Outside of table games, nobody likes a monopoly. Yet that’s exactly what Chinese manufacturer DJI is going for with their premium line of consumer drones. Whether by choice or coincidence, DJI has established itself as the leading drone manufacturer not long after these things became popular. When we say leading, we don’t mean it in the Nike versus Adidas sense – drones from other brands just can’t seem to approach DJI’s regardless of the category they’re in.
But, why is that? What makes DJI drones stand out from the rest?
Let’s go over some of the factors that brought these devices to where they are today:
1.) Camera quality of the drones: The main purpose of any drone is to record videos and, occasionally, take pictures. Whether the actors are birds or your neighbors doesn’t matter – you want a picture quality that’s as crystal-clear as possible. Time and again, DJI drones have stood out with their top-of-the-line lens that allow for Full-HD or even 4K video recording while other drones are stuck on 720p, a resolution that’s quickly being relegated to the previous century.
2.) Specialized models: Whereas other drone manufacturers usually have one model that gets all the attention, DJI has an extensive line of drones that fit every purpose. Sure, they have a flagship model in the DJI Mavic Air, but the remaining ones don’t lag in quality in any way. In short, they managed to construct the ideal drone for every type of user, from the mobile first-timer to the die-hard enthusiast.
3.) Range of the drone, it’s battery time and collision avoidance: DJI drones tend to be a cut above the rest in other statistics as well: comparing the Mavic Air’s range of 2.48 miles to the Parrot Bebop 2’s 1.2 miles will quickly tell you that DJI has some impressive technology inside its gizmos. While the advantage in battery life compared to the competition isn’t as noticeable, it’s still there, as even the entry-level Spark sports 16 minutes of battery life. Furthermore, DJI fits many of their drones with collision avoidance, a perk that other companies omit even from their flagship models.
4.) Portability of the drone: Despite the monstrous features and, in some cases, size of their drones, DJI hasn’t forgotten about portability, and most models have some folding capacity. Other companies? Not so much. With other manufacturers, your best bet will involve unscrewing the drone’s propeller arms, which anyone will tell you takes more than a couple of seconds.
So with that in mind, you will see that our list of best drones for summer is, indeed, covered with DJI products, which we strongly recommend, regardless if you’re a beginner or an advanced user. So let’s start with our list!
The best drone for the years to come, the new DJI Mavic Air
Nobody knows what the future holds, but we think it’s safe to say that it involves the DJI Mavic Air. With this model, the company wanted to streamline their bulky and expensive Mavic Pro by releasing a model with similar features yet more appeal. It’s safe to say that this has been accomplished: 4K video, 12 MP photos, a 2.48-mile range, obstacle avoidance and portability, all bunched together into an affordable package.
The Mavic Air is smaller and less menacing than its Pro cousin, yet able to accomplish nearly as much with many drone enthusiasts. In the following years, expect other manufacturers to try (and likely fail) to beat what the Mavic Air offers while DJI works on another, even more breathtaking drone. Even if one such is released, the Mavic Air won’t go out of style and will remain competitive for quite some time.
The price of the Mavic Air? It’s now affordable if you’re a starter, but if you’re a professional user then you’re likely familiar with the prices which we had 4 years ago, and know that the price of around $990 is more then fair, especially when you compare what you get for it. Also, DJI has several great deals, where you get everything which you need in one package. Be sure to check it out in their official store.
If you want to buy a used drone, the DJI Mavic Pro stands out
Well, we’ve lavished praise on the Mavic Air and drew comparisons to the Mavic Pro. And yes, it does give its older cousin a run for its money in many regards. But the DJI Mavic Pro still tends to blast through the finishing first when they’re on the track. A whopping 4.2 miles of functional range coupled with 27 minutes of battery life will translate to amazing recordings anywhere, even in exceptionally hard-to-reach areas.
Like the Mavic Air, it has a 4K/12 MP camera, obstacle avoidance and the kind of portability that other drones can dream of. Price is one of the biggest downsides, which is why we’ve included the Mavic Pro in our “Buy Used” category. Most hobbyists don’t put their drones through a lot of punishment, and the general build quality of DJI’s products ensures that one or two years of use aren’t a major detriment to the drone’s livelihood.
If you can find a good deal on a used DJI Mavic Pro, you could end up paying less than you would for a brand-new Mavic Air while getting superior specs. You can buy a used drone also off from Amazon, or go directly to your local craigslist or any other similar site, the prices can range from $600 to $700, depending on the wear and tear.
For starters on a budget, we recommend the affordable DJI Spark
If you aren’t yet sure what you need from your drone, the DJI Spark is as safe of a first-time bet as they come. You’ll be tempted to notice that this budget drone is much smaller than the Mavic Air or Mavic Pro, but don’t be fooled – it lacks the folding of the pricier models, which means you aren’t going to fit it inside your pocket. Still, when in use, the size difference will make it much less noticeable and offer greater maneuverability.
While other drones of the same size struggle with video quality, the DJI Spark easily records 1080p video and captures 12 MP photos. Although it lags behind in range, the 1.2 miles when using the controller are superb considering the drone’s size and price range. Who knows – you could buy this drone and end up wanting more.
If that happens, though, you’ll have an easy time finding a buyer for your used DJI Spark as you move on to the bigger and badder models. The price of this budget drone is ranging from $320 for “just the drone” and around $450 for a combo from the photo, but for the updated offers be sure to check our their store.
Will other manufacturers step up their game?
Right now, the main thing that DJI’s competitors have on it is the price. Because of what their drones offer, DJI can allow themselves to charge a premium, which means that some of the buyers will invariably want to check out other manufacturers. And it’s true, if you want a new drone but aren’t ready to make financial sacrifices, something like the Parrot Bebop 2 on the higher end or the Zerotech Dobby on the lower end (but no less functional) will serve you just fine.
Because of what DJI’s drones offer, the main thing that the competition currently struggles with, is labeling. Even outstanding drones like the Bebop 2, with its first-person headset and outstanding specs, are sometimes seen as geared towards the less serious user.
It might not be a fair assessment, but it’s there, and DJI’s rivals will undoubtedly need to put in some extra hours if they plan to dethrone the current leader.