- The Spark is small, affordable, and portable yet impressively capable
- ActiveTrack and QuickShots are really neat + video quality is pretty good at 1080p30
- Easy to use with plenty of obstacle avoidance features + Return-to-Home
- Can fly drone only using gesture controls
- Short battery life at ~15 minutes on a single charge
- Gimbal is only 2-axis, whereas more expensive drones like the MAVIC Pro use a 3-axis stabilizer
- Would love to have 1080p60 for fast-moving subjects
- Does not handle winds well
- Does not come with a remote controller…you have to use gesture controls or your phone, which isn’t ideal
The DJI Spark is one of the best budget drones out there and is a lot of fun to fly. It’s not perfect, but it’s a really neat toy.
This is a tiny drone. It’s basically the size of an iPhone 7 Plus or portable external hard drive—it’s pretty remarkable. On top of that, it’s smart as heck and is a lot of fun to fly, but it’s not perfect.
DJI Spark Price & Availability
The Spark retails as of the date of this post for $500 [check price on Amazon], which is very affordable by drone standards. It’s basically half the price of the MAVIC Pro. Also, the Spark is available right now and you can find it at most major retailers.
Why you should get the DJI Spark Fly More Combo
For $500, you’re getting the drone, a microSD card, two extra propellers, a charging brick, and a microUSB cable. That’s all. With the Fly More Bundle [check price on Amazon], which we think is the way to go, you get everything mentioned above, plus propeller guards (recommended for indoor flying), an extra battery (you’ll need this), a remote controller (definitely a must-have), battery charging hub, and a shoulder bag. The downside with the Fly More Combo is that it’s $700, which inches you closer to MAVIC Pro price. If you’re dead set on the Spark, the Fly More Combo is a smart move though.
The DJI Spark Camera is good, but could be better
The Spark shoots up to 12MP stills using a f/2.6 wide-angle lens with 25mm equivalent focal length. The pictures turn out great, but will remind you of something captured on a GoPro. It does have two cool additional features, however. There’s Pano Mode for panoramic images—just make sure there’s no wind or the image won’t turn out. And then there’s ShallowFocus, which creates a shallow depth of field. This looks really neat and is definitely a clever feature to have on the Spark.
In terms of video, it records 1080p at 30 frames per second using a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor. The video turns out great and you even have manual control over things like the ISO, etc. The downside with the Spark for video is it records at 30fps, which is sub-optimal for fast-moving objects—ideally we’d like to have 1080p60 here. For the average drone user, the camera—both for photos and video—is good enough, but having 60 fps or 4K would make it just that much better. Also, on more expensive drones you’ll have a high bitrate, which helps improve the video quality. With the Spark, the bitrate is relatively low, meaning that your footage will be of lesser quality than more expensive 1080p cameras and you will probably notice a slight lack of detail in certain instances.
Flying with the DJI Spark Quadcopter
If you get the $500 model, you’ll be flying the drone with either your hands or your phone, neither of which are ideal. While it’s really neat, flying the Spark with purely gesture controls is somewhat spotty and just isn’t a practical way to fly the drone…great trick to show your friends, though. You feel like you’re a Jedi because you can control the drone using only your hands.
Regarding controlling the Spark from your phone, this feature works just fine. You connect via Wi-Fi and as long as the drone is within ~75 meters of you, the signal is stable. For longer distances, however, the signal drops and it’s kind of scary. If you plan to venture out with the Spark you should seriously consider the Fly More Combo, almost purely based on the fact that it has an actual remote control. The remote has better, more responsive joysticks and does not limit the visibility of your phone’s screen.
Also, when you fly the drone, you should know that it gets pushed around quite a bit by the wind. Unlike the MAVIC Pro [check price on Amazon], the Spark can only reasonably handle 8-10 MPH winds and even that shows up in the footage a bit. It’s to be expected with a tiny drone, but it does somewhat limit when you’ll want to fly the Spark. It’s not like the Spark will be taken away by the wind and you’ll crash, but it does drift. And speaking of crashing, the Spark has forward and downward facing sensors to avoid obstacles. It can see up to 5 meters ahead of itself and 30 meters down. We didn’t have an issues whatsoever with crashes, but it does not sense going backward well, so avoid flying backward quickly or in trafficked areas.
How is the DJI Spark battery life?
It actually rather impressive for the size of the drone. It’s about 15 minutes on a single charge. That’s long enough to get you excited, but short enough that you’re constantly watching the battery meter. Pro tip: consider getting an extra battery. They are about $50 [see on Amazon], but if you plan to have any fun whatsoever with the Spark, that battery will be well worth it. I might even consider get two extra batteries!
What kind of DJI Spark Accessories are out there?
For now, there aren’t many. Basically people make a DJI Spark case or shoulder bag, but there’s not a whole lot out right now. Propeller guards might be the only other thing right now. Those will likely come in handy for indoor use because those propellers can be a little bit intimidating spinning next to your face. Some companies do make landing gear, which could be helpful if you’re landing in a space where you’re concerned about the propellers getting damaged.
DJI Spark vs MAVIC Pro
This is the big question. Sure, the Spark is cheaper at $500, but that’s a slightly misleading price because for a lot of people the Fly More Combo makes a lot of sense and then you’ll be paying $700, not $500. The MAVIC is $1,000 and does come with the physical remote. It also happens to shoot 4K video, is way more responsive, handles high winds better, has better battery life (25 min vs. 15 min), and has a 3-axis stabilizer gimbal (vs. 2-axis with the Spark). The MAVIC is nearly as portable as the Spark, also. Here’s a comparison shot.
In short, the MAVIC is the better drone, but whether it’s worth the additional $300-$500, is a person-by-person decision. While I really like the Spark and it’s a lot of fun to play with, I’d go with the MAVIC every time, as it is the best drone, all things considered. Also, if you did want to keep in the $500 price range, you may look into the DJI Phantom 3 [check price on Amazon], which has a better camera than the Spark, but is still relatively affordable. If you’d like to learn more about other affordable quadcopters, make sure to check out our Best Budget Drones 2017 buyer guide.