DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium: which is better?
DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium: which is better?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about which drone to buy for travelers. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m getting a drone. Mavic Pro or the X-Star Premium? I travel a lot and will take it with me. I am also a beginner.

I like this question! Short and to the point.  Now I’ll get to the point!

Both the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) and Autel X-Star Premium ($749) drones are excellent for beginners. They are very easy to use, allowing you to see what the drone’s camera sees in real-time through your smartphone or tablet. They have autonomous take-off and landing features and return to home, so they are both very beginner friendly.

Overall, I do think the DJI Mavic Pro is a better drone than the Autel X-Star Premium. But a lot of this comes down to your budget, and in this case you definitely get what you pay for.

If you are on more of a budget, then the X-Star is an excellent drone for $150 less than what you’ll pay for the Mavic. But if you think it is absurd to drop $1,000+ on a drone, then stop reading right now and just get the Autel X-Star! It is a great drone!

BUT…there are also lots of reasons why I think paying the extra $150 for the Mavic is worth it. Allow me to explain.

dji mavic pro review sizeDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium Camera review:

Both of these drones have 4K HD cameras that can take 12-megapixel photos. The camera is mounted on an integrated 3-axis gimbal to reduce vibrations or sudden movements in the drone.  The cameras are thus very comparable. However, some people do prefer the look of one camera over another. I’ll let you be the judge. Check out my DJI Mavic Pro video review and Autel X-Star video review to see actual footage I shot from each drone, so you can see how the camera actually looks.

Winner: Toss-Up

autel x-star batteryDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium battery:

The Mavic Pro has a maximum flight time of 27 minutes. The X-Star has a maximum flight time of 25 minutes. That’s pretty comparable, but for some, that extra 2 minutes could make a difference.

However, one big price point to take into consideration. If not even 27 minutes is enough, you may want to buy a spare battery. (If you travel often, you probably will want one!)

A spare battery for the Mavic Pro is going to cost $89 each.  A spare battery for the X-Star Premium costs $112.99. That’s $20 more — so if you plan on getting more spare batteries, that may justify the cost of springing for the Mavic.

Winner: DJI Mavic

autel x-star rc transmitterDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium flight control:

Both of these drones have very similar RC transmitters. For both transmitters, you download the respective smartphone or tablet app, plug your smartphone or tablet into the controller, and start flying to get a FPV view of the drone. You can also use the app to control settings.

Both controllers have a a variety of buttons like return to home, take off, etc. that make it especially easy to fly.

My favorite improvement to the ubiquitous DJI Phantom that both the X-Star and Mavic address is that critical flight information is on the transmitter and not on a mobile device. My iPhone is a tad old and not the most reliable, so I would much rather rely on the RC transmitter than my phone, should it spontaneously shut off!
The X-Star RC transmitter is a lot bigger than the Mavic RC transmitter. Portability is key for me, so I do like that the Mavic’s is much smaller. While I don’t think the size of the RC transmitter should be the deciding factor in your drone choice, it really is the only real difference between the two and while I’ll say…
Winner: DJI Mavic

autel x-star flyingFlying commercially

 I know you said you were a beginner (and a traveler). That being said, there may come a point where you want to use your drone for commercial purposes. If that could ever be the case, then I would recommend the X-Star for two reasons.

1. The Autel Part 107 test rebate: Now through March 31, 2017, Autel  will cover the cost for its customers who take (and pass) the Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote Pilot Knowledge Test.Autel drone operators who submit a proof of a qualified X-Star series drone purchase and proof of a passing result on the FAA’s knowledge test will be entitled to a rebate for the test, which otherwise costs $150. (Passing the Part 107 test is required for any drone operators who want to fly commercially).

2. Autel drone camera upgrades:  Unlike the Mavic, which comes with a built-in, non-removable camera, Autel sells camera modules that can be easily interchanged on the X-Star. If you find yourself needing to do thermal imaging or simply one a higher quality camera, Autel allows you to purchase upgraded cameras to use on your drone.

Winner: Autel X-Star

DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium drone frame and design

Since you mentioned you are a traveler, I’m going to flat out say the Mavic Pro wins big on the design of the drone. Why is it the big winner? Because the drone is so small.

While the Autel X-Star does come with a fantastically designed, durable, hard-shell carrying case (I myself have sent it through bag check multiple times), it still is 19.5×19.5×8.5 inches. That means you’re going to need to count this as one of your carry-on items, and if you’ve already exceeded the carry-on limit, have to check it separately.As a traveller, I want to bring with me less stuff, not more stuff!

One the other hand, the DJI Mavic Pro is small, light, and can easily tuck into my purse (or your other camera bag, or next to the socks in your suitcase! The arms and propellers fold up to the size of a water bottle, making it reasonable for me to carry along on any average day and break out whenever I come upon an opportunity to take a neat drone photo. (I would never just carry a Phantom or Yuneec Typhoon with me for no reason; every time I bring either of those drones with me is specifically with the intent to take a certain photo).  Going on an epic hike? Just throw the Mavic in your backpack. Trying to travel the world with just one suitcase? The Mavic hardly takes up any space.

Winner: DJI Mavic

Overall, I think the Mavic is a better drone to travel with, largely due to its extremely portable size. But, if it’s too expensive, don’t beat yourself up. I love the X-Star too.

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About the Author: Nana Gastaldi