DJI Mavic Mini hands-on: The perfect drone for people who haven’t used a drone
Flying a drone is a ton of fun. Whether you’re flying just for the sake of flying or trying to capture some amazing aerial photography, it’s a fun toy to have. However, a good consumer drone and all the necessary accessories will set you back around $1,500, at least. The DJI Mavic Mini, though, will change that.
Starting at about a quarter of the cost of DJI’s flagship consumer model, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, the Mavic Mini does everything a consumer needs a drone to do, including high-definition photography and videography. Although people already into drones might not see a need for the Mavic Mini in their arsenal, people out there who have never flown a drone before finally have a way to start flying just like the pros without needing to spend a ton of cash — or needing to learn and follow a ton of FAA regulations.
You see, the DJI Mavic Mini weighs just under 250 grams, which allows it to fall under the minimum weight limit for FAA jurisdiction here in the United States. This means you don’t need to register it with the FAA, affix your registration number to the drone itself, learn and follow FAA rules if you’re flying outside, etc. Instead, you can take the Mavic Mini out of the box and start flying it pretty much anywhere.
Related: The best drones of 2019
Now, to be clear, you should still take the time to learn the rules and regulations for flying regular-sized drones, just to be safe. You should also continue to follow the basic guidelines for flight, such as staying away from airports, avoiding flying over people, and keeping your drone at a safe height and distance. But with the DJI Mavic Mini, you can avoid all the paperwork and training and just get to flying and recording pretty videos.
What is the DJI Mavic Mini like?
The first thing you’ll notice about the DJI Mavic Mini is that it is incredibly small. When folded up, it easily fits into the palm of your hand.
Despite its size, the device is fully featured. Even the basic model comes with a remote controller (which you snap your Android or iOS smartphone into) and the three-axis camera gimbal shoots video in 2.7K at 30fps (or 1080p at 60fps). Photos capture at 12MP using the 1/2.3-inch sensor. The battery lasts for about 30 minutes of fly time and charges quickly. In short, you can take the Mavic Mini out of its box and start flying and capturing pics and videos within minutes.
Since this is a DJI drone, it has a high build quality and is controlled the same way as its other, more premium products. That means it’s easy to start a flight from a ground position, easy to control, and easy to land.
The device is also exceptionally quiet. In our time with the Mavic Mini, we found it to be about as loud as an electric shaver or electric toothbrush. This is awesome because it will allow you to fly in populated areas — such as beaches and parks — without being a noisy neighbor.
Of course, the DJI Mavic Mini isn’t perfect. It still relies on a Micro-USB port instead of USB-C, it doesn’t shoot in 4K, it doesn’t shoot at 60fps at its highest resolution, and you can’t easily replace parts of the device as you can on other DJI quadcopters. On that last point, DJI is offering an insurance program called DJI Care Refresh which will give you up to two replacement units within one year for an extra $39, so at least there’s that.
However, all the basic functions are here and the price is right.
Unfortunately, DJI is introducing yet another smartphone app with the DJI Mavic Mini called DJI Fly. The app will be the way you interact with the Mavic Mini — you won’t be able to use DJI’s other, pre-existing apps with it.
That being said, there are some nifty new features coming to the DJI Fly app. Check them out below:
- Rocket – The drone flies straight up into the air (up to 120 feet) with the camera pointing downward capturing as it goes.
- Circle – Mavic Mini will circle around a subject (such as you or your kids) at a constant altitude and distance.
- Dronie – The drone flies backward and upward, with the camera tracking you or another subject. Perfect for social media.
- Helix – Mavic Mini flies upward and away, spiraling around your subject, to create a more elaborate version of a Dronie.
How much does the DJI Mavic Mini cost?
The basic package of the DJI Mavic Mini is $399, which includes the drone, remote controller, one battery, a set of extra propellers, and all necessary tools and wires.
There’s an upgraded Combo edition that throws in two extra batteries, a 360-degree propeller cage (see photo gallery above), a two-way charging hub, three sets of extra propellers, and a carrying case for $499.
Whichever package you think works best for you, pre-orders start today, October 30, with a general on-sale date of November 11. There are also numerous accessories for the Mavic Mini, including a charging base that doubles as a unique way to display your drone when not in use, a customizable sticker kit to make your drone your own, and even a little sign you can attach to the drone that displays messages for other people to see. Some of these accessories won’t be available for pre-order at launch, though.
The DJI Mavic Mini is the perfect holiday gift for someone who’s expressed an interest in drones or photography but never gotten around to taking the plunge. What do you think? Is this a product you would buy? Hit one of the poll buttons below and then sound off in the comments.