Skip to main content
  1. Blog/

DJI Air 3 vs. Mavic 2 Pro (Here’s My Choice)

18 mins
Drone Blog
Table of Contents

With the release of the DJI Air 3, people have even more options for their first drone or an additional one.

DJI has older drone models, which are still very capable, and one that is still a favorite some years later is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

So, how does the Air 3 hold up to an older model like the Mavic 2 Pro?

If you crave the latest technological advancements, superior flight features, and extended capabilities, the DJI Air 3 is the clear choice. However, if you’re a professional prioritizing exceptional image quality and reliability, the Mavic 2 Pro continues to hold its ground.

Keep reading to learn whether to get or keep the older model, buy the newer one, and other alternatives you might also consider.

DJI Air 3 overview #

Editor’s Choice

As mentioned, the Air 3 is the newest consumer drone from DJI, and it’s getting quite popular.

While some of the technologies it uses are recycled from older drones, it comes with new technologies that are not in other models.

Some of the features that make this drone very popular include:

  • Dual camera system – First seen in the DJI Mavic 3, the Air 3 features two cameras offering different apertures and fields of view, allowing users to get footage from dual perspectives in one take. One of the cameras is an f1.7 wide-angle, 24mm equivalent, and the other is a 70m equivalent f2.8 3X medium tele camera. Both feature a 1/1.3 CMOS sensor.
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance – The Air 3 features 360-degree obstacle avoidance and a more advanced APAS system that ensures a smooth flight even as the drone dodges obstacles. These sensors are active in all modes except for Sport Mode.
  • Longer flight time – While most DJI drones are known for lasting about 30 minutes, DJI has recently released drones with more than 40 minutes of flight time. The Air 3 is advertised to last 46 minutes in flight, which is adequate for most applications.
  • Intelligent Flight Modes – The Air 3 features intelligent modes like Hyperlapses, ActiveTrack, Panoramas, QuickShots, MasterShots, Waypoints, Cruise Control, and Night Mode. Many of these modes are upgraded, meaning they perform better and give you more options than older drones.
  • Range – The Air 3 comes with the OcuSync 4.0 transmission system that offers a range of up to 12 miles. This is the newest DJI transmission system we have not seen in other drones yet.
  • Vertical shooting – The Air 3 allows you to record videos in portrait mode for social media content. However, this feature is enabled by automatically cropping the footage, and it’s only available for videos and is limited to 2.7K resolution.
  • Maximum resolution – The Air 3 can shoot videos up to 4K at 100 fps and take stills in 12 and 48 MP, making it great for personal or commercial content creation. It also supports 10-bit D-Log M and HLG, giving you much room for editing.

✅ Pros #

  • Dual camera system with versatile shooting options
  • 360-degree obstacle avoidance for enhanced safety
  • Longer flight time compared to older models
  • Improved and upgraded flight modes
  • Longer range with OcuSync 4.0 transmission
  • Vertical shooting for social media content
  • High-resolution video capabilities and multiple still image options
  • Support for advanced color grading

❌ Cons #

  • Some users may find the Quad Bayer technology for stills challenging to use
  • Requires additional accessories like ND filters for maximum flexibility in certain situations due to fixed aperture

» MORE: DJI Air 3 Review – Is This the Drone for You?

DJI Mavic 2 Pro overview #

Released in August 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is five years older than the Air 3.

However, it came with a wide range of features that made it the best portable drone at the time, and it is still used for photography, videography, and photogrammetry for surveying projects.

These features include:

  • One-inch sensor – One feature that makes the Mavic 2 Pro still stand out over the years is the 1-inch sensor co-engineered by Hasselblad, a Swedish company that DJI now owns. Hasselblad sensors are known in the drone industry for their superior image quality. The Mavic 2 Pro can take 20 MP stills with this sensor and shoot up to 4K at 30 fps.
  • Decent flight time – The Mavic 2 Pro comes with a 31-minute flight time, which is long enough to record footage or collect images for photogrammetry. With several batteries, you will not have to worry about flight time.
  • Variable aperture – The Mavic 2 Pro is one of the few DJI drones with an adjustable aperture ranging from f2.8 to f11. While you can always get ND filters for some shots, an adjustable aperture gives you more flexibility in adjusting the amount of light that gets to the lens.
  • Color profiles – The Mavic 2 Pro supports HLG and D-Log M, offering greater color depth.
  • OcuSync 2.0 – This drone features OcuSync 2.0, which allows a range of up to 6 miles, long enough for most tasks.
  • Enhanced Intelligent Flight Modes – It includes a variety of Intelligent Flight Modes, such as ActiveTrack 2.0 for subject tracking, Hyperlapse for creating time-lapse videos, and Waypoints 2.0 for precise flight path planning.
  • Two shooting angles – This drone also comes with two angles: a wide-angle view equivalent to a 24MM lens and an HQ (high-quality) angle equivalent to 40mm. The ability to switch between these two angles on the Mavic 2 Pro opens up a world of creative opportunities for photographers and videographers.
  • Obstacle avoidance – This drone has 360-degree obstacle sensors. However, the front, back, upward, and downward sensors are active for normal or manual flight, while the side sensors are only active during ActiveTrack and Tripod modes.

✅ Pros #

  • High-quality 1-inch sensor co-engineered by Hasselblad for excellent image quality
  • Decent flight time suitable for various applications
  • Adjustable aperture for precise control over exposure
  • Support for advanced color profiles
  • Two shooting angles for creative flexibility
  • Effective obstacle avoidance for normal and manual flight

❌ Cons #

  • Heavier than the DJI Air 3, potentially requiring more regulatory compliance
  • Limited availability due to being replaced by newer models
  • There is no support for the latest DJI controllers, making it less ergonomic for some users
  • Limited to 4K at 30 fps for video recording, less suitable for high-speed or slow-motion shots

» MORE: DJI Mavic 2 Pro Review

DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mavic 2 Pro – The comparison #

Below is a detailed comparison of how these drones perform in various aspects.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro (Here’s My Choice)

Weight and design #

While these drones are five years apart, they look similar.

The Mavic Air 2 Pro came at a time when DJI was moving away from bulky drones like the Phantoms to more portable and foldable drones, and they have used this design even in their most recent releases like the Air 3 or the Mavic 3 Pro.

The Mavic 2 Pro is heavier, weighing 907 grams compared to the Air 3’s 720 grams.

As such, both drones will need registration with the FAA, and if you are in the UK, the Air 3 falls under the C1 category, while the Mavic 2 Pro falls under the C2 category.

This means flying the Air 3 in most places will be easier than the Mavic 2 Pro.

» MORE: Best 4K Drones Under 250 Grams

Price and availability #

The Mavic 2 Pro is no longer in production and has since been replaced by the Mavic 3 drones.

As a result, it is possible to get it for less than $1,000 with one battery, up to $1,200 for the Fly More Combo, and up to $1,599 with the Smart Controller.

When it was first released, the Mavic 2 Pro retailed between $1,300 and $1,500 for the drone and one battery and up to $1,700 for the Fly More Combo.

The DJI Air 3 starts at $1,099 for the standard package with the DJI RC-N2 controller, $1,349 with the DJI RC 2 controller, and $1,549 for the Fly More Combo, including the DJI RC 2 controller.

Since the Air 3 is a recent release, getting it on most platforms is easy. You may have to buy the Mavic 2 Pro from resellers, which may not always be mint quality.

Unless you get a considerable discount on the Mavic 2 Pro, there is a slight difference between these drones’ prices, with the Mavic 2 Pro often expensive if you go for a new one.

» MORE: Best and Cheapest Drones with Camera

Photography and video recording #

Below are the main differences between these two drones’ cameras.

» MORE: Best Affordable Drones for Photography

Sensor size #

While the Mavic 2 Pro was released almost five years ago, its camera features are in some respects superior to the Air 3.

The Mavic 2 Pro features a larger sensor, which, on paper, is supposed to perform better in low-light conditions.

But thanks to the advancements in imaging technology, the sensor size should not be a deal breaker since it’s now possible to get excellent footage from a smaller sensor.

Variable aperture #

One area that the Mavic 2 Pro is hands down the better drone is the variable aperture, which gives you an extensive range to work with.

The Air 3 tries to compensate for this with two cameras, each with different apertures, but it only gives you two options of aperture. To get more flexibility, you will need to use ND filters.

» MORE: Best DJI Alternatives – What Drones Are Better Than DJI?

Dual camera system #

Speaking of two cameras, the Air 3 offers a convenient way to take the same shot from two perspectives, so you can choose one during editing or combine them.

However, while the Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t have two cameras, it has two views you can switch between. One is the 24MM wide angle, and the other is the 40MM HQ view.

You can achieve almost the same flexibility as you would from a dual-camera system.

Maximum resolution #

On the other hand, the Air 3 can film at 4K at 100fps, which works great when you need high-resolution slow-motion videos.

The Mavic 2 Pro stops at 4K at 30fps, which is enough for most shots, but for slow motion, you will have to shoot at 2.7K.

Both drones also support D-Log M and HLG, so you will have many color options to play around with, regardless of your chosen drone.

How about still imagery? You can get 20 MP stills from the Mavic 2 Pro, which is good enough. The Air 3 allows you to take 12 and 48-MP stills.

However, the 48 MP quality of the Air 3 is enabled by Quad Bayer technology.

That means it’s essentially a 12-MP sensor, but the pixel clustering makes it possible to achieve 48 MP.

Some users have issues with the Quad Bayer-enabled resolution, claiming it has noise or unpredictable results.

DJI has been refining this feature, so you may get better results with the Air 3, but you may have to try this manually and compare it with a true 20-MP camera from the Mavic 2 Pro.

» MORE: Best 4k Video Drones Under $500

Vertical shooting mode #

The vertical shooting mode is an excellent addition for content creators who want to shoot and post content without much cropping.

It only appears in the Air 3, where the camera is designed to automatically crop the footage to a lower resolution (2.7K).

But if you’ve got the time, you can use either of these drones and manually crop it.

Flight features #

So, which of these two drones gives you a better flying experience and peace of mind when flying? Let’s find out.

  • Obstacle avoidance – Both drones feature obstacle avoidance, but the Air 3 has the upper hand. For starters, it features 360-degree obstacle avoidance, which is permanently active. This feature is also more advanced, offering a smoother flight when using intelligent modes. As mentioned earlier, 360-degree obstacle sensing is only active in ActiveTrack and Tripod modes, so you must always be careful in manual flight.
  • Wind resistance – Both drones are good at handling strong winds. The Air 3 is advertised to handle winds of up to 26 MPH, and a test of this drone against a leaf blower showed the Air 3 held its position well. The Mavic 2 Pro can handle wind gusts of up to 40 MPH, but it has to switch off the sensors to achieve a top speed and keep alerting the high wind speed.
  • Flight time – The Air 3 features a more advanced battery that offers a flight time of 40 to 46 minutes, which is quite long. The Mavic 2 Pro is from an older generation of drones that maxed at 30 minutes of flight time, which may not be as long as the Air 3, but it was enough then and is still enough now for most activities. There is always the option of getting more batteries.

» MORE: How Does Weather Affect Drones? (Explained for Beginners)

Intelligent Flight Modes #

As evident in recent drone releases, DJI has been working on its flight modes. The Air 3 and the Mavic 2 Pro feature popular Intelligent Flight Modes like ActiveTrack, QuickShots, and Hyperlapses.

However, the Air 3 features the latest versions that are improved compared to the older ones in the Mavic 2 Pro.

Below are the differences between these two drones when looking at the Intelligent Flight Modes.

ActiveTrack #

The Air 3 features the latest ActiveTrack 5.0 compared to the Mavic 2 Pro’s ActiveTrack 2.0. That’s a difference of three generations.

As expected, ActiveTrack 5.0 gives a more fluid flight experience, smoother video, and eight different directions to track the subject.

ActiveTrack 2.0 was good when released, but you are limited in tracking the subject in three different ways. The Point of Interest and Spotlight features are also upgraded.

» MORE: Follow Me and ActiveTrack on DJI Drones (Explained for Beginners)

Cruise control #

Cruise control is a feature that first appeared on the Air drones but has been around since the Mavic 3 drones.

This feature allows the drone to keep flying at a constant speed as you use the gimbal and works great for some shots or when you need to get to a specific location.

While it sounds new, this feature is available in the Mavic 2 Pro but under a different name: TapFly.

With TapFly, you can let the drone fly at a constant speed forward, in reverse, or switch to Free, where you have more control over the drone.

Night mode #

This feature is designed to make it easier to take night photos by automatically adjusting the ISO and noise.

The Mavic 2 Pro fairs well for nighttime cinematography thanks to the larger sensor that lets more light in and the HyperLight feature, an update that works similarly to the Night Mode in the Air 3.

This video shows a comparison between the Air 3 and the Mavic 3 for night shots, while this video shows a comparison between the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 3.

While there are some differences, these comparisons show that the Mavic 2 Pro and the Air 3 are good enough when shooting nighttime footage for social media content or any other type of content.

» MORE: Drone Night Flight: How to Safely and Legally Fly a Drone at Night

Waypoints #

Both drones have the Waypoints feature that lets you preplan the flight, telling the drone what to do at each point.

This is the first time Waypoints appeared on an Air drone, as most people have had to rely on apps like Litchi when using drones like the Air 2S, but the Mavic 2 Pro has had this feature for a while.

Waypoints come in handy when you need to replicate a certain shot at different times or film yourself engaging in your favorite activity without having to keep looking at the controller.

Since both drones have this feature, it’s a matter of which footage you like most from the two.

» MORE: DJI Waypoints (Explained for Beginners)

Range and transmission #

Again, the difference in when these drones were released shows in the range you can get.

The Mavic 2 Pro comes with the OcuSync 2.0, which offers a range of up to six miles, while the Air 3 comes with the latest OcuSync 4.0, which promises a range of up to 12 miles.

The Air 3 has the upper hand here.

The new OcuSync system has more antennas, performs better in areas with interference, and transmits a higher-quality live feed than the Mavic 2 Pro.

It shows how DJI’s transmission system has changed over the years.

I recently had to fly the Mavic 2 Pro for a long-range flight after one of our enterprise drones was damaged.

I kept losing the signal for flights longer than two kilometers, which was quite frustrating, having gotten used to stronger transmissions.

You would have to fly very far to experience such with the Air 3, and even for short-range flights, the Air 3 will be way better.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Controller design and compatibility #

Controller ergonomics is another reason to choose one drone over the other. The Mavic 2 Pro features a different controller from what you may have seen in the drones released recently.

It’s smaller, and the smartphone goes at the bottom, not the top.

Compared to the RC-N1 that comes with the Air 2S, Mini, and Mavic 3 drones, the Mavic 2 Pro’s controller is quite uncomfortable.

Luckily, you don’t have to use it for the drones released after the Mavic 2 Pro.

DJI later made the Mavic 2 Pro compatible with the Smart Controller that came with a built-in screen and was more comfortable to use.

However, this Smart Controller has since been replaced by the DJI RC and the DJI RC 2, and the Mavic 2 Pro is incompatible.

On the other hand, the Air 3 comes with the RC-N2, an upgrade from the RC-N1, and the DJI RC 2, an upgrade from the DJI RC.

If you don’t mind using your smartphone as the screen, you can go for the RC-N2, but if you want to eliminate the hassle of connecting your smartphone every time you want to fly, the DJI RC 2 is a better choice.

Unfortunately, these new controllers are not compatible with any other drone yet, but they could work with future drones that may come with the O4 system.

Besides looking at the ergonomics, it will be a question of whether to go with outdated or the latest controllers.

» MORE: Best Drone Controllers

DJI Air 3 vs. the DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Which should you choose? #

Both drones are serious contenders. Despite the huge generational gap, both results are not significantly different.

I have come across people who have upgraded to the latest drone models, and I also know of professional photographers and videographers who will not let go of their Mavic 2 Pro.

Either of these drones is better for you, depending on your desires.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Air 2S vs. Mini 3 Pro: Which One is Right for You?

Why choose the DJI Air 3? #

The Air 3 is a standout choice for those who value cutting-edge technology and the latest innovations in drone technology.

With its dual camera system, extended flight time, enhanced obstacle avoidance, and intelligent modes, it’s clear that DJI has pushed the boundaries of what a consumer drone can do.

If you’re a content creator looking to capture dynamic shots from multiple angles in a single take, the dual camera system of the Air 3 provides unmatched flexibility.

The 360-degree obstacle avoidance and advanced APAS system offer peace of mind during flights, even in complex environments.

The longer flight time and extended range make it a versatile tool for various applications, from cinematography to surveying.

Furthermore, the Air 3’s support for high-resolution video (4K at 100 fps), multiple still image options (12 MP and 48 MP), and advanced color profiles (10-bit D-Log M and HLG) make it a strong contender for those seeking the highest quality content creation.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 Beginners Guide (Step-by-Step Guide)

Why choose the Mavic 2 Pro? #

Despite being an older model, the Mavic 2 Pro still shines in certain aspects, making it a compelling choice.

Its superior Hasselblad camera with a 1-inch sensor and adjustable aperture offers exceptional image quality, especially in low-light conditions.

The proven reliability of the Mavic 2 Pro and its extensive intelligent modes make it an excellent tool for professional photographers and videographers.

If you prioritize image quality above all else and require the flexibility of adjusting the aperture for different lighting situations, the Mavic 2 Pro remains a top contender.

Its reliable performance, quality color profiles, and obstacle avoidance system ensure a safe and productive flying experience.

However, remember that the Mavic 3 series drones have replaced the Mavic 2 Pro, and it is no longer in production.

If you liked the Air 3 but the smaller sensor or lack of variable aperture is a deal breaker to you, consider checking out the Mavic 3 Classic, which has an even bigger sensor and all the features you get in the Air 3 except for the vertical shooting mode, but you also get to shoot in 5.1K.

» MORE: Best Camera Drones Under $2,000

DJI Air 3 vs. Mavic 2 Pro – My choice #

While the Mavic 2 Pro holds its ground in several aspects, I would not go for it. The app it uses, the controllers, and some features have been upgraded.

I recommend the Air 3 since it offers more advanced features like upgraded intelligent modes, longer flight time, and overall better performance.

» MORE: DJI Air 3 vs. Air 2S (Here’s My Choice)

Best SD cards for these drones #

Once you have settled on the drone that will suit your needs, below are some compatible SD cards you can order to start shooting footage as soon as your drone arrives.

Best SD cards for the DJI Air 3 #

» MORE: Best SD Cards for DJI Air 3

Best SD cards for the DJI Mavic 2 Pro #

TIP: The Mavic 2 Pro has a maximum SD card size of 128 GB, while drones like the Air 3 have a maximum SD card size of 256 GB. Bear that in mind when purchasing. Getting two SD cards is also advisable to ensure you don’t always lose all your footage if something happens to your drone.

» MORE: How to Format SD Cards in DJI Drones (Quick Steps with Photos)


Do I Need to Take Drone Lessons? (Explained for Beginners)
6 mins
Drone Blog
Can You Fly a Drone in Fog?
7 mins
Drone Blog
Can You Fly a Drone in Vancouver?
7 mins
Drone Blog
Autel Evo Lite+ Video Review (VIDEO)
1 min
Drone Blog
Can You Fly a Drone in Portugal
6 mins
Drone Blog
Autel EVO Lite vs. DJI Mini 3 Pro (Which One Is Better?)
16 mins
Drone Blog