The DJI Air 2S rumors have gathering pace faster than a speeding FPV drone – with the latest speculation suggesting that the DJI Mavic Air 2 successor is likely to be released into the skies this year.
The speculation isn’t just wishful thinking either, with the DJI Air 2S name recently appearing in the US database for new product registrations – a moment that usually hints at a relatively imminent release.
That said, product release schedules aren’t following their usual patterns this year, so we don’t yet have a timescale for when the rumored mid-range drone could arrive. What we do have, though, are growing rumors from a range of reputable sources about what new features the Mavic Air 2 successor is likely to bring.
We’ve analyzed these rumors and combined them with our own thoughts on the features we’d like to see in the DJI Air 2S – 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 most popular drone launch of the year.
DJI Air 2S release date and price
It’s still not exactly clear when the DJI Air 2S will be released, as there have been no official events or teasers for the drone yet. But according to DJI’s recent upgrade cycle, we’re certainly due a successor to the DJI Mavic Air 2 soon – and the latest rumors appear to back that up.
The DJI Mavic Air 2 was announced on April 27 2020, so we’re approaching a year since that mid-range drone – which sits at number one in our best drones guide –landed for hobbyist fliers. That said, the original DJI Mavic Air arrived on January 23 2018, so it’s not certain that the series is definitely on an annual release cycle.
The reason why the DJI Air 2S rumors have been growing is because the name recently appeared on the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) database, which is the US registry for all incoming products that use wireless communication. In short, if a product appears on there, it’s usually launched within a month or so.
Also, a DroneDJ source recently suggested that the Air 2S is “already being manufactured” and will be released “soon”. Again, that’s still quite vague, but putting everything together it seems reasonable to expect the drone to be unveiled within the next few months.
How much will it cost? There have been no leaks or rumors on this yet, so all we have to go on is the current DJI Mavic Air 2. That drone arrived for a pretty reasonable price of $799 / £769 / AU$1,499 – and given the DJI Air 2S is expected to be an incremental upgrade (more on that later), we’d expect it to have a price tag that’s in that ballpark.
What’s slightly less clear is whether or not the DJI Air 2S will have a ‘Fly More’ bundle in a similar vein to the Mavic Air 2’s offering. This bundle, which includes two extra batteries along with other handy extras like ND filters and a shoulder bag, and offers very good value, is available for the Mavic Air 2 for $999 / £949 / AU$1,899.
But on the more recent DJI FPV, the ‘Fly More Kit’ is simply sold separately as two extra batteries and a charging hub. It’s not yet clear whether this was a one-off or if DJI has abandoned its usual ‘Fly More’ bundles, but we’ll likely find out with the launch of the DJI Air 2S.
DJI Air 2S rumors, leaks and features
So far, the DJI Air 2S rumors and leaks suggest that the drone will be a relatively minor upgrade of the Mavic Air 2, with a new camera and possibly Ocusync 3.0 connectivity for compatibility with the new DJI FPV Goggles V2.0.
The Air 2S name certainly hints at an incremental upgrade – it’s not a Mavic Air 3, after all. And another reason why it might be pretty similar to the Mavic Air 2 (which was a big step up from the original model) is because it appears to have the same battery capacity.
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.
That said, it does suggest that the DJI Air 2S is unlikely to be radical reinvention of the series – and to be fair to DJI, it doesn’t really need to be, as it’s still the best drone for most people. What’s more interesting are the rumors about the Air 2S’ possible new camera.
A recent Tweet from the pretty reliable DJI leaker @OsitaLV suggested that the Mavic Air 2’s successor might have an IMX686 sensor. This chip is both larger and higher resolution than the one in DJI’s current mid-range drone.
While the Air 2 has a 12MP 1/2-inch sensor, this rumored IMX686 sensor for the Air 2S is a larger 1/1.72in chip with 64MP resolution. In fact, we’ve already seen this sensor in a few recent mid-range phones, including the Asus ROG Phone 3 and Redmi K30, and been pretty happy with the results.
If this is true, we’d imagine the DJI Air 2S could use a technique like pixel-binning to take lower-resolution photos, while offering the higher-resolution mode for those who need the extra detail. The DJI Mavic Air 2 took a different approach, using a 12MP sensor and then using in-camera interpolation to produce 48MP photos.
We weren’t entirely impressed with the results of the latter in our tests, finding that the 48MP shots were “much softer than raw files and standard size JPEGs” and that “images appear washed out and desaturated in comparison”. If the rumors of a new, larger 64MP sensor are true, then this will likely be a big area of improvement on the DJI Air 2S.
This sensor also shoots 4K/60p video, although the Mavic Air 2 can already shoot at that resolution and frame-rate, so upgrades here are less likely.
The other big rumored upgrade for the DJI Air 2S is 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, so there is still some doubt surrounding it, but its inclusion would certainly make sense.
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.
So far, those are all of the main rumors for the DJI Air 2S, but what else do we want to see from the flying camera? Hopefully, it’ll also bring some or all of these helpful tricks.
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 64MP 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.
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 – so we’d like to see DJI respond with a new version of ActiveTrack on the Air 2S. 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 equivalent of DJI’s Smart Controller.
That optional control pad brought a super-bright touchscreen, all-weather design and lengthy battery life that didn’t drain your smartphone. Unfortunately, the Smart Controller 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 – which makes it the ideal time for DJI to introduce a cheaper version for its new mid-range drone. Thought we’re not holding our breath on this one.
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.