In order to determine which drone company is better, users must first establish their own requirements in a drone. With a detailed list as a guide, you can then sort through each company’s benefits and weaknesses as they relate to your drone use needs.
Here are some suggested questions to ask:
Narrowing down these and other parameters makes it easier to then apply them to specific drones. You may find your needs pushing you toward a certain manufacturer due to differences in product offerings. Our purpose here is not to compare individual products, but the two indicated brands themselves.
DJI is a Chinese company first established in 2006. They are the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles in the world. A privately owned and operated company based in China’s “Silicon Valley” (Shenzhen), DJI maintains offices worldwide in the United States, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
Although in March 2020, DJI claimed about 70% of the global consumer drone market, the United States prohibited government use of DJI products later in 2020. In December 2021, the United States Department of the Treasury prohibited investment in DJI by U.S. individuals and entities due to allegations of complicity in Uyghur genocide. Some analysts now believe DJI’s market share could be as low as 54%.
Autel Drones is another Chinese-based company founded in 2014. Also headquartered in Shenzhen, they operate extensive R&D operations in Seattle, Washington, Silicon Valley, California, and Munich, Germany.
Autel enjoys long-term cooperative relationships with several world-class universities, including Tsinghua University, the University of Munich, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Analysts believe that Autel’s dissociation from the political quagmire that ensnared DJI has caused their market share to improve to about 7%.
Worldwide impacts to the supply chain and complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are still rippling across the globe, and this continues to impact the costs and availability of goods and services. Paying attention to how these disruptions have impacted drone companies like DJI and Autel can help you chart a stronger course as you seek to pursue consistent and profitable drone operations.
The supply chain for DJI is extremely backlogged, and we believe this is a result of several factors:
Some 1UP customers are waiting for over two months for the delivery of some thermal drones. Fortunately, the impact of this can be masked with great distributors like Exertis Almo and DroneNerds, who frequently stock up on popular drones and accessories from certain manufacturers as they understand shifts in the market.
For example, in early 2022, Exertis Almo realized that Autel was shifting chip manufacturers and purchased 150+ Autel V1 Smart Controllers. This enabled 1UP as a reseller/system integrator to extend the life and provide enhanced features for some early versions of the popular Autel EVO II 6k drones.
Specific numbers are elusive, but industry pundits opine that market share has shifted somewhat among top drone companies, as indicated above for our two targeted companies. Other companies have also enjoyed a lift, including American company Skydio and French firm Parrot Group, each estimated to have about 3%.
From our unscientific experience, we would agree with this analysis. Chuck Adams, CEO of 1UP Drones, states: “For every one DJI drone sold, we are currently selling five Autel drones or that many from other manufacturers.” The ease of use, superior camera sensors, broad lineup, upgradeability, fewer flight restrictions, and longer flight times are driving significant market share gains.
According to our company’s experience with both brands, you cannot go wrong with either DJI or Autel. We currently have both brands in our stable and each have their place in the world of drones. From when we opened our business over six years ago, the reliability, ease of use, customer service, and software integration is remarkable. While recently flying some recreational flights over Lake Morse in Indiana, we were surprised to learn that the images/videos were automatically downloaded onto our cell phone and there was even sound captured during the flights (Autel Lite + Premium Bundle).
The industry continues to change rapidly, so we recommend taking your time, evaluating your needs, and talking to an expert who not only sells drones, but flies them daily for services and training. The decisions you make today will have a huge impact on your success as a recreational, commercial, or enterprise pilot in the future.