DJI Air 3S leaks take flight as the drone king braces for looming US ban

DJI Air 3 drone in flight with snow capped mountain background
The DJI Air 3 (Image credit: DJI)

The prospect of a ban on DJI drones in the US doesn't appear to have thrown the market-leading drone maker off its stride, with a new leak suggesting that the DJI Air 3S could be close to launching.

Reliable DJI leaker @Quadro_News has shared a two-second video on X showing a drone in flight, and tagged the video with #djiair3S (see below). The video is followed up with another post that includes a still frame taken from the video sequence: a closeup of the underside of the mystery drone, which you can also see below, and which @Quadro_News has suggested is the DJI Air 3S.

It's the first leak we've seen from a reliable source about a would-be DJI Air 3 successor, and it comes almost year after that drone – the company's most recent Air model – was announced. Given the source of the video, we think it's legitimate, although it reveals few details about a potential Air 3S, only suggesting that it's on the way.

The drone in flight certainly resembles an Air-series model: it shares the same form factor and what look like twin cameras, just like the Air 3. DJI fans are already responding to the leak and speculating what the potential Air 3S would bring to the table, including a camera system that would combine the best of the DJI Air 2S and Air 3 models.

The DJI Air 2S is a single-camera drone with a large 1-inch 20MP sensor, while the Air 3 is a dual-camera model, but both sensors are the smaller 1/1.3-inch 12MP type – the same sensor used in the Mini 4 Pro. Fans such as @NICKs_HIGHTECH are claiming that the rumored Air 3S will have one camera with the larger 1-inch sensor, and another with the 1/1.3-inch sensor, which would combine the best of the two previous Air models for photographers in one drone.

We rank recent models from the DJI Air series as some of the best all-round DJI drones, especially for aerial photographers, and the first rumors of the Air 3S are bound to have DJI fans excited. However, if and when the drone is launched, you might not be able to buy it if you live in the US. 

The United States House of Representatives has already passed the Countering CCP Drones Act, and if the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Biden, DJI drones would be banned from sale in the US.

It's unclear exactly how the ban would be effected, but it will likely be imposed on the release of new models such as the rumored DJI Air 3S, and potentially be made retrospective to cover current models. This would dramatically limit the options for consumers in the US, where DJI dominates the drone market with over 70% of sales 

However, if the ban comes into force consumers won't be completely out of options: we've rounded up the best DJI drone alternatives and all these models have been extensively tested by TechRadar experts.

The potential US ban has dominated the DJI headlines recently, so rumors of an exciting new model might provide a welcome distraction for the drone giant. If and when the DJI Air 3S takes to the skies we expect it to join our list of the best drones, although if you're in the US you may have to look elsewhere for your aerial camera thrills.

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Timothy Coleman
Cameras editor

Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.