Hey there, drone enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into the exciting world of DJI’s mid-range flying machines – the DJI Mavic Air 2 and its younger sibling, the DJI Air 2S. These two drones share a lot in common, from their sleek designs to their price tags. But what sets them apart? Let’s break down the seven key differences between these high-flying companions, based on our hands-on experience with both models. Strap in; we’re about to take off!
Table of Contents:
DJI Mavic Air 2 Vs DJI Air 2s Specs:
|DJI Mavic Air 2
|DJI Air 2S
|4K/30p maximum resolution
|5.4K/30p or 4K/60p resolution
|Obstacle Avoidance Sensors
|Front, Rear, Bottom
|Front, Rear, Bottom, Top
|Advanced Flying Modes
|ActiveTrack 3.0, APAS 3.0
|ActiveTrack 4.0, APAS 4.0, MasterShots
|Maximum Range (km)
|10km (outside US: 6km)
|12km (outside US: 8km)
|Maximum Flight Time (minutes)
|Up to 34 minutes
|Up to 31 minutes
|Up to 8x zoom (1080/30p), 4x zoom (4K/30p)
|Check Current Price!
|Check Current Price!
DJI Air 2S:
DJI Mavic Air 2:
1. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Sensor: The Air 2S Takes the Crown
The most significant distinction between these two drones lies in their sensors. While the Mavic Air 2 sports a respectable 1/2-inch chip, the Air 2S steps up the game with a larger 1-inch sensor. What does this mean for you? Well, it translates to superior light-gathering capabilities, which become quite evident in real-world tests.
Don’t get us wrong; the Mavic Air 2’s footage is still impressive for its size. However, the Air 2S takes things up a notch in both video and still photography. It even challenges the higher-end Mavic 2 Pro, which also boasts a 1-inch sensor.
The Air 2S’s new sensor offers more firepower, allowing it to shoot 5.4K/30p or 4K/60p video, surpassing the Mavic Air 2’s top resolution of 4K/30p. And for the videography enthusiasts out there, the Air 2S offers 10-bit D-Log or HLG formats, outshining its sibling’s 8-bit capabilities.
On the flip side, the Mavic Air 2’s still photo resolution reaches a whopping 48MP, but our tests found that the 48MP mode produced softer raw files and desaturated colors compared to its 12MP shots. In essence, the Mavic Air 2 caters to hobbyist photographers, while the Air 2S leans more towards the enthusiast and pro levels.
2. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Design: The Air 2S Adds Obstacle Avoidance
These drones sport nearly identical designs, with folding bodies that are remarkably similar in weight (the Air 2S being a mere 25g heavier) and dimensions (the Mavic Air 2 extending by just 4mm).
However, there’s a subtle but essential difference – the Air 2S boasts an extra set of obstacle avoidance sensors on top, in addition to the ones found on the front, rear, and bottom, which both drones share.
In practice, this extra feature doesn’t make a massive difference unless you heavily rely on the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) for navigating around obstacles. DJI drones are generally more comfortable with clear flight paths, so if that’s your style, the difference between the Air 2S and Mavic Air 2 remains relatively minor.
3. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Shooting Modes: The Air 2S Introduces MasterShots
Both the Air 2S and Mavic Air 2 come loaded with automated flying modes. The key differentiator here is that the Air 2S introduces upgraded versions of these modes, including ActiveTrack 4.0, Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 4.0, and a new addition – MasterShots.
MasterShots is a nifty feature designed for novice flyers. Once you select a subject, it automatically records a video following one of three preset routes, even adding soundtracks and subtitles if needed. It’s akin to DJI’s take on GoPro’s QuikStories feature.
While MasterShots is great for quick, professional-looking footage, you might find yourself gravitating towards QuickShots or manual flight controls for more versatility. Since the Mavic Air 2 already boasts the same FocusTrack modes as the Air 2S, these flying features may not be the primary reason to upgrade.
4. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Range and Transmission: The Air 2S Gains Ground
When it comes to range and signal stability, the Air 2S takes a step ahead due to DJI’s Ocusync 3.0 system. A drone’s transmission system can influence various aspects, including how far you can fly, video feed resolution, download speeds, and signal stability.
The Mavic Air 2 utilizes Ocusync 2.0, which worked well overall. However, Ocusync 3.0 on the Air 2S boosts maximum range from 10km to 12km (or from 6km to 8km outside the US) and slightly enhances connection reliability, especially when flying overhead.
Though it’s not a revolutionary leap, it’s still a bonus for those going for the newer model. Moreover, Ocusync 3.0 on the Air 2S opens up the possibility of compatibility with the DJI Goggles V2.0 for a First Person View (FPV) flying experience. Keep in mind, though, this feature remains uncertain, as DJI has no concrete plans for it.
5. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Battery Life: The Mavic Air 2 Holds On
Despite the Air 2S featuring a new camera, additional sensors, and slightly more weight, its battery life isn’t significantly worse than the Mavic Air 2’s. Both drones share the same type of battery.
In real-world usage, the quoted flight times for the Air 2S (31 minutes) and the Mavic Air 2 (34 minutes) are quite close. However, you’ll notice that the Air 2S, like the Mavic Air 2, provides around 20 minutes of actual flight time. Keep in mind that DJI’s quoted time is under ideal, windless conditions, and the drone triggers its automatic Return-to-Home function at 25% battery.
Our recommendation? Opt for DJI’s ‘Fly More’ bundles if you can. They come with two spare batteries, offering more flexibility.
DJI Air 2S:
DJI Mavic Air 2:
6. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Zoom: A Handy Edge for the Air 2S
While neither of these drones boasts optical zoom like the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, the Air 2S leverages its 5.4K resolution to provide a useful digital zoom function, a feature absent in the Mavic Air 2.
Normally, we advise against using digital zoom, as it often compromises image quality by cropping into your shot. However, the Air 2S, thanks to its 5.4K camera, offers some leeway, allowing a sliding scale of zoom at different resolutions.
In practical terms, this zoom function can go up to 8x when shooting 1080/30p video or 4x during 4K/30p mode. While we don’t recommend exceeding 2x zoom, it’s still a valuable feature, especially when you need to get closer to subjects in challenging conditions or due to local drone regulations.
7. DJI Mavic Air 2 vs Air 2S Price: The Air 2S’ Premium Worth
Now, the big question – what about the price? For most buyers, cost is a significant factor when choosing a drone. Regrettably, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has maintained its launch price, even with the arrival of the Air 2S. That said, it’s not an outdated model by any means and offers great value considering its performance.
However, the Air 2S justifies its premium pricing. With its 1-inch sensor, 10-bit video recording, new zoom capabilities, and Ocusync 3.0 connectivity, it’s a worthy step up from the Mavic Air 2.
The Mavic Air 2’s ‘Fly More’ bundle, particularly for US and UK buyers, falls below the $1,000 / £1,000 mark, making it tempting for many. Meanwhile, the Air 2S’ equivalent bundle places it in the price range of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. But rest assured, this isn’t a drawback for the Air 2S.
DJI Air 2S:
DJI Mavic Air 2:
In conclusion, the DJI Air 2S stands out as an all-around champion among drones we’ve tested. While potential price reductions during shopping events may make the Mavic Air 2 a compelling choice, the Air 2S, with its size, camera, and features, currently takes the crown for most drone enthusiasts. Happy flying!