Last week DJI released a new firmware update for its flagship Mavic 3 drone to fix its crippling-slow GPS acquisition issue. Unfortunately, while the update fixed the problem for some, others still find it challenging to connect to enough GPS satellites. Here is what we know so far.
Some backstory first
DJI released the newest flagship consumer drone at the end of last year, just before the holiday rush. Some rumored that the release was rushed to meet that end-of-year demand as DJI moved the addition of several significant Mavic 3 features to early 2022 firmware updates.
Overall, reviews have stated the Mavic 3 is a formidable cine drone. Many early models were even praised for quick GPS connections; however, those who received later versions of the drone have been experiencing a terrible lag in acquiring a fixed position before taking off. Our review unit from DJI has worked flawlessly in acquiring GPS connections, but that’s not what others are saying. So here is what it looks like for us:
But for many, it looks like this:
This is a serious problem, and it is the opposite of what DJI initially promised would happen when the new drone was announced. Instead of getting set up and flying in seconds, some pilots have experienced wait times of over five minutes before connecting to enough satellites to get a home lock. Flying before you do this could result in losing your drone due to a fly-away, so it is not recommended to do this.
The first signs of this issue were noted in mid-December as Mavic 3s first began arriving to customers. DJI released firmware updates in December and January, neither of which fixed the GPS problem. At the beginning of this month, DJI told the media that it would release a new firmware update to fix this issue, which came last week.
New firmware but no fix, now what?
While some Mavic 3 owners have reported the new firmware fixed the GPS, many have taken to DJI’s forum and other sites to complain they are still experiencing the issue. Some theories have been proposed as to what is causing the bug. Unfortunately for now, we don’t have an answer yet.
We reached out to DJI for comment on Mavic 3’s continued laggy GPS, but the company could not give us one by the time of publishing. We will update this post if we receive one.
One reason passed around DJI’s forum is this is a hardware issue. DJI reportedly uses two different GPS chips from u-blox in the Mavic 3. A forum user stated that the memory on one of the chips was different and could not store the almanacs that state where GPS, GLONASS, or BeiDou satellites are. We can’t confirm these rumors, nor do some in the community believe them, but when DJI doesn’t state what the problem is, speculation always ensues.
The next possible reason is boring and annoying, but it is most likely the cause. The Mavic 3’s firmware could still have some issues with GPS connections. As a former software engineer, I can sympathize with DJI’s engineers. It could be anything, a minor bug or an overarching problem; it could have worked on all of DJI’s test hardware but not in every customer’s drones; or it can be location-specific – all of which are extremely difficult to fix.
What do we do about this? First, make your case known to DJI, whether through forum posts or support tickets. However, we will have to wait to hear from DJI about the next steps, another firmware update, or something else. Hopefully, we will receive an update from DJI soon.