DJI's new Mavic Air 2 folding-style drone is a huge improvement over the previous model--so much so that for most people, this is the perfect drone. The Mavic Air 2 is the middle child in DJI's consumer drone lineup, sitting between the smaller, lighter, but less capable Mavic Mini, and the more powerful, more capable, but also more expensive, Mavic 2. If you're just getting started with drones, the less expensive Mavic Mini (8/10 WIRED Recommends)--my previous top pick for most people--might be a better buy. That said, the Air 2 offers better collision avoidance systems, higher quality photos and video, and a wide assortment of automated flight features that newcomers and seasoned vets alike can appreciate. The Mavic Air 2 is slightly bigger than its predecessor, at least on paper. The folding design remains compact, and at 1.3 pounds, the drone is plenty portable.
Drone maker DJI announced an update to its popular Mavic Air quadcopter today. The Mavic Air 2 will cost $799 when it ships to US buyers in late May. That's the same price as the previous Mavic Air model, so the drone stays as DJI's mid-range option between its more capable Mavic 2 and its smaller, cheaper Mavic Mini. The Mavic Air 2 is still plenty small, but the new version has put on some weight. DJI says that testing and consumer surveys suggested that most people don't mind lugging a few extra grams in exchange for a considerable upgrade in flight time and, presumably, better handling in windy conditions.
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. After 45 hours of research and test flying 14 models, we think the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the best drone for aspiring aerial photographers and videographers thanks to its high-end camera, autonomous obstacle avoidance, long battery life, and portability. Pilots of all skill levels will find it to be exceptionally reliable and easy to fly. The Mavic 2 Pro features a Hasselblad-branded camera (DJI bought a majority stake in the camera brand in 2017), which captures 20-megapixel photographs and 4K videos that look more colorful than those captured by the competition. Its ability to sense and avoid obstacles in all directions and steadily hold its position even in moderate winds lets you focus on your cinematography instead of worrying about keeping the drone steady. It also features DJI's smart-flight modes like ActiveTrack, which directs the drone to autonomously follow and film a subject while still avoiding obstacles. Its 31-minute battery life means you don't have to land for a battery swap as often as other drones, and at 8.4 by 3.6 by 3.3 inches folded and 2 pounds, you can take the Mavic 2 Pro almost anywhere--it fits exceptionally well in our top pick for drone backpacks. It's also compatible with the DJI Goggles FPV headset we recommend.
The DJI Mini 2, which easily can be stuffed into a jacket pocket, can fly as far as 6 miles from its controller, though in most settings, the practical range will be much less. Using an enhanced communications technology called OcuSync that DJI invented, communications will be much more reliable in places with cellular towers and other competing signals. DJI on Wednesday unveiled a revamped version of the Mavic Mini, the Mini 2, its smallest, lightest, most pocketable drone, with enhanced cameras and the ability to travel much farther, up to 6.2 miles versus a maximum range of 2.5 miles before. To achieve greater range, DJI added to the Mini 2 their proprietary wireless control network, called OcuSync, which communicates over 2.4 to 2.48 gigahertz links. The link can communicate between the handheld controller unit and the drone from up to 10 kilometers away.