DJI is known for the drones and has been extremely successful with their user-friendly flying cameras. Those who fly drones notice that most upgrades happen within controllers which is why they are constantly released. With that, DJI happened to launch a new controller, the DJI Smart Controller.
This controller is an accessory for DJI’s OccuSync 2.0-based drones, the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. Although, the controller is expected to be compatible with more DJI drone models in the long run.
With most of DJI’s drones, you would use a smartphone or tablet to control it through the DJI Go app. The app serves as a live video feed and interact with the drone through touch controls. Now with the DJI Smart Controller, it is designed to give you a more professional feel to control your drone.
Design and Display
If you were to look at an Android phone and the Mavic 2’s existing controller, then the DJI Smart Controller is a product of both of those devices.
It has a bulky and chunky feel but definitely is well-built. You will notice a grip that has a similar feel to a DSLR camera. The exterior is made of a tough plastic along with some textured grip. The manufacturing of the controller is done well as there is not any visible creakiness. In comparison to the Mavic controller, it is way better to hold and maneuver. The buttons are more spaced out which makes it easier to hit.
There are three ports at the top of the plate which has an HDMI output, a standard USB port, and a slot for a microSD card. You can connect the controller to an external TV or monitor through the HDMI port that plays content already in the controller or give a live feed from the drone. The USB port and card slot allow you to transfer content to and from devices.
At the bottom of the controller, you’ll find a USB-C port which is convenient for battery charging. Also, there are two speaker grilles and two screw holes which can be used to attach accessories like wrist straps or lanyards.
As mentioned, the Smart Controller has a better layout than previous controllers. The buttons are not as cramped along with the joysticks. This allows your hands to not cover the screen when you are flying the drone so you can actually see the screen preview.
The screen is extremely bright as it has 1,000 nits, which is more than many smartphones today that have 500-700 nits.
Aside from having a sturdy exterior, the control is also built for extreme weather and environments. It can operate in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees. If you are a drone user that goes to places with these extreme climates, it is know that smartphones and tablets do not function as well.
Most of the controls are similar to the Mavic 2 controller. There are two joysticks that are located on the upper left-hand and right-hand corners. In between these joysticks is where the buttons are which is the pause button, a return-to-home button, a mode switch, and an extra control nib.
On the sides of the joysticks, there are two buttons (select and back) that allow you to navigate the menu without turning on the screen. There are also buttons on the shoulders of the joystick which are shutter buttons to take stills and videos.
When you look on the back, there are two customizable buttons that can be used for your liking.
The 5.5-inch touchscreen is right in the center of the controller. It has a 1080p resolution with a nice brightness of 1000 nits. This brightness makes it ideal for bright days when the glare can make it tricky to see what you are looking at.
The Smart Controller carries a 5,000mAh battery that allows it to function for about 2.5 hours per charge. Some might think this is not enough for a battery but in comparison to other controllers, it definitely beats the rest. For reference, the Mavic 2 battery life lasts about 30 minutes per charge.
How Does the DJI Smart Controller Compare?
|DJI Smart Controller||Crystal Sky|
|Starts selling at $650||Starts selling at $450|
|Works with the DJI drones with Occusync 2.0||Works with more DJI drone models|
|Has a removable battery which is convenient since you can always change it|
The DJI Smart Controller is definitely much more durable than a smartphone or tablet, as it is made of tough plastic and can withstand intense weather. There are also bits that add on to its functionality like the HDMI output.
The controller itself doesn’t add any extra features to the drone itself, which must be emphasized. You won’t get longer flying time or anything along those lines. Those who are professionals might find the controller a useful purchase but other than that, it is just another accessory.