We’ve spent a lot of time with the DJI Mavic Pro camera drone, it’s one of the top drones on the market today. It is a very portable machine that is easy to operate and has great functionality as well. Today is not entirely about the Mavic Pro, instead we want to see if there are any viable alternatives out there.
Let’s take a look at what makes the DJI Mavic Pro so great, then let’s find some alternatives.
The DJI Mavic Pro camera drone
You likely know this drone by now, it’s a compact, folding quadcopter that has great functionality and some solid accessories. It satisfies the needs of most pilots, as it’s small and safe enough to take hiking or allow children to fly. It’s strong enough to pack around a decent payload like a GoPro camera, or to withstand some decent winds. It has a top flying speed around 40 mph, with stable video capture up to just over 30 mph.
Stable flight is the name of the game, the Mavic Pro is able to hover in place with impressive accuracy and even return to home land within inches of where it took off. The options while flying are just as impressive, offering many different autonomous flight modes. Not all modes are autonomous, some just assist your manual flight.
In terms of controlling your machine, the best bet is to use the dedicated remote control and attach to that a mobile device with the DJI GO 4 application installed. You can use third-party apps, such as Litchi, to connect to the remote as well. For a reduced functionality experience, you can also connect the drone directly to your mobile device, use the DJI app or a third-party app to directly fly the Mavic Pro.
Beyond these, you can connect two controllers to the drone at the same time, the main controller has master control, while the second pilot can be given control. Great for training a new pilot, and, this includes dual video streams, by the way. Ocusync is the proprietary connectivity tech that allows this, which also enables you to connect the DJI Goggles VR headset for FPV flying.
Hauling around the DJI Mavic Pro fully folded down will fit in a small bag. It even fits in the cargo pockets on my favorite hiking shorts. Quick-disconnect, folding propellers help shrink it further, or just keep the propellers safe while transporting. The Fly More combo of the Mavic Pro includes a small leather carrying case, about the size of a small purse, I think. Either way, it’s just a few pounds with the batteries to trek out to fly.
Each removable battery will get you upwards of 24 minutes of flight, you can, if legal in your area, fly over 4 miles away from yourself. Most places in the world limit you to 400 feet above the ground, but the drone has a max service ceiling of over 16,000 feet. Fly with ease anywhere from the ocean up to the top of most mountains around the globe.
We’ll allow you to visit the full review for more of the great things that the Mavic Pro can do. For now, let’s talk about some of the difficulties with this drone.
First and foremost, the Mavic Pro is not cheap. This is a positive, actually, as DJI made the machine with great materials, solid electronics and the best of practices. Like a good sports car, you get quality for a cost. Starting at $999 for the drone, one battery and the remote, you’re bumping up to $1299 for the Fly More combo with three batteries, the remote and a few extra bits, such as the carrying bag. It is value for the dollar, but it is not in the price range that just anyone can partake.
Next, the default settings are almost prefect, but if you are in North America, flying within line-of-site, the default low battery warning is too cautious. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for safety, but that loud beeping noise that begins at well over 20% battery remaining has me land with 18% battery left, if I land right away.
I rarely fly very far from myself, to keep it legal, thus a warning at about 12% would easily have me land with 7-10% battery left. Avoid killing your battery entirely, but that additional 10% is about two minutes of flight. I can do a lot in two minutes. Good thing we can change these values in the settings.
The DJI GO 4 app for Android is not as stable as we’d have hoped. It is much better these days, but the iOS app is far superior when it comes to staying connected to your drone. I am very much an Android user, as most of us are in the Android Authority family, so this is a serious problem for me. I hate to admit it, but a problem with the app was the leading cause of my first (and thankfully last) crash with the Mavic Pro. I had swear words. So glad the app is better now.
The camera. Stabilization is superb on the Mavic Pro, and the camera is high-quality, but it is a small sensor. Kicking up to the Phantom 4 Pro and similar higher-end drones yields a far superior image. Of course, I still like the quality of the camera on the Mavic Pro, it does produce great photos and video in the right conditions.
Last, the remote control is very cool, it’s like a video game controller, but it is designed to hold phones only. You have to buy a third party adapter to hold a tablet. Actually, you can squeeze in a small tablet, but then it sits in portrait orientation, and the app does not.
That’s the end of the things we will praise or bash about the Mavic Pro today. A full mini-review, as it turns out, but do head over to the full review for all the details. Now, the task at hand, is there a better drone out there? What are the top alternatives to the DJI Mavic Pro camera drone?
DJI Phantom 4 Pro
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the best representative of the Phantom drones line. It is a larger machine that packs a superior camera, slightly longer flight times and better stability than the Mavic Pro. It is a DJI product that uses the same app on your mobile device, but it has a more capable remote control and offers multi-direction obstacle avoidance. The Mavic Pro only has forward and downward object detection.
The trade-off for the superior drone in the DJI lineup is price and portability. All Phantom drones are much larger than the Mavic Pro for transport, mainly because they do not fold down. They are much taller as well, to hang the larger camera.
In the end, the Phantom 4 Pro is one of the best drones you can buy for under $2000. It’s a far cry from the professional drones out there, but still a powerful and popular machine. Check out the DJI Phantom 4 Pro for $1396 or add a built-in display to the remote in the DJI Phantom 4 Pro+ for $1747.
If I had to choose just one drone to promote as alternative to the Mavic Pro, it would be the DJI Spark. The reasons are obvious, it uses a similar controller, the same apps, the same camera (sensor, at least,) it offers almost exactly the same flight modes and connectivity options and it is pretty close to the same size when packed for transport.
Make no mistake, the DJI Spark is a smaller and less capable drone, it only shoots 1080p video with that 4K sensor and the remote offers less info and controls. It does not fold down for travel, but the leather carry case of the Spark is practically the same size as the carry case of the Mavic Pro.
The Spark has some tricks though, you can fly it by hand gesture. From take-off to landing, you do not need a remote to fly the Spark. That said, the advanced features, including the new DJI Quickshot autonomous modes will require remote, or at least connection to your mobile device.
If you can handle slightly inferior camera output for the trade-off of a smaller and lighter drone with some cool party tricks, you’ll need only half the money. The DJI Spark is $499 for the drone alone, but we highly recommend getting the remote control, additional battery and more in the DJI Spark Fly More combo for $699.
Parrot Bebop 2
Parrot put a lot of thought into the Bebop 2. Maybe not at first, but they’ve been continually updating the software to add new features and adding accessories to add new functionality. The Bebop 2 available today servers as a great toy and as a powerful professional drone. 3D mapping allows real estate agents, for example, to show a property from the sky and provide an accurate 3D model. 3D Mapping goes well beyond real estate photography, of course.
An easy to fly machine with a solid remote and optional FPV headset, the Bebop 2 offers almost everything that the Mavic Pro offers, on paper. In reality, the Bebop 2 is a plastic and foam built machine that was not engineered to be the best. It is more of a superb toy that found new uses.
The Parrot Bebop 2 is roughly the same size as the Mavic Pro in flight, but does not fold down for transport. You’ll want to remove the propellers before packing up, and you’ll need the special tool to do so. The remote is quite large as well, overall transportation will require a larger backpack.
Key to it all, the camera on the Bebop 2 is fairly decent. It is stable, but does not articulate. We’re working on an accurate comparison, but I’d say that the Mavic Pro camera is superior in performance.
Again, some of compromises make for a lower price, check out the Parrot Bebop 2 for $499, or bump up to the new Adventurer pack $579.
As seen in our Best folding drones list
Walkera is better known for their racing drones, not to mention their police interceptor, the Voyager series. However, they have a small, folding camera drone out there, the Vitus. It is, I’m sorry, I think it’s unattractive, but that’s not the point of it, is it? The flying machine offers stable flight, Gimbal mounted 4K camera, 25 minutes of flight time, a nice compact remote and more. On paper, it’s a direct competitor to the Mavic Pro.
Things is, it’s a plastic build that cannot fly as high, as far or as well as the Mavic Pro. It does have multi-directional obstacle avoidance and a solid Sony camera sensor, as well as pack down for easy transport though.
Check out the Walkera Vitus for $799 today.
Hubsan H501S brushless
It’s a little funny, Hubsan has a habit of announcing when a drone comes with brushless motors. If you are new to the technology, brushless motors are far superior to brushed motors, at least in terms of drone flight. They are also the default used on many higher-end machines, like the Mavic Pro. Don’t belittle Hubsan though, they started as a toy manufacturer, now they’re make some serious machines, good on them!
We put hands on the H501S earlier this year, it was a vastly superior feeling drone to the other Hubsan quadcopters on the table in front of us. It also had the option to fly via mobile device connected to a super simple and small controller. This non-folding drone is small enough to haul around with ease, and the camera performs decently. Thing is, it’s a roughly 3MP camera shooting 1080p, it’s not magic at all.
For twenty minutes of flight in a fun little drone, check out the Hubsan H501S for $255 on Amazon today.
Autel Robotics X-Star Premium
The Autel Robotics X-Star Premium is a drone that takes the basics of the Phantom line and adds in a powerful selection of interchangeable cameras. Including the Flir Duo infrared camera, a zoom lens and a full 360 degree shooter, not to mention the normal 4K camera, all of the image capture devices are suspended by gimbal and ready to rock.
The drone itself is a capable flier, but just like the Phantom drones, they do not fold and are a tad heavy. Autel Robotics has a great selection of bags and cases to haul around your X-Star drone though, so that helps.
Balancing out the far superior camera options, the X-Star Premium is a slower flying drone and the battery does not last as long. There are starters, after that, consider that it is a year older tech that has had minimal updates in the last long time. Still a superb drone, but not as advanced as the Mavic Pro in the air.
The starting price is a great value, check out the Autel Robotics X-Star Premium for $799 today. The price goes up quick for the other cameras though, so budget for that.
Yuneec has a few drones that can outperform the Mavic Pro in many regards, each of which are twice the size or more. In terms of a compact flying machine with a good selection of features, accessories and functions, the Breeze may be the best bet.
Yuneec Breeze is a different class of drone from the Mavic Pro. Let’s get that out of the way, the Breeze is a toy-class machine. However, this is not the first machine we’ve called toy-class but potentially on-par with the Mavic Pro. A 4K camera, optional FPV headset and a video game like controller certainly sound familiar.
Now, although Breeze produced pretty decent image capture from the sky, it is a quarter of the price of the Mavic Pro for a reason. Limited flight range and flight time with minimal flight modes are just fine for hanging out in your backyard. The small size is easy to carry on the go. There is a home for this drone, for sure.
If you are looking to give FPV flight a try for a reasonable cost, the Yuneec Breeze is hard to beat. Check out the Yuneec breeze for $399 on Amazon today.
Do you see what we see here, that there is no one drone that can do what the DJI Mavic Pro can do? Some come close, offering similar connectivity, portability, functionality or camera image quality, but none do it all.
This is not to say that the DJI Mavic Pro is the best drone out there. Your needs will determine how good a drone is for you. I value portability and ease of use over size and payload. I also would prefer a better camera, but as it turns out, this is more than good enough for what I’m doing.
The question is, which drone is the right drone for you?