Drones are here to stay. You might not like them, might even fear them but there’s no escaping that as technologies advance, so too do the usefulness of drones. They’re used for war, for reconnaissance, for photography, for cinematography and a whole lot of other uses. I guess you can use the DJI Mavic 3 for most of them too.
Me? I just used it to fly around a field.
Yeah, I’m kind of simplistic that way but Singapore’s heavy restriction on drone usage meant that there’s really not much you can do with them here.
Does that mean the DJI Mavic 3 isn’t a good drone though?
Read on and find out what I think.
What is the DJI Mavic 3?
The DJI Mavic 3 is DJI’s latest drone in the series.
It features two cameras; a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera on the front, which can capture images up to 5.1K resolution (and is capable of 4K video recoding at 120FPS) and a second tele camera (mounted on the rear) which has a hybrid 28x zoom.
The drone also has omnidirectional sensors to detect obstacles, with advanced RTH (Return to Home) capabilities which allows it to navigate automatically back to its launch point if connection is lost, an estimated 46 minutes of flight time as well as a 15KM transmission range.
In Singapore, the DJI Mavic 3 runs for US$2,199 (~ SG$2,980) if you buy direct from DJI’s website.
In the box, you get the drone (which is bundled up snugly in its harness), a remote (which you use to connect to the drone and your phone), a charging adapter, spare rotors as well as three types of USB Type-C cables (Micro USB to USB-C, Lighting to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C). The DJI Mavic caters to all phone types, so you won’t have a problem using it even if you phone’s not recent.
Connection is intuitive and easy.
Once both the controller and drone’s charged, you scan a QR code on the inner flap of the box, which sends you to download the DJI Fly app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Once installed, all you need to do next is connect the controller with your phone via one of the cables, turn on the app and login to your DJI account.
The app should intuitively pair with the DJI Mavic 3, with you needing to do nothing.
Flying the DJI Mavic 3 is simple too.
The left thumbstick controls height, while the right controls rotation. Even if you’ve never flown drones, the controls are intuitive that you’ll get the hang of them after a few minutes of practice.
As a gamer though, I wish that DJI’s gone more the hardcore route, and packed the controller with more buttons and triggers.
I’d have preferred a more advanced way of controlling the drone (with triggers that control elevation), bumpers that control camera functions (such as zoom and taking pictures), mappable face buttons and analog sticks handling the pitch and yaw.
You know, like a video game floating camera. That’s not saying the DJI Mavic 3 isn’t good. It’s great!
If the DJI Mavic 3 is your first drone, DJI’s got you covered too.
There are a ton of tutorial videos on the app to get your up to speed. The app is very intuitive too, it even helps you with taking off and landing the drone if you’re hesitant on doing so. I had zero issues with the drone landing hard or taking off wobbly by using the app. Very cool.
Taking pictures or videos is really easy too. You just hit the button on the controller. Unfortunately, the shots and a couple of videos I took from the drone aren’t available. The memory card I used was corrupted and the data unreadable. I didn’t have time to retake the images and videos sadly as I realized the issue only a couple of days before.
The flight time’s a bit on the short side for me though.
DJI advertises it as having 46 minutes of flight time, but I was hitting one bar remaining in about 30 minutes of usage. It might be the windy conditions I was flying in that contributed to battery drain but 46 minutes might be a bit optimistic. I wasn’t even doing anything fancy; just flying around, snapping a pic or two and some videos.
One thing I hope DJI might consider is painting the tips of the rotors. That way, when they spin up, you know where they are. I was a bit hesitant to fly through smaller areas just because I can’t see the rotors. You might be braver if you’re a pro but it’s a feature I’m sure beginners like me would appreciate.
I also didn’t manage to try out the 15KM transmission range. I didn’t want to stray into No Fly Zones by mistake and I also didn’t want to chance losing the drone, despite the RTH feature in the DJI Mavic 3. Why take the chance right?
That brings up an issue I have with flying the drones in Singapore; it’s really, really hard to find an area that’s NOT in the South or South West to fly. I live in the North, and in smack dab of multiple no fly zones. That’s pretty much the same situation for nearly everybody that’s not in the areas below.
Now, I understand the need for the no fly zones.
Aircraft landings, sensitive areas and privacy reasons are all good and logical causes for them to be there. The small land area of Singapore combined with those reasons result in just a small sliver of flyable area though, which is a shame considering the shots I’ve seen the DJI Mavic 3 can take.
In fact, there are barely any issues I have with the drone.
Lag isn’t a factor at all. Video is transmitted in real time from the drone’s camera to your hooked up smart device. The connection’s stable too and I had no drops or connection issues with the times I was using the machine.
The issues I do have are mainly connected to the controller.
I’ve already mentioned the lack of buttons but I also don’t like the pointy analog sticks.
They’re a bit finicky on the thumbs (and uncomfortable too) and DJI should really look into making them the regular concave type you can find on Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X|S controllers. Those are much more comfortable, plus give you better control and traction.
I’d also have preferred the controller shell to be more of a rubbery material for better grip or if not, maybe textured. To be fair, the DJI Mavic 3 controller does make sure of rubbery material…but only on the back. Why not the sides too? It’s a weird design choice to say the least.
DJI might have hit the ball out of the park (and clear into the atmosphere) with the DJI Mavic 3 but it’s clear that the controller has a ton of room for improvements.
The Bottom Line.
The DJI Mavic 3 is an incredible drone with great visual capabilities. Unfortunately, due to Singapore’s small size and the huge prevalence of No Fly Zones on the island, those capabilities are largely wasted. There really aren’t a ton of areas to fly the DJI Mavic 3 that can really show off what it can do.
Other than that niggle, there’s not much to fault the drone for. It’s a well rounded machine, with a great and intuitive app. The controller can sorely use a rework, but that’s not the fault of the drone by any means.
If you’re going overseas and want to shoot incredible footage, chances are the DJI Mavic 3 will be able to deliver. Just make sure you can foot the bill because this drone isn’t cheap.
Great (if rather expensive) drone that’s easy to use and has great visual capabilities.
- Easy to use.
- Intuitive app.
- Lots of automated functions.
- Controller could be better.
- Analog sticks needs a redesign.