If you know a few of the best drones, chances are you’ve heard of the Mavic Pro. The Mavic was released in October of 2016, and it’s widely considered the best drone out there. It’s a smaller, more portable drone than the flagship Phantom series, so it appeals to drone hobbyists more than professional photographers. Even though DJI released the Spark (which is basically a small version of the Mavic), the Mavic still has so many advantages over the Spark. However, DJI recently released the Mavic Air, a cheaper option that boasts some excellent new features. So, without further ado, let’s get into the review.
The Mavic retails for $999, which includes the drone, a battery, the remote, and some other accessories. In short, everything you’d need to get this drone out and flying. If the thousand dollar price doesn’t excite you, I’ve seen it go down to 900 dollars several times, so be on the lookout for black Friday or Christmas deals. (Update: Amazon has the Mavic Pro right now for $827)
The drone’s flight really is almost perfect, whether you’re just getting into drones or are a seasoned professional. Out of the box, you just connect your phone to the controller and you’re all set to go. The controller is easy to function, and beginners I think will get the hang of flying it in no time. The drone does offer an astounding flight speed of 40 MPH! And even though it flies fast, the footage is smoothed out by the 3-axis gimbal, which we’ll talk about in a minute. The drone can get up to 27 minutes of flight, but that’s in optimal weather conditions. If you’re buying this drone, expect 22-25 minutes (which is still extremely impressive for a drone this size). I should also mention the range: DJI advertises a whopping 4-mile range for this thing! That’s crazy for a drone this size. I’ve never tested the limits, but most people say you can get at least 3 miles easily.
There are several different flight modes, and getting into each of these is really simple. It also has a return to home option, which when I have tested it is extremely accurate (within a foot of where you started). The drone will automatically return to home when it realizes it is on low battery. There are also a few smart flight modes, such as ActiveTrack mode (the drone follows you), Gesture Control (make hand motions for taking pictures, etc.), and TapFly (tap on your phone screen and the drone will travel to where you tapped). All of these will help make the learning experience easier for beginners.
DJI released the Mavic to appeal to beginners with its ease of flight, and I can certainly attest that it does. It also has two sensors on the front to avoid obstacles in its path, so you don’t have to worry about crashing the drone you just emptied 1000 dollars for! I do have a one problem with the flight; the small size of the drone makes windy conditions even more difficult to fly in. Your footage will be smooth, but you’ll see the drone wobbling a bit. That’s really the only bad thing about it… easy 10/10 for the flight.
There are so many amazing things about the camera on this drone. First off, it can shoot 4k video at 30 frames per second. Now, that’s impressive considering that it’s about the size of the tip of your thumb! It also has a 3-axis stabilizing gimbal. What that means is that when you fly the drone to the left or right, even though the drone moves, the camera will turn to keep its position. This is huge! If you look at most drones under 100 dollars, the footage will move with the drone, causing all sorts of jerks and tilts. But the Mavic smooths all that out. Especially with its precision hovering, your shots will look as still as photographs.
Also, you get a live stream to your phone of the footage, as you fly. This is so helpful, especially if you are flying it outside of your field of view. Now, if you’re a beginner, don’t expect amazing Instagram-worthy photos right away. It will take time to get used to controlling the camera and the drone simultaneously. But just look up a video on YouTube to see how good the footage can get. So if you buy this drone, you won’t have any regrets about the camera.
The controller is also worth mentioning here. It’s well designed, and you could easily fit it in your pocket. Two arms fold out from the bottom to accommodate your phone, while the antennas fold out from the top. There are two joysticks to control the drone movement, and then photo/video buttons, all within reach of your fingers. It’s easy to figure out what each button means, so don’t be afraid of not knowing how to control it. One thing I will say though is that if you’re using the controller, make sure to turn the switch on the drone to RC, so that it can connect.
You can also control the drone without the controller, using only your phone. This option might be nice if you want to take up less space, but really I can’t see why you would. The range is significantly lowered, and you have to use your phone screen, instead of having actual joysticks to control. I personally will probably never use this option, because I’ll always have the controller on hand. But it might be helpful for some of you.
Like I mentioned before, the Mavic is a small alternative to the Phantom series. And when I say small, this thing gets REAL small. The legs fold up into the body, so what you end up with is a rectangular shaped hunk of plastic that you could fit in one hand. The camera also comes with a plastic covering, so you don’t need to worry about the gimbal breaking in-transit. There are a bunch of options on Amazon for backpacks and cases for the drone, all of which are small and easy to fit in your car.
All things considered, this drone is a great buy. If you’ve got a thousand bucks, definitely go with a Mavic (Keep in mind though, that the Mavic Air is a great option too). The footage, range, flight time, and ease of use are four factors that make this one of the best drones on the market in my opinion. And if you don’t want to spend $1000, you can buy a refurbished unit from DJI for only 800. I should also note that there’s a “fly more combo” for another 300 dollars, that gives you another battery, more accessories, and such. It also comes in an Alpine White color, which is another 100 dollars. Also check out my review of the Mavic Pro Platinum, which has a few improvements to the Mavic. If you’d like a cheaper alternative, check out the Spark and new Mavic Air.
So that’s it! This drone is a great option for anyone, so I would recommend it no matter what you want to do with it.