So what is the best beginners drone on the market? Is it the DJI Mavic Air or is it the DJI Spark let’s find out today!
|Size (L×W×H)||6,6×3,2×1,9 inches (folded); 6,6×7,2×2,5 inches (unfolded)||5,6×5,6×2,1 inches (unfolded)|
|Take off Weight||0,96 lbs||0.66 lbs|
|Camera||1/2.3” CMOS; 12 MP; 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160 24/25/30p)||1/2.3” CMOS; 12.35 MP; 1080@30fps|
|Gimbal||3 axis||2 axis|
|Hover Time||20 minutes at best||15 minutes at best|
|Range||4,25 miles||1,2 miles|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Both of these drones have definitely found their way into my heart and I truly think they are the best options out there. If you’re trying to get into aerial photography or aerial videography or even just having fun with your friends I think these are the two best drones currently out there today. But what are the differences and which one should you get for your very first drone?
We’re gonna break this comparison down into seven main categories: first up – probably the most important – it’s price. The DJI Spark with the controller now included is $399 and the Mavic Air is 799 dollars and it also comes with the controller. Now do you need the controller? Note, you can use both of these drones with just your cellphone but using a controller increases the range, increases your capabilities with it and it turns them into an aerial film platform. So I highly recommend getting the controller with either of these drones.
These are some fantastic deals when you consider that there’s not another drone on the market that can come close to either of these for their convenience and quality. The only competition for these two drones is each other. Seriously, you won’t find another drone out there that can do what these two can do!
Number two: portability. There are some drones in the markets that are better than these two. There are even some other drones out there for comparable price that have better cameras than these, but no other drone can touch these two when it comes to portability. Look how small it is! The Mavic Air’s size comparable to Samsung Galaxy S9! It’s insane how compact they are!
The next category really kind of boils down to your personal preference: do you prefer the hard case and the one-piece frame of the DJI Spark or do you prefer the softer case and the smaller folded-up size of the Mavic Air. Neither of the included cases holds the controller so that’s not a factor. Both of them are roughly the same size and both of them are roughly the same amount of portability.
Number three and in my mind the most important one is ease-of-use. Here’s where we’re gonna start seeing some separation: both drones are easy to use however we’re including connection as a type of ease. In this situation the DJI Spark is solely a Wi-Fi device. It is Wi-Fi through and through, Wi-Fi in the connection between the controller and Wi-Fi in the connection between the drone. There are some people that use an OTG cable with this and I’ve only done that once so it’s not something that I’ve ever really needed to do. The connection is stable enough, however you can have some problems with your smart devices. So that’s something you’re gonna have to think about when you’re using it and it makes it a little more difficult to use.
The Mavic here is also Wi-Fi based platform however it comes with a built in OTG cable that connects straight to your phone leading to a much more stable connection and setting it up is just a breeze. I’ve had this thing out flying a whole bunch of times and I’ve never had a problem with connection with the Mavic Air. The the enhanced Wi-Fi is actually pretty good: it’s no OcuSync but it’s pretty good.
Here’s the big one difference: image quality. Here’s where the golf really opens up between these two but let’s cover some specs quick first that we’re all on the same page when we’re talking about what the cameras of these drones can do.
The DJI Spark is a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor that can take 12 megapixel photos. It has an 81 degree field of view with an F 2.6 aperture. It can only record in 1080p 30 frames per second at 24 megabits per second and it has a two axis mechanical gimbal. The Mavic Air on the other hand has the same 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor and can take the same 12 megapixel pictures. It has an 85 degree field of view with an 2.8 aperture. Now here’s the big one: it can record in 4k 30 frames per second at a hundred megabits per second. That’s honestly amazing – there’s no other portable drone in the market that can do that it, tops everything even the Mavic Pro for 4k 30 frames per second. Seriously, it’s great!
It can also do 2.7K at 60 frames per second and it can do 1080 at 120 frames per second. Also the Mavic Air has a three axis mechanical gimbal and like I said there’s really no comparison: the Mavic Air is objectively better. It can just take better video than the Spark, it can record more data at a faster rate and it’s just the video you can get out of Mavic Air is so good that it can do 4k 30 frames per second and this tiny little thing is legitimately amazing.
One of my favorite sayings is “how good is good enough”. Yes the DJI Spark can only do 30 frames per second but if you’re only making family videos or if you’re just trying to get a third angle when you’re making YouTube videos I still think the DJI Spark is a really, really good addition to it. And if you check Instagram you can find some amazing photos taken just with this camera. It’s the same sensor and everything as the Air it just doesn’t have as good processing power.
So winner of image quality easily the Mavic Air.
The real shortfall of both of these drones is they both have pretty short battery life. There are drones out there like the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 Pro that have battery life that lasts almost to infinity, seriously! When you’ve been flying small drones like this the P4 4 Pro battery life just takes you by storm and that it. It’s just like “are we done yet?”, «are we still flying?”.
One of the things that really stinks about drone flying is when you got to come back and change your battery. Nothing sucks the fun out of flying yourdrone or capturing something cool then having to return to check your battery out. So this is really kind of a big deal. The Mavic Air reported 21 minutes of flight time – in reality this is more like 18 minutes and less If you’re only hovering whereas the DJI Spark has a 16 minute flight life – again, more like 12 and even less if you’re hovering. So winner of the battery life is the Mavic Air.
This is kind of a big one. Both of these drones are very durable: they’re very well built and they’re clearly a lot of thought went into what would happen in the worst case when you’re flying these drones. I’ve wrecked both of these on several occasions and I have yet to see what to if the drone doesn’t work anymore. The DJI Spark is a flying tank and it really is! I’ve legitimately wrecked this thing five or six, maybe seven times now and it still flies perfectly! I’ve never had an issue after wrecking this thing.
Also, I’ve tangled up the Mavic Air in tree branches I’ve tangled up in trees and I’ve only had it legitimately hit the ground once or twice I think. They have an even draw for durability.
Lasts up are extra features. Now this is just a category that I couldn’t think of how to fit everything else but there’s a few things that do still differentiate the two. Both of these drones have my favorite modes: the quick shot and the active track, however the Air has two more: quick shots the boomerang and the asteroid and it can dodge obstacles during active track. I’m still amazed by that! It also has rear facing sensors which is turning into a lifesaver for me when I’m taking drone.
Also, the Mavic Air also has gigabytes of internal storage for those days when you either forget to bring your SD card or you forgot to empty it prior to flying.
We came to the end. So which of these should you get? Now my recommendation is if you’re getting your first drone, you’re just taking family video ,you’re trying to ease into the hobby I recommend getting the DJI Spark. 400 bucks (I’m talking about DJI Spark with the controller here) for the total package is a really good deal and this can give you lots of value, lots and lots of value in your very first drone. It’s got a gimbal, it has a lot of intelligent flight features, it basically is like a taste of DJI. It doesn’t have all of the features of the bigger drones but it has enough of them to give you an understanding of what you will get into if you decide to upgrade further into the DJI line.
If you do have the budget and you need more than 30 frames per second – well, then you’ve got to go with the Mavic Air. I think the Mavic Air is a fantastic value for what they charge for it you: can spend twice as much in a drone and still not get everything you’re getting out of this. I love its portability, I love the video quality in this thing (it’s crazy) and it can dodge obstacles. It’s still amazing to me and if you’re brand new to drones having the extra set of sensors can be a big boon when you’re just getting started.