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Autel EVO Lite+ vs DJI Mavic 3 Classic (Here’s What I Like)

What goes into a drone purchasing decision? Everything!

You can spend so many weeks or months agonizing over your choice. In the meantime, that’s money you’re missing out on if you’re interested in flying your drone commercially.

Your competition gains clients and projects while you debate.

That’s not a fun position to be in! That’s why I’m here.

This review will be your go-to comparison of the Autel EVO Lite+ and the DJI Mavic 3 Classic, unpacking their differences and what makes each an exceptional drone in its own right. However, since there can be only one, I’ll go in-depth on why the Mavic 3 Classic is my top pick between these two. 

And we’re off! 

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Brief overview

Autel EVO Lite+

The EVO Lite+ joined the Autel family in early 2022 as a continuation of the ultra-popular Lite series. 

As a name like the Lite implies, these drones weigh less than a standard model from Autel.

While DJI Mini drones sometimes skimp on features like obstacle avoidance and camera resolution (at least to a degree), that’s not a problem you need to worry about when you choose the EVO Lite+. 

Here are the features you can expect if you add this drone to your fleet:

  • A one-inch CMOS sensor and RGGB camera that takes 6K videos at 30 frames per second and 20 MP images. If you’ve balked at some of the prices of Autel’s other drones, you can get leading image and video quality for less with the EVO Lite+.
  • Up to 40 advertised minutes of flight time. Comparable DJI drones usually only fly for around 34 minutes, so you’ll have more time in the sky!
  • Autofocus, aperture adjustments, HDR auto-stitching, and automatic color balancing so you can feel like a pro behind the lens in a matter of days. These features won me over, as they expand the photography and videography capabilities of this drone so drastically. 
  • Great flight modes, from the Moonlight Algorithm to Dynamic Track 2.1, Defog Mode, SkyPortrait, and cinematic modes like Flick and Fade Away. Many of these modes are automated, so you don’t have to be a pro behind the drone remote to get the most out of the EVO Lite+. 
  • More expansive obstacle avoidance than you’ve perhaps seen in a drone of this size, with a front view that’s 150 degrees to see more. 

» MORE: Autel EVO Lite Plus vs DJI FPV (Here’s My Favorite)

DJI Mavic 3 Classic 

Almost a full year newer than the EVO Lite+ is the next drone we have to talk about, the Mavic 3 Classic. 

The drones DJI has released with Hasselblad technology are some of the best on the market.

They have no equal, as no other drone manufacturer uses this Swedish camera brand. 

The camera included with the Mavic 3 Classic is an L2D-20c aerial camera that shoots in 20 MP image resolution and 5.1K video at 50 fps or 4K at 120 fps due to its 4/3 CMOS sensors. 

Let’s explore what else this drone has in store:

  • RAW photo files for maintaining all the detail, depth, highlights, shadows, and colors you remember losing yourself in when you took your photos or videos originally. Your footage will shine, allowing you to take huge strides in your drone work. 
  • Many features for photographing like a pro, from aperture settings to Vision Detection Auto Focus Technology, Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution, HLG for a more pronounced dynamic range, and 10-bit D-Log.
  • An exceptional advertised flight time of 46 minutes with the drone’s default battery, making the Mavic 3 Classic a professional’s best friend!
  • Awesome multidirectional obstacle sensing and avoidance thanks to APAS 5.0. You can be a new pilot and still navigate flying this drone.
  • More flight modes that matter, including QuickShots, Smart RTH, Panorama, Waypoints, MasterShots, Hyperlapse, and ActiveTrack 5.0. 

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 Classic vs. Mavic 3 Pro (Here’s My Choice)

Quick verdict

Your confidence and happiness are what matter most when flying a drone. Both drones will keep you safe and hovering long in the skies as you automate flight modes for dazzling cinematics. 

But which is best?

The Mavic 3 Classic is, in my opinion, the better of the two drones between it and the Autel EVO Lite+. The DJI drone has top-of-the-line flight safety, more varied automated flight modes, a longer battery life, and image and video quality that matches (or is very close to) the EVO Lite+’s.

The EVO Lite+ is a great drone in its own right. It has technically supreme video quality, image quality that ties with the Mavic 3 Classic, and a solid battery life for its size. Its safety features and automated flight modes are where this drone shines its brightest.

However, whether it’s the Hasselblad camera technology, the out-of-the-box flight time, or the suite of smart modes, the Mavic 3 Classic excels in ways the Autel drone doesn’t. 

» MORE: How to Buy a Drone (Explained for Beginners)

What are the main differences?

Image: Dan Bayne

Although the EVO Lite+ and Mavic 3 Classic might look about as disparate as can be, you’d be surprised!

They really have more in common than you’d think, such as industry-leading obstacle avoidance systems, night modes, color restoration, and automated flight modes. 

Of course, you can bet your bottom dollar that Autel and DJI went out of their respective ways to ensure enough differences between the EVO Lite+ and Mavic 3 Classic while still appealing to the same market segments.

Here are the differences I identified. 

  • Camera type: The Mavic 3 Classic uses a Hasselblad camera, while the EVO Lite+ has an RGGB camera. 
  • Weight: Okay, okay, so this one maybe wasn’t worth mentioning, but these drones don’t weigh the same, and I want you to know it. The EVO Lite+ is 835 grams, while the Mavic 3 Classic is just a touch heavier at 895 grams. 
  • Video quality: The EVO Lite+ has the better video quality at 6K at 30 fps. The Mavic 3 Classic has two video resolutions depending on frame rate, with the higher being 5.1K at 50 fps.  
  • Battery life: This is an advertised difference of five minutes but will ultimately add up to you being able to fly the Mavic 3 Classic for longer. 
  • FPV compatibility: Speaking of the Mavic 3 Classic, it’s ready for FPV flights despite not being an FPV drone. You can use it with DJI FPV controllers like the DJI RC Motion 2 or the DJI Goggles Integra. The EVO Lite+ has no comparable feature. 
  • Color options: One of my favorite features of Autel drones is how some series have several color options, including the EVO Lite+. It’s something I wish DJI would do, but it’s not offered with the Mavic 3 Classic or any other drone from this manufacturer. 
  • Bundles: You can purchase the EVO Lite+ as is with all the basics (such as the drone, remote controller, spare props, and charging cables) or upgrade to the premium bundle for about $100 more. DJI requires you to buy comparable accessories separately. 
  • Price: Comparing base prices only, the Mavic 3 Classic costs about double the EVO Lite+.  

» MORE: What’s the Difference Between DJI Mavic 3, Classic, Pro & Cine? (Answered)

Autel EVO Lite+

Image: Dan Bayne

The evolution of the original EVO Lite, Autel’s EVO Lite+ is a foldable, colorful, powerful drone that gives any DJI Mini a run for its money, especially those foregoing obstacle avoidance. 

Promising 30 percent more battery life than DJI is more than a marketing slogan. At 40 minutes of advertised flight time, the EVO Lite+ blows most of its competition out of the water. 

Of course, it won’t fly quite that long in real-world scenarios, considering manufacturers test drones in perfect conditions without wind or weather, but even 36 minutes is awesome.

The obstacle avoidance system the EVO Lite+ boasts is perhaps the best in the industry for a drone this size. The obstacle avoidance cameras have wide lenses to see 150 degrees in front.

Since that obstacle avoidance camera is such an overachiever (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), Autel decided to only install one. Blind spots won’t catch you off-guard the same way they do on comparable drones. 

» MORE: Autel EVO Lite Plus vs DJI Mini 3 Pro (Here’s My Choice)

The main camera for cinematography and filmmaking, an RGGB camera with a one-inch CMOS sensor, takes high-quality video and images. You can put it to its limits using cinematic modes like Orbit, Flick, Rocket, and Fade Away.

Each drone mode takes the EVO Lite+ on a predetermined trajectory. I love how you can be a brand-new drone pilot and still look and feel like an expert the first day you use this Autel drone.

You don’t have to wait weeks to begin milking this drone of its potential. You can start today.

Those aren’t the only smart features, by the way! Dynamic Track 2.1 is one of the best subject-tracking features in the drone game. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about man or animal; this drone can track it!

You can take cinematic group selfies using SkyPortrait, a feature all you influencers and social media mavens will love. 

Can I just take several moments to emphasize how truly breathtaking this drone camera is?

The CMOS sensor is ready for day or night photography and videography and retains more of what you need right out of the gate when you shoot, such as more details, a great dynamic range, and reduced noise. 

You can even have the EVO Lite+ make your best shot for you with HDR. This mode creates a composite with perfect contrast, highlights, details, and shadows.

How much light you let in is also in your hands, with an aperture range between f/2.9 and f/11. 

Autel Robotics Evo Lite+ Premium Bundle
$1,399.00

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.

Buy from Amazon
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03/07/2024 02:16 pm GMT

DJI Mavic 3 Classic

Create boldly with the Mavic 3 Classic.

Its Hasselblad camera does more with an Autel-comparable ActiveTrack 5.0, wide-angle Panoramas, cinematic MasterShots, speedy and breathtaking Hyperlapses, and automated QuickShots with Circle, Helix, Dronie, and Rocket.

Your Mavic 3 Classic comes preprogrammed with the DJI app LightCut, an AI-led editing app with One-Tap Editing modes.

You can work magic on your footage (without downloading it), toggling between templates and adding filters and music.

The LightCut app can majorly reduce your time in post, as you can edit simply and effortlessly on the go. It’s perfect for frequent travelers.

» MORE: DJI Mavic 3 Classic vs. Air 3 (Which One Is Better)

The Mavic 3 Classic might boast many Intelligent Flight Modes, but my favorites are the ultra-smart features.

For instance, you can create a map of your flight and watch the Mavic 3 Classic go anywhere using Waypoint Flight, or focus more on cinematics with Cruise Control. 

The AR RTH is one of several smart RTH features. This one presents your flight route and home point. Other RTH modes prevent the Mavic 3 Classic from crashing due to low battery or no signal.

Another failsafe is the beefy obstacle avoidance and detection system, which includes nocturnal assistance if using the night mode, multi-directional awareness, four-way visual assistance, omnidirectional vision system, and APAS 5.0. 

Pound for pound, the Mavic 3 Classic proves itself a worthy competitor to the EVO Lite+ in its camera and visuals departments. 

The HLG feature ticks up the dynamic range and color vivacity.

On the note of color vivacity, between the 10-bit D-Log and HNCS (a Hasselblad exclusive), you won’t ever have to manually set contrast and saturation again.

DJI Mavic 3 Classic w/built-in 5.5-inch HD display
$1,749.00

Includes:

  • Drone
  • DJI RC remote controller
  • Battery
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03/06/2024 03:42 pm GMT

Head-to-head comparison

Camera system

Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Classic

Okay, so beginning with the camera system, this prize goes to the Mavic 3 Classic. 

It has many of the same photographic and cinematic features as the EVO Lite+, including configurable aperture, night mode, natural color correction, 20 MP image quality, and an extensive dynamic range.

But, do you know what the EVO Lite+ doesn’t have? That’s right, a Hasselblad camera. That makes all the difference.

It’s not only a comparison of megapixels and video quality. The Hasselblad camera included in the Mavic 3 Classic is crystal-clear, with lifelike videos and photos that you won’t be able to get enough of.

The included Hasselblad technology extends to the HNCS. The EVO Lite+ has a similar color correction, but between the HNCS and 10-bit D-Log, the Mavic 3 Classic boasts a more delicate color correction with results that pack a punch. 

You’ll also recall that the Mavic 3 Classic shoots in RAW to retain more of the image fidelity and quality.

The EVO Lite+ doesn’t have a comparable feature, which is a shame! RAW files are so much better for post, as they require fewer touchups. 

» MORE: Camera Technology in Drones (Explained)

Performance

Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Classic

I’ll admit I had a hard time with this one. Both drones perform beautifully, with natural ascension and descension, automated modes to instill confidence in your flights, good flight times, and obstacle avoidance systems.

The Mavic 3 Classic has the more robust obstacle avoidance system, which is saying a lot!

After all, I usually give Autel its flowers, as its obstacle detection and avoidance typically outshine DJI’s, especially if comparing Mini drones.

However, we aren’t doing that today.

The Mavic 3 Classic is one of DJI’s most high-tech drones, so it’s unsurprising it has so many modes of obstacle detection and avoidance that you can focus more on what kind of footage you’re capturing than what your drone is doing. 

I also can’t say enough about the DJI drone’s Intelligent Flight Modes. The EVO Lite+ has smart features, don’t get me wrong, but not to the same extent as the Mavic 3 Classic, and certainly not as plentiful.

The Mavic 3 Classic also has fun Intelligent Flight Modes like ActiveTrack and MasterShots and serious modes, such as stable hovering and Smart RTH.

The EVO Lite+ doesn’t go as in-depth with its smart modes. 

» MORE: How Fast Can Drones Fly? (An In-Depth Guide)

Portability

Image: Dan Bayne

Winner: Autel EVO Lite+

The EVO Lite+ weighs slightly less than the Mavic 3 Classic. It’s also slightly smaller when folded. 

However, my beef with Autel in this area is that for a drone branded as the Lite, the EVO Lite+ isn’t really that at all. It certainly doesn’t compare to a DJI Mini drone and its FAA-friendly weight of under 250 grams.

Maybe that wasn’t quite Autel’s aim here, but either way, calling a drone a Lite does set certain expectations I wish were met a bit better. 

Both drones are very portable, and with only a few grams of weight between them, you shouldn’t stress about carrying either one on a plane or in a backpack.

» MORE: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with a Drone

RC compatibility and range

Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Classic 

The EVO Lite+ uses the Autel Smart Controller SE, an inter-Autel remote that’s compatible with other EVO Lite and EVO Nano drones.

This is one of my favorite drone controllers of all time because it’s light, portable, has a large touchscreen, and works with apps outside of Autel. 

The Mavic 3 Classic uses the DJI RC-N1, which you may already have, considering it operates with the Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro, the Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S, the Mavic 3, and the Mini 2 and Mini 2 SE

It doesn’t have a touchscreen; instead, it has a smartphone holster. It handles especially well, and the extended compatibility list is awesome. 

Okay then, why did I give this category to the DJI drone? Well, you’ll also recall that the Mavic 3 Classic works with DJI’s FPV controllers, hence the reason it gets the top marks.

» MORE: Long Range Drones: Ultimate Guide

Battery

Winner: DJI Mavic 3 Classic 

The Mavic 3 Classic has a battery that doesn’t quit. Well, okay, it has to quit, because all drone batteries do, but it lasts over 40 minutes.

It doesn’t quite fly for 45 minutes as advertised, but no drone flies for as long as the manufacturer says it will.  

The EVO Lite+ has a projected battery life of 40 minutes, so this drone flies for less time than the Mavic 3 Classic.

Granted, it’s only a matter of a couple of minutes less, but if you’re trying to wrap up a job on time and need just a few more minutes, the Mavic 3 Classic won’t disappoint when the EVO Lite+ may. 

» MORE: Autel Drone Battery – All You Need to Know

Conclusion 

Image: Dan Bayne

The Autel EVO Lite+ and DJI Mavic 3 Classic are two of the top drones on the market.

While either drone is a strong contender for the best, the Mavic 3 Classic stands out for its robust obstacle avoidance features, Hasselblad camera with stunning colors, and awesome Intelligent Flight Modes.

It also outpaces the EVO Lite+ in areas like flight time, making it a great drone in every way. 

» MORE: Autel EVO II Pro vs. DJI Mavic 3 Pro (Here’s What I Like)