(Pocket-lint) - There are plenty of reasons to go for a compact and lightweight drone, not least because they're much easier to carry around, but also because they're much more restriction-friendly. Many countries regard drones in this weight class as toys and don't require registration or licensing.
DJI's latest entrant into its Mini series has changed the game in many ways. It's the first time that DJI has produced a sub-250 gram drone that doesn't fall into the entry-level category.
So, which model should you choose? As always, it depends largely on the individual and, of course, the budget. Let's look at the key differences to get a better idea of what to expect.
- Both drones weigh 249g
- The Mini 2 measures: 138×81×58 mm folded
- The Mini 3 Pro measures: 145×90×62 mm folded
The Mini 3 Pro has seen a drastic redesign from the Mini 2, mostly to house the sizable obstacle avoidance sensors. It's a very different look, much less streamlined than the Mini 2, but the added functionality more than makes up for it.
The Mini 3 Pro also features a body that sweeps back from the front, this allows the camera to tilt much further upwards without the body of the drone obstructing the view. This new chassis design also has benefits in fast flight, as the gimbal has more room to manoeuvre and therefore is less prone to drooping, particularly in forward flight.
The Mini 3 Pro is slightly larger than the Mini 2, but, in person, the difference is barely noticeable when folded. When unfolded, it's significantly larger, and the propellers are bigger too. This allows for more efficient flying and a lower-pitched noise when in use.
- Mini 2 max speed: 16 m/s
- Mini 2 wind resistance: 8.5-10.5 m/s (Scale 5)
- Mini 3 Pro max speed: 16 m/s
- Mini 3 Pro wind resistance: 10.7 m/s (Scale 5)
The Mini 2 and Mini 3 Pro both perform similarly when it comes to speed and wind resistance. This is largely due to the weight class of the drones. Neither can match something heavier like the Mavic 3, but they still perform admirably even in harsh conditions.
The Mini 3 Pro has a longer flight time of 34 minutes with its standard battery, and an extended battery is available separately in some regions that boosts that figure to 47 minutes (although it takes the weight above 249g). The Mini 2 isn't far behind though, still able to offer 31-minute flights. No extended battery has been released for Mini 2.
The Mini 3 Pro has a 1080p live video feed while flying with a range of up to 12 km. The Mini 2 has a 720p feed with a max range of 10 km. In practice, both go farther than most people need and provide a strong video signal for monitoring your shots.
The biggest difference in flight experience comes from the Mini 3 Pro's obstacle avoidance sensors. These take a lot of the stress out of flying in tight locations, and tri-directional sensors mean that you're protected from almost every angle.
- Mini 2 max photo resolution: 12MP
- Mini 2 max video resolution: 4K 30fps
- Mini 3 Pro max photo resolution: 48MP
- Mini 3 Pro max video resolution: 4K 60fps
The main advantages of the Mini 3 Pro are its sizable 1/1.3-inch sensor, wider f1.7 aperture, 48MP photos and true vertical shooting. Comparatively the Mini 2 offers a 1/2.3-inch sensor, f2.8 aperture, 12MP photos and cannot shoot in a vertical format.
The Mini 3 Pro also adds a D-cinelike colour profile for greater flexibility when colour grading your footage. However, both drones have fantastic colour reproduction and many will be satisfied with just the standard colour profile.
The Mini 3 Pro's obstacle avoidance sensors allow it to follow subjects with ActiveTrack, as well as unlock additional QuickShots and MasterShots. The Mini 2, meanwhile, is much more limited when it comes to autonomous camera movements.
Both drones produce superb stabilised video and sharp vibrant photos, but the Mini 3 Pro is the clear winner when it comes to image quality.
- Mini 2: £419 / $449 / €459
- Mini 2 Fly More Combo: £549 / $599 / €599
- Mini 3 Pro (with N1 remote): £709 / $759 / €829
- Fly More accessories: £159 / $189 / €189
The pricing is where this comparison gets a bit more interesting. The Mini 3 Pro is significantly more expensive, while the Mini 2 remains relatively affordable. This sharp price increase means that the Mini 3 Pro is much less attractive to hobbyists and is mostly reserved for content creators, filmmakers and professionals (as the name might suggest).
Interestingly, DJI has not released a Fly More Combo for the Mini 3 Pro. Instead, it sells the Fly More accessories as a separate kit. Unfortunately, this kit is a little more expensive than the average Fly More bundle, too.
The Mini 3 Pro is undoubtedly the superior drone in this matchup, but its price will deter some consumers, particularly new fliers. That's a massive shame because it is a superb option, especially for beginners, thanks to the added safety of the obstacle avoidance sensors.
If your budget can stretch to it, we'd advise going with the Mini 3 Pro, no matter your level of expertise. However, if you can't quite afford the latest and greatest, the Mini 2 is still an excellent flyer that produces gorgeous images. So long as you fly carefully around trees and other hazards, we can't imagine anyone being disappointed with the performance.