No Smartphone Necessary (Within 10 Feet, At Least)

DJI’s Tiny $500 Drone Can Be Controlled by Waving Your Hands


DJI officially announced the Spark, the smallest and most affordable drone the company has ever made. It costs $499 — half as much as DJI’s pro-grade Mavic Pro ($999) — and it’s so simple to fly you can control it with your hands. No smartphone necessary.

The Spark weighs only 10.6 ounces and can fly up to 31 mph. It can be controlled using simple hand gestures, as long as it’s no more than 10 feet away; just imagine yourself as Luke Skywalker using the Force. To control the drone at longer distances, up to roughly 330 feet, your smartphone is needed. The drone can be flown up to 1.2 miles away using a special wi-fi remote. The Spark can fly a maximum of 16 minutes on a single charge. That’s not long, admittedly, but its removable battery and an onboard micro-USB port nearly make battery life a non-issue.

The Spark has a 12MP camera that’s on par with your current smartphone. It can’t shoot 4K video, — only 1080p. But what it lacks in pure megapixel might, it makes up for with creative fun; using DJI’s Go 4 app, you can shoot video using pre-programed flight patterns and make your day hike look like something out of a Peter Jackson epic. The Spark also has built-in sensors to avoid obstacles, like trees and friends, and if you’re after a different experience, the Spark is compatible with DJI Goggles FPV flying.

The Spark is DJI’s move into the entry-level drone space, and its target audience is everybody with a smartphone. There’s virtually no start-up time — just hold a button on the drone for two seconds and it’s flying and ready to shoot — so anybody can use it, if they’re willing to spend $500 on a camera they essentially already own (but it flies!). The idea is that all those mundane photos or videos people take of their dogs or at dinner parties will be elevated, literally.

The Spark will be available in white, blue, green, red, or yellow. DJI is taking preorders now and will ship in mid-June.

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