DJI recently launched their latest iteration of Mavic line-up. The newest member of Mavic family is called the Mavic Air. It is by far the most refined and intricate consumer level drone DJI has made. It’s folding mechanism is something that surprised us the most. The front legs extend like Mavic Pro but the rear legs actually hinge beneath the surface and then opens up. Thanks to this folding mechanism, Mavic Air becomes the most portable drone from DJI’s entire line-up . Portability is not only limited to the drone, but it carries on to Mavic Air’s controller as well. DJI has done that by including detachable joysticks. They can be taken out and placed securely under the controller. All these attributes make DJI Mavic Air a great drone for travelers. But is it really the best drone under $1000? Let’s dive in to see!


Inside the DJI Mavic Air Combo Package

  1. DJI Mavic Air
  2. Remote Controller with up to 4 km signal range
  3. 3 Batteries (2375 MAh)
  4. Propeller guards
  5. 2 sets of propellers (1 set for each side)
  6. 4-Slot battery charging dock (it only charges 1 Battery at a time L)
  7. USB-C charging cable
  8. Remote controller connecting cables (Micro-USB to Lightning, USB-C & Micro-USB)
  9. DJI branded carrying bag for controller and its accessories
  10. DJI branded case for carrying Mavic Air

Flying Experience of DJI Mavic Air

There are a couple of ways of flying Mavic Air, the first one is to control it using hand gestures. Although it looks nice but it could be a hassle to master the art of making accurate gestures. Hence, the better way is to fly it via remote controller. The process is fairly simple. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Turn on your controller
  2. Turn on Mavic Air
  3. Connect your Android or iOS device to the controller using the suitable connector
  4. Open DJI Go 4 app and Enter Live View

Thanks to the hard-wired connection, there is no noticeable lag in the live video feed. DJI claims that Mavic Air is capable of flying at a distance of up-to 4 KMs. During our test flights, we managed to fly it about 2 KMs away without any problem, however, we had to call it back due to low battery levels.


DJI Mavic Air’s Quick Shot Mode & More 

DJI Mavic Air supports a bunch of Quick Shots. Although most of them are available on DJI Spark as well but Mavic Air has got couple of exclusive quick shots, listed below:

  1. Asteroid: Adds drama to your world by first flying backwards from the subject and then coupling the captured video with a spherical photo. Pretty cool actually!
  2. Boomerang: Circles the subject to depict its surroundings in a cinematic way.

Needless to say, All these Quick Shots work great and offer some amazing effects. They are extremely easy to use as the user just needs to select the target and then choose their desired quick shot. Mavic Air takes care of rest of the stuff. There is even a progress meter on the right-side of the screen, which depicts the completion level of every quick shot. Overall, DJI’s companion app works great with Mavic Air!


Battery Life of DJI Mavic Air

There are a number of important factors to consider before determining the battery performance. The most important ones are:

  1. Wind Speed
  2. Temperature
  3. Extra weight (from accessories like propeller guards etc.)

In moderate wind of 15-20 Km/h, Mavic Air managed to maintain it’s stability without any issue and the battery life wasn’t effected much either. However, we flew Mavic Air at 43 degrees Celsius, and its internal fans were constantly on. DJI Mavic Air provided a battery time of 18 minutes with these conditions.

During our second flight, we also mounted propeller guards to see if they make any difference. To our surprise, the battery time remained the same as before. This was definitely not the case with DJI Spark, as its battery drained about a minute faster with propeller guards on!


Gimbal & Camera Quality of DJI Mavic Air

Dji Mavic Air is equipped with a 12 MP f/2.8 camera which is capable of recording 4K footage at 30 FPS. What’s more impressive is that it records this footage at 100Mbps, which is even better than Mavic Pro’s 60Mbps. Although it does not make a huge difference in quality but it’s the little details like these that collectively makes a difference.

As far as its stabilization is concerned, Mavic Air has a class leading, 3-axis gimbal which delivers a buttery smooth footage. There is no jitter while panning or tilting the camera and its overall performance is top-notch!


Is DJI Mavic Air the perfect drone?

Absolutely Not. Although it is a result of DJI’s evolution and extensive R&D but it still isn’t perfect. Here’s the list of things that needs to be improved.

  1. Charging dock only charges one battery at a time. It automatically detects the amount of juice left in each battery and only charges the one with the greatest level of battery percentage. It is a practical solution but far from ideal.
  2. You cannot charge Mavic Air by plugging it directly using it’s USB-C Port. It is only there for data transfer.
  3. It is extremely difficult to take the Micro-SD card out of its port. It resides pretty deep inside it’s shell and takes some serious effort and time to get it out!
  4. APAS (Advance Pilot Assistance System) is not accurate enough. It more of a hit and miss especially near tree branches.
  5. Although DJI was generous enough to provide a USB-C port on Mavic Air but for some reason they put a Micro-USB port on its controller. Means you have to carry 2 cables with your Mavic Air. Not cool!

Verdict

Mavic Air is by far DJI’s most refined consumer level drone under $1000. From its design to performance, everything is made to deliver a great user experience. DJI has certainly addressed most issues that their previous drones were criticized for. For instance, many Mavic Pro users had issues with its exposed gimbal, however, in Mavic Air, DJI has provided a very secure housing for its gimbal. Apart from its great design, Mavic Air also performs exceptionally well for its size. It’s not only safer to fly with its advance obstacle avoidance capabilities but also records a great quality footage!

Rating: ★★★★★ Highly Recommended



Recently YTD got hands on the DJI Spark Combo package. The combo package comes with a lot of extra goodies at a $200 premium over the simple Spark. First thing we noticed was the absolutely minimal footprint of Spark. If you think Mavic Pro was small, then you need to check out the Spark in person. The weight and dimensions of Spark makes it a perfect go-to drone for beginners. Despite its tiny foot print, it packs a lot of tech and sensors. From tracking movements to avoiding obstacles, it has covered all the latest features. After spending a month with the device and testing it both indoors and outdoors, we noticed a number of impressive and not-so-impressive things about this little drone.


Inside the DJI Spark Combo Package

  1. DJI Spark
  2. Remote Controller with up to 2 km signal range
  3. 2 Batteries (1480 mAh)
  4. Propeller guards
  5. 2 sets of propellers
  6. 3-Slot battery charging dock
  7. Micro-USB charging cable
  8. Battery charger adapter
  9. DJI branded carrying bag for controller and its accessories
  10. DJI branded Styrofoam case for the Spark, Propellers and 2 extra batteries

Flying Experience of Spark

There are a number of ways to fly the Spark. Since the basic Spark does not come up with the remote controller, therefore, it can be launched right from your palm and controlled through hand gestures. Although it sounds awesome but it’s more of a hassle to fly it with hand gestures. Another way of controlling spark is through DJI GO 4 app on an iOS or Android device. However, the flying distance would be limited to 100 meters and height to 50 meters. In order to take full advantage of Spark’s capabilities and to experience a more stable signal quality, Your Tech Dose highly recommends getting the Spark controller. It not only extends its range up to 2 KM but also ensures a steady signal. Not to mention, having a physical controller is much more intuitive than using virtual joysticks on the DJI GO 4 app.


Using DJI Spark indoors

Although Spark is not marketed as an indoor drone, but in our indoor flights, it performed surprisingly well. Most of the times it was getting between 10-13 GPS signals under the roof, and its stability was hardly compromised while flying without GPS (Atti Mode). Thanks to its advance sensors and obstacle avoidance features, DJI Spark exceeded all our expectations in the indoor flights. However, it is highly recommended to use propeller guards and maintain a safe distance from the device while flying indoors.


Battery Life of Spark

There are a number of factors that influence the battery performance of Spark. While flying outdoors, it is important to keep a check on wind speed and heat levels. From our experience, in moderate wind speed of 15-20 Km/h, Spark did a pretty good job of maintaining its position and capturing stable footage. However, it resulted in a battery loss of about 60 to 80 seconds. As far as the heat levels go, Spark provided the best battery time around dusk (25 Degrees Celsius) when it wasn’t as hot as mid-day (35 Degrees Celsius). Lastly, using propeller guards also reduced the flying time by 60-70 seconds.

On average, DJI Spark gave a flying time of 13 minutes on a single charge. 2 new batteries were used to test the above mentioned flying time.


Gimbal & Camera Quality of the DJI Spark

The camera of Spark is more of a mixed bag. DJI makes a lot of consumer drones with 3-axis gimbal for stabilization, however, due to the minimal size of the DJI Spark, they could only fit 2-axis gimbal. It performs pretty well most of the times, however, there have been a few instances, where a significant jerk was felt while panning it from one side to the other.

Furthermore, Spark has the 1/2.3” CMOS image sensor capable of taking 12MP stills, and the video resolution of up to 1080P at 30 FPS. It would have been much appreciated if DJI would have managed to provide 60 FPS video.

By today’s standards, the video quality is just average, however, one thing that Spark really excels at, is its remarkable image quality. The 4K sensor certainly provides a much crispier photo with a nice level of photo saturation.


Verdict on Spark’s performance

Spark offers a lot of amazing features in a small package. Although the video quality is not as good as some other drones, however, the portability and overall user experience makes it the best drone in its price.


 


Not long ago, a Hong Kong based company DJI, made a lot of hype with their “flying toys”. Back in 2013 around the time when the DJI’s first iteration of Phantom lineup was launched, many people considered it a toy. However, with the passage of time, they started realizing the endless possibilities of this drone. Subsequently, with more awareness and demand, many other players also started offering quadcopters. The demand for drones saw a huge jump when DJI started providing camera gimbals in their model lineup. It gave a whole new perspective to the drone user. DJI added their own camera system with a 3-axis gimbal for enhanced stability during flight. It wasn’t long after that, they introduced their cheapest iteration of Phantom series with built-in camera, called the Phantom 3 (P3) Standard.

The Phantom 3 lineup had three different models with the P3 Standard being the entry level one.


Specs of DJI Phantom 3 Standard

  • 2.7K & 1080P Video Recording at 30 FPS
  • 2.4GHz Wireless Connection
  • 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilization
  • Up to 25 Minutes of Flight Time on a Single Charge

The primary differences between the P3 Standard and its Bigger siblings included a better camera with 4K recording, greater flight range and a stable signal with a few extra positioning sensors. However, these improvements come at a steep price. Currently, the P3 Standard is available for under $450 on Amazon. Whereas the P3 Professional costs well over $700. Similarly, the latest DJI Phantom 4 will set you back around $850. Hence, for beginners the safest choice in terms of price is definitely the P3 Standard.


How Easy is it to Fly the DJI Phantom 3 Standard?

As per our experience, it takes about 5 minutes to set everything up for flight. The set of pre-flight checklist includes:

  • Checking the Battery Levels of Drone, Controller and Phone.
  • Calibrating the Remote and the Drone.
  • Checking the GPS Signal Strength and Location.

There is a DJI GO app for Android and iOS devices, which makes the flying experience very convenient. The Take-Off and Landing can be done with a few taps in the app. Furthermore, the First-Person Video (FPV) is also transmitted to the user via the DJI GO app. However, one consistent problem with the P3 Standard is the lack of signal stability. We have extensively tested the drone in multiple environments, and the Live View was getting stuck quite consistently. Hence, it is highly recommended not to break the line of sight during strong interference. However, the drone is capable of automatically returning back to its take off position in emergency situations like low battery levels or loss of signals.


Verdict on the DJI Phantom 3 Standard

Having tested the P3 Standard for over a month, it is safe to say that it is one of the best value-for-money drones in the market. However, if you are looking for something to travel with, then it is highly recommended to consider DJI’s portable line of drones like the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) and DJI Spark ($500). In essence, it all depends on the preferences, however, in case of overall value, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard certainly provides a lot of Bang for its Buck!