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The successor to the popular DJI Air 2S has finally landed, and it's taken a leaf out of the Mavic 3 playbook, doubling up the cameras for some extra shooting versatility.

The Air 2S has been around since April 2021, which is a long time in the world of drones, so this model was long overdue for an update. However, not all of the benefits of this model are quite so clear cut. For example, the maximum video resolution is lower on the Air 3, and the sensor size is smaller, too.

So, is this an upgrade, or more of a sideways move? I was intrigued to find out, so I took to the skies over the last few weeks to see what this new drone is all about.

DJI Air 3
DJI Air 3

The long-awaited Air 3 brings dual-camera versatility outside of the Mavic series for the first time. It flies excellently, captures stunning images and remains fairly compact. It's sure to be the sweet spot for a lot of people.

  • Excellent dual camera system
  • Long, stable flights
  • Improved video downlink
  • 4K 100fps slow motion
  • Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance
  • Lower video resolution than the Air 2S
  • Not compatible with existing controllers

Choosing your options

  • With RC-N2 remote - $1099 / €1099 / £962
  • Fly More Combo with RC-N2 - $1349 / €1349 / £1199
  • Fly More Combo with DJI RC 2 - $1549 / €1549 / £1379
  • DJI RC 2 (remote only) - $369 / €369 / £323

As is usually the case with DJI drones, you are presented with numerous package options when you purchase the Air 3. The most basic option gets you the drone itself, a single battery and the RC-N2 remote. This is a phone-clamp-style controller and it replaces the longstanding RC-N1. Unfortunately, we didn't have this option in for testing, so it's hard to say what exactly has changed with the remote, but for all practical purposes, it looks nigh-on identical. It's possible something had to be changed to work with the new O4 transmission system - or perhaps in compliance with the new US remote ID regulations.

DJI Air 3 (15)-1

The Fly More combo nets you the same kit plus two spare batteries, a three-bay charging station, spare propellers and a nice carrying case. This case is quite similar to the one that comes with the Mavic 3 Pro and features the same satisfying magnetic latch, along with a plush velvety interior.

If you opt for the priciest Fly More Combo (which is what I'm testing), you'll get the brand new DJI RC 2 remote - which succeeds the DJI RC remote that comes with the Mini 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Pro. Don't get too excited, though, as from what I can tell, it's functionally the same as the original DJI RC. The dimensions are almost identical, as is the screen and button layout - with the only major difference being the addition of two folding antennas, which look like the ones from the DJI RC Pro.

Still, even though it's basically the same thing as the DJI RC, I love these integrated controllers. It's so much quicker to set up and get in the air when you don't have to worry about pairing your phone and getting it all set up in the clamp. If you can afford it, I'd definitely recommend considering an option that comes with the RC 2 - I did it when I purchased my DJI Mini 3 Pro, and I haven't looked back. It's well worth the initial outlay.

DJI Air 3 (18)-1

However, DJI has confirmed that the Air 3 is not backwards compatible with the DJI RC and RC-N1, so unfortunately, those who've already invested in a controller for previous models will not be able to use their existing controllers with this new drone.

Design and features

  • Takeoff Weight: 720g
  • Dimensions folded: 207×100.5×91.1 mm
  • Dimensions unfolded: 258.8×326×105.8 mm
  • Storage: 8GB internal + microSD card slot

The Air 3 adopts a style that's very in line with DJI's recent releases. The arms are slimmer, the camera module is all black, and the chassis doesn't protrude as far over the gimbal, which allows for low-angle shots.

DJI Air 3 (23)-1

The Air 3 is larger than its predecessor in all dimensions, both folded and unfolded, and it's heavier too. It weighs in at 720g, roughly 125g heavier than the Air 2S, so it'll weigh your bag down a little bit more, but as far as European regulators are concerned, both drones fall into the same C1 category.

The reason for the weight increase is partially due to the dual camera system. It means that the camera module is much larger on this drone, and it has twice as much going on inside as well. The new gimbal unit is protected by a rigid semi-transparent plastic cover, quite similar to the one that comes with the Mini 3 Pro, though this one does a better job of preventing the gimbal from moving around in your bag. It's not quite as nice as the Mavic 3's muzzle cover, but it clips into place securely and is easy to remove, too.

The Air 3 has angled obstacle avoidance sensors on each corner, as well as two on the base, just like the Mavic 3. This allows for full 360-degree obstacle sensing, so you're protected in all directions. The Air 2S, by contrast, lacked lateral obstacle detection - so you'd have to be very careful when flying sideways.

DJI Air 3 (3)-1

There's 8GB of onboard storage, along with a microSD card slot, just as we've seen with the rest of DJI's recent releases. The built-in 8GB won't get you very far, especially with such high-fidelity recording modes available, it's essentially just included as an emergency backup if you forget your SD card. And as someone who has done that more than once, it's a welcome feature.

The flying experience

  • Max speed: 21 m/s (limited to 19 m/s in EU)
  • Max flight time: 46 minutes
  • O4 video transmission

Despite being a heavier craft than its predecessor, the Air 3 outflies the Air 2S in every regard. It's a touch faster, both horizontally and in ascent and descent, and it's better at resisting the wind, too. I was very thankful for this, as the weather has not been on my side lately, and the Air 3 was forced to battle 30mph+ gusts on a regular basis.

DJI Air 3 (11)-1

The Air 3 offers significantly longer flight times, too. You can expect up to 46 minutes in ideal conditions, up from 31 minutes on the Air 2S. As I mentioned, I was not flying in anything close to ideal conditions, but I could still achieve in excess of 30 minutes per battery.

DJI has refined its aircraft to such a level that there are rarely any surprises to do with the flying characteristics, everything just works exactly as it should. The Air 3 is responsive, stable and reliable. It handles the same wind speeds as the Mavic 3, which is impressive considering that it's so much smaller and lighter, and this could mean that it's a viable alternative in breezy situations.

This drone is the first to feature DJI's new O4 image transmission system, which should allow you to fly further before seeing video signal dropouts and be better at dealing with interference from trees and buildings, too. It also streams at a higher bitrate, up to 10MB/s at 1080p 60fps. Comparatively, the Air 2S only streams at 1.5MB/s. It even bests the pricey Mavic 3 Pro, which streams at 5.5MB/s with the standard remote - and you'd have to opt for the extremely costly DJI RC Pro remote to get above 10MB/s.

DJI Air 3 (7)-1

In practice, I can't say that I noticed a massive difference in the image quality, but I don't have any complaints either. The O3+ system used by the Mini 3 and Mavic drones already goes further than I need it to, has great image fidelity, and deals with obstructions well. All of this remains true with the O4 system.

The Air 3 has all the tracking functionality that we've come to expect from a DJI drone, including ActiveTrack which works in all directions. So, if you want your drone to fly backwards and film your subject from the front, that's no issue. ActiveTrack works across both lenses on this model, whereas with the Mavic 3 series, you're limited to the primary camera only.

Cameras and image quality

  • 24mm equivalent f/1.7 with 1/1.3-inch sensor
  • 70mm equivalent f/2.8 with 1/1.3-inch sensor
  • Up to 48MP stills
  • Up to 4k 60fps video / 4K 100fps slow-motion

Obviously, the biggest upgrade on this model is the fact that it has two cameras, and this is the first time that we've seen a dual-camera setup outside of the Mavic series. The way that it has been implemented here is excellent, too.

DJI Air 3 (30)-1

My biggest gripe with the dual-camera setup of the Mavic 3, and later the triple camera array of the Mavic 3 Pro, is that the quality is inconsistent. On those drones, the main camera is far superior to the additional lenses and the modes you can use with each differ greatly. That's not the case here.

Both cameras feature 48MP 1/1.3-inch stacked CMOS sensors, and both can shoot at the same resolutions and frame rates. You can shoot at up to 4K 60fps on both cameras with no crop, or an impressive 4K 100fps for slow-motion, and normal, HLG and D-Log M profiles remain selectable for each.

There's excellent consistency in the colour rendition, too, which makes it easy to mix footage from the cameras when editing. Though it's worth noting that you still can't switch between lenses while recording, you'll have to stop and start a new clip every time you want to switch.

The main camera is a 24mm equivalent, which has become the standard FOV for DJI drones, while the additional camera is a 70mm equivalent. It carries the same specifications as the unit that was introduced with the Mavic 3 Pro, and might very well be the same camera. I was really happy to see it included here, it's much more useful to me than the 166mm telephoto, while still being long enough to offer a very different perspective to the main camera.

With drones being more accessible than ever, the standard wide-angle drone shot doesn't have the impact that it once did. Being able to punch into a 3x shot means that you can create some really interesting parallaxes, and adds some of the wow factor back to your aerial photography.

As I mentioned in the introduction, some aspects of this new camera system are a little more puzzling. For a start, it maxes out at 4K resolution, whereas the Air 2S offered 5.4K video over two years ago. It's not a big deal to me personally, I rarely shoot at resolutions above 4K anyway, but for those that like to capture at a higher resolution and crop in, it's a shame to see the option being removed - especially when the sensors used on this model have over double the resolution of the Air 2S sensor.

The sensors used here are also marginally smaller than the single sensor of the Air 2S, however, with a wider aperture on the main camera, there's not likely to be much of a hit to low-light performance. In any case, it's not apples-to-apples, as the Air 2S uses a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, and both cameras on the Air 3 use newer stacked CMOS sensor technology.

In my testing, I found the results from the Air 3 to be more pleasing across the board. Whether that's due to higher-bitrate recording, better colour depth or some image processing wizardry, it's hard to say. The important thing is that photos and videos from the Air 3 look superb. They're detailed, sharp and have excellent colour rendition - along with the signature smoothness of a DJI gimbal.


Fans of the Air 2S have been anticipating this launch for a long time, and I think it's safe to say it was worth the wait. The Air 3 flies better, does so for longer, and captures more pleasing footage with its versatile new dual camera system.

It's not perfect, of course, but the niggles are rather minor. I'm puzzled by the decision to remove 5.4K recording, but I feel like the lack of a crop at 4K 60fps and the impressive 4K slow motion modes more than makeup for the loss. The lack of compatibility with existing controllers is a pain point, too, especially when the benefits of the O4 system seem to be relatively small - but I'm sure there's a reason that it had to be done.

Otherwise, it's just a downright impressive drone on all fronts. If you want something that can battle the wind better than a Mini 3, but aren't keen on something as large and expensive as a Mavic, this is the drone for you. The unique perspectives offered by the 70mm lens only serve to sweeten the deal.