Around a year ago, I jumped on the drone bandwagon, purchasing a DJI Phantom 3 drone for my travels. Although it was a big drone, and not the most ideal or obvious choice for travelling, it was good nonetheless. But, the longer I had it, the less I used it, and the more of a pain it became to travel around with. Mainly down to the size of it. So I decided to part ways with it and traded it in for a lighter, smaller model. Welcome DJI Mavic Air.
The DJI Mavic Air is a fairly new model to the range. A similar look to the Mavic Pro, in terms that it is also a small, foldable drone, shoots 4K resolution and has a 12 megapixel camera. The only difference is, is that it has a lower price tag than the Mavic Pro. Not too sure why DJI did this, as many people have described it as just being a cheaper Pro. Some even claiming it to be better in some ways. So of course, it was the obvious choice for me to upgrade to.
I’ve had this drone around a month now, and taken it out in different conditions to see what it’s capable of. So was it worth the upgrade? Would I recommend it?
- Small, Foldable & Lightweight – Unlike the Phantom 3, the Mavic Air folds up into a tiny, lightweight drone. Therefore making it a much better travelling companion. Because it is so small, I can easily carry it in any bag, whereas the Phantom 3, I had to carry it around in my Manfrotto D1 DJI backpack, which was specially made for it. The Manfrotto backpack wasn’t the smallest of bags, especially when on public transport. So the Mavic Air is a definite winner in this department.
- Control – The Mavic Air has built in sensors, so I can actually control it with hand gestures. As well as through my phone via the DJI app, and the small foldaway controller. The sensors also allow the drone to be aware of obstacles, so it’ll automatically move around the obstacle, and keep flying to avoid crashes. Which is always a good thing when you have £700 flying in the air!
- 4K Footage – The video footage was pretty good on my Phantom 3, but now I’ve been using a Mavic Air, this one is way better. One thing I didn’t like about the Phantom 3 was how poor the picture quality was, compared to video quality. But the Mavic Air has come on leaps and bounds, and like with the Mavic Pro, you can get some pretty decent pictures out of it, as well as video footage.
- Ease of use – The controller for the Mavic Air is so much easier to use than it was for the Phantom 3. I had to use my phone with the Phantom 3 a lot, as well as the controller, such as swapping from video feed to picture. So sometimes is got a little confusing and a bit of a faff to fly. But with the Mavic Air, you just have to tap a button on your controller, which believe me, is so much easier!
- Sturdy – One of my main worries when I purchased the Mavic Air, is that it’s a lot smaller than my Phantom. Therefore, I was worried how it would hold up in wind. It was quite a windy day down in Cornwall last week on the beach, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to test it. Despite the warning message coming on my screen that it was too windy, the little drone was holding up quite well for itself. It wasn’t swaying too much to the side by itself and despite it struggling to stay upright, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the footage I took. It was sturdy as anything.
- Battery Life – Battery life on drones aren’t the best, but on average this gets me around 20 minutes on a full battery, which actually isn’t too bad. The Phantom got me around the same, so there was no real gain here from swapping. Although, the controller has much longer battery life than Phantoms. The Mavic Pro supposedly gets nearly half hour battery life, which as far as I’ve researched into it, is the only strength it has above the Mavic Air. To me the extra £200, which is how much more the Mavic Pro would have cost me, wasn’t worth the extra 10 minutes battery life. It is advisable to get more than one spare battery, especially if you plan on doing quite a bit of footage, which is why I advise getting the fly more combo package.
- Set Up – The first time I took out the Mavic Air, I sat there for about 2 hours playing around with it until I eventually got it up in the air. The drone wouldn’t connect to my phone, then the controller wouldn’t and vice versa. I also had to swap the wires around on the controller, because you have to connect your phone to the controller with the Mavic Air. It isn’t connected wirelessly, like with the Phantom. The controller comes with an Iphone connection, so you have to swap it to an Android connection, if you have an Android phone like me. This does come in the box, you don’t have to pay extra for it. But it is a faff when you first set it up. So if you’re expecting to just take it and fly, don’t. My Phantom was up and flying within 10 minutes the first time, so in comparison, the Mavic Air is a bit of a pain at first.
Other than that, I’ve not found any other cons with the Mavic Air. Which is always a good thing when you’ve just spent that amount of money on it! It definitely is an upgrade from the Phantom, one which I’m very pleased with. I already can tell I’m going to use this a lot more than my Phantom, just purely down to how much easier it is to carry around. I do advise purchasing the Fly More Combo. You get a carry case for the drone, as well as spare batteries and propeller guards, which are super handy if you’re new to drone flying, or a little nervous. Overall, I would recommend the Mavic Air. Especially to fellow travellers, or serious photographers/videographers that are potentially wanting a business from their drone. If you’re wanting a decent drone to start droning with, but not wanting to spend the money, and not travelling around too much, then I recommend the Phantom 3 as a better option for you.
Here’s a few examples that I’ve took with the Mavic Air. Some video footage will be up on my YouTube channel in the next few weeks.
Check out what I’ve been up to with my drone down in Cornwall these past few weeks on my instagram page @_thelittlemermeg