If you’ve been following this blog, you know I love DJI drones. I’ve been flying drones for years, usually to take aerial photos; the DJIs have not let me down yet! That was why, when someone asked me if I liked the DJI Mavic Air 2 or the DJI Air 2S better, it felt like choosing between two kids. The Mavic Air 2 and the Air 2S are both excellent drones with all the quality DJI usually promises. It hurts to see the Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S.
But if you must make me play Sophie’s Choice with my drones, the DJI Mavic Air 2 is the better DJI. It can take amazing 48MB photos and 4.0K videos at 60fps. It’s also lighter—no, it’s not under 250 grams, but it’s still noticeably lighter when packing your bag. Finally, the Mavic Air 2 is cheaper, but by no means does that hurt its quality. If anything, the Air S2 demands more money to keep up with the Mavic Air 2! Let’s look at these two to see why I like the DJI Mavic Air 2 a little better than the Air S2.
At a Glance
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the better DJI drone on trial, but why? At first blush, these two drones look very similar. The first obvious difference is the price—the Mavic Air 2 is almost 50% cheaper than the Air 2S! It’s also 25 grams lighter than its not-quite-thousand-dollar counterpart. But the camera’s the real kicker; the base camera on the Air 2S is barely better than the one on an iPhone 13, whereas the Mavic Air 2 has a camera that Apple struggles to catch up to.
Overall, the Mavic Air 2’s cheaper package is stronger unless you feel compelled to carry extra batteries—but be prepared to open your wallet wide for that! The Air S2’s “Fly More” package is potent, but also expensive! I’d say it’s for professionals only; they might get a lot of mileage out of those extra batteries and other bonuses. If you want to make your Air S2 better than the Mavic Air 2, you can, but it comes at a price.
Let’s look at a feature-by-feature breakdown of Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S for more details.
Many pilots use drones to take exceptional photographs and videos from above—including me! As a photographer, I know the importance of having an amazing camera. Both of these drones have great cameras, but the Mavic Air 2’s is slightly better.
And here’s why.
First, the difference in picture quality between the two drones is substantial. The Air 2S takes still images at 20MP—not bad, considering the new iPhone 13 only takes pictures at 12MP. The Mavic Air 2 then went “hold my oil” and showed off its 48MP camera. While more megapixels do not necessarily mean better quality, you may want to zoom in on every detail of your sky-high photography. That is what more megapixels are good for.
Second, the difference in the video frame rate is noticeable. The Air 2S advertises a frame rate of 5.4K/30 frames per second. The Mavic Air 2’s default is 4.0K/60 frames per second. To see the difference between frame rates, check out this video of Samsung frame rate comparisons. A higher frame rate almost always leads to cleaner, more fluid movement. Note how the 60fps side looks noticeably blurrier and “skips.”
If you look at the detailed specs on the Air 2S, it even mentions a possible drop in resolution for panoramas. No, thank you; I’ll take the more consistent camera.
Now, the Air 2S does have a 4.0K/60fps setting if you dig around. But if you want good-looking videos, a higher frame rate can only help. You shouldn’t need to hunt for it, and 5.4K won’t help your video quality if the motion doesn’t look good.
Winner: Mavic Air 2
Range (Signal Transmission)
We have to consider the ranges of the Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S next. The longer a drone’s range is, the longer and farther it can fly. So, which of these drones can fly farther?
These two drones have very similar signal ranges. The Mavic Air 2 receives a signal up to 10km (~6.3 miles) away; the Air 2S can do it at 12km (7.5 miles). They also have similarly high-quality video and photo transmission. You really can’t go
Unless you know you will use those extra yards, this is a toss-up. The Mavic Air 2’s range will be fine for most people, but if you want to be safe, go for the extra range on the Air S2. When it comes to the Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S, those additional kilometers matter, so props to the Air 2S for going the extra mile.
Winner: Air 2S
Flight Time and Battery
The longer a drone’s battery life is, the more time it has to fly. Beginners have to learn to call their drones back to them before the battery runs out. Otherwise, well, the drones might end up stuck where we don’t want them to be!
Unfortunately for our comparison, the batteries are almost identical between these two drones. The DJI Air 2S has a slightly shorter flight time at 31 mins with no wind; the Mavic Air 2, 34 mins. This probably won’t make or break anything for most people, but the Mavic Air 2 can fly for a little bit longer.
As a consolation prize, however, DJI offers extra batteries for the Air 2S in their “Fly More” bundle. But, by itself, the Air 2S lost against the Mavic Air 2 by a scant 3 minutes.
Winner: Mavic Air 2
Size, Weight, and Portability
Weight matters for drones. Heavier drones weigh more in an airline bag, for example. Along with that, any drone over 250 grams (.55 lb.) must be registered via the Federal Aviation Administration. On the plus side, heavier drones are less likely to blow away and can usually do more elaborate tricks. What does this mean for Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S?
At first glance, the Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S look like similar drones. While looks may be deceiving, weights are not! The Mavic Air 2 weighs 750 grams (1.65 lb.); the Air 2S, 795 grams (1.75 lb.). For comparison’s sake, that’s approximately a large book and 4/5ths of a liter of water. These are both heavy, but not impossible for most people to carry.
Not only is the Mavic Air 2 25 grams lighter than the Air 2S, but it also needs less stuff—see the upcoming extra section for the paraphernalia associated with that drone. The Mavic Air 2 is more streamlined overall and will feel lighter in your bag with or without the extra stuff. The only thing that would make the Mavic Air 2 score more points would be if it weighed under that magical 250 grams.
Winner: Mavic Air 2
Many modern drones have “smart” features—for example, obstacle avoidance or the ability for a drone to find its way back home. Many aerial photography drones can be programmed to fly along a predetermined flight path.
Both of these drones are made by DJI. I’m going to let you in on a little secret because DJI doesn’t advertise this anywhere. There is a “Find My Drone” feature in the app. If your drone is registered, you can find its last known location via GPS. And once you get close enough, you can tell it to start flashing and beeping,
This is a very good “smart” feature that all modern DJI drones share. You only need to register them in the app. But what about features unique to the Mavic Air 2 VS Air 2S?
The Mavic Air 2 uses its AI to focus on your photography subjects. It doesn’t do much in the way of “smart” features. Neither of these drones can fly back home.
The make or break for some people might be obstacle sensing. The Mavic Air 2 has APAS 3.0 obstacle sensing, but it cannot sense obstacles coming from above. You never know when you might need to sense something above you.
Winner: Air 2S
Extra Features and Accessories
Some drones come with bundle packs when you order them. These bundle packs tend to be more expensive, but sometimes, the extra stuff is worth it.
And nobody seems to like extra stuff more than the DJI Air 2S. If you’re investing in the Air 2S, you probably have the cash to splash. And you can splash it on the insane bundle of extra accessories for the Air 2S! The Air 2S’s “Fly More” bundle has 300 dollars worth of possible add-ons, including:
- Two extra batteries.
- A battery charging hub.
- A set of ND filters.
- A shoulder bag.
- A bonus toiletry bag.
- And more!
The extra batteries and charging hub are easily the best parts of the bundle. We mentioned battery life as being just a little worse on the Air 2S, so that problem is solved! The extra filters should make professionals jump for joy. If you’re shopping for a professional drone photographer, show them the Air S2’s camera bag and watch them salivate as they run down the contents. They’ll probably tell you that it’s worth the not-so-nice price tag. Mavic Air 2 VS Air S2 won’t be a contest for them once they see the bundle.
For comparison’s sake, the Mavic Air 2 only has 2 accessory options: a propeller guard and a camera filter. If you feel compelled to buy either of them, they aren’t very expensive, but they aren’t that impressive, either. The “Fly More” package also comes with a nifty case. That’s a lot of stuff, and most pilots will not need all of it. For professionals, however, those extra items may be worth it.
Winner: Air 2S.
Let’s talk cash for just a little bit. As much as I usually like to act like money is no object, the hard fact of life is that it is. Let’s see which of these drones is the better bargain.
No pussyfooting here: the Mavic Air 2 is a little over half the price of the DJI Air 2S. It starts at $559, or “approximately 60 bucks more than a PlayStation 5.” And it’s better than a drone that costs around $1000! For a drone with an amazing camera and other features usually found on thousand-dollar drones, that’s a steal. No wonder it’s usually sold out!
In contrast, the DJI Air 2S starts at a steep $999—what President is on a $1000 bill, again? (Spoiler: it’s Grover Cleveland.) But the Mavic Air 2 sits at a more modest $559. Even the combo packs cost less than 800 dollars. The Mavic Air 2 will hurt your wallet a lot less.
Winner: Mavic Air 2.
And the Winner Is…
For most people conflicted over DJI Mavic 2 Air VS DJI Air 2S, the Mavic Air 2 will usually be the superior drone. First, it’s cheaper—for most beginner and intermediate buyers, that will push the Mavic Air 2 over the Air 2S instantly. But it also puts a lot more focus on camera and video features while having roughly the same amount of flight time as its pricier counterpart. While it still needs registration, being significantly lighter is another point in the Mavic Air 2’s favor.
But there is something to be said for the more professional features of the Air 2S as well. People who are used to flying drones will be able to make use of the longer signal range. And if you’re a professional drone photographer, you might want some of its accessories—and be able to afford them! Although the Mavic Air 2 VS Air S2 fight ends with Mavic as the winner, they are both spectacular drones, and I really can’t get mad at the professional who wants to do every little thing with the Air S2.