The global commercial drone market is taking off as improvements in technology transform drones from a specialty device into an affordable consumer product. A huge market for consumer drones is blossoming and already, and China is making its mark.
Data from state media outlet Xinhua shows that drone exports from China’s hardware hub Shenzhen amounted to $2.7 billion yuan ($412 million USD) between January and November 2015, an increase of 9.2 times over the same period in 2014.
Chinese drone makers like DJI lead the trend with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with application for various civilian uses. Here, we’ve listed four of the latest drones that you can’t miss. Leave us a comment to tell which one is your favorite!
DJI Phantom 4
You can’t talk about Chinese drones without talking about the DJI, so we’ll get it out of the way first. DJI released their Phantom 4 in March. Compared with the Phantom 3, the device is considerably faster thanks to more efficient motors that allow a maximum speed of 72km per hour. It’s also smarter. Using its frontal sensors, the Phantom 4 has automatic obstacle avoidance, which is the biggest significant upgrade from the Phantom 3. Finally, the Phantom 4’s camera can shoot 12MP photos, record 4K videos, and film at a rate of 120fps (frames per second) in 1080p resolution.
The upgraded experience doesn’t come cheap. The gadget is sold for $1,399USD in the U.S. and 8,999RMB ($1,349USD) in mainland China, the most pricey device yet from DJI’s Phantom series. Extra batteries are expensive too.
EHang Ghost 2.0
Like the its predecessor Ghost 1.0, EHang’s Ghost 2.0 is piloted with a mobile phone rather than a traditional RC controller, which is line with the company’s goals to develop easy-to-operate drones. The company fine-tuned the entire user experience from the app to the connectivity. But the most interesting selling point is perhaps its complementary VR goggles, which enables video feed from the on-board camera.
Through its partnership with China-based Flymi, Xiaomi revealed its first drone product this May, though the company hasn’t specified a shipment date yet.
The new gadget features a 360-degree camera and a remote controller. Like other products of Xiaomi, Mi Drone is offering relatively good specs for a budget price, though we haven’t tested it out yet. It’s set to retail at 2,499RMB ($375USD) for the 1080p version and 2,999RMB ($450USD)for the 4K version.
Xiaomi launched a crowdfunding project for the 1080p version since May and the 4K version is expected to undergo public testing at the end of this month, according to the company.
Dobby, a foldable hovering drone made for selfie fans, is the joint effort of Chinese drone maker ZeroTech and Tencent. The drone is easy to put into your pocket, and only 135 by 67 by 36.8mm when folded with a weight of 199 grams. It comes with a 13 million pixel camera that can shoot 4K videos. Users can control the device through a smartphone app using their voice or gestures.