When buying most of DJI’s new camera drones, you’re typically presented with two options as far as the controller goes: purchasing the drone with the DJI RC, or purchasing the same drone with the upgraded DJI RC Pro — which is inevitably more expensive. The RC Pro is certainly an overall better controller, but is it worth the extra cost? Here’s a guide to deciding between the DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC:
DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC: a breakdown of specs
If buying a la carte, you’ll pay nearly 4x more for the DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC. But you also get way fancier tech in the upgraded version, ranging from longer, more-powerful transmission to improved Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection tech.
The RC Pro is bigger and brighter. While both DJI RC Pro and DJI RC have a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, the DJI RC Pro supports screen brightness up to 1,000 nits versus just up to 700 nits on the DJI RC.
And for folks seeking to connect it with an HDMI, the debate between DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC is easy because the cheaper counterpart has no video output port. The cheaper version also only offers storage via your own external microSD card (with no option for internal storage available).
Here’s a comparison of specs between the DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC:
|DJI RC||DJI RC Pro|
|Price (when purchased standalone)||$309||$1,199|
|Drones compatible with||DJI Mavic 3, Classic and Cine
DJI Mavic 3 Pro and Pro Cine
DJI Mini 3
DJI Mini 3 Pro
DJI Air 2S
|DJI Mavic 3, Classic and Cine
DJI Mavic 3 Pro and Pro Cine
DJI Mini 3 Pro
DJI Air 2S
|Video Transmission System||O3 (DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Air 2S)
O3+ (DJI Mavic 3 series)
|Max. Transmission Distance (FCC)||12 km (DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Air 2S)
15 km (DJI Mavic 3 series)
|Antennas||2 antennas, 1T2R||4 Antennas, 2T4R|
|Video output port||N/A||Mini-HDMI port|
|Storage Capacity||Expandable storage only via microSD card||32GB internal + expandable storage via microSD card|
|Wi-Fi Protocol||802.11 a/b/g/n||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax|
|Bluetooth Protocol||Bluetooth 4.2||Bluetooth 5.1|
|Screen Size||5.5 inches||5.5 inches|
|Screen Brightness||700 nits||1000 nits|
|Touch control||10-point multi-touch||10-point multi-touch|
|Operating Time||4 hours||3 hours|
|GNSS||GPS + BeiDou + Galileo||GPS + Galileo + GLONASS|
|Weight||Approx. 390 g||Approx. 680 g|
DJI RC: more to know
The DJI RC takes the former DJI RC-N1 and adds some major upgrades — most notably a built-in screen, which means you don’t need to connect a smartphone in order to get your drone up and running.
Though, if you want to get your footage online quickly, you’ll still want a smartphone nearby with the DJI Fly app installed. After flying, you can connect it directly with your drone through Wi-Fi and use the QuickTransfer function to download footage to your smartphone.
Some key specs on the DJI RC:
- 15km O3+ Video Transmission
- 390g Lightweight Body
- 5.5-inch FHD Display
- 4-hour Ultra-Long Operating Time
- Dual-Spring Control Sticks
One thing you won’t notice on the DJI RC is the antennas. That doesn’t mean that they’re not there — it’s just that they’re built-in (tucked inside the body of the controller so you can’t see them). Because DJI RC adopts built-in antennas you only need to point the top of the device toward the direction of the drone to use it.
DJI RC Pro: more to know
While the RC is a huge upgrade over the RC-N1, the RC Pro in turn offers a huge upgrade over the DJI RC. The screen is brighter, which can be convenient to show to clients or for flying on bright, sunny days.
Some key specs on the DJI RC Pro:
- 15 km Video Transmission
- 120 ms Ultra-Low Latency
- 5.5-inch 1080p High-Bright Display
- Brightness Up to 1000 nits
- 3-hour Max Operating Time
The DJI RC Pro is equipped with the latest-generation processor, offering stronger performance and lower power consumption. And it affords high-speed downloads, supporting Wi-Fi 6 protocol and download speeds of up to 80MB/s.
Unlike the built-in antennas on the RC, the antennas are visible on the RC Pro. And rather than the two antennas on the RC, the RC Pro is equipped with four antennas.
It also supports third-party apps, which can be helpful for more diversified editing and sharing options. That also means the controller is capable of live-streaming, assuming you’re using a third-party app with a live-streaming function to use the drone’s camera view for direct live-streaming or other types of instant sharing of short videos. You can download third-party apps through the built-in browser or install APK files from a microSD card (though just note that DJI does not claim liability should anything go wrong because you used a third-party app).
Using the HDML port, you might connect a second screen for additional viewing, such as through FPV goggles.
DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC: which should I buy?
So with all that information, which is the best controller for you?
Clearly the Pro version has all the bells and whistles that the DJI RC doesn’t necessarily have, but all those extras don’t come cheap. In short, expect the RC Pro to offer significantly better specs in these main categories:
- Internal storage (only your own microSD storage available on the RC)
- HDMI output (no video output port available on the RC)
- A brighter, nicer screen
Who the DJI RC is best for
Given it’s far cheaper price tag, the DJI RC is obviously better for budget-conscious drone pilots. But that’s not the only reason why the RC might actually be better overall, and that’s size. There are no external antennas on the DJI RC (they’re built-in) which adds to how much more compact it is.
The RC weighs just 390 grams, versus the 680 grams that the RC Pro weighs. A 290-gram difference might not seem like a lot (it’s about 0.6 pounds) but for drone pilots who value portability, such as photographers who frequently travel (and want to be able to keep their controller with them in their carry-on bags) or who are out working in the field on projects that require long hikes, every gram can really add up.
And the RC also has a longer battery life. For situations where you’ll need a full charge for hours on end, the RC is better, as it can run fours hours on a full charge versus three hours for the RC Pro. Again, those film sessions in a remote wilderness with no access to power might demand the RC over RC Pro.
Who the DJI RC Pro is best for
Most folks running a professional aerial photography operation will want to upgrade to the DJI RC Pro, which uses the latest-generation processor, offers expanded storage capacity and is built with powerful O3+ video transmission technology.
More antennas means a stronger, more reliable connection over greater range, which can be crucial for commercial applications. In that vein, the built-in HDMI ports and internal storage might unlock new use cases that the RC is incapable of, and that internal storage can be a live-saver, particularly if you’re worried about losing (or using a corrupt) microSD cards.
Perhaps most importantly for commercial applications is the fact that DJI RC Pro supports third-party apps, while DJI RC does not. If you rely on apps for applications such as live-streaming, then buying the DJI RC Pro over the RC is non-negotiable.
In short, the DJI RC Pro is a huge upgrade over the standard DJI RC (and the older DJI RC-N1). But for a nearly $900 price difference, it might not be worth it for everyone.
Between the DJI RC Pro vs DJI RC, which controller do you think is best (account for the price difference)? Leave a comment below!