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DJI has a pattern of raising the bar with each new drone model, making them harder to resist for new buyers and potential upgraders alike. The new Air 3 is a subtly huge step up from the previous Air 2 and Air 2S, featuring a powerful new dual camera system, a huge boost to flight time, and full-coverage obstacle avoidance sensors.

However, the Air 3 also has to prove itself in a market where customers are likely to choose a Mavic 3 Pro for its superior image quality and triple-camera system or a Mini 3 for its lower cost and travel-friendly size and weight.

Source: DJI
DJI Air 3
9 / 10

The DJI Air 3 has a new dual-camera system featuring two identical sensors using lenses with different focal lengths and apertures that are mounted adjacently in a vertical configuration. This lets you shoot either telephoto or wide-angle 4K footage, and there's a mode that combines the feeds into a vertical video. Better battery life and DJI's Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing round out the improvements, and the Air 3 is available in three different configurations.

1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor, 48MP, Wide-Angle 24mm (equiv.) FOV: 82°, f/1.7, Medium Tele 70 mm (equiv.) FOV: 35°, f/2.8
21 m/s (47mph)
32km (19.8 miles)
46 min
207×100.5×91.1 mm (folded), 258.8×326×105.8 mm (unfolded)
Video Resolution
3840×2160 (4K) @ 24/25/30/48/50/60/100*fps, or 1920×1080 up to 200fps
Video Formats
MP4/MOV (H.264/H.265)
Color Profiles
Normal 8-bit 4:2:0, HLG/D-Log M 10-bit 4:2:0
up to 150 Mbps
Battery Life
46 minutes
  • Dual primary cameras
  • Great image quality
  • 46-minute battery life
  • Easy operation
  • Smaller main sensor than Air 2S
  • Could use more built-in storage

Price and availability

The Air 3 is available in three different kits. The Standard package is priced at $1,099 and includes the drone, RC-N2 controller (which requires a smartphone to operate), a single battery, and other assorted accessories.

As usual, a Fly More Combo is available for $1,349, adding two more batteries and the charging hub, a shoulder bag, and some additional propellers. This package includes the same RC-N2 controller.

Finally, the Fly More Combo with RC 2 Remote Controller comes in at $1,549, and includes everything from the regular Fly More Combo, but replaces the RC-N2 controller with the RC 2 controller, which has a full touchscreen and doesn't require a connected phone for operation. All three packages are available directly from DJI's online store and several authorized resellers.



The Air 3 is the first in the Air series to step up to a dual-camera configuration. Like most DJI drones, a traditional 28mm equivalent wide-angle camera serves as the default view, while the second camera is equipped with a 70mm medium telephoto lens.

DJI uses the term "dual primary cameras," but the tele really isn't used for navigation. The wide-angle camera is still the main viewpoint for flights until you're ready to switch to the tele lens for specific shots. This terminology reflects that both cameras support the same recording capabilities, and it's a subtle jab at the Mavic 3 Pro, which infamously has some quality issues with its longer lenses.

Let's get straight to it because the second camera is the headlining feature. A mid-length telephoto lens is great for getting a closer view, and it's nice to break away from that all too familiar "drone look" we've come to expect from a wide-angle camera.

But it's not just about changing up the focal length; the telephoto camera lends itself to putting a focus on a subject. But make no mistake; this isn't going to melt away the background with bokeh; the fixed f/2.8 aperture of the second camera is too narrow. However, the telephoto still produces plenty of background compression, resulting in a great parallax effect that comes through with even moderate lateral movement.


Another advantage the Air 3 has over the Mavic 3 Pro (and the original Mavic 3) is identical 1/1.3-inch sensors. While this sort of thing never shows up on spec sheets, different sensors are prone to have inconsistent features and mismatched colors, which makes it harder to match and grade footage coming out of two separate cameras. That's not a problem with the Air 3 since everything from the colors to the bitrate are a match, and they only differ in focal length and aperture.

I'm still not clear if the Air 3 is meant to be a successor to the Air 2 or the more powerful Air 2S, but it feels a bit strange that the latter has a larger main sensor. I assume that was a necessary compromise to fit the second camera (for size or budget), and I'll even admit it's a worthy sacrifice. Nevertheless, I hope DJI can find a way to squeeze a pair of 1-inch (or larger) sensors into a future model.


The image quality out of both cameras is really sharp and retains color nicely. The Air 3 naturally shoots in a standard color profile for typical use, though it's only shot in 8-bit color. 10-bit HLG and D-Log M are supported for those who prefer to color grade their footage. I would have liked to see D-Log, even if it requires a little more skill to use properly, but it allows for even more dynamic range. Workflows on the backend and conversion LUTs also still favor D-Log, whereas D-Log M is not as widely supported.

Design and hardware

Aside from the camera, there aren't many obvious aesthetic differences between the Air 3 and DJI's last two generations of consumer photography drones. They share the same design aesthetic, retaining the gray body, folding arms, and gimbal-mounted camera we've seen for about five years. However, the new gimbal cover is much easier to mount and remove between flights.

If you're looking closely at the sensor array, there are now more object avoidance sensors, which are slightly larger than before. This enables almost total coverage for obstacle detection, another feature previously unique to the Mavic 3. Not only does this equate to safer flying, but it unlocks a few previously exclusive features. More on that later.

Larger propellers are also standard on the Air 3, seemingly allowing it to climb noticeably faster than previous models. Perhaps more importantly, this also changed how they sound during flight. I'm not sure if it's technically quieter, but there's a lower-frequency sound that doesn't feel nearly as annoying or threatening.

Upgrades were also made to the Fly More Combo. First, it includes a battery hub designed to hold batteries during travel. This was a great feature of the Mini 3, and it really simplifies organization and charging. I'm also very happy with the latest case. It's sturdy, easy to access, nicely padded, and not too tight — which used to be a massive problem. Just be aware that it's larger than the Air 2S case, and despite the new charging hub, it's somehow still too small to fit a power adapter and cable.

Also, allow me a moment to rant about ND filters. They are supported on the Air 3, and DJI sells a set for $99. That may be a little hefty, but that's not the issue. Using them in the field is awful, especially if you're trying to swap them while standing and holding everything in two hands. It's time somebody produces a variable ND filter for drones. Get on it, DJI… or Polar Pro… or Moment.

RC 2 controller and range


The RC 2 controller was used for this review instead of the RC-N2, and I unapologetically insist everybody should try to use the RC 2. Life is too short to be fiddling with a phone before takeoff.

Compared to the previous RC controller, the only outwardly notable change is a pair of external antennas on top. I can't say with certainty if it's the antennas or the new OccuSync 4 protocol. However, signal quality at long range or with interference is appreciably more stable than when I reviewed the Mini 3 Pro. Not that I had any complaints about range or reliability at the time, but the improvement is significant enough to notice.

Otherwise, the only other change I noticed is the Android OS software is more locked down than ever. I can no longer break out of DJI's curated set of apps to reach the launcher or access any hidden settings. Unfortunately, that means there's no non-hacky way to sideload photo or video editors, file managers, or sharing apps.

Battery life and charging


Max flight time for the Air 3 matches DJI's current record of 46 minutes. It's obviously a bad idea to run down to the last minute — it would fall out of the sky — but in practice, this is good for about 38-40 minutes of real usage as long as the return trip will be quick.

If that's not enough for a trip, DJI also enabled a cool new power accumulation feature that allows partially spent batteries to merge their charge to a single battery to maybe squeeze an extra flight into an outing. This feature is only possible with the charging hub, which is included in the Fly More Combo and is available separately.

When it comes time to recharge, the batteries do take quite a while, but DJI is now selling a new 2-port 100W USB-C PD adapter (up to 82W from either port), and it can charge a nearly empty battery to full in about 50-55 minutes.


Flights still require the DJI Fly app, and regardless of whether you're using it on a phone or the RC 2 controller, it hasn't changed much in several years. However, some features previously exclusive to the Mavic line have been turned on for the Air 3, likely as a perk of the enhanced obstacle avoidance capabilities.

The first addition is Waypoints, which allows a path to be recorded and then replayed with pretty high precision. The other notable change is a wider array of options for object tracking. Previous Air and Mini drones have supported object tracking to follow a subject from behind, or in the case of the Air 2 / 2S; it was possible to fly laterally. Now, the Air 3 can maintain tracking at several angles, even if it means flying backward while staying ahead of its subject.



It's hard to name many consumer drone companies focused on photography and video production, but Autel Robotics is the next most prominent name in this market, and its EVO Lite is the closest match to the Air 3. Each compares pretty closely on specs with trivial variations, and many of the features line up as well. But it has one obvious deficit: No second camera. The EVO Lite is also more expensive at a retail price of $1,499, but sales can bring it down to around $1,000. And if you are eyeing this model, consider the newer EVO Lite+ instead. It sports a better 1-inch camera sensor capable of shooting in 6K, and it's only $100 more.

Otherwise, the Air 3 only really competes with other DJI drones. The original Mavic 3 with two cameras is no longer sold, but the "Classic" is available for $1,599, and a Pro model with three cameras starts at $2,199. Of course, now that the Air 3 basically matches the same obstacle avoidance and software features, the big incentive for any Mavic 3 model is its main camera with a 4/3-inch sensor and variable aperture control. The 3x and 7x telephoto cameras are interesting, but the 3x camera on the Air 3 actually looks better, and footage from the 7x camera isn't worth using except in emergencies.

A more budget-friendly option is the Mini 3 Pro for $759, and it offers a nearly equivalent wide-angle camera and most of the features you'll want. If you're content with giving up a few more camera capabilities, the regular Mini 3 cuts the cost to just $559. Of course, neither model has a second camera or the same obstacle avoidance coverage.

Should you buy it?

I initially expected the Air 3 to be a pointless middle option between the Mini 3 Pro and Mavic 3, but I've realized it's more like a Mavic 3 Lite designed to snatch up buyers balking at the higher price. While I certainly wouldn't undersell the virtues of the 4/3-inch sensor with aperture control, the Air 3's 1/1.3-inch sensor still looks great, and really doesn't make any other noteworthy sacrifices. It even has a superior 3x camera. If you don't need exactly what the Mavic 3 offers, it's probably better to save $500 to $1,000 and buy the Air 3.

As much as I like this drone, I'm still inclined to recommend the Mini 3 to most casual fliers and content creators. It's significantly smaller, better for travel, obviously lower cost, and light enough to fit into the officially blessed sub-250g weight category. If image quality matters, the Pro model still costs less than the Air 3 while offering the same primary wide-angle camera. Of course, you're losing out on the second camera and a few advanced features, but it's up to each buyer to decide how important those really are.

Source: DJI
DJI Air 3

The DJI Air 3 has a new dual-camera system featuring two identical sensors using lenses with different focal lengths and apertures that are mounted adjacently in a vertical configuration. This lets you shoot either telephoto or wide-angle 4K footage, and there's a mode that combines the feeds into a vertical video. Better battery life and DJI's Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing round out the improvements, and the Air 3 is available in three different configurations.