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DJI SMART CONTROLLER after 5 months of heavy usage
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TheDon
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It has been 5 month since I put my hands on the DJI Smart Controller. I did a quite extensive review about it back then.
https://forum.dji.com/thread-182773-1-1.html. Using it for almost half a year has been just pure joy. I remember getting some comments that owning and using an iPad as a screen is better. Well, meanwhile I also bought a 11” iPad Pro and tried to use it to control my Mavic 2 Pro. Having a huge screen is not always the best option, not to mention the bulkiness and weight if you attach it to your standard RC.  It’s just not confortable to hold the iPad and the the rc, everything just feels unbalanced... Don’t get me wrong it’s ok to use your ipad as a screen but you just can't compare it to the Smart Controller.
What has changed since then?

Using the Smart Controller for professional work

DJI_0026.jpg

Be it casual or professional work, the most annoying thing that can happen to you during filming is the scenario when you need to look for a shady place to see whats on your screen. I had this issue mainly when I used iDevices, especially in direct sunlight when the device overheats and the screen dimming pops in. With the Smart Controller you can forget looking for shady areas because it’s clearly visible in direct sunlight! Having a bright screen is also important in order to get your settings right!

IMG_3414.jpg

Connection and stability:

It's just the most stable device I ever used! Never had any connectivity issues, and no video feed interruptions so far because of the dual band video Occusync 2.0 feed. Yeah I know, flying over and near high voltage powerlines/stations is not recommended, but you’ll never know when your next job lands and you might have the luck to find one near you. At the moment of flight I did not have any interference issues or hiccups. As you may already know I just love making 360 panoramas and little planets. Not so long I have been filming and creating promotional content for an awesome Retro Hit Music Festival called Dimansions in the heart of Transylvania. Little planets have been a thing lately, the fact that after my Mavic Pro 2 finished creating the panorama thanks for the fast transfer speeds, I could almost instantly check the final result on the smart controller. We all know how important battery lifes is when airborne, fast over the air transfer speeds for checking our work is a nice addition!

diM_2019_dron_Ignacz_14.jpg


Battery life

Nothing to complain about.
I just got used to charge all my other devices quite often, I use the smart controller at maximum screen brightness all the time, be it cloudy or sunny! It’s just the way I like using it, although at night you might find it even way too bright! It's logical, the more you use at full brightness the faster your battery drains. I never ran out of juice with my Smart Controller, you need to know that before every filming I fully charge it. During my last filming I used 4 batteries with my Mavic pro 2 and the smart controller still had 50% of battery left. Overall I’m very happy with the batterylife!

Build quality/durability

I’m that kind of guy who tries to keep all devices in mint/new condition all the time. It might be an OCD but usually before usage if I don’t get a case or a screen protector on my handheld devices phone/display/ they stays in the box! Since the Smart Controller is not a mainstream device, it’s almost impossible to get any kind of protection for it in Romania. I keep the Smart Controller in my DJI Mavic 2 transport case, and there’s absolutely no scratch on the screen which for me is just unimaginable without a screen protector. The rubber grips on both sides are also as new with no marks/damage/tear and wear or whatsoever.

Speed

It really depends on the situation, but I usually use several of my other drones. Using my iPhone or iPad with my Phantom 4 Pro compared to the Smart controller is a major drawback. For fast paced/instant situations my number one drone is the Mavic 2 Pro without hesitation. I just turn on both the smart controller and the Mavic 2 and I’m in the air in no time. No need to plug in the cable in your phone and place it to sit in the right position, than turn on the app etc. You might see these tasks simple and no brainers, but in some cases every second counts, why not choose the less time consuming one?!

What's new ?

The last firmware update brought us a lot of cool stuff like the abbility to link the Mavic 2 Pro enterprise Edition... but the next firmware update is going to surprise us even more!
It has been a big surprise to see that a new device is included in the list. The phantom 4 pro version 2.0 can also be controlled with the Smart Controller! Unfortunately the first edition of our beloved Phantom 4 pro is not supported because of the lack of Occusync technology.


Screenshot_20190628-021023.jpg


Nice move DJI! I’m pretty sure that the upcoming new drone models will also use Occusync 2.0 and for sure will work with the Smart Controller. The early investment turned out to be just as a smart move like how smart the controller is. The ability to add and control all our drones with one single controller is awesome!

DJI LAB

DJI Lab is the section under the settings menu where you will find the cool stuff. A thing I really missed is the control stick usage in third party apps.

Screenshot_20190627-233443.jpg


Although the control sticks have been recognised in a few apps but they were not working. Now you have the ability to use them as controllers in apps and even games! In my last review I proclaimed the Smart Controller as the “ultimate multimedia device”. My statement holds its ground even today!

DSC02990.jpg

Back then I did not mention gaming on the Smart Controller, because of the lack of stick controlls. Games like Asphalt 9 work great with normal settings, it can be controlled via touch screen, motion controlls "by tilting the smart controller"... and finally stick controls. Using the latest method feels like a portable android gaming device. Turns are made with sticks, photo and rec buttons act like the shoulder buttons in our case in Asphalt 9 you drift and activate the nitro.

DSC02998.jpg

Third party apps and Google

I’ve been thinking to bring up this topic a long time ago, i feel like it’s time to talk about it. As we all know there’s no Google Play store istalled on the Smart Controller. If it’s not there doesn’t mean you can’t install it. At some point I have been really curios and wanted some apps like Youtube running that could but be installed as easy like other .apk-s. Play services, Gmail,  Play Store all worked flawlessly. The lack of google services preinstalled on the smart controller have some seriouse decisions in the background this was the only only to keep the system clean and steady.

DSC02988.jpg

Let me know what you think! ;)
6-30 02:13
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M Stuart K
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Thanks for your review. I also like the SC but I am having disconnect issues. A few times last week while filming in Washington State I had to reopen the app.  It seemed to stop happening after flying for a few minutes though. Yesterday, the app disconnected on two separate occasions, but it only did so immediately after takeoff. After that initial disconnect it did not happen again through an entire battery on each flight. It’s weird; but it almost makes you think the device needs a freakin warm up period?  Any ideas?  Yes I have the latest firmware.
  
6-30 04:02
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jacksonnai
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Thanks for the information
6-30 04:27
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ff22
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What a thorough review - thanks for posting it.  And GREAT images, too.
6-30 05:51
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Visual Air
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Fantastic review thanks for sharing.
6-30 07:13
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DJI Stephen
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Hello and good day TheDon. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review and your experience in using the DJI Smart Controller for the past 5 months. Have a safe and happy flying always.
6-30 07:59
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TheDon
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M Stuart K Posted at 6-30 04:02
Thanks for your review. I also like the SC but I am having disconnect issues. A few times last week while filming in Washington State I had to reopen the app.  It seemed to stop happening after flying for a few minutes though. Yesterday, the app disconnected on two separate occasions, but it only did so immediately after takeoff. After that initial disconnect it did not happen again through an entire battery on each flight. It’s weird; but it almost makes you think the device needs a freakin warm up period?  Any ideas?  Yes I have the latest firmware.

Hey Stuart!
First of all I’m glad you like it! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with the SC.
I would recommend a factory reset, if the problem persists would definitely try reinstalling the firmware using DJI Mavic 2 assistant. Have a nice day!
6-30 09:04
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TheDon
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jacksonnai Posted at 6-30 04:27
Thanks for the information

My pleasure!
6-30 09:04
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TheDon
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ff22 Posted at 6-30 05:51
What a thorough review - thanks for posting it.  And GREAT images, too.

Thank you very much!
6-30 09:06
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TheDon
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Visual Air Posted at 6-30 07:13
Fantastic review thanks for sharing.

Thank you! Very glad you like it!
6-30 09:06
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TheDon
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DJI Stephen Posted at 6-30 07:59
Hello and good day TheDon. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review and your experience in using the DJI Smart Controller for the past 5 months. Have a safe and happy flying always.

Hi Stephen! Thank you very much! I’m glad you find it wonderful. The SC really made my life a whole lot easier. I have some ideas that i’ll share! Have a nice day!
6-30 09:09
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DJI Stephen
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TheDon Posted at 6-30 09:09
Hi Stephen! Thank you very much! I’m glad you find it wonderful. The SC really made my life a whole lot easier. I have some ideas that i’ll share! Have a nice day!

You are very much welcome TheDon. Please do share those ideas with us and thank you so much for your valued support.
6-30 10:49
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Dronie2
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Very interesting and perfectly explained. Thank you.
6-30 12:32
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CRAIGMART75
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NIce Review
6-30 16:48
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maddox
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Great review, thanks for sharing
6-30 19:00
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TheDon
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Dronie2 Posted at 6-30 12:32
Very interesting and perfectly explained. Thank you.

Thank you! ;)
6-30 23:00
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Forestjim
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Thanks for your report. I love my SRC. It's hard to explain to people how awesome it is.
6-30 23:11
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TheDon
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CRAIGMART75 Posted at 6-30 16:48
NIce Review

Thank you Craig! ;)
7-1 00:05
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Montfrooij
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Very good post!
7-1 04:20
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Whiteout
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Power on/off
7-1 04:55
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Whiteout
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I have to carry the SC around the world so the "lousy on/off switch" is a big problem. It causes "unwanted" on/off. Gaining energy.
7-1 05:01
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Whiteout
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I  travel around the world and do have problems switching the SC on/off and keeping it off while on the move. You have to carry it in your "carry on luaggage"  and there is no "save" power off.
Removing the batteries is not possible. ? OK you have to drain batteries when traveling...
Overheating is a security risk when just a little pressure start your SC in your bag.
I am a photographer and carry a lot of technical equipment maybe someone has a solution.
7-1 05:24
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TheDon
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maddox Posted at 6-30 19:00
Great review, thanks for sharing

Thank you very much!
7-1 05:36
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TheDon
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Forestjim Posted at 6-30 23:11
Thanks for your report. I love my SRC. It's hard to explain to people how awesome it is.

Yep I feel you. I guess till you don’t try it out you can’t imagine how awesome is to use it.
7-1 05:37
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TheDon
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Thank you!
7-1 05:38
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TheDon
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Whiteout Posted at 7-1 05:24
I  travel around the world and do have problems switching the SC on/off and keeping it off while on the move. You have to carry it in your "carry on luaggage"  and there is no "save" power off.
Removing the batteries is not possible. ? OK you have to drain batteries when traveling...
Overheating is a security risk when just a little pressure start your SC in your bag.

Unfortunately you need to drain your drone batteries too...
7-1 05:41
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Montfrooij
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You're welcome!
7-1 06:27
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S-e-ven
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Have you tried the smart controller AND the normal RC & device at the same time?
If yes, what would happen in case one of the devices would disconnect?
7-1 07:10
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photokirk
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Useful Review. Keep them coming
7-1 07:59
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Whiteout
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TheDon Posted at 7-1 05:41
Unfortunately you need to drain your drone batteries too...

No need to drain your Drone batteries when you fly in a plane.

1. you can remove them from the drone .
2. No risk on overheating when they are stand alone and switched on.
3. The power switch is safer ( double click and hold)
4. You can cover the power switch easy to protect it from unwanted action.

The SC  is the trouble maker and its  some work to drain his batteries ;-)

never stop exploring and tsk for your test.
7-1 08:17
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ro_flyer
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Fantastic review thanks for sharing.
7-1 09:14
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TheDon
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Whiteout Posted at 7-1 08:17
No need to drain your Drone batteries when you fly in a plane.

1. you can remove them from the drone .

My bad sorry . I knew that drone batteries onboard need to have less than 30%. Now I understand what you are refferring to with the accidental button push. My pleasure! Thank you! ;)
7-1 10:19
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TheDon
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photokirk Posted at 7-1 07:59
Useful Review. Keep them coming

Thank you! Sure will ;)
7-1 10:21
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TheDon
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ro_flyer Posted at 7-1 09:14
Fantastic review thanks for sharing.

Thank you very much! ;)
7-1 10:21
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TheDon
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S-e-ven Posted at 7-1 07:10
Have you tried the smart controller AND the normal RC & device at the same time?
If yes, what would happen in case one of the devices would disconnect?

Not yet the second controller would act as a slave, it means that every move can be overwritten by the master one. On the other hand if the slave disconnects logically nothing happens, the question remains if the master loses con. Will try it for sure ;)
7-1 10:24
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Montfrooij
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Whiteout Posted at 7-1 08:17
No need to drain your Drone batteries when you fly in a plane.

1. you can remove them from the drone .

That does depend on the airliner!
Some only allow empty batteries.
7-1 10:32
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A J
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Great thread - I think this has to be next on my list to get!
7-1 11:26
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Toedles
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Great post, thanks for sharing.
7-1 12:45
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ro_flyer
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TheDon Posted at 7-1 10:21
Thank you very much! ;)

You're welcome!!
7-1 18:12
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AntDX316
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The connection is no doubt the reason to get it but if you use DroneDeploy or other SDK software then you cannot use it.  Is the Tripod switch when using the Phantom Attitude or Tripod?
7-1 21:11
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