Is it worth buying the DJI Smart Controller or DJI RC (Pro)?

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Purchasing the DJI smart controller was potentially one of the best things I did as a drone owner. The DJI smart controller (or the new DJI RC controllers) has some incredible features that make buying the DJI smart controller well worth it.

Unfortunately, it can be a considerable expense on top of purchasing a drone. A smart controller will set you back about $950, and the DJI RC and RC Pro will set you back $309 and $1518, respectively.

Yes, the DJI smart controller is worth it, especially for people who value durability, larger displays, multi-drone compatibility and long battery lives.

In this article, we will look at the benefits of purchasing the DJI Smart controllers and all of the features that make the extra expense worth it.

is it worth buying the DJI smart controller

The cost of the DJI smart controller and RC

When we consider if something is worth it we need to do a simple cost-benefit analysis to discover if it is worth it to us.

There is no doubt that purchasing a drone can be a very expensive exercise. All drones come with a remote control perfectly suited to be used with a smart device and get you flying as quickly as possible.

However, for those who want more from their drone, flight experience and want to ensure that they have continued compatibility without any issues from the DJI fly app, purchasing a smart controller will be well worth it.

Here are the prices for each of the DJI Smart controllers that are currently available.

Smart controller$949
DJI RC$309
DJI RC Pro$1518

It is important to note that the original smart controller is being phased out, and the DJI RC controller is being included as an optional extra for DJI’s latest drones (DJI mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3).

If your budget can stretch to include a smart controller to pilot your drone, it will result in a much nicer, smoother, and more enjoyable piloting experience.

Controller drone compatibility

Not all drone controllers are compatible with every drone.

One of the biggest issues with purchasing a drone controller is that it cannot operate some of my drones.

Here is a compatibility list of the three different types of DJI Smart controllers and the drones they can currently connect with.

Smart ControllerDJI RCDJI RC Pro
Mavic 2 Pro
Mavic 2 Zoom
Mavic Air 2
Mavic 2
Phantom 4 Pro v2.0  
Mini 3 Pro
Mavic 3
Mavic 3
Air 2S

I imagine that in the future, the newer models of the smart controller will be able to interface with a larger array of drones as DJI continues to innovate and release new drone models.

Is DJI Smart Controller obsolete?

You may be able to find a budget and bargain price for one of the older models of Smart controller – the DJI smart controller.

Even though the smart controller is being phased out, it is a good time to purchase one at a lower price if your budget allows it and it is compatible with your current drone.

What are the benefits of the DJI Smart Controllers?

Using a DJI smart controller for piloting your drone has many benefits.

It may seem like quite an extra expense, but, in my experience, the smart controller is something that can add a whole new enjoyment factor to your piloting experience.

From having no issues with utilising and connecting a smart device to the bright display, here are all the benefits of using a DJI smart controller with your drone.

is it worth buying the DJI smart controller - benifits

No smart device issues

One of the biggest issues that some pilots encounter is the compatibility of their smart devices with the remote control and the DJI fly app.

You may be able to fly quicker once arriving at your location without having to connect your smart device and avoid any annoying compatibility problems.

Using a drone remote with a screen operating android will likely experience fewer issues with app compatibility, which can become difficult due to the frequent updates of firmware and software that some smart device manufacturers are putting out.

Large screen

Having a large screen on a smart device means you’ll see a larger image of your first-person view.

The larger screen will help you frame your photos and videos and give you much more space to view the stream without competing for screen space with the on-screen display overlays.

Bright screen

Having a really large bright display means that you will be able to operate your drone in direct sunlight.

Keeping your drone in line of sight means you have to spin around regularly, which could cause sunlight to land on your screen.

The brighter the screen, the better for viewing the first-person video display and screen options. In other situations (like when using your smartphone), you’ll need to shade parts of the screen to see what is displayed.

Extended battery life

A larger controller means you can have a much larger space dedicated to batteries.

The battery life of each smart controller is shown below:

  • Smart controller: The 5000mAh battery supports Quick Charging and can work continuously for up to 2.5 hours.
  • DJI RC’s new design enables use for up to 4 hours on a full charge.
  • DJI RC pro – 3 hours maximum operating time.

You can see from the above data that a smart controller typically gives you a lifetime of between 2.5 and four hours after a full charge.

Smart controllers often support quick charging, which means you can charge the remote controller quicker than the standard remote control and get back to flying much faster.

Efficient and portable

The DJI Smart controllers are typically manufactured with the pilot in mind.

They offer an efficient and portable package wrapped up in a well-balanced, ergonomic form factor.

When a drone is flying, your experience as a drone pilot is directly related to how well you can interface with the remote control.

Having a dedicated smart device means you’ll have a much nicer flying experience without having to worry about smart devices or compatibility issues with the app.

The Smart controllers also contain better hardware switches and joysticks to make your tactile experience with the remote control feel much smoother.

Use in extreme conditions

You can use the Smart controllers in a wider range of conditions than the standard remote control.

If you regularly fly in snow, high altitudes or areas of extreme temperature fluctuation, the smart controller will give you a much more robust product than the standard remote.

Built-in microphone and speaker

The Smart controllers also can contain much more hardware than a standard remote control.

The new remote control from DJI contains built-in microphones and speakers so that you can record the narration of your flight and listen to it back through the remote control.

These two features are perfect for creating an easy workflow if you live streaming or producing instructional videos on how to fly your drone.

If you are streaming your drone flights, the built-in microphone also gives you a fantastic option for engaging with your users. And having to avoid using an external microphone and recorder.

Wrapping up

There are many great reasons why you may want to buy a DJI smart controller for your drone.

Many pilots worldwide have benefited greatly from having a smart controller for their DJI drones. If your budget allows, it would be a fantastic addition that would make your piloting experience much more friendly and fun.

If you are not sure that this drone controller is for you, you can consider renting one from one of your camera rental places before committing to the purchase. I can assure you, however, that once you have flown with a smart controller from DJI it will be hard to go back to the remote control that comes as standard with the drone.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones.