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hands-on: DJI Smart Controller

- 5 years ago

In the world of drones, our focus has primarily been on the capabilities on the drone itself, but rarely do we look at the controller to see what’s been done to improve them. That’s all changed now that DJI has released the new DJI Smart Controller. Fitted with a 1000 Nit 5.5 inch screen the new controller has re-imagined what can be achieved with a drone control.

Eliminating the use of your smartphone as the screen for your drone controller is a big plus for many. Cost aside, it’s a big reason as to why you should check out the new DJI Smart Controller.  Running on the Android OS, users have access to the play store and so able to download editing and social media apps. This makes it extremely easy to cut, splice and edit content without needing to use a laptop for any part of the process.

What makes this even better is the fact that the signal is much more robust and reliable thanks to DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 software, making the connection between the drone and the controller even stronger. This means you can go higher and further before the dreaded low signal warning turns its ugly face to you.

it is a product that screams innovation and we hope DJI pursue the controller’s capabilities even further with future iterations.

During our test, we found getting the drone was a lot faster in the air. The initial pairing of the drone took around 20 minutes as it needed connecting using a wifi signal. We also needed to download and instal the latest firmware before getting the okay to fly. After this, getting the drone in the air took around 30-45 seconds as the controller loads the DJI Go app immediately, and when the drone is already on, it takes no time at all for the two devices to find each other. This is great for ariel photographers/cinematographers who like to cut it tight when aiming for those golden hour shots.

DJI Smart Controller

The 5000mAh battery is another great perk as you can expect to get around 2.5 hours of control time before the battery is exhausted. A nice extra is the HDMI output on the top of the controller, which makes it super easy to share your screen with a client or if you need a bigger monitor for the job at hand.

The only real drawback we saw is the price, [£579] and also the number of drones that are compatible with the controller. So far, you can only expect to use the Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic Zoom and the Mavic Enterprise. This restriction can be quite frustrating as we saw a lot of Phantom 4 pilots liking the features in our social conversations, and some Mavic Air Pilots too.

Check out our video below on the DJI Smart Controller from our #TheMeasure Youtube series and, please, be sure to comment, share, like and subscribe!


PhotoBite DJI Smart Controller review -
DJI Smart Controller:- Overall we’re impressed with the DJI Smart Controller. It is a product that screams innovation and we hope DJI pursue the controller's capabilities further with future versions, opening it up to more drones as they come out as well as getting the price down to appeal to more users.


  • Easy Set-up with quick connection
  • Run time of 2.5 hours
  • Built in Android System offers a new workflow for users


  • Cost of controller rules out a lot of its target users
  • Limited number of drones compatible with the controller

About the author

Read hands-on: DJI Smart Controller

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.