The DJI’s Mavic Mini offers everything essential to be a quality drone. It boasts a good range, a good camera, and a good controller, for a price of $399. It hovers well in the wind and is quick enough to be fun. And it’s a miniature drone so it can easily be thrown in your bag and taken on Instagram adventures.
The tiny size is the Mavic Mini’s main selling point. It weighs only 249 grams, and that odd number isn’t a coincidence. Drones that weight 250 grams and more have to be registered to fly. And yet, despite that the Mavic Mini is foldable and lightweight, it’s packed with core features: 4 km HD video transmission, three-axis gimbal holding a 2.7K camera, 30-minute flight time, and a physical controller that works with iOS and Android devices. At $399, it’s a steal even though it lacks features found in DJI’s other drones.
There are costlier drones packed with a lot of features. They’re entertaining, but several years ago, feature creep started sneaking into DJI’s products. Now, with a complex product line, a spreadsheet is needed to decrypt DJI’s drones. Most come laden with innumerable features, owners will possibly never use. The Mavic Mini is something unique. It’s basic, and I dig it.
Here’s what’s omitted: ultra-long-range connection, collision detection, 4K camera, gesture control and advanced camera features like panoramic, trackable follow, time-lapse and optical zoom.
The Mavic Mini is fast enough to be fun, but it is not ahead anywhere in the race. It’s quick and responsive. It is also easy and light. Matched against a Mavic 2, it feels less powerful and smalle — because it is — and then again it never feels too underpowered or small. The Mavic Mini is well-proportioned, and owners should find it pleasant to fly.
Despite its small size, the Mavic Mini hovers well in strong wind. I took it up to 200m on a windy fall day in the Midwest. Crisp, windy autumn with leaves falling off the trees, failed to bother Mavic Mini. It took off like a large drone and stood firm against the wind. And guess what? The video didn’t suffer. The gimbal held the camera stable as it videoed the autumn scene.
The drone uses DJI’s new app, and I’m using a beta version to test the drone. Known as DJI Fly, it’s a streamlined version of DJI Go and holds several enhancements. Safe fly zones are better united into the app and have an added level of detail over the older app. DJI also provides better built-in support for its social community app, SkyPixel. Though, as this version is streamlined, it misses a lot of information standard on the Go version, most particularly, a mini-map in the bottom corner of the screen. I’m expecting DJI adds more features to this app after it releases.
The camera is good for the charge. The pictures here were captured from the drone and not changed or improved. They were taken on sunny and cloudy days. The range is remarkably good, as the drone can capture dark highlights and blue skies. Sometimes in direct sunlight, the camera colors become faded.
They claim that the best camera is the one you have with you. That’s where the Mavic Mini debuts. The best drone is the one you have with you. For ages, I carried around a huge Pelican case containing Phantom 2 and later a Phantom 3. I thought I had the best. At an instant’s notice, I could go to my car’s trunk and recover a suitcase containing a flying camera. After a few minutes, my phone synced to the drone, and the controller linked to the drone’s network, I had 15 minutes of flight time. Then followed the foldable Mavic, which fit along with my camera gear like a large telephoto lens. Other drones came and went. I had a brief affair with the GoPro Karma too.
The tiny Mavic Mini is revolutionary. It’s small enough that can be taken everywhere. It’s light and small enough that it feels like the best point and shoot in my computer bag.
Want a better camera and more features while keeping the portable size? Previously this year, DJI announced the $919 foldable Mavic Air that has a five-mile video transmission and 4K camera.
The Mavic Mini has everything you want. It’s tiny, comes with a lovely case, and in a $499 bundle, two additional batteries with a smart charging pack. The camera is amazingly good though certainly less powerful than DJI’s costlier drones. The Mavic Mini is the most suitable drone for a beginner or skilled drone enthusiast. DJI stuffs sufficient features into the 249-gram body to make this an incredible drone for anyone.
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