Last week at CES there were several major product releases from some of the biggest companies in the drone industry.
One of the drones that was launched last week has been generating buzz not because it’s daringly new or innovative, but because it’s clearly designed to go head-to-head with DJI’s Mavic Pro.
Of course, we’re talking about Autel’s new Evo.
The Evo seems so clearly made to compete with the Mavic that some are even calling it a “potential Mavic Pro killer.”
Autel has already carved out a space for itself in the drone industry with their X-Star Premium drones, which were made to compete with DJI’s Phantom drones, and it looks like their continuing that trend with the Evo.
Evo and Mavic Head-to-Head Comparison
The Evo isn’t yet available for purchase, but Autel says that it will be priced at about $1,000, which is just about exactly what the Mavic Pro is currently going for.
The Mavic Pro is one of the all-time favorite drones for aerial cinematographers—according to FAA drone registration data, it’s #3 on the list of most popular drones for commercial applications in the U.S., just after the Phantom 4 and 3—so camera specs are crucial when it comes to comparing these two drones.
Here’s how they stack up:
|Drone||Frames Per Second||Camera|
|Mavic Pro||4K at 30fps||4K|
|Evo||4K at 60fps||4K|
Overall, looks like the Evo comes out ahead in this comparison, since its 60fps will make for smoother shots than the Mavic’s 30fps.
Designed for Convenience
One of the great features of the Mavic is that you can fold it up, which makes it more portable and convenient to carry around than other drones.
Well guest what—the Evo has what appears to be the same exact fold up design.
Check it out:
The two drones’ flight modes don’t really lend themselves to a head-to-head comparison, so instead we’ve listed out some of the the most notable modes for each drone below:
- Active tracking—Allows the drone to track a subject’s movement.
- Tripod—Makes the drone fly smoothly to allow for a clear shot.
- Tapfly—Allows you to tap a point on the DJI App to make the drone fly there.
- Gesture—Allows you to take dronies without using a remote control.
- Dynamic tracking—Basically the same as DJI’s Active tracking, allows the drone to track a subject’s movement.
- Occlusion handling—Handling obstacles, such as tree cover, that get in the way during a shot.
- Low-light robust tracking—Continuing to track an object even when the lighting is poor.
- Orbit—Allows the drone to orbit the subject for a circular shot.
As we said, it’s hard to compare one list against another, but it does look like the Evo can compete with the Mavic here (except for Gesture mode, which only the Mavic has).
Speed, Flight Time, and Range
Now let’s look at how fast, long, and far each of these drones can go:
|Drone||Max Speed (mph)||Max Flight Time
While the Evo can go noticeably faster—44.7 mph vs. the Mavic’s 40 mph—the Mavic can go just a sliver of a bit farther.
But what will probably matter the most for commercial drone pilots is the Evo’s longer flight time. 3 extra minutes in the air is a fairly significant difference, and could be a contributing factor when it comes to choosing one of these drones over the other.
Although both the Mavic and the Evo have obstacle avoidance systems, only the Evo comes with rear infrared sensors.
There’s also a rumor going around that the Evo will be able to record the locations of obstacles so that it can “learn” where they are, instead of simply sensing and avoiding them while flying. If this is true, it seems like a huge value add, but Autel hasn’t provided any official word on this new feature yet.
The Evo will come with 3D software already included, which will make it easy to use for making 3D maps.
On the other hand, there are plenty of mapping software options out there that can be used on the Mavic, but they don’t come included with the drone when you buy it—so this is one more value add on the Evo side.
So Who Wins?
When stacked up head-to-head, the Evo looks like a pretty strong competitor for the Mavic Pro.
Here’s a recap:
- The Evo has 60fps compared to the Mavic’s 30fps
- The Evo has 3 minutes more battery life than the Mavic (30 mins vs. 27 mins)
- The Evo can go faster than the Mavic (44.7 mph vs. 4 mph)
- The Evo comes with free 3D mapping software
- The Evo will have rear obstacle avoidance sensors, and possibly a digital “memory” of where obstacle are located
BUT—and this is a big but—what the Evo doesn’t have is customer loyalty, brand awareness, and a huge user base that can attest to its performance in the field.
DJI has all of these things, and, at a price point that looks like it’s going to be about the same, it’s hard to imagine the Evo immediately capturing a big piece of the Mavic’s existing market.
That being said, the Evo looks like a solid alternative to the Mavic, and may end up providing real competition to DJI, a company that hasn’t been all that affected by competitors to date.
It will be interesting to see how the Evo sells once Autel releases it for purchase, and whether DJI scrambles to distinguish itself in some way by finally releasing a new Mavic, adding new features to the existing one, or taking other steps to compete.
One thing we know for certain is that, when it comes to winning the drone industry, DJI isn’t one to back down from a fight.