If you’re looking for a detailed specification list and comparison to other drones on the market – click away, this is not the review for you. Instead, I want to tell you why the DJI Mavic Pro is without question the best drone you can buy today.
At $1,699 it’s not cheap. That gives you the drone, controller and one battery. You’re going to spend more. Trust me.
But when you look at the top-end consumer hobby and photography/videography drones and how far they’ve come, you’ve got to hand it to DJI they are the market leader not just in brand and sales, but in innovation.
Here’s how I know that.
I owned a Phantom 2. Strapped a GoPro to it, it was great. Then I got the Phantom 3 Pro, amazing 4K onboard camera, excellent flight capabilities.
Today was a good day.. checking out the capabilities of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible on Fraser Island pic.twitter.com/S5QD0G3Sjn
— EFTM : 💻 + 🚘 + 📚 (@EFTM) November 2, 2016
DJI announced the Phantom 4 to much fanfare and rightly so, it had collision avoidance technology and they’d refined things for better performance and video. But it was essentially still the same drone concept as back to the original Phantom.
Then GoPro announced the Karma. Wow, what a revelation – small form factor, fold away arms so it fits into a backpack. This was a game-changer. For about a week.
Until the Mavic Pro was revealed. DJI’s latest drone had everything they’d been working on for years in it, the camera, the flight capabilities, the collision avoidance. But in a whole new form factor.
This thing is tiny, smaller than a GoPro Karma – small enough to stash in my laptop shoulder bag. Seriously, it’s insane.
— Trevor Long 📻 💻📺 (@trevorlong) November 3, 2016
Before we look at the drone though, lets talk about the controller. It’s small, very small. Vastly different to previous DJI Phantom controllers, but just as capable.
Many will be upset that an iPad cannot be used as a screen here – and while that’s true out of the box, don’t worry, some guru will make an adapter to allow you to reconfigure and have an iPad for the screen – that said though, I see no reason to – using an iPhone 7 Plus I had no issues at all with vision from the drone and basic control.
However my only issue with the device over the two weeks of testing was the location of the iPhone 7 home button. Because that’s now how you unlock and get into your phone, it’s critical, and hard to get to – as it also is to get screenshots. A pain, but you get around it.
You can fly without a phone attached and still get the vital on-screen information with the simple screen on the controller showing flight status and aircraft status.
But it’s when you grab the Mavic that you realise the power. Fold out those “legs” and you don’t have to clip on the props any more, they are always installed and don’t get in the way – this reduces setup time dramatically – and once the four legs are folded out she sits on the take-off zone ready to fly.
Something about the sticks on the controllers feels more comfortable, it could be the overall design, but also I think they’ve used new mechanisms for the sticks – there’s an extra level of precision in flight control.
Everything else is as per any other quality drone. It’s flight capabilities are exceptional – you’ll never have range issues because it can fly further than they eye can see (going further than that is illegal), and you can have confidence in it because DJI have built-in redundant sensors to ensure it always has the best chance to come on home to you.
Collision avoidance is outstanding – only available flying “forward” (in the direction of camera) and this is one area I can imagine DJI improving year on year for all-round “visibility”. I couldn’t fly it into a tree in my backyard, and on the beach it kept its distance where needed.
But it’s not un-crashable, so don’t think you’re not having to keep a sharp eye out at all times folks.
If you wanted to fly with your phone only, you can use WiFi for the device with on-screen controls, but frankly, having spent $1700+ you’d mad if that appeals to you.
— EFTM : 💻 + 🚘 + 📚 (@EFTM) November 3, 2016
Vision from the Mavic Pro is exceptional, 4K of course and crisp. DJI don’t just make great drones, they are making great cameras too.
You will need to muck around with focus and exposure settings as you fly to get the most from your image. Sadly for me, I had just one battery to use in this review, so my flights were hasty.
On that – the battery time is brilliant. 27 odd minutes, meaning easily 20 mins relaxed flight time before your panic about getting it back sets in.
The one feature that carried forward from the Phantom 4 and feels enhanced is object tracking. It couldn’t get the boat I was filming because I was a touch to far away (but it still recognised the object!)
But it saw my 5 year old boy Harrison and he gave it a run for its money – 100% autonomous:
— Trevor Long 📻 💻📺 (@trevorlong) October 30, 2016
Honestly, I’m not that easily impressed by gadgets, but now and again one comes along that just makes me smile. This one has me smiling – and listing my Phantom 3 Pro on eBay.
The Mavic Pro is the most advanced drone you can buy today, it’s flight capabilities and quality image capture as well as advanced flight technology make it ahead of the rest by a country mile.
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Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.