Rumors are out and about that DJI could release a Mavic 3 Classic to reach a lower price point. However, stripping down an already great drone just to get it into more hands limits what could be possible if DJI just made the Air lineup more competitive with the Mini 3 Pro.
The cheapest Mavic 3 comes in at $2,049 and packs a Micro 4/3 Hasselblad sensor and a 28x zoom camera in one drone. While yes, you have to throw in an extra $3,000 for the Mavic 3 Cine that offers Apple ProRes 422 and a 1 TB internal SSD. The standard Mavic 3 is a phenomenal drone and fits that high-end enthusiast to the professional market very well.
What makes the Mavic line of drones who they are? No compromises, packing everything DJI can into a manageable size drone that folds up into your backpack. The Mavic 3 Classic would break that first rule, making compromises. Yes, the 28x zoom on the Mavic 3 isn’t the most popular item on the drone, but for those that need it or know how to use it, boy, can it make some creative videos.
We all know that DJI will create a third installment to the Air lineup. What will it most likely be? A higher quality (maybe 5K?) camera with ActiveTrack and maybe APAS 5.0, and larger internal storage. Exactly what the Mavic 3 Classic would be, so why create two? DJI already has an issue with the Air 2S and Mini 3 Pro directly competing on specs, with the Mini 3 Pro winning due to its sub-250-gram package. So, DJI will end up with the same issue with the Mavic 3 Classic and Air 3 competing at a similar price point and most likely similar specs.
What is the price point DJI is chasing?
DJI is hitting four out of the five main price points on its consumer-side camera drones: The budget is less than $500 with the Mini SE and the more capable but still budget-friendly Mini 2; the more serious creator price point nears is or at $1,000 with the Mini 3 Pro and Air 2S; finally, the professional price point with the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine starts at about $2,000.
What are they missing? The enthusiast prosumer line somewhere between the Mini 3 Pro and Mavic 3, roughly $1,300 to $1,600. This was originally where the Air 2S fit in until the Mini 3 Pro was released. With the general increase we’ve seen from previous DJI products, it wasn’t a surprise to see the Mini 3 Pro come in at just under $1,000, and it won’t surprise me if the Air 3 comes in higher than the Air2S did. This $1,300 to $1,600 range is what I believe DJI will price the rumored Mavic 3 Classic or my hopeful Air 3.
Why is DJI releasing a cheaper Mavic versus the Air 3?
I’m sure DJI sees value in that enthusiast market and noticed that the Mini 3 Pro has practically killed off the demand for the Air 2S. I believe DJI wants to bring an Air 3 to the market, but no rumor has supported the fact they are near completion of developing one. So simplifying the Mavic 3 to take advantage of this void is an easier and cheaper short-term solution.
However, this will just add further confusion for future customers when both are released, asking which one they should get or which is better, with most likely no solid answer we can give. Maybe this will only be a short-term addition to reach the Air 3 release and, hopefully, only a onetime exception due to the current state of shipping and parts manufacturing.
Could the Mavic 3 Classic and Air 3 coexist?
I think that all depends on the price point these drones are released at. Some rumors point to the Mavic 3 Classic having a sticker price as low as $1,300, which I think would be too low to allow it and the future Air 3 to live harmoniously. Both would be great options for its market, dividing possible sales, with possibly the Mavic 3 winning out due to its better branding. Of course, everyone wants to have a Mavic 3, right?
Here is how I think these two drones could live side by side. First, DJI releases a more basic version of the Mavic 3 dubbed the “Classic” that gives you all the benefits of the micro 4/3 camera, ActiveTrack 5, and longer flight time (now slightly longer because of lighter weight). However, you lose out on the zoom camera and support of the ND filters. The sticker price for the Mavic 3 Classic is $1,599. Then, come 2023, DJI announces the replacement of the Air 2S, the rightfully named Air 3. Its camera sports a larger sensor, faster aperture or even a variable one, ActiveTrack 5, and a slight increase in flight time. Both can shoot 5.1K, but the Air 3 is limited to 30 fps and 8 GB of internal storage. (It would be nice if the Air 3 bumps that to 16 GB.) The Air 3 is priced at $1,349.
This isn’t based on any inside information but just my opinions of how the market is trending. It would lead to a scenario where both drones are viable options until a Mavic 3S or Mavic 4 is released in a few years. Although don’t expect this to be the case, many “in a perfect world” products never make it from the business side.
What would you rather have? A Mavic 3 that makes compromises or a solid, well-thought-out Air 3 that perfectly fills out DJI’s lineup?