Best Quadcopter for 2015 – DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo Smart Quadcopter?

The NAB Show in Las Vegas is where companies show off the latest and greatest products to hit shelves. As far as Drones go, the two top consumer priced quadcopters under $1400 dollars were the DJI Phantom 3 and the new 3DR Solo. I'm pretty sure many of you will be either upgrading or finally purchasing a quadcopter this year, so i'm interested to see what your comments are between these two top picks.

Let's first take a look at some of the features that are found in the new 3DR Solo.

First off let's talk about the GoPro HERO4 interface. Many love flying the DJI Quadcopters, but may not be fans of the built in cameras. Previously when it came to flying a GoPro camera, you didn't have the ability to stream a Live HD Feed and control camera settings (start video, adjust exposure, change framerates and resolutions). The new 3DR Solo is the first quadcopter to properly interface with the GoPro HERO4 serial bus (connection used with an LCD BacPac). That's a huge plus for GoPro fans that are looking for a quadcopter to fly.

Talking to 3DR over at the NAB show, they also seem to have focused more on Auto Pilot features that allow you to program the quadcopter's moves, so that you don't need to be a skilled pilot to repeat shots over and over. The Cable Cam feature is a great example of this. Set your A and B points and the Solo will fly back and forth between points.

Obviously I haven't tested the Solo, but what immediately comes to mind is that you still need the $500-600 dollar GoPro HERO camera. The 3DR Solo also doesn't have the Vision Positioning system found in the Phantom 3 that allows it to fly indoors when there is no GPS signal. I've found that to be extremely handy lately with my DJI Inspire1. Including the 3-Axis Gimbal for the GoPro HERO4, the 3DR Solo lists for just under $1400 (Found Here).

find-price-button 3DR Solo Smart Quadcopter

Now let's take a look at the DJI Phantom 3 Intro Video

The DJI Phantom 3 now sports a 4K rectilinear camera, 3-axis gimbal, more powerful brushless motors, upgraded GPS antenna, and Live HD Feed up to 1.2 miles much like the DJI Inspire1. Though not the same as the 3DR Solo, the DJI Phantom 3 does offer many AutoPilot features and an SDK to develop on. If cable-cam is a popular feature for the Solo, DJI only needs to roll out a firmware update. The new DJI Phantom 3 with 4K camera starts at just $1250 (found here).

dji phantom 3 vs 3dr solo
find-price-button DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter with 4K Live HD 3 Axis Gimbal

33 thoughts on “Best Quadcopter for 2015 – DJI Phantom 3 or 3DR Solo Smart Quadcopter?

  1. Martin

    I was looking at a Solo until I read the warranty terms. 3DR has a great 1 year warranty, but it looks like they will not cover the Solo if it is used for commercial purposes.

  2. Emm

    Post author

    @Claire - I like the speed of setting up and flying DJI products and how you can control every aspect of the copter through the software. I would personally go with a Phantom 3.

  3. Claire

    Hi folks,
    I'm primarily a landscape photographer and I'm thinking of getting my first drone.
    I have a gopro 4 which I love but the shooting of photographs in raw is a huge plus for what I want it to do. I know that that solo has better features for videographers but I really like the raw shooting ability of the dji phantom 3. In your opinion what's the likelihood of gopro offering up raw shooting via a firmware update? If this were to happen, I'd get a solo for sure. Tks in advance

  4. Jason

    Didn't catch this post until now.

    I am FOR SURE buying a solo. It will be my first drone purchase and I am really excited. I've researched the hell out of this and I keep coming back to the solo. Was waiting for a dji phantom 2 cameraless follow up because I plan on using my gopro 4. while I heard DJI plans to make a cameraless phantom 3, I don't think it come close to the Solo and what it's capable of.

    Can't wait!

  5. Sam

    I have never operated a quadcopter, am 66 years old and truly sold on the Solo. I am not an impulsive buyer, but I was impressed with Colin Guinn's sales information/promotion. My company has many commercial sites that require difficult inspections e.g. roof, windows and gutters for multistory blg's.). The cable view record will hopefully be invaluable for historic records v. a one person report (limited visual). I hate to use the ubiquitous sales comment "super exciteded", but I am.

  6. Toshio

    I was going to get the Inspire but after seeing these two come out I've opted to get both. My son and I will be using them. I don't know. I've worked customer service for a large company and for someone to promise the kind of service 3DR is touting, well lets just say, I'll believe it when I see it.

  7. It's all about money. If you can spend up to 2+ k buck, it's better to take the 3DR's drone. Otherwise Professional is a good option.

  8. gxu120

    I am planning to switch to 3DR Solo based purely on DJI's dismal customer service. As others have mentioned, customer service with DJI is non-existent. If something were to happen to your $1200+ investment, you are on your own. The only people who will help you are other owners, not DJI. Just try calling DJI -- average wait time is 30+ minutes.

    3dr Solo is more expensive and less proven but if they are willing to take care of their customers, then I am sold.

  9. All this hype is good but how many users video did you see made with the 3D solo?

    Yes specs are fantastic but now we have only their promotional clip and I think it's not enough to judge if the Solo does what they tell

  10. Mark Santella

    For what it is worth. DJI's customer experience for me has been less than satisfactory for me. I have given DJI the chanceto step up their game in the customer service area and they have been anything but customer focused. I am in the position to purchase a new drone and am willing to risk it on the Solo for that one reason. I hope that 3DR delivers in this most important area better than DJI.

  11. Eric

    I just bought the Solo last night. The Solo's emphasis on allowing the user to be a DP instead of pilot/DP is what ultimately sold it for me. I also watched a video from NAB ( with DemunSeed and Collin Guinn. Guinn does a nice job of making some convincing arguments for the Solo.

    I am also a Phantom 1 owner. I had my fair share of trouble with fly-aways including a couple of gnarly crashes including one on a shoot in Ghana. I later discovered that my GPS chip was defective. I suppose it can happen to anyone. But the back and forth with DJI on getting it diagnosed and getting a refurb was tough. I like that the Solo's tx keeps all of the flight data and that if problems arise, it gets sent automagically to 3DRobotics and they initiate a ticket!

    There was a lot of DIY involved in my Phantom 1 between fine tuning the craft, attaching a gimbal, setting a tilt screw into the tx, soldering this and that. And honestly, I like DIY, but I like working on jobs better. So I am really excited to have something that is ready to fly out of the box.

    I love the ability to try out my Hero 3 on it to see if I can get good footage with it and having the option to upgrade to the 4 or the 5 or whatever GoPro has out in any given year. I think the open source/SDK aspects will yield great results. Especially special flight/filming routines by other film makers.

    I'm sold.

  12. Patrick

    Just pre-ordered one
    I am not sure DJI can get the same features as 3DR just with a firmware upgrade, it might need more then that.

    Another project to follow is the plexi drone. If they are able to add the blackmagic camera on their copter (with the bigger gimbal option), they should attract customers too. But this is yet to be seen.

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Martin - Not exactly sure but the P3 may have HDMI out. The inspire has it, and the P3 is all about real time streaming video. Hopefully it will have it.

  14. Martin

    I hear you. I was also waiting for an integrated reliable FPV solution.
    Now, I see Solo has FPV through WiFi which means delay and shorter range. P3 has it through "lightbridge" with less (to none?) delay and more range.
    On the other hand, Solo has an HDMI out port (good for goggles, live broadcast, etc) but P3 does not.

  15. Thomas

    Coming from a DJI Phantom 2 Vision into the Solo, customer service looks much more promising. I have had the Phantom 2 two years, no such thing as service when I got it back then, all information was forum based. I'm a fly away survivor from my dji too, lucky to find it, and it was broke up good.

  16. Tone1k

    The solo looks like a much more interesting product for me.
    I can see myself using the cable cam and orbit functions regularly provided they work smoothly. I have no interest in DJI's included camera and will be using a GoPro. Any word if these drones will lift a Blackmagic micro with small MFT wide angle lens?
    On paper the solo looks like the drone for me but looking forward or real world test before I pull the trigger..

  17. PaoX

    Thanks Emm for the clarification/ explanation. I haven't seen any comparison of the Yuneec drone to DJI or 3DR.
    Emm, are you planning on reviewing of the 3DR Solo?

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @PaoX - I briefly stopped by the Yuneec booth, but didn't hear anything groundbreaking. The camera footage looked much more compressed over the Inspire / Phantom 3 / or GoPro. The one cool thing they had was a hand-held gimbal in which you can take the camera off the drone and use it hand held.

  19. Great topic! A few days before NAB I had finally made up my mind on purchasing a Phantom 3 as my very first drone. I had waited years to purchase one because most of all I wanted an FPV built into the unit without having to take the drone apart and add 3rd party accessories. So when I saw the P3 I was instantly sold. Then a couple days later I saw the 3DR Solo and now I'm back to square one and am more confused than ever LOL!! The "cable mode" and "orbit" really sell the Solo. Such a tuff decision now. Probably going to wait until they're both released and can watch some reviews on them both.

  20. MarkR

    I had a pre-order for a P3 and changed it to a solo after talking to a B&H rep. It wasn't just the extra functionality but the customer service of 3DR which sold me. The rep told me that 3DR have phone support 7 days a week vs pretty much no support from DJI. He also warned me that DJI have been pretty unreliable in the past about delivering products when they said they would. Early may could very well mean June or July. I also like the upgrading possibilities of the solo. If/when the go pro 4+ or 5 come out you could hopefully upgrade your camera and keep the same drone. Of course its best to wait until both are out but I have shoots beginning end of may/beginning June and I am hedging my bets!

  21. ravi

    The solo seems like what I have been waiting for in terms of ease of use for single person piloting/cam operating.

    I am very interested to see if this thing can fly a BM Micro. As I am sure a million other people are...

    I watched a NAB vid interview with the guy at the 3dr booth and he said that the solo can lift about a pound (500grams). The BM Micro body is about 300 grams without battery or lens. I have no idea how heavy the solo gimbal is, of if that is calculated as part of the drone itself ( doubt that it is).

    It doesn't look good for pairing the two, but maybe with some modding...

    Fingers crossed.

  22. Emm: What are your thoughts on the quality of the video spec on the P3's 4K Camera compared to the Hero 4 Black's

    I'm thinking abut possibly getting a new custom lens for the Gopro to eliminate fish-eye. I have to admit there are some nice differences from the Solo to the P3. The open developers platform is interesting, but how many are willing, or can afford the liability to step into that.

  23. Wow, Great Topic Emm:

    I have been researching this Drone market pretty heavy this year. The P3 is nice, but it looks so old school, and toyish to me. I know that the tool and what it can do are the most important things, but I have to have some style.

    I also own a Gopro 4 Black, So for me I'm pretty sure I'm going to place a pre-order for the 3DR's Solo, They have tuned it to work with the Gopro, that's big in it's self for me. I also like there warranty on possible Fly-away's. I also like that they are an American company.

    From a Videographers perspective, It does a lot of what I want. I don't see my self flying above 200 feet very often, I'm wanting to use the Solo to fly point to point with a slow increased altitude, (Jib-Shot) The Solo's orbit feature could be very promising. If it is super stable and as accurate at flying as I'm hoping it will be, it will be awesome to fly up between buildings, trees, and whatever. These are the shots I'm looking for, with little equipment required in the field.

    You start to lose the dynamics and perspective of the Ariel shot after 300-400 feet, So I'm not interested in how high I can go, but far, with fast and clear HD FPV and it all has to be reliable! I think 3DR's Solo is going to sell like crazy, lot's of Big Box stores will be selling it. Exciting times right now!

  24. D

    The solo sounds wonderful! But I am wondering is how good the GPS tracking is (problem with early djis) and how strong the video signal will be. Not sure that solo could compete with lightbridge, and or their GPS signal strength. That is something DJi had to develop over time, and I am wondering if solo will have the same issues and need time to develop. The sensors on the bottom of the Phantom 3 also help to keep it from crashing. Something the other one doesn't have. So my thoughts are I would rather have the solo because I can use my hero cam and upgrade it when the new hero comes out, but at the same time I want to make sure I have a strong GPS signal and can view everything from the sky, and have the reliability that Phantom three has developed over time. It's hard to judge video quality, but from what I can tell the hero 4 black would have better image quality than the Phantom 4k cam. Mmmm this is a hard one, know if the Phantom three had a three axis gimbal for hero Cam, that would be a no-brainer for me. Or if solo had lightbridge and sensors on the bottom 🙂

  25. Adam Jeal

    The solo will be getting a lidar sensor add-on for indoor filming. They are also developing a self-deploying parachute system.

    Their customer support pledge is amazing; If you suffer a fly-away due to faulty equipment/firmware, they replace not only your copter & gimbal, but they give you a coupon to buy a new GoPro!

  26. Jerry

    I like the solo features more then the P3, does anyone know if the solo have the indoor flight like the p3 features? How about fly away?

  27. Erik Cantu

    On paper the Solo seems killer for shooting video.
    It is brilliant the the remote stores all user flight data so that if the drone flys away or breaks because of a software issue, you upload the flight data showing it wasn't your fault and they send you a new drone!
    3D robotics needs make one that can support all the same features but with a BM cine micro camera.

  28. Something that DJI still hasn't fixed on the Phantom 3 is moving the landing arms. In the Phantom 2, you can often see them in the shot. This is a huge turnoff for me.

  29. I think it's going to be what best integrates with BlackMagic Micro Cinema camera. I never liked GoPro footage and still don't and Inspire's camera is not much better.

  30. bandeluxe

    I am rooting for 3DR solo. Phantom 3 will probably sell more since it's all-in-one, but I really really want 3DR solo to be the go-to for camera work.

  31. freiheit

    3DR solo seems more "camera work" friendly product to me. that app we can program camera work like position A to B with pan/tilt kinda stuff looks very nice for shooting 🙂

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