The DJI Air 2S leaks have now turned into something of a torrent, with a few different sources appearing to reveal the incoming drone's design, specs and possible release date.
So how exactly is this successor to the DJI Mavic Air 2 – a mid-range model that sits top of our guide to the best drones – shaping up? If the rumors are correct, then it could well be the most exciting drone of the year.
Luckily, we don’t think we’ll have to wait too long to find out, either. DJI has announced an official launch event that's set to take place on Thursday April 15 at 6 AM PT / 9 AM ET / 2 PM BST / 10PM AEST.
Like the sound of the DJI Air 2S? We've analyzed all of the latest rumors and combined them with our own thoughts on the features we'd like to see in the mid-range drone below.
So if you're in the market for a new aerial companion to help take your photography or videography to the next level, read on for the latest news on what could be the biggest drone launch of the year.
A surprise appearance in Best Buy has suggested the Fly More Combo variant of the DJI Air 2S will go on sale for $1,299 (around £950 / AU$1,700).
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DJI Air 2S release date and price
As you can see in the invite above, the DJI Air 2S is expected to be announced at an official launch event on April 15. The event will be livestreamed on YouTube, with promotional material suggesting customers should “get ready for the One.”
While it’s not absolutely certain that the event will see the reveal of the Air 2S, we’re quietly (loudly) confident, especially given that the drone is expected to have a 1-inch sensor – which could well be what 'the One' references are about.
We already had an inkling that the drone would launch in April, though, given its recent FCC registration, which is the US database for certifying incoming electronic products.
What’s more, the DJI Mavic Air 2 was announced on April 27 2020, so we're approaching a year since that mid-range drone arrived for hobbyist fliers. It follows, then, that its newest sibling should arrive 12 months after its initial release.
As for how much the DJI Air 2S will cost, a surprise appearance in Best Buy has given us the best clue yet. Online outlet DroneXL recently reported that a student drone pilot in the US spotted DJI’s latest product on store shelves – which was apparently on sale for $1,299 (around £950 / AU$1,700).
The shopper wasn't able to buy the new drone, but did manage to snap a couple of pictures of the Fly More Combo box (below). While still unconfirmed, that price would see the DJI Air 2S outprice the Fly More equivalent of its predecessor (which cost $999 / £949 / AU$1,899 at launch) in some regions, while undercutting it in others.
It looks likely, then, that this bundle – which included two extra batteries along with other handy extras like ND filters and a shoulder bag for the DJI Mavic Air 2 – will return for the DJI Air 2S.
There isn’t much chatter on how much the basic variant of the upcoming drone might cost. Its predecessor arrived at the pretty reasonable price of $799 / £769 / AU$1,499, but given the rumored inclusion of a 1-Inch sensor and $1,299 Fly More price tag for the Air 2S, we'd expect that base price to increase by around 30% or so.
DJI Air 2S rumors, leaks and features
The most recent DJI Air 2S rumors and leaks point towards it being a slightly bigger upgrade to the DJI Mavic Air 2 than earlier speculation had suggested.
The Air 2S name certainly points towards it being an incremental upgrade – this isn't a DJI Mavic Air 3, after all – and early rumors had suggested that was indeed going to be the case, with the main new features being a new camera and possibly Ocusync 3.0 connectivity for compatibility with the new DJI FPV Goggles V2.0.
But recently, we've seen growing speculation from TechnikNews and Kanzhaji that the DJI Air 2S will have a new 1-inch sensor. Those were backed by by the recent sighting of the drone's retail packaging in Best Buy. If true, that would not only be a big upgrade on the DJI Mavic Air 2, but would also put the Air 2S' camera up with the pro-leaning DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
DJI Air 2S camera
- Expected to have a 20MP 1-Inch sensor
- Should shoot 5.4K/30p, 4K/60p and 1080p/240p video
- Rumors suggest 10-bit color depth and Intelligent HDR mode
Early rumors about the DJI Air 2S suggested that it might have a 64MP 1/1.72-inch sensor, thanks to an IMX686 sensor that we've seen in a few recent mid-range phones like the Asus ROG Phone 3 and Redmi K30.
But according to more recent leaks, this now appears to be off the mark. Instead, the images from TechnikNews and Kanzhaji show a camera module with a 20MP 1-Inch sensor – if true, that would be a huge image quality upgrade that would put the Air 2S on a par with the higher-end DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
Historically, the Mavic Air line has sat in between the beginner-friendly DJI Mini range and Mavic 2 series. One of the main signifiers of this has been the size of its image sensor, which on the Mavic Air 2 is a 1/2-inch chip. If the Air 2S does indeed get the improved light-gathering powers of a 1-inch sensor, it could call into question the future of the Mavic 2 series.
That said, it doesn't sound like we're going to get all of the Mavic 2 Pro's powers in a smaller, 600g bundle. Current rumors suggest the Air 2S will have a fixed f/2.8 aperture, unlike the variable f/2.8-f/11 aperture seen on the Mavic 2 Pro.
DJI AIR 2S~~ 🥰 pic.twitter.com/YPTcWmFoeIApril 5, 2021
Variable apertures are useful because you don't need to use ND (neutral density) in bright conditions to avoid overexposing the footage. But given the DJI Air 2S is likely to be aimed at enthusiasts, who might not be familiar with ND filters, it's possible DJI has left this feature out on the Air 2S.
What other imaging powers can we expect from the Air 2S? Prolific DJI leaker @OsitaLV has suggested that it might have an IMX383 sensor – if that's true, the Air 2S should be able to shoot 5.4K/30p or 4K/60p video with 10-bit color depth, which would giving it way more editing and color grading flexibility than the 8-bit Mavic Air 2.
TechnikNews, which has so far supplied the biggest leak of what appear to be official renders of the Air 2S, also claim it will have an 'Intelligent HDR' mode for automatically combining several still images without post-processing, plus hyperlapse and panorama modes.
What isn't yet clear is whether or not the Air 2S will have a high-resolution stills mode, like the Mavic Air 2. The latter used in-camera interpolation to produce 48MP photos from its 12MP sensor, and we weren't entirely impressed with the results. They were softer than raw files and standard size JPEGs and appeared to be washed out and desaturated in comparison, so hopefully this is something the Air 2S can improve upon.
DJI Air 2S design, battery and features
- Expected to have the same capacity battery as Mavic Air 2
- Rumored to be compatible with DJI Goggles V2.0
- May bring upwards-facing sensors for obstacle avoidance, but no side ones
In the drone's FCC filing label (above), it states that the Air 2S has a 3,500mAh battery, just like the Mavic Air 2.
This doesn't necessarily mean it'll have the same battery, and this isn't unusual for DJI drones – after all, the DJI Mini 2 actually arrived with a lower capacity battery than its Mavic Mini predecessor (2,250mAh vs 2,400mAh), but still managed the same flight time.
Perhaps more interesting is the DJI Air 2S' rumored compatibility with DJI's FPV Goggles V2, which arrived alongside the DJI FPV drone.
According to a DroneDJ source, the DJI Air 2S will "be capable of connecting with the V2 Goggles for First Person View flight". This is contrary to the site's earlier reports that this wasn't a priority for the Air 2S, and there so far hasn't been any FCC registrations for a new controller with Ocusync 3.0 connectivity, which would be needed for compatibility with the new goggles.
This means there is still some doubt surrounding the rumor, but it certainly makes sense – in theory. Firstly, it'd be an obvious way for the DJI Air 2S to differentiate itself from the Mavic Air 2 with relatively few internal hardware changes, and it also wouldn't require a huge leap considering the Air 2 already has Ocusync 2.0.
Of course, this wouldn't turn the Air 2S into a true FPV racing drone – it will likely lack the top speed or agility for that – but it would add another string to its already impressive all-rounder bow.
In terms of design, the DJI Air 2S appears to be very similar to the Mavic Air 2 – only this time it appears to have new upwards-facing sensors for obstacle avoidance, which would join the forward- and rear-facing ones seen on the current model.
This appears to have added a little weight to the Air 2S, which is expected to weigh in at around 600g (30g heavier than the Mavic Air 2). But it does lend possible support to rumors of an increased top speed and new FPV mode, as upward-facing sensors are usually employed when a drone is flying at top speed and tilting forwards.
If the leaked images are indeed correct, the only downside appears to be that the Air 2S will lack sideways sensors for true 360-degree obstacle avoidance. But we'll have to wait for the official launch until we know that for sure.
DJI Air 2S: what we want to see
As we've seen, the big rumors so far for the DJI Air 2S are a new 20MP 1-Inch sensor and Ocusync 3.0 connectivity. But in an ideal world, what else would we like to see in the rumored mid-range drone? Here's the rest of our wishlist.
1.) Better obstacle avoidance
The DJI Mavic Air 2 included obstacle avoidance sensors on the front and rear of the drone. But unlike the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, it lacked sensors on the side for something approaching 360-degree protection – so we'd like to see this included on the Air 2S.
It'd also be great if these sensors worked in all modes. On the Mavic Air 2, these only worked in certain modes, like ActiveTrack and tripod, so we'd like to see these enabled for all situations.
Sadly, recent leaks suggest the Air 2S will have a new upwards-facing sensor, but no sideways-sensing ones. Still, we're holding out hope that the official launch might bring different news.
2) ActiveTrack 4.0
Most DJI drones, aside from the DJI Mini 2 and Mavic Mini, have some form of ActiveTrack software, which lets them automatically follow subjects and keep them in the frame, while the drone avoids obstacles.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 has the latest ActiveTrack 3.0, but recent competitors like the Skydio 2 (which is only available in the US and Canada) have stepped up the obstacle avoidance and subject tracking game.
We'd like to see DJI respond with a new version of ActiveTrack on the Air 2S, and recent leaks seem to suggest this will be the case. Improved autonomous flying and the option of having the feature while shooting 4K/60p video would be great.
3.) A new controller with a screen
One of our slight disappoints with the DJI Mavic Air 2 was that its controller lacked a built-in screen, instead relying on your smartphone to act as a viewfinder. This was to be expected given its price tag, but we'd love to see the Air 2S come with a new pad – even if recent leaks suggest this is unlikely to be the case.
DJI's Smart Controller brought a super-bright touchscreen, all-weather design and lengthy battery life that didn't drain your smartphone. Unfortunately, the optional pad also relies on Ocusync 2.0 tech, so likely wouldn't be compatible with the Air 2S if that drone moves to Ocusync 3.0.
This would make it the ideal time for DJI to introduce a cheaper version of the controller for its new mid-range drone, but we're not holding our breath on this one as there have been no FCC registrations for anything on those lines.
4.) Quieter props
Most drones are pretty noisy at low altitudes and the Mavic Air 2 is no exception. As if to confirm the point, DJI does sell some low-noise propellors for the drone as an optional extra – but we'd like to see these come as standard, or perhaps a new solution that might help make them even quieter.
While drones probably won't be able to get the propellor equivalent of the 'silent shooting' seen in the latest mirrorless cameras, there have been some promising advances made in this area for enterprise drones (see Delson Aeronautics) so it'd be great if DJI could do something similar for consumer drones.
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