Parrot's Anafi Drone Takes on the DJI Mavic Air

Ever since DJI turned heads with its folding Mavic Pro and Mavic Air drones, other drone makers have been trying to imitate its design. French drone maker Parrot is responding with its own collapsible drone that can take photos and record video in 4K. Arriving on July 1 (available for pre-order now) for $699, we checked out the Anafi, whose abilities could make it a threat to DJI’s dominance.

The body of the all-black Anafi is dominated by its battery, which the company says will provide up to 25 minutes of flight time, a few minutes longer than the Mavic Air.

Similar to the Mavic Air, the four arms of the Anafi fold up against the drone’s body for transport. In this mode, the drone is about the size and length of a cheesesteak. It also comes with a gray fabric-colored carrying case that, unfortunately, can’t fit the included controller.

Up front is a 4K camera with a 21MP sensor; unlike Mavic’s camera, the Anafi’s can tilt vertically 180 degrees, so you can capture what’s going on above the drone. Parrot’s camera is also mounted on a gimbal, but it’s only mechanically stabilized along two axes, and uses electronic image stabilization for the third axis. By contrast, the Mavic Air has 3-axis mechanical image stabilization.

Parrot says that the Anafi is the first drone of its kind that can take 4K HDR videos; the Mavic Air can take 4K photos in HDR, but not video. However, DJI’s drone is capable of shooting video at 120 fps at a resolution of 1080p, whereas Parrot’s tops out at 720p for this shutter speed.

Additionally, Anafi’s camera has what it calls a lossless zoom function, whereby it zooms in digitally, but without any loss of resolution. According to Parrot, the drone's camera oversamples the video, which lets you zoom up to 2.8X in 1080p and up to 1.4X in 4K without degrading the quality of your footage.

Compared to other drones, the Parrot Anafi is pretty quiet; in an enclosed office, it definitely had a softer and lower-toned hum than other drones I’ve used, and I’m interested to see what it sounds like out in the open.

Anafi’s controller has a definite Xbox-like feel. It’s on the chunky side compared to DJI’s slim controllers, but was comfortable to hold. A center section, which contains the antenna, unfolds and acts as a rest for your smartphone, through which you can control various aspects of the drone and its camera. For instance, you can change the resolution and other camera settings such as ISO and shutter speed.

Here, you can also enable some of the drone’s autonomous modes, such as object tracking (people and cars only), and creating a path on a map for the drone to fly on its own. Unfortunately, the Anafi lacks object avoidance, so you’ll want to make sure the path is clear of any trees or buildings.

We’ll wait to fly the Parrot Anafi for ourselves to render a final verdict, but there might be enough here to distinguish itself from DJI’s drone. The skies await.

Credit: Henry T. Casey, Michael Prospero/Tom's Guide