Today in New York City, DJI unveiled the new Spark drone with a focus on portability and gesture-controls. This comes after a busy year for the industry leader in the drone category following the release of its Phantom 4 Advanced.

DJI claims that users will be able to go from in-hand to in-the-air taking photos in just seconds. Geared towards entry-level pilots looking to capture drone-quality images and video, Spark has a number of consumer-friendly features.

Today’s news also includes new smartphone apps with quick and simple editing features in line with what we saw from GoPro in the fall. Full details below.

Spark is a unique mixture of gesture-based controls and the usual smartphone-based flight experience that will be familiar for previous DJI owners. Pilots will be able to navigate through basic controls such as distance and the shutter itself. A simple wave of the hand will return Spark to its original take-off point at the end of a flight. During the event itself, DJI demonstrated Spark’s ability to fly in close quarters, avoiding any potential hazards, a defining feature that it hopes will bring in more new users to its ecosystem.

DJI is taking a two-fold approach to Spark with both smartphone and remote control capabilities. As you might recall, previous generations like the Phantom 3 forced users to decide between its Lightbridge functionality or Wi-Fi connectivity. Spark can be controlled by smartphone alone up to 100 yards away, while the optional remote (as seen on the Mavic) provides control for up to 1.2-miles.

Spark can handle up to 16 minutes of flight time on a full charge, which varies depending on conditions and if the optional Sport Mode is activated. It will be capable of hitting speeds up to 31mph. All of this comes in a 311-gram package.

While it is unfortunately not capable of capturing 4K video, Spark checks just about every other box in terms of features. That includes a fully stabilized gimbal that supports a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that handles 1080p footage and 12MP stills.

DJI is also including a range of sensors that help keep Spark out of trouble. A forward-facing 3D sensor as well as GPS and GLONASS connectivity insures that it returns to its original takeoff location safely. It can detect obstacles up to 16-feet away, as well. The entire range of TapFly and ActiveTrack features that we know from previous generations is also included here.

In conjunction with the refreshed DJI Go app, users will be able to leverage a number of quick shot features designed for social media. That includes the ability to take a 10-second clip of the action that is automatically edited and beamed to your device for sharing.

The new DJI Spark is available for pre-order today direct from the manufacturer for $499 in four colors with a June 15th delivery date. Additionally, a Fly More bundle brings other accessories and a carrying case for $699.

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