The DJI spark is a diminutive drone that just screams to be put in your bag and taken everywhere you go. It's likely to appeal to all levels of users thanks to its extremely compact size and strong feature set, but this miniaturization does come at a cost. Compared to most larger models it has shorter battery life, lacks a 3-axis gimbal and, notably, does not support 4K video capture. But, did we mention that it's really small?

With an MSRP of $499, the Spark doesn't have a lot of direct competition from models of comparable size and feature sets, though the closest alternative is probably the Yuneec Breeze 4K. If size isn't a critical factor there are models with more impressive specs, such as DJI's own Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 SE, in the same price range.

The Spark is also available in a 'Fly More' combo that adds a remote controller, charging hub, spare props, propeller guards, and extra battery for $699.

Key Features

  • 12MP 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
  • 2-axis mechanical gimbal
  • 1080/30p video
  • Vision system for accurate positioning
  • Gesture control
  • 16-minute flight time
  • Compact size

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's qualify this review (and really, any drone review). A drone is not a flying camera. Rather, a drone is an aircraft with a camera attached to it. Therefore, the true value of a drone is a balance between the aircraft and camera.

Since we're looking at two distinct pieces of hardware merged together, let's look at each one individually, beginning with the aircraft. We've included the Yuneec Breeze and DJI Phantom 3 SE for comparison.

DJI Spark Yuneec Breeze 4K DJI Phantom 3 SE
Take-off weight 300g 385g 1236g
Dimensions 143x143x55mm 196x196x65mm 247x247x193mm
Maximum flight time 16 minutes 12 minutes 25 minutes
Maximum speed

50km/h (31mph) [with controller]

18km/h (11mph) 58km/h (36mph)
Obstacle avoidance Yes Yes No
Maximum operating range

100m [2km with controller]

100m 4km
Controller

Optional

Optional Yes
Price $499 $399 $599

The thing that's obvious right away is how much smaller the Spark and Breeze are compared to a full-sized Phantom, though the Phantom will stay in the air quite a bit longer. The Spark has some notable advantages over the Breeze, including a much higher maximum speed (when used with the optional controller) and a mechanical gimbal. Both have a limited operating range of 100m, but if you pair the Spark with the optional controller the range extends significantly. Chances are good you'll want the controller.

Now let's take a look at the camera and gimbal.

DJI Spark Yuneec Breeze DJI Phantom 3 SE
Sensor size 1/2.3" CMOS 1/3.06" CMOS 1/2.3" CMOS
Resolution 12MP 13MP 12MP
Lens (equiv.) 25mm F2.6 Not specified 20mm F2.8
Lens FOV 81.9º 117º 94º
Max photo resolution 3968x2976 4160x3120 4000x3000
Image formats Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg, Raw
Max video resolution 1080/30p UHD 4K/30p

DCI 4K/24p/25p

UHD 4K/30p

Bit rate 24 Mbps (H.264) Not specified 60 Mbps (H.264)
Gimbal type 2-axis mechanical None 3-axis mechanical

The cameras in all three models are similar in size to the ones found in many smartphones. They're not going to be low light champs, but they're still capable of producing good photos and video. What really jumps out here is the Spark's lack of a 4K video option. Of course, HD is usually fine for web streaming, which we suspect will be a pretty common use case for this model.

What's all this mean? The Spark is an extremely small, lightweight drone that seems perfect for throwing into a backpack, tossing into carry-on luggage, or just having with you all the time.

OK – let's talk about what it's like to actually fly this tiny beast.