Why I no longer recommend these three Matrice drones

The DJI Matrice drones have been workhorses. As reliable, feature-packed aerial platforms, they transformed industries from filmmaking to construction. But just like your trusty flip phone circa 2007, sometimes it’s time to say goodbye. And for these three models of Matrice drones, that might be soon.

Come February 24, 2024, DJI is set to pull the plug on support for the Matrice 600, 200, and 100 series of drones.

Now your Matrice 600 may still fly like a dream, and that may very well be true. After all, these drones were built to last, capable of hauling hefty payloads and weathering harsher conditions than a drone pilot’s ego. But here’s the thing: flying a drone without manufacturer support can be like driving a vintage car without spare parts.

I love a good firmware update. Sometimes you just need a replacement part. All that vanishes for these three Matrice drones come February 24.

Sure, you can probably limp along for a while. You might make up your own sneaky workaround, and honestly the unofficial drone forums tend to be superior to DJI’s official support in most cases anyway.

But while I generally don’t have qualms about buying used drones, the suspension of service is one reason to skip out on buying a used drone — particularly a drone this expensive and advanced.

Matrice drones 100
Once a workhorse, the Matrice 100 drone is pretty out of date. It’s out of production, and DJI will end support come February 2024.

And in fact, here are a few more concrete reasons to skip the Matrice 600, 200, and 100 series now that we know service is being suspended:

  • Potential security risks: Among the reasons that DJI continuously improves its flight algorithms is to align with security protocols. Without those updates, you’re flying blind to possible vulnerabilities.
  • Insurance Woes: Some drone insurance policies require manufacturer support. No support means no coverage. This could leave you facing a hefty repair bill.
  • Reduced resale value tumble: Expect the resale value of these Matrice models to plummet. Think beanie babies after the dot-com bubble burst.

The Matrice line is the most notable, but there’s another funny, little-known product (with an equally funny name) that’s also losing support. That’s the DJI Snail. The Snail was a racing propulsion system that debuted way back in 2016 and that was designed for the DIY drone racing crowd. It sold for about $100.

The DJI Snail systemThe DJI Snail system
The DJI Snail system

These days, DJI’s FPV efforts are focused on its two ready-to-fly FPV drones, the DJI FPV and the newer, smaller DJI Avata drones.

The three Matrice drones named here — the Matrice 600, 200, and 100 series — were ahead of their time when they launched in the early to mid 2010’s. But their time has come. In fact, they’re so old that DJI stopped production on them years ago. Here’s a breakdown of when DJI actually ceased production on each of these products:

  • Matrice 600: December 2016
  • Matrice 200: December 2017
  • Matrice 100: January 2019
  • Snail: December 2017

For what it’s worth, it’s not abnormal for DJI to end support on a product.

“Because electronic products are affected by technological developments and changes in usage requirements, each generation of products has a fixed life cycle,” according to a statement from DJI. “In order to continuously provide you with premium product and service experiences, DJI regularly optimizes resource allocations to promote the development and application of new products and technologies.”

For example, DJI stopped supporting the Phantom 4 in July 2023. It stopped support the DJI Inspire 1 in February 223.

What DJI drones should you choose instead?

Now that support for these three DJI drones is no more, it’s time to invest in DJI’s newer models. Now sure, investing in newer DJI models with ongoing support might seem costly now, but it’s an investment in the future. Not to mention, the newest drones are far superior on every metric besides the low price you can likely expect from buying one of these outdated drones used.

DJI’s newer Matrice drones are packed with features including obstacle avoidance, longer flight times, and AI-powered autonomous flight modes. These days, DJI’s top Matrice drones include:

DJI Matrice 300 RTK

The undisputed king of the Matrice lineup, the M300 RTK is a powerhouse built for demanding industrial applications. It boasts a long flight time of up to 55 minutes, a 15km transmission range, and the ability to carry hefty payloads like LiDAR sensors and zoom cameras. Think search and rescue, infrastructure inspection, and precision agriculture.

Matrice drones 350 RTKMatrice drones 350 RTK
DJI Matrice 350 RTK (Photo courtesy of DJI)

DJI Matrice 350 RTK

A slightly more nimble and affordable option than the M300 RTK, the M350 RTK is one of the company’s newest workhorse drones. Released in May 2023, it offers a 45-minute flight time, a 12.4km transmission range, and the ability to handle a variety of payloads. Ideal for tasks like construction site monitoring, power line inspection, and filmmaking.

Matrice drones DJI Matrice 30Matrice drones DJI Matrice 30
DJI Matrice 30 (Photo courtesy of DJI)

DJI Matrice 30

Striking a balance between power and portability, the Matrice 30 is a versatile option for a range of tasks. Released in March 2022, it boasts a 41-minute flight time, a 7km transmission range, and the ability to carry payloads like the Zenmuse H20T thermal camera. Great for search and rescue, firefighting, and security patrols.

Other non-DJI alternatives: Sony Airpeak, Skydio X10, Skyfish and more

Whether you’re seeking a drone made in America or you just want to explore other companies, there’s no shortage of enterprise drones to pick from. While DJI has a monopoly in the consumer space, that’s not exactly the case on the industrial side.

Among the top Matrice competitors include Skyfish drones, which support many payloads and sensors out-of-the-box, including LiDAR and thermal sensors from FLIR. Skydio X10 is another standout from the company that rose to fame with its follow-me drones (which it sadly no longer makes). Sony has also been rolling out big updates to its Airpeak drone to make it an industrial powerhouse.

For now, it’s time we raise a glass (or, you know, a drone-captured aerial panorama) to the Matrice 600, 200, and 100. They served us well. But now, it’s time to upgrade.

Tags: