I must make a confession: I don’t fly drones nearly as often as someone nicknamed “The Drone Girl” should. Here’s the reason why: they are just too obtrusive to incorporate into daily life.
Want to take it on vacation? That’s an extra suitcase you’ll have to pack.
Want to go backpacking? You’re not going to want an entirely separate backpack to haul your drone as you’re scaling Half Dome.
Want a drone to follow you during your long walks on the beach? A massive drone carrying case is going to make it significantly less romantic.
Finally, the $999 DJI Mavic Pro is the perfect solution. It’s everything a drone should be. It’s high quality aerial video, in a small package that will have you wanting to bring it everywhere you go.
The DJI Mavic Pro is small, light, and can easily tuck into my purse. The arms and propellers fold up to the size of a water bottle, making it reasonable for me to carry along on any average day and break out whenever I come upon an opportunity to take a neat drone photo. (I would never just carry a Phantom or Yuneec Typhoon with me for no reason; every time I bring either of those drones with me is specifically with the intent to take a certain photo). With the DJI Mavic Pro, I can live my daily life, and if the opportunity arises, the drone is already in my purse and I’m ready to take an aerial photo.
DJI Mavic Pro Camera
The DJI Mavic Pro offers a 12-megapixel camera and shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second. Check out my video review above to see what the video looks like straight out of the camera and completely unedited.
How does that stack up against other cameras? The predecessor to the Mavic Pro, DJI’s Phantom 4 also costs $999. Its camera is essentially the same, shooting 4K footage at 30 frames per second and capturing photographs at 12 megapixels.
The only difference between the two cameras is that the Mavic Pro has a slightly lower fps at 1080p HD, maxing out at 96 fps. If having a faster frame rate is important to you, then you would want to buy the Phantom 4. (A faster frame rate could be useful for people who shoot slow-motion video or high-speed events like car racing or sports.)
DJI Mavic Pro Battery
The Mavic Pro has a maximum flight time of 27 minutes. That’s pretty much in line with DJI’s other lineup of drones; the Phantom 3 Standard lasts 25 minutes, and the Phantom 4 lasts 28 minutes. I find those differences really negligible. The one issue for former Phantom owners looking to upgrade to the Mavic Pro is you’re going to need to invest in a completely new set of spare batteries if you’re someone who needs to fly for more than 27 minutes. A spare battery for the Mavic Pro is going to hit your wallet pretty hard at $89 each. (Though to be fair, it’s a big improvement from spare Phantom 4 batteries, which cost $169.)
DJI Mavic Pro Flight
The Mavic Pro can fly at up to 40 mph, which is slightly slower than the Phantom 4. But, I have failed to ever see a reason why you need a drone that goes that fast. If you want to go fast — just get into drone racing with a real racing drone! (Here’s my shameless plug for my favorite drone racing kit.) I love that the Mavic Pro offers something called “tripod mode,” which caps the drone’s speed at 2.2 mph — useful for letting first-time pilots fly your drone without worrying about it crashing into a tree within a split-second.
The Mavic Pro is easy for beginners to fly. There’s a take-off button, which means after you press it, the drone will take off and hover a few feet in the air. GPS and extra sensors keep the drone incredibly stable — which is useful not just for easier flight but for ensuring you get high-quality video too.
The drone also has a collision avoidance sensor on the front which prevents the drone from flying any closer than a few meters from a subject. If you try to send the drone forward when the drone senses something in the way, it will just hover in place.
DJI Mavic Pro Controller
The Mavic Pro controller folds up to about the size of my iPhone 7. It has handy features like the takeoff button mentioned earlier, as well as other buttons like a video record button and the ability to change the position of the camera.
Like DJI’s other drones, the controller syncs with your smartphone via the DJI Go App to show you information about your flight while giving you a live, first-person view of what the drone’s camera is seeing directly on your iPhone.
I love that the controller has a built-in screen with notifications such as battery levels and information on whether the drone is ready to fly. While your smartphone will show this information via the DJI Go app, there may be instances where you don’t want to connect your smartphone (my very old iPhone battery dies in about 30 minutes, yikes!), so this serves as excellent backup.
DJI Mavic Pro Review: Final thoughts
Unless you need marginally better video quality, I don’t see why you would purchase the Phantom 4 over this.
As far as whether to purchase a cheaper drone like the $439 Phantom 3 Standard or the $699 Autel X-Star, that’s really up to your own financial situation. While the video quality is about the same on the Mavic and the X-Star, with the Mavic you’re really paying for the convenience of portability. For $300 more than the X-Star, the Mavic gives you the ability to really bring your drone anywhere. I’ve already taken the Mavic on more flights than a lot of the other drones I’ve owned only because it’s so convenient to take with me.
The Mavic Pro is finally a reason for someone interested in drones to take the plunge and buy a drone. You can take it anywhere, and it’s incredibly easy to set up and get up in the air. It’s brilliantly engineered, and I would feel safe letting anyone, even a (supervised!) child fly it.
The end-to-end experience of taking the drone out of my purse, turning it on, getting it in the air, bringing it back down and loading the footage onto my computer is seamless for even the most non-technical of people. I’m already thrilled with the aerial images I’ve made, and I can’t wait to fly again and make even more.
Quite simply, the DJI Mavic Pro is flawless.