I did a lot of research when deciding on what drone to buy. I ended up going with the Phantom 3 Standard due to US government regulations: you can’t fly more than 400 feet in the air or make your drone beyond your line of sight, which made it unnecessary for me to buy a super high-end drone if I couldn’t use it to its full extent. So I just needed something with a decent camera and a good control.

My Phantom 3 Standard arrived on time. You can detach the quadcopter’s battery from the quadcopter and charge it separately. Meanwhile, the controller also needs to be charged. You stick your smartphone in a clamp at the top of the controller the way you may put it in a holder on the top of your car dashboard for map directions.

The quadcopter comes with stickers so you can replace the red bands. At first I didn’t know how to use it so I wasted my bands by putting them on top of the red ones, not realizing I could remove the red bands first. I ruined my pink bands that way.

Some random facts for people who have never owned a drone:
-You can’t use these to spy on people because they’re loud. Not leaf-blower loud (thank goodness), but hair dryer loud. A lot of people who don’t own drones talk about using them to spy on people so that’s why I brought it up.
-You do have to register your drone, but it was 5 bucks and the registration lasts 3 years so I wasn’t bothered.
-It is fairy light. The weight of a filled coke bottle or so. When I carry it around I can stick my arm through the leg handles as if it were a weird plastic handbag.

As for flight, the quadcopter has its own SSID when you turn it on. You go into your phone, connect to the SSID, and that connects your phone to the quadcopter. You go into the DJI GO app and you will see a livestream through the app.

Now, nothing can be poking your camera. That means a completely flat surface, not grass, because the grass will keep the camera from turning which then means the drone automatically will not fly. It took me a while to figure that out. That can be annoying when you’re testing it out in a park so I wish there were a way to override that and say go ahead and fly anyway (or maybe there already is? I have my drone on beginner mode).

Flying is automatic. You drag your finger across a bar on the screen and the Phantom 3 Standard rises on its own. Landing is the same way–your drone can be a few hundred feet in the air and you just have to slide your finger across the screen and it descends slowly and carefully. In that sense it’s idiot-proof, although once I flew the drone into a wall on a windy day so it’s not completely idiot-proof, heh. Nothing broke but the propellers got a little scratched up, there’s a black smudge that I can’t get rid of no matter how hard I rub with soapy wet cloth.

The battery lasted me maybe up to 30 minutes but it starts shutting down at around 30%. I get a good 20 minutes of flight out of it though. I find myself staring at the phone’s live feed. The live feed lets you either take pictures or start recording a video, so I like to fly up and then slowly turn the drone with the video recording on. I don’t know whether I can include sound, as all my videos have been silent, but there are a lot of features so maybe I haven’t discovered it yet. Best of all the live feed measures the height and distance from the controller you are holding: that way you can see whether your drone is 100, 200, 300 feet in the air and you don’t break government regulations. I don’t dare fly above 200 because I’m paranoid it will stop receiving signals from my controller.

You can also put a radius limit so that if you try to take your Phantom 3 Standard beyond that distance it will not go any further. If you keep trying to make it go beyond that point it will simply hover in place. Great protection for a newbie like me.

Now, the wind can screw things up for you because the Phantom 3 is fairly light. The wind once blew my Phantom 3 into a wall, another time into a bush. Thankfully both accidents happened pretty low so then Phantom 3 fell only a few feet. The actual quadcopter is fine, only the propellers are a bit scratched up.

Overall it’s an excellent product, I just wish I lived somewhere where I have more excuses to use it.

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