DJI Mavic Air Review. The New King of Portable Drones?

Stats and info on product:

Name: Mavic Air.

Company: DJI.

Typical Flight Time: 15-21 minutes.

Size: Fits in your palm. Slightly larger than a Spark and slightly smaller than a Mavic Pro (MP).

Price: $799 for basic controller/drone combo. $999 for combo package which includes extra batteries and other accessories.

Camera quality: 4k @ 30 fps with up to 100 mbps, 12 MP camera.

Rating of product: 80 out of 100 stars. This drone to me at first seemed like a perfect middle between the Spark and Mavic Air, but once I got it and truly saw it’s shooting and flying abilities, I believe it’s slightly better than the Mavic Pro and WAY better than the Spark, thus it has my full recommendation.

It’s a fantastic choice if you’re seeking great footage ability, great flight ability from your model and of course, portability. 

Update: After flying it around for a long time, I have to say, I updated the score to 80 points. It’s a great drone, but I still believe, there’s 3 drones which top it (right menu shows the list).

Back to the review: Just when you though they were going to announce a Mavic 2…

In comes the Mavic Air, the newest model in the arsenal DJI has, particularly it’s portable ones. I recently got my hands on this new one, making it my 4th drone and here I’d like to share what I liked about it, what I disliked and overall why the score of 80 points out of 100 that I gave it seems appropriate as well as if this is the right drone for you.

Also, I will be doing separate articles on how the Air compares to the Pro and Spark in the future.

Note: Since this review went up, the Mavic 2 was released, get the review on that model here.

So what exactly is so special about the Mavic Air? 

Well if you’re an owner of a Spark…

And want a better camera, more battery life and overall a higher quality drone, without losing out on the portability perk…

And if you’re MP owner…

Want to have something smaller with just about the same kind of camera (I think it’s better on the Mavic Air), same kinds of flight capabilities and want a smaller version of it…

And if you’ve never owned one of these models and seek a portable model with a great camera…

Well then this model is your new go to drone. It basically encapsulates MOST of the camera/flight capabilities of a Mavic Pro and nearly all of the portability perks of a Spark. 

It’s basically a HYBRID of the 2 and as a result (from my tests) superior to both.  

But we need to get into specifics…

The pros:

The camera.

mavic air front

I always begin my drone reviews with the camera quality. With this model, you’re looking at VERY high quality camera. 12 MP, 4k @ 30 fps is no joke and it is found on the following models:

  • MP.
  • Phantom 4. 
  • Phantom 3 SE.

Those are some elite names and the Air is right up there with them when it comes to camera quality. It also shoots at 100 mbps, making it the largest mbps in the portable drone department by far.

I have to admit, I honestly didn’t expect the camera to shoot as well as it did. Here’s some shots I made on a shore while it was low tide and close to sunset:

mavic air footage

I’ve got to say, I was absolutely amazed at how it captured the shadows and details of the rocks on the shore…

And speaking of rocks, I want to draw your attention to the shoreline on the right hand side of the picture. Because I had to lower the size of the photo, it actually impacted the details a little bit, but make no mistake, when you view this photo from it’s default size, the details in such things as those rocks are simply amazing. One more:

Now I will try to put up a video soon but here is a screenshot of one of the videos I made with this drone while flying in this area:

Ready to take these kinds of shots? Get the Mavic Air here.

But when you put it into perspective, how good is the Mavic Air camera? This good:

When you think of the best camera phones on the market today, what do you think of? In my case, 3 come to mind:

The Google Pixel 2, the iPhone X and the Samsung S8. In terms of the camera quality, the Pixel 2 is considered to have the best one on the market right now.

I own the Samsung S8+ and I’ve compared it to the iPhone X camera and I have to say, Samsung’s seems better to me. Now what I did was, I compared the same shot I took my Samsung S8+ with the Mavic Air footage. In fact, I took 2 comparison shots:

The first is the Samsung S8+ camera vs the MA camera (on auto):

As an auto shot, I dare say the MA has more sharpness and detail. Not to say the Samsung “sucks”. I actually love the camera on it, but on this drone, the footage you take is superior. PLUS if you manually edit the shot (on the drone), this is how it would change:

If there was any doubt the first picture was close, this should put an end to that debate. The MA shoots WAY better than one of the best smartphone cameras on the market (and it’s still considered to be a great camera). 

Auto focus. Yes! 

The Mavic Pro had this annoying thing, it wouldn’t focus on a shot unless you touched the phone screen to make the camera do it. On the Mavic Air, this is no longer an issue as auto focus is turned on all the time. Therefore, you won’t get blurry shots because you forgot to touch the screen to focus, just the fine details, every time.

Gimbal.

Despite looking like a 2 axis gimbal, like on the Spark, this one actually has 3, giving it more mobility and options, a huge improvement from the Spark before it.

Sensors. There’s 3 of them. It’s the first portable model of it’s kind to do it.

This is first portable drone that I know of in existence that has sensors on the front, bottom and BACK of the model. The portable options you had before didn’t have anything on the back, just on the front and bottom, so this is a huge plus. Flying backwards is something many pilots do and having this extra safety feature is awesome. 

Before this drone, only the Phantom 4 Pro had this feature. Additionally, these sensors allow the drone to more intelligently fly around obstacles when following you.

Flight capabilities (range, 8 intelligent flight modes & palm control):

4 KM range, has several intelligent flight modes such as controlling it with your palm (like with the Spark), accurate return to home option and a bunch of follow me features which let it fly around an obstacle, vs stalling next to it.

The Mavic Air has incredible, Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 Pro level intelligence.

Battery/flight time.

Officially, it’s at 21 minutes, but these numbers always “vary” based on circumstances. Usually the more average and real number is about 5 minutes under, so basically above 15 minutes, but under 21 minutes (unless you can get perfect weather conditions to get to 21).

It has legs that unfold near the tip of the wings. 

I’d say this bonus more so adds aesthetic benefits, but it is nice to have as when you fold it up, the drone has more portability and when you unfold it, it has less chances of touching down on it’s belly. 

Also: ALWAYS unfold them because if you start the drone and the camera starts moving, it’ll touch the ground if the legs aren’t unfolded. 

HUGE: An internal USB drive with 8 GB of storage.

This is the only drone that I know off that has such a thing. With other models, if you ever forget to bring an SD card, you’re out of luck. With the Air model, should such a scenario happen, you can rely on 8 GB worth of internal storage to save you.

And I’ll tell you what, this came in VERY handy the first time I flew this drone:

The shots I took above, I originally used an SD card to do it, but when I got home and tried to have a look, it turned out the same SD card was corrupt and I couldn’t view the files. While I was upset, I decided to check the internal storage of the drone by connecting it to the USB port on my laptop and low and behold, the images/videos were there! 

While most people who review the Mavic Air attribute this perk when you forget an SD card, I’ll add from my own personal experience it comes in handy if the SD card is messed up as it was in my situation.

Flight speed.

Over 40 MPH (41). That’s ridiculously fast and to be honest.

Smooth flight:

I couldn’t believe how such a tiny, light drone could fly like this. The smoothness of the flight very much reminds me of the Spark, which also is very smooth, but that’s mainly because of it’s size. The Mavic Air is bigger (slightly) and is even faster and still maintains that control the Spark has. This is a huge bonus for people who seek a fun, easy flight.

Good, actually great wind resistance. 

I honestly can’t believe how all of DJI’s portable models, including this one withstand wind, but somehow they do, and it just doesn’t seem logical. They can really hold their own in high winds, we’re talking up to 20-30 mph…

Good, easy controls. 

DJI excels at ease of flying. The Air model continues on this path. If you’re a beginner flyer, you will enjoy this model. The controller is easy to use.

Crazy portability. 

I’m going to say it: It’s even more portable than the Spark and I say that because the wings are foldable and when it’s in that folded state, it’s even smaller than the Spark. Plus the case the Mavic Air comes with is extremely portable and easy to carry. 

We have a new king of portable drones, ladies and gentlemen.

Great looking drone!

The design of this model is superb. It looks better than any other DJI model I’ve seen so far. 

Price is actually not bad. 

It is literally in between the price range of a Spark and Pro. At $799, it’s not bad at all! And for that, you get a lot more than I expected:

  • The drone.
  • A controller.
  • 1 battery with the whole thing.
  • Propeller guards.
  • Extra set of propellers.
  • Extra pair of controls to put on the remote controller.

Get the regular MA pack here (combo pack also available).

It’s able to shoot better panoramas and a 360 degree shot.

Added to the awesome camera is the ability to shoot more diverse shots with over 30 pictures used to create a panoramic view. The 360 degree shot is also something new not seen before on DJI models. It basically shows the image as a sphere as though you’re looking at it from space.

Slow motion video option available.

Palm usage available here too and it’s next level.

There is no “palm landing”, but you can LIFT it with your palm, land it with your palm and have it follow you while avoiding obstacles. 

The case is awesome.

It’s like carrying a holder for glasses, but it fits this model perfectly (and protects it well). The case comes in both the regular and combo packs so feel safe knowing it’ll come either way. I can carry it in one hand easily.

Love the pros? Get the Air while it’s still in stock here!

Cons:

Propellers aren’t foldable.

The wings are foldable, but the propellers aren’t. The option is to fold the wings so the propellers stay close to the drone and that will keep them away from hitting something when you walk around with it.

It honestly makes it very portable to carry as I said before, and as long as you keep it in it’s case.

I would have liked to see the body made with the same material are the Mavic Pro.

It seems like the Mavic Pro has an awesome body and feel to that, but it’s a material that’s actually plastic, yet not the typical kind of plastic, but something sturdier and it feels far more dense. The Mavic Air does not have this sadly, even though it still feels great to hold in your hand and the body of the drone is smooth. I guess I’m just too used to my Mavic Pro still…

Other than this, I can honestly not think of any other cons. Even the ones I pointed to here are quite literally nothing to worry about. It’s just my subjective perspective of it. In any case, I really think DJI has made another awesome model worth having.

My Score of the Mavic Air:

80 out of 100 stars.

An instant, elite level drone worth getting, especially if you don’t own any existing portable models. It encapsulates the perks of 2 existing, awesome models in existence.

Is it worth buying this model?

If you’ve never owned a Spark or MP, you are not going to go wrong with getting the Mavic Air, that I am absolutely certain of. It’s camera is nearly identical to it and the portability is that of a Spark. If you seek great filming potential and portability, the Mavic Air is your go to choice of a drone.

You will have a lot of fun carrying this thing around and using it. You will get great shots from it and awesome memories in the process

-But what if you do own a MP? Well I’d say unless you can afford it, you may want to stick with your existing Mavic Pro, at least until the second generation of it comes out.

-And if you own a Spark? Definitely upgrade. I like the Spark, I truly do and will continue to fly it, but it just can’t film of fly as well as the other drones in the DJI arsenal and the Mavic Air is quite superior to it.

-And if you have had neither but couldn’t decide on either one, then the Mavic Air is a must. Like I said, it’s a hybrid of the two and basically a best case choice as you’ll feel fulfilled with having the perks of both the previous models in this one.

Get The Mavic Air Here.

Regular vs combo package. Which should you get?

Normally I suggest first time drone buyers get combo packages because they have extra batteries and a bunch of other accessories you normally won’t get with a regular package.

With the Mavic Air, this appears to have changed as the regular package already holds so much (see above for a list of what it comes with). In my case, I already own several models in addition to this one, so having extra batteries to discharge is more of a problem for me, so I decided to go with the regular package.

If you’re a new drone owner (aka this is your first one), get a combo package, if you’re not and already have multiple models like I do an have to take time to discharge all the batteries, you may want to consider the regular package like me. 

Mavic Air

$699.00
7.3

Camera Quality

8.5/10

Flight Time

5.0/10

Reliability.

7.5/10

Safety.

8.5/10

Range Potential.

7.0/10

Pros

  • Great camera.
  • Very portable.
  • Good safety mechanisms.
  • Reliable drone.
  • Internal 8 GB SD card.

Cons

  • Short battery life.
  • Range could be better.

15 thoughts on “DJI Mavic Air Review. The New King of Portable Drones?”

  1. I just bought my boyfriend a little $20 drone for valentine’s day and he loves flying it around. It’s his first drone. I think he now has dreams of buying a more expensive drone in the future.

    However, I noticed this drone only has 15-20 minutes of flight time. That is about the same as the drone he has now, which is rather disappointing. I would expect that the more expensive drones have longer flight times.

    Do you have any recommendations for drones with longer flight times?

    • Hi Ashley, glad your boyfriend loves his current drone! Currently the longest flight time for a high end model drone is about 30 minutes and I’m honestly surprised the one you got your boyfriend flies as long as it does.

      But the point is that in most cases, a flight time of 15 minutes or more in most cases is more than enough and actually feels a lot longer than you may think. Flying drones can get tiring after awhile.

      Plus if you take into consideration that they also are heavier, fly faster and have more intelligent software running it, that affects the battery life as well, so when you add all those things in and high end models still get you over 20 minutes, that’s more than enough time to get a lot of awesome videos and shots 🙂

  2. Thank you for your detailed review of the mavic air drone. I don’t own a drone yet, but I’m looking at buying one soon as I will be going to Zanzibar in May. I love the fact that this drone is portable, however it’s too expensive for me. Are there any drones you could recommend for me that are less than $200 and more suitable for beginners

    Thanks

    • Well this one is good for beginners Melanie, but I’d say a Spark will do just fine here as well, it’ll be several $100 less expensive. I assume you’re looking to take some good footage right? If so, then a Spark and up will suffice. 

      Also view the drone laws in Zanzibar before going, they may have important restrictions.

  3. I recently got a drone for my son. It was a $50 drone and to be honest – it was terrible. It was impossible to fly it. it was so sensitive that we already flew the drone on the roof. As with everything, it takes some practice to learn to fly the drone but perhaps it had more to do with the cheap price. The second drawback was the short flying time – it was capable of flying just for 5 minutes. So until the moment we understood how to really fly it – we had to charge it. Overall – it was a very bad first experience and my son was unable to drive it. It was hard to even for the adults.

    My son still wants to have a drone but after that bad experience – I don’t know if that is something worth investing in. I see you are very passionate about drones – could you suggest the first drone (easy to navigate) that could be suitable also for kids?

  4. I have been looking for a drone for some time. I am a real estate agent that needs to add drone video and photos to my services. I have a few questions about this drone: Does it have GPS on it and does it have any auto modes?

    I was looking at DJI Mavic Pro Bundle. For doing real estate shots, which one would you recommend? I like the the new one has three sensors instead of two. I would appreciate your thoughts on if I should spend $300 more for DJI Mavic Pro Bundle or by the DJI Mavic air.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Thanks

    Dave

    • Hi Dave, yes to both questions on the Mavic Air (it has GPS and I assume, auto modes means it can fly on auto pilot, which is a yes here).

      For real estate, both drones would work fine. I assume you can catch a good real estate shot in about 10 minutes with a drone, in which case, the Mavic air would be just fine for this (Mavic Pro would be as well), but the Mavic Air would catch details better in my opinion.

  5. I just recently started reading about drones and I will eventually get one myself. I have read your previous review about the Spark drone and I thought that it offered a nice combo of features for its price range but now with your Mavic Air review, things have changed. I might actually consider getting this one instead. What really astounded me were the camera sharpness and the internal storage accessible via USB. Great review!

    • Thanks John, yeah if you have a choice between the Spark and Mavic Air, go with the Mavic Air, it’s better in every way. 

  6. Love this review and the product. I have actually been thinking about getting myself a new drone for ages and you make a really strong case for this one. I guess I don’t need to do much more research, you really covered all the important aspects. Great content, keep up the great work and thanks for your advice!

  7. Hi!

    I really like this review and I’m thinking of buying a drone for my self. I’ve seen some fantastic picture and videos and think it would be a great way to document all the islands and bays we visit each summer with our sailboat.

    The picture these drones take seems very good and they have a “return home” function that I like.

    Patrik

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