DJI today unveiled its latest drone — the ultra portable Mavic Pro which features foldable motor arms and a 4K stabilized camera with 3-axis gimbal, among other things. It is so portable that it weighs 743g and measures a mere 83 x 83 x 198mm when fully folded — small enough to fit into a cycling jersey pocket or a handbag.
But don’t let that tiny body fool you. The Mavic is not short of smart features and that small form factor conceals some really nifty features. Apart from the 4K camera, the Mavic also features GPS navigation, obstacle avoidance, an FPV headset and an incredible 7km (4.3 miles) video transmission range.
With such ultra portability, it’s very obvious that DJI is taking a swipe at the GoPro Karma which was launched about a week ago but while both drones are aimed at outdoor and adventure enthusiasts, they have some key differences as well.
For example, the Mavic’s camera is not detachable and cannot be used as a handheld stabilizer. The Karma, on the other hand, features a camera that can be detached and used as a handheld stabilizer when mounted on the Karma Grip. Then there is the difference in size — the Karma is obviously larger and more wind-resistant though less portable than the Mavic. Since this isn’t a Mavic VS Karma article, i’ll save the comparison for another day.
DJI Mavic Highlights
- Ultra portable design (83 x 83 x 198mm when fully folded).
- Weight: 743g (including gimbal cover).
- Flight time: about 27 minutes.
- 4K camera with 12MP sensor.
- 3-axis mechanical gimbal.
- Flight Autonomy.
- GPS/GLONASS positioning.
- 4 Vision ultrasonic range finders.
- 40mph (65kmh) maximum speed (in Sport mode)
- OcuSync Transmission System for live video feed at 1080p/720p (up to 7km/4.3 miles).
- DJI Goggles with two 1080p screens (sold separately).
Like the drone, the Mavic transmitter (remote controller) also features a foldable design with two grips that swing out of its bottom. These grips can be used to hold most smartphones. Like other DJI remotes, your phone connects to the transmitter via a USB cable. Dominating the face of the transmitter is a small monochrome screen that displays flight modes, telemetry data and other features. To view the FPV feed from the Mavic, you will have to connect your phone to the transmitter.
The transmitter system is so versatile that you can even fly the Mavic without a smartphone connected though doing this means you won’t be able to view the live feed. You can also pilot the Mavic without the supplied transmitter — using only your smartphone which controls the drone via WiFi.
One smart feature the Mavic has is obstacle avoidance which prevents the drone from flying into obstacles along its path. The Mavic will stop flying or attempt to bypass as soon as it detects an obstacle such as a tree. There is also a vibration alert on the transmitter to warn the pilot of incoming obstacles.
In some ways, the Mavic is actually more intelligent than the Phantom 4. The Active Track feature on the Mavic can now distinguish between people, road vehicles and also animals and track them in a variety of ways — follow from behind, lead from the front, follow alongside and even orbit. The earlier implementation of Active Track in the Phantom 4 had some issues with undulating landscapes (like following a cyclist or skier going downhill). With the Mavic, Active Track over changing ground levels seems to have been solved — the Mavic maintains a pre-set altitude above ground level as it follows a subject.
The Mavic is undoubtedly the most anticipated DJI product since the Phantom 4 so much so that the DJI Store could not cope with the spike in traffic just an hour after the official Mavic launch in New York. It’s also probably the most radical consumer drone from DJI since the Inspire 1.
With the release of the Mavic Pro, DJI seems to have blown its rivals out of the water (again). It’s going to be interesting to see which rival brand is going to make the first move in catching up with the Shenzhen-based drone juggernaut.
If you’re keen on getting your hands on one, the Mavic Pro is now available for $999. There is also a Mavic Pro combo ($1299) which comes with two extra batteries, extra propellers, charging hub, car charger and carrying bag. Pricing for the DJI Goggles will be announced soon.
Shipping for the DJI Mavic Pro is expected to start in October.