We've written this guide to help you make sense of the differences between the Phantom 4 and Typhoon H. Both drones bring advanced capabilities to the consumer market, but the two companies have chosen slightly different features to highlight. We'll focus on areas where the two drones are different and highlight the advantages of each. Hopefully by the time you finish reading, you’ll have a better idea of whether the Phantom 4 or Typhoon H is the right drone for you.
Let’s start with a side by side comparison:
Safety and Redundancy
Both Yuneec and DJI have attempted to improve the safety and redundancy of their new flagship consumer drones. Both have added redundant satellite positioning using GPS and GLONASS and both drones have forward facing collision avoidance. The Phantom 4 has dual compass and inertial measurement units. Its camera-based obstacle avoidance system works at greater range than the ultrasonic system on the Typhoon H. However, Yuneec is promising a future, user installable module for the Typhoon H that adds IntelⓇ RealSenseTM technology, giving it the ability to avoid obstacles farther out and in a more dynamic environment.
The Phantom 4 comes with a Vision Positioning Unit which allows it to maintain stable flight at lower altitudes even without satellite positioning. Yuneec has suggested that it will be offering an add-on module for the Typhoon H to provide its similar optical-flow Indoor Positioning System at some point in the future. Rumors suggest this module may be coupled with the previously mentioned RealSenseTM module.
The biggest difference in the safety and redundancy between the Typhoon H and Phantom 4 is the most obvious difference between the two. Yuneec has given the Typhoon H six propellers. If one propeller is damaged or one motor fails, the Typhoon H will continue to fly and should be able to land safely, where the Phantom 4 would simply crash.
Ease of Operation
Both models are easier to fly than their respective predecessors. They both add twist and click propellers, making them quicker and easier to install or remove. They also share many similar “smart” flight modes. These include, auto takeoff and land, return to home, point of interest, follow me. Although named differently, and slightly different in execution, they also share similar home lock and waypoint capabilities. DJI also features Active Track and Tap-Fly modes:
- Active track allows the pilot to select a subject with the camera and command the Phantom 4 to track that subject. The subject does not have to carry any kind of transmitter.
- Tap fly allows the pilot to guide the Phantom 4 by tapping on the video screen in the direction he/she wants the drone to go.
On paper, the Phantom 4 is the clear winner in the speed competition, featuring a Sport Mode that allows it to reach a top speed of 44.7mph (72 kph). Yuneec advertises the Typhoon H top speed as 22 mph (35 kph) in Angle mode and only 13 mph (19 kph) in Smart mode. However, several users have demonstrated the Typhoon H has the ability to operate in Follow-me mode at at least 40 mph.
DJI advertises the Phantom 4 battery life at 28 minutes at sea level, in calm conditions in Attitude mode. In practice, users are seeing around 22-25 minutes in normal conditions with the camera in use. The Phantom 4 smart battery charges in about 90 minutes, has LEDs to display charge level, and automatically discharges to less than 65% to protect the battery if it's not used for 10 days. Discharge takes approx. 3 days.
Yuneec advertises a 22-25 minute battery life for the Typhoon H depending on flying conditions. We expect this to be somewhat reduced in less than ideal conditions. The Yuneec battery takes approximately 2 hours to charge and does not display charge level or automatically discharge.
Live Video Display
The two manufacturers have taken different approaches to displaying live video. Both display 720p live video. But the ST16 bundled with the Typhoon H has a built-in, 7” Android based display.
DJI, on the other hand, requires the user to furnish his/her own tablet or smartphone. If you don't already have a smartphone or tablet to use with your drone, the Typhoon H has the advantage. However, DJI's approach allows for the use of aftermarket apps, which can extend the functionality of the Phantom 4. In particular, several after market apps allow you to pre-program waypoint missions for the Phantom 4. There is no such functionality available for the Typhoon H.
The Phantom 4 wins the prize for range hands down, with its Lightbridge technology promising to enable control and 720p video out to as far as 5 km. Yuneec has improved the control and video range of the Typhoon H when compared to the Q500 4k but the new digital video down link still offers only a 1 mile (1.6 km) max range for its 720p video transmission. Given the size of the two drones, it is unlikely that either will be visible much beyond a mile; so transmission range probably won't often limit those who choose to fly legally unless FAA regulations change; but there may be circumstances in which range is a factor for the Typhoon H.
Legal Compliance Features
Speaking of flying legally, the Phantom 4 and Typhoon H both have compliance built-in to the firmware. The DJI altitude limit defaults to 1640’ (500m), while Yuneec limits the Typhoon H to 400’ by default but the altitude restrictions for either drone can be changed.
Both drones enforce geographic no-fly zones around airports and restricted areas. However, in the Phantom 4’s “A” mode, only altitude limits apply. If Yuneec follows its previous policy with regard to no-fly zones, they will be more difficult to circumvent. In addition, DJI no fly zones are published. Yuneec only says its drones will not allow flight in "national aviation authority designated No-Fly Zones" and refer you to knowbeforeyoufly.org. They don't yet publish precisely which zones are included in the Typhoon H Firmware.
The whole point of this class of drone is as a platform for photography and video so the camera certainly matters. The Phantom 4 and Typhoon H have similar camera specs.
DJI Phantom 4 has a 1/2.3” sensor, 12MP (4000x3000) stills, 4k Video at 30FPS and 1080p video at 60FPS for slow motion. Its 20mm (35mm format equivalent) lens offers 94 a degree field of view and f/2.8 fixed aperture, 100-3200 ISO range for video and 100-1600 range for photos. The available shutter speeds range from 8s-1/8000s. 2x digital zoom. The Phantom 4 offers the ability to record 1080p at 120fps and 47 degree fov and includes a 3D Noise Reduction capability to reduce image noise.
Yuneec Typhoon H features a CGO3+ camera which is capable of 12.4MP stills, 4k video at 30fps and 1080p video at 60FPS for slow motion. It’s lens is 14mm with a 115 degree FOV, F/2.8 fixed aperture with shutter speeds from 1/30 - 1/8000s 4k UHD @30fps.
Camera quality can be somewhat subjective so we recommend you look at the various pictures and videos available on the internet to make your own quality judgement.
Gimbal / Landing Gear
Yuneec’s Typhoon H has a freely 360 degree rotating gimbal, coupled with retractable landing gear. This should allow the drone to take video while keeping its forward facing collision avoidance pointed in the direction of motion and allow you to more easily compose some shots. Phantom 4 has fixed landing gear. Theoretically, it should be possible to get the same shots by rotating the drone instead of just the camera but doing so will require a great deal of skill, especially for a single operator; which leads us to:
Dual Controller Operation
Typhoon H comes with the ability to operate the aircraft and the camera using two different controllers. This capability, which requires a separate ST12, ST16, ST24 or Wizard controller, is not available in the Phantom 4. While it may not be strictly necessary for most users, it gives Typhoon H users the potential to create shots that could previously only be captured using higher end drones such as the DJI Inspire 1.
Warranty and Customer Support
Both the Phantom 4 and Typhoon H come with a warranty against manufacturing defects. The warranties generally last for 6 months except DJI covers a few components for 12 months. Neither warranty covers crashes.
Historically, Yuneec’s customer support has been superior to DJI. DJI has apparently realized this to a certain extent and have made some efforts to improve. However, in general, our customers have been happier with the support they have received from Yuneec than from DJI.
Which should you buy?
Get the Phantom 4 if:
You already have a smartphone or tablet you're willing to use with your drone
You want to use aftermarket control apps (particularly for preplanned waypoints)
You want to be part of a larger community of owners
You want a drone that has already been tested by many users over several months
You want to operate at extended range
You want/need the active track, TapFly or Sport modes
Get the Typhoon H if:
You need controller with a built-in screen and don't mind the lack of aftermarket apps
You want the redundancy of 6 blades
You think you'll use the rotating gimbal and retractable landing gear to get better shots
You want to have the drone track a subject carrying a transmitter
You're willing to wait for RealSense to have better obstacle avoidance
You need the ability to split flying and camera operating responsibilities
You want historically reliable support from the manufacturer
Visit vhdrones.com to order your Typhoon H or Phantom 4 today.
If you are unsure of which drone is right for you, we’d be happy to help. Email email@example.com or call us at (800) 544-5887.
We wrote this guide based on the best information we had available at the time and hope it is helpful for you. We will attempt to update it as more or better information becomes available. If you find errors or omissions, please leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org