- 1 The GoPro Karma was released in October 2016, and at the time I thought it was a nice looking drone.
- 2 It’s not that the GoPro Karma wasn’t a great drone, but the marketing just wasn’t there.
- 3 What Does Every Drone in This Comparison Have?
- 4 What Makes These Drones So Similar?
- 5 What Did GoPro Get Right With the Karma?
- 6 The Phantom 4 Has Stronger Marketing Support Than the GoPro Karma
- 7 Price Point of Each Drone or Bundle Package
- 8 Does Brand Matter?
- 9 Which Camera Comes Out Ahead?
- 10 Both drones are great and offer similar specs, but the price difference is enormous.
The GoPro Karma was released in October 2016, and at the time I thought it was a nice looking drone.
In October of 2016, GoPro released their drone, the Karma. At the time I thought it looked like a nice piece of hardware and was excited to try one. The Phantom 4 had been out for about a year at that point, which was more than enough time for me to get comfortable with it. If you’ve read any of my other articles on drones, you’ll already know I’m a huge fan of DJI’s products and software. So why would GoPro release their first drone? It seems like an odd market choice to me.
There could be many reasons why they did it:
- The stock price had taken a downturn over the previous couple years because they were being outpaced by action cameras with better specs at lower prices. Perhaps they wanted to create another product line with higher margins so that investors would feel more confident in their company again
- Maybe it was just something the engineering team wanted to do and management didn’t mind spending money on R&D
- Or perhaps they really believed they could compete with DJI head-to-head and win (spoiler alert: They couldn’t)
No matter what the reason is, I think we can all agree that releasing your first drone when most people have already committed themselves to another brand is not an easy task. When it first came out there was some excitement among non-flying enthusiasts about its foldable design but after flying both products myself I’m not convinced this is any kind of advantage over traditional drones from other manufacturers like Yuneec or Parrot which also have folding designs now too (The Autel Evo does not).
It’s not that the GoPro Karma wasn’t a great drone, but the marketing just wasn’t there.
In the end, it’s not that the GoPro Karma wasn’t a great drone; it was. The company just didn’t do enough to make consumers aware of this fact.
GoPro is known for its action cameras, not drones, and did not effectively market their product as a drone. They failed to educate consumers about the benefits of their quadcopter, focusing too much on the camera instead of explaining how it functioned. There was little buzz about the release and so when it came out, consumers did not know what distinguished it from a Phantom 4 or any other drone for sale on the market.
What Does Every Drone in This Comparison Have?
- Both drones offer a 4K camera with a 3-axis gimbal. This means that both of these drones are capable of capturing very high quality images and videos.
- Both drones have a range of about 3 miles, or the distance you’re most likely to be able to go with your drone before it runs out of battery power or signal.
- Both drones use GPS technology to stabilize themselves while flying, so they’ll be easier to control even if there are gusts of wind interfering with the flight.
- Both drones also have obstacle avoidance features that prevent them from crashing into objects in front or behind them by using sensors built into the body of each unit.
- And finally, both drones have about 20 minutes for maximum flight time which means you can fly either model without having to charge it again too often during any given day out at an event or activity where footage would need capturing constantly throughout an entire day without interruption due to battery depletion issues.
What Makes These Drones So Similar?
- Both the Phantom 4 and Karma come with a camera that shoots in high-definition 4K.
- Both drones have a max speed of 35mph (they both go very quickly!)
- Both drones have a max flight time of about 25 minutes.
- Both drones have a max range of about 3 miles (they can go far!).
- Both drones use similar remote controls featuring joysticks for control, and LCD screens for the interface—one on top, one on bottom. The Phantom 4 has dedicated buttons for taking still photos and shooting video, while the Karma has just one button to do it all. Also while the Phantom 4’s remote/controller is integrated into its design, the controller for GoPro Karma is sold as a separate accessory.
- Safety features are similar across both models: intelligent flight modes including automatic takeoff and landing, collision avoidance technology (don’t worry—it won’t run into anything), return home functions, etc..
What Did GoPro Get Right With the Karma?
While not exactly a leader in the realm of drone technology, GoPro has in recent years certainly established itself as a company that cares about its product. Its devices are considered by many to be some of the best action sport cameras on the market, and this same care clearly went into the making of its flagship drone product.
One of our favorite things about the GoPro Karma is how portable it is compared to other drones on the market. The fact that it comes with a backpack adds extra convenience for outdoor adventurers who will want to take their drones for hikes or bike rides or camping trips without having to worry about finding room in their bags for something so large and bulky.
We were also impressed with the quality of video that was produced by this drone’s camera (GoPro Hero 5). Images are crisp and clear, allowing users to capture some truly breathtaking shots.
The Phantom 4 Has Stronger Marketing Support Than the GoPro Karma
The GoPro Karma is a top-notch drone—but it faces stiff competition in the form of the DJI Phantom 4. The DJI may not have the same compact design as the Karma and its grip, but it has other features that make it a solid choice. You’ll also find that there are more accessories available for use with this model than you will with the Karma.
Why? It’s all thanks to DJI’s marketing muscle compared to GoPro. With so many YouTube videos and social media posts dedicated to how great this drone is, it’s no surprise that more people are buying it over their rivals.
Price Point of Each Drone or Bundle Package
Price is, of course, a big factor when deciding which drone to purchase. The DJI Phantom 4 costs $1,199—a bit more than the GoPro Karma. You can buy the Phantom 4 Pro for $1,499 or the Phantom 4 Advanced for $1,199.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at each drone’s features and see how they compare to one another.
Does Brand Matter?
Brand image matters. If you’re shopping for a car, you wouldn’t buy the one that’s made by the company nobody’s heard of, unless it had all the features you want and was much more affordable than brands you’re familiar with. For example, if someone were to tell me I should buy a Geely instead of a Honda because they both have similar engines and safety ratings, I’d probably ignore them. But if they said I could get one for half the price of a Honda, then suddenly it becomes worth considering.
Just like cars, drones have different brand images attached to them: GoPro is an action camera company while DJI is known for their drones. The two companies appeal to different audiences with distinct expectations—when people think of GoPro drones, they expect something sporty and exciting; when people think about DJI drones, they expect something professional and well-made.
If your budget is tight but you still want quality results from your drone flights, then GoPro Karma could be an excellent choice—it offers similar functionality as its competitors at a lower price point. If you need your drone for professional use or have lots of money saved up for this purchase alone (or are willing to spend most of your savings on it), then there might be better options out there.
Which Camera Comes Out Ahead?
When it comes to camera features, you have to make some trade-offs. The GoPro Karma camera is removable and can be used separately from the drone, so if you want to shoot action footage but don’t need the aerial aspect of it, this feature is worth considering. However, the GoPro Karma’s 4K resolution is limited to 30 fps, which means that for ultra-smooth video you can only go as high as 2.7K (up to 60 fps), while the Phantom 4 camera can shoot 4K at 60fps. Finally, the GoPro Karma camera is waterproof without a case and has a touchscreen on its backside that makes it easy to review footage after capture, while the Phantom 4 camera requires a separate waterproof housing if used outside of its drone; however, this extra layer of protection also means that you won’t be able to use your phone as a remote monitor for framing shots like you can with the Hero5 Black.
Both drones are great and offer similar specs, but the price difference is enormous.
You may have heard that the Karma is much easier to fly. While this is somewhat true, it should be noted that the Phantom 4 has quite a few options for beginners or those not interested in learning how to pilot the drone themselves. Its flight modes include tap-to-fly (where you tap a location on your screen and it flies there), waypoint mode (which lets you map out a course and fly it automatically), and even an autonomous “Draw” mode, where you just draw on your screen where you want the drone to go.
It’s also useful to know that when comparing these two drones, specs can be deceiving. The Karma does have a better camera than the Phantom 4, but only by one degree of tilt—meaning that the cameras are nearly identical. Though the battery life of DJI’s drone is better—27 minutes vs 20—it’s important to note that unlike other drones, GoPro has elected to sell their battery as part of their $799 price tag. In other words, while it might look like they’re selling an inferior product at first glance, both actually offer similar specs at competitive prices.