This drone is as light as an iPhone and flies as fast as a car

The Mavic Air, the size of an iPhone, is on sale now, ready for shipping to Hong Kong next week

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 7:26pm

DJI, the world’s biggest maker of civilian drones, has started selling a mid-price variant of its Mavic series of lightweight recreational flying machines, ready for shipment next week.

The Mavic Air, weighing in at 430 grams, is about the size of an Apple iPhone. It can fly for 21 minutes at a speed of up to 68 kilometres per hour (42 miles per hour) on a single charge. The retail price starts at HK$6,299 (US$806) for the entry-level package in black, white or red, with two extra pairs of propellers and guards. A premium package, comprising two extra battery sets and some charging accessories, is priced at HK$7,799.

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The Mavic Air is not the smallest in the family: that honour goes to Spark, which weighs in at 300 grams. The biggest member of the trio is the two-year-old Mavic Pro, which was DJI’s first foldable

drone capable of fitting in a suitcase when it was launched in 2016.

The latest model comes with seven cameras, including one capable of shooting in 4K resolution, similar to the Pro version. The additional cameras added an air obstacle avoidance feature to its gesture-controlled flier.

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“The Mavic Air could be for someone who’s considering buying a drone for the first time and who requires a good camera,” said Kevin On, DJI’s communications director, during a test flight of the drone at a football field in Hong Kong. “The placement of the Mavic Air is in between the Spark and the Mavic Pro, but it does pack quite a whole lot of intelligence inside.”

Mavic Air’s global release, first unveiled on Tuesday in New York, follows the exit by rival GoPro, as it cuts more than a fifth of its workforce and ceded the global market for recreational drones to the Shenzhen-based DJI.

Drone maker DJI monitoring potential backlash from rising US-China tensions

The Chinese company has an estimated 70 per cent of the worldwide market. It’s bracing itself for a potential backlash against Chinese technology companies, should Sino-US relations take a turn for the worse, following the walkout this month by AT&T - under pressure from US lawmakers - from distributing smartphones made by Huawei Technologies, also based in Shenzhen.