How Can I Fly Mavic Air 2 Without a Phone?

If there’s one drone you’re probably missing right now, it would be the DJI Mavic Air 1. That thing had a ton of valuable features, like the SmartCapture. You could fly the drone without your phone by using your hand! Is the Mavic Air 2 the same?

The Mavic Air 2 can be flown without the pilot’s phone, but it doesn’t have palm control. The Mavic Air 2 can be controlled with the included remote control, a tablet, or a smart DJI controller instead of a phone.

Just in case you forget your phone, or it dies, it would be nice to still be able to use your drone. Keep reading to learn about the Mavic Air 2’s smart features and how you can fly it without your cell phone!

Can the Mavic Air 2 Fly Without My Phone?

The short answer to your question is yes, your Mavic 2 can fly without using your phone. It cannot fly with your hands as the Mavic Air 1 could.

Nevertheless, there are a few ways to control your quad without your phone when the situation calls for it.

  • Via your tablet
  • Via the remote control your drone comes with (unless you bought it used)
  • Via a DJI smart controller

How to Fly the Mavic Air 2 Without a Phone

Connect a Tablet

This isn’t very useful to you drone pilots, unless you have tablets. If you do, it’s a good first alternative if your phone is currently unavailable.

An iPad is just an oversized phone, really, and you can control your drone the same way as you would with your phone. It can even be easier to draw personal flight paths because the screen is larger.

The big issue with this option is that DJI has stated their firmware wasn’t designed for the iPad, so the app won’t really fit the screen or work as intended all the time. So… it’s kind of a last resort.

Use the Included Controller

We have to congratulate DJI for thinking of a plan B.

The remote controller that is included with your DJI drone is your primary means of controlling your DJI Mavic Air 2, rather than your hands or your phone. If anything, the phone was actually the plan B in controlling the drone.

The included controller to the Mavic Air 2 does more than making the drone go up, down, left, and right. It has a number of useful features that we’ll get into in the next section, but the problem you should be aware of is that it doesn’t use the fly app (naturally) and doesn’t even have a screen.

This isn’t a problem for recreational flying, but if you need all of the app features for work or a project, it’s a hassle.

If your phone is just out of battery, we have good news! The remote control will actually charge your phone with a charging ability of [email protected] It won’t charge unless the charging is enabled in the DJI app. It’s usually disabled by default and has to be enabled anew each time you power up.

Use the Smart Controller

We know what you’re thinking, “didn’t we just talk about the remote control?”. Yes, but this is different.

The DJI smart controller has a fairly large display screen at 5.5”, which is better than no screen. It’s not a screen with poor quality, either. It easily shows you a 1080p display that is visible in bright conditions (no night flying, sorry).

Because it has a screen, it’s more compatible with the fly app, and usually has it pre-installed. The catch? About $1000 difference. It also isn’t compatible with all DJI models, but thankfully, the Mavic Air 2 is compatible.

So of all these options, the included remote may be your safest and cheapest bet.

How to Use the Included Remote to Fly the Mavic Air 2

If you’re in a situation where you don’t have your phone at all, here’s how to fly without it.

Link the Remote Control

You have to link the remote if you see the status indicator blinking yellow rapidly. Normally, you do this with your phone because you open the app, but if you only have the remote, it should be enough to just power it on.

The control will automatically switch between 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, whichever is the best transmission channel.

Lift Off

Pushing the left-hand analog stick up will cause the drone to push off the ground, just like before.

Control the Gimbal & Camera

You’ll still be able to control the camera, but you won’t be able to see anything.

  • The left bumper button will record
  • The left trigger will still toggle video and photos
  • The right-hand dial tilts the gimbal

So the controls for your drone are the same without your phone. The difference is you have no visual of what the camera is looking at.

Controller V.S. SmartCapture

If you’re disappointed that the Mavic Air 2 doesn’t have SmartCapture, you’re not alone. But if we look at the specs of the included remote control, I think you’ll appreciate the benefits it has over SmartCapture.

SmartCapture Pros

Nothing like starting with what we miss.

The SmartCapture features allowed you to control your drone without the need to carry a remote or your phone.

You could ”sync” the quad to your palms and push it 6ft. away or pull it into 2ft. Wherever you directed it with your palm was where it would stay for hands-free shooting.

Remote Control Pros

This probably sounds more like a step backward and doesn’t seem as useful, and it isn’t but there are a few pros.

The remote control increases your control range from 6ft. to 6 miles via OcuSync 2.0 – DJI’s long-range technology. It can transmit your footage links up to 1080p seamlessly to your phone, regardless of your drone’s altitude.

Conclusion

Maybe these weren’t the answers you were hoping for, but unfortunately, the Mavic Air 2 doesn’t have the same SmartCapture features that its predecessor did. It’s not so bad, though. The remote is easier to control the drone with than your hand and the range you can control it at is much better, more than twice the distance!

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones. His favourite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!