For years, the Chinese drone maker DJI has been promising to make drones a mainstream product. Maybe one day drones will become as popular as smartphones, and that day is going to come sooner than we thought. Earlier this week, the Chinese company unveiled its brand new DJI Spark to bring drones to the masses. The Spark is arriving only seven months after the launch of DJI Mavic Pro. Here’s how the two drones differ.
DJI Spark vs. DJI Mavic Pro
Last year, DJI redefined portability with the backpack-sized Mavic Pro. Its foldable design allows you to put it in a small bag and carry it anywhere. The new DJI Spark is incredibly small, so tiny that it makes the Mavic Pro look massive. Spark is as small as a 5-inch smartphone. It fits in the pocket of your jacket. You can launch it right from the palm of your hand and land it back in your palm.
Mavic weighs 743g and measures 335mm diagonally. By comparison, the Spark weighs just 300g and measures 170mm on the diagonal. Each has its own set of pros and cons. For instance, Mavic could be difficult to fly through tight spaces such as doorways and hallways. The Spark, due to its tiny size, could be tricky to fly in windy weather.
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The Spark comes with a 12-megapixel camera for taking still images. It can record full HD 1080p videos; there is no 4K recording. DJI said in a statement that the Spark’s 2-axis gimbal and UltraSmooth technology reduce shake and rolling shutter effect to capture high-quality footage effortlessly.
The Spark comes with two new modes not present on other DJI drones: Pano and ShallowFocus. The Pano Mode allows the camera to create vertical or horizontal panoramas by adjusting its gimbal and heading. In ShallowFocus mode, part of the image is put in sharp focus while the rest is softened to create a shallow depth of field.
Mavic Pro can also capture still images at 12-megapixel. Unlike Spark, it is capable of recording videos in 4K resolution at 30fps. While Mavic can capture images both in JPEG and RAW, the Spark takes photos only in JPEG format.
Battery, range, and speed
Thanks to its bigger size, the Mavic Pro packs a huge 3830mAh battery. The Spark comes with a smaller 1480mAh battery pack. The battery is swappable on the fly, which is a big positive for a drone with a smaller battery. DJI claims each Spark battery offers 16 minutes of flight time per charge. The actual flight time is likely to be lower depending on the wind conditions.
The Mavic promises a flight time of 27 minutes on a single charge, which Apple Insider found to be accurate in “zero wind situations and light computational demands.” The flight time drops to less than 20 minutes if you add a little breeze. The actual flight time could be even lower considering you don’t want to accidentally run your drone’s battery to zero.
Talking about range, the Spark could be controlled from a distance of up to 300 feet using a smartphone app. The range extends to 1.2 miles if you are using an analog remote. The Mavic, on the other hand, offers more than four miles of nominal control range.
In terms of speed, the Spark can go up to 31 miles per hour. The Mavic can hit up to 40 miles an hour.
One of the biggest highlights of DJI Spark is that it can be controlled with hand movements, thanks to the new PalmControl feature. Smile with your arms folded and it will automatically click your selfie. The gesture control technology is smart enough to interpret your hand signals. Wave your hand like a Jedi master and the Spark will fly forward, backward, up or down in response to your motion. You can even launch it through hand gestures.
The DJI Spark includes 24 powerful computing cores, an inertial measurement unit, a forward-facing 3D sensing system, dual-band GPS, and GLONASS.
DJI Spark vs DJI Mavic Pro: Price
The Spark has been priced at $499, making it affordable for a larger market. You can also choose to buy the Fly More Combo at $699. It includes an aircraft, four pairs of propellers, two batteries, a remote controller, a charging hub, a shoulder bag, and propeller guards. It’s not as cheap as many other budget drones available in the market, but the Spark is worth its price considering the features it brings. Though the drone will become available only in mid-June, it is available for pre-order now.
The Mavic Pro will set you back by $999. If you want the Fly More Combo, you’ll have to shell out $1299.
The Mavic Pro is for photographers and videographers. DJI products have already been popular among professionals, who wouldn’t mind spending big dollars on a high-end drone. The new DJI Spark targets the casual crowd who want to fly drones for fun, but don’t want to spend $1,000 on a drone. The company is just reducing the price of admission for casual users with the Spark. Also, it requires little training and can be carried around in your pocket.
If you are a professional, go for the Mavic Pro. If you are a beginner who wants a drone for fun, DJI Spark is for you.