Spark, the palm-sized quadcopter, is a gesture-controlled drone equipped with all of DJI’s world renown automated flight modes. With its 31 mph (50 km/h) max speed and 1080p video at 30 fps, the Spark is an affordable mini-drone poised to challenge the likes of the Mavic Pro and Yuneec Breeze.
Available in an assortment of colors and designed around DJI’s quadcopter propulsion system, Spark’s 10.5-ounce frame is small enough for indoor maneuverability and houses a 2-axis gimbal system for high-quality aerial footage. With the option to upgrade to the Spark Fly More Combo Kit for $699, which includes an extra battery, additional rotors, and blade guards for flying inside, we at iReviews gave the Spark a top rating for design.
Compared to the Mavic Pro – capable of 40 mph – the Spark tops out at 31 mph in optimal flight conditions. But at half the price and engineered for the novice drone pilot, the Spark’s reduced speeds help minimize the sometimes steep learning curve for newbie operators. With that being said, the pint-sized DJI quadcopter comes with a full suite of automated flight technology.
In the QuickLaunch flight mode, users are able to operate the quadcopter using deep-learning gesture recognition technology. Called FaceAware, Spark’s built-in sensors recognize the operator’s face and allow for a quick take off from the palm of their hand. By sensing hand movements, pilots can fly the Spark without the need of a special remote or a sensor-packed glove. Just simply launch the drone from your hand and when it’s time for a recharge, snatch the UAV mid-air upon its return.
With only 16 minutes of in-air flight time (compared to Mavic Pro’s 27 minutes) and its limited max speed, we gave the DJI Spark a 4-out-5 rating in this category. But since Spark has plenty of intelligent flight modes that include Quickshot, ActivTrack, TapFly, and Gesture, drone pilots have plenty of ways to seamlessly navigate their quadcopter. The TapFly Mode, for example, allows users to tap their phone screen and “tapping” into DJI’s built-in vision technology, the Spark is sent flying in the direction of your tap all while avoiding obstacles.
Armed with a 12-megapixel camera capable of capturing 1080p video at 30 fps, the Spark doesn’t meet the 4K industry resolution standard seen in so many drones hitting the market. The Yuneec Breeze, its closest sized competitor, does come with 4K resolution and for those interested in picture quality above anything else – the Yuneec may win over those customers. But what the Spark lacks in image quality, it makes up for in DJI’s intuitive Quickshot modes. Here is a quick rundown of Spark’s different image/video modes:
Rocket – Ascend with the camera pointing downward
Dronie – Fly backward and upward, with the camera locked on your subject
Circle – Circle around your target
Helix – Fly upward, spiraling around your subject
Spark’s camera has a f/2.6 wide-angle lens and when combined with its CMOS sensor, is capable of seamlessly shooting 720p stabilized streaming video from up to 1.2 miles (2 km) away no matter the flight mode.
Considered one of the best in the drone industry, the DJI companion App is where the magic happens. It really brings together DJI’s automated flight modes and its HD-quality camera from any position in the sky. The DJI App sets itself apart by offering an automatic editing feature that collects only the “best” shots of the day and puts them together in a 30-second video complete with background music.
With access to the full suite of DJI drone technology, whether it’s the gesture controlled flight mode or the rocket mode dramatic camera shot, the Spark is a user-friendly drone that rivals the twice-as-expensive Mavic Pro. Unfortunately, you won’t have the 4K resolution, the 27-minute flight time, or the max speed of 40 mph. If you’re a beginner drone hobbyist, the Spark is an affordable, yet super fun quadcopter allowing you the option of manual flight prior to upgrading to a more action-packed drone with greater maneuverability.