Illustration for article titled DJI Claims the Mavic Air 2 Is Its Smartest Drone Yet, But Its Definitely Not Its Lightest
Photo: DJI

Two years after the Mavic Air wowed us with a drone so small it could be shoved in a (very large) pocket DJI is back with the Mavic Air 2, and this time the size is similar, the weight is heavier, but the drone sounds a whole lot smarter.

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While retaining a similar folding design seen on previous Mavic drones, the Mavic Air 2 DJI is introducing its new Advanced Pilot Assistance System 3.0, should be better able to recognize upcoming objects so it can automatically steer clear. Not only does this help prevent crashes, but combined with DJI’s GEO geofencing system, the drone should automatically know to avoid sensitive locations like airports and military bases.

On top of all this, the Mavic Air 2 also features DJI’s Air Sense technology, which works with the FAA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast protocol to relay signals from nearby aircraft to ensure the drone won’t cause any mid-air collisions.

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Illustration for article titled DJI Claims the Mavic Air 2 Is Its Smartest Drone Yet, But Its Definitely Not Its Lightest
Photo: DJI

That said, the Mavic Air 2's smarts aren’t just for safety. That would be very boring. DJI has also included a number of new and enhanced recording modes to help you capture the best possible footage. Active Track 3.0 features a new flight path algorithm that makes it easier for the drone to follow a chosen subject while avoiding obstacles, and lock back onto the subject any time the drone’s sight lines get blocked.

Then there’s the Point of Interest 3.0 mode, which uses pre-programmed info to help you to set automated flight paths around famous landmarks and locations. But what might be the most useful improvement is the new Spotlight 2.0 mode DJI is bringing over from its pro-grade Inspire drones, which is able to lock on to a specific subject so you can concentrate on more important tasks like actually flying the drone and composing your shot.

By putting the smartphone holder on top, the Mavic Air 2's new controller should be easier and more intuitive to use.
By putting the smartphone holder on top, the Mavic Air 2's new controller should be easier and more intuitive to use.
Photo: DJI
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When it comes to imaging, the Mavic Air 2 also comes with a larger 1/2-inch sensor with support for both 12-MP and 48-MP still photography, HDR photos and video, slow-mo at up to 240 fps at 1080p, and full 4K video at 60 fps with a 120 Mbps bitrate, the latter of which is a first for any Mavic drone.

Despite the Mavic Air 2 being 140 grams heavier than its predecessor at 570 grams, its flight time has also gotten a boost to 34 minutes on a single charge. And with a new 10-kilometer range that includes a full HD video feed thanks to DJI’s Ocusync 3.0, the Mavic Air 2 should be better equipped to take advantage of that longer flight time without losing connectivity.

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Another small but important change is that DJI has also redesigned the Mavic Air 2's controller so that your phone (which you use as a viewfinder) now sits on top, instead of hanging down below on previous version. Combined with the updated Fly app, the Mavic Air 2's new control setup should be more intuitive and easier to use too.

Illustration for article titled DJI Claims the Mavic Air 2 Is Its Smartest Drone Yet, But Its Definitely Not Its Lightest
Photo: DJI
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The Mavic Air 2 is available for pre-order starting today, with official sales in the U.S. expected to ship sometime in mid-May. The Mavic Air 2 will be available in two different kits: The standard $800 kit that includes the drone, controller, battery, and all the necessary wires and cables, or the $1,000 Fly More kit which tacks on a shoulder bag, ND filters, charging hub, and a total of three batteries on top of the standard package.

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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