The Autel Evo Lite+ and the DJI Air 2S are two very comparable mid-sized foldable drones, fitting squarely between the mini drone lines of the Autel Nano/Nano+ and DJI Mini 3 Pro, and the larger Pro lines of the Autel Evo II 6k and DJI Mavic 3/Mavic 3 Cine.
Whenever you have two drones of the same caliber, head to head, the common question is: which drone is the best?
Because each drone offers something for everyone with slight differences, this article won’t be so much “which drone is better,” but, instead, more of a comparison between price, standard features, and specs (I know, but specs must be compared in a head-to-head), and final thoughts on whom might benefit from each model.
Pricing & packages
Autel Evo Lite+
The prices and packages for the Evo Lite+, in USD, (which are currently on sale) are as follows:
- Autel Robotics Evo Lite+ Drone (Standard Package):
- Autel Robotics Evo Lite+ Premium Bundle:
DJI Air 2S
The current packages and pricing in USD are as follows:
- DJI Air 2S w/ Standard Controller and Battery (Base Package): $999.00
- DJI Air 2S w/ Fly More Combo: $1,299.00
- DJI Air 2S Flymore w/Smart Controller:
$1,749.00currently on sale for $1499.00
- DJI Air 2S Flymore w/RC Pro Controller: $1,749.00
You’ll notice that the Evo Lite+ is more expensive than the Air 2S, even after the initial $230 and $370 price cut.
If budget/cost is a concern, the Air 2S has offerings that might fit well in your budget.
Normally when I do reviews, I like to refrain from overwhelming technical specs that might be difficult to follow.
In this case, since we are doing a head-to-head of sorts, it is only applicable to include common specs (sans much of the uber technical speak), for comparative purposes.
This list in no way represents the plethora of specs available for each drone but covers many of the most-asked specs.
|Specification||Autel Evo Lite+||DJI Air 2S|
|Sensor||1″ CMOS||1″ CMOS|
|Lens (FOV)||29mm equivalent||22mm equivalent|
(night scene mode)
|Maximum 12800 (pictures)|
JPEG & RAW
JPEG & RAW
|Video||6K/30FPS Video||5K/30FPS Video|
|Battery Life||40 Mins||31 Mins|
|Flight Modes||Ludicrous, Standard,
|Obstacle Avoidance||Forward, Backward,
|Image Transmission||7.4 Miles||7.46 Miles|
|External Storage||up to 256GB||up to 256GB|
What to expect from this review
As was previously alluded to, this review is going to be a layman’s review of both drones, avoiding much of the technical jargon, and focusing on the actual in-flight user experience.
This experience is from both my perspective as a business owner that uses drones regularly and from my perspective as a business owner flying as a hobbyist.
By the end of the review, it should be a bit easier to determine which drone is right for you.
What’s in the bag(s)
One of the reasons the Autel Evo Lite+ and Air 2S comparison is such a level playing field is the fact that they have many of the same specs and much of the same equipment included in their respective bundles/combos.
Because both of these drones have been reviewed thoroughly by Droneblog, we won’t go through an item-by-item review. We will instead compare the drones, cameras, and photo and video capabilities.
Below is a list of what is included with each drone.
Autel Evo Lite+ Premium Bundle
Includes the following:
- Autel Evo Lite+ Drone
- Remote Control
- 3 Intelligent Flight Batteries
- ND Filters w/case (4/8/16/32)
- Battery Charger
- AC Power Cable
- 3 Battery Multi Charger
- 5 Pairs of Propellers
- Gimbal Protector
- RC Charging Cable
- Lightning, Micro-USB, and USB-C Cables
- Shoulder Bag
» MORE: Autel Evo Lite+ Review
DJI Air 2S FlyMore Combo
- Air 2S Drone
- RC-N1 Remote Controller
- 3 Intelligent Flight Batteries
- ND filters w/case (4/8/16/32)
- Extra Pair of removable Thumbsticks
- Flight Battery Attachment to charge 2 USB devices
- Battery Charger
- AC Power Cable
- 3 Battery Charging Hub
- 4 Extra Pairs of Low-Noise Propellers
- Gimbal Protector
- USB C Cable (to charge the RC)
- USB C to USB C, Lightning, and Micro cables for the RC
- DJI Combo Bag
Regardless of the type of flying you are doing, having an ergonomic remote controller (hereafter referred to as RC) is a must.
With both of the RCs from Autel and DJI, obvious care has been put into the build quality and user’s connection to the flying experience.
Evo Lite+ RC
The Evo Lite and Nano Series introduced a much-needed remote controller redesign, over the previous Evo I and Evo II RCs.
Although the previous RC was innovative, with its 3″ LCD screen with Liveview, enabling the drone to be controlled without a smart device, it was very top-heavy. Add to this the dual multi-directional antennas, and you had an RC that wasn’t as comfortable to fly with as, say, the new iteration of the remote controller.
One of the first noticeable things about the redesign is that the RC feels and even looks like an XBox One controller. This is good. As many XBox gamers who play for hours on end can tell you, the XBox One controller is comfortable. The same goes for the Evo Lite+ controller.
The next noticeable redesign feature is the integrated antenna/smartphone holder. Gone are the days of the multi-directional rabbit ear antennas.
The antenna and mount unit are housed together and retractable, sliding down into the RC, for easier storage. While this is in no way a new concept (see DJI), it is a much-needed design change, as there are fewer moving parts to worry about snapping or breaking off.
While the new RC is indeed ergonomic, it still suffers from being a bit top-heavy, as is the case with many remote controllers that have a top-mounted smartphone holder. I’d say it is slightly more top-heavy than the DJI RC-N1 included with the Air2S FlyMore combo.
An area of concern that I do have with the Evo Lite+ RC is that when the control sticks are removed for transport or storage, there is nowhere on the controller to store them.
Although I am not in the habit of removing the sticks, if I did, I would not want to have to put them in a pants pocket or have them rolling around in a backpack, drone bag, or case.
Thankfully, there are a few 3rd party 3D printed options online to house the sticks on the controller, for just a few dollars.
DJI Air 2S Controller (RC-N1)
The RC-N1 controller is used with many, if not most, of the new DJI lines of drones:
- DJI Mini 2
- DJI Mini 3 Pro
- DJI Mavic Air 2
- DJI Air 2S
- Mavic 3 & 3 Cine
DJI, like Autel, nailed the ergonomics of the RC-N1 controller. The controller feels very solid in hand and very well made with no flexing or creaking. This is despite the fact that the RC looks like a plain gray rectangle.
As with the Evo Lite RC, but done first, the Air 2S RC no longer has rabbit ear antennas that must be flipped up and facing the correct way to work properly. This was something I disliked with the previous versions of the Mavic series, and I am glad to see them done away with.
The dual-purpose antenna and smartphone holder/mount on the Air 2S remote slide up from inside the body of the remote controller. Aside from eliminating a failure point (floppy antennas), the retracting antenna/mount enables the RC to be stored easier, in less space.
One of the things I especially like is that, similar to the original Mavic Air and Mavic 2, the Air 2S has removable flight controller sticks that can be tucked away in the body of the remote controller.
For operators like myself, this is a plus, as I store my RC with the sticks installed and the included spare pair housed in the body of the RC.
When it comes to the sets of batteries included in each of these combos, Autel and DJI both took different approaches.
The Autel batteries mount by sliding the battery into the backside of the drone, whereas the DJI batteries are installed by pressing them down from the top.
There are a couple of other noticeable differences as well.
Evo Lite+ Batteries
Right off the bat, the Evo Lite batteries are noticeably larger than those found on the Air 2S. This is for a good reason.
The first reason being the drone itself is larger than the Air 2S, by a good inch and a half.
The second reason is that the larger battery has a larger power capacity (6,175mAh vs. the Air 2S 3,500 mAh).
What does this mean? It means that the Evo Lite battery gets a few more minutes of flight time than the Air 2S. Autel says 40 minutes.
How does the battery perform in real-world tests?
Marvelously. I don’t say this lightly. With all of my drones, I have made it a practice to return-to-home around the 35% mark. This generally comes to around 20 minutes or so.
With the Evo Lite+, I’m slightly out past 30 minutes or so at 35%. This difference in staying up in the air longer is noticeable, especially when on jobs, where every second counts.
During some flights, I literally thought in disbelief, “is it time to land and change batteries yet? No?? Why not???”
Air 2S Batteries
As mentioned, the Air 2S batteries are smaller than the Evo Lite+ and offer a maximum flight time of “34 minutes” or so.
Sadly, I have never reached the 34-minute mark. Due to my practice of landing at the 35% mark or sometimes therein, I am getting barely just about 20 minutes or so.
With these short times, I find myself changing the 3 batteries constantly during shoots, and rushing through longer shoots. I keep telling myself to get a 4th battery, however, I keep neglecting to.
If anyone is wondering what the black areas are on the Air 2S batteries, those are just velcro pads onto which I affix FAA-approved strobes for night flights and super bright days when it is difficult to keep the drone within VLOS (visual line of sight).
The Actual Drones
Here we will discuss the similarities and differences in the actual drone bodies, size, weight, and flight characteristics.
The Autel Evo Lite+ comes in 3 different colors: Classic Orange, Deep Space Gray, and Artic White. Whereas the Air 2S comes in one color: Gray.
Previously, for the Evo Lite+ review, I was flying the Deep Space Gray model, as I wanted something that matched my Air 2S.
However, due to forces beyond my control (a bird strike, resulting in the Evo Lite+ drowning), I am now flying the Classic Orange. I must say that the Orange is a fair bit easier to see in the bright Central Florida sunlight I fly in.
As mentioned, the Air 2S is only available in one color. Gray. Although this may be the case, I do enjoy the toned-downed gray color of the Air 2S, if nothing but to remain slightly less noticeable when flying in residential neighborhoods.
Size and Weight
When handling the 2 drones, the larger size of the Evo Lite+ is immediately apparent.
When I took the Evo Lite+ out of its bag for the very first time, I thought, “wow, this is a sturdy drone.”
In hand, it feels very solid and noticeably heavier than the Air 2S. This is no illusion. The Evo Lite+ weighs in at 835g, while the Air 2S sits at a svelt 595g. The Evo Lite+ is actually only 60g lighter than the DJI Mavic 3!
Reading this, it might not seem like a drastic weight difference between the Evo Lite+ and the Air 2S. It’s when realizing the weight difference between the 2 drones (240g) is just about the weight of the Mini 3 Pro with a standard battery (249g), then that changes things.
The size difference is noticeable in-air as well. I’ll explain.
I like getting views and perspectives that require me to squeeze through smaller and tighter areas. With the Air 2S, this is possible, and I have done so on quite a few occasions, confidently.
When trying to replicate these same shots while out and about testing the Evo Lite+, the Evo shots were far more difficult to execute, and I wasn’t exactly confident enough to perform many of them.
That extra inch to an inch and a half combined length on the arms and props of the Lite+ really makes a difference if you are like me and try to push the boundary of where the drone can fit.
Regardless of the weight difference, both drones performed quite well in our uber-windy pre-storm conditions that seem to pop up from nowhere here in Florida. I successfully flew both drones while taking video in gusts of 25+ miles per hour with no worries.
This is where operator preference really comes into play, as both of these drones, in my opinion, feel drastically different from each other.
Having owned previous Autel drones, I was immediately familiar with the feel of the Lite+. Like with the other Evos I have flown, the Lite+ likewise handles slow and deliberate.
At first, I thought this was because of the vision sensors being on and detecting an obstacle. This was not the case, as even when I turned the obstacle avoidance off, it continued to move in a slower manner than I am used to with my DJI drones.
After some tinkering, I readjusted the EXP values associated with movement, primarily associated with forward, backward, yaw, etc., and the drone began to fly a bit more in the manner I like.
Newer drone operators might really like the way the Evo Lite+ flies, right out of the box, without adjusting any of the control settings. The Evo Lite+ is very easy to fly or even learn to fly on.
The different flight modes are:
- Standard (Normal)
- Smooth (Cinematic)
- Ludicrous (Sport)
Sadly, there is no switch on the remote controller that enables you to jump between modes. Thankfully, there are two options that enable switching between modes:
- Use the onscreen option found on the upper left of the screen, next to the Autel logo (see below) or,
- Set up the function button to act as the switch. This can be programmed to swap between the modes at the press of the shoulder FN button
The Air 2S is an entirely different animal. When I got on the sticks for the first time, it took me by surprise for a second. The drone moves, like immediately. And I love it!
As a matter of fact, it moved so quickly I had to check that it wasn’t in Sport mode.
I have an excuse, though. I went into the Air 2S immediately after retiring a Phantom 4 Pro+, and although that was a powerful drone, I had the EXP values set for slower and smoother flight without having to use Cine Mode.
The zippiness of the Air 2S extends even to verticle ascent and descent. This is a must for me here in Orlando.
There are plenty of helicopters where I fly, along with low-flying planes. Being able to descend quickly to give right of way is paramount. Couple that with the fact I fly near a lot of waterways full of predatory birds, and ascending quickly to avoid them is another positive.
Like the Evo Lite+, the Air 2S also has 3 flight modes, these being:
Unlike the Evo Lite+, these can be chosen using the dedicated mode switch on the face of the RC-N1 remote controller.
While the Air 2S is indeed a bit faster on the sticks than the Evo Lite+, right out of the box, it is likewise an easy drone to fly.
Something that seems to be a trend when looking at articles and watching YouTube reviews, is the amount of obstacle avoidance sensors on Drone x, etc.
While I never fly any of my drones with the sensors on (including our previous large Phantom 4 drones), it is nice to see that both of these drones do have sensors built in.
Having these sensors not only allows the end-user to fly a bit more confidently and safely but also opens the way for the intelligent flight modes many seem to appreciate.
The Evo Lite+ has a three-way avoidance system that covers the front, back, and bottom of the drone. For many, this is plenty.
The Air 2S, on the other hand, employs a four-way system that covers the front, back, and bottom, as well as the top of the drone. The top sensors add an additional layer of protection while flying underneath objects like bridges and tree canopies.
I am a firm believer in never letting go of the RC sticks for any modes or bells and whistles. This is how I learned. If I’d like to get selfie-like videos, do semi-orbiting parallax shots, or complete orbits, I manually fly them.
With that said and out of the way, I will address object tracking on the 2 drones. I did this just for the review. Here are my thoughts.
The Evo Lite+ active track works quite well and is simple to set. Using a series of on-screen +’s, you can quickly choose your subject.
Note this slight disappointment for some: the subject has to be a person and not a vehicle. The active track will not lock onto vehicles.
Once the subject is locked, the Lite+ does an excellent job of tracking the person, avoiding all the obstacles I had in the environment I tested in.
Likewise, the Air 2S does a wonderful job tracking subjects with the Active Track 4.0 system. Walking through heavily wooded areas with tiny tree branches, the Air 2S navigated the area well, avoiding all obstacles, even the small, hard-to-see obstacles.
Unlike the Evo Lite+, the Air 2S allows you to track vehicles as well. This test was done on a vehicle leaving one of the parks I was flying in. Like with a walking subject, the Air 2S tracked the moving vehicle with ease.
As the speed limit in the neighborhood is only 25mph, the Air 2S had no problems keeping up with the test SUV.
Photos and Videos
This is an area I think most of us are interested in. Flying drones is fun. Flying drones while taking beautiful pictures and videos is even more fun.
Both the Evo Lite+ and Air 2S sport 1″ camera sensors. This is a plus that lends itself to professional photoshoots as the larger sensor lets in more light, thus allowing you to keep the ISO as low as possible.
Both cameras take 20MP still photos, which look great, by the way, and 6k and 5k video, respectively.
Below are a series of pictures taken within minutes of each other, showing how easy it is, with editing (Photoshop, Lightroom, Luminar, etc.) and shooting in RAW, to get approximately the same look from each drone, with a little effort and time. The images are based on the time of day and conditions for the day.
Lake Sunrise – Evo Lite+
Lake Sunrise – Air 2S
This image was taken a few minutes prior to the Evo Lite+ photo, while the sun was lower in the sky, thus affecting the color temperature and the look of the clouds.
Mostly Cloudy Pond Overlook – Evo Lite+
One of the more noticeable things when editing was the amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in the tree branches on the right, something the Air 2S did not suffer as much from. In this shot, I removed as much fringing as possible in post, but a fair amount remained.
Mostly Cloudy Pond Overlook – Air 2S
Partially Cloudy Day at Lake Eola Park
Partially Cloudy Day at Lake Eola Park
Evo Lite+ (NO EDITING)
If you are not wanting to edit your photos, the JPEGs that come straight from the camera of both drones are excellent, as long as the exposure and white balance are set properly.
In both of the Lake Eola shots, the wider field of view on the Air 2S is brought to the fore. All of the Lake shots were taken from the same distance from the launch site.
Thoughts on Photos
As is evidenced, the Evo Lite+ and Air 2S are pretty much neck and neck with the image quality the camera produces. With minimal effort, I was able to match the final products of each fairly well and consistently.
The only area I had difficulty with was the 8PM sunset shots. No matter what I tried, I could not get the Evo Lite+ shots to look better. There is an option for night shooting, but I did not delve into that at all, as I normally do not do any night shots, though authorized to do so.
JPEG Photo Quality
For those not wanting to edit their photos in Photoshop or a similar photo editor (like I do with both drones’ RAW files), there is indeed good news:
The JPEG images that come straight out of both drones look fantastic. In the above example of Lake Eola, the Evo Lite+ JPEG image looked really good.
Since I shoot only RAW on the Air 2S, I didn’t have an exact comparison JPEG shot, so I did not include one. However, I shot JPEGs while traveling and was able to post the Air 2S JPEGs without any post-editing work.
A side note to mention
Something I did notice a lot of and mentioned is that the Evo Lite+ suffers more from chromatic aberration in the busy areas of a photo than the Air 2S does. Thankfully this can be minimized in post using various tools built into the software being used to edit the photos.
Something else that I didn’t really like from the Evo Lite+ as a prosumer level drone is that for some shooting modes, you cannot use Pro (manual) mode. I have never encountered this before and was a little disappointed to see this.
For instance, when I was gearing up to use the Evo Lite+ on one of our real estate jobs, I wanted to shoot HDR (high dynamic range). I do this for all our exterior real estate shots.
When I tried it while in Pro mode, with all of my settings dialed in perfectly for the properly exposed master frame, I received a message basically saying “you cannot shoot HDR photos in Pro mode” and would have to switch to auto.
As a photographer that only shoots manual, I found this a little off-putting, as even the cheapest 1″ sensor mirrorless cameras will allow you to shoot HDR in manual if they have an HDR shooting mode.
This type of limitation also carries on to some video modes as well, as we’ll discuss later.
Field of View
In this regard, I really like the wider field of view on the Air 2S. Although just a few degrees wider than the Evo Lite+, noticeably more is captured in the photo.
With the Air 2S, if it is noticed after shooting an image that there are too many distractions revealed for a good shot, then cropping in post is a great way to shrink the view.
I did this on the Mostly Cloudy Pond Overlook shot on the Air 2S, as there was construction debris on the left side of the photo, whereas the tighter FOV (field of view) on the Evo Lite+ did not pick that eyesore up.
I was excited to see how well the Evo Lite+ would do squaring up against the Air 2S. As many would agree, the Air 2S has proven to be an excellent video shooter. I like to think of it as having the perfect budget-to-pro features ratio.
One of the things the Air 2S doesn’t have that is present on the Lite+ is a variable aperture. Personally, this doesn’t really bother me in my business role as a photographer, as the aperture control doesn’t affect picture taking much, for the way I personally shoot.
Where the variable aperture plays a large role, for me, is when it comes to video. Being able to clamp down the aperture to f11, in some instances, negates having to bring the drone down and fiddling with ND filters.
As long as it is not laser-piercing bright out, the variable aperture on the Evo Lite+ oftentimes works well to control the light while retaining the 180-degree shutter rule for shooting video.
Below is a video shot at sunrise and then during a partly cloudy day. I’ll explain my findings below.
Thoughts on Video
Simply watching the video shows what the Evo Lite+ and Air 2S are capable of, even if shot only in 2 different types of lighting – Sunrise and Partly to Mostly Cloudy skies (in this case).
The video that comes from both drones is excellent. The Air 2S shoots at a maximum of 5k, whereas the Evo Lite+ can shoot video in 6k, although quite a few sources have said it is actually slightly less than 6k. My eyes and video displays cannot tell the difference.
Shooting in Auto
When shooting in Auto on both the Evo Lite+ and Air 2S, the cameras adjusted accordingly for the shots, while doing so smoothly and providing pleasing video footage. Gone are the days of rapidly auto-adjusting to the changing lighting conditions causing a jarring effect.
I did notice that the Air 2S was substantially brighter in the shadows than the Lite+ when on auto for some shots. I only mention this because the Air 2S was actually flown while it was darker out than the Lite+.
Standard Color Profile
When editing the Evo Lite+ standard color profile in Pro mode, the footage was beautiful. I did not do any type of correction to the footage, at all. No color grading, no exposure adjustments, or anything. The footage was spot on. The colors were punchy, bright, and sharp.
The footage on the Evo Lite+ can definitely be used straight out of the camera for any type of filming project, whether personal, for online media, or for a client.
Because of the rapidly changing weather and lighting conditions, for the second half of the shoot, I only had enough time to film the Air 2S footage in DLog. This is my normal shooting style with the Air 2S, as DLog allows me to shoot in 10-bit color.
For this example, I was able to closely match the Evo Lite+ color and overall look. The Lite+ footage was slightly sharper, as a result of Autel’s video science.
A side note to mention
Back in the Photo section, I mentioned how Autel prevents the Evo Lite+ from taking HDR photos in Pro Mode.
Similarly, when shooting video, users of the Evo Lite+ are unable to shoot LOG footage in Pro mode (manual) as well. For me, this is a fairly big deal as I shoot everything in LOG, as it provides a better grading experience for our client deliverables.
The positive thing is that many might not find this an issue at all, as the footage in Pro Mode already looks great. If you are one that doesn’t do extensive color grading on your videos, not being able to shoot manually in LOG may be a moot point.
Ah, the ever-debated issue of geofencing. Long story short: The Autel Evo Lite+ is not geofenced, whereas the DJI Air 2S is.
Although the original Autel Evo II has recently baked geofencing into the drone’s firmware for possible activation in the future, Autel has chosen (for some reason) not to do so for the Evo Lite/Lite+ lines of drones.
I particularly appreciate this for some jobs where I have proper LAANC authorization but am unable to fly with other drone manufacturers in said zones.
On the flip side of this, while the Air 2S does indeed have geofencing baked in, unlocking geo-zones is a lot easier through the DJI Fly app than it was back in the DJI Go 4 app.
When shooting downtown at Lake Eola (LAANC approval is needed to fly there), I was able to do the needed unlock procedures and quickly get the drone in the air.
Regardless if you have an Evo Lite+ or an Air 2S, remember to fly safely and follow the FAA’s guidelines and authorization procedures when flying in manned airspace. Everyone will be happier because of it.
Both the Evo Lite+ and the Air 2S are great drones, and I enjoy flying them both. Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, the Evo Lite+ and Air 2S can easily accommodate your shooting needs.
Below are a few positives and negatives of both to be aware of when deciding which drone is right for you:
Autel Evo Lite+
- Not Geofenced
- Variable aperture
- Excellent 6k footage
- Longer battery life than the competition
- Excellent low-light capabilities
- Slightly handicapped when it comes to tracking vehicles, taking HDR photos in manual, and shooting LOG in manual
- Nowhere to store RC thumbsticks when removed from the remote controller
- Lack of upward obstacle avoidance sensors
- A fair bit more expensive than the competition
DJI Air 2S
- Excellent features to price ratio (budget friendly)
- Robust subject tracking system
- 10 Bit Video Color
- Works with multiple DJI Smart Controllers
- Older than the competition
- Average battery life