Good / The DJI Spark is so portable it’s almost insane. It’s easy to fly, and come with professional features in a small package. You really don’t sacrifice anything here except maybe 4K camera quality.
Bad / You have to buy the controller separate which is a bummer (it’s a bit pricey at $149, but worth it). The phone controls work fine though. Flight times are limited between 10-20 minutes, but the battery charges to full within an hour or so.
Verdict / The DJI Spark is one of the most affordable professional-quality drones on the market. With a small price tag, and powerful features like a mechanically stabilized HD camera and obstacle avoidance, the DJI Spark is perfect for drone beginners or advanced drone pilots looking for a second capable drone to travel with.
Intro to DJI Spark Review
The DJI Spark is DJI’s advance into the entry-level drone pilot market. However, it’s still more expensive than “toy” drones, and it has all of the professional features that you would expect from a DJI-made drone.
In this DJI Spark review, I’m going to take a look at what features are sacrificed–if any, for the affordable price tag, and how the complete experience feels. Is the DJI Spark worth the money?
What is a drone without smart software? Well, not much to be honest. The DJI spark uses the same software that DJI provides for all of its drones. For the most part, it’s fine. It’s easy to setup and works well with minimal bugs. Just keep in mind that when you’re using your phone to control the drone, there are some range limitations due to the signal (around 100M without the controller).
While the overall setup is easy, connecting is a bit tricky–in some ways, with the provided instructions (or lack thereof) but tapping on the “help” button makes things easier. I had to look online on how to turn the drone on, since the instructions don’t really explain that you must tap once, then quickly again to hold for a few seconds. The drone turns on, and you navigate to your Wi-Fi settings to connect to the drone’s signal. Once you do this, you can go back to the DJI app and load into the drone. At first, all of the settings can be quite intimidating.
The top panel is mainly information about signals and GPS and stuff, whereas the left side is mainly how you’ll control the drone, land it, and take off. The right side is where camera functions operate. It’s incredibly easy to snap pictures and videos, and it functions similar to a standard phone camera app. However, it can be a bit tricky navigating settings to see what you want, and trying to load features while flying the drone at the same time. However, with the controller, I can expect a more simple experience.
The DJI Spark has a few neat features like the ability to control it with your hand, and take cool selfies. My favorite feature is probably the active track feature which makes the drone follow you around, but I would be too scared to have it follow me in a car or something on a busy street.
The gesture feature is another hallmark feature of the DJI Spark, and while it works, it feels a bit gimmicky like a cool trick to show your friends but not something you’d ever use.
The app loads differently when connected to the drone, and when not, so its hard to explore without feeling the pressure of your drone being “on”. While the interface is serviceable for the most part, there’s a lot of buttons and settings to configure that it might take awhile for you to grasp the capabilities of configuring cool camera modes like panorama, or finding features like ActiveTrack that let the drone move and follow you (you can access the smart features by tapping the plug icon on the left hand side of the drone).
Fortunately, most of the drone’s smart software performs automatically. Things like “return to home” work extremely well. If your drone gets outside of the radius for your phone connection, it’ll stop in mid air, hover for a few seconds, then return to almost exactly where you had takeoff. In my experience, it turns as close as just a few feet away which is incredible.
The DJI Spark comes in a tiny box, and it fits well into the provided styrofoam carrying case. All you have to do is fold the propellers to fit it inside–and you don’t even have to unfold them since when you take off the force of the turbines unfolds them automatically. Enough about size for now–what about the specs?
The DJI Spark packs a lot of power into a small build. The drone isn’t much bigger than my hand when all things are considered, but the drone still feels made well with quality construction that feels hefty and solid. The drone feels very much like a small portable computer, and when you turn it on, that’s the experience you can expect.
There’s a small purr, like an engine starting, and then lights start blinking and the magic starts to happen. I can’t help but be impressed everytime I turn it on, it just feels so cool. At first, when you unbox the drone, you might think–really, I paid $499 for this? But when the drone actually takes off, it’s almost magical how much air starts moving from such a small device.
Well, the DJI Spark delivers with obstacle detection features that will prevent crashes, dual-band GPS for reliable flights, visual positioning, and a powerful HD camera that looks great and smooth once you master your turns and pivots with the controls. I am constantly surprised by how good the camera is for pictures, and video. It’s full 1080p with 24 FPS.
Here’s a sample picture:
Here’s a sample video:
The DJI Spark controls well enough with the phone, but if you want the best experience, I would recommend the DJI Spark’s native controller. In some ways, the drone feels a bit handicapped without it, since without the controller you’re limited in a roughly 100m range (this happened to me several times, but the drone would just “return home”).
With the controller you can go up to 1.2 miles, and it’s much more intuitive to fly with sticks than the virtual controls on your phone (although they are do-able to an extent for beginner flights). The DJI Spark comes with a bundle, which comes with the controller, an extra battery, and some flight guards. I’d recommend it.
Overall though, the Spark has some very good hardware for the price. It can fly fast, super high, and the camera is as smooth as butter, and it looks great too.
Conclusion of DJI Spark Review
The DJI Spark impressed me in almost every category. With a great camera, a decent app, and good power as well as smart auto-avoidance features, it’s not only easy to fly, but ultra-portable and pleasurable to fly as well.