After months of speculation and leaks, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is out and official. The Mavic Air 2 takes on the Mavic 2’s design in a more compact package. And it impresses with a flight time of 34 minutes, 48 MP photos, and HDR capabilities.

The new DJI Mavic Air 2’s impressive feature set and fairly compact size slot it in between its big brother the Mavic 2 and smaller brother the Mavic Mini.

But the comparison to the Mavic 2 is most interesting. While positioned as the middle drone in the consumer line-up, the Mavic Air 2 actually beats the Mavic 2 in several respects. These include max flight time, and max frame rate for 4K videos (60 fps versus 30fps). Being a newer model, it also has new versions of DJI’s intelligent camera modes for tracking subjects.

These and other benefits keep the Mavic Air 2 from being simply a little sibling to the Mavic 2. In some respects, it may be the better drone. (All the more reason to expect a Mavic 3 model to debut soon.) But is it worth the extra money for a novice flyer, or is the Mavic Mini plenty for what you need?

Here we compare all three drones to help you decide which is best for you and your budget.

Design

All three drones share a similar design language, with the refined lines running the length of the body. They all feature the now-famous foldable design, with higher front arms and lower back arms. The Mavic Air comes in at 570g (1.3 pound) and is around 15% smaller than the Mavic 2 line of drones. It’s more than twice the weight of the nearly palm-sized Mavic Mini.

The Mavic Air 2 comes in a brand new gray color that seems to fit in well between the darker Mavic 2 Pro and much lighter Mavic Mini. DJI seems to use gray variants for each of the drones to help differentiate them, or they just can’t decide which gray is right for the Mavic line.

Camera

Mavic Air 2 is equipped with a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor capable of 12MP and 48MP photos (JPEG and RAW) compared to the 20MP shooter on the Mavic 2 Pro and 12MP camera on the Mavic Mini. As for video, the Mavic Air 2 can shoot up to 4K 60fps at 120 Mpbs — a 30 fps and 20 Mpbs bump up from the Mavic 2 Pro’s capabilities. The Mavic Mini is limited to 2.7K 30 fps at 40 Mbps and cannot take RAW photos. The Mavic Air 2 also can shoot HDR photos and videos, with 4K 30 fps being the max quality level supported. Much like the Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic Air 2 allows you to shoot in the H.265 HVEC video codec to improve efficiency without any loss in quality.

For some time now DJI drones have come with smart camera features, making it easier to capture high-quality content. This time around the Mavic Air 2 introduces two new smart features, Scene Recognition and Hyperlight.

  • Scene Recognition is capable of detecting, sunsets, blue skies, grass, snow, and trees, The image is then optimized to bring out the detail, tones, and colors in the image giving you the best result.
  • Hyperlight is similar to the flood of night modes entering the mobile-phone market. The drone takes multiple photos and merges them to reduce the amount of noise (graininess) that’s common in low-light images.

On top of the new features, the drone also comes equipped with upgraded versions of previous technology found in the Mavic 2 Pro, including Spotlight 2.0, Point of Interest 3.0, and most exciting, ActiveTrack 3.0.

  • Spotlight 2.0, originally found on the Inspire 2 drone, locks onto a target and keeps it in the frame while allowing you to have full control over the drone’s movement.
  • Point of Interest 3.0 allows you to set an automated flight path around an object. DJI claims that the surface recognition and dynamic tracking abilities have been improved in this version.
  • ActiveTrack 3.0 allows the drone to autonomously follow a subject using 3D mapping technology. New pathfinding algorithms predict the subject’s future movements to better position the drone and camera, including continuing to fly normally even if the subject is out of the shot for a moment.

The Mavic Air 2 includes the same standard QuickShots also present in the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic Mini. These are pre-programmed done maneuvers to capture special video effects. They include Rocket, Circle, Dronie, Helix, Boomerang, and Asteroid.

Flight time

The Mavic Air 2 is equipped with a 3500 mAh battery, giving it a maximum flight time of 34 minutes, while the Mavic 2 Pro’s 3850 mAh battery gets it a maximum of 31 minutes. The DJI Mavic Mini has a 2400 mAh battery, which gives it a maximum of 30 minutes. All the drones have impressive flight times for their size and weight. Knowing that the Mavic Air 2 and Mavic Mini both have flight times around the 30-minute mark, makes us optimistic that an eventual Mavic 3 model will get a further boost.

Transmission system

The new Mavic Air 2 uses DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 technology, just like the Mavic 2 series does. The improved version in the Mavic Air 2 allows its to have a maximum control range of 10km (6.2 miles), while the Mavic 2 and Mavic Mini have maximum control distances of 8km (5 miles) and 4km (2.5 miles), respectively. The Mavic Mini uses DJI’s enhanced Wi-Fi technology, making it fall behind the others substantially in performance.

OcuSync 2.0 enables 1080p video signal broadcasts from the drone to the controller, and  video downloads at 40 Mbps. The latency is 130ms for videos and only 5ms for controller commands. OcuSync 2.0 also allows two controllers to be used together, along with multiple DJI goggles to be used at the same time.

Companion app

The DJI Mavic Air 2 uses the DJI Fly app, which was launched back with the Mavic Mini. While many features from DJI’s GO 4 app (for the Mavic 2) are missing in the Fly app, you will be able to have better manual control over the drone, according to DJI. This includes manual exposure in video and manual white balance. Using DJI’s AirSense technology, the DJI Fly app will also be where you will be notified of other aircraft flying nearby. (The Mavic Air 2 is the first consumer DJI drone to feature AirSense, which receives ADS-B signals from helicopters and airplanes.)

Overall comparison

The Mavic Air 2 is going to make a splash in the consumer and even prosumer drone markets, much like the Mavic Pro and Mavic 2 Pro did when they launched. The generous 34-minute flight time, combined with a 1/2-inch camera sensor capable of 4K 60 fps at 120 Mpbs will be a killer combination for all flyers. The inclusion of OcuSync 2.0, giving the Mavic Air 2 a transmission distance of 10km, helps to make it one of the most powerful consumer drones that you can buy — especially for just $799.

DJI Mavic Air 2 DJI Mavic Mini DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Price ($) $799 $399 $1,599
Max flight time 34 minutes 30 minutes 31 minutes
Camera Sensor 1/2″ CMOS 1/2.3″ CMOS 1″ CMOS
Photo modes 12MP & 48 MP 12 MP 20 MP
Photo format JPEG & DNG (RAW) JPEG JPEG & DNG (RAW)
Top video modes
  • 4K 60 fps
  • 1080p 240 fps
  • 1080p HDR 30 fps
  • 2.7K 30 fps
  • 1080p 60 fps
  • 4K 30 fps
  • 2.7K 60 fps
  • 1080p 120 fps
Video bitrate 120 Mbps 40 Mbps 100 Mbps
Video format
  • MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, H.265/HVEC)
  • MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264)
  • MP4/MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264,H.265/HVEC)
Internal storage 8 GB N/A 8 GB
Dimensions (unfolded) 183×253×77 mm

(7.2x10x3 inches)

160×202×55 mm

(6.3x8x2.2 inches)

322×242×84 mm

(12.7×9.5×3.3 inches)

Weight 570 g (1.3 lb.) 249 g (0.5 lb.) 907 g (2 lb.)
Transmission system OcuSync 2.0 Enhanced Wi-Fi OcuSync 2.0
Max range (w/ controller) 10 km (6.2 miles) 4 km (2.5 miles) 8 km (5 miles)
Battery 3500 mAh 2400 mAh 3850 mAh
Vision system Forward, backward & downward Downward Forward, backward, sideward, upward & downward
GPS GPS & GLONASS
ADS-B (AirSense) Yes N/A N/A

Photo: DJI

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