The DJI Mavic Air might be one of the smallest drones in the Mavic family, but only because of necessity.
With its deceiving small stature, you’ll be jolted back to reality when you see its price, and you may well be scratching your head wondering what this pocket rocket has in store that would justify such an outlay (it’s usually at least $500 and that’s without a controller).
This would be the case if you didn’t know better, which will be addressed in this thorough DJI Mavic Air review.
Update May 2020: as the Mavic Air 2 has now been unveiled, we have a new and updated review of that product in this post: DJI Mavic Air 2 review.
|Weight||Unloaded: 430 grams|
|Size||Length: 168 mm|
Width: 184 mm
Height: 64 mm
|Speed||Max: 64.8 kph|
|Signal||Range: ~4 km|
Operating Frequency: 2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz
|Battery||Flight time: ~21 mins|
Capacity: 2375 mAh
|Recording||FPV: 1/2.3 in, 12-MP CMOS sensor, up to 4K resolution|
- DJI Mavic Air, Arctic White
- Supported USB Port Types- Lightning, Micro USB (Type-B), USB-C
DJI Mavic Air Features
GPS + GLONASS
The DJI Mavic Air gets a hold of its bearings with the advanced dual GPS and GLONASS module implementation. This crucial system is a big factor not only in providing stability and precise location marking for the drone, but for the utilization by its smart features as well.
This system makes the DJI Mavic Air super stable in flight and when hovering, thanks to over 24 satellites communicating with it and each other to provide real-time location and position data.
The dual-system implementation also means either of these modules can act as a backup in the event of a malfunction of its opposite, keeping your drone safe and sound while in flight.
The DJI Mavic Air has a beefed-up obstacle detection system, which is even better than that of the original Mavic.
While the Mavic has forward-oriented sensors for coverage and protection, the Mavic Air has forward and backward sensing capabilities to make it one of the best drones with obstacle avoidance that there is.
Collectively called the FlightAutnomy 2.0 feature, it consists of; the main drone camera; forward, backward and downward dual vision sensors; downward IR sensing system; dual IMUs; and a processor that works together to keep this quadcopter safe at all times.
Unlike some drones where their obstacle detection features only present a braking response, stopping when an obstacle is detected and will wait for you to correct its course, the DJI Mavic Air automatically reroutes its path for a more seamless flight experience. This is all thanks to the APAS, or Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems, bypassing obstacles with its intuitive decision-making algorithm smoothly.
Do keep in mind that this feature will be disabled in Sport mode, so be careful zipping around at max speeds.
The advanced ActiveTrack system improves this drone’s filming potential by a great margin, massively besting regular Follow Me drones‘ subject tracking. ActiveTrack allows you to individually select up to 16 subjects, which you can switch back and forth between to track them.
The DJI Mavic Air then tails your subject with precision, maintaining a constant speed and distance between them for consistent framing and pacing.
QuickShots is a great function to have when you want dramatic, montage-like shots without worrying about composition. The DJI Mavic Air has 6 preset automated shots, namely the Rocket, Dronie, Circle, Helix, Asteroid, and Boomerang, which are panning variations, some with panoramic advantages, and others for subject-oriented shots which will undoubtedly step your selfie video game up.
This is the DJI Mavic Air’s very own gesture-detection feature. Using simple hand gestures and signals will prompt the mini drone to do simple functions, like landing and take off, moving towards and away from you, follow you around, and even activate camera functions, like the peace sign invokes a photo capture, while making a frame shape with your forefingers and thumbs will initiate and stop video capture.
The DJI Mavic Air has a waypoint feature called TapFly.
Simply access it on the DJI Go 4 app, plot your desired location on the FPV or map, and go completely hands-free of the drone’s directional controls. This is very handy when you want to carefully plan and execute your shots, giving you complete rein on the camera perspective.
The DJI Mavic Air has a 2375 mAh battery that supplies about 21 minutes of flight time, which is impressive considering the battery size of this drone is more or less similar to that of the Spark’s, with the capacity of the Spark’s battery being 1000 mAh less. Makes you think what else DJI can do in terms of powering their future drones.
Furthermore, charging times are incredibly fast, clocking in at a maximum of about 50 minutes to completely charge the pack. Your drone is also protected in case of low battery levels, with the smart return to home function which is already a staple feature in DJI’s drones.
The DJI Mavic Air sports a 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor that is capable of up to 4K video recording capped at 30fps, which is great for cinematic shots or footage of panoramic sceneries, while its 1080p option can capture an amazing 120 fps rate, which is perfect for fast-paced, sports footages especially when converted to slow-mo renders.
Photo capture allows 12-MP pictures to be taken for maximum clarity and color reproduction. HDR spruces up the colors in these captures, but be wary of low-light conditions though, as your shots tend to get a washed-out ensemble without proper lighting.
Panoramas are a specialty of the DJI Mavic Air, giving you the option for horizontal, vertical, and 180° shots to engorge in the scenery, or the beefy 32-MP Sphere Panorama, which has the drone take 25 simultaneous shots of the scene, then stitches them together for a super-detailed and vibrant panoramic shot, which is kind of trippy when viewed with immersive VR headsets that are compatible with this UAV.
Furthermore, stability is taken care of with a 3-axis gimbal, so you won’t have to worry about wind conditions or the DJI Mavic Air’s motors disturbing your super-smooth shots.
Ease Of Use
The DJI Mavic Air has an ergonomic and compact remote controller that follows the standard dual joystick (which can be removed and tucked beneath the phone holder arms) configuration, with just 5 dedicated function buttons populating its face, making it a neat affair to gawk at.
The most attractive improvement in this remote design is its smaller size and foldable appendages, namely the antennae and the phone holder. It’s a bit awkward considering the phone is mounted at the bottom rather than the top, though.
The controller also lacks a basic telemetry LED screen, but that’s what your smartphone is for, which offers a more complete readout for real-time flight statistics.
Design and Build Quality
The DJI Mavic Air is the epitome of portability and function built into one neat package. While it is evidently bulkier than the Mavic Mini, the folding genes from the original Mavic make this drone a contender for an adventurer’s choice award.
Its body is well-built from durable plastic and other key materials, giving it excellent protection against crashes, though we doubt that to happen soon enough, given the sensor allocation of the craft.
The premium feel evoked by its symmetric quadcopter design is hard to resist, giving it an aerodynamic sleekness even when folded up. It even features futuristic but simple looking rear vents for maximum heat dissipation, which is badly needed due to the amount of processing power the DJI Mavic Air loads up.
Pairing the DJI Mavic Air with the controller is a seamless affair, getting you set up in a matter of minutes thanks to the walkthrough the DJI Go 4 app provides. Piloting the craft is easy and straightforward as well, though we do not think putting the drone in the hands of a beginner is a good idea, despite its crash-proof features.
The DJI Mavic Air is very stable as well, with its 430-gram heft aiding it in flights where moderate winds were blowing. This is also an important aspect when unlocking Sport Mode, where the drone darts by at 64 kph, making it an agile craft without compromising balance when needed. Do note that obstacle-detection is turned off in this mode, as well as when using intuitive functions, so plan your shooting area beforehand to maximize your drone’s battery life without endangering it as well.
The impressive 4 km range has the tiny craft ready for any kind of long-range recon or filming work, allowing you to access secluded areas that would otherwise be impossible to film on foot.
One thing to note, though, is that the DJI Mavic Air is a bit of a loudmouth, with its rotors creating an audible buzz when flying around lower altitudes.
DJI Mavic Air vs Mavic Pro vs Mavic 2 Pro
|Mavic Air||Mavic Pro||Mavic 2 Pro|
|Battery Life||21 mins||27 mins||31 mins|
|Camera||4K / 12MP||4K / 12MP||4K / 20MP|
|Check here||Most expensive. |
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While the DJI Mavic Air is no freebie by any means when it comes to price, all of it is justified by the feature-packed implementation and ingenious design of the craft.
In a tiny package, you get next-level cinematography capabilities, which is impressively complemented by its titanic stamina and flight performance. For those that care about aesthetics, it looks cool and is available in black, white and red, too.
The DJI Mavic Air is definitely one of the top drones to look out for if you’re serious in getting into film making and content creation, with a beefy camera unit and extensive smart functions that make chases or panoramic captures a breeze to work with. Furthermore, the seamless user experience it offers, from portability to control and app integration, makes this drone a viable contender for enthusiasts wanting to get a competent craft with an excellent price to performance ratio.
Aptly named the DJI Mavic Air, this drone’s affinity to its element is crystal clear from the getgo.
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