Our full review of the brilliant DJI Mavic Pro
DJI Mavic Pro Review
In 2017 there has been a shift in the perception of drone ownership and this is largely down to the likes of companies such as DJI who have really taken drone marketing to the next level. No longer are drones associated with the kind of cult Sunday morning flying clubs of yesteryear – the DJI Mavic Pro looks set to play a big part in this change in attitudes – and why not, after all – it packs a massive punch in a tiny package.
We took it to the skies for a full review.
One of the biggest draws of the Mavic Pro is its size. It is extremely compact and portable, especially when compared to other drones of similar specs and particularly when compared to its main DJI rival – the Phantom 4.
With a price point of £1,099 it is certainly not cheap, nor is it an impulse purchase – so if DJI are to be successful with this drone they will have to get it bang on point.
The Mavic Pro boasts a very impressive spec sheet so the question is really whether it stacks up against its promises. If it does then it could be game over for the competition this year
Mavic Pro Specs
This drone is not shy when it comes to the specs. 27 minutes of flying time, 4.2 mile flying range (with video transmission), 40MPH max flying speed, 4K Video and 12MP camera, a 3 axis gimbal and a fold down size of 83mm x 83mm x 198mm is just simply mouth watering.
But what do these numbers mean in real terms?
DJI have been truly innovative in responding to the wants of the market when it comes to the design of the Mavic Pro. Rather than having a fixed hull they have opted for folding arms and propellers that allow the Mavic to be ultra portable.
The controller is also very small and could fit in your pocket at a push (without the smartphone attached) meaning that the Mavic Pro is truly portable.
The 4K camera and the tiny but effective gimbal mean that not only do you achieve fantastic video footage, but you also have super stabilisation without the need for electronic stablisation meaning that every pixel in the sensor is used for imaging.
Mavic Pro Out of the Box
First impressions of the Mavic Pro when you eagerly open up the box are ones of awe and excitement – well they were for us anyway. You can instantly see and feel that this a classy drone and the look and touch of it exude premium quality.
In the box you will find the drone itself with the intelligent flight battery and gimbal, the remote controller (that also folds down), charger, spare propellers, gimbal clamp, 16GB microSD card, USB cable, RC cable sliders and some manuals.
You have everything you need from the off.
As well as the excellent build quality of the Mavic Pro, the controller is also pretty noticeable upon unboxing. It has the same portability factor as the drone and folds down to around the size of a large smartphone. You can choose just to use your smartphone to control the Mavic if you wish but for us, the combination of the smartphone with this dedicated controller is a must.
DJI really have found the perfect balance between portability and usability when it comes to the controller and with a claimed visual range of over 4 miles there is plenty going on tech wise under the hood – more on this later.
Battery and Flying Times
Probably the number one bug bear of any drone pilot is battery power and rubbish flight times. Luckily, the Mavic Pro will not upset anyone on this front as it has one of the most impressive flight times of any drone we have tested.
DJI claim that the drone can hover for 24 minutes and fly for 27 minutes. This is interesting as you might expect those figures to be the reverse but due to the way it has been designed it can actually stay airborne for longer in motion than it can when hovering.
Anyway, we found the flight times to be fairly accurate when it came to hovering and flying. We managed flight times of around 25 minutes fairly consistently when flying in calm conditions – we even managed one flight that lasted for 26 minutes which just blew us away!
Charging times take around 1 hour 10 minutes which is fairly standard with this class of drone and the battery is an intelligent flight battery which amongst other things means that it will auto deplete itself of charge if left unattended for weeks on end – this gives it a better long term battery life. It will also prevent over charging so you know your battery is going to stay in tip top condition for a long time.
The battery is external so you purchase extras to significantly increase your flying time per session.
Flying the Mavic Pro
The Mavic is a joy to fly. We could literally leave this section at that, but you probably want a little more so lets look at it with a little more depth.
Taking off could not be easier with one touch take off the drone is in the air before you can say well…. Erm… “take-off”.
The Mavic also utilises 4 visual sensors so it will never bump in to anything and cause a crash. It actually only needs two of these sensors but it has the other two as a back up – so if one did fail mid-flight for any reason the other one would kick in.
When flying the Mavic has access to up 20 satellites so it always knows where it is, where it took off from and where it needs to land to go back to home. If you do find yourself running out of battery or you fly so far that your drone wouldn’t make it back then it will warn you and then return to home. This is pretty important with a flying range of over 4 miles.
Another impressive feature of the Mavic Pro is the speed that is can fly at. A top speed of 40MPH is easily achievable and at times you might even exceed this. We were able to cover 100 meters in just over 5 seconds which believe me feels fast! Beware though, the collision avoidance system will not be able to use the visual sensors 100% effectively over 22MPH.
The range of the Mavic is in no small part down to the new OcuSync video technology which allows the drone to transmit video back to the controller at up to a 4.3 mile range. Now of course, that is under optimum conditions and in more built up areas the range is going to be considerably less.
The maximum range we pushed out to was 2.5 miles and there was absolutely no problem with this whatsoever. The video was as smooth and crystal clear at this range as it was when it was 25 meters away – simply breathtaking!
The Mavic could not be much easier to pilot but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun either. When controlling the drone manually we found it to be super responsive and when flying at speed it was very exhilarating. We also managed to pair it up with our DJI Goggles which was a dream – read our full DJI Goggles review here.
If you want a little less autonomy then you can use the full range of flight tracking systems and other flight modes that the Mavic has at its disposal. You have access to all of the Phantom 4 Pro flight modes as well as a couple of extra ones.
Terrain Follow and Gesture Modes are new to us on the Mavic and although we see the use of gestures in the DJI Spark, we love terrain mode as it uses a downward vision sensor to maintain a set distance from the ground when there is a gradient in the terrain. This is perfect for taking video on mountains hilly areas.
The Follow Me mode is a favourite of ours along with course lock and home lock.
Mavic Pro Camera
Sporting full 4K at 30FPS and a 12.7MP still camera, the imaging capabilities of this drone are what will attract most people to it. The super-compact gimbal means you really do get super stable images and in terms of domestic drones there is nothing on the market at this price point that comes close to outperforming the Mavic Pro.
The Mavic camera has a range of features for taking photographs including burst shooting so you can select your best shot when back on the ground. If you were to compare the photo and video capabilities of the Mavic Pro and the Phantom 4 then the only real noticeable difference where the Mavic falls down is that its field of view is slightly narrower at 79 degrees as opposed to the Phantom’s which is an impressive 94 – for most people this won’t be an issue.
The Mavic does outperform the Phantom 4 though when it comes to selfies as it takes advantage of the gesture technology which means you don’t need to be holding the controller to take photos of yourself.
As with most DJI products, the photographic and tracking software is second to none. There is no need to wear tracking bracelets or anything of the like if you want the drone to track you and you can ask it to track any kind of moving object with the ActiveTrack mode.
Talking of software, the Mavic Pro is perfectly set for creating videos on the move. You can use the DJI Go 4 Editor so you can edit quickly and easily on the move – you can even share live from the drone to social media using Facebook Live!
In terms of image quality the Mavic Pro is amazing. We took a range of 4K videos and were blown away by the image quality, the colours, brightness and clarity were simply stunning. It really is true full 4K.
The Mavic Pro is almost untouchable at this price point. The tech that you get has not been compromised by the size and portability of DJI's flagship domestic drone and if you want true 4K video without completely breaking the bank then there is quite simply nothing better out there right now. The only downside of the Mavic is the lack of upgradeability but that being said, you are not going to be worrying about that for a long time to come.