.

Despite all of this, the video is generally very good, especially for the price. My biggest issue is that you're stuck with this camera. There is no option to upgrade it down the road and it can't be removed for handheld use.

Lastly, whenever you record a video, a compressed 720p version is stored to your mobile device. To help make the most of these clips, DJI built a basic video editor in to the Go app. You can use it to cut up your clips, gather them up and then combine them into one movie. DJI also included some style templates with music you can apply before you save. Then you can just share away.


There's a big gap in the camera drone market right above $250 to right around $700. The options in that zone either aren't as polished as DJI's Phantom 3 Standard, require an additional purchase of a camera like a GoPro or they're smartphone- or tablet-controlled and you have to buy a controller separately if you want that experience. That's what makes the Standard a good option even at $799, but it's a true bargain at its sale price of $499/£449/AU$859.

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