DJI Mavic Pro Review - More Compact & Maneuverable

With its brand new model, the Mavic Pro, the quadcopter gurus DJI are making a quantum leap.  This model is much smaller than previous ones we've reviewed like the Phantom or the Inspire.  But it can do so much more—they’ve really achieved something here by crafting a more compact and portable model that doesn’t sacrifice performance.

The Mavic Pro, as we’ll see in this review, is a great video-taking machine that aims to help the action sports enthusiast, with one major component of that being its portability.

Features for the DJI Mavic Pro:

  • Portable & compact
  • Light weight
  • Performance, speed & maneuverability  
  • Controller flexibility & usability 
  • Advanced features (such as Active Track)
  • Obsticle recognition 
  • Camera capability 

Portability - For The Sports Activist

Portability is now becoming the rage, with the ability to transport your drone in a backpack suddenly seeming to be a requirement, partly because the much-anticipated GoPro Karma allows this.  So, with the suddenly-released Mavic Pro, DJI is going with a little juggernaut that folds down to 3.3 x 7.8 inches and that weighs just 1.6 pounds.  The idea is for it to integrate into the active and unpredictable lifestyle of a crazy surfer, cliff diver, etc. rather than just being an aircraft.

Flying the drone

However, in terms of flight, it doesn’t give up a lot in the name of being more oriented around portability or the ability to capture vid in a variety of situations.  


As far as flat-out flight capabilities, including speed, the Mavic isn’t far off from say, the Phantom, with the ability to zoom as fast as 40 mph.  It handles pretty well and stays steady. It even has the ability to maintain a stable hover indoors, meaning it doesn’t have access to any of the satellites that I’ll discuss below. Mavic Pro’s flight time is 27 minutes—smaller craft are going to have smaller batteries. 

A user who wants to skate down to the pier with a camera slash helicopter on her back is going to have to trade off a bit of time.

Dimensions & Battery Life

Dimensions
(folded down)
3.3" x 7.8"
Battery Life
27 Minutes
Battery Capacity
2970mAh
Weight
1.6lbs (0.725kg)

Controller Capability & Setup

In terms of controlling, what the Mavic Pro has set up is kind of interesting.  It does come with a standard controller, about the size and shape of the garden-variety game controller.  It has its screen, with indicators and the ability to monitor the camera live.  Without being comprehensive, the screen gives you the basic flight info you need. 

The controller is hand-friendly and easy to use for people who like using small drone controllers that come with the aircraft.

But you can decide to forget about the controller and use a smart phone instead.  What’s interesting about this option is that only with the smart phone (which, again, means a lower-priced drone) do you get quite a few interesting features new to the Mavic. 

Advanced Drone Features

Probably the one that will be most used is Active Track.  This allows the Mavic to follow its user around.  This allows for getting footage of you running up a hill or whatever you’re doing—and shows DJI’s commitment to cater to people who want to integrate their own sporty activities into your drone photography. 

Another option is the selfie feature.  Using the cell phone as a controller, the user waves at the drone, activating its sensors to make it shoot video of him or her.  He can then make a little frame around his face with his hands, causing the drone to focus on that area and take a picture.  Neat, huh?

Flight Features & Performance

But if those things, particularly the selfie, sound a bit gimmicky, other flight features are much more pragmatic and very useful.  The machine is a dynamo of recognition and being able to track itself and navigate.  It has no less than four vision sensors.  With dual satellite connectivity it reaches up to twenty satellites which aid in its navigation. 

When the DJI Mavic Pro takes off, it makes a note of where it is, meaning, where you are.  This helps facilitate the selfie thing, above, but it also means that it can get back to home when the battery is fading, and you can activate an auto landing setting that puts it down right at your feet. 

The problem of losing your drone or landing it atop your local police station should be long gone.  You’re looking at a 4.3 mile range, too, so you can cut loose and know you haven’t lost $800.

And what about obstacle recognition?  You can check that box with the Mavic Pro.  That has become an expected and important feature, and the Mavic doesn’t disappoint.  With so many sensors, it isn’t going to miss much.

Video & Camera Features

So what about the product, the paydirt, the bottom line?  What kind of footage does it shoot?  Well, it will get you very stable footage, since the camera is built into the aircraft and not attached by gimbal.  As you might guess, the picture is just great—right up there with high-def video you’ll see posted online, basically as sharp as a lot of TV shows. 

Buildings, horizons, construction cranes, birds, are all in sharp relief and crisp. They aren't exactly at the Phantom 4 level... but at 1/4 of the size, the quality is still excellent.

In 1080p, you get 30 frames per second; otherwise 30 frames per second.  It isn’t, in terms of the matrices, the very highest end on the market, but the video is of high quality.

In terms of stills, the Mavic springs for a max image size of 4,000 x 3,000. It allows for burst and interval shooting in addition to single shot.  

Our Verdict On The DJI Mavic

All in all, there’s not much not to love about this brand new quadcopter.  It’s for video enthusiasts mainly—it’s absolutely not a toy and not meant to crash into stuff at your local park.  That means that its flight features need to involve stability, reliability, safety, and recognition.  It certainly delivers in all of these areas. 

It achieves a great balance of nuts-and-bolts flight capabilities and video capabilities.  While no information indicates it has a lot in the way of pre-programmed flight plans, circling while focusing capabilities, it does have the Active Track feature and gives some attention to placing the user as the subject of the videos. 

The perception that seems prevalent among drone users is that obstacle avoidance is a necessity, which brings us to the philosophical idea that if your drone crashes and breaks into five shards, it doesn’t matter how many tricked out video features it has.  

There can be no question that when DJI feels pressure from a competitor, like, for instance, GoPro entering the drone market, it will spring into action in no uncertain terms.  It’ll be fun to see how DJI innovates in upcoming months and years.  If it can bring its price tag down just a little, it’ll be unbeatable in the video drone market.

The only thing that worries us is the limited amount of inventory that DJI can produce. Hopefully they don't have a shortage like last year when the demand outweighed the supply for their previous drone. I'd recommend getting the DJI Mavic Pro early this year if it's on your shopping list to avoid missing out.

As it stands, it is one of the best drones assuming you can get your hands on one. (Which might not be that easy).