The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is expected to be the successor to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which is one of our favorite drones of the past few years. And after a quiet patch for new rumors, some fresh speculation has given us some potential hints about what we can expect from the exciting folding drone.
It’s now been over three years since the Mavic 2 Pro landed – and with the new DJI Air 2S cramming most of its talents into a smaller body, a successor is certainly overdue. Well, it looks like we’re finally going to get one, if the latest rumors are to be believed – and the Mavic 3 Pro (or DJI Pro 3, perhaps) could even bring some radical new features, including dual cameras.
It’s already been a pretty busy year for DJI, which perhaps explains the delay. It treated us to the DJI Air 2S in April, which joined the likes of the DJI Mini 2 and DJI Pocket as one of ten new products added to DJI’s lineup in the past 12 months alone.
That’s not to mention the company’s recently-announced intentions to enter the automotive industry, which will see it partnering with big-name manufacturers to integrate its drone tech into the self-driving vehicles of the future.
But if recent rumors are correct, the DJI Mavic 3 Pro is en route, just slightly behind its planned schedule. Apparently, an October release is possible, but we’ve rounded up all of the latest speculation below to help you decide whether to wait for DJI’s possible new folding flagship.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro release date and price
The latest DJI Mavic 3 Pro rumors suggest that the drone may have been delayed, which has been a common theme for most tech products this year.
According to a video posted by Dronemodelismo on August 28, the Mavic 3 Pro was originally pencilled in for an October launch. This matched the claims of a DroneDJ source in a post on July 19, which said “the latest plans are for an October release”.
But DroneDJ’s source added that “he has ‘doubt’ it will be ready for prime time by then” and Dronemodelismo’s source said that a postponement to January 2022 is also possible.
Recent DJI launches, like the DJI Air 2S, have been preceded by big leaks at stores like Best Buy, and the fact that we haven’t seen anything close to that (or even really some credible photos, beyond sketches), suggests that a launch is still some way off.
The end of Mavic?
The latest rumors have referred to a ‘DJI Mavic 3 Pro’ and ‘DJI Mavic 3’, but this doesn’t follow DJI’s recent naming trends. The company has been slowly retiring its Mavic (and Osmo) sub-brands, as shown by the DJI Air 2S and DJI Mini 2. This means that any DJI Mavic 2 Pro successor would most likely be called the ‘DJI Pro 3’. But as we’re mainly referring to a next-gen Mavic 2 Pro here, we’ll be sticking to the rumored ‘Mavic 3 Pro’ and ‘Mavic 3’ names here for now.
We’ve previously seen the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic Mini and Mini 2 arrive in an August-October window, but it seems the pandemic and chip shortages may have knocked DJI’s traditional launch cycles out of sync.
As for the Mavic 3 Pro’s possible price, there have been no leaks so far on this and it’s still too early to tell. But we can make educated guesses based on the launch price of the Mavic 2 Pro and the rumored features coming to its successor.
The Mavic 2 Pro cost $1,599 / £1,349 / AU $2,499 at launch, but it’s safe to assume that the Mavic 3 Pro would likely exceed that figure. A recent DroneDJ source claims that “the price [of the Mavic 3 Pro] will definitely be way up” – so the price could well end up north of $2,000 / £1,500 / AU$2,600, assuming it does deliver features like a new Hasselblad camera. But right now, this is all just speculation and we’ll need to wait until later in the year to get a clearer idea of the Mavic 3 Pro’s pricing.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro specs, rumors and leaks
The Brazilian YouTube channel Dronemodelismo has published what appears to be the biggest DJI Mavic 3 Pro leak so far. It claims the specs and illustrations have come from a reliable source – and the channel does have a track record of leaking accurate information about drones like the DJI Mavic Air 2. But some unusual suggestions about the design and specs have led some to question the accuracy of the rumors.
The biggest claim is that the Mavic 3 Pro will have dual Hasselblad cameras – one with a 7x zoom (which is presumably digital zoom rather than optical), and another 5.7K camera with a 24mm f/2.8 lens. According to Dronemodelismo, there will also be an adapter that can give this lens a wider 16mm focal length.
The suggestion that the Mavic 3 Pro will have a 5.7K camera contradicts an earlier “trusted source” from DroneDJ, which claimed that the drone could become the first compact DJI model capable of shooting 8K video. If true, this would trump its predecessor’s 4K/30p video powers and match the likes of the 8K-shooting Autel Evo II, which uses a smaller 1/2-inch sensor.
On the other hand, Autel’s Evo II Pro model shoots 6K video from a 1in sensor, and Dronemodelismo thinks the Mavic 3 Pro could even use the same sensor as that drone. The contradictory claims have likely arisen from the fact that DJI is probably testing different sensors with the Mavic 3 Pro. Earlier rumors suggested there could be also be two different versions of the Mavic 3 Pro.
It’s certainly possible that DJI could, like Autel, offer 8K and 6K versions of its flagship drone, with different camera modules to suit the needs of different filmmakers.
This would ape the launch of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, which was released alongside its DJI Mavic 2 Zoom sibling. But we’ll have to wait for further leaks to help clarify exactly how likely this is.
Another detail that the Dronemodelismo leak hasn’t clarified is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro’s sensor size. The obvious step up from a 1-inch sensor is moving to a Four Thirds sensor, which is something many DJI fans have hoped for.
A DroneDJ source claimed on August 10 that the drone’s sensor would indeed be a Four Thirds chip, but that “development has been problematic (on the Hasselblad side)”. However, it would be nigh-on impossible to fit a Four Thirds camera and gimbal into a drone of the Mavic 2 Pro’s size. And with the leaked illustrations from Dronemodelismo suggesting that the Mavic 3 Pro will indeed be a similar size to its predecessor, it seems pretty unlikely that a Four Thirds camera will be possible.
What does look likely, again according to the Dronemodelismo’s illustrations, is a new collision avoidance system. Apparently, the Mavic 3 Pro will lose the side sensors seen on its predecessor, and instead have front and rear sensors on the corners with wider-angle coverage. One thing that DJI’s drones have lacked, compared to rivals like the Skydio 2, is true 360-degree obstacle avoidance, so it seems the Mavic 3 Pro could well make strides here.
Another surprise claim in the same leak is that the DJI Mavic 3 Pro will have 1TB storage by default, with another version possibly offering 2TB. That would be a huge leap from the Mavic 2 Pro’s 8GB internal storage, and would significantly increase the drone’s price tag.
One possible reason for this focus on internal storage is the expected bump in resolution and bit-rates on the Mavic 3 Pro, which would likely demand some high-spec microSD cards. Like the iPhone 13, the Mavic 3 Pro is expected to support the Apple ProRes codec, which should help on the file size front. But we’d still be surprised if the base model of the Mavic 3 Pro had 1TB storage.
Some final claims from the Dronemodelismo leak include that the Mavic 3 Pro will have either a 5000mAh or 6000mAh battery, which will give it more than 40 minutes of flight time. This would be a boost on the Mavic 2 Pro’s 31-minute battery life.
Apparently, the drone’s gimbal will include an automatic locking mechanism, which will kick in when you turn the drone off. And as we’ve heard in previous rumors, there will also likely be a new version of DJI’s Smart Controller – the current version is a higher-end alternative to DJI’s bundled controllers and comes with a 5.5in built-in touchscreen.
This would mark a big design departure for the Chinese manufacturer, whose drones have generally all had upward-facing motors. However, these rumors were based on patents and there are potential downsides to landing and take-off with this design, due to the reduced ground clearance.
Few hours ago I saw a patent file of DJI with a new Mavic which has 2 downward motors and 2 upward motors.April 20, 2021
The main reason for this design would be improved obstacle avoidance, thanks to the extra space made available for front-facing sensors. But if the more recent Dronemodelismo leak is to be believed, it seems that DJI may have solved this with its rumored wide-angle obstacle avoidance sensors instead.
One other potential leak we’ve seen from DroneXL, from what it calls a “proven reliable source”, suggests that the Mavic 3 could now be in production.
The blurry photo found on Chinese social media is pretty inconclusive, but the site thinks it shows two cooling openings (not yet seen on a DJI before) and a new battery mechanism that slides in from behind the drone rather than the top.
The only other real leak we’ve seen so far concerns a set of watermarked drawings spotted on Twitter by a less-than-convincing drone rumor account. Pulled from Chinese social media platform WeChat, the images depict the supposed central body of the Mavic 3 Pro, though they don’t offer much in the way of new information.
What’s more, we’re a little skeptical as to the authenticity of these images, not least because of the rough edges around some of the drawings, suggesting they aren’t plucked from the archives of DJI itself.
DJI Mavic 3 Pro: 7 things we want to see
The recent launch of the DJI Air 2S has slightly upgraded our expectations of what to expect from a DJI Mavic 2 Pro successor. While that drone was, at the time of launch, the most impressive consumer-level drone we’d ever tested, its camera and other features are now a little dated – as shown by the fact that the cheaper Air 2S has now matched its 1-inch sensor.
So in an ideal, but realistic, world, what would we like to see from a DJI Mavic 3 Pro? Here’s our current wishlist.
1. Interchangeable cameras
Historically, a truly ‘pro’ camera is one that lets you change lenses to suit different situations. Shooting landscapes? Time to grab a lovely wide-angle zoom. Going to a wedding? An 85mm prime is the better tool for the job.
You arguably don’t quite need this level of flexibility in the air, with a wide-angle focal length generally preferable in most situations. But it’d be great if the rumored Mavic 3 Pro could at least bring the option of a few different user-swappable cameras.
We had hoped to see this feature on the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and DJI Mavic 2 Zoom when they both arrived simultaneously in 2018. But DJI decided to instead launch two versions of the same drone with different cameras – these are technically swappable, as many YouTubers have shown, but it’s not a job for the average person.
Rather than launching two versions of the DJI Mavic 3, we’d love to see one drone with modular, swappable cameras that could be bought separately. There could be a large sensor camera for stills, an optical zoom camera, an 8K module for filmmakers and maybe even one equipped with global shutter for those looking to dabble with aerial mapping.
The latest rumors suggest that DJI could simply include two different cameras on the same drone, in a similar way to today’s flagship smartphones. But we’d prefer the true flexibility of interchangeable cameras.
2. An 8K camera
Okay, perhaps our dream of a Mavic 3 with interchangeable cameras is too optimistic – if so, we’d settle for the drone making the step up to 8K resolution.
The best way of doing this while maintaining image quality would be for it to use a Four Thirds sensor, which would be considerably larger than the 1-inch ones in the DJI Air 2S and current Mavic 2 Pro.
But we remain sceptical that it’ll be possible to do add this kind of camera to a compact drone – you only have to look at the size of DJI’s Xenmuse X5S, a Four Thirds camera that’s designed for the DJI Inspire 2, to see how big that kind of setup is.
If that is indeed a step too far, we’d settle for one of the latest 1-inch sensors, but with a resolution boost that could serve up some tasty oversampled 5.7K to provide the leeway necessary for crops, pans and digital zoom. Naturally, we’ll still want all the usual treats like adjustable apertures and flat color profiles for grading, too.
3. Smart Controller V2
Back in 2019, DJI launched the lovely Smart Controller – an optional control pad for its drones that came with a built-in 5.5-inch touchscreen, so you didn’t need to use your smartphone as mission control.
Its 1080p screen is now showing its age, but we’d love to see a new version come bundled with the Mavic 3 – or at least arrive as an optional extra. Having a dedicated, all-weather controller with a super-bright screen is a real bonus for flying, and the addition of Ocusync 3.0 connectivity would make a new version a great ally for a next-gen Mavic Pro.
Perhaps the only issue might be cost, as the Smart Controller is currently priced at $749 / £579 / AU$1,099 – about half the cost of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. So perhaps a stripped-down version that comes bundled with a drone, or an optional updated model, would be the way to go.
4. A 40-minute battery life
One upgrade that seems a dead cert for the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, based on the limited leaks we’ve seen so far, is an improved battery life.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro’s flight time is rated at 31 minutes, but that’s without wind – and by the time you’ve taken into account the automatic return-to-home function (which kicks in when the battery hits 25% charge), your real-world fight times are more like 20 minutes.
Some early leaks from the likes of DroneXL suggested that the Mavic 3 Pro will have a new, larger battery, and Dronemodelismo’s leak has predicted a 40-minute flight time. This would likely work out as a real-world flight time of 30 minutes, once you’ve taken into account conditions and getting the drone back to its take-off pad.
5. True 360-degree obstacle avoidance
The Mavic 2 Pro shoots excellent video and stills, but it isn’t quite the best drone out there for obstacle avoidance and sports-tracking. While it does have sensors on the front, back, top, bottom and sides, the latter are disabled in many modes.
We’d like to see the Mavic 3 Pro take a step up here and offer the true 360-degree smarts of something like the Skydio 2, which has six 4K sensors to help it build up a full picture of possible obstacles around it.
Two of those sensors are upward-facing ones on its front arms, which are possible thanks to its downward-facing motors. With early leaks suggesting the Mavic 3 might have a similar design, perhaps DJI has indeed taken some inspiration for its next compact flagship drone.
6. Compatibility with the DJI Goggles V2
The DJI Air 2S unfortunately isn’t compatible with the DJI Goggles V2.0 for first-person flying, despite having the necessary Ocusync 3.0 connectivity. DJI told us it is “theoretically” possible that the Air 2S could support the Goggles, but that “there’s no roadmap or timeline for this”.
Hopefully, if a Mavic 3 Pro does arrive later this year, DJI will have widened support for its Goggles V2 to some of its non-FPV drones. The DJI FPV is the natural partner for them, thanks to its speed and aerial acrobatics, but the addition of a true FPV flying experience to the Mavic 3 would be another string to its bow.
7. Quieter props
Drones can be pretty noisy at low altitudes and that includes the Mavic 2 Pro. DJI does sell some low-noise propellors for its drones as an optional extra, but we’d like to see an evolution of these that help further cut that slightly intimidating hovering sound.
We might not be able to get the propellor equivalent of the ‘silent shooting’ modes seen in the latest mirrorless cameras, there have been some promising advances in this area for enterprise drones (for example, Delson Aeronautics) so it’d be great if DJI could do something similar for the Mavic 3 Pro.