DJI launched its brand with the Phantom 1, known at the time as Phantom, in January 2013. The iconic design has spawned numerous imitators but DJI has been able to iterate and outdo its competitors time and again, with more than just the Phantom line. Currently, it has a market share of roughly 74%, according to a 2018 Drone Market Sector Report by Skylogic Research.
With the exception of the Phantom 4 RTK, aimed strictly at professionals, all DJI Phantom 4 models have been out of stock for months. While the release of the Phantom 5 is the next logical step, rumors are swirling that the Chinese drone manufacturer is headed in another direction and discontinuing its Phantom line for good.
DroneDJ first reported these rumors by catching a statement made on a recent podcast by DJI’s own Director of Public Safety Integration, Romeo Durscher. ‘Yes, the Phantom line with the exception of the Phantom 4 Pro RTK has come to an end,’ Durscher told the Drone Owners Network. DroneDJ also cited rumors from sources close to DJI claiming that the Product Manager for the Phantom 5 was reassigned to another project.
DJI denies the rumors. ‘Romeo misspoke,’ DJI communications director Adam Lisberg tells The Verge.
To explain the lack of availability for recent Phantom 4 Pro versions, DJI released the following official statement: ‘Due to a shortage of parts from a supplier, DJI is unable to manufacture more Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 drones until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause and recommend our customers explore DJI’s Mavic series drones as an alternative solution to serve their needs.’
This has been their explanation for the past five months and is a bit suspicious, as The Verge points out. While Lisberg told DroneDJ last fall ‘as for the Phantom 5 rumors, we’ve never said we considered making a Phantom 5 in the first place, so there’s nothing to cancel,’ these photos tell a different story. Lisberg also went on record with DroneDJ stating that the photos represented a one-off design for a customer. The Verge points out that a prototype of that magnitude would only be plausible for someone extremely wealthy.
Rumors surrounding the Phantom 5 series include the possibility of one model containing a zoom lens, and starting around $1,700, while the other model would come equipped with a series of interchangeable lenses containing fixed widths of 15mm, 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm.
To date, the Mavic 2 Pro is the only model that takes advantage of DJI’s majority stake in Hasselblad camera company. The Mavic series, though not the first to be released, is the overall best-selling line for the drone manufacturer. This fact leads many insiders and enthusiasts to believe that the foldable, more compact model will be the future of drone operations for consumers and professionals.
The Mavic was developed and introduced shortly after GoPro announced its doomed Karma drone. Without a competitor in the arena, it’s possible that DJI won’t be compelled to offer up a Phantom 5. Especially when its much bulkier, and pricier series of Inspire drones, used primarily by filmmakers, top-tier professionals, and wealthy hobbyists, offers up the option of interchangeable lenses.