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DJI unveils Phantom 4 drone with obstacle avoidance, new Apple partnership

Chinese drone maker DJI on Tuesday took the covers off its its latest camera drone, a $1,399 aerial photography platform that comes with a faster top speed, longer flight duration, and a new obstacle avoidance system to make piloting easier.

According to DJI, the "Obstacle Sensing System" uses two sensors on the drone's front fascia to detect objects in the flight path. If anything is found — from 0.7 to 15 meters away — the system will automatically reroute the drone to avoid it.

Top speed has been increased to 20 meters per second in "sport mode," up from 16 meters per second for the Phantom 3. Flight time is bumped to 28 minutes, and the camera now supports 1080p slow-motion video at 120 frames per second.

New apps are also in the offing, including one that lets pilots simply tap on a location and have the drone fly automatically to it. Another feature, which the company calls ActiveTrack, allows users to select an object in the camera's view that the Phantom 4 will then follow autonomously, using the obstacle sensors and DJI's existing vision positioning system.

The Phantom 4 will be available on Apple's online store later today, making its way to brick-and-mortar locations on March 15. It will be an Apple Store exclusive until March 23.