DJI has unleashed a teaser for an announcement on April 27th, 2020. As you know, DJI is pretty good about keeping their secrets, but we can’t help but assume the DJI Mavic Air 2 is on deck. It’s been a few years since their last mid-size folding consumer drone hit the market, the Mavic Mini is still new, in the big picture, and the larger Mavic 2 series is modern enough that it can wait a few more months before an iterative update.
There have been a few leaks floating around of a new DJI machine. It appears to be a small, folding drone with object avoidance sensors and a very familiar “Mavic” design. We’ll not be sure what the machine is exactly until the 27th, but we’re thinking that the rumors are on track.
Important note: We’ll continue with the speculation that this is the Mavic Air 2, but it may just be called the DJI Mavic. It may also be just a spiritual successor to the initial Mavic Pro, and not a replacement for the Mavic Air.
What to expect for the DJI Mavic Air 2
When the original Mavic Air launched, it fit a need. At the time, we had access to the Mavic Pro and the Spark — one of them was $1000+ and the other was around $500. One had a 4K camera, the other a 1080p shooter. The Mavic Air hit the middle very well, it launched for $800 and offered a 4K camera. Better than that, the 4K camera was an impressive upgrade due to its 100 Mbps video data rate. Truth told, the Mavic Air was the ideal drone for simple uses.
A DJI Mavic Air 2 needs to maintain that balance of features and availability.
Mavic Air 2 Price
Today, we can grab the Mavic Mini for $400 or bump up to the Mavic 2 series for $1200+. That leaves an unfortunate price gap. We believe DJI should target a Mavic Air 2 for around $600, but it’s more likely they’ll price starting at $800, landing perfectly in between the Mini and Mavic 2 drones. If DJI is reading this, $600 is an attractive price point, $800 is not. First, we must consider the world today, with people losing jobs, tightening purse strings, and generally not getting outside to partake in things like flying a drone. Obviously, the COVID-19 situation will pass, and the economy will eventually recover, but in the short term, do us good, DJI.
A final note on pricing: Drone manufacturers usually show us a decent starting price, but most of us are going to need the accessory packs and such to get the most out of our drones. For DJI, that usually comes in the form of a Fly More combo, which adds around $300 to the price of most drones. You should budget $1,000 for this new drone.
Mavic Air 2 features
Camera: As mentioned, the original Mavic Air began a trend for DJI of offering 100Mbps video data rate from a sub-$1000 drone. We’re not expecting any improvements on that front, yet, but we do expect a doubling of the frame rate. 4K video at 60fps is becoming a standard for mobile photography, it would be silly of DJI to offer anything less. We do expect to see that 1/2.3-inch sensor again in the Mavic Air 2. We’re obviously spoiled by the output of the 1-inch sensors of larger drones, but we understand the compromise. Our cars do well enough on 4 and 6 cylinder engines, but we still long for a roaring V12 now and then.
Obstacle avoidance: We always say that a safe flight is a good flight. Running into a wall is considered a bad flight. The best DJI drones offer all-direction obstacle avoidance, almost all offer at least downward sensors, plus at least vision enabled avoidance for forward flight. Based on the leaks, we expect forward, backward, and sideways obstacle avoidance, with the typical downward tools for accurate take-off and landing.
Ocusync: One of our biggest complaints with the initial Mavic Air was the lack of Ocusync connectivity. DJI’s proprietary remote connectivity protocol is slick, offering reliability over long range, multiple video streams and more. Basically, Ocusync is what put the “pro” in the Mavic Pro. We’d love to see the new Mavic Air 2 equipped with Ocusync, enabling connectivity to the DJI Goggles and bumping the range up to 4.3 miles.
ADS-B: As promised, DJI should be adding an ADS-B receiver into the Mavic Air 2. You should be able to see local flight traffic on your map as you fly. Sadly, the rumor appears that ADS-B will be an optional upgraded model of the drone, with an increased price tag.
Drone legal and safety
April 27th, 2020
Nothing more for it, 12 days from now DJI will launch a new… something. The event is at 6:30 pm PST, and, as best we can tell there is no in-person event for us to attend this time.
On a side note: There have been some weird rumors that DJI has been cutting back their forces in the U.S. We’re speculating now, but their main force is in New York, and this launch time is super late in the evening for the EST time zone. Whatever this event is, we are led to believe it is being hosted by DJI HQ. This should be interesting.