DJI Mavic Air Review 2020: Is This Really The Best Drone EVER?

Published by transcendfpv on

TranscendFPV is a reader supported product and review site. Clicking on links to learn more, or buy products, may earn us money, and support our work. Learn more about the history of TranscendFPV and our passion on our About page.

If you’ve been searching for your next drone, you must’ve heard of DJI. The brand has established itself in the industry as one of the most popular names. Their Mavic Air is one of the newest in the consumer line of drones.

Throughout their time in the market, DJI has made many different drones for different needs. You’ll find beginner’s drones as well as those that are for professional use. While some of their drones are for playing around in your neighborhood, others are for taking quality pictures and lifting large camera rigs.

About DJI

The Chinese drone manufacturer is already the world’s leader in manufacturing and marketing aerial vehicles. In 2017, the brand came out with the Spark which was the first device people could control with hand gestures.

In 2018, they came out with the Mavic Air. It shoots in 4K and has a 3-axis gimbal for better stabilization. It’s by far their best quadcopter and one of the best-selling models on the market.

It’s a reliable brand which is always something you should look for when you’re investing money in a quadcopter. They’ve been around for ages, and that thing alone tells a lot about their quality and efficiency.

It’s a funny conversation in the drone community, that for most people it’s not about which DRONE they should get, it’s about which DJI drone they should choose. The company famously only competes with themselves, unless you’re looking for a racing drone, but that’s a different situation.

For people looking for an easy to use, safe, reliable drone to get cinematic footage or films or holidays/travels, DJI is the only option. It’s just a question of which one should you get, and I honestly think it HAS to be the DJI Mavic Air, but let’s get into the details first. 

The design

The first thing we noticed is how small this drone is. It’s smaller than Mavic Pro but bigger than the Spark. It’s Spark’s bigger brother mostly thanks to the 3-axis gimbal. It’s what allows camera pictures to be of great quality even when the drone flies in high speed and strong winds.

The front doesn’t only feature its camera, but location scanning cameras as well. There are two in the front, two in the back and two on the bottom. These detect the world around your drone and help it avoid obstacles.

It weighs only 460g which is quite little in the world of drones. It feels like an average tablet in your hands. Once it’s folded, it fits easily in your hand so carrying it around is effortless and straightforward. It’s small enough to carry in your bag which makes it one of the most convenient drones currently on the market.

When you think about what this little machine actually is, its size is rather impressive. More so, you’d need to have a particular case for most drones on the market, so it’s nice to have this compact quadcopter as an option.

Its controller is equally as compact. It folds down to such a small size it becomes tiny enough to fit in your pocket. Its joysticks slip into the body as the controller folds.

Even when it’s folded out, the controller is not bulky or heavy in any way. It’s comfortable to use and about the size of a standard console controller. It’s simple and easy to use even to beginners.

The drone comes in three colors that are Flame Red, Onyx Black, and Arctic White. The black version is seemingly most popular, though the other two also look attractive.

It’s protected by a compact case, but you should leave the gimbal protector on whenever you travel. This way, it’s unlikely you’ll damage the gimbal especially if you don’t use the protecting case.

Flight controls

We already mentioned that this drone comes with a compact controller. However, you can also fly it using just hand gestures.

The Mavic Air is accurate and follows hand gestures even when you’re a bit further away from the drone. At first glance, it might sound a bit gimmicky, but it actually works.

You don’t always have to grab the controller in order to take a video or a picture. More so, it even takes off and lands following your hand gesture so allowing you to leave the controller out of any of your selfies.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun to operate the drone this way. To take a picture, you have to show a V sign with your fingers. For videos, show a framing shape, and the drone will start to film. This one is a bit trickier to use although the picture control works perfectly.

The drone will also flash its lights as a confirmation that it took a picture or a video. Mavic Air has automated flying abilities. It moves around and tracks you as you move as well. It’s already well-known that DJI drones come with such abilities.

What’s new is that the Mavic Air can actually track more than just one person. This is ideal if you’re taking pictures or videos of people running, cycling or snowboarding together. However, make no mistakes about how this feature works. The drone won’t be able to follow two people that go in different directions.

The Mavic Air has seven cameras and infrared sensors that scan the world around it. Add its new FlightAutonomy 2.0 algorithms to it, and it’s no wonder this one can avoid all obstacles.

It flies safely, so you don’t have to worry about the device breaking. This kind of safety is something most people appreciate since it allows them to enjoy the experience rather than worry all the time.

One thing it lacks is a sensor to the side. The DJI didn’t include any side sensors so you should be careful when using some of the shooting modes. That being said, once you start flying the thing you’ll realise how easy it is to control and you don’t really notice NOT having the side sensors. For most of us, we don’t use the objet avoidance anyway unless we’re using active tracking, and even then it’s usually following from behind, or tracking from in front of you.

Camera qualities

Its main camera features a 1-2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Video is at 4K with 30FPS and a 100Mbps bit rate. It’s at 1080p with a 120FPS slow motion.

You can shoot some of your footage without an SD card because the drone sports 8GB of storage as it is. However, you’ll need an SD card for most things because anything done in 4K will chew through your storage memory.

The best thing about this camera is that you can do more than just take pictures. DJI has included some smart camera modes to have fun with. You can choose between horizontal, vertical and 180-degree images for panoramas. Tap to find and select the mode before the drone continues to take the pictures and stitch together the final product for you.

Sphere Panorama is an advanced version that makes 32-megapixel panoramas using 25 photos in just one minute. That’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider how long that would actually take you to edit yourself.

For videos, you can choose between Boomerang, Asteroid and several others. It’s an exciting addition that allows you to have even more fun than you normally would with a drone.

Other features

The Mavic Air has a range of 2.5 miles. Most people didn’t ever go that far with their drone. If you’re willing to test that out, make sure it’s somewhere you can fetch it from in case something goes wrong.

It’s a fast little device that goes as far as 22 mph or 42 mph in sport mode. We recommend you get yourself the DJI Goggles as those can enhance the experience to the maximum, BUT remember, it’s not an FPV racing drone.

When it’s charged, the drone can last about 21 minutes. This is pretty enough to make decent footage, but it all really depends on the overall flying conditions. It probably won’t last as long in windy weather. We recommend you bring some spare batteries with you for just in case.

The drone itself comes with a remote controller, battery, two pairs of propeller guards, carrying case, and four pairs of propellers.

The Mavic Air also comes in Fly More Combo that includes the drone, controller, three batteries, a travel bag, six pairs of propellers, two pairs of propeller guards, an adapter, and a charging hub.

Possible setbacks

The DJI Mavic Air is one of the best drones on the market along with the Spark. This quadcopter is highly popular as nobody expected less than perfection from the DJI. The brand is known for their overall quality, an eye for detail, and user-friendly products.

However, as with every unit, there must be some setbacks. One of the first things we noticed was how loud this little thing is. Though this isn’t necessarily a technical setback that could make your experience worse in any way, it’s still a noticeable factor.

In most cases, this shouldn’t bother you. Still, people will notice it if you choose to fly it at low heights. Also, all the colors it comes in are quite visible as well though some people don’t care about this as much.

Another setback is the fact that the remote controller doesn’t feature a display screen. Most people agree that it probably would be easier to use if it had a screen. However, if you use the app to connect it your phone, you won’t struggle with this setback.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new FlightAutonomy 2.0?

The FlightAutonomy 2.0 is a power sensor that consists of a primary gimbal camera, backward, forward, and downward dual-vision sensors, IMU redundancies, downward infrared sensor system and a group of computing cores.

These collect all the information from the environment and transmit it to the high-performance processor for impressive and accurate hovering. This allows an overall better performance.

The APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems) allows the drone to avoid obstacles in front of it as well as behind it. This makes the performance more enjoyable since you won’t have to always worry about hitting an obstacle and possibly breaking the device.

Does it work with smartphones?

If you have an Android or an iPhone, you can use the DJI GO 4 app. To get the most of the app, use an iPhone with IOS 9.0 or an Android with 4.4.0 version. Make sure to have enough storage on your phone if you want to use the drone this way. You’ll need it for the app itself and also for the cached videos coming from the drone.

If you opt for Fly More Combo, you’ll get USB C, mini USB, and a lighting port to connect your phone to the remote controller.

PRO TIP: I’ve always found that with and DJI drone, you get a much better signal and have more fun if you put your phone into flight mode. This maximises focus from the phones memory to using the Wifi and using the app. It means the phone doesn’t have to think about things like mobile data, location, background mobile data, and everything else. It just focuses all it’s assets on using the drone and picking up that video signal.

Why does the drone sometimes show an error?

If you use the DJI Mavic Air with the included propeller guards, you might see an error on your screen. The error message will indicate you’re flying with an extra payload, but it’s nothing to be worried about.

These won’t affect the way your drone performs, so it remains accurate and safe even after the message is shown. So far, it’s unknown why the message shows. The system detects the propeller guards as an extra payload for whatever reason. Nonetheless, the entire device works seamlessly.

What’s the Fly More Combo?

The Mavic Air comes in the basic kit and the Fly More Combo kit. The Fly More Combo is similar to the basic kit but with a few little additions. In this kit, you also get two more batteries, a charging hub, two more props, and a shoulder bag.

All of the additions are useful though most people appreciate the two batteries and the charging hub the most. The hub lets you charge four batteries at the time which is pretty convenient especially if you’re shooting quite often.

The kit itself is a bit more expensive than the basic combination. However, it’s all worth it if you consider the price of batteries, and all the parts included. The bag that comes in this combo is quite stylish and easy to use. It allows you to carry the drone on your shoulder with ease and in a stylish way.

I should say that it’s ALWAYS worth getting the fly more combo. It’s not THAT much more expensive but you get extra batteries and add ons which make flying a lot more fun. Don’t do what I did with the Spark and get the basic package, only to almost instantly realise I needed more batteries and add ons, and then have to buy them on their own, and spend more money. 

Is Mavic Air for beginners or professionals?

It rarely ever happens that one drone is suitable for both beginners and professionals (although professional film makers might prefer the Inspire. Interestingly, this is one of the most user-friendly drones on the market.

It’s easy to use, so it’s ideal for beginners that are only now learning to fly quadcopters. If you’re an aspiring photographer or videographer, this would be a great drone to learn on in different weather conditions.

However, its camera and the overall quality of performance make it just as suitable for professionals. This one makes some great footage, and it’s lots of fun to play with. For this reason, it’s a great addition to your collection if you’re a photographer and videographer.

As we’ve said, the Mavic Air fly more combo is the absolute best value for money you can get for this drone, and you’ll not regret it. 

If you want a deep-dive, video walkthrough of all that the Mavic Air has to offer, check out this free course by Pilot Institute.

Categories: Reviews