DJI Mavic Air Drone Review: A Compact, Powerful Eye In The Sky

DJI Mavic Air - Build Quality And GO4 App

The Mavic Air has a completely redesigned body versus the earlier Mavic Pro and DJI Spark. The body features four folding arms (leveraged from the Mavic Pro design), and a smaller wingspan like that of the Spark.

bottom DJI Mavic Air

The intelligent flight battery easily unclips from the underbody using two small slides, and the supplied gimbal cover protects the 3 axis gimbal from damage while traveling. Speaking of which, carrying the drone in any backpack or camera bag is a breeze as the Mavic Air folds to approximately 6.6x3.3x2 inches, which fits into most DSLR carrying compartments.

bottom battery DJI Mavic Air

The supplied controller is absolutely fantastic in our humble opinion. The folding design allows for easy pocket storage, and the removable joysticks give users the ability to hover their drone in place while keeping the controller in a bag or pocket.

DJI Mavic Air Gimbal

One feature hope to see in future DJI controllers is some form of mount or adapter that would all for the use of smaller tablets as the controller displays. The Parrot Bebop (while in a different class altogether), incorporated this feature and it proved to be extremely useful when a small phone display did not offer enough screen real estate.

controller DJI Mavic Air

Unfortunately, DJI opted to “downgrade” the controller supplied with the Mavic Air by removing the small display initially seen in the Mavic Pro. Like previously mentioned, the Air’s controller does its job very well, but the lack of dedicated display in the newer controller means that there is more on-device information displayed while flying the Air.

DJI GO 4 App

As a novice drone pilot, it helped knowing that DJI had put loads of redundant aircraft protection features in the Mavic Air. Using the DJI GO 4 app was a satisfying experience, which left little to be desired, especially when used in conjunction with a quality mobile device like the Google Pixel 2. Upon initial impressions, the app can seem a bit “busy”, with multiple flashing displays and a handful of pre-flight notifications popping up on screen. I found that following a quick skim through the user's manual, the GO4 app was actually quite user friendly, and provided the necessary flight information to feel comfortable flying great distances. Exploring through the in-app user settings provided countless customizable flight and camera options, in addition to real time outputs from the aircraft sensors.

DJI Mavic Air Controller

Without having to mess with any settings, the DJI app automatically records the GPS location of the user's home point prior to taking off. When testing in the field, we found that the actual RTU functions implemented in the app worked flawlessly. The specific safeguards become necessary when flying in locations with objects that may obstruct the aircraft's connection, or airspaces heavily littered with interfering signals. Luckily, while testing we did not need to use any of these functions due to in-flight emergencies, yet we found it important to test just how reliable the return to home functions were.

When flying in an interference free zone, the app provides clear and smooth video transmissions from the drone's on board camera. For the most part, it felt just as comfortable using the mobile device to fly the drone, as it did flying the aircraft while it was right in front of us. With that being said the app does get spotty at times while flying in places with large amounts of interference, a problem seen in almost all consumer drones. The resulting video choppiness can be somewhat minimized by using a wired connection between the mobile device and controller, however.

remote controller view mavic air drone

The camera and video settings found within the app were designed for two types of users. Those who simply wants to stick to the “auto” setting, and those interested in capturing media more suitable for post processing. In both cases, I found the Mavic Air to perform well. When capturing video using the automatic settings, the video was clear and the white balance was within an acceptable range. When taking stills, using the multi-shot function, and shooting in RAW, I was able to capture multiple images which were easily stitched together in Photoshop. In both cases, the DJI app allowed for the proper manipulation of settings for all types of users to get some seriously impressive footage.

Tags:  drone, dji, mavic air

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