A smaller footprint is supposed to mean features left at R&D. Instead, the DJI Mavic Pro went the opposite way. You can make the argument its feature set is better than the Phantom 4.

One area where I was wrong was the price. I thought they would try to push against the Yuneec offering, but instead, they made something that fits in a damn water bottle holder more advanced than its flagship consumer drone – the Phantom 4.

But the naming of the drone makes me wonder if there’s a surprise lurking. DJI went ahead and launched the Pro model. We all thought it would be the DJI Mavic. Add in Pro and it’s not out of the realm to see a regular DJI Mavic make an entrance at a lower price point sooner rather than later.

DJI Mavic Pro lifestyle

DJI Mavic Pro Specs

Price. Three different SKUs for the same product. The cheapest version is $749. That’s an obvious push against GoPro’s Karma that is priced at $800 without a camera. That $749 is without the new controller and automatically limits some of the advantages the Mavic Pro has over its siblings – the Phantom series. All the controls will be via your smartphone.

Adding in the remote controller hits $999, and it’s where the DJI Mavic Pro starts to shine in a big way. 1080p live video downlink now extends up to 4.3 miles. That’s perfect line of sight and no interference. Still, a massive uptick from the Phantom 4. Makes you wonder what the hell the refreshes in the Inspire and the eventual Phantom 4 Pro have in store for us.

DJI Mavic Pro outdoors

A bundle with all of the above, extra battery, chargers and carry case hits $1299.

It brings up the question is the price point low enough for the casual market. Personally, I think the casual market concern is overstated. We drop $800+ on smartphones annually. Granted, we all sit on payment plans, but the sticker shock is real.

Battery Life. This one blows my mind a bit. This tiny sucker puts up battery life up to 27 minutes – on par with the Phantom 4. Here’s how that breaks down according to DJI. At a constant rate of speed (15 mph) and 0 wind, it can hit the 27-minute mark. That’s a perfect situation you won’t see very often. Not where I live at least. As soon as I unpack my Phantom, the weather knows, and it gets breezy.

Max hovering time is 24 minutes in perfect, zero wind conditions. Should take this thing to Adak, AK. The birthplace of the winds.

Flight Distance. It’s theoretically eight miles, but you’re talking a perfect line of sight, and the RC controller transmission range is 4.3 miles. You’d be flying blind. Still, it’s nice to know you can stretch into distances of 2-3 miles and have great transmission quality.

Speed. Hell, when we reviewed the Phantom 4, it was the first thing I did. It said 45mph, let’s test it out. On stage and the spec sheet, the Mavic Pro lists 40 mph. And it’s more for drone racing. The slim profile means the speed is more useable for goofing off and having your Top Gun moments. Fair warning to Adam at DJI. When the review unit shows up, I’m testing the speed.

DJI Mavic Pro seaside

Livestream. Facebook. Youtube. Periscope. No more 720p streams. The Mavic Pro can handle 1080p and basically wreck your data plan. Those overages won’t be fun, but at least the drone looks badass.

Obstacle Avoidance. I honestly thought DJI would cut some features because of the size. Instead, the features from the Phantom line are right there with the Mavic Pro. Both the sensing system and the vision positioning system are there in the palm of your hand.

DJI Mavic Pro surfing

DJI Mavic Pro Camera

Can’t have everything in life. It’s still 12MP for video here are the recording modes:

C4K: 4096×2160 24p
4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
2.7K: 2704×1520 24/25/30p
FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/96p
HD: 1280×720 24/25/30/48/50/60/120

Still photography modes:

Single shot
Burst shooting: 3/5/7 frames
Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB): 3/5 bracketed frames at 0.7 EV Bias

The bitrate is the same as the Phantom 4, but the compactness of the Mavic means some FOV loss. It shoots at 78.8 degrees at 22mm (35mm equivalent)f/2.2. Compare that to the Phantom 4’s 90-degree FOV.

I’m waiting for the step up in camera sensors and bitrates now that DJI has made the move into tiny drones.

The initial rumor was it would be stabilized on a 2-axis gimbal. That was wrong, and a miniaturized 3-axis gimbal is keeping the shots steady.

User Friendly Features

With a compact drone, the fear was that it would lack the sensors to save you from the ‘oops’ moments. DJI surprised by keeping both sensor packages on board. It won’t save you in sport mode, but it allows a level of control.

A new terrain feature will keep the Mavic Pro at the same height as you hike up and down mountains.

Gesture control is being added to the drone, allowing you to go full YMCA in the park. You’ll get strange looks, but it’s another user barrier lowered. It will be interesting to see how well it works out of the box.

Potential Pitfalls

Price is obvious. But that’s comparing it to the Yuneec selfie drone. Comparing it to the Karma, and the features alone are damning for the GoPro. It will come down to what you want, but the compactness of the Mavic Pro is staggering.

Durability. That’s a lot of folding and unfolding with the props attached. Our own Phantom 3 Pro has seen its fair share of crashes and shrugged them off. And DJI has borrowed a page from Apple with DJI Care.

What About the Phantom 4

The price points announced on stage damn near confirm a Phantom 4 Pro is coming. And if they can manage 27 minutes of battery life on the Mavic, we should be looking at well over 30 with a Pro model. And more camera options. No word on when, but it’s hard to imagine DJI leaving the Phantom line hanging.

Inspire 2 Will Come

The casual market has been taken care of. The Hasselblad partnership is begging to be used and with the discounts on the Inspire line, the Inspire 2 is coming. The push on the SDK near the end isn’t so much for the Mavic as it is professional applications. You’re not slapping a FLIR camera on a Mavic Pro.

Plenty of winks and nods towards a refresh for the Inspire fans, it’s just a matter of when. And it could go the rout of the various Osmo upgrades. We all wake up to emails announcing the new line one day.

Wrapping the DJI Mavic Pro

It’s small and has all the features of a Phantom. Do I want one? Hell yes. But I’m a nut when it comes to photography. It will be interesting to see sales numbers out of the Mavic Pro. The big issue is the price, but they are smart getting it into Apple stores in November.

Your casual market kinda doesn’t give a damn about pricing when walking into an Apple store. They know the prices will be higher and having a drone that fits in your bag is one hell of a selling point.

Gear. TV. Movies. Lifestyle. Photography. Yeah, I’m the type who sees a shiny object and is immediately captivated. Wait... There’s another. You can reach me at marcus@newsledge.com

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