Today we are interested in the mini-drone Spark from the famous Chinese manufacturer DJI. It’s the most compact drone of the DJI brand, so we stuffed one in a backpack and flew it nonstop for two weeks. We deliver to you without further delay in our conclusions and our reviews following the test of the DJI Spark.
Lots of features for such a small drone
If there’s one thing DJI is very good at, it’s cramming a ton of features and tech into smaller and smaller drones.
Nothing illustrates this talent more than the Spark. Despite the fact that the drone’s shell is about the size of a paperback book, DJI has managed to incorporate the same features that you will find under the hood of the bigger, bulkier and more expensive cousins of the Spark.
Aside from its tiny, hyper-portable design, arguably the Spark’s biggest feature is its plethora of intelligent flight modes.
In addition to the standard DJI stuff, the Spark sports a handful of new modes, including Rocket, Dronie, Circle, and Helix (more info in a moment).
The drone also comes with gesture recognition capabilities, allowing it to be used without a smartphone or controller.
Another big plus is the Spark’s obstacle avoidance system. While the ability to detect and avoid objects is usually a feature reserved for larger drones, DJI has gone ahead and built one into the Spark’s hull.
It’s not as rugged as what you’ll find on the Phantom 4, or even the Mavic Pro, but it does the job anyway and helps you avoid snags.
Oh, and let’s not forget the camera. In addition to a 12-megapixel camera, the camera shoots video in 1080p at 30 frames per second, the Spark also sports a dual-axis gimbal. This allows it to mechanically stabilize the camera and cancel out any jarring and shaky movements, resulting in smoother and more beautiful images.
This also gives it a leg up on the competition; most selfie drones only have single-axis mechanical stabilization.
A sturdy and colorful little drone We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: DJI makes some of the toughest and best-designed drones on the market, and the Spark is no exception. It could be the strongest drone the company has ever produced.
With short arms, no legs, and a hidden camera, there isn’t much about this drone that is likely to break in the event of a crash. If you hover over the grass or carpet, this little contraption should probably crash without taking serious damage. The parts most likely to break are the accessories, and these are cheap and easy to replace. Overall, Spark is one of the toughest drones we’ve ever tested, and the build quality is top-notch.
The overall design is not particularly exceptional for a DJI drone, however. Of course, it’s small and compact.
Truth be told, it’s not much smaller than the competition. Yuneec’s Breeze drone is only slightly larger than the Spark, and drones like the Hover Camera Passport and the ZeroTech Dobby are actually more compact and portable. Make no mistake, the Spark is extremely well-designed and insanely small considering the tech it carries, but it’s definitely in the middle of the pack when it comes to portability.
There is one design element that really helps the Spark stand out from the competition. Unlike all of the other drones we’ve seen, this little drone comes in a rainbow of different colors.
The switchable top plate is currently available in white, red, yellow, blue and green and we are willing to bet that more colors, models and designs are in the works.
It’s not a revolutionary addition, but it’s always nice to have colour options on hand.
Flight time and recharge speed
Official DJI specs state that the Spark’s battery is good for 16 minutes of flight time with a full charge and optimal flight conditions. Real-world performance is usually a different story.
So we took a stopwatch, sent the Spark into the air, and let it hover until it broke down for an emergency landing.
From takeoff to landing, the drone held up 14 minutes and 10 seconds of flight time.
During normal flight, fully utilizing the drone’s motors, sensors and processing power, we averaged about 13 minutes of flight time.
It’s not the 16 minutes DJI advertises on the box, but it’s still okay.
This flight range puts the Spark well ahead of competitors like the Yuneec Breeze (~ 11 minutes). That said, all of these mini drones come with dual batteries, which means the Spark can get around 26 minutes of flight time per trip, compared to the Breeze’s 22 minutes. DJI, therefore, has an advantage in terms of endurance.
It takes about 45 minutes for a full battery charge. If you land after the first low battery warning, it will only take 30-35 minutes.
Agile, stable and packed with intelligence
On paper, the Spark doesn’t really stand out from the competition, but you can feel the difference once you have it in the air. In terms of raw flight performance, DJI leaves all of its competition far behind. Like the Mavic, Phantom and Inspire drones from the DJI fleet, the Spark offers a very pleasant and hyper-responsive flight experience. It’s fast, nimble and incredibly stable for a drone of its size. Even in windy conditions, it does a fantastic job of reducing drift and maintaining its position. When you let go of the throttles, Spark comes to a stop and remains in a hover until you order it to restart. Usually, smaller drones are unstable, but that is clearly not the case with the DJI Spark Another big advantage is the Spark’s integrated obstacle avoidance system. This is something you simply won’t find on other portable mini drones, and it adds a lot to the flying experience. With a maximum detection distance of only 5 meters, it’s not as rugged as the detection systems built into DJI’s more expensive drones, but it’s still pretty decent and saved us from crashing over ‘an occasion. Even if you are not an experienced pilot, Spark’s detection system helps you fly with confidence and vigor. What makes Spark special, however, is its wide range of intelligent flight modes. This critter was designed from the start to be super easy to fly. In addition to standard DJI offerings like TapFly and Active Track, it sports a handful of brand new modes that allow anyone to capture truly beautiful cinematic footage, without any piloting skills.
Aside from the standard modes that are included in every new DJI drone, the Spark has four new flight options. There’s Rocket (where the drone will quickly ascend with the camera pointing down), Dronie (where it will fly backward while staying centered on a target), Circle (orbit while staying locked on a subject), and Helix (spiral outward orbit).
All of this can be done with a few clicks on your smartphone which is pretty cool. Thanks to DJI, you don’t have to be a seasoned drone pilot to capture professional-looking shots.
Unfortunately, the 4K is missing
Perhaps the only downside to the Spark is the fact that it doesn’t have 4K resolution.
The drone has a 1 / 2.3 ″ CMOS sensor that can shoot 12-megapixel photos and capture 1080p video at 30 frames per second. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not 4K, which many other portable drones offer, including the Yuneec Breeze or the ZeroTech Dobby.
Since DJI had every chance of outperforming the competition with its camera, it’s a wonder the company chose not to include a 4K camera. Everything else on the Spark is at the top of its class, so why not the camera? We don’t have any proof, but our theory is that DJI was concerned about cannibalizing sales of the Mavic Pro. The Spark has a very similar set of features and capabilities, but only costs half of what the Mavic does, so if DJI gave the Spark a 4K camera, there wouldn’t be much of a reason to choose the Mavic Pro. The lack of 4K is really disappointing, but Spark’s camera has a lot of other features that the competition doesn’t, like a two-axis gimbal to stabilize your video, and a variety of different shooting modes for the camera. still photography – such as continuous shooting and automatic exposure bracketing. It also has a new feature called Shallow Focus, which uses the drone’s vision system to blur the background and create an artificial (but realistic) depth of field effect.
All things considered, this is certainly not such a bad camera for such a compact drone. The DJI Spark may not have the resolution that other portable selfie drones do, but what it lacks in pixels it makes up for with other features.
The Spark is hands down one of the best portable mini drones available today. Despite the fact that it cannot capture 4K video like some of its competition, it outshines the competition in just about every other area. It’s faster, smarter, can fly longer, and is definitely the most reliable in its class. In short, if you don’t mind shooting at 1080p, this drone will make a fantastic companion for your future aerial excursions. You can order it online.
Are there better options available?
It entirely depends on what you are looking for.
If you want high-resolution video then you’d be better off with a Yuneec Breeze. If you don’t mind spending a little extra cash, DJI’s Mavic Pro also offers 4K video in a compact and portable form factor. If you are a beginner looking for something affordable and fun to fly, then Spark is your best bet. It is robust, reliable and has sensors that will help you avoid crashes. It also has levelling options that allow you to increase and develop your skills as you progress as a pilot.
Does DJI release updates?
DJI has a strong track record of regularly updating the firmware for its drones, and there’s no reason to think Spark is an exception. Barring an accident, this drone will probably accompany you for at least 5 years.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It’s a hell of a little drone, and hands down one of the best in its class.
Carrying case for DJI Spark
Custom case to store the DJI Spark Drone. Slots provided for 4 intelligent flight batteries, 1 remote control, 1 battery charger, 1 adapter, 1 propeller guard and other small accessories.
Waterproof certification IP67, the exterior of this case is in ABS plastic which allows you to protect your Spark and accessories from shocks, dust, and water.
The dense interior foam is cut to measure, it protects every accessory.
The pressure relief valve allows you to regulate the air pressure when your DJI Spark is travelling at different altitudes.