DJI Mavic Air

Last updated date: July 9, 2019

DWYM Score
8.8

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We looked at the top 1 Drones and dug through the reviews from 9 of the most popular review sites including BestReviews, Trusted Reviews, Tom's Guide, CNET, Digital Trends, Wired, PC Magazine, The Verge, Tech Gear Lab and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Drone you should buy.

Overall Take

The DJI Mavic Air is a great drone for pilots who want 4K-resolution video in a portable format. You'll be able to capture high-quality photos and video and easily share them on social media. The app gives you all the control you need to adjust the camera as you're flying, and you'll average 15 to 18 minutes of flying time before you'll need to charge the battery. In our analysis of 92 expert reviews, the DJI DJI Mavic Air placed 2nd when we looked at the top 11 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note August 1, 2019:
Checkout The Best Drone for a detailed review of all the top drones.

Expert Summarized Score
8.5
9 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
272 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Deliver 4K images and its speedy, it can fly to 42 mph. Portable and easy to fly and control.
- BestReviews
Drones easily slip into a backpack and shoot comparable video and stills, but the Mavic Air’s trump card is its obstacle avoidance, which is something the Parrot Anafi lacks. This is a really useful safety net for novice flyers and for shooting quick, set piece scenes.
- Trusted Reviews
August 3, 2018 | Full review
The Mavic Air was an incredibly easy drone to fly. It hovers well in all but very strong wind gusts (the app will warn you if it's too windy) and zips around effortlessly.
- Tom's Guide
March 9, 2018 | Full review
The DJI Mavic Air's folding design makes it great for travel while its 4K-resolution camera and three-axis gimbal capture nice-looking photos and video. Automated shooting options and obstacle avoidance make it easy to get good results fast.
- CNET
The Mavic Air also sports a 4K camera capable of shooting UHD video and 12 megapixel stills.
- Digital Trends
The Mavic Air footage, however, looks great without you really having to do anything. It has a slightly wider angle lens (24mm versus the Pro's 28mm) which is better for capturing sweeping landscapes. You don't have to tap to focus. And oh yeah, it shoots 4K video at 100Mbps
- Wired
The Mavic Air is DJI's smallest, most portable drone, and is just as full-featured as its larger siblings.
- PC Magazine
The thumbsticks are now removable and can be stored under the arms that hold your phone. This makes it much easier to stow the remote in the Air’s included bag.
- The Verge
January 31, 2018 | Full review
The Air has a much better camera and takes up the same amount of space in a bag. The Air will not disappoint if you're looking for something that can be tossed into a backpack and carried to even the most remote locations.
- Tech Gear Lab
March 13, 2018 | Full review
What experts didn't like
Flight times per change could be longer.
- BestReviews
Annoyingly, though, going between the two control methods required re-linking the drone to the remote control, which makes it far less convenient for when you want to go back to more nuanced controls.
- Trusted Reviews
August 3, 2018 | Full review
Through the DJI app, you get pretty granular controls over the camera, letting you adjust exposure, shutter speed and more. However, it became a bit annoying to dig through menus to find things such as the panorama or spherical mode for the camera.
- Tom's Guide
March 9, 2018 | Full review
Flight time is typically between 15 to 18 minutes, so expect to buy extra batteries. Piloting by app can be frustrating, especially on smaller screens. Obstacle avoidance doesn't cover you from the sides or top.
- CNET
Touchy camera controls, unless you’re in Cinematic mode
- Digital Trends
despite only being 20 yards away from me, the drone lost radio contact and attempted to land itself at the point where the flight started
- Wired
Doesn't support USB charging. No 4K DCI video.
- PC Magazine
Sadly, it’s not quite up to snuff for demanding droneographers
- The Verge
January 31, 2018 | Full review
Expensive and relatively short battery life.
- Tech Gear Lab
March 13, 2018 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

32.0MP sphere panoramas - In addition to horizontal, vertical, and 180° panoramas, Mavic Air stitches 25 photos together in just eight seconds to create crystal clear 32.0MP sphere panoramas. Lightweight and compact foldable design - You can take it anywhere with you. Supports 4K video at 30 fps - The 12.0MP camera with Adobe DNG RAW support is ready to shoot. The three-axis gimbal is capable of stabilizing the camera even during high-speed motion for smooth video and sharp photos. Control your drone from up to 6562' away - The Mavic Air Intelligent Flight lithium battery provides up to 21 minutes of flight time per charge. Dedicated remote controller- Features a foldable, low-profile, ergonomic design to hold your smartphone for maximum convenience. The detachable control sticks store inside the remote controller to pack more comfortably on the go. Fly by phone - Set up tracking to shoot a friend, or head skywards for a quick flight using your smartphone instead of controller. Share with your friends - Shoot an incredible scene and edit it with just a few taps in the DJI GO editor, and share it instantly for everyone to see.

Overall Product Rankings

1. DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 9
2. DJI Mavic Air
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 9
3. DJI Spark
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 9
4. Parrot Mambo
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 6
5. Holy Stone Wi-Fi FPV Drone
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 4
6. DJI Mavic Pro
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 9
7. Yuneec Typhoon H Pro
Overall Score: 7.7
Expert Reviews: 6
8. UDI HD+
Overall Score: 7.7
Expert Reviews: 8
9. 3D Robotics Solo Quadcopter
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Parrot Bebop 2
Overall Score: 6.9
Expert Reviews: 9
11. GoPro Karma
Overall Score: 6.8
Expert Reviews: 7

An Overview On Drones

Though their development dates back to World War I, drones — also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles  — have become increasingly popular in recent years. These small gadgets fly through the air without an onboard pilot. Instead, they’re steered and controlled by a user from the ground, often with a remote control or a smartphone app.

Drones are useful for a number of tasks, including surveillance, security, aerial photography, surveying and recreation. More recently, police departments and emergency services personnel have been using them for an array of tasks, including during searches, rescue operations and natural disasters.

Many commercial businesses like Amazon, UPS and Domino’s are considering how to use drones for day-to-day operations like package delivery. Drones are also useful for crop management, building inspections and storm tracking.

The distance your drone can fly varies from model to model, depending largely on battery life and the reach of its on-board receiver from the remote controller or your smartphone. Although most drones will offer very little in terms of battery life, you can get more from some models than others. It’s also important to pay close attention to charging time since a quick charge can get your drone up and going faster.

In addition, some drones come pre-equipped with a camera, while others require the use of a gimbal to manually mount a camera. The gimbal setup often leads to a clearer picture or smoother video capture because the camera is a bit farther away from the vibrations caused by the rotors.

Photography has become a top selling point for drones. Professional photographers have found them invaluable for capturing those otherwise hard-to-get aerial shots. If you’re interested in shooting photos or video from the clouds, know this up front and look for a model that supports high-resolution photography and high-definition video.

Editing is also a consideration. Some apps are better than others at this, including filters and sharing capabilities. Whether you’re a photography hobbyist or not, being able to easily share the images you’ve shot across your social media sites may make some drones better choices than others.

Before you start shopping, it may help to set a budget. Drones can range in price from $100 to more than $1,000. While the higher-priced drones do offer advanced features, if you’re just looking to have a little fun, you may be fine with a more basic model.

DYWM Fun Fact

The Federal Aviation Administration is the government body responsible for regulating drones. According to the rules, you’ll need to register your done and be sure to keep it below 400 feet off the ground. You’re also not allowed to fly over stadiums, large groups, events or anywhere near emergencies (which seems like it should be a no-brainer!). Laws can vary from one jurisdiction to the next, so check before you start flying. In addition to legal concerns, there are also some privacy issues associated with drones. If you’re flying your camera-equipped drone over neighbors’ homes, for instance, you may find you get complaints, especially if they’re trying to enjoy some private time in their own back yard. You may even get into legal hot water if you’re posting photos and video of your neighbors online without their permission.

The Drone Buying Guide

  • Before purchasing a drone, consider your skill and commitment level. Some are labeled “ready to fly,” meaning they require very little or no special training to use. Others are designed for more advanced users.
  • Another factor to consider when it comes to drones is portability and design, especially if you’re short on storage space at home or plan on taking it with you on a trip and won’t have a lot of room. The DJI Mavic Air folds up, with the thumbsticks able to be stored under the arms that hold your phone. The DJI Spark, on the other hand, doesn’t fold easily but is so small and lightweight, it’s still fairly portable. The only issue is that the arms don’t fold into its body, so you may worry about breaking the rotors if you don’t transport it in its carrying case. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is even less portable, since the landing gear and camera are attached to the body, making it not collapsible.
  • Because drones operate using a battery, it’s important to consider battery life when making a purchasing decision. The majority of consumer drones have a battery life between 5 and 25 minutes. Many drone users recommend purchasing spare batteries and having them charged up before you start flying so you can easily swap out the extras. The DJ Mavic Air flies a little longer than usual without a charge, at 15 to 18 minutes. The DJI Spark has a shorter flying time between charges and, unfortunately, charging time takes a while, so be prepared to be patient.
  • The most popular type of drone among recreational users is a multirotor drone. A drone with three rotors is known as a tricopter, while a drone with four rotors (an extremely popular model) is called a quadcopter.
  • Other types of drones include fixed-wing drones and single rotor helicopters.
  • Depending on what you plan to use your new drone for, you’ll also want to consider the payload of various models. Some are equipped to carry heavier payloads than others. This may be an important factor if you’re considering using your drone for something like aerial photography or videography.
  • One of the biggest issues with drones is maneuverability. If it’s a windy day, you need a drone that isn’t going to be easily blown around. The DJI Mavic Air holds its own against all but the strongest wind gusts, while many other drones struggle even in the lightest breezes. Best of all, if it’s too windy, you’ll get a warning in the app.
  • If you’re new to drones, you may prefer the Holy Stone F181W. The joysticks aren’t quite as sensitive to sudden movements, so it’s a great model to help you learn to navigate. Another model to consider as a newbie is the DJI Spark, which has intelligent flight modes to help you gain confidence in avoiding obstacles. It will also return to home and land itself if you can’t.
  • For some, aerial photography is the primary reason for purchasing a drone. If photography is your goal, you’ll likely veer toward the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which shoots smooth 4K video. The DJI Mavic Air also excels in this area, offering 4K images and UHD-quality video. It also has a wider-angle lens that can more easily capture landscapes.
  • The DJI drones have gimbals, which hold the camera in place for a smoother shot. This is especially important if you plan to be capturing video during even moderately windy conditions.
  • As advanced as drones are, they do have their limitations. If you think you’ll feel the need to zip through the air, you may want to steer toward the DJI Mavic Air, which boasts speeds of up to 42 mph. But the DJ Phantom 4 Pro has a sport mode that lets you go fairly fast. You may find your drone a little harder to control at these speeds, though.
  • Unless you plan to just fly your drone in your living room, you’ll need a decent range for your drone-to-remote connection. DJI Spark includes an app that offers 720p live view on your smartphone or tablet, but that will only work for up to 109 yards. You can buy a separate remote control that will keep your video going at ranges of up to 1.24 miles.
  • As you’re flying your drone around, you’ll occasionally encounter obstacles like trees and telephone poles. Instead of relying solely on the app, with some drones you have the built-in safety of obstacle detection and avoidance. DJI’s drones excel in this area, with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro offering five-direction avoidance. The DJI Mavic Air has avoidance, but it doesn’t cover your drone from the sides or top. DJI Spark has Active Track mode, which automatically detects obstacles and tracks them. However, it’s not foolproof. In many instances you’ll find that drones are only able to see things in front of the drone.
  • Drone pilots rely heavily on the remote. The DJI Mavic Air gives you an app that you can use to adjust exposure, shutter speed and other factors. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro has an easy-to-use app, but if you want a touchscreen controller instead, it will be a $300 add on.
  • The DJI Spark offers gesture controls, which can make navigating easier. However, this feature can be bug-prone, with the app not always recognizing you.
  • If you’re planning to shoot video to share with friends, DJI’s app makes it easy to both edit and share the video you’ve just captured on social media. There are also built-in filters and templates to add that special touch.
  • Price may be one of the biggest differentiators among drones. At the high end of pricing is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which retails in the $1,000 range. The DJ Mavic Air is also quite pricey, at more than $700. You can get the DJ Spark for less than $500, though. The Holy Stone’s low price is another reason this model is good for beginners, since it ranges around $100.