For a long time now, DJI has produces the most capable drones on the customer and professional market. We are starting to see some more capable autonomous drones like the Skydio 2 which have freakishly amazing intelligent obstacle avoidance technology. It wasn't until I saw the recent videos on Tesla Full Self Driving being filmed by the Skydio 2 that I started to wonder more about this new autonomous drone. I was amazed at how well it avoided powerlines.
Watch Skydio 2 Maneuver Power Lines
Well, how well does it compete? That is the purpose of this blog post to determine. Welcome to my website, my name is Graydon. I create blog posts on this site for content creators and traveling photographers who film themselves doing what they love. I review equipment and share tips and tutorials on how to better tell your store or vision. When DJI first announced the Mavic Air 2 I was super excited because anytime I can get gear that's smaller in my bag to take on-location, the better but without too many compromises are important to me, too. The Mavic Air 2 can definitely meet the needs that I have become accustomed to by flying the Mavic 2 Pro since it was released. Will the Skydio 2 be replacing my Mavic 2 Pro? Probably not. We'll talk about why.
First, let's talk about Mavic Air 2 because it is a really capable drone even though it's such a small size. It's archived up to 34 minutes of flight time per DJI. You will likely see a little less due to the fact that most of the time when we fly we aren't flying without some wind, enabling sport mode, or dealing with colder temps.
It does include front, rear and downward obstacle avoidance sensors but it doesn't have top upward facing sensors or side facing sensors. I could definitely see some issues with that in certain edge cases. It has a new and improved Active Track 3.0 and APAS system which is better than the original Mavic Air and more capable than my Mavic 2 Pro.
The Mavic Air 2 can have trouble flying through an area of dense woodlands, whereas the Skydio 2 has a better sense of the overall 3D landscape and can keep up with you even it if loses sight of you. You don't have to worry about it getting stuck somewhere while it is trying to track you like it might with the Mavic Air 2 or Mavic 2 Pro. It's so impressive.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is a very powerful drone. It flies really well and it handles just as well. It's very responsive and fun to operate. It handles heavy winds almost as well as the Mavic 2 Pro. It has a really quick response to the controller and it is a rather quick drone (up to 42.5mph / 68.39kph). The speed really comes in handy when you need to get to your shooting location in a timely matter. We are seeing slightly better 12MP photos vs the original and the addition of a 48MP mode which creates a higher resolution image by combining several shots.
The biggest downside to the new Mavic Air 2 is the controller. It's freaking huge however that does bring 240-minutes of remote controller battery life which is a nice improvement. Something I do really like about the re-designed remote controller is that DJI has moved the phone holder section above the controls. If you like being able to charge your phone with the controller this bigger battery could make a significant difference in your use case.
Now lets focus on why the the Skydio 2 might be for you.
From researching this drone on-line I have learned that it can handle temperatures as low as -12 degrees. The biggest downside of Skydio 2 is that it will not fly in low light conditions. With the Skydio 2, you can film in 4K at 60 frames per second with HDR! Also if you go with its beacon device you have a really convenient way to control the drone while you are out doing whatever it is that you want to film without manually controlling the drone. It just follows along with you.
The Skydio has vastly superior follow ability from in front of you. This is going to be one of your best options if you want to create without having someone else fly the drone for you. It's so skillful in avoiding and keeping up with you, creates amazing cinegraphic video. It makes it much easier to film yourself while doing what you love.
When you have both drones folded out they are very similar sizes. The Mavic Air 2 does become a bit smaller when you take into account that it folds up smaller for travel.
The Skydio has a shorter flight time at 21-22 minutes vs 34-minutes for the Mavic Air 2.
The Mavic Air 2 has better range at 10km vs 3.5km with the Skydio 2.
The Skydio is built from the ground up for full autonomy while the Mavic Air 2 has intelligent flight modes they tend to need more drone pilot intervention.
It really comes down to what you are trying to accomplish. If you want a real hands-off approach to drone flying then the Skydio 2 might fit the bill for you. If you really want to get your hands dirty and want to become really comfortable flying a drone yourself. Mavic Air 2 is a good option with a great image/video sensor.
Best Camera/Performance: DJI Mavic Air 2
This drone has so many of the features of the Mavic 2 Pro without the hefty price tag. It actually has better 4K/UHD frame rate at 60 frames per second vs 30 frames per second.
- 48 Megapixel RAW Photography
- 4k/UHD Slow Motion HDR Video (60 frames per second)
- Intelligent Flight Modes
- 34-Min Max Flight Time
- 10km (6.21mi) Video Transmission
- Amazon: Mavic Air 2
- Amazon: Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo
- Amazon: Mavic Air 2 Fly More Combo + DJI Care Refresh
If you are worried about crashing it because of the lack of top and side obstacle avoidance, I recommend adding DJI Care Refresh, and just be sure to retrieve the drone from the tree or swamp so you can get back to flying!
Best Autonomy: Skydio 2
- 360 Degree Obstacle Avoidance
- 12.3 Megapixel Photography
- 4k/UHD Slow Motion HDR VIdeo (60 frames per second)
- Up to 36 miles per hour (Autonomous Speed)
- 23-Min Max Flight Time
- 3.5km (2.2mi) Video Transmission
- skydio.com: Skydio 2
“And we stand behind Skydio 2 with a simple promise: if you’re operating your Skydio 2 within our Safe Flight guidelines, and it crashes, we’ll repair or replace it for free. It’s that simple.”Taken from skydio website
Do you require a drone that takes care of the flying for you?
Go with the Skydio 2.
Do you want to become a better pilot and fly your drone manually?
Go with the Mavic Air 2.
Do you need 4K (at 60 frames per second) with HDR?
Go with the Skydio 2.
Do you need to be able to fly 10km away?
Go with the Mavic Air 2.
You might also want to check out my comparison of the DJI Mini 2 against the Mavic Air 2.
Thank you for reading up to this point. I hope this article helped you with your purchasing decision!