DJI Mavic Mini Review – Fun Mini Camera Drone

DJI’s Mavic Mini Drone has a unique objective. To break the magic weight limit of 250 grams, enabling clients in many countries worldwide to use it with fewer legal restrictions.

Read the following Mavic Mini review to learn the drone’s sacrifices and how the small quadcopter performs in general. With the introduction of the Mavic Mini Drone, DJI has wholly rethought the category of mini-drones.

For the first time, the weight of a drone was the central focus and is mainly because, in many countries, aircraft weighing less than 250 grams are “toys.” Therefore do not fall under the usual regulations for drones.

The Mavic Mini is also the successor of the popular DJI Spark, who was, until the release of the Mini, the smallest and most compact drones.

The Mavic Mini is the latest addition to DJI’s portfolio. It brings together all the latest models in the hobby segment under the Mavic family.

You can see how Spark and Mavic Mini compare in technical details in comparing the two models.

Mavic Mini – The smallest  drone of DJI

The DJI Mavic mini drone is without question the smallest and most compact drone that DJI has ever launched under its name without considering the Tello drone distributed by Ryze.

At the same time, the Mavic Mini is also the entry point to the DJI drone world. It is both the lightest and most affordable drone currently offered by DJI to its customers. The Mavic Mini is the most lightweight and most affordable drone now available from DJI.

For those who have no problem carrying twice the weight, there is the Mavic Air 2. Still, this drone is aimed at a different group of buyers – which is also reflected in the purchase price. You can check information about the Mavic Air 2 in our detailed test report.

Still part of DJI’s hobby segment, but in an entirely different league, there is the Mavic 2 series with its Zoom and Pro versions. DJI also continues to give the newly released DJI P4P V2.0 in the original Phantom’s iconic style.

Now that we have gained an overview of the Mavic Mini’s position in the current DJI portfolio, the following is exclusively about the Mavic Mini because that’s why you are here!

Design: Extremely compact

The Mavic Mini is small. Very small. And it is light. Very light. If you’ve ever been on the road with a DJI Spark before, you’ll be surprised at the first moment how delicate the Mavic Mini feels in your hands. This is mainly due to the extremely weight-optimized propeller arms and the thin rotor blades, which are now fixed by a two-screw system instead of a click mechanism.

Externally, the Mavic Mini looks like a shrunk version of the Mavic 2 Pro. Only the color of the grey plastic frame is much lighter. DJI has chosen a gradation of brightness between Mavic Mini, Mavic Air 2, and Mavic 2 (Pro). If you can see all three drones side by side, the overall picture is quite harmonious, which results from the design department of DJI.

For example, while the Mavic Mini inherited the folding mechanism for the propeller arms and the camera’s general design from the Mavic 2, DJI had to come up with something new for the flight battery due to its small size. The battery is now no longer placed in an opening in the frame from above and completes it. Instead, there is a kind of trunk lid behind which the battery compartment is. And it is quite handy because you can easily change the battery when the propeller arms fold – this doesn’t work on the Mavic 2 and Mavic Air 2, for example.

The power button, which is otherwise part of the flight battery, also moves from top to the bottom. The batteries themselves have no status LEDs. You will find these LEDs on the drone in four white LED lights on the drone’s bottom.

DJI has also cut back on the LEDs used to signal flight status. Instead of giving each propeller arm an LED, there is only one elongated LED under the back’s battery compartment. Here you will also find the slot for the microSD card and – unfortunately still – a micro-USB interface.

DJI has not made any noticeable concessions in the quality of craft. The drone appears to have been constructed and assembled to a high standard. However, the low weight of only 249 grams automatically gives you the feeling of “not having much in your hand.” But in this case, that is exactly right. As a buyer, you don’t need to be afraid because you still get the typical DJI quality in our eyes.

Mavic Mini Camera: Finally, a 3-axis gimbal

With the Mavic Mini, the camera is also in focus. DJI built this drone as an “always-on” snapshot drone, and there is currently no other model that comes close to this title.

Compared to the DJI Spark, the camera has undergone a vital upgrade. While DJI still uses a 1/2.3-inch camera sensor with a native resolution of 12 MP, it is now finally equipped with a 3-axis gimbal. This makes the recordings look much more professional than with the DJI Spark’s 2-axis stabilization, even without the changed resolution.

DJI has also turned the performance screw on the resolution. The Mavic Mini can now record 2.7K at up to 30 fps. In Full-HD, up to 60 fps are now possible. The video codec used is H.264 without exception, and the bitrate is limited to 40 MBit/s. For comparison: The DJI Spark was able to record 1080p at 30 fps with a maximum of 24 MBit/s.

The Mavic Mini thus brings significantly more video functions to the table. Thanks to the camera settings’ full manual control, more demanding photos and videos can be taken if required.

Speaking of photos: The pilot can choose between 4:3 (4000×3000) or 16:9 (4000×2250) format. Sadly, the Mavic Mini can only take and save pictures in JPEG format. This takes some space in potential post-processing of the images.

On the other hand, the drone is for a buyer segment that is less likely to be troubled with the additional effort of photo post-processing. For snapshots on vacation, the JPEG format and the photo resolution are quite sufficient.

We strongly recommend looking at our camera comparison between Mavic Mini, Mavic Air 2, and Mavic 2 Pro. Here we have taken a closer look at all three cameras.

Briefly and concisely summarized: The camera of the Mavic Mini takes beautiful pictures in daylight for photo albums or social media. The videos in 2.7K also look good on a 4K TV. Suppose you want to dive into the world of camera drones. In that case, you will be satisfied with the camera performance of the Mavic Mini.

Controller: Now with cable

The Mavic Mini now comes with a controller as standard. This was different from the DJI Spark. The previous model arrived in the small version without its remote control and used the DJI Go 4 app and the phone’s touchscreen as a data device for the controller.

This option is now missing on the Mavic Mini. Therefore a controller is now included in the standard set and, of course, in the Fly More Combo. This controller connects via WiFi to the Mavic Mini and works surprisingly well in practice.

Compared to the Spark, DJI has worked on the WiFi transmission system. But if you are used to the responsiveness and performance of OcuSync 2.0, you should not expect too much from the Mavic Mini. But to push the legal limits (flying with the direct view), the WiFi system of the Mavic Mini is quickly sufficient. The video Livestream to the controller is limited to 720p on the Mavic Mini. You can place the two antennas close to the controller for transport to be stored compactly.

But more importantly, DJI has finally decided to use a cable connection between the controller and smartphone for its smallest drone series. This saves battery and a lot of nerves. Background information: In the DJI Spark, the controller and smartphone and the smartphone and drone were connected via WiFi.

The controller is also a little better designed and now has removable joysticks that can be stowed away on the bottom of the remote control during transport so that they don’t get lost.

With a maximum length of 160 mm and a thickness of 6.5 to 8.5 mm, the smartphone is clamped in the fold-out holder under the controller. This design is already familiar to us from the DJI Spark and Mavic 2 series. We still like the new design of the Mavic Air 2 controller (smartphone above the controller) better.

All in all, the controller sits nicely in hand and does what it’s supposed to do, namely to allow intuitive control of the Mavic Mini. All in all, the remote control is equipped relatively minimal: There is a button for RTH, a power button, a trigger for the photo function, and a REC button for video recording. In addition, there is a rotary wheel on the left side for tilting the camera angle.

The controller has an integrated rechargeable battery with a capacity of 2,600 mAh. It is charged via the USB interface on the side, which establishes the smartphone’s connection during operation. Adapters to Apple Lightning, USB Type C, and micro-USB are included.

Setup: Before you start

Unlike other DJI drones, the Mavic Mini does not have much to do to make its first flight. All right, the flight batteries should be charged. In the Fly More Combo case, this is done with the added triple charger, which can also be used as a power bank.

The drone’s propellers are designed as single blades per drive and come already installed on the drone. This system has the benefit that only one side of the propeller blade can be replaced in case of an accident. On the other hand, the propellers are challenging to control during transport and continuously sway back and forth.

In the end, all you need to do is install the DJI Fly app. Afterward, the smartphone and controller are connected via USB. The Fly App recognizes the controller and then guides the user through the pairing process between the controller and drone. In order to do this, the drone is switched to the binding mode by pressing and holding the power button on the underside of the drone, and then the controller finds the drone.

It is recommended that you install all available updates when you first use the device. Don’t forget to charge all existing batteries accordingly. As usual with DJI, the current software has to be played separately on each battery. After you will finish with the updates, make sure to set your desired maximum altitude and range and set the RTH length according to your flying area.

DJI Fly App: Intuitive and strong

The DJI Fly app was first released with the Mavic Mini and represents DJI’s new app platform for consumer drones. Meanwhile, the Mavic Air 2 can also be used with the Fly app.

Overall, the Fly app is a perfect partner for the equally slim Mavic Mini. Compared to the well-known Go 4 app, the interface is much cleaner. All video and photo modes are now grouped in a straightforward menu right next to the trigger on the app’s right side.

The Fly app is a real help for beginners because the Go 4 app, with its many settings and sub-menus, could be challenging for beginners without question. Professionals might miss some features in the Fly App. However, DJI continuously expands the DJI Fly app. Regular feature updates make the gap between the Fly app and the Go 4 app smaller and smaller.

We have now become familiar with the easy-to-use and straightforward design of the Fly app. We believe that DJI, especially in the Mavic Mini segment, is doing its customer’s excellent service with its modern drone app.

Mavic Mini Performance: Little insect

Let’s get to the most crucial question: How does a DJI drone with a weight of only 249 grams fly? The answer is almost boring: In fact, just like all other models from DJI. And that is amazing.

The Mavic Mini is surprisingly agile for its size and motorization. No comparison to its Spark predecessor. And we’re not talking about the maximum speed, because it’s actually a little lower than the Spark’s (46.8 vs. 50 km/h). The Mavic Mini feels more agile, thanks to its lightweight.

But this has another, much more significant advantage: the flight time per battery charge of the Mavic Mini is worlds above that of its predecessor. The Spark was realistic with a little buffer after 13 minutes maximum.

According to DJI, the Mavic Mini should last up to 30 minutes. With the propeller guard protection, we measured almost 24 to 25 minutes of flying. This makes the Mavic Mini drone really interesting, especially as a travel drone. Apparently, you can take a few snapshots with one battery and only have to carry a few things.

For the first time in the Mavic Mini, the energy for this comes from a 2S Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 2,400 mAh and a life of 17.28 Wh. The DJI Spark, on the other hand, is powered by a 3S LiPo with 1400 mAh and 16.87 Wh. The Mavic Mini, therefore, has more energy available at a significantly lower weight.

What pilots of the Mavic Mini do not have is an obstacle detection system. Although the Mavic Mini has two cut-outs on the forehead, which the stereo cameras of the Mavic 2 / Mavic Air 2 imitate optically, sensors are not built-in.

This is a downgrade compared to the Spark, which has frontal obstacle detection and avoidance on board. However, the Mavic Mini has stereo cameras on the underside to measure distances for automatic landing and visual positioning inside.

DJI’s decision was probably mainly due to the strictly limited weight of the Mavic Mini. Those who value features like ActiveTrack or other autonomous flight functions will be disappointed by the Mavic Mini. This drone is much more aimed at those who want to have a simple flying camera drone always with you.

The operating noise of the drone is relatively unnoticeable. The Mini is, therefore, by no means “loud.” However, the small propellers provide a high air turbulence frequency, which some people perceive as aggressive. In a direct comparison, however, Spark and Mavic Mini do not seem to be very aggressive.

The Fly More Combo: More batteries and accessories

Every DJI drone is available either as a bundle or with a special additional package as a Fly More Combo. This term refers to a version with more accessories at DJI, which often contains extra flight batteries and other ideal components.

DJI also offers a version of its Fly More combo for the Mavic Mini, which we also had for this review. This extended version contains two additional flight batteries, a convenient hard case for transport as well as a USB power supply and the two-way charging station for three batteries.

DJI also adds the prop guards for the Mavic Mini, which are designed to protect the drone’s propellers from collisions with objects completely. This allows the small drone to fly indoors without any major worries, as long as you are aware of what you are doing. With the propeller protectors, however, the weight limit of 250 g is then exceeded – indoors, however, this is usually not legally required, but in any case, it is not necessary.

It’s also interesting to see what DJI thought of in the case of the charging station. It offers space for three flight batteries. Each battery bay has an LED display with four white lights indicating the charging status.

The batteries are charged by means of the 18W USB power supply unit, which is connected via micro-USB. In order to prevent the batteries from taking too long to fill, the power supply and the hub can use accelerated charging up to 12 V and 2 A. The flight batteries are charged sequentially. The change between the batteries is automatic.

Incredibly practical: The charging station also has a USB A port to charge other devices. So the whole hub with three inserted flight batteries can also be used as a pretty good dimensioned power bank. A button on the side of the station also allows you to display the remaining charge per battery at any time.

The Fly More Combo’s stylish Hardcase also holds all the components you need for operation. The drone is therefore entirely ready for use, including a battery charging station with three batteries and a controller. It is quite portable, with a volume of only 26.5 x 19.5 x 9 cm. Under the controller compartment, there is also some storage space for spare propellers and the tools or adapter cable.

What the Mavic Mini could do better

All in all, the Mavic Mini cuts a very optimistic figure in our test. But we are always keen to give you the most added value with our test reports. That’s why we’ve collected some points that we think the Mavic Mini could do better:

Hardware:

  • Frame: The front arms of the drone are quite flexible due to the filigree construction, especially under torsional stress. According to several reports from our readers, this has already led to the propellers being able to touch the drone’s fuselage. However, we have not been able to reproduce this behavior even after several flights in sport mode itself. Theoretically, however, the front arm can be twisted so far in the direction of the camera that the tip of the propeller touches the end of the fuselage.
  • Propulsion: Due to the screw system, it is unfortunately no longer possible to change the propeller without tools. DJI does supply a small screwdriver, but you have to think about it. Simply changing propellers on the airfield is no longer possible without tools.
  • Sensors: The missing obstacle detection is a pity. Mainly since the drone is also aimed at beginners, necessary collision avoidance capabilities would actually make sense. Here, however, weight was undoubtedly a priority.
  • Interfaces: Sadly, the Mavic Mini still uses micro-USB throughout. A pity in times of already good spreading of the USB Type C standard.
  • Software: Thanks to the various firmware updates* since the launch of the Mavic Mini, we have nothing (or no longer) to complain about.All in all, however, the above-mentioned criticisms are in one way or another due to the low weight of the drone of less than 250 g. For many customers, this is an important selling point, which in turn means that they have to make some sacrifices elsewhere.

Conclusion

The Mavic Mini is, without a doubt, a successful drone, which has found its niche without any ifs and buts thanks to its ultra-compact shape and lightweight of 249g.

For pilots of the Spark drone, the Mavic Mini is worth an upgrade without a second thought just because of the 3-axis gimbal now available. The new 2.7K video mode also offers more flexibility should you decide to post-process your videos on your computer or smartphone. Increasing the bitrate to 40 Mbps is an essential step for the overall improved quality of Mavic Mini videos.

The overall flight performance of the drone is reliable, and it’s fun to race through the air with this little speedster – even without an FPV view on the smartphone. The missing obstacle detection must be in the back of every buyer’s mind before they buy it. Functions such as the popular QuickShots are still on board.

For a price of $399.00 for the standard version or $499.00 for the Fly More Combo, which we used for our test, nothing stands in the way of entering the world of DJI drones. In our opinion, the smallest DJI model thus comes at a very fair price. The total package consisting of a camera, low weight, good app, and a cost of less than $500 makes the DJI Mavic Mini with the Fly More Combo our recommendation.

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