DJI Mavic 3 Classic launch recap: the cheaper flagship drone has landed

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Hello, I’m Mark (TechRadar’s Cameras editor) and I’ll be your co-pilot for today’s big DJI launch. I’ve covered and tested DJI drones for years going all the way back to the original DJI Spark in 2017, so I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what the lands are today.

The event’s ‘Explore Vivid’ doesn’t give away a huge amount, but that Hasselblad camera in the teaser poster does point towards a new drone, like the rumored DJI Mavic 3 Classic. So if you’re in the market for a new flying camera (or are just interested in where they’re gliding to the next), pull up a seat and join us as we count down to take-off.

How to watch the DJI launch

How can you tune into today’s DJI launch? There’s now a placeholder on DJI’s official YouTube channel above, which is where the announcement will take place today at 9am EDT / 1pm GMT. If you’re in Australia, that works out as 12am AEDT on November 3.

That means we’re now less than five hours away from the official lift-off, which gives us plenty of time to dig into those Mavic 3 Classic rumors and work out whether it all adds up to a compelling potential Christmas present. As someone who bought a DJI Mini 3 Pro earlier this year, I have some thoughts on that.

(Image credit: Future)

DJI drones: a primer

If you’re new to DJI drones, here’s a quick primer on its current lineup. Despite some fresh competition from the likes of Autel, DJI is still by far the biggest maker of consumer flying cameras – and its range is now split into four sub-brands.

DJI’s small, entry-level drones are the ‘Mini’ series, headed by the DJI Mini 3 Pro. Just above from them is the mid-range ‘Air’ series, which despite the name are slightly bigger and have cameras with larger sensors (like the 1-inch DJI Air 2S, which previously topped our guide to the best drones you can buy ).

But above both of those is the ‘Mavic’ series, which started back in 2016 with the DJI Mavic Pro. The DJI Mavic 3, which packs a large Four Thirds sensor into its folding body, is the spiritual successor to that original model. But with a US$2,199 / £1,879 / AU$3,099 price tag, it isn’t exactly cheap – hence the rumors about a DJI Mavic 3 Classic launching today.

Buzzing around parallel to these three main species of DJI drone is a new FPV model called the DJI Avata. It’s a super-fun intro to FPV flying, but a bit more niche than what we’re expecting to see today.

A house on a hill in the Lake District

(Image credit: Future)

Decisions, decisions…

As someone who bought the DJI Mini 3 Pro earlier this year, I recently wrote about why I could end up regretting that decision if the DJI Mavic 3 Classic rumors are accurate.

Not that I’m at all unhappy with the Mini 3 Pro – it’s a brilliant little drone that proves to be a great companion on a recent visit to the Lake District in the UK (where I took the shot above).

But the Mavic 3’s larger body is more stable in windy conditions and getting that Four Thirds sensor for less money than the current model will make it a tempting alternative, particularly if you frequently fly in gloomy conditions.

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Is this the pricing?

How much might the rumored DJI Mavic 3 Classic cost? That’s one thing that the rumors and leaks had not been too clear about, until earlier this week.

The Tweet above from regular DJI leaker @JasperEllens on Twitter sounds pretty confident that prices will start at €1,499 (for the drone only), with a bundle including the new DJI RC controller costing €1,749.

Based on current DJI pricing, that should work out as around $1,499 / £1,349 / AU$2,399 for the drone on its own, or roughly $1,749 / £1,599 / AU$2,799 for the DJI RC controller bundle. Not cheap, but a decent saving on the DJI Mavic 3’s launch price of US$2,199 / £1,879 / AU$3,099 (which included the old RC-N1 Remote Controller).

The view from the Mavic 3

Looking for a taste of the kind of video quality you might be able to expect from the rumored DJI Mavic 3 Classic? The one above collates some of the test shots for our DJI Mavic 3 review.

If the Mavic 3 Classic does indeed have the same sensor (only without that drone’s telephoto lens), then that’s likely to give us a good idea of ​​what to expect.

Our review said that “image quality from the main camera for stills and video is nothing short of excellent overall”, and there still isn’t really another drone in the Mavic 3’s weight class that matches its 20MP Four Thirds CMOS sensor.

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DJI Mavic 3 Classic – the leaks so far

Based on leaks from @JasperEllens (above) and WinFuture (opens in new tab), it looks pretty likely that we’ll see a DJI Mavic 3 Classic drone land in just over an hour. But what specs might it have?

WinFuture claims that the “DJI Mavic 3 Classic is basically almost 100 percent identical to the regular DJI Mavic 3”, apart from one main detail – the removal of the current drone’s telephoto camera.

This has apparently been done for cost reasons, allowing DJI to sell the Mavic 3 Classic for a lower price tag (see the ‘Is this the pricing?’ post below). If true, this is how DJI’s drone would shape up in terms of specs:

camera: 20MP Four Thirds sensor
Video quality: 5.1K up to 50fps / 4K up to 120fps / FHD up to 200fps
Video transmission range: Up to 9 miles
Storage: 8GB, expandable via microSD card
Battery: up to 46 minutes flight time
Weight: 895g
Dimensions (unfolded): 347.5x283x107.7mm
Dimensions (folded): 221×96.3×90.3mm

The DJI Mavic 3 drone's front camera on a green background

(Image credit: Future)

20 minutes to go…

Based on these DJI Mavic 3 Classic leaks, the big question for most people is how much you’re likely to miss that telephoto lens. It’s a tricky one, because there’s no doubt that the current Mavic 3’s 162mm lens is significantly inferior to its main camera, in terms of outright image quality.

And yet, the effect you can get from that unique zoom – including a dramatic ‘parallax effect’ that makes the background look like it’s moving quickly behind your subject – has been behind some of the most interesting drone videos I’ve seen on YouTube and elsewhere.

Still, in these tricky financial times, the extra cost for the standard Mavic 3 is significant, and the Mavic 3 Classic could offer good value if the leaked pricing is correct. It’s still a flying Micro Four Thirds camera, after all.

One minute go…

Right, if you’re not already primed and ready for DJI’s big launch, you have about sixty seconds to covertly open the livestream above on your work computer and get it settled.

Time to see if the DJI Mavic 3 Classic rumors were accurate, and how much we’re going to have to raise from eBay sales in the next month to afford it…

The DJi Mavic 3 Classic drone

(Image credit: DJI)

It’s official: the DJI Mavic 3 Classic is here. And as rumors predicted, it’s has the same 20MP Four Thirds CMOS camera, 46-minute flight-time, and O3+ transmission system as the original Mavic 3 drone – it just doesn’t have that drone’s telephoto lens.

The DJi Mavic 3 Classic drone

(Image credit: DJI)

As before, the Mavic 3 Classic’s Four Thirds camera can shoot 5.1K/50p, 4K/60p and 1080p/60p video. There are also slow-mo modes in the form of 4K/120p and 1080p/200p options. Helpfully for adjusting exposure in mid-air, the 24mm equivalent focal length lens also has an adjustable aperture that can switch between f/2.8 to f/11.

And what about pricing? You can pre-order the DJI Mavic 3 Classic now for $1,469 / £1,309 / AU$2,299 (drone only) or $1,749 / £1,529 / $2,599 with the excellent DJI RC controller.

From a quick look at the DJI store (opens in new tab)it looks like shipping will be ready to go within 3-7 days, depending on where you live.

The DJi Mavic 3 Classic drone

(Image credit: DJI)

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A good point raised by @JasperEllens (above) for Europe-based drone fans – the DJI Mavic 3 Classic has the all-important CE C1 label, which means it’s future-proofed for new drone laws that will kick in from December 31 2023.

These CE Class certificates are part of some new European drone certification that actually started in December 2020, but still hadn’t had its standards confirmed until this year. This has left most new drones in limbo. But in August, the original DJI Mavic 3 was granted the first ‘C1’ certificate, which it received via a firmware update – and the new Mavic 3 Classic has this marked on its arm.

What’s it mean in practice? If you’re in Europe or the UK and thinking of buying a Mavic 3 Classic, it means that from 2024 onwards you’ll be able to continue flying in the so-called A1 Open Category, rather than getting bumped down to the A3 Open Categories. The latter would have restricted you to flying in areas free from people and at least 150 meters away from properties.

Not exactly thrilling stuff (especially if you live outside the EU), but worth knowing if you’re a Europe-based drone fan.

The DJi Mavic 3 Classic drone

(Image credit: DJI)

It’s the day after DJI Mavic 3 Classic landed, so I’ve had a bit of time to sum up my early thoughts.

Overall, DJI’s new drone looks like a very good new option for anyone who prizes image quality above portability. It’s substantially cheaper than the standard Mavic 3, and offers pretty much all the same features bar the telephoto lens.

DJI also offers the Mavic 3 Classic in more bundle variations than its flagship drone, which will surely change soon now that the DJI RC controller (the one with the built-in screen, which doesn’t kidnap your phone) is now compatible with the original Mavic 3.

I still think it’s hard to best the value and convenience of the DJI Mini 3 Pro (RC Controller) bundle, but the Mavic 3 Classic’s Four Thirds camera is a big jump up from that model and is now available at a much lower price point than the DJI Mavic 3.