Much has been made of a stagnating camera drone market. Is it saturated? Maybe it’s too hard? Expensive? Confusing drone laws? The answer is a combination of all of the above. DJI is aiming to shut down each of those concerns with a single drone.
Introducing the DJI Mavic Mini. It weighs in at 249 grams allowing it to avoid drone regulations in most countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and others. **Check your local laws before you ignore registration requirements.**
The DJI Mavic Mini is all about ease of use and maximum portability. It earns the ‘Mini’ name as it is tiny. Absurdly tiny. Here are the dimensions:
Folded: 140×82×57 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded: 160×202×55 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (with propellers): 245×290×55 mm (L×W×H)
I remember the original Mavic Pro launch when the speaker had it in an oversized pocket. The Mavic Mini? Pick any pocket.
Who is the DJI Mavic Mini For?
Beginners and first-time drone buyers. The marketing alone shows it will be an all-out blitz to grab holiday shoppers. It starts at $399 and stays sub $500 with the Fly More Combo. In a very astute move, the company is also selling a creative kit where owners can use blank shell stickers paired with markers to customize their Mavic Mini. It’s a smart way of staying under 250 grams. Well done.
The DJI Mavic Mini replaces the DJI Spark as its camera drone for everyone. You don’t have to be pro with a controller to fly it and capture 2.7K video and 12MP stills. Unfold the arms. Attach the props and pair your smartphone. It’s that simple, and you’re in the air. All the drone shots are there, and the app has been configured to make editing and sharing videos and images even easier.
Then there’s the 30-minute battery life. This is in windless conditions at a speed of 12kph or a little over 7mph. As a comparison, the Mavic 2 Pro hits the same battery life at 25kph. In the real world, figure on 23 minutes, which is a generational leap in battery technology over DJI Spark, and has me hoping for a similar bump on the Mavic 3.
The new DJI Fly app also comes with a map function that shows the best scenic spots in your area. It’s a nice touch and one I’d expect the DJI GO 4 app to get at some point.
DJI is also releasing a host of add-ons, including a charging base that looks like the most badass snow globe you’ve ever seen. I want one.
One area to note is the Mavic Mini does not have object avoidance. The only onboard sensing system is on the bottom to assist with landing. This isn’t a deal-breaker with the prop guards, and most keep the drone close.
Personally, I hardly ever use the obstacle avoidance on my Mavic 2 Pro, so while some will ding the drone, you have to consider the weight and compromises which needed to be made.
Who is the DJI Mavic Mini NOT Meant For?
Enthusiasts. Prosumers. Professionals. The $399 price tag comes at its own cost. The 2.7K video over 4K wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the 40Mbps bitrate. That’s a tough one to swallow. There’s also no D-log, so color grading just became harder. DJI is pretty good with color and exposure out of the camera, so you could give it a pass. It is $399, which means something had to give.
The area that essentially nerfs the Mavic Mini is still photography. JPEG, and that’s it. No DNG files to plug into Lightroom or any image editor. DJI has the ultimate travel drone that skirts around regulations, yet we are stuck with JPEGs. Not having a RAW file format is a head-scratcher.
Even the most basic DSLR cameras can shoot RAW. I understand the decision to cut 4K as not to cannibalize the Mavic Air, but the lack of RAW is a serious misstep that keeps it in beginner class of camera drones.
Now, if DJI can work some firmware magic, that completely changes the ball game. Give us camera controls, and the Mavic Mini suddenly becomes a must-have camera drone over a beginner drone.
Another area enthusiasts and professionals will not like is the remote controller transmission. No OcuSync here. Instead, it’s Enhanced WiFi with a top range of 4km. That’s in a perfect situation and not a real-world range. And just because you don’t have to register, it doesn’t mean you can fly it out of sight.
For now, the Mini stays in its lane as the beginner camera drone from DJI.
DJI Mavic Mini Buying Options
Like all DJI products, there are several options. The standalone drone costs $399, which includes the controller. The Fly More Combo is priced at $499 and includes a carrying case, two extra batteries, charging hub, spare propellers, and the prop guards for indoor flying. Other accessories like the charging base retails for $39, while the creative kit is $15.
The DJI Mavic Ecosystem is Complete
What the Mavic Mini does more than anything is to create a complete ecosystem of DJI camera drones from beginner to professional. The design is no accident with the Mavic Mini sharing the same aesthetics and flight characteristics as the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom. The upgrade path is easy, as consumers do not have to relearn controls. I’d expect the Mavic Air 2 to follow a similar design path.