Features & Flying
As you can expect, the newer DJI Mavic Air comes with many improved features and promises to fix the gripes we had with the DJI Spark. Many people actually call the new Mavic Air “Spark 2”, as they consider it to be less of an upgrade to the Mavic line up and more of an upgrade to the Spark.
While I don’t agree completely with that statement, it’s worth mentioning that the Mavic Air tries to fix the gap between the Mavic Pro and the Spark by setting itself in the middle, providing both the extreme portability of the Spark and the power of the Mavic Pro.
Let’s start with the external features of the drones – they are both extremely compact and easy to transport, but the Mavic Air has a foldable design, which allows the 4 legs to fold in and form a shape similar in size to your regular smartphone – when folded, the Mavic Air is just a touch bigger than the iPhone 8 Plus, which is quite fantastic.
On the other hand, the Spark does not fold, but its size is also remarkably small – it can easily fit in your backpack, especially when it’s put into its styrofoam case that comes in the package from DJI.
Next, I want to address the obstacle avoidance sensors. There is just one forward-facing sensor for avoiding obstacles in your way on the DJI Spark, while the newer DJI Mavic Air has 3-way obstacle avoidance technology – front, back and bottom. This is something extremely important as those obstacle avoidance sensors could potentially save your drone from crashing or flying away.
What’s also interesting about the Mavic Air is the inclusion a new technology called Flight Autonomy 2.0. Basically this technology guides the drone between the obstacles, and instead of stopping, the drone “senses” the obstacles and goes around or over them, continuing its flight.
Gesture controls are present in both drones, but the new Mavic Air has an improved control, allowing the aircraft to be a bit more agile and more responsive to your gestures, something that I hope DJI will bring to the Spark as well via a firmware update. Unfortunately palm launch and palm landing are only possible on the DJI Spark, which is a pity since palm launch was one of the most used features on my Spark – being able to fly from anywhere, no matter the surface of the ground is a huge plus for me.
So in terms of features both drones are very capable, but the clear winner is the Mavic Air, with its newer design and technology.