DJI launched its innovative Spark drone in May 2017 to much critical fanfare, but already people are beginning to muse on what specs the DJI Spark 2 will bring to the table.
The original Spark was a revelation, introducing drone photography to a wider audience than ever before with its simple features, such as Gesture Mode, and robust build. The Spark demystified drones and showed people that they can be used for much more than just industrial applications.
But as novel as the Spark was, DJI did leave plenty of room to upgrade its specification in a Spark 2. A glaring one is resolution: the Spark’s camera doesn’t shoot 4K which, in the age of big resolution, seems like a dead certainty for an upgrade in Spark 2.
Below we’ll run through some of the new specifications we can probably expect in the DJI Spark 2.
DJI Spark 2 specs
01 4K resolution
This is the obvious one. The Spark shoots video in Full HD 1080p, which raised a few eyebrows at the time. So it seems highly likely that the DJI Spark 2 will emerge with – at a minimum – the capability of recording 4K video at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps.
02 Improved flight time
When we tested the Spark we gushed that it’s so much fun to fly and film with… but 16 minutes just isn’t long enough. You really need a second battery in order to have a decent session with it.
With the Spark 2, I expect DJI will unveil an improved battery that should push the Spark 2 flight time up to 25 minutes.
03 Voice commands
You can control the Spark with hand movements and beckon it to follow you. You can control it via the DJI Go 4 app. Said app can also record your voice. Do you see where we’re going here?
It seems likely to us that a DJI Spark 2 will fully embrace the ethos of the original Spark’s user-friendliness and introduce a series of voice commands for common controls.
This is exactly what GoPro did with the Hero5 Black, and it was a huge success. Imagine if you could tell the Spark 2 to return to home, or fly left, fly right, land now!
04 360-degree obstacle avoidance
The Spark employs a complex 3D Sensing System that enables the drone to detect obstacles within its path from up to 16 feet away. As you can see in our test of the Spark’s obstacle avoidance in the video above, it’s quite savvy. It can stop itself even from hitting windows and chain link fences. But that’s only when the camera is facing these objects.
A welcome addition to the DJI Spark 2 would be to expand the vision of this 3D Sensing System to detect obstacles on the sides and behind the drone. Users can easily avoid head-on crashes with the Spark, but a number of times we inadvertently flew sideways into tree canopies or backwards a little to close to our face!
A 360 obstacle avoidance system would probably require fitting the DJI Spark 2 with a 360 camera, which might not be a realistic expectation from other manufacturers. But DJI has never been afraid to be bold.
05 Improved Gesture Mode
The Spark’s Gesture Mode is a novel and innovative feature, but we found in our tests that the camera’s sensor didn’t always recognise our gestures. A lot of this was down to human error: straying too close or slightly too far away for the Spark to pick our gestures up.
But for a drone aimed at beginners, it feels like there should be more leeway. The DJI Spark 2 will likely boast an improved sensor that’s more accurate in picking up your gestures even when you get it slightly wrong.
06 3-axis gimbal
Video footage from the Spark is already pretty stable with its 2-axis gimbal, which provides a downward angle of 85 degrees.
The DJI Spark 2 will probably offer a wider 90 degrees. A third axis would also be handy to add more stability in Sport mode. Given the Spark’s size, however, this might not be possible.
07 Water resistance
Olympus and others make tough cameras that can survive – even thrive! – a dunk in the sea. So why not a drone?
Is there any reason a drone can’t be made waterproof? Just think of the awesome video you could capture with a DJI Spark 2 if you knew there was no risk flying it over that waterfall or lagoon.
08 Foldable arms
The Spark is already pretty compact, but DJI could make a Spark 2 even more portable by implementing the design technology it’s already developed with the Mavic Pro.
A Spark 2 with foldable arms is getting into the realms of having a (coat) pocket-size drone. Which would be amazing.
UPDATE: since we first posted this discussion, DJI has launched the Mavic Air, which is arguably a pocket-size drone. So it seems ever likely that a DJI Spark 2 could follow this route.
09 A better way to capture audio
One of the things you probably noticed right away (and didn’t consider beforehand) is that the Spark doesn’t record audio. And of course this makes sense. If the Spark’s camera recorded audio, all you would here are those propellers.
You can record audio with the Spark via the DJI Go 4 app, which then syncs with your video. Or you can record it via another smartphone app or from a simple lapel mic and sync it with your footage in software later on. Both of these options are bit fiddly. There must be a better way. And we’re certain DJI will find one with the Spark 2!
10 Pre-programmed routes
DJI used to enable you to plot a GPS route that the drone would automatically fly, and it was a great feature. It would be great if DJI brought this back in some form with the Spark 2.
11 Distance / height limit
A distance or height limit of about 10 metres from the controller would be a useful feature for beginner drone pilots so that those who are new to flying couldn’t accidentally lose the drone when they first start out. This is a feature of the 3DR Solo and is very handy.