What's new and how does it compare

The Mavic Air is the first compact drone from DJI to introduce 4K video at 100 Mbps, a feature found on DJI's more expensive models like the Phantom 4 Pro and more recently the Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom. The overall performance of the stills and video has been greatly improved, especially when compared to the DJI Spark and the original Mavic Pro, neither of which offered 4K at such a high bitrate. Thanks to the foldable design of the Mavic Air's body and controller, the drone also takes up an amazingly small amount of space when packed for travel.

Key takeaways:

  • 4K/30p at 100 Mbps
  • Reduced footprint compared to the Mavic Pro
  • DNG Raw capture for stills
  • Forward and rear-facing APAS intelligent obstacle avoidance system
  • 8GB of internal storage for media recording

High-bitrate 4K video is one of the key features in the Mavic Air. Compared to the DJI Spark, which didn't offer 4K video, or the original Mavic Pro, which topped out at 60 Mbps, the 100 Mbps 4K video on the Mavic Air is a significant upgrade. This level of video quality would otherwise require an investment in the Phantom 4 Pro or the Mavic 2, both of which are larger and more expensive (and which also benefit from using a larger 1"-type sensor). Having the Mavic Air in your bag now means you can get image quality that rivals more expensive drones, while spending less money, with a smaller footprint, and featuring specs closer to DJI's more expensive models.

The Mavic Air allows you to get image quality that rivals more expensive drones, while spending less money, with a smaller footprint

The Mavic Air also offers a robust obstacle avoidance system, called Flight Autonomy 2.0. This three directional system uses the forward, downward, and rear sensors to create a 3D map in real time as you fly. Combined with DJI's Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS), the Mavic Air can detect and avoid obstacles in real time as you fly forwards or backwards. The obstacle avoidance does not apply to the sides of the aircraft, however.

The Mavic Air is the first of DJI's drones to offer 8GB of internal storage. Most drone pilots can probably relate to that moment you realize you forgot to put the microSD card back in your drone before an important shoot, so having a fallback internal storage that is always available is a big benefit. No more missing those important moments because of a forgotten card.

Priced at $799, the Mavic Air falls between the Spark and the Mavic Pro lineup from DJI. It offers superior 4K video to the Spark, which is limited to 1080p resolution, and even the Mavic Pro Platinum, which tops out at 60 Mbps. However, it falls short of the Mavic Pro in the signal transmission department. OcuSync is a much more robust signal transmission technology than Wi-Fi, and that is one of the big disadvantages of the Mavic Air compared to the rest of the Mavic lineup.

The Mavic Air wins when it comes to size and portability, with the smallest footprint of all comparable drones from DJI, making it a compelling option for those who want a good balance of price to performance, and those who don't have the need to fly with a longer-range signal transmission.

Mavic Air DJI Spark Mavic Pro Platinum Mavic 2 Pro
MSRP $799 $399 $1099 $1499
Sensor size 1/2.3" CMOS 1/2.3" CMOS 1/2.3" CMOS 1"-type CMOS
Resolution 12MP 12MP 12MP 20MP
Lens (equiv) 24mm F2.8 25mm F2.6 26mm F2.2 28mm F2.8-F11
Lens field of view 85º 81.9º 78.8º 77º
Image formats JPEG, Raw JPEG JPEG, Raw JPEG, Raw
Highest video res UHD 4K/24p/25p/30p 1080/30p

DCI 4K/24p

UHD 4K/24p/25p/30p

UHD 4K/24p/25p/30p

Video codecs H.264 H.264 H.264 H.264/H.265
Max bitrate 100 Mbps 24 Mbps 60Mbps 100 Mbps
Log video No (D-Cinelike) No Yes Yes
Gimbal type 3-axis mechanical 2-axis mechanical 3-axis mechanical 3-axis mechanical
Signal transmission Wi-Fi Wi-Fi OcuSync OcuSync 2.0
Max speed 68 km/h (42mph) [with controller/Sport Mode] 50 km/h (31mph) [with controller/Sport Mode] 65 km/h (40mph) [Sport mode]

72 km/h (45mph) [Sport mode]

Obstacle avoidance Yes

Yes

Yes Yes
Claimed max range 10km [6.2 mi] 100m (2km/1.24 mi with controller) 7km (4.3 mi) 8km (4.97 mi)
Controller Yes Optional Yes Yes
Max flight time 21 minutes 16 minutes 30 minutes 31 minutes
Takeoff weight 430g 300g 734g 907g