2017: Looking Back at the Year of DJI

Going into 2017 we never would have guessed all of the incredible advancements that were about to unfold.  New products, new partnerships and a growing vision for where DJI is going to lead us.  In fact, when we review the last 12 months, we actually can’t believe how many DJI milestones we’ve already forgotten.

Can you believe it was just one year ago that the “new” Mavic Pro was stumbling out of the gate.  Launched just two months earlier, in Novemer of 2016, the Mavic experienced production bottlenecks that ended up delaying delivery of the new drone by weeks and months.

Prior to the launch, Youtubers and other new-media celebrities like Casey Neistat were given prototype/early versions of the Mavic to test them out.  Two months before the Mavic official launch, Neistat called the Mavic Pro “the greatest drone ever!”

Eventually the worlds first foldable, portable 4K drone was rolled out for the masses and worldwide deliveries grew into a groundswell of one of the best selling DJI products ever.  And even though it’s only been a year since the Mavic hit shelves (a lifetime for most technology products) it’s popularity has not faded.

GoPro launched it’s Karma drone in September of 2016, and it was seen as the only serious challenger to DJI’s folding arm Mavic Pro.  Unfortunately a battery latch problem ended up causing GoPro to cease sales and issue a recall (one of the most responsibly managed recalls in modern memory) until the Karma issue could be corrected.

GoPro resumed sales of the Karma in February, but DJI had already vaulted ahead of the action-camera drone.

No doubt DJI learned a great deal from the Mavic Pro experience, as it has from all of its new product launches.

Shortly after the launch of the Mavic Pro, DJI decided to mix things up a bit and released a very special Phantom 4 Chinese New Year Edition quadcopter.  Identical in all ways to the original Phantom 4, the CNYE version had a body shell, right, that was brightly adorned in Chinese designs celebrating the occassion.  No longer available, the Chinese New Year Edition of the Phantom 4 is likely a very sought after collectors item in China.


Around the same time that the flashy Chinese New Year Edition P4 was released, we started hearing rumors that DJI was going to shelve the Phantom 4.  We heard from multiple sources that a price cut for the Phantom 4 was coming, a harbinger that a DJI model is about to be replaced.

By late February, with the Mavic and CNYE Phantom 4 out the door, DJI teased us with a rumor of a yet another new drone.  This new drone, which turned out to be a new Matrice 200, was released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in early March.

And just one week after the M200 was released, DJI quietly kicked another new version of an existing drone (the Phantom 3 SE) out the door.  The P3SE was a stripped down version of the P3S that could best be described as “a very inexpensive 4k drone.”  The P3SE was initially launched only in China, likely as a way to draw down remaining P3 inventory.

Also in March, one of the Chinese bloggers we follow leaked new photos of a second version of the Mavic Pro undergoing testing.  We knew at the time it was a different Mavic because of the model #, but we have yet to see it released.  Many DJI rumors had it called the Mavic S, and positioned as a less expensive version of the original Mavic Pro.

By the end of March (can you believe all of this is still happening in the first quarter of 2017??) our speculation on the future of the mysterious Mavic S had us wondering of the S stood for “Spark”.

Little did we know that just two day later we would be sharing images of a secret new mini-drone called the Spark.  We were amazed that the testing photos did not include an image of a remote control.  DJI was making a selfie drone that could be flown with just a smartphone?

It was in April of last year DJI released the CrystalSky dedicated RC screen, and DJI Goggles.

But DJI was riding a huge wave so they also released the DJI Phantom 4 Advanced, and celebrated by knocking a few hundred dollars off the original Phantom 4 drone.

We closed out April, one incredible blockbuster of a month, with the release of DJI’s M600 Pro drone equipped with a Ronin-MX gimbal and armed with a 100 megapixel Hasselblad H6D-100C camera.  Truly epic!  And so is the selling price at almost $33,000!

Once into May we finally had the official launch of the DJI Spark drone in all of it’s multi-colored glory.  The first DJI drone to have gesture control and pre-programmed flight modes (like the GoPro Karma), it probably broke sales records when it went live on the DJI Store.  The Spark opened up the sub-$900 recreational drone category for DJI and sales have been brisk since.

The DJI rumor mill slowed down dramatically for the summer.  With so many new products flying out the door at DJI it was time to settle down and build towards the next wave of product updates and releases.

And that didn’t take long.  In July DJI released the Phantom 3 SE, a slightly improved version of the Phantom 3 4K drone.  Cheaper than a Spark, and half the price of a Mavic Pro, the P3SE was truly an inexpensive way to combine 4K video and decent battery life.

By the time August rolled around we were hearing rumors of a Mavic Pro Platinum, that turned into a new product just two days later!  With quieter props and sophisticated electronics in the motors, the Mavic Pro Platinum promised significantly quieter motors with modestly longer flight time.  The Platinum has received mixed reviews from enthusiasts.  While the noise level has definitely decreased, the thinner, longer props don’t seem to last as long as the originals.  And many have opted to stick with the original Mavic Pro and just upgrade to the Platinum props.

In October DJI released an amazing camera gimbal for the Inspire 2 series of drone called the Zenmuse X7.  The first camera gimbal with interchangeable cinematic lenses, the Zenmuse X7 is one of the early results of DJI’s marriage with Hasselblad.   DJI teased the X7 to us blatantly, but at the moment we didn’t know this footage was coming from an all new camera system.  At just under $10,000 the X7 is truly in the realm of the professional film operators, shooting brilliant video with the Super 35mm sensor.

Almost one month to the day that the Zenmuse X7 arrived, DJI launched the Alpine White Mavic Pro combo.  Available exclusively at Apple stores and DJI.com, the Alpine White Mavic Pro is more gimmick than new product.  The only difference between the Alpine White and regular Mavic being color.

Then just a couple of days later we caught wind of a DJI rumor that a sleek, all-black ‘Racing Edition’ of the DJI Goggles was imminent.  As is usually the case, the rumor became truth within a couple of days.  Designed for true FPV racing immersion, the more powerful DJI Goggles RE really take the FPV experience to a whole new level.

Which brings us to the end of 2017, but not the end of the DJI rumors.  So far we’re still on the lookout for confirmation on the most valid DJI rumors in the works right now: we’ve seen possible images of a Phantom 5 drone and we know with reasonable certainty that a new Osmo Mobile 2 is coming this month.  Maybe at CES?

We’ve also heard that there may be a Phantom R series of racing drone as well as a secret project in the works with Hollywood cinematographers to develop a Ronin system for the DJI Zenmuse X7.  All exciting stuff pointing to yet another incredible year in 2018 for DJI new products.

Oh ya….almost forgot….a new Mavic 2 rumor appeared just before Christmas with some serious credibility attached to it.

With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just around the corner, expect a whole new wave of DJI rumors and news to hit the web.  And we’ll be right at the front of it.

Happy New Year everyone! And thanks for visiting our site and sharing your views, news and comments with us over the last year.  We truly look forward to bringing you the best drone news in the coming year.

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