DJI Mavic Pro review

Just a week after GoPro announced its first drone, DJI unveiled the Mavic Pro. Both are similarly priced consumer drones which fold up and are easy to transport. But is it worth spending a bit extra on the Mavic Pro? We flew the Mavic Pro to find out. 

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See also: Best new drones

Price

You can buy the Mavic Pro for £999 from Apple. There's also be a Fly More Combo pack, which includes the Mavic Pro along with two extra Intelligent Flight Batteries, extra propellers, a charging hub, an adapter, a car charger and a shoulder bag for £1359 from Heliguy. The shoulder bag alone costs £75, so if you can find your own, you'll save money. Batteries are £85 each and spare props are £4 each (they come in pairs). 

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

Design

If you don't buy the special carry case, you can safely stuff the Mavic Pro into a rucsack or small bag thanks to a plastic gimbal cover (replacements are £10). It's certainly worth investing in a dedicated case of some sort to avoid damaging the fold-up propellers, though.

You can whip out the drone, unfold the four legs and be flying in around a minute as per DJI's claims. The front two legs flip out, and the back two unfold from the base and sit slightly lower - it looks odd, but doesn't affect flight performance at all.

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

The gimbal protector unclips and there's a second smaller clamp that keeps the gimbal from moving around too much in transit - you can't fly the Mavic with this in place, so you either leave it off for quick launches, or get into the habit of removing both pieces. You can leave the main protector in place if you're "just having fun" according to DJI, but you'll want to remove it to get the best quality for filming and photos.

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

There's no need to unfold the propellers as these automatically flip out into place when the motors start.

Compared to the Phantoms which preceded it, the Mavic Pro is tiny. It's noticeably lighter, and - when folded up - much, much smaller. It's not quite as small as the water bottle we were expecting, but it's eminently portable. Think of a 1.5 litre Coke bottle and you're not far off.

A small cover hides the microSD slot and a switch which is for changing between flying with the controller and flying using only your phone.

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

The controller is relatively quick to set up, although it's a little fiddly to plug the Lightning connector into an iPhone as it's not fixed in place. That's because the controller is built to be universal and accept just about any iPhone or Android. You get Lightning and microUSB cables in the box, but others are optional - we're told USB-C will be available to buy separately.

The controller's fold out arms have rubber inserts which tightly grip your phone, so you'll likely have to remove it from any case as it will probably be too thick. We just managed to squeeze in an iPhone 7 in Apple's leather case. The 5.5in iPhone 6S Plus (in the photo above) sticks out the bottom a little, but it fits OK.

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

What's awkward is that the leg mostly obstructs a 4.7in iPhone's home button, although you shouldn't need to use it if you fire up the DJI GO app before you insert it.

The controller is completely different to DJI's previous transmitters, and we're big fans of the new LCD screen. This shows a lot of information and means you don't have to peer at your phone's screen to see the drone's altitude and distance from you. It also has signal meters for GPS, motor RPM and the drone's speed - the latter two are also precisely displayed in numbers in the left- and right corners respectively.

It also shows the drone and controller's battery levels and a central section displays messages such as 'GPS OK' and 'SD ERR' as well as LANDING or TAKING OFF.

At the bottom, a 'clearance' indicator shows the distance to a detected obstacle.

The smaller dimensions make it more comfortable to use with smaller hands, and the smaller sticks are no less precise or usable than on the Phantom controllers. Like a console gamepad there are two buttons on the back which can be programmed to do different things, and there's the expected gimbal tilt wheel on the top-left corner.

DJI Mavic Pro review - hands-on

Shoulder buttons allow you to start and stop video recording and take a photo, while a jog wheel on the top right corner can be set to change exposure correction, ISO and other image settings.