DJI recently released the latest drone in their consumer drone line named the DJI Mavic Air which features an all new compact fold-down design and advanced flight features, but how does DJI's newest release compare to its highly popular predesecors the DJI Spark and the DJI Mavic Pro?
The DJI Mavic Pro was the first drone to be released out of the three contenders, released in October 2016, and the first DJI drone to feature a revolutionary fold-down design, making it the most portable yet advanced drone released on the market at the time. Upon its release, the Mavic Pro made waves in the industry and quickly became DJI's highest selling consumer drone.
Next came the DJI Spark, an even smaller drone than the Mavic Pro, released in Spring 2017, at DJI's lowest price point ever. The Spark aimed to cater towards beginners and recreational users alike, and featured all new flight modes that enabled users to pilot their drone with just their phone or even their own hand gestures.
With the release of the Mavic Air, DJI further improved upon the design and features of their technology to provide drone enthusiasts with an ultra-compact drone that perfectly combined flight performance, size, and ease-of-use. Specifically designed to cater towards beginner users while also satisfying the needs of more experienced pilots, the DJI Mavic Air is poised to take the consumer drone industry to all new heights.
Weight: 300 Grams
Folded: H 55mm x W 143mm × L 43mm
Diagonal Size: 170 mm
Weight: 430 Grams
Folded: H 49mm × W 83mm × L 49 mm
Diagonal Size: 213 mm
Weight: 734 Grams
Folded: H 83mm x W 83mm x L 198mm
Diagnoal Size: 335 mm
The Mavic Pro features an ultra-compact fold-down design for easy storage and transportation. Aesthetically, the drone features a matte-grey colour and industrial-looking, aerodynamic look. The Mavic Pro currently comes in two versions including the original matte-grey version, and the upgraded Mavic Pro Platinum which features a silver-platinum colour and other upgraded flight features.
The Spark released after the Mavic Pro is a mini-drone that features a much more toy-like look, though it does not sacrifice the quality DJI is known for. The Spark does not feature a fold-down design though it is very compact in size. The Spark is designed to accommodate beginner and casual drone users alike and is set-up to be a more accessible drone option for a wider recreational audience. The Spark comes in five fun colours to personalize the user experience including Meadow Green, Sky Blue, Lava Red, Sunrise Yellow and Alpine White.
The newly released Mavic Air is designed with extreme attention to detail and features an industrial, geometric appearance that evokes the look of an exotic sports car. Like the Mavic Pro, the Mavic Air is built with a foldable design to be extremely compact. The drone itself feels very high-quality in your hand and comes in three different colour choices including Flame Red, Onyx Black, and Arctic White.
All three drones vary in size and weight but individually are extremely compact and easy to transport. The Spark is the lightest of the three drones weighing only 300 grams. The Mavic Air is approximately half the size of the Mavic Pro and 41% lighter, weighing in at 430 grams. Finally, the Mavic Pro is the largest in size and heaviest out of the three weighing 734 grams.
The Spark is the only drone out of the three that does not feature a fold-down design, however, the drone itself is again roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Alternatively, the Mavic Pro is the biggest drone in size but when completley folded down is only about the size of a water bottle. Overall, the Mavic Air is the most compact out of the three. Its foldable design makes it about the length and width of a Smartphone, making it even smaller than the Spark in size overall when folded. (Left Image of DJI Spark)
Gimbal: 2-Axis Gimbal
Gimbal: 3-Axis Gimbal
Gimbal: 3-Axis Gimbal
DJI has become known for their highly advanced, stable and smooth gimbal and camera technology. Between the Spark, Mavic Air, and Mavic Pro, each drone is individually capable of shooting extremely steady and smooth shots, however, each drone features unique gimbal system designs and functions.
The DJI Spark is designed with a mechanical 2-Axis gimbal system and features DJI's UltraSmooth technology to ensure steady shots and reduce any rolling shutter effect. Currently, all other DJI drones feature a full 3-Axis gimbal system.
The DJI Mavic Air is the smallest drone in the DJI line up to feature a full 3-Axis Mechanical Gimbal. The Mavic Airs gimbal features a triangular design and gimbal dampeners to reduce any shaking or vibrations while in flight and has been recessed into the body of the drone itself for added protection of the gimbal and camera unit.
Finally, the DJI Mavic Pro also features DJI 's powerful 3-Axis Gimbal system for smooth and shake-free shots. The Pro's advanced gimbal system ensures that the unit will automatically and intelligently cancel out any unwanted shakiness. Design-wise the position of the gimbal and camera unit on the Mavic Pro makes it much more susceptible to damage compared to the other drones. (Right Image of Mavic Pro)
Operating Frequency: 2.412-2.462 GHz; 5.745-5.825 GHz
Control Modes: Gesture, Intelligent Mobile Device, Remote controller
Operating Frequency: 2.400 - 2.4835 GHz 5.725 - 5.850 GHz
Control Modes: Gesture, Mobile Device, Remote Controller
Operating Frequency: 2.4-2.4835GHz; 5.150-5.250 GHz; 5.725-5.850 GHz
Control Modes: Mobile Device, Remote Controller
When it comes to the flight controls the Spark, Mavic Air, and Mavic Pro all come with a remote controller option that features basic flight controls including two piloting toggles, a Return to Home button, and an easy-to-use interface via the DJI Go 4 App. An advantage of any DJI drone is that every unit will feature extremely similarly designed remotes as well as piloting controls.
The Spark is the only drone out of the three that does not include a remote controller in its most basic kit. The Spark's remote itself uses a WiFi transmission system and looks very similar to the Mavic Air's remote controller with two piloting toggles, a Return to Home button, two buttons to take photos and videos, and no display screen. The remote features a Micro USB port and has folding clamps so that users can securely mount their Smartphone device to the controller.
Upon appearance, the Mavic Air Remote looks similar to the Spark's but features design changes that make it much more compact and ergonomic. Like the Spark, the Mavic Air remote runs off of a Wifi Transmission system and all of the basic flight controls buttons and two piloting toggles. A major design difference is that the Mavic Air's toggles are removable and can be stored inside of the controller for added portability. The remote also features a full-sized USB port to securely connect a Smartphone device.
The Mavic Pro features the only remote controller out of the three that runs off of DJI's patented OcuSync Transmission System instead of a Wifi System. It is also the only remote out of the three to feature a built-in LCD telemetry screen that displays basic flight data that users can conveniently view at a glance. Another highlight of the Mavic Pro's remote is that it features a dedicated exposure wheel and two customizable buttons for a more personalized flight experience.
Battery Life: Approx 13 minutes
Wind Resistance: 20‑28 kph
Max Speed: 50 kph
Battery Life: Approx 20 minutes
Wind Resistance: 29-38 kph
Max Speed: 68.4 kph
Battery Life: Approx 23 minutes
Wind Resistance: 29–38kph
Max Speed: 65 kph
Environmental conditions including temperature and wind can factor into the battery life of each drone. The Spark features the shortest flight time with approximately 13 minutes of battery life while the Mavic Air can fly for around 20 minutes. The Mavic Pro features the longest flight time out of the three drones with approximately 23-25 minutes of flight time depending on environmental conditions. Each drone comes equipped with DJI's signature Intelligent Flight Batteries which can automatically discharge when placed in long-term storage for optimal health. (Left Image Mavic Air)
The Spark features small foldable propellers that users can easily attach and detach from their drone with a twist and lock mechanism. The Mavic Air is the only drone out of the three that does not feature foldable propellers, however, its props are still small and compact enough to easily store and transport. The Mavic Air's propellers are also designed to be much more flexible in comparison to its predecessors, making them much safer compared to harder, and less malleable propellers. Like the Spark, the Mavic Pro also features foldable quick-release propellers that attach and detach with a twist and lock mechanism. (Right Image of Mavic Air)
Thanks to DJI's advanced stabilization technology, all three drones are extremely stable in the air. The Spark can withstand wind speeds between 20-28 kph. For its small size, the Spark is very stable in the air, but its stability can waver when Gesture Mode is activated. Both the Mavic Air and Mavic Pro can impressively withstand wind speeds between 29-38 kph. Specifically, regarding the size of the Mavic Air, this is a very impressive feat for such a small drone.
When it comes to speed, the Spark can reach a maximum speed of 50 km/h in Sports Mode. The Mavic Air is impressively able to fly the fastest out of the three drones and can reach a maximum speed of 68.4 kph in Sports Mode. Finally, the Mavic Pro can reach a top speed of 65 kph in Sports Mode.
Heat regulation in small drones is difficult to accomplish and essential to the smooth operation of any drone system. Each drone is designed with a fan system that helps to dissipate heat in addition to vents that direct airflow. A significant difference between the Mavic Air and its predecessors is that DJI enhanced the drones cooling system design with rear vents to stay cool in the air, which is an impressive feat considering the Mavic Air's much smaller size and larger processing power. (Left Image Mavic Air)
Range: 2 kilometres
With Cell Phone: 100 metres
Range: 4 kilometres
Range: 7 kilometres
Each drone features a different range going from just 100 metres up to an extended 7 kilometres. The Spark uses a WiFi transmission system and has the shortest range out of the three drones. Using a Smartphone the Spark can reach a maximum range of 100 metres, and with the remote controller, can reach a full extended range of 2 km. The Mavic Air utilizes an enhanced Wifi System for less latency and a longer range of up to 4 km. Finally, the Mavic Pro features the longest range out of the three drones and uses DJI's OcuSync System in place of Wifi, enabling the drone to reach a full range of 7 km.
During flight testing, we found that the Mavic Air could reach a maximum range of 1147 metres, which is impressive as our area in the province of Nova Scotia Canada tends to have a poorer range in comparison to other provinces around the country. In testing, the Mavic Air could reach 60% of the Mavic Pro's full range, which for its price point and size exceeded our expectations.
(Right Image of DJI Spark)