dji mavic pro vs. autel x-star premium

DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium: which is better?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about which drone to buy for travelers. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m getting a drone. Mavic Pro or the X-Star Premium? I travel a lot and will take it with me. I am also a beginner.

I like this question! Short and to the point.  Now I’ll get to the point!

Both the DJI Mavic Pro ($999) and Autel X-Star Premium ($749) drones are excellent for beginners. They are very easy to use, allowing you to see what the drone’s camera sees in real-time through your smartphone or tablet. They have autonomous take-off and landing features and return to home, so they are both very beginner friendly.

Overall, I do think the DJI Mavic Pro is a better drone than the Autel X-Star Premium. But a lot of this comes down to your budget, and in this case you definitely get what you pay for.

If you are on more of a budget, then the X-Star is an excellent drone for $150 less than what you’ll pay for the Mavic. But if you think it is absurd to drop $1,000+ on a drone, then stop reading right now and just get the Autel X-Star! It is a great drone!

BUT…there are also lots of reasons why I think paying the extra $150 for the Mavic is worth it. Allow me to explain.

dji mavic pro review sizeDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium Camera review:

Both of these drones have 4K HD cameras that can take 12-megapixel photos. The camera is mounted on an integrated 3-axis gimbal to reduce vibrations or sudden movements in the drone.  The cameras are thus very comparable. However, some people do prefer the look of one camera over another. I’ll let you be the judge. Check out my DJI Mavic Pro video review and Autel X-Star video review to see actual footage I shot from each drone, so you can see how the camera actually looks.

Winner: Toss-Up

autel x-star batteryDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium battery:

The Mavic Pro has a maximum flight time of 27 minutes. The X-Star has a maximum flight time of 25 minutes. That’s pretty comparable, but for some, that extra 2 minutes could make a difference.

However, one big price point to take into consideration. If not even 27 minutes is enough, you may want to buy a spare battery. (If you travel often, you probably will want one!)

A spare battery for the Mavic Pro is going to cost $89 each.  A spare battery for the X-Star Premium costs $112.99. That’s $20 more — so if you plan on getting more spare batteries, that may justify the cost of springing for the Mavic.

Winner: DJI Mavic

autel x-star rc transmitterDJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium flight control:

Both of these drones have very similar RC transmitters. For both transmitters, you download the respective smartphone or tablet app, plug your smartphone or tablet into the controller, and start flying to get a FPV view of the drone. You can also use the app to control settings.

Both controllers have a a variety of buttons like return to home, take off, etc. that make it especially easy to fly.

My favorite improvement to the ubiquitous DJI Phantom that both the X-Star and Mavic address is that critical flight information is on the transmitter and not on a mobile device. My iPhone is a tad old and not the most reliable, so I would much rather rely on the RC transmitter than my phone, should it spontaneously shut off!
The X-Star RC transmitter is a lot bigger than the Mavic RC transmitter. Portability is key for me, so I do like that the Mavic’s is much smaller. While I don’t think the size of the RC transmitter should be the deciding factor in your drone choice, it really is the only real difference between the two and while I’ll say…
Winner: DJI Mavic

autel x-star flyingFlying commercially

 I know you said you were a beginner (and a traveler). That being said, there may come a point where you want to use your drone for commercial purposes. If that could ever be the case, then I would recommend the X-Star for two reasons.

1. The Autel Part 107 test rebate: Now through March 31, 2017, Autel  will cover the cost for its customers who take (and pass) the Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote Pilot Knowledge Test.Autel drone operators who submit a proof of a qualified X-Star series drone purchase and proof of a passing result on the FAA’s knowledge test will be entitled to a rebate for the test, which otherwise costs $150. (Passing the Part 107 test is required for any drone operators who want to fly commercially).

2. Autel drone camera upgrades:  Unlike the Mavic, which comes with a built-in, non-removable camera, Autel sells camera modules that can be easily interchanged on the X-Star. If you find yourself needing to do thermal imaging or simply one a higher quality camera, Autel allows you to purchase upgraded cameras to use on your drone.

Winner: Autel X-Star

DJI Mavic Pro vs. Autel X-Star Premium drone frame and design

Since you mentioned you are a traveler, I’m going to flat out say the Mavic Pro wins big on the design of the drone. Why is it the big winner? Because the drone is so small.

While the Autel X-Star does come with a fantastically designed, durable, hard-shell carrying case (I myself have sent it through bag check multiple times), it still is 19.5×19.5×8.5 inches. That means you’re going to need to count this as one of your carry-on items, and if you’ve already exceeded the carry-on limit, have to check it separately.As a traveller, I want to bring with me less stuff, not more stuff!

One the other hand, the DJI Mavic Pro is small, light, and can easily tuck into my purse (or your other camera bag, or next to the socks in your suitcase! The arms and propellers fold up to the size of a water bottle, making it reasonable for me to carry along on any average day and break out whenever I come upon an opportunity to take a neat drone photo. (I would never just carry a Phantom or Yuneec Typhoon with me for no reason; every time I bring either of those drones with me is specifically with the intent to take a certain photo).  Going on an epic hike? Just throw the Mavic in your backpack. Trying to travel the world with just one suitcase? The Mavic hardly takes up any space.

Winner: DJI Mavic

Overall, I think the Mavic is a better drone to travel with, largely due to its extremely portable size. But, if it’s too expensive, don’t beat yourself up. I love the X-Star too.


  • droneminds says:

    Nice review, I’ve been looking at Autel a lot recently and am very much excited about their upcoming thermal camera, especially if it’s not as expensive as the DJI thermal camera. Anyways, cook review, sharing on our facebook page. 🙂

  • droneminds says:

    Hmm, above should say ‘cool’ not ‘cook’ lol. 🙂

  • CDM_ATL says:

    Nice concise review…I looked at Autel but didn’t know much about them. I was about to cancel my Mavic order from Amazon but just got a note last night that it is due to be delivered this Friday. Can’t wait to get it! I already have a 3DRSolo which I like but want something much more easily portable…more to your reference of carrying it “just in case”…especially since I already carry my DSLR and accessories as a “just in case”. I need something small to add to my gear options.

  • Chris Barrett says:

    Also the Mavic Pro has forward and downward collision avoidance and the X-Star does not.

  • Ed says:

    I’ve been looking at both drones. One thing reviewers never mention is customer service which Autel wins hands down. Another is crashing which will happen. One reviewer on YouTube that crashed his Mavic cost over $500 to fix. He did get his back in 2 1/2 weeks I believe because he told them of his subscribers. I did find out you can buy insurance for $99. Don’t know what it covers. I’ve decided on Autel X-Star Premium just because of customer service and how tuff they are. I’m waiting to see if Autel adds anything 1st qtr before I order one this spring.

    • Chris Sines says:

      Ed, did you ever order the Alltel X star premium and if so what do you think of it
      Thanks Chris

    • TOM Aulita says:

      I have had my Autel X Premium for a year now. I love this thing. I have had some pretty bad crashes and have only replaced one prop and 4 prop guards. It is a very tough drone. The Mavic with its foldable arms seems fragile in comparison.

  • Stephen says:

    I bought an Autel XSP it’s awesome, shoots beautiful video and has really excellent video feed/ range and the customer service is so awesome I would buy another one in a minute, It’s second to none. Can you spend more money and get something a little better sure you can, but a product is only as good as it’s customer service.

  • Jeff says:

    I arrived at this review because while out flying my Mavic at the park just tonight, I met a guy who had a X-Star that he said he recently purchased from Best Buy for $800. I immediately felt that the urge to say “Doh! You should have got a Mavic for a couple hundred more!” but after flying with him for the next hour, I was quite impressed. It hovered as steady as the Mavic, has RTH, great looking controller, 4K/30fps video and it handled great. We raced across the sky together and flew nearly a mile out together. I loved the bright orange look of the X-Star. It’s a worthy machine! I’m still glad I grabbed the Mavic because I’ll be traveling with mine a lot but indeed, the Mavic isn’t as far ahead of the game as I thought it was in this price range. The X-Star is a great drone!

  • Steve Rounds says:

    Here’s a professional photographer’s technical review of the cameras on the Mavic Pro and the X-Star:

    Note that the X-Star’s resolution equalled the Inspire X3 (1250 lines of resolution and 9.5 f/stops of dynamic range). The Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 only had 1100 lines of resolution and 8.5 f/stops of dynamic range. Worse, the Mavic “crushes the blacks”. I’m a DP and video editor, and I know that once you crush the blacks or clip the whites, the original image info is gone, and can’t be restored. The X-Star simply has a sharper and better-looking image.

    Other items to ponder include the as-reported poor customer service of DJI, the mentioned lack of modularity of the camera/gimbal on the Mavic, and the inability to upgrade it to a one-inch sensor, or to a 360-degree camera (which the X-Star can do).

    Overall, I think that the X-Star easily outranks the Mavic Pro. The mechanically complicated Mavic (due to the folding motor arms) adds more points of failure in a crash. But the bottom line is still the fact that the X-Star has a superior camera.

  • Darryl says:

    I have them both. The Mavic is equal to or better in every catagory. I haven’t even charged my X-Star batteries since I received my Mavic in November. The only reason I will keep the X-Star is that the camera can be swapped. So at some point in the future I will be able to throw on a better camera.

  • Noah says:

    Many people have had camera image quality issues on Mavic due to poor QC.
    Sending back to DJI for repair is a nightmare.
    Also, DJI has been caught (go to forums for proof, many people have complained about this) selling refurbished or returned products as new.
    Sadly, DJI is an unscrupulous company that behaves badly and abuses it’s customers.

  • No mention of any detailed info on RTH functionality, loss of signal behavior, nothing about range, nothing about how control and video systems are transmitting – which affects range and quality. No mention on whether they use SD card, or how to transfer video/photos to PC, or use app to edit/process. Nothing about advanced flight features – especially what is there when things go wrong (like ATTI mode on P3). No mention of any obstacle avoidance systems… In my opinion this is a VERY incomplete review touching up only on very basic functionality of both drones – but especially a big injustice to the capabilities packed into DJI that are totally absent from Autel, as well as most other brands that are priced similarly to DJI products. BTW, no, you do not need a phone/tablet to fly – u can fly the old way without a smart device and without FPV… knowing that skill is a bit part of handling emergency situation, as is knowing what controls work and what do not while in RTH mode and so on. There are not many ladies in the hobby, so I’d love to see you review be the most informative and mention all the details – so consider my comment when you make a next one, or perhaps ad an ”
    advances section” . Sorry if I overlooked something, but i did not find anything but most basic content here.

  • George V says:

    The Autel is a great drone, however the reason why I went with the Mavic because of portability and most important, I think Autel is on the verge of going out of business. I would love to see Autel compete with dji, however I just don’t see it happening.

  • Ron P says:

    After over a week of research I was just about to seal the deal and purchase a Mavic when I came across two new bits of information that steered me away.
    First, I hate to say it, but DJI does not have a good record with customer satisfaction when it comes to dealing with their support team. Honestly, if what I’ve read is accurate, it’s actually abysmal.
    Second, DJI has begun to strictly enforce it’s geofencing limitations, meaning they decide where and when it is safe for me to fly. I have a lot of no fly zones nearby. And while I have no intention of ever flying in one of them, I want to be the one to make that decision. I don’t want to spend 1K on a piece of equipment, just for it to tell me that it refuses to start because of where I am. That’s absurd, and it was a deal-breaker for me.
    So I began my research anew, ruling out DJI equipment. What I found was the Autel X-Star.
    Short of folding to a portable size, the Autel does everything I need – and it doesn’t use geofencing to lock me out of my own aircraft!
    Plus, I’ve only ever contacted support once, but I received a reply with an hour that resolved my issue. Something, from what I’ve read, that I likely would not have had with a DJI purchase.
    The ease of flight on the X-Star is great, and the detail control I get over camera functionality is fantastic. Really I couldn’t be happier.

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