DJI Mavic Air

MSRP $799.00

“DJI has cherry-picked all the very best options and stuffed them into the Mavic Air.”

Professionals

  • Devoted joystick controller
  • Gimbal stabilized 4K digital camera
  • Sturdy impediment avoidance
  • Plentiful clever flight modes

Cons

  • Sensitive digital camera controls, until you’re in Cinematic mode

In late January, DJI pulled the curtain again on one more addition to its rising fleet of drones. The Mavic Air, because it’s known as, is a smaller, lighter, and smarter model of the corporate’s widely-lauded Mavic Professional. On paper, the 2 drones look extraordinarily related — however which one is healthier? We took it out for an prolonged check to search out out.

All of the bells and whistles

In a variety of methods, the Mavic Air is the hybrid offspring of the Mavic Professional and DJI’s Spark drone. It has the very best options from every of its dad and mom, leading to a gorgeous, good drone that can be extremely wanted for years to return.

From its predecessor the Mavic Professional, the Air inherits many points of its physique. Most notably, it options the Mavic line’s signature hinged arm design that enables it to fold up for simple transport. Nonetheless, because of some Spark DNA, it’s additionally significantly smaller and lighter than the unique Mavic — making it arguably probably the most moveable drone in DJI’s lineup thus far. When packed, it’s not a lot greater than a stick of deodorant, which is superb when you think about the options it has. The Air is undoubtedly probably the most moveable drone on this worth vary.

The Mavic Air is the hybrid offspring of the Mavic Professional and DJI’s Spark.

Very like the Professional, the Mavic Air additionally sports activities a 4K digital camera able to capturing UHD video and 12 megapixel stills. Along with the identical 1/ 2.3” CMOS picture sensor, the Air sports activities a redesigned gimbal for stabilization — one thing that, judging from the look of it, was inherited from the Spark.

Different options handed down from the Mavic bloodline? Sporty flight capabilities, impediment avoidance, and a collapsible joystick controller. With this drone, you’re not restricted to smartphone-based piloting or gesture controls — you get bodily sticks and devoted antennas that may transmit video as much as 2.5 miles. It’s not fairly as sturdy because the Mavic Professional’s controller, and doesn’t function a built-in telemetry show, but it surely’s definitely higher than having no controller in any respect.

The Mavic Air has additionally realized some software program tips from the Spark. These embody DJI’s customary suite of Quickshot flight modes (Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix), in addition to a couple of new additions, like Spherical Panorama, Asteroid, and Boomerang. We’ll spare you an try to explain them — it’s best in the event you simply test them out on YouTube. Additionally current is DJI’s new-and-improved Energetic Observe software program, in addition to its next-generation Gesture mode — each of that are quicker and extra responsive than earlier than. Since these upgrades are software program based mostly, it’s possible they’ll be added to DJI’s current drone lineup in a forthcoming replace.

Lastly, there’s the Mavic Air’s impediment avoidance system which, surprisingly, is superior to each the Spark and the costlier Mavic Professional. It sports activities a seven-sensor environmental sensing system which not solely permits it to “see” obstacles, but in addition intelligently keep away from these obstacles with or with out enter from the pilot. It’s uncommon to see impediment avoidance in a drone priced round $800, and none which have it come near the Mavic Air’s wonderful system.

That’s a variety of equipment, which is why we’re so impressed. The Mavic Air isn’t DJI’s flagship, not less than by way of dimension, worth, and uncooked flight efficiency, but it surely is aware of tips that rival or exceed far more costly opponents, and even DJI’s personal drones.

Straightforward to pilot, stays the place you fly it

The Mavic Air is the fruits of the whole lot DJI has realized from constructing and promoting drones for the previous 12 years. As such, it boasts a really polished flying expertise that’s more likely to fulfill newbie and professional pilots alike. You’ll be capable of begin flying this sucker like a UAV veteran inside just some minutes of unboxing it, no matter your ability degree.

Dan Baker/Digital Traits

Dan Baker/Digital Traits

Identical to the corporate’s Phantom, Spark, and Encourage drones, the Mavic air feels tight and responsive within the sky. It’s each bit as fast and nimble because the Mavic Professional, regardless of being significantly smaller. It’s additionally impressively secure for a drone of its dimension. Most drones this small are comparatively squirrely, and usually can’t keep a stationary hover very effectively. The Mavic Air, nonetheless, will cease lifeless in its tracks whenever you let off the joysticks. Once you do, it makes use of a symphony of sensors and positioning programs to maintain it bolted in midair — so even in windy situations, you gained’t have to fret about it drifting away or blowing into a close-by impediment. It solely goes the place you inform it to go, which is arguably one of the necessary encompasses a drone can have.

The Mavic Air is simply nearly as good because the Mavic Professional in flight efficiency — if not a bit of bit higher.

The Air’s impediment avoidance system additionally helps. DJI’s new software program makes use of the information gathered from these cameras to construct a digital map of the encompassing space, which permits the drone to keep away from issues that aren’t at the moment above, under, or in entrance of it. This lets you fly with confidence, even in the event you’re zipping via a thicket filled with timber. That’s necessary. You’ll have much less enjoyable flying a drone in the event you’re continuously anxious about slamming it right into a tree.

To spherical out the package deal, the Mavic Air sports activities a full suite of DJI’s clever flight modes. Most notably, DJI’s new-and-improved Energetic Observe can now observe a number of topics concurrently, whereas improved gesture recognition lets you reposition the drone by way of gestures — now with barely any latency.

After flying it round for a couple of days, we are able to confidently proclaim that the Mavic Air is simply nearly as good because the Mavic Professional on the subject of flight efficiency, if not a bit of bit higher. It’s simply as quick, simply as maneuverable, and boasts an similar most vary; however the Air has an edge on the subject of environmental consciousness. All that, and it’s nonetheless $200 cheaper than the Professional.

Tough and tumble

The Mavic Air appears to have inherited the robust bones of its forebears as effectively. We known as the Mavic Professional “a sturdy little beast with one of many hardest hulls we’ve ever encountered,” and mentioned the Spark “may truly be the hardest drone the corporate has ever produced.” The Mavic Air continues this legacy of excellent construct high quality.

It’s admittedly not fairly as bomb-proof because the Spark (these hinged arms make it a bit of bit extra breakable), but it surely improves on the Mavic Professional’s design with a extra recessed, protected gimbal. The drone wouldn’t survive a protracted fall onto rock or pavement — however an encounter with tree branches, bushes, and tall grass? Mavic Air ought to come out tremendous.

The controller can also be fairly sturdy and well-built. It’s basically the identical controller that comes with the Mavic Professional, however extra moveable, and with out a built-in telemetry show. We are saying extra moveable as a result of the Mavic Air’s joysticks might be unscrewed and stowed contained in the controller itself, giving it a decrease profile, and making it simpler to move. It’s a small adjustment by way of total design, however you’ll admire it when stuffing the controller in a backpack.

Small battery, however flight time hardly suffers

Contemplating its diminutive dimension, the Mavic Air boasts impressively lengthy common flight time. DJI’s official specs say a fully-charged battery will get you a most of 21 minutes within the air, which is technically lower than the 25 minutes quoted by, say, the Parrot Bebop. After all, real-world efficiency is nearly at all times a distinct story.

To place that spec to the check, we fired up a stopwatch app, despatched the Mavic Air into the sky, and let it hover in place till it needed to come down for an emergency touchdown. From takeoff to landing, the drone acquired 19 minutes and 23 seconds of airtime — which is sort of good for a battery as small because the Mavic’s. This places its squarely between the Mavic Professional and the Spark by way of flight time, as the previous will get you round 25 minutes of flight per cost, whereas the latter solely gives about 13.

Dan Baker/Digital Traits

Left: Mavic Air battery; Proper: Mavic Professional battery. (Picture: Dan Baker/Digital Traits)

In regular flight checks (by which we flew it round and made use of the drone’s varied flight modes), the Mavic averaged round 17 minutes 50 seconds. As regular, the battery drains a bit quicker in the event you fly in Sport mode, otherwise you make use of DJI’s Energetic Observe or Impediment Avoidance skills, which require a bit extra computing energy. Parrot’s Bebop managed between 15 and 20 minutes in our checks, so the Mavic Air is aggressive. The 3DR Solo lasted a bit longer, at 22 minutes.

After you run out of juice, it’ll take about 50 minutes on the charger to convey a battery as much as 100% — which appears to be the usual for DJI’s drone. Fortunately, DJI’s snappy new charger dock lets you cost a number of batteries concurrently.

A terrific 4K digital camera, with a sturdy gimbal

By way of specs, the digital camera on the Mavic Air is sort of similar to that of the Mavic Professional — but it surely does have a couple of minor variations. Each drones carry the identical 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, nonetheless the Air’s ISO vary is barely decrease than that of the Professional, which means it doesn’t carry out fairly as effectively in low mild.

Each Mavics nonetheless endure from sensitive gimbal controls.

The Mavic Air’s most video decision is 3,840 × 2,160 (4K UHD) at 30 FPS, whereas the Mavic Professional can squeeze out as much as 4,096 × 2,160 (Cinematic 4K) at 30 FPS. It’s a minor distinction, however a distinction nonetheless. In case your primary concern is video high quality, then you definately is likely to be clever to stay with the Professional.

The actual differentiator between the Professional and the Air isn’t the digital camera — it’s the gimbal that holds the digital camera. The Mavic Professional’s fragile gimbal meeting is arguably its largest flaw, however the Air sports activities a more recent, extra considerate gimbal design that’s much less susceptible to wreck. This new gimbal additionally offers the digital camera a barely wider vary of movement. It’s value mentioning, nonetheless, that each Mavics nonetheless endure from sensitive gimbal controls, so that you’ll must movie in Cinematic Mode in the event you’re after clean panning/tilting.

All issues thought-about, the Mavic Professional’s digital camera is barely higher by way of uncooked specs, however the Mavic Air isn’t far behind, and principally makes up for its shortcomings with a superior stabilizer rig. It’s a detailed race, however we’d say the Mavic Air wins by a slender margin.

Our Take

The Mavic Air is likely to be DJI’s greatest drone thus far. It’s definitely not excellent, but it surely checks all the suitable bins. It’s tremendous compact and moveable, has a devoted controller, shoots video in 4K, has a complicated impediment avoidance system, and boasts a variety of over 2.5 miles. It even comes with 8GB of onboard storage. What extra may you ask for?

Is there a greater different?

The Mavic Air’s closest competitor is its predecessor, the Mavic Professional. Deciding which one is best for you will range relying on what options you worth most.

In case your primary concern is the digital camera, go together with the Mavic Professional. It has a barely increased decision, and performs higher in low mild. That mentioned, each the Mavic Air and Professional endure from sensitive digital camera controls, so if you wish to seize lovely, pro-level cinematic photographs, you’d most likely be higher off with a extra videography-oriented drone just like the Phantom 4 Professional or the Yuneec Storm H Mavic 2 Professional. Each are a bit costlier, however present smoother, extra refined digital camera controls that’ll enable you to get that excellent shot.

One other one value contemplating is the Anafi drone from Parrot. It’s $100 cheaper, however boasts a superior digital camera rig in comparison with the one which DJI’s Mavic drones do. Anafi can shoot in Cinematic 4K (4,096 x 2,160) at 24fps, an can also be geared up with HDR mode, which boosts the digital camera’s distinction and lets you seize handsome footage even when the scene you’re capturing comprises each vibrant and darkish areas. It’s additionally value noting that Anafi’s digital camera can swivel up or down with 180 levels of freedom, which lets you seize upward-facing photographs — one thing the Mavic drones can’t do.

If what you’re after is a straightforward selfie drone, the Spark is likely to be a more sensible choice. It isn’t practically as feature-packed because the Mavic Air, but it surely’s higher suited to fast takeoffs and controller-free operation. It’s additionally a couple of hundred {dollars} cheaper.

But when what you’re after is a jack-of-all-trades that may go anyplace and deal with any scenario, then look no additional. The Mavic Air is the one you need.

How lengthy will it final?

DJI has a strong observe document for pushing out common firmware updates for its drones, and there’s no motive to suppose Mavic Air could be an exception. Barring any catastrophic crashes, this drone will most likely final for upwards of 5 years. Perhaps extra.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. That is the very best all-around drone you should buy proper now the most effective drones in the marketplace. (Replace: You must actually try the brand new Mavic 2 line earlier than you make your resolution!)

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