Finally after a six-month delay, GoPro unveiled its long-awaited Karma drone last week. As was promised by founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman, the drone is much more than a drone and addresses four of the most irritating problems of its direct rival, the DJI Phantom 4. The problems are price, portability, simplicity and versatility, says Forbes contributor Jean Baptiste Su.
GoPro Karma vs. DJI’s Phantom 4
The DJI Phantom 4 is much smaller than its predecessors but still takes much more space than the Karma and is more than double the volume once the Karma is folded for transport. Also the Karma comes standard with a backpack, whereas DJI charges an extra $200. Karma’s backpack holds the drone, the camera, a charger, the controller and a stabilizing mount called the Karma Grip. On the other hand, the Phantom 4 is too heavy to easily transport in a backpack, notes Su.
In addition, GoPro’s Karma comes with the battery-powered Karma Grip, which controls the camera for handheld use. It can also be attached to the head of the drone or to any GoPro-compatible accessories for hands-free operation. The DJI’s grip Osmo comes with an integrated 4K camera and costs $560.
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The GoPro Karma drone is easy to use. The user just needs to unfold the landing gear and the propeller arms, and it is ready to fly using the remote control. The remote control looks like a video game controller with a built-in display. The Phantom 4, however, is not that simple to use. It requires a tablet or a smartphone to be attached to its remote to fly the drone, notes Su.
The Karma Kit costs $1,099, even after including the price of GoPro’s latest Hero 5 4K action camera, whereas DJI’s Phantom 4 costs the buyer almost double: $2,000.
DJI to fight back with Mavic?
Despite all these advantages, there were two features missing in the Karma: a “follow me” mode that tracks the user on the move and collision avoidance, says Su. But according to Woodman, he did not find those advanced features necessary for the drone.
After the launch of the Karma, Adam Lisberg, DJI’s corporate communications director, told Su, “DJI welcomes all competitors who try to match our unparalleled experience in unmanned aerial flight and handheld stabilization technology.”
The Chinese company DJI plans to reveal its next-gen drone, the Mavic, on Tuesday, at an event in New York. The Mavic will be a foldable drone as well and could be a serious competitor to GoPro’s Karma.