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GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro: Which foldable drone is best?


Mavic vs Karma

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro: Which of these portable drones comes out on top? Find out from our in-depth comparison.

Drones are yet to fully cross over into the mainstream, but GoPro and DJI have both helped push things in that direction with their latest offerings.

GoPro's Karma and DJI's Mavic Pro are both compact, portable drones, but while the latter has a built-in camera, the former is designed to work with several GoPro cameras.

It seems the battle is on for the best portable camera drone, then, but which of these two is looking like the best offering at this early stage? Read on to find out.

WATCH: GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Design

Both of these machines are portable, but how portable are they? Well, DJI seems to have the edge in this department. Both the Mavic and Karma use a folding design to make them easy to carry around, but the former is lighter and folds into a more compact shape. DJI says the drone "folds down as small as a bottle of water", and it should fit into a purse or a belt holster.

The Karma is still a very portable device, but once folded it won't reach "water bottle" levels of portability. It will however, fit into a backpack, making it much smaller and lighter than most drones.

Related: GoPro Hero5 hands-on

WATCH: GoPro Hero 5 and Karma explained

If you're looking for precise specs, the Mavic Pro weighs 734g and measures 83 x 83 x 198mm when folded, while the GoPro alternative comes in at 1,006g and measures 117 x 224.3 x 365.2mm.

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Specs & Features

When it comes to the Karma, GoPro says the drone “should be an end-to-end life capture solution", which sounds pretty grandiose but essentially means you're getting an adaptable device that comes with a range of features.

What are those features? Well, there's the Stabiliser which should make for some impressively smooth footage, comes with a 90-degree range of motion and moves on three axes. DJI is also bringing a 3-axis stabilisation system to the table with its drone offering.

Related: GoPro Hero4 Black review

Next up: flight specs. The Karma will top out at 35mph and has a maximum range of 1km. It's also capable of flying at an altitude of 4,500m. The Mavic Pro, on the other hand, has the edge on the Karma in this respect, as it can hit 40mph and can travel up to a rather impressive 7km before it loses transmission. That's 6km further than the GoPro.

The Mavic can also reach a height of 5,000m, beating the Karma by 500m. DJI says this is 5,000m above sea level, however, while GoPro simply states a max flight altitude of 4,500m.

Related: GoPro Karma – Your guide to the first GoPro drone

Karma drone

When it comes to flight time, the Karma will stay airborne for 20 minutes, which isn't all that great in the grand scheme of things. And, once again, the Mavic has it beat, although only very slightly, with a max flight time of 21 minutes. It can, however, last up to 27 minutes according to DJI. Of course, you can bring extra batteries along for both of these drones, which looks like it's going to be a necessity given the paltry flying times.

Elsewhere, the Karma features some safety features such as built-in no-fly zones and a return-to-home button. One feature it doesn't come with, however, is obstacle detection – something which DJI has included on the Mavic Pro.

Related: GoPro Hero 5 Black – A complete guide


That means you're far less likely to see your beloved drone smash into anything thanks to the obstacle avoidance sensors built into the Mavic. The machine comes with a front-facing collision-avoidance system capable of spotting obstacles up to 15m (49ft) away when travelling below 36km/h (22mph).

What's more, DJI's drone is capable of following you around, hovering above your position as you move and capturing your exploits. GoPro's offering, on the other hand, has no such feature.

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Cameras and Karma Grip

Perhaps the most important feature is the camera that's going to be capturing all those gorgeous, sweeping aerial shots. So what are these two drones packing in this department?

Firstly, let's deal with the Mavic Pro. DJI's machine comes with a built-in camera that can shoot footage in 4K at up to 30fps and 1080p resolution at 96fps. It's also capable of snapping 12-megapixel stills. The minimum focusing distance is 0.5m and the sensor itself is a 1/2.3-inch unit. Those are some pretty impressive specs that match DJI's Phantom 4 drone.

Related: DJI Phantom 3 Professional review

Karma Grip

So what's the deal with the Karma? Naturally, GoPro has opted to make its drone compatible with its latest action cam, the Hero 5 Black. But the Karma's Stabiliser, which holds the camera, will also work with the more affordable Hero 5 Session and even the 5's predecessor – the Hero 4 Black and Silver.

If you're using the latest Hero 5 Black, you can expect to get similar specs to the Mavic Pro. That's 4K footage at 30fps, 1080p footage at 120fps – a higher frame rate than the Mavic's 96 – and 12-megapixel stills. The camera also comes with a built-in touchscreen, voice control, and GPS, although the latter is the only one you're likely to be using when it's attached to the drone.

GoPro Hero 5

Making the camera detachable in this way has several benefits, and chief among these is the attachment mechanism itself, which comes in the form of the Karma Grip.

The grip comes with the drone, and features a professional-quality stabiliser that should make for fluid footage. But most impressive is the fact that the grip can be removed from the drone and used as a grip to shoot freehand – with the added stabilisation feature – or mounted on other gear such as the Karma Case or Seeker sportpack. It's also got built-in controls so you can operate the attached camera without having to touch it.

Mavic Pro

The Mavic's camera is obviously not capable of any of this, giving GoPro the edge when it comes to camera functionality and overall customisation. However, the Mavic does allow you to take selfies using gestures, so if you're the selfie-taking type you might find DJI's drone more tempting.

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Controllers

So how do you control these beasts? Well, the Karma comes with its own controller, which looks a tad outdated if you ask us. It takes the form of a clamshell-style remote control with a 5-inch touchscreen that shows real-time views from the drone's camera in 720p resolution.

Karma controller

DJI has opted to provide you with a controller of its own, to which you attach your phone in order to see what's being filmed. You can also control the Mavic using just your smartphone if you want.

GoPro has announced the GoPro Passenger app, which lets others view and control the GoPro camera while you fly the drone. However, it doesn't look like you'll be able to actually control the Karma drone with a phone app.

Mavic controller

DJI also has another trick up its sleeve. It's offering a pair of goggles that look much like a VR headset and allow you to see what the drone's camera sees. When wearing the goggles, your head movements will control the drone's movements, which may or may not land you in a spot of legal trouble when it comes to laws that require you to keep the drone within sight, etc.

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Release Date & Price

The Karma will be available for £719.99 from October 23, which, when compared to the Mavic's £999 price tag, seems like a great deal. However, that £719.99 doesn't include the camera, which you'll have to buy separately.

If you go for the new GoPro Hero5 Black, you're looking at adding an extra £349.99 to the price, making the overall cost of a Karma drone setup £1,069.98. You can, of course, opt for the slightly less capable Hero5 Session, which brings the price down by £100, or the Hero 4 Black or Silver, which are going for between £259 and £329 on Amazon right now, making the cost a lot more even between these two drones.

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro – Summary

At this point we're yet to test out both drones, so it's impossible to call a clear winner. Even without getting hands-on time with them, though, we can tell this is going to be a close one.

The cameras are pretty much the same in specs, assuming you opt for the Hero 5 Black to go with the Karma. However, GoPro has the added benefit of more customisation with its detachable camera and grip system – giving you the chance to shoot your own handheld footage, as well as using the drone to get aerial shots.

However, the Mavic Pro is more portable, has extra flying features thanks to its built-in sensors which allow for obstacle avoidance, and is cheaper than the GoPro if you compare it to the full Hero5 Black setup on the Karma.

It depends what you're looking for, then, but we can't help but wish the best features of both could be combined somehow. As it stands, it's just frustrating to have so many great features spread across two expensive machines.

We'll have more once we've given both a try.

WATCH: The Refresh: The best tech gossip and reviews every week

Let us know which drone you think clinches it in the comments.

Steve Hoffmann

October 1, 2016, 6:36 pm

You are giving people advice on which of these two drones to buy and they aren't even on the market yet, you don't have both of them to do a real side-by-side comparison, and you are basing your opinion on stated stats the companies who built them are boasting. Right? Yeah, I thought so.

Maybe you should be professional and wait until they are both on the street, in a released final production model, before passing judgement and giving uneducated and/or those new to the drone industry advice.

First off, object avoidance and follow me features are only slightly useable.....neither feature works all that well and on the Phantom 4 they are simply gimmicks for the most part. No one would trust their drone to follow them and have any confidence that it will avoid obstacles when doing so. I've been flying DJI drones, both the Phantom and Inspire, for many years and there is has never been a time I would use the follow me feature. My opinion about object avoidance, simply learn to fly and you'll never need it.

I'm waiting to see how the video quality will compare between the two. One thing you failed to mention is the camera on the DJI Mavic Pro has a vastly inferior field of view, the GoPro Karma absolutely destroys the Mavic in this area. The new Hero5 camera can be adjusted to shoot in multiple field of view settings if you don't want the traditional fisheye view (or you can remove the distortion with the GoPro app or any good photo/video editing software).

If the follow me and object avoidance work perfectly on the Mavic it'll be pretty darn sweet, and GoPro will have to respond. But, the amount of people who will actually use follow me is very low.....think for a moment when you will use it and take into consideration you cannot use it around other people, around buildings, around power lines, etc. and the times anyone would use this gimmick drops down to probably 5% or less of the time you will fly your drone.

So with all of this said, when comparing these two drones we want to first wait until they are both released in a final production version. Then consider what you will actually use it for. The Mavic is tiny and that is cool but it comes with some drawbacks. The GoPro comes packaged with about $600 worth of additional equipment (backpack & handheld stabilizer) for only $100 more, and you can remove the camera on the GoPro and use it in a 100 different ways.

Personally, if both turn out to perform well and both shoot video and still shots on par with one another I'll be buying the Karma because I can use it for vastly more things and not just as a tiny drone. If the reliability isn't there with the Karma then I'll go with the Mavic all day long.


October 5, 2016, 2:07 pm

Spot on!!

William Keating

October 9, 2016, 3:09 pm

It was revealed in an Engadget interview with Pablo Lema, senior director of aerial products at GoPro, that GoPro had acquired the small but prestigious Swiss software company SkyBotix to bring these autonomous flight modes to the Karma. "We have full teams that work on collision avoidance."

When to expect the changes? Since collision avoidance is not just a software upgrade, as sensors are needed on the body of the drone, it will not be a quick fix. It's just a good guess that Karma 2 will be ready for the next holiday season in 2017, and it will address many shortcomings of the first drone.

Steve Hoffmann

October 10, 2016, 4:52 pm

I fully agree.....GoPro needs to ramp up their promotions though for the Karma as DJI is killing them right now with the anticipation level of the release of their drone. DJI did it right this time by sending out hundreds of pre-production Mavic Pro's to all of those YouTube reviewers and tech companies. GoPro did about 4 or 5 and didn't let the reviewers keep the drone......big mistake.

I still think the two drones are for completely different markets once you look past the obvious similarities and focus on what they can be used for. I'm still leaning towards the Karma simply because I get way more bang for my buck and can use the complete package in 100's of ways instead of just a little drone that is extremely limited in where you can legally deploy it.

William Keating

October 10, 2016, 11:05 pm

Some potential buyers of a consumer drone overlap both drones, but a substantial number do not. Any of the millions that now own a Hero4 camera have to buy a Karma if they want their camera at some but not all times to have an aerial platform. Similarly, all the new Hero5 owners are tied to the Karma if the want to get off the ground.

On the other side, those who just want to play with a drone and race it and take some cool aerial shots of themselves would go to Mavic. As a flying machine its tech spec is superior in almost every department.

Anyone who buys a substitute for the Hero from Sony or new competitor Nikon and who wants an aerial platform is also up the creek for now. That might help GoPro fend them off for a while.


December 28, 2016, 9:24 pm

I agree! click bait.


May 24, 2017, 7:47 am

Not agree with you, i believe you didnt own the Mavic thats y you say the Mavic camera quality is inferior, of maybe you have but you just do not realize that you need to "tap" on your targeted screen in order for the focus to work, one the focus is "tap", the Mavic actually produce an incredibly pro-quality camera. And pls don even mention that KArma is a portable drone, it is so bulky even after it is folded, that makes no different at all when comes to compactibility when compare with all other bulky drones like phantoms. Many travellers will agree that compactibility is a very important factor---and the MAVIC did absolutely awesome and promises that!

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