Why the DJI Mavic 3 is so expensive [the real reason]

I was so surprised by the features of the NEW DJI range at these prices!!! Check them out:

when you first heard about the release of the DJI Mavic 3, if you’re anything like me, you would have been very excited. However, nothing is more deflating than seeing the cost of the new drones coming out of the DJI ecosystem. The same thought bubbles through everyone’s mind – why is the DJI Mavic 3 so expensive? In this article, we will find out why the DJI Mavic 3 is so expensive.

The DJI Mavic 3 is so expensive because it is at the apex of high-tech software and electronics. The camera is one of the best currently on the market, and the flight software and omnidirectional sensing ability make this a powerhouse drone for professionals.

The DJI Mavic 3 is so much more capable than anything else DJI has put out in previous years. It is so expensive because they have not skimped on quality and have tried their best to create a professional drone that every aerial photographer would want to own.

Make no mistake – this is not aimed at the hobby photographer. It is ready for some serious professional cinematic use.

How much the Mavic 3 Costs

At the time of writing, the DJI Mavic 3 costs anywhere from US$2050 for the drone to US$4999 for the DJI Mavic 3 Cine Premium combo.

You can check out the current prices using the links below.

DJI Mavic 3 Drone only$2,049.00
DJI Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo$4,999.99
DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo$2849.00

Why is it so expensive? The Hardware

Getting a drone in the sky takes such a huge number of design and engineering skills as well as high-tech equipment that the fact is – it all adds up. The most expensive drone on the market, about $18,000 and is the Freefly Alta 8. You can find drones down to $20 if you are looking for a toy drone.

Before we get into the specifics of what makes the DJI Mavic 3 a standout drone and well worth the money, we should take a look at a strip down of all of the components that go into making the drone.

Here is a Mavic three disassembly through which you can see every component that goes into making the drone fly stably.

You’ll notice a huge array of electronic components carefully placed into the drone body. Carefully printed circuit boards and ribbon cables connect all of the important hardware features.

These small components and their positioning in the small form factor make this an incredibly expensive build.

The body houses multiple sensors for omnidirectional sensing that will keep your drone safe in the sky – this is priceless when it comes to keeping your drone safe and sound and ready for the next flight.

The hardware means that this drone is approaching 1 kg in weight which is significantly heavier than other drones in the DJI ecosystem.

Check out the weight of the DJI Mavic 3 compared to the DJI area 2S, below.

DJI Mavic 3895 g
DJI Mavic 3 Cine899 g
DJI Air 2S595 g

This drone is very heavy as far as DJI consumer products go. The heavier a drone is, the more technology and battery power are required to keep it in the air for a significant time.

You are getting a lot of hardware for your money.

I like to think of drones as small laptops we send into the sky. Relative to other consumer electronics, drones are relatively affordable considering the small form factor that is required of them.

How much does it cost DJI to make a drone?

I’m sure the answer to this is a closely guarded secret, but we can look at the parts and estimate how much the raw materials cost. Also, there’s some indication from retailers of drones.

Typically high, value (and high volume) tech products have a 20% mark-up in their wholesale price.

For example, if DJI lists the Phantom Vision 2+ at $1159, the wholesale may be $900 or close to it. Estimates of the material and labour costs of a product like the DJI Phantom are in the region of $200-250 in bulk.

The single largest cost in the system is the control electronics, which could be about $50-75 to manufacture. The other expensive parts are the motors ($20-30) and power electronics ($20-30).

There’s probably not much margin in drone manufacturing, and DJI would make a fair bit of more money in the sale of accessories, such as extra battery packs, guards and the “fly more” additions – which bundle together a load of accessories for a discounted price.

Camera sensor

The DJI Mavic 2 houses two cameras which adds to its expense significantly.

  1. Swedish brand Hasselblad aerial camera specifically designed for the DJI Mavic 3.
  2. A tele camera capable of 28 times hybrid zoom

The technology in these cameras alone is outstanding. The collaboration with Hasselblad means that you are getting a professional quality aerial camera with a professional 3/4 CMOS sensor which is housed in an incredibly small form factor.

The camera alone would be a very expensive part of this drone. Here is a rundown of other drones and their camera specifications, including their price.

DroneCamera sensorPriceDimensions of sensorSurface area of sensor
Mavic 34/3 CMOS, Effective pixels: 20 MP And 1/2-inch CMOS$2,049.0017.3 mm × 13.0 mm And
6.4 x 4.8 mm
224.90 mm²
30.72 mm²
Mavic Air 2S1″ CMOS Effective Pixels: 20 MP; 2.4μm Pixel Size$99913.2mm x 8.8mm116.16 mm²
Mavic Air 21/2″ CMOS Effective Pixels: 12 MP and 48 MP$6996.4 x 4.8 mm30.72 mm²
Mini 3 Pro1/1.3-inch CMOS Effective Pixels: 48 MP$7594.8 x 3.6 mm17.28 mm²
Mini 21/2.3″ CMOS Effective Pixels: 12 MP$4996.3 x 4.7mm28.46 mm²

The bigger the sensor the more expensive it is due to the advantages of having a low-noise image in high resolution.

The DJI Mavic 3 has the largest sensor in the current DJI consumer range which means that the drone is perfect for those seeking professional photographs.

Will drone prices drop?

In 2018, it looked like drones were getting more expensive. According to the 2018 Drone Market Sector Report by Skylogic Research, one-third of purchases in the last 12 months were for aircraft costing over $2,000.

That was up on the previous year.

Just over 20% of drones purchased in 2017 cost more than $2,000. Whereas in 2018 32% of drones purchased cost more than $2,000. According to Skylogic’s analysis, the weighted average price of drones costing more than $500 is $1,718. That’s a $174 increase over last year’s weighted average price of $1,544.

So maybe if you want t cheaper drone – look for a second-hand model or look for last year’s model which has been superseded by a company. You’ll be sure to find a bargain somewhere in there! I’m sure of it!

Wrapping up

Drones are expensive – that is a fact but what you are paying for is TRUST.

Trust that your drone can do the job that you bought it to do. There’s very little margin in the high-tech consumable world.

Drones are expensive because they are at the apex of a load of high tech software and electronics. Small motors, advanced AI software, and typical business cost too!

Drones result from so many aspects that they can be very expensive. Let alone the actual cost of the materials and electronics for manufacturing, there’s a lot of research of development that goes into getting a drone in the air and keeping it there!

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a Drone pilot, Writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV (ABC Documentary) 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.