DJI is a leader when it comes to producing drones. In fact, in the U.S., the company commands a 77% market share of the consumer drone market. Their drones are well designed and offer features such as foldability, which results in powerful drones that you can carry around easily.
The DJI Mavic Air is no exception and has many features that you might expect from a higher-end DJI model in a small form factor while being relatively affordable. It’s a solid choice when it comes to drones but is it the best drone money can buy? Below, we will review this drone and attempt to answer this question.
The DJI Mavic Air retails for $799. This makes it cheaper than the Mavic Pro which goes for $999, and more expensive than the DJI Spark which retails for $479. For your $799, you get the drone, a battery, the charger for the drone, a remote controller, a zip-up carrying case, 4 propeller guards, and two sets of propellers.
Probably the most notable aspect of the Mavic Air is its foldability. It’s already smaller than the Mavic Pro. It also shares the foldability of the Pro, making it very compact. This means that you will have no problem slipping the drone into your backpack along with other equipment you may be carrying with you for a day of flying. The drone is also quite light and weighs in at 430 g.
It is clear that this drone was built with portability in mind. The propeller arms are foldable, the drone features a recessed gimbal, and the joysticks on the controller are removable. These design features allow it to be packed away without the joysticks getting into the way. You will need to use your smartphone as a display with the controller. This is an easy thing to set up, however, the Mavic Pro’s setup can be a little bit more convenient since its controller has a built-in screen that displays information on flight telemetry.
The Mavic Air is available in 3 colors; white, black, and red. This gives you some stylistic options, however, be aware that the black and red versions have a tendency to attract fingerprints.
Features and Flight Performance
You will be pleased to know that DJI made it easy for users of the Mavic Air to get content off of the drone by including a USB-C port for file transfers. However, this USB-C port can’t be used for charging; you’ll need to use the proprietary charger. In addition, ample provision was made for file storage. The drone has a MicroSD card slot and 8GB of onboard storage. This allows owners to take lots of videos and still have some storage left if they run out of space on their SD card.
As drone technology has improved, so has the ease of flying drones. This is reflected in the flight performance of the Mavic Air. The Mavic Air has an advanced obstacle avoidance system, which makes use of seven cameras, that allows both novices and pros to fly the drone confidently. Thanks to this system, the Air is able to successfully avoid many different obstacles in its environment without pilot intervention.
Thanks to the flight avoidance system, most pilots should have no qualms about pushing this drone to its max speed of 68.4km/h. Other than being quick, the Mavic Air can be controlled from a reasonable distance of 4km away. If you’re controlling the drone with the DJI app on your mobile device, then you’ll be limited to controlling it from up to 50m away. The air can handle flying in winds up to 35km/h.
This isn’t unique to the Air, but this drone is equipped with GPS and GLONASS. This allows for satellite positioning which makes it easy to detect areas where drone flying isn’t allowed. The Air is also compatible with DJI’s first-person view, VR goggles. This combined with all of these other cool features makes it one of the best VR drones on the market.
Video and Image Quality
The gimbal for the camera is very smooth, but you may notice some jerkiness when moving it up and down. Another neat feature of the Air is its gesture control. Users can use their hands to make the drone take off, land, fly away from them, fly towards them, or follow them as they move around. In addition, a peace sign makes the drone take a still shot while making your thumb and index finger visible in a frame will start or stop the capture of video.
There are several fun camera modes available too. These include Asteroid and Boomerang. With these intelligent image capture modes, you’ll be able to take cool pictures from various angles with minimal effort.
Since we’re on the topic of images and videos, let’s talk about quality. The Mavic Air’s camera is capable of recording 4K video at up to 30fps and taking 12MP HDR still and 32MP panorama photos. These are pretty good specs considering that they aren’t too far off from the Mavic Pro. The Pro shoots 4K at 30fps with a resolution of 4096 X 2160, while the Air shoots at 3840 X 2160.
When it comes to flight time, you’ll get up to 21 minutes of battery life. This is just 6 minutes shorter than the maximum flight time The battery can be fully recharged in 55 minutes. In addition, spare batteries are readily available. In fact, if you buy the Mavic air with 2 spare batteries for $999.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
The Mavic Air is a good in-between option when compared to the cheaper DJI Spark and the more expensive DJI Mavic Pro. In fact, the Mavic Air isn’t too far off from the Mavic Pro in many aspects. Yes, it’s controller doesn’t have the screen that the Pro’s controller has and the camera resolution is a little less, but this is a strong drone.
With that being said, the Pro is demonstrated better. Bearing that in mind, while the DJI Mavic Air isn’t the best drone money can buy, it’s a solid drone that is suitable for both beginning and experienced pilots. An appropriate title for it would be “the best drone for your money”.
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