Both the DJI Spark and Mavic Pro are 2 of the most popular, portable drones around. But which one suites you better?
Being that I own them both, I’ll tell you…
It really depends on the tastes, what you want from your bird and the price range you’re ready for.
Each of these drones holds their own unique advantages, so tally it up after you read this and make your final choice, either way, you’ll be happy because both drones rock.
Quick history (Mavic Pro originated before the Spark):
After the tremendous success of the Mavic Pro and the “revolution” it brought about to the drone world with it’s portability and flight capabilities, there was a lot of hype and massive expectations with the release of the DJI Spark and naturally when it came out, being that it did follow in the footsteps of the first model, naturally comparisons between both began to be asked.
It’s rare to find someone who owns each of these models, let alone both, but I am one of the few people who does and has had a chance to test both of these models against each other in different areas, to make a solid recommendation as to which one you should get.
The frank answer is that I love the Mavic Pro (MP) more, yet the other is NOT far from it. In terms of overall quality, the Mavic is superior to the other, there’s just no question about that, but as I said, depending on the type of flier you are or what you expect to get out of your drone, buying the superior model may not the wisest move.
You see, there’s so no such thing as the “perfect drone”, it matters completely on the person and what they want out of it, which is why I am going to list a bunch of comparisons and where each model is superior to the other, then let you decide based on those parameters which of them is perfect for you.
I’ll also grade within each parameter on a scale of 1-10 to compare both models so you can see how they fare against one another. You’re going to notice the following:
- Where the Spark scores higher, there’s not that big of an advantage on it’s end compared to the Mavic.
- Whereas with the Mavic, on the areas where it has an advantage, the number is much higher, meaning the quality of it’s advantages are better.
So let’s get started:
First, I want to cover the advantages of the Spark:
1) Let’s begin with portability. It wins here.
Because it is smaller, it is more portable and while the Mavic is small, the Spark is basically twice as small as it:
I’ve never considered putting either of these models into my pocket/s, because I want to keep them protected, in cases where I know they’ll get it from, but if I had to pick one that I can easily place in my pocket or hang around my neck, the Spark would easily be the choice here.
2) It’s quieter.
I would say it’s twice as quiet as the MP. While both models are generally inconspicuous when they fly and will generally not bother people who are in the area of the flight, because of it’s smaller size and propellers, the Spark will bring about less attention and prying eyes and in my experience that is great to have.
Note: If you buy the quiet propellers for the Mavic Pro (which are on the Platinum), then the MP wins.
3) It is a little bit easier to fly with.
If I were to gauge the level of ease, I found the Spark to be easier to fly with than the MP, but that is ONLY when you examine the flight itself, as for everything else, the MP is actually a better starter model overall as I mentioned here.
Let me put it this way: Both models have a beginner mode. In that mode, it is extremely easy and safe to fly. Obviously, if you take off that mode, the flight becomes faster and requires greater control.
If I were to compare both of these model’s flights, I would say this:
When you put the MP on beginner mode, it actually flies in the same level of ease the Spark does when it is in it’s NORMAL flying mode. And if we put that into a scale…
With a 1-10 with 10 being extremely easy to fly with, this is how I would put it:
- The MP on it’s normal mode is about a 7 in terms of ease of flight. With it’s beginner mode, it’s a 9.
- The Spark in it’s default mode is a 9 and with beginner mode engaged, it’s an easy 10.
Then there’s also a sports mode for both models…
- With sports mode activated, the MP is about a 5 in terms of control.
- The Spark with sports mode activated is about a 6.
4) It’s easier to land/catch.
Because it is smaller and it has a larger body that is thunderhead the propellers (and because it’s lighter), catching it in your palm is actually one of the easiest things you can do.
In fact, one of the key features of this model was it’s selfie picture taking ability in addition to the “palm control” mechanism where you control the flight using your palm and by moving it, the drone would follow in whichever direction the palm went, be it down, up, side to side, ect… in addition to other hand controlling features.
5) Let’s talk about resilience in the event of a crash.
This is a tough comparison because both of them actually are quite resilient, but as a whole, the Spark model, because it doesn’t have unfoldable wings, and it’s gimbal is more held onto the drone, it makes it less likely to get too damaged if it falls.
6) It’s easier to charge and allows you to use an external USB port.
With the MP, you need a special charger to charge the battery. With the other one, you can plug the battery into the drone, then use a basic USB cable, plug it into the model and let it charge that way.
But this is where it’s advantages end…
Time to explain the many areas where the MP is superior:
1) The camera is the first thing to stand out.
The MP has a bit superior camera, at 12 MP, shooting in 4K.
The other one also has a 12 MP camera, but the shooting capabilities do not exceed 1080p. While this is still high definition, there is a very noticeable difference between both:
Just to be clear, there IS a function by which you can enhance the 1080p footage of the Spark to 4K, but that’s only if you have the time and the editing knowledge of video to do it, but even then, the MP is still far better and more detailed.
- I would say for professionals or people who want a HIGH quality capture, the MP is the way to go.
- If you just want to catch regular, GOOD pictures/videos, the Spark will not disappoint, at least if the above pictures you saw don’t…
Update: New drone released (Mavic Air). It shoots as well as the Mavic Pro. Want to see the comparison?
2) It has a better gimbal.
MP. Now this is important. I did say the MP has a less “sturdy” gimbal because it is on 3 axis’s, but this allows it to be more mobile and allow for better filming in general so again, this plays an important role for the person seeking to get a better shot.
3) The quality of the actual drone is better.
They’re both good, but the MP is next level. Putting that into numbers, on a 1-10 scale again, with 10 being the most high end there is…
The MP is an 8.
The Spark is a 6.
Well what would rate as a 9 and 10 level drone? An Inspire would be a 10, a Phantom 4 Pro would be a 9, just for comparison sake.
Now quality has a lot of measures. You need to look at several things like intelligence modes, safety, wind resistance, range potential, speed, filming quality, ect… (and I’ll cover some of these below) and the more of those things you put together in this comparison, the more you’ll see a gap forming between how much better the MP is than the other one.
4) It can fly further, up to 4 times further.
If you’re seeking distance flights, the MP goes WAY further than the other and based on personal experiences, I would say the most I’ve gotten out of my Spark has been 1-2 KM and the Mavic can potentially go up to 8KM, almost 4x as long. The flight distance of these things also vary upon certain conditions.
5) It has a more stable connection/signal.
Again the MP. I’ve found that the connection the other drone has to your phone is extremely short (as it is supposed to be). This can be greatly improved upon if you use the controller (which can give you that 1-2 KM range potential) and purchase an add on package with it, but even with the remote, I’ve found that the connection can often break up in under 100 feet if there’s trees, grass and other obstacles in the way.
I’ve also seen a looser connection with the phone image the camera sends back to me and it can often become frustrating to know what’s going on with my drone and if it’s safe…
The Mavic Pro however can go beyond those obstacle/s and maintain a healthy connection. I’ve gone as far as 2 KM sending the drone above trees, forests and basically in areas where there were many obstacles between myself and the drone. Yet the signal remained strong.
This also is one of the reasons why it can fly way further. In short, the signal is far more powerful on the Mavic Pro, mainly because the connection is stronger (it’s different and called ocusync) and thus this ensures the flight can be maintained.
And also I almost crashed my Spark because of bad connection issues it has. In the same environment where this happened, I would never have this issue with my Mavic Pro, so that makes it a safer model.
6) It’s surprisingly easier to set up the first time.
Honestly, you’d think the Spark would take this, but my first time setting up this model was not easy, certainly the Mavic was easier. I had to connect through the WiFi and controller and each method had it’s own WiFi password I had to find, which wasn’t listed on the getting started manual from what I remember.
This was frustrating and I did not have this issue with the Mavic, I simply opened it up, charged the battery and the set up was almost instant, no connection to a WiFi necessary…
7) It has more flying features.
MP. It has over a dozen flight modes and WAY more space for customizing your camera, the image/video, and settings on the drone itself. While beginners will likely not want to get too involved with this, as someone who has been there, let me tell you, the default settings the Mavic comes with including it’s camera are totally fine.
8) It has a far longer battery life (twice as much basically).
The Mavic Pro will get you a 2x longer flight per battery than the other (25 min vs 10-15 min). You should consider that with the Spark, you’ll need at least 2 batteries to get some decent flight time, and that’ll be about $50 for the extra battery (the other will be with the drone).
Now there’s a few areas where they are equal:
Both models are safe for beginners and highly recommended for starter fliers. They both have flight features which protect the flier and the drone from common scenarios where it may crash such as safety sensors, and both models have 2, on the front and bottom of the model.
2) Both are portable.
Yes I said the Spark is more portable earlier, but really, we’re comparing 2 models which both have great portability when the time comes to carry them.
3) Both carry the DJI trademark.
If you know anything about DJI, it’s that they release high quality products, particularly drones. As of right now, they own this industry.
Now let’s talk about pricing. It can get a bit complicated…
Cost efficiency is subjective here, so let me list some facts about the prices of these 2 models and let you decide which fits you better…
You can get JUST the Spark for about $500. However this severely limits your options of flight as this only gets you the drone itself. A bigger package is available where the cost rises to $700+ but gets you more stuff (remote control is a must) that I would recommend.
The Mavic is about $1,000 and that will get you the remote/drone and a battery. A combo package is only a few hundred more but will get you 3 batteries and a bunch of other perks which I would say are very cost effective.
Basically 2 batteries of the Spark ($50 each) = 1 battery on the Mavic ($89).
Despite having 3 batteries on my Spark, I find the flight time I get from my Mavic pretty much equals that so while on the front end, the Spark looks cheaper, when you examine the quality of the batteries and the drone, you will see that you get more out of the basic and combo package of the Mavic, at least that’s my conclusion.
Note: I downgraded the score of the Spark because it’s less reliable for the things I usually shoot for, but I did slightly reduce the score of the Mavic Pro as well. Current updated scores are as such:
- Spark: 55 out of 100 points.
- Mavic Pro: 85 out of 100 points.
The ones which score highest for me now are these 2 models:
- Phantom 4 Pro: 95 out of 100.
- Mavic 2 Pro: 92 out of 100.
- Autel Evo: 85 out of 100 (it is better than MP 1 in my opinion).
So in the end, which of these portable drones is for you?
I love both these models, but as I said in the beginning, the Mavic is my favorite (Now it’s the Mavic Air actually).
Here’s my personal opinion:
-If you’re into filming and love to get GREAT quality photos/videos and want a dependable flight that you can count on…get the Mavic.
-If this is your first time buying a drone, and you’re severely limited on funds, and don’t care too much about great camera quality, battery life (10 minutes is enough) and just want to explore the world of drones, you can’t really go wrong with the Spark, it’s a step lower than the Mavic, but it’s still high up on the drone quality scale.
However, there is a third and final point I want to make…
-In the pricing section of this comparison, I said that the $500 on it’s own option for the Spark is very limited. I will even go as far as to say I wouldn’t recommend it because that model is capable of so much more if you just get the remote and you WILL need an extra battery or two (due to the short battery life), so you may as well buy the combo package which is $700+.
But if you’re willing to get that, I’d really recommend you consider a few extra hundred and get the Mavic. There is absolutely a noticeable difference between the 2 models and you’ll be happy you got the higher tier MP.
Obviously, if you can afford both, get both 🙂
Update! With the release of the new Mavic Air, how do these 2 drones stand against it?
I’ve done a thorough review of the Mavic Air here.
- It’s basically an in between drone in all aspects between the Mavic and Spark.
- It shoots better than the Spark, but as well as the Mavic,
- It’s tinier than the Mavic, but SLIGHLTY larger than the Spark.
- It also has a decent, in between price range.
- So now you at least have a few choices.
Also note: If you want to go with the Mavic, there’s 2 more choices:
With the Pro, I would now (in late 2018) advise you get an Autel Evo for these reasons.
Also consider the fact that the Mavic Pro 2 came out and is without a doubt superior to any of these choices here. The downside though it that it’s WAY more expensive than any of the models mentioned here.