DJI just updated one of its most popular drones, and I'm pleased to report the new features improve an already good product. The new $999 Air 2S packs an impressive image sensor, range and object tracking/sensing technology that makes it an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a portable prosumer drone.
I've been testing the drone for the last week, but poor weather prevented me from constructing a full review at this time. Look for that next week.
The DJI Air 2, released (and reviewed) in 2020, is a fantastic drone that is most likely more drone than most people need. That drone packed a lot of capability into a portable and affordable package. It's easily the best drone for most, and the Air 2S adds even more value and capability.
There are three main differences between the Air 2 and the Air 2S -- two of which are evident on the tech sheet, and one feature that sounds like marketing nonsense but results in real-world performance. The Air 2S features a one-inch image sensor, up from the 1/2-inch used in the Air 2. The new drone also features additional object sensing technology, making it safer to fly the drone around trees, wires and obstacles.
Range, to most users, will be the most noticeable improvement. The DJI Air 2S's range is very impressive. It's capable of flying (while streaming HD) nearly twice as far as the original Air 2. In my experience, this results in a real-world range of over a mile.
The range is magical to me. I've tested dozens of drones, including most of DJI's drones since the original Phantom. Each year, the range of consumer-level drones increases incrementally. This release is different. The Air 2S range leapfrogs the Air 2's flight and streaming range by a large margin and is on par with several professional-level drones.
The Air 2S packs an updated video transmission system called OcuSync O3 and four transmission antennas instead of two. But these details are hidden from the owner. There are physically no external differences that would reveal the added antennas.
DJI also added more automated image-capture flight modes, including a new mode called MasterShots. Per DJI (I haven't tested this yet), once MasterShots is engaged, the drone will autonomously plan a flight path that will result in pro-level image capture. With FocusTrack, the drone tracks an object and keeps the selected person or object in focus -- this is similar to previous options, but DJI says the systems have been updated for improved performance.
The Air 2S comes with an updated camera over the original Air 2. DJI put a one-inch, 20-megapixel image sensor in this model capable of capturing 5.4K video at 30fps or 4K at 60fps and 150Mbps. This camera also supports different zoom levels depending on the capture resolution -- from 4x zoom at 4K 30fps to 8x at 1080p 30fps.
The price is on par with previous drones of this level. The Air 2S starts at $999 and is available in a $1,299 package that includes two extra batteries, ND filters, a charging hub and a shoulder bag.