DJI Mavic Air 2 | How good is the new Drone really?
The new drone from market leader DJI has great ambitions: it aims to be the best drone on the market for less than a thousand dollars. But can it really set new standards, or are the new features nothing more than a clever marketing strategy? Let's briefly summarize the five most important categories and find out whether the drone truly is what it promises to be. Hello, DJI Mavic Air 2.
In terms of design, the new Mavic Air 2 cannot really convince. Instead of further developing the futuristic and aerodynamic-looking housing of the predecessor, DJI simply switched to the shell of most of its drones. Quite boring. How many drones look practically the same by now? Let's quickly count them: Mavic Pro Mavic Pro Platinum Mavic 2 Pro Mavic 2 Zoom Mavic Mini Mavic Air 2 A new design would have been refreshing.
Of course, one should not forget the advantages of the well-known housing. It is made of high-quality plastic and aluminum, is used millions of times all around the globe, and it can also withstand rough landings and some bumps. In terms of quality, there is nothing wrong with the housing and design.
When it comes to rating the flight experience, then the Mavic Air 2 scores high. Just as with pretty much all DJI drones, the Mavic Air 2 is straightforward to control. I gave the remote control to my little sisters and just let them take control. Of course, nothing went wrong. I hadn't expected anything else. DJI learned a lot in recent years and, therefore, offers a very comfortable and intuitive in-flight experience.
Of course, the Mavic Air 2 communicates with both GPS and Glonass satellites. It has a modern ground tracking system installed (VPS) to offer almost absolute stability when flying low to the ground. Whether indoors or outdoors. In the event of a problem, the drone automatically returns to the take-off position. Also, it has an anti-collision system aboard. Two cameras scan what's in front of the drone, and another two cameras take care of possible obstacles behind the drone. A real highlight of the drone is the new tracking mode that finally works genuinely reliable! On the smartphone, simply draw a box around the object to be tracked - and the drone takes control. It can fly around the object in constant circles, fly alongside it, or track it freely. The tracking mode is second to none. In terms of precision, it outperforms all other tracking modes on the market. The drone is a faithful companion for travelers, outdoor and sports enthusiasts, and everyone seeking to track people/obstacles and create beautiful cinematic videos.
Put short: the camera is convincing. The lens has an aperture of F2.8 and a field of view of 84°. The sensor measures, and that's pretty special, half an inch. Sure, 4K is not big news anymore and the standard in 2020. However, DJI installed a 60FPS mode to the Mavic Air, allowing people to create beautiful slow-motion shots in crisp 4K. This is a very powerful tool! And if you want to experience motion at just a tenth of its real speed, then the Mavic Air 2 lets you do that. Just dial in the 240FPS mode that is available when filming in FullHD. By the way: You can download free test recordings of the new drone here. Several intelligent modes are on board, that make creating short but cinematic shots easy and accessible to everyone.
Also, photography fans can be thrilled. The DJI Mavic Air 2 comes with a 48MP photo mode. And it is the first one that I'm satisfied with so far. I'm mentioning that because I've seen a lot of super high-resolution photos that, when zooming in, are in reality, nothing but cheaply upscaled images. Fortunately, DJI takes a different approach. The new sensor readout technology allows the drone to take truly high-resolution photos. Zoom in, crop away the sides, and you will still have a useable photograph.
Also aboard is a so-named smart photo mode. It is basically an AI photo mode ("artificial intelligence"). It's supposed to automatically set up the camera correctly in any situation. It combines scene recognition with an HDR and a hyperlight function. Although the mode works, smart photos look only marginally better than photos taken in standard mode. Maybe the mode learns a bit more over time and makes using it a must in the future. Though I am categorically against "musts."
Connection and Flight Time
Now it's getting slightly technical again, but not without reason because flight time and range are crucial. After intensive flight tests, it can be said that the DJI Mavic Air 2 can stay airborne for around 28 minutes. That value is slightly below what we expected (because the manufacturer claims the flight time to reach up to 34 minutes).
However, 28 minutes of flight time sound solid. Until today, I haven't found a useful drone that can stay in-air for longer than half an hour. By the way, it takes almost an hour and a half to charge a single battery, which is quite slow.
The range, though, sets new standards. At least on the paper. The most significant disadvantage of the predecessor was the limited range, which was due to an only moderately strong WiFi connection. DJI understood the problem and applied a massive change: they installed their latest and most advanced transmission system into the Mavic Air 2. OcuSync 2.0. Maximum distances of up to 10km shall be the result! Unfortunately, taking it to the test is probably illegal in most countries, as drones have to always stay within line of sight. But what we can say is that we experienced no connection problems with the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone whatsoever. Nada de nada. The new transmission system rocks! And because many of you asked the question: DJI's best remote controller, the Smart Controller (it comes with a built-in and ultra-bright display), can be connected to the Mavic Air 2. Yes! That's how it should be!