Thanks for reading this article on my favorite drone: the Autel Evo Lite Plus or the DJI Air 3.
This year, DJI has continually churned out drone after drone, resulting in the Mini 4 Pro, Air 3, and Mavic 3 Pro.
Autel, on the other hand, has taken a more restrained approach when producing and releasing their drones.
Having flown the Autel Evo Lite Plus for a little over a year and the Air 3 a short time after its release, I have used both of them commercially and recreationally.
In this article, I’ll examine the key differences between the Autel Evo Lite Plus and the DJI Air 3, the upgrades in the DJI Air 3, my overall experience with each, and why I consider the DJI Air 3 my favorite drone of the two.
If you are looking for a great all-around drone that can be used both professionally and recreationally, this article should help you decide.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
The Autel Evo Lite Plus was released in January 2022 and competed with the 2021 DJI Air 2S. Now, it competes with the Air 2S’s successor, the Air 3.
The Evo Lite Plus takes design cues from the larger Autel Evo II and Evo II Pro. Like the Evo II, it has a professional-level 20 MP adjustable aperture 1-inch CMOS sensor camera.
The Evo Lite Plus, being on similar playing ground as the Air 3, offers:
- 40-minute flight times, helpful for those long days of shooting where every minute counts
- Three-way obstacle avoidance sensing, aiding in safer flight maneuvers
- 1-inch camera sensor for 20 MP high-resolution professional quality photos
- No geofencing, meaning no flight restrictions, perfect for flying in warning zones with proper airspace authorization
» MORE: Autel Evo Lite+ Review
DJI Air 3
Released in 2023, the Air 3 is the highly anticipated upgrade to the popular Air 2S.
The Air 3 is an excellent choice for new pilots, enthusiasts, and those wanting a solidly built drone for some commercial work.
While the Air 3 has a smaller main camera than its predecessor, the DJI Air 2S, it has quite a few major upgrades, some of which are also seen in the more expensive Mavic 3 Pro.
- Dual-camera system gives viewers superb parallax effects
- Omnidirectional obstacle sensing to ensure the safety of the Air 3 while in flight
- OcuSync 4 Video Transmission System for stronger, interference-free video signals
- Enhanced tracking and added flight modes for those looking to film themselves or specified subjects
Over the months, I have thoroughly used the Air 3 in every capacity available, from recreational to commercial. I was keen to try every single option to see what the Air 3 could do.
It did not disappoint.
Although I have used the Evo Lite Plus for a little over a year previously, it was immediately apparent when flying the Air 3 that it exceeded the Evo Lite Plus in practically every way.
The Air 3 does everything the Evo Lite Plus does, and does most of them better, as we’ll see more in-depth soon.
Although the Air 3 and Evo Lite Plus are similar in price (for the Fly More combo and Premium bundle), the Air 3 pulled way ahead in physical flight performance and obstacle sensing.
Add in the dual camera system, and the Air 3 is the better well-rounded choice.
While the Autel Evo Lite Plus is a great drone, the Air 3 is the most flexible choice for solo creators, anyone wanting to fly recreationally with intelligent flight modes, or those looking to do commercial work for clients.
What are the Main Differences?
Looking at the Evo Lite Plus and Air 3, there is over a year-long gap between the two. This translates into a lot of differences between the two, thanks to advances in drone technology.
The major and most notable differences between the two are as follows:
- Dual camera system: Although using smaller 1/1.3-inch cameras, there are two. It has a 24mm equivalent wide-angle lens and an additional 70mm lens, perfect for videographers looking for new perspectives to tell their story. Photographers also benefit from this lens, as they can now get closer to their subject or point of interest from safer distances.
- Stronger motors: At roughly the same size as the Evo Lite Plus, the Air 3 can fly 46.9 mph, almost 7 mph faster than the 40 mph of the Evo Lite Plus.
- Omnidirectional obstacle avoidance sensors: The Air 3 has complete, 360-degree obstacle avoidance, which enables the Air 3 to not only fly safer when nearing obstructions but also benefit from advanced Return to Home (RTH) features.
- Video Transmission System: OcuSync 4.0 allows the Air 3 to have one of the strongest transmission signals to date of any drone, also allowing for further flight distances.
Autel Evo Lite Plus
The Evo Lite Plus is modeled loosely after the larger Evo II and Evo II Plus released prior.
While being a smaller, scaled-back version of those drones, the Evo Lite Plus has many of the benefits of the Evo II Plus, in a smaller, easier-to-manage package.
Autel has been known for pioneering longer battery life in consumer and prosumer drones, as seen with the release of the Evo II and II Pro.
The drones boasted unheard-of 40-minute flight times back in 2020.
That longer battery life made its way to the smaller Evo Lite Plus and was impressive back then when comparing it to many DJI drones of the time, including the Air 2S.
The Evo Lite Plus also has a 20 MP adjustable aperture one-inch camera sensor, something many professional photographers insist on, due to flexibility and image quality.
This was actually an improvement over the larger, non-professional level Evo II 8k, as that camera only had a 1/2-inch sensor.
With the Evo Lite Plus’ larger camera sensor came the ability to shoot excellent low-light footage.
Also, something many drone enthusiasts look for, the Autel Evo Lite Plus is not Geofenced.
Although Autel has indicated some of their drone lines would eventually be geofenced, the Lite Plus would not be receiving geofencing limitations.
Key features of the Evo Lite Plus:
- 20 MP 1-inch camera sensor
- Adjustable aperture from f/2.8 – f/11
- 6k 30 fps; 4k 60fps Log and normal color profiles
- 3-way obstacle avoidance system
- 40-minute battery life
1'' CMOS Sensor with 6K HDR Camera, No Geo-Fencing, 3-Axis Gimbal, 3-Way Obstacle Avoidance, 40Min Flight Time, 7.4 Miles Transmission, Lite Plus More Combo.
DJI Air 3
The DJI Air 3 is the successor to the popular consumer-level commercial workhorse, the Air 2S.
It doesn’t pigeonhole itself into a particular drone category, though.
The Air 3 appeals to those new to flying drones, recreational flyers, drone enthusiasts, as well as professionals on a budget looking to get great low-light shots and 10-bit, 4k video.
Unlike the 20 MP adjustable aperture 1-inch camera in the Air 2S, the Air 3 uses smaller dual cameras.
Fortunately, with the advances in DJI’s imaging system, the quality of the 24mm and 70mm medium-tele cameras and low light performance is excellent.
This enables the Air 3 to be confidently used recreationally, as well as in the professional space.
Couple this with 10-bit capabilities and 4k 100fps slow motion, and the Air 3 is great to work with.
DJI Air 3 key features include:
- Dual Cameras – 24mm and 70mm
- Omnidirectional obstacle sensing
- OcuSync 4.0 Video Transmission System (12.4 miles)
- 4k 100fps, 10-bit D-Log M color
- Active Track 360
- Excellent price-to-features ratio (like the Air 2S)
DJI Air 3 Fly More Combo with DJI RC 2 (screen remote controller), Drone with Medium Tele & Wide-Angle Dual Primary Cameras for Adults 4K HDR, 46-Min Max Flight Time, 48MP, Two Extra Batteries.
Winner: DJI Air 3
Although the Air 3 has a smaller main camera than the Evo Lite Plus, it has double the amount of cameras as the Evo Lite Plus. Why does this put the Air 3 ahead?
Whether recreationally or professionally, the ability for the Air 3 to shoot at a 24 mm wide angle as well as zoom in to 70 mm is something DSLR and Mirrorless users are accustomed to with zoom lenses.
The 24-70 mm focal range is actually quite popular in photography.
Using the 70 mm lens in conjunction with parallax moves adds a creative perspective and cinematic value to video footage.
Also, this camera gives still photos the advantage of capturing a subject while further away.
Because of the commercial work I do for businesses, I shoot quite a bit of city and urban video footage. I oftentimes get this footage while launching from the top of rooftop garages.
Because many of these areas are crowded with pedestrians, foot traffic, and vehicles, most times, it’s not practical or safe to fly thousands of feet away from the home point to get the best shot.
The 70 mm camera is the perfect option on the Air 3 to handle these types of situations.
The 70 mm has the same specs as the 24 mm, so I can be further away from my subject while safely over a rooftop or structure, capturing the scene with the best settings possible.
Having a second 70 mm camera option further allows for creative control while doing so effortlessly as a fully integrated option.
In addition to flexible focal length options, the Air 3 shoots video at 4k up to 100fps and slow-motion in 1080p at 200fps, all of which can be done in 10-bit using the D-Log M color profile.
The Air 3 also offers 10-bit HLG (HDR) filming for increased dynamic range.
Winner: DJI Air 3
Currently, the DJI Air 3 is one of the fastest consumer and prosumer drones offered by DJI and is seriously faster than the Evo Lite Plus.
On the chart below, the maximum ascent and descent speeds for the Evo Lite Plus are based on flying in Sport mode.
The DJI Air 3 has the same ascent and descent speeds whether in Cine, Normal, or Sport mode.
The maximum horizontal speed for both is also based on flying in Sport mode.
|Autel Evo Lite Plus||DJI Air 3|
|Ascent||11.18 mph||22.36 mph|
|Descent||8.94 mph||22.36 mph|
|Horizontal||40 mph||46.97 mph|
The Air 3 flies faster and handles much better than the Evo Lite Plus. This isn’t to say the handling on the Evo Lite Plus is terrible.
The handling between the Air 3 and Evo Lite Plus can be likened to driving a sportscar and a late model SUV, with the latter being the Evo Lite Plus.
Both vehicles will get you to your destination safely. However, the sports car is faster and more fun.
The Air 3 is definitely fun to fly and handles like most newer DJI drones, including the much more expensive DJI Mavic 3 Pro.
What’s more, if the handling is not to your particular flying style or preference, this can all be changed in the EXP settings within the DJI fly app.
» MORE: DJI Air 3 Vertical Mode (Video)
Winner: DJI Air 3
Anytime you are out flying, the minutes matter. The Air 3’s batteries are rated at 46 minutes, whereas the Evo Lite Plus is rated at a respectable 40 minutes.
At this point in time of flying drones, most of us realize that we’ll never get the manufacturer’s maximum advertised flight times.
However, flying the Air 3 down to about 25%, I am consistently getting 30+ minutes of flight.
Where the Air 3 really shines and is quite innovative is how the power from each individual battery can be transferred to another for longer battery life.
Using the three-battery charging hub, while unplugged, press and hold the black function button.
The remaining power from multiple batteries will then be transferred to the battery with the highest remaining power.
This means that instead of having three partially powered batteries, you can now have one fully charged, or close to fully charged, battery for your next flight, extending the amount of shooting time significantly.
This option would be great to see on all of DJI’s future drones.
Winner: DJI Air 3
DJI has been able to add omnidirectional obstacle sensing to its 2023 lineup of drones, with the Air 3 being no exception.
This is a much-needed and appreciated upgrade over the much loved DJI Air 2S’ 4-way system. This 360-degree, omnidirectional protection includes:
- Left/Right Sides
While the Air 3 benefits from the added protection of 360-degree obstacle sensing, we never suggested fully relying on automated obstacle avoidance.
An added benefit of the new omnidirectional obstacle avoidance system is the ability to use advanced intelligent flight modes and return-to-home functions.
Video Transmission System
Winner: DJI Air 3
The Air 3 operates using the upgraded OcuSync 4 (O4) video transmission system over its predecessor, the Air 2S’s O3 system.
With OcuSync 4, the video signal range has been extended to 12.4 miles. This is nearly double the distance of the Evo Lite Plus’ 7.5 Miles.
What the OcuSync 4.0 transmission system means for Air 3 owners is the Air 3 has an even stronger and cleaner signal running between the drone and remote controller.
This is ideal for both urban and downtown areas.
The Autel Evo Lite Plus’ transmission system was strong for its time. However, the Air 3’s signal is a lot stronger and cleaner.
Geofencing (or Lack Thereof)
Winner: Autel Evo Lite Plus
There is almost nothing as frustrating as locating and setting up in a beautiful location and not being able to fly there because the drone sees an authorization zone and grounds you.
With Autel drones, including the Evo Lite Plus, there is no such geofencing.
Although the newer DJI drones running DJI Fly are now a lot easier to unlock than back in the DJI Go 4 days, with the Evo Lite Plus, there are no unlocks needed.
The Autel Sky app will alert you to zones nearby, and you can then simply acquire LAANC authorization onsite and go fly.
Once experiencing this ease of flight in warning zones, it is hard to go back to worrying about and having to unlock them in-app.
After using the Air 3 almost exclusively for weeks shortly after its release, I can confidently say that the Air 3 is the perfect blend between a recreational and commercial-level drone.
The Air 3 benefits from newer technology than the Evo Lite Plus, making it better in almost every single way:
- Camera Options
- Flight Performance
- Battery Life
- Obstacle Avoidance
- Video Transmission System
The Air 3 is the perfect choice if you are looking for a complete package for recreational flights, solo content creation, filming outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and boating, or looking to do some commercial work for clients.