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  • Date: 2018-10-10
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Drone DJI Mavic Air

The DJI Mavic Air is the near-perfect love child of the very successful Mavic Pro and the compact and user-friendly Spark. It's a consumer drone that highlights DJI’s commitment to innovation.

By taking the tech and foldable rotor arms from the DJI Mavic Pro and the small form factor and playfulness of the Spark – and then improving on both – DJI has produced its best drone yet for consumers.

The Mavic Air hovers over that perfect middle ground, offering high-end specs at a lower price point than the Mavic Pro. It has just about every bell and whistle (though this drone certainly does hum) you could ask for, from 4K video and 32MP panoramic pictures to a 21-minute battery life.

More importantly, the DJI Mavic Air is easy to fly thanks to an improved object avoidance system and gesture controls, giving this drone more mainstream appeal.

Design and build

  • Compact and foldable form factor returns
  • Recessed gimbal adds protection, but the clip-on cover is awkward
  • USB-C port for data transfer only
  • Removable joysticks on the redesigned controller

The Mavic Air might resemble the Spark in terms of size, but that’s basically where the similarity ends. The new drone’s arms are foldable, like those of the Mavic Pro, taking portability to a whole new level.

When folded up, the Mavic Air can quite easily slip into a large pocket – think cargo pants or a big jacket. Weighing in at 430g, it’s heavier than the 300g Spark but lighter than the 743g Mavic Pro, and definitely lighter than a pint of beer.

The drone’s zip-up case reinforces how small it really is – it easily slips into a backpack or a camera bag with plenty of room to spare for the rest of the paraphernalia.

Performance and control

  • Improved obstacle avoidance system
  • Gesture controls
  • Top speed of 68.4 km/h (40 mph)
  • Maximum transmission distance of 4 km (2.5 miles) with controller; 50m with mobile device

Setting up the Mavic Air isn’t hard if you’ve used a DJI drone before. If you haven’t, you’ll need to install the DJI Go 4 app on your phone (available for Android or iOS) and then follow the steps on screen to connect to the drone, either directly via Wi-Fi or by linking to the controller. Once set up, flying the drone is smooth as butter.

And it’s fast, or at least feels that way because of its diminutive size. In Sport mode, this pocket rocket can reach a maximum speed of 68.4 km/h, or 40 mph. At such speeds, however, if the camera is facing sideways, you’ll capture the front propellers whirring, which may not necessarily be what you want in your video. That said, this isn’t a problem unless you’re pushing the drone to its top speed.

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