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We all know that drones can be complicated, confusing, and challenging to use, especially for those who are new to piloting. That’s why DJI created an easy-to-use, all-in-one flying system that pretty much anyone can get the hang of the DJI Air 2S.
The company made this drone by combining the signature compact design of the Mavic Air 2 with the impressive image quality of the Mavic Pro. While the price is slightly higher than the previous Air 2 model, it’s well worth the added cost, especially if you’re looking for an all-in-one drone that’s ready to fly out of the box.
Be Aware: While the name “Air 2S” indicates that this drone is only slightly more advanced than its Air 2 predecessor, that’s not the case. There are plenty of features in this model that make it the clear winner, primarily the new 1-inch sensor that fits within the compact drone design. Compared to the Mavic Air 2, this sensor delivers better image quality and a higher ISO response, which is what every drone pilot dreams about.
Check out this video from DJI to get a preview of what the all-in-one Air 2S can do:
- New 1” image sensor that delivers 5.4K/30fps and 4K/60fps video
- Equipped with MasterShots for easily capturing shots in 1 tap
- Advanced OcuSync 3.0 image transmission technology
- Advanced obstacle avoidance features for safer flying
- Compact, foldable, lightweight design
- Records in 10-bit Dlog-M color profile
Packaging & Assembly Process
Like other DJI drones, this one is fully RTF, so it’s ready to fly as soon as you open the box. That means you don’t have to go through the added hassle of assembling your drone.
You do, however, have to activate your Air 2S using the DJI Fly app, which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Activation is quick and easy; after charging the drone and controller, just follow the on-screen instructions in the app and you’re good to go.
Here’s what you can expect to find in the box as you open your DJI Air 2S:
- RC-N1 Remote Controller
- Intelligent Flight Battery
- Battery Charger
- AC Power Cable
- Low-Noise Propellers
- Type-C Cable
- RC-N1 USB Type-C Connector
- RC-N1 Lightning Connector
- RC-N1 Standard Micro-USB Connector
- Gimbal Protector
- Spare RC-N1 Control Sticks
Check out this video to watch an unboxing tutorial that shows you each included component and piece of hardware as well as the steps for activating your drone:
Design & Durability
Design-wise, this drone looks almost identical to the Mavic Air 2, and even though DJI dropped “Mavic” from its name, it features the same foldability that the Mavic line of drones is known for. The 2S unfolds by swinging the front arms outwards and rotating the rear arms downwards, and voila, it’s ready for flight.
When folded, the drone measures just 180 by 97 by 80mm, and it’s 183 by 253 by 77mm when unfolded. The folded dimensions are slightly smaller than the Mavic Air 2 (only about 4mm), so there’s not much difference in that department.
One extremely impressive thing is the fact that this drone features a larger camera than the Air 2, but it weighs just 25g more. The flight weight is 595g, which is about 1.3 pounds and can easily fit in one hand. Thanks to the foldability and lightweight build, you should have no trouble finding a place for this drone in your camera bag.
The biggest improvement that DJI made with the Air 2S is the new 1-inch sensor design, which is about 4x the size of the camera sensor you’ll find on the Mavic Air 2. Most pilots agree that the camera quality is the make-or-break feature of a drone, and the Air 2S doesn’t disappoint.
The 20MP 1-inch sensor is the biggest selling point of the Air 2S, but it also doesn’t hurt that this drone features high ISO noise handling, and even at a high ISO setting, images come out crisp and clean. Thanks to this improvement, the Air 2S performs much better in low-light conditions than the Mavic Air 2.
When it comes to capturing video footage, this drone can shoot in 5.4K at up to 30FPS, 4K at up to 60FPS, and Full HD at up to 120FPS. Unfortunately, zooming in further than 2x will significantly lower the image quality, but this is generally the case for most drone cameras.
There have been some complaints about still images appearing slightly softer around the edges, mainly because the camera has a fixed f/2.8 aperture. The good news is that you won’t experience this issue while shooting video; the images remain clear across the entire frame.
The wide range of camera settings makes the Air 2S a great choice for professional videographers and drone hobbyists alike. Watch this video to experience what flying the Air 2S drone will look like:
Battery & Flight Time
The Air 2S uses DJI’s signature intelligent flight battery system. It’s a LiPo 3S battery with a capacity of 3750 mAh. It’s rated to have 31 minutes of maximum flight time, but this of course depends on the drone’s speed, settings, and real-world conditions like weather and wind.
In perfect conditions, the 30-minute flight time is possible, but when you factor in wind and higher drone speeds, it’s more realistic that you’ll be flying the Air 2S for 20 minutes max.
The same controller that was recently released for the Mavic Air 2 is used for the Air 2S. It’s just a gray rectangular slab that contains a few camera and flight control buttons, control sticks, and a USB-C charging port.
Unfortunately, it’s not foldable like the Mavic 2 Pro’s controller, but it’s lightweight and compact enough to fit easily alongside the foldable drone for transport and travel. The lack of foldability means that the controller doesn’t have folding arms to support a smartphone. Instead, a pilot’s phone is secured to the top of the controller by a telescopic grip.
It’s comfortable to use, but it does have a few flaws, like no simple screen display to show flight and camera details (even basic ones). Most functions have to be applied in the DJI Fly app, except for simple features like releasing the shutter and switching from video footage to still images. That means you’ll always have to have your smartphone attached for flight, but luckily, you can keep it charged by plugging it into the controller’s charging port.
As far as flight controllers go, this one is super basic, so you should have no trouble quickly figuring out the buttons and toggles. Once your phone is secured and the DJI Fly app is up and running, just attach the 2 joysticks for flight control; the left is for controlling yaw and altitude, while the right controls forward, backward, left, and right drone movements.
Flying the Air 2S is safe and easy for both absolute beginners to seasoned experts. The combination of flight modes, collision avoidance, automated camera modes, and manual controls means that you can fly this drone exactly how you want to based on your specific expertise level.
If you’re new to flying drones, you’ll love DJI’s new SmartPhoto mode, which captures full-res photos automatically by using scene analysis and deep learning to choose the best of 3 options (HDR, Hyperlight, and Scene Recognition). This makes it possible to get amazing photos with very little effort on your part.
The Air 2S features 3 unique flight modes: Cine, Normal (standard), and Sport (fast). If you want slow and elegant footage, Cine is the ideal mode since it focuses on keeping the camera perfectly smooth and level during flight.
If it’s the speed you’re after, you’ll want to go with Sport mode for fast flight and fast-moving action shots. Just be aware that obstacle detection isn’t supported in this flight setting, so it’s only recommended for more experienced pilots.
In terms of safety features, the Air 2S has a lot of them. It uses GPS and GLONASS satellites for navigation as well as visual sensors to determine its position and hover smoothly in place. Like all the best drones, it has an automated Return to Home (RTH) setting and obstacle avoidance (just not in Sport mode).
Price & Value for Money
DJI offers a few different options for buying the Air 2S. You can go with the simple combo that includes only the essentials – the drone, battery, controller, and chargers – and sells for $999.99, or you can opt for the Fly More Combo.
While the Fly More Combo is just under $1300, it’s a much better value for money since it includes additional batteries, a multi-charger, a set of neutral density filters, and a carrying case. There’s also an option for the Fly More Combo + Smart Controller, which is listed at $1749.
As you can see, this isn’t a cheap drone, and if you want to purchase any flying accessories or insurance (the DJI care plan is highly recommended), you’ll have to pay extra. Even with the high price tag, though, there’s no doubt about the fact that the Air 2S offers amazing value, no matter your flying level.
Even though the DJI Air 2S is more advanced than the previous model, it’s worth considering the original Mavic Air 2 if this is your first drone. While it doesn’t have the same advanced 1” sensor and it’s lacking in some other features, it’s still a great little drone, especially if you want something slightly cheaper than the new and improved 2S model.
Here are a few more drones that are worth considering if you’re looking for ease of use combined with high-quality images:
- DJI FPV (for first-person view piloting) – read the full review here
- Holy Stone HS720
There are so many things to love about the Air 2S, but no drone is perfect – not even this one. There’s always room for improvement, and knowing DJI, the company will take steps forward to make those improvements over time.
- Compact and lightweight, even with the larger 1” sensor
- Great for shooting in low light thanks to the high ISO noise handling
- Built with robust safety features that make flights safer and reduce the risk of crashing/collisions
- Allows for HDR, Log, and Standard video profiles
- An enhanced battery that supports a long 30-minute flight time
- Only comes with 8GB of internal storage, so most pilots require an additional memory card
- Editing on the DJI Fly app is limited to 1080p output
- Not compatible with DJI’s FPV goggles (for that, you’ll want to go with the DJI FPV)
- The controller doesn’t fold (for that, you’ll want to go with the Mavic Pro)
All in all, the DJI Air 2S is the offspring of the original Mavic Air 2 and the Mavic 2 Pro. The upgraded camera and advanced obstacle sensors make it a worthwhile upgrade from the Mavic Air 2, and the portable lightweight design is a step up from the Pro’s heavier construction.
In other words, this is a one-of-a-kind drone that’s worth every penny.
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