The Mavic Air combines the best features of the Spark and the Mavic Pro

The Mavic Air combines the best features of the Spark and the Mavic Pro

DJI is ready to tighten its grip on the drone market with the new Mavic Air. Announced today at an event in New York City, the $799 Mavic Air slots right in between the company’s cheapest drone (the $399 Spark) and its most capable prosumer model (the $999 Mavic Pro). It goes on sale January 28th.

The Mavic Air is truly a blend of those two drones. From certain angles, especially from the top, it resembles a stockier Mavic Pro, while from others (the front) it looks an awful like the Spark. Like the Mavic Pro, the drone folds up for better portability. It folds up into a smaller footprint than the Spark, and it’s 41 percent lighter than the Pro.

 

The specs of the Mavic Air are much closer to those of the Pro, which should please consumers who thought the Spark was too underpowered to use for filming or photography. In some ways, it almost sounds better. The Mavic Air uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor that shoots 4K video at 24 or 30 frames per second, or 12-megapixel stills, all with a wide-angle 24mm f/2.8 lens. It tops out at 42.5 miles per hour, can withstand winds of up to 22 miles per hour, and has a 2.5-mile range (within visual line of sight), thanks to a new antenna design.

The 4K stabilized video records at 30 frames per second (fps) with a maximum bitrate of 100Mbps, making it the highest quality video out of any DJI consumer drone. Slow motion video is also a part of the Mavic Air, recording 1080p slow-motion video at 120fps.

There will be 8GB of internal storage, just in case you forget your much bigger microSD card. Everyone has been in that situation with a camera. The new remote control is more portable than ever in order to better fit in your pocket. With the DJI Mavic Air, everything is about being tucked away in a jacket.

Worrying about keeping up with your subject? ActiveTrack will let you tap on your phone screen to precisely follow a subject. QuickShot is meant to be the hassle-free way of capturing hassle clips at a fast clip. Smart Capture expands DJI’s gesture system on the new drone.

APAS Advance Pilot Assistance Systems will help you not only avoid obstacles, but circumnavigate them. DJI demonstrated pushing forward on the control stick and having the drone gain elevation over a small tree. The drone operator didn’t do anything but push forward, yet the drone didn’t run into the object or, like previous drones did, it didn’t stop in place. It’s a serious obstacle avoidance upgrade.

4K video makes the DJI Mavic Air superior to last year’s Spark, which topped out at a Full HD 1080p resolution. It’s the reason a lot of people said, “I’d get the Spark for its cheap price, but…” With high-bitrate 4K, that excuse isn’t as valid with the Mavic Air.

DJI looks to do more than just give us another small, foldable drone bumped up to 4K video, however. It’s going to blend the Spark and Mavic Pro features just enough to be the ‘best’ of drones for 2018.

The DJI Mavic Air price is $799 (£769, AU$1,299), the company announced at its official press conference. That’s a bit higher than everyone’s $699 estimate (and hopes). But the retail price includes the drone, battery, charger, remote controller, carrying case, two pairs of propeller guards and four pairs of propellers.