DJI Mavic Mini overview: A tiny drone with huge ambitions

The Mavic Mini is so small and light-weight (simply 249g) you will not have to register it with the FAA — you have been registering your bigger drones with the FAA, proper? However that dimension is not nearly doing much less paperwork, it is about doing extra flying. With a drone you’ll be able to actually slip in your again pocket, there’s nearly by no means an inconvenient time to carry alongside, assuming you have got a second pocket for the controller. (You possibly can’t fly the Mini with simply your cellphone like you would the Spark.)

DJI has historically been good about giving its smaller/cheaper drones premium options. The Air, for instance, value lower than the Mavic Professional that got here earlier than it, however it had options its pricier sibling did not. Even the little outdated Spark supplied gesture management and follow-me options on a funds. With the Mini, although, there are fairly a number of compromises — however the majority should not deter most individuals.


Maybe probably the most essential lacking function is impediment avoidance. The Mavic 2 Professional and the Air each include sensors that detect obstacles, permitting for safer flying. The Mavic Mini has none. This appears cheap provided that the Mini prices greater than $1,300 lower than the Mavic Professional 2 and $500 lower than the Air. However DJI can be pitching the Mini at inexperienced persons who would profit from these sensors probably the most.

The second notable compromise is the digicam. As with the Spark, there is not any 4K video right here however the Mini will file in 2.7K/30 (together with FHD as much as 60 fps at 40Mbps), so there’s at the least some type of excessive decision to get pleasure from. One other trick the Mini has that the Spark does not is the power to fold down its arms. The Spark’s physique is an identical dimension, however its fastened arms make it a lot much less moveable.


The Mavic line’s foldable design has turn into one thing of a calling card. What makes drones unwieldy are these all-important protruding arms. DJI got here up with a intelligent design for the primary Mavic, and it has been current in practically all its client drones since. When absolutely folded down, the Mini is concerning the dimension of a soda can and weighs about as a lot as a big cellphone (my OnePlus 7 Professional with a case is available in at round 230g).

DJI Mavic Mini review

Once I first noticed the Mini I had some issues. Largely, how will it maintain up in windy circumstances? The larger Mavics simply maintain their place in opposition to robust breezes. The Mini truly does surprisingly effectively right here too. I actually thought it will be thrown round, however it held its floor (at the least in opposition to the gusty Bay Space coast). I did discover it will usually transfer up and down with the wind, however lateral motion was minimal.

In reality, the app was warning me that circumstances have been too windy and to fly with warning, however the video held regular. You possibly can see the Mini twitching within the air, however it will not spoil your footage. If something, it is the vertical place that is extra troubling. I flew out in a straight line over water, and some occasions I needed to pull the drone up as a result of the wind was pushing it down.

The Mavic Mini may lack obstacle-avoidance sensors, however it’s not utterly devoid of positioning know-how. There’s GPS, clearly, and a downward-facing sensor in order that it will probably maintain its place when there is not any satellite tv for pc connection (for instance, indoors).

I used to be additionally stunned that the Mavic Mini does not supply “Tripod mode.” This easy function present in different Mavics limits the pace of a drone, which together with the three-axis gimbal is nice for sluggish, regular monitoring pictures. The Mini can be excellent for this, particularly when flying indoors. So far as I can inform, there is not any technical cause the Mini does not help it, however it’s not right here, which is a slight disappointment. There’s, nevertheless, a brand new “Cinesmooth” mode, which DJI says “elongates the braking course of.” That sounds a bit boring, however in my testing, it truly is extra like Tripod mode (fortunately) than I believed. Mainly, it appears to melt out turns, braking and different harsh actions, leaving you with a a lot smoother shot.

It is also price noting that it’s a must to change flying modes (Common/Sport and Cinesmooth) within the app now. Different Mavics have a change on the controller, however that is one other small compromise I assume. In reality, the entire app expertise is massively simplified. I am inclined to say that it is a good factor, as I’ve by no means been an enormous fan of DJI’s information-dense app. However as good as it’s to have issues simplified, I would nearly say the brand new Go app is sort of too sparse. It is good that there are fewer issues onscreen, however very important info like battery life and GPS sign is represented by icons so small you can’t actually see them at a look — which implies you find yourself peering on the display for longer than you would like.

DJI Mavic Mini review

In its try and simplify, DJI additionally moved the QuickShot part of the app underneath the digicam choices on the fitting, somewhat than over on the left underneath its personal icon as earlier than. Right here you’ll be able to select between photograph, video and QuickShot. The sub-menu for every will seem as soon as you choose it.

For photographs, you may solely see the self-explanatory choices for “Single” or “Timed shot,” although underneath the primary settings menu, you may discover choices for photograph side ratio (four:three or 16:9), toggles for the onscreen histogram and overexposure warning, gridlines and so forth. As already talked about, for video, your choices are FHD and a couple of.7K, after which a alternative of body charges: 25, 30, 50 and 60 for FHD versus 25 and 30 for two.7K. No 24 fps right here for some cause.

The collection of QuickShots on the Mini is proscribed. You’ve gotten Dronie, Rocket, Circle and Helix — the names broadly describe how the Mini will transfer round a goal. There is no Asteroid or Boomerang this time round, and that is high-quality. I am extra dissatisfied on the lack of ActiveTrack — DJI’s people-tracking function. It has been current on most merchandise, together with the Osmo Cellular, which does not have a digicam in any respect (it makes use of your cellphone’s). What’s curious is that the QuickShot modes the Mini does have ask you to click on on a human goal for it to concentrate on — so the bones of the know-how are there, however for some cause the corporate selected to not embody it. Lengthy story brief, the Mavic Mini cannot observe you autonomously. Nevertheless it seems like one thing that is only a firmware replace away.

Regardless of the minor annoyances, just like the small energy indicator (it is actually a small battery icon with a share quantity like on a cellphone), the app is simple to make use of. Join your cellphone to the controller, open the app and also you’re just about good to go. The larger drawback is that the reference to the drone is finished over WiFi, which does not deal with the video stream practically in addition to DJI’s proprietary Ocusync know-how. For probably the most half, it is high-quality, however there have been too many occasions when the stream stalled or skipped. This was significantly irritating once I was counting on that connection to line up and monitor my shot.

A associated subject, not distinctive to the Mini however exacerbated by its dimension, is that it is remarkably straightforward to lose sight of the drone within the sky after you have seemed down on the video stream. Line-of-sight flying is necessary. I see too many individuals flying with the drone out of view, counting on the video stream to know the place it’s. However that video stream can fail, and it did with the Mavic Mini simply sufficient that I might by no means depend on it for navigation. Even only a fast look on the app, look again up and… the place the hell did it go? It caught me out a number of occasions.

DJI Mavic Mini review

You do not want your cellphone in any respect to fly the drone, and even to shoot video. Nevertheless it’s a lot simpler with the video stream and on-screen buttons ought to that you must take motion and maneuver round one thing. Additionally, whereas there are buttons on the controller to take a photograph or begin a video, you’ll be able to’t change settings or entry QuickShots, so that you positively need your cellphone absolutely charged.

Not least, as a result of the Mini can fly for a very long time. DJI claims as much as 30 minutes per cost. I believe that is attainable in case you fly gently, however round 25 minutes is extra sensible in windy circumstances, or in case you’re tearing round in Sport mode etcetera.

Just a few extra minor nitpicks, and we’ll get to the good things, I promise. The primary one is that there is not any option to see how a lot cost the Mini’s batteries have, except they’re both within the drone or within the multi-charging caddy (which comes with the “Fly extra” equipment). Most different digicam drones have a button on the batteries that may present roughly how a lot energy they’ve left. Having to place a battery within the drone or the caddy is not precisely onerous, however when you’ve got a number of of them, it is not superb.

Secondly, it is 2019, and all the things on the Mavic Mini continues to be micro-USB. To cost the controller? Micro-USB. Wish to connect with the drone itself? You get it. USB-C has been round lengthy sufficient that it ought to be the default right here. Particularly on the battery charging caddy. Utilizing micro-USB simply means charging takes longer. (Oh, bonus nitpick: The caddy holds three batteries, however expenses them one after the other, not in parallel, which appears slightly unhelpful.) And lastly, for the primary time in a number of years, I managed to get the propellers in shot. This was once an everyday drawback, till DJI found out learn how to maintain them out of the digicam’s method. It is solely occurred as soon as to this point, in windy circumstances and through a decent flip, however price remembering that it will probably occur.

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