The Mavic Pro is the latest drone from DJI and already generated quite a lot of buzz. At first, they said it’s incredibly small, but it’s not like we haven’t seen other manufacturers bragging on about this in the past. Then, it became quite obvious it’s surprisingly smart, boasting features that other drones, twice its size, hide under their belt. But even the price tag catches your eye, so I was intrigued.
After all, we all know that every time a manufacturer announces releasing a very small but powerful drone, we need to watch out. Going smaller usually implies cutting back on certain features. Nevertheless, the specs on this one looked almost too good to be true. So I had to get my hands on it and see for myself.
What I’ve learned from playing around with this small but mighty drone has been summed up in this DJI Mavic Pro review. I’m quite confident that once you get to the end, you’ll change your mind, just like I did.
Simple and compact, this piece was built to fly under the radar. And there’s really no DJI Mavic Pro review out there that hasn’t already pointed out just how compact this it… 3.27 x 7.8 x 3.27 inches (W x D x H). I can confirm it really is small. And it is even lighter than it looks.
Some say it is comparable to a bottle of water, others say it fits their vest pocket. I just said – Hey, I don’t have to carry around a special drone case anymore; I can tuck it in pretty much any bag, backpack, or whatever. But seriously, it’s not a hassle to hold it.
Its new aerodynamic airframe, ultra-light, that only weights 743 grams, makes everything easier. But just as if all these weren’t enough, the Mavic features a new folding design. No need to look puzzled at it – you just swing back the two front arms and flip down the two backward limbs and the small drone will get even smaller.
That’s pretty much everything you can grasp from a first contact. But as you start exploring it, chances are you will be impressed with some other features.
The small details that make the big differences:
- I just like how the rotors are attached to the articulating elements without making it look or feel anything but sturdy;
- The design looks like a winner even with moderate winds of up to 24mph, though, if you feel overwhelmed, it has some aces up the sleeve to get back at you safe (more about it a bit a bit later);
- The drone doesn’t just come with a built-in camera, but it also brings a new, three-axis gimbal – rest assured, this gimbal won’t let you take the camera off and even though it can be a pain at times, it will be a bless most of the time;
- The controller comes with a new LCD screen and a dedicated connection port, where you hardwire your smartphone with the remote, in case you want to use both the remote and the dedicated app;
- If you want to stick to the controller, you will definitely appreciate its clearly marked, intuitive auto controls that will tell you how to get the drone in the air or how to get it back right from where it took off.
Technical functions & features
For this Mavic Pro review, we will look into the technical features and functions of this drone, and based on early reviews already, users are amazed how well it performs given its small dimensions. Even before I got to test it myself, I was told it comes with all the essential features of larger drones. But it was only until I got to try out:
- Its sensors
- Subject tracking function
- Geofencing – so you avoid reaching restricted air zones
- Self-piloted return landings – imagine that the downward facing cameras take pictures and together with the GPS data it will know exactly where to get back
…and other cool features, I convinced myself.
DJI Mavic Pro does all that and somehow it even finds room for surprising improvements:
- It has an impressive maximum range of 4.3 miles
- One battery charge will give you up to 27 minutes of flight time
- It has protection against accidental startup and battery draining – you’d have to press twice on the power button to start it
- It successfully faces even mild winds, thanks to its downward-facing optical flow sensors – it “looks” at the ground below it and uses the images to stabilize itself
- It even holds a given position when indoor, with no GPS signal, thanks to the optical flow
- It warns you with a screen popup whenever it detects strong winds, so you can plan your flights accordingly
- It comes with front avoidance controls, which means you won’t be able to fly it into an obstacle even if you try
- It features a 3-option ActiveTrack function, letting you track a target (car or person) and follow it through the Trace mode (from behind or from ahead), Profile mode (alongside the subject), or Spotlight mode (camera stays still on your target no matter where you fly the drone)
When I was merely contemplating about writing this DJI Mavic Pro review, long before I received the drone for testing, I was a bit skeptical. I’ve seen its photographs and how small it looked, how small its legs are, and I was actually a bit nervous about piloting it and how will it handle winds or landing on grassy surfaces.
During my outdoor experiments, I got to “look” at it from a distance of about 1.5 kilometers. I couldn’t believe it actually stopped right there, as it reached the maximum range that I had initially set! Think that was all the fun?
DJI Mavic Pro Controls
The gestures control is yet another experience like nothing before. DJI Mavic Pro is the first drone of this manufacturer that you can control exclusively with gestures. Here’s what you should try:
- When you wave your hands, you get the drone’s attention…
- Mimic an “Y” with your arms and its camera will focus on you…
- When you’re the focus, the drone will follow you wherever you go…
- Mimic a photo frame with your fingers and it will get you a selfie…
- Gesture in one particular direction and the drone will, once again, follow our way…
But that’s not the best part! I saved these exciting technical details of this DJI Mavic Pro review for the end of this section. I’m talking about the control options, which come in 3 different versions, two of them as a novelty of the DJI series:
- You can exclusively rely on the dedicated, bundled controller – the controller is designed in line with the drone, small and compact. It also carries a small LCD screen right in its center and it works independently from the dedicated app. On the screen, you will have access to distance, direction, altitude, and other telemetry factors that guarantee a safe navigation. The moment the drone senses high winds, a warning message together with a buzz will let you know of the peril. It looks like you really don’t need any other control options, right?
- But you can exclusively rely on the dedicated app, without using the controller at all – the drone has a tiny switch on its body that will do the transfer from radio control to Wi-Fi mode. Once you toggle it, you’ll connect your mobile device with Mavic’s wireless network and you can pilot the drone from the DJI Go app.
- Or you can combine the controller with your phone through a connector cable! On the phone, you enjoy live video feed and you have access to a wider range of autonomous modes and camera settings. On the controller, you can enjoy the fine-grained control that the mobile app could never offer you. This combo is by far the most exciting controlling option so you really need to give it a try.
DJI Mavic Pro Camera
Every time I think I’ve done with the technicalities of this DJI Mavic Pro review, something else comes along. For instance, I haven’t said a word about the built-in camera and I actually have A LOT to say about it.
To begin with, Mavic Pro’s built-in camera can:
- Record 4K video at 30fps
- Shoot 1080p footage at 96fps and live stream to social networks like YouTube, Facebook or Periscope (though at slower rates of 30fps)
- Snap 12MP image stills in Adobe’s DNG raw format
- Take two-second long exposures
The 28mm lens of the camera strikes the perfect balance between a proper width and the right amount of details that can get into the frame. Think of it as a smartphone’s field of view, but with extra control in terms of:
- Adjusting exposure
- Setting white balance
- Setting ISO sensitivity (100-1,600) in flight
- Setting the focus – you just tap the screen and select between raw files, JPEGs or even both
- Adjusting aperture and shutter speed – both displayed on screen and ready to gauge should you want to boost the ISO
On top of all that, Mavic’s camera system asks you to choose your subject for focus. While some rushed into criticizing it for blurred, muddy footage, I’ve actually got crisp footage with it, just by snapping the focus during the shot. Photo quality is definitely comparable with one of DJI’s other larger drones!
Pros and cons of using a Mavic Pro
Now that I (think) am done with covering the tech features, I’d like to summarize the pros and cons of this amazing drone; just so you won’t have to read this DJI Mavic Pro Review between the lines:
On the plus side…
- You don’t need to compromise. You can benefit from a high-quality camera, surprising flight range, normal battery life and many other advanced features in one surprisingly small drone. These features compare to models twice its size, no fluff!
- You no longer have to assemble it or to dismantle it every time you’re taking it somewhere like you’d have to do with larger models.
- You just fold it or unfold it as you see fit, and you have your drone ready in about a minute or so.
- You can enjoy a flexible gimbal, which allows you to easily stabilize recordings, capture tall architecture or get 90-degrees portraits.
- You benefit from very handy and easy to use controllers, incredibly tolerant at any kind of inputs.
- You can finally get rid of all that piloting pressure, especially if you’re just starting out and you’re not very confident with landing your new drone, thanks to the auto-pilot mode.
- You can forget the fear of crashing the drone into something – the front avoidance controls simply won’t let you do that anymore.
- You can juggle with the piloting options as you please, that’s why you have 3 of them!
On the downside…
- You cannot take off the camera since the gimbal is non-removable
- You cannot rush with more than 40mph, and that one applies to piloting in the sport mode
- You cannot pair the smartphone with the drone’s controller wireless, just with the physical connector
- You cannot enjoy the same advanced control from both the classic remote and the app – the controller will always work better, not to mention that if you swap the RC for Wi-Fi, your range will also shrink a tad (though, the WiFi mode is still a cool option to have for short-range flights, when you want to have more fun and carry less gear)
- You need to be a bit careful on where you’re landing it – the short legs could pose problems to the lowered rotors, especially in grassy areas (trust me, been there, done that…)
Oh, and… did I mention how easy it is to get carried away and forget that despite being so reliable and capable, DJI Mavic Pro is still small, and if you’re sending it too far away, on windy areas, you might cry after it? Lucky thing you can turn on the Return Home command and look at it as it goes into full auto-pilot and comes back at you quietly.
Where To Buy
The DJI Mavic Pro will be released on the 15th January 2017. You can currently pre-order yours from Amazon using the links below, from the Basic to the Deluxe Bundle, along with any accessories you may be interested in…
Everyone there who’s already crazy about the new Mavic Pro has all the right reason. And everyone who’s still keeping their cool, they probably haven’t read this DJI Mavic Pro review. There’s actually little you can comment about it!
The size and the design are indeed jaw-dropping, the price is right, the improved smartphone app and the gesture controls, and all those new features make Mavic a winner. If you’ve been studying the “phenomenon” on the side but never had a drone for yourself, this is one of the best models to start with.
In fact, any average consumer or pro who isn’t very picky about should really give this one a try!
I hope you’re enjoyed reading about my experience with the Mavic Pro. If you’d like to leave any feedback or add to anything, please comment below. And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with all things relating to drones!