With the release of the new Mavic Air 2, there are now two Mavic drones from DJI that cost less than $1000. The tiny and lightweight Mavic Mini costs $399 and the larger and feature-packed Mavic Air 2 starts at $799. How will you know which one is best for you? That is where we come in. We have done a deep dive and broken down their pros and cons.
Mavic Air 2 vs Mavic Mini
First, there is no wrong answer. Both of these drones are fantastic. However, they were built to serve two different purposes. The DJI Mavic Mini carries a 2.7K camera and is a feather-light 249 grams. The Mavic Air 2 has a 4K camera and some impressive features. If your goal is to buy the least expensive drone that can take solid pictures and video then the answer is easy, it is the Mavic Mini. You can stop reading and order your Mavic Mini now.
However, as you learn to fly and you want to take more complex pictures and videos you may want to consider the Mavic Air 2. We would argue that the Mavic Air 2 is even an excellent tool for professionals. Being informed will help you make the best decision, and there isn’t a place with more information than www.halfchrome.com. Let’s take a closer look.
The Mavic Air 2 has the longest flight time of any of the Mavic drones at 34 minutes. The Mini is four minutes short, with a 30-minute flight time. The Air 2 also has the longest Mavic range at 10,000 meters, thanks to the updated Occusync transmission technology. The Mini, however, tops out at 4000 meters. It isn’t likely that you will be flying either of these drones that far away, but having a strong video signal while you are flying is a very important thing. In reality, you probably won’t get half that range. However, if you fly in noisy WiFi areas like neighborhoods the enhanced WiFi of the Mini may struggle at times to deliver you a stable video feed.
When it comes to size, the Mavic Mini is the smaller of the two. In fact, with its 249-gram weight, it is so light that it doesn’t need to be registered with the FAA in the United States. The Mavic Air 2 does need to be registered and that will cost you $5 on the FAA’s website.
Not only is the Mavic Mini light, but it is also ultra-portable. Both it and its remote are small and foldable and can even fit in your pocket. While the Mavic Air 2 isn’t a large drone, it certainly can’t compete with the portability of the Mini. We highly recommend getting the Fly More package with whichever drone you choose. You’ll be happy to have more than one battery and a nice case to carry it around in.
The Mavic Air 2 has a top speed of 42.5 mph in sport mode. Whereas the Mini tops out at 29 mph. The Mavic Air 2 has obstacle avoidance cameras on the front and the rear of the drone as well as sensors on the bottom. The Mavic Mini does not have any obstacle avoidance cameras, but it does have some sensors on the bottom of the drone that will help keep it stable and recognize the ground.
Mavic Air 2 Camera vs Mavic Mini Camera
The cameras on both drones are both very good. Either one could be used as a professional tool with a little bit of practice. That said, the Mavic Air 2 camera is much more capable. The Mavic Mini can shoot 2.7K footage at 30 fps, whereas the Mavic Air 2 is capable of 4K at 60 fps. If you want HDR or the ability to shoot in RAW you’ll need to opt for the Mavic Air 2. If you don’t know what HDR or RAW is then the Mavic Mini will be more than enough camera for you.
Personally I prefer to stick with 1080p video and the Mini is capable of 1080p 60 fps. The Air 2 can shoot an amazing 240 fps in 1080p, if you are looking into getting some super slow-motion video. Video bitrate is an important feature and the Mini tops out at 40 Mbps but the Air has the fastest of all Mavics at 120 Mbps. This will help keep your video from having unwanted compression artifacts, but we have bee really happy with the performance of the Mini, despite the limited bitrate.
The chart above does a nice job of breaking down the camera specs. The Air 2 has the larger 1/2″ sensor and more video and picture options. If you don’t know about camera specs the Air 2 is the better camera. However, most people wouldn’t be able to tell which drone took which picture. They are both excellent cameras. The Mini does have some limitations, but the average weekend warrior who wants a drone to film an outdoor picnic, a hike, or a family event will be more than pleased. We even used the Mini for a real estate photo shoot. It wasn’t ideal, but it can get the job done.
Both drones use the simplified DJI Fly app. It was designed to be intuitive and easy to use. The Fly app will also allow you to easily edit and share footage. The Mini has the four DJI Quickshots, Dronie, Rocket, Circle, and Helix.
Also, the maximum distance on all four flight modes with the Mavic Mini is 120 feet. The Mavic Air 2 will let you complete the same Quickshot with a maximum distance of 380-390 feet. The Mavic Air 2 has all the flight modes that the Mini does plus adds FocusTrack.
There are three different FocusTrack modes on the Air 2 that allow you to track different subjects. ActiveTrack 3.0 allows you to follow subjects and avoid obstacles. Spotlight 2.0 (traditionally considered a feature of ActiveTrack) allows you to fly freely while the camera stays locked on the subject. POI 3.0 creates an automated path to fly around a fixed point and keeps the camera centered on your target. The Mini doesn’t have any ActiveTrack modes, but you can trick it into following you in some of the Quickshot modes.
Mavic Air 2 or Mavic Mini – Which is the drone for you?
Obviously there are some important factors to consider. The Mavic Air 2 is obviously the more capable drone, but it is also twice the price of the Mavic Mini at $799. Is this your first drone? Do you want to take amazing HDR photos, hyper-lapse photography, and 4K videos, or are you looking for something to start with, to have on hikes, family birthday parties, and bring along to capture unique aerial footage for fun?
How does the Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom stack up?
We have done some other comparisons as well. If you want to know how the entire Mavic lineup compares, click here. If you are interested in comparing the Mavic Air 2 to the Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom, click here. We are even working on some comparisons with non-DJI drones like the Autel Evo and Parrot Anafi. Stay tuned.
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