What’s going on guys Andrew here and today I’ll be letting you know what I think of the DJI Mavic Air after one month. I’ve had a tough time to put this drone through its paces and my overall opinion of the drone is positive. I really do like it a lot I was on the fence about the design when I first saw the leaks but once I got it in my hands my mind had totally changed. So please enjoy my review of the DJI Mavic Air – one of the latest released quadcopters.
|Model||DJI Mavic Air (Onyx Black)|
|Size (L×W×H)||6,6×3,2×1,9 inches (folded); 6,6×7,2×2,5 inches (unfolded)|
|Camera||1/2.3” CMOS; 12 MP; 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160 24/25/30p)|
|Hover Time||~20 minutes|
|Price||Check on Amazon.com|
I want to take a look around at the body of the navigator. So the shell comes in three different colors: arctic white, flame red and onyx black which I opted for because I think it blends together with the secondary black and gray colors a lot better. When you hold this drone in your hands you’ll get a feel for how small it is especially when you look at it from the side. This quadcopter is thin making it even easier to travel with. Once unfolded the drone is still crazy small: it’s got legs on the front to move the camera up and away from the ground which has the antenna also to get them away from the body and other components.
As I said I really wasn’t a fan of the design to start with but now I love it it’s slim, it’s sleek curvy. I mean really it’s a good looking drone but there’s one thing I have to complain about and that is the battery placement on the underside of the drone. It’s on the bottom of the body with d-dry they like to place. The power button for their drones on the battery itself so you can use it to power other things which is a nice touch but in this case you have to hold the drone to turn it on and then place it down before its calibration begins. I know it’s tricky but it’s just one thing I really wish they tweaked in the design.
Stepping away from the design we also have some obstacle avoidance sensors located around the drone to help us not run into anything. A pair of these sensors are on the front and bottom and even on the back which is new to the Mavic series. So we have three total waves of obstacle avoidance also located on the bottom of the drone is a pair of vision positioning sensors to keep the drone stable during flight.
Performance and Modes
The Mavic Air is not all good looks with its great design but also packs a punch in the performance category. With all of the newer DJI drones they now feature sport mode which allows you to turn the obstacle avoidance sensors off and get the most speed out of your drone. Check this out things quick: so with an advertised top speed of 42.5 miles per hour in sport mode this thing can actually go faster than the Mavic Pro. It can outperform it and sport mode and it can hang in there with some of the Phantom 4 series of drones and it totally blows the spark out of the water. I was looking at some of my flight records through my DJI Go for application and I noticed that my top speed is 45.4 miles per hour that’s really not that bad.
Now let’s move away from sport mode and dig into P mode or regular mode which is a lot more practical for filming and taking pictures. The speed in regular mode is still great for taking more dynamic shots like low fast-moving ground shots or fast paced point of interest shots to keep up with high tempo music. Just to make a quick comparison what I’m flying around to spark I’m really unimpressed with their performance like I feel like I’m being held back just hoping it’ll go faster that’s one of the reasons why I always turn to the Phantom 4 Pro. I mean not only is camera great but also the performance is very useful it’s quick its agile and also that flight time is great but that’s a whole other topic of discussion.
Anyway with the Mavic Pro I’m very impressed with the performance being able to zip around from spot to spot taking pictures taking videos or just going outside and flying around in sport mode for fun.
Moving on I want to discuss an area that’s most important to me when reviewing a drone and that’s the camera. The specs on this camera are really nothing to be blown away by on paper I mean the sensor has won by 2/3. See most sensor with 12 effective megapixels a locked F2.8 aperture 4k video recording at 30 frames per second which seems like it will be standard for cameras. Moving forward there is one cool upgrade to the Mavic Air and that is being able to shoot super smooth slow-motion video at 120 frames per second in full HD or 1080p. They also improved the bitrate when shooting in 4k to 100 megabits per second which is something found in the camera on the Phantom 4 Pro like.
With all cameras I could sit here all day long and throw specks and numbers at you but the only way to tell if account is actually good is to use it. Now I’ve had a lot of experience shooting with dynamic air but basically only when there was snow on the ground due to the unfortunate weather that we’ve been having here in Pennsylvania I can took this thing all the way up to Minneapolis so I drove halfway across the country and got to fly this drone a ton. So my overall opinion of the navigators camera is that it’s great well it may look a lot like the Sparks camera the camera itself is actually hold by a 3 axis gimbal instead of a 2 axis gimbal and shoots video in 4k. I really can’t wait for the summertime when it’s green outside and there’s no snow and I can continue to push the Mavic camera to see what I can shoot with it.
Remote Controller, Battery and Range
Moving away from the drone for a second I want to focus on the remote controller which is literally identical to the ones used for the Spark and Mavic pro but comes with one incredible feature – removable sticks. For the longest time on my drones I had to use this little stick protector thingy which don’t get me wrong works great but it still is just another thing I had to worry about bringing with me and not being able to remove the sticks entirely from the drone and even giving them a small spot for storage makes it that much easier to travel. With other than my obsession with the new removable sticks this remotes design is just so perfect there’s a reason why they haven’t switched anything up since the original Mavic Pro.
The one thing I will complain about is the battery life and I have been kind of complaining about this on and off ever since the original Mavic Pro I guess has been released over a year ago but anyway if I fly something like the Phantom 4 Pro I can literally fly my drone every single day for two to three weeks and not have to charge the remote like not to worry about it whatsoever whereas if you’re gonna be flying something like a Mavic Pro, DJI Spark or the Mavic air and you have basically that same exact controller it’s only going to last you about four or five flights.
One key difference between the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro remote is the screen in the center which is not there on the Mavic Air and that is just a way for them to kind of save money because this drone is considered as a step down from the Mavic Pro. Although I’m sure some of you will disagree with that anyway.
I missed that little screen it’s super helpful on the Mavic Pro so I guess if anything we would have to compare this remote to the Sparks just because of the functionality and the location of the buttons.
All right so I feel we’ve been ripping through these categories pretty quickly and while I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at giving you guys some of my thoughts on the Mavic Air and also touched on a lot of the different categories I quickly want to go over some of the miscellaneous specs that are important but didn’t really fit in the categories above.
First up is the battery which holds 2,000 375 milliamp hours giving us an advertised flight time of 21 minutes. I myself have never broke in 20 minutes of flight time but usually when I’m up in the air I rip around in sport mode from spot to spot as I’m lining up my shots. Overall I am really impressed with the battery life of the navigator it’s nothing like the Mavic Pro that thinking stay up in the air for a long time but it’s a lot better than the Spark. I feel like on the Spark I’m constantly feeding it batteries.
Next up is the range of the Mavic air which is set at a maximum of four thousand meters or 13,123 feet which is also converted to two and a half miles. That thought as long as some of the other drones like the Mavic pro or the Phantom 4 series but I think it’s actually pretty much perfect. I mean I never like to fly my drone too far away as I feel like it’s a waste of battery life as I like to stay local and get all the shots and videos that I can get. Now will you actually get two and a half miles out of your Mavic Air maybe if you’re in the middle of a desert with absolutely zero interference but it’s likely that you’re probably not gonna get the full range of the Mavic Air.
The final miscellaneous packet regards the transmission system which is over a Wi-Fi network operating at 2.4 and 5.8 gigahertz and I know so many people out there said this would be the reason they wouldn’t buy the Mavic Air but honestly it’s not that bad at all. Remember that the maximum range of the Mavic Air is about two and a half miles and I have no problem getting some really good distance out of this drone especially living in a congested area with a lot of interference from other devices such as wireless routers.
Alright so now I want to go over some of the new features added to the Mavic air which are software improvements that are specific to this drone. Right now some of these could be seen in some of the older drones like it might trickle over to the Mavic Pro or let’s say the Spark but for now these are specific to them.
First up is smart capture which actually isn’t anything new it’s just like gesture control on the spark but instead of using a 3d sensor on the front it’s able to track your movements fully through camera software which is actually a pretty nice upgrade. It does a lot of the same things as gesture control so you can take off from the ground by only using your hand. It can also follow your palm around either forwards backwards or side-to-side, you can take pictures and start or stop videos it’ll follow your knack to track. I mean really you can fully control this drone with just your hands if you wanted to but I think we all know that using a controller is the best way to go.
Next up is quick shots which again is nothing new we’ve got rocket which flies straight up above your subject we’ve also got circle which just flies a simple circle around your subject. Next is helix which is an advanced version of circle as it sort of flies upwards and backwards at the same time. Finally there is drone II which one of the most classic drone shots as it flies backwards and upwards at the same time to reveal what’s around you.
Now those four quick shots are available on both the Mavic Pro and a Spark but this time around we’ve got two new quick shots added which are boomerang and asteroid. First up is boomerang which begins in front of your subject and then flies behind while increasing its altitude to reveal what he or she is looking at. It comes to a slow stop and then increases its speed and decreases altitude to come back to its starting point right in front of the subject. Next is asteroid which starts out in front of your subject and then flies upwards and backwards into a 360 panoramic picture. This quick shot it’s awesome, it’s very unique and it’s perfect to share with your friends and family through social media.
Now the way that this works is that it makes its way backwards and up into the sky and once it’s reached its peak altitude it will spin around and take photos to stitch together to make the final products that you see on the SD card. These two new quick shots are pretty cool and it just shows how smart the Mavic Air is by being able to take these nice predefined actions with just the push of a button. I really hope down the line they add some new quick shots not only to the newer drones coming out but also the older ones like the DJI Spark and Mavic Pro.
Moving along we have an improvement in active track simply called active track 2.0. It can identify up to 16 different people within your frame which is really impressive when using smart capture. Along with my mom you’ll notice there’s a green dot hovering over us so whenever active track identifies a subject is marked by this green circle. With its smart capture you can simply switch which subject the drone tracks by. Switching who holds their hand up this is a great feature to have if you are following multiple people around and is definitely a significant upgrade in the progressive world of autonomous drones.
Finally we’ve got a pass also known as advanced piloting assistant systems. So for now we’ll start with a pass because that’s a lot easier to say. We can turn this on by tapping on the icon on the left side of the screen and you’ll notice at the top the mode switches to a pass anyway. This is basically an upgrade to the saltoro behind the obstacle avoidance sensors so rather than coming to a stop when it encounters an object the Mavic air will passively avoid it by changing its course whether that be up/down or it’s one particular side. It’ll do it even if you’re flying backwards the drone will make its way over the obstacle which I find pretty impressive. I think that this is definitely a step in the right direction but it’s very limiting the drone as it flies slower in this mode which I understand: it needs to analyze and see all the different objects that’s in front of it but I hate when my speed is limited so I’d rather let the drone just fly like it usually does and come to a stop when encounters an obstacle. Granted, this is the first iteration of a pass and really excited to see how it evolves in the future.
Mavic Air vs Pro vs Spark
So now that we’ve covered almost every little angle about the Mavic Air and let’s talk about how it compares to some other drones on the market specifically DJI drones. The Spark and Mavic pro are really close in terms of specs to this drone which could make a hard choice to choose between. Right now the spark is priced at 399 dollars (left; originally 499 dollars) the Mavic Air cost 799 dollars (center) and the Mavic Pro (right) comes in at 999 dollars. Now Amazon dropped Mavic Pro’s price down to seven hundred dollars which is lower than the Mavic Air which must means they’re clearing house for a new drone. Anyway these three drones right now are some of the hottest on the market it’d be hard to choose which one is for you.
If we’re trying to compare the Spark and the Mavic Air the Mavic blows it out of the water and every aspect. It has a 4k camera three axis gimbal instead of a two axis gimbal it’s faster, has a longer flight time, the remote controller has removable sticks and good as external storage. I mean it’ll be better in every category. Some would say that the Spark is smaller thus easier to travel with but I would disagree because it is an odd shape and without those bendable arms it makes it so awkward to put in your bag.
If we change things up here and quickly compare the Mavic Air to the Mavic Pro things start to become a bit tougher. Mavic Air does things better than the Mavic Pro and it’s supposed to be a grade below it but in the Pro defense this thing is a year old and the Air is brand-new. Anyway the Mavic Air has a few things going for it like 4k video recording and 100 megabits per second and 1080p video recording at 120 frames per second so the camera is overall better. A lot better if you ask me. The Mavic air is also smaller to make it easier to travel with and even though it’s smaller it’s actually faster by two-and-a-half miles per hour so 42.5 miles per hour instead of 40 miles per hour in sport mode.
Navigator also has a lot of software enhancements and features such as smart capture and pass active track and new quick shots. I mean really there’s a lot of these new features that make people want to get the Mavic Air. Some of these could be added to DJI Mavic Pro in future software updates but as of right now they are specific to the Mavic Air to give it sort of a selling point over some of the other drones.
The Mavic Pro certainly has some things going for it like longer range, longer flight time, the built-in screen on the remote to read the flight telemetry and it also uses the AA Q-sync transmission system instead of Wi-Fi which won’t experience as much interference. So as you can see you certainly have benefits to each but really the Mavic Pro is dated at this point and I’m sure the newer version whatever comes out it’s going to have the things that the Mavic air has and more.
Pros & Cons
So there we have it guys my final thoughts on the DJI Mavic Air are next: I really do like this thing. You probably got that vibe throughout this blog post as I really don’t have many bad things to say about it. DJI has almost every area covered in a drone market as they have a partnership with many pilots, they have the Spark for new pilots and looking to get some good power and quality out of a pretty inexpensive package. The Mavic Air comes in next for the people that want more power than the Spark with upgrades and almost every single aspect. Then comes the Mavic Pro for those who want more of a professional-grade run with some serious power and after that as the Phantom series and then the Inspire series. But you guys get the point DJ right now has a serious hold on the drone market with all these different types coming out it really suits the need of anyone looking to buy a drone. And I hope you guys enjoyed this review and check out the links to Amazon where you can find the best deals on the Mavic Air or other DJI drones.