DJI Mavic Mini – A small drone with big ambitions?

The Mavic Mini takes everything that DJI has been able to put into practice in recent years on their drones and integrates it into one of the smallest drones.

At just 249 grams, it’s lightweight, incredibly portable, and bypasses quite a few regulations

According to our tests, it offers very good performance in flight and its camera is really not bad considering the price of the model. There are of course some compromises to be made given the size of the machine, which could discourage more experienced pilots and photographers.

For the vast majority of budding dronists or those on a tighter budget, this new DJI drone turns out to be really cheap and capable enough to make it an attractive option.

Design and first impressions

DJI has, through its range of Mavic drones , gradually offered many models of ever smaller and cheaper drones over the past 3 years. The Mavic Air, for example, cost less than the Mavic Pro that came before it, but it had features that its big brother didn’t. 

Even the Spark mini, which was smaller than the Mavic Mini, offered advanced gesture control and subject tracking capabilities. With the Mavic Mini, however, the Chinese firm has made some compromises, the majority of which should not deter potential buyers interested in this model in our opinion.

The design that characterizes the Mavic range

The foldable design of the Mavic line has become something of a benchmark with the appearance of many similar models in recent years. DJI came up with an intelligent design for the first generation of Mavic, which was subsequently used on all drones in the range.

When fully folded, the Mini is about the size of a soda can and weighs about as much as a full-size phone (an iPhone X with a case weighs just under 225g for example) .

Ultra-light and portable!

The Mavic Mini is so small and light (only 249g) that you won’t need to register it with the relevant authorities in your country. DJI openly tackles the legislators of many countries here by offering an ever more compact and lightweight drone that will allow you to drop below the 250g mark. 

With a drone that you can literally slip into the back pocket of your bag or a coat pocket , there’s almost never a bad time to take it on the go, assuming you have a second pocket for the controller. which is essential to control the Mavic Mini. (unlike the Spark which was controlled by smartphone).

Little but strong !

When we were able to discover the Mini for the first time, we do not hide from you that we had some concerns about its wind resistance given the size of the machine! The largest models in the Mavic range easily hold their position in strong gusts. We really thought a drone under 250g would be tossed around, but it holds its position surprisingly well even in good gusts of wind according to our tests . We noticed it moved up and down often with quite a bit of wind, but sideways movement was minimal.

The video remains surprisingly stable even with 30-40 km/h of wind which really surprised us. You can see the Mini shaking in the air, but it won’t spoil your footage. In fact, it is the movements in the vertical position of the drone that are the most worrying according to our tests. When flying in a straight line over water, we had to push the stick and pull the drone up, as the wind pushed it down easily.

A neat Mavic range design

The Mavic Mini may lack obstacle avoidance sensors , but it’s not completely devoid of positioning technology. It has of course the traditional GPS/GLONASS combo with a downward facing sensor which allows it to maintain its position when there is no satellite connection (for example indoors)

Simplify the experience!

For the sake of simplicity, DJI has also moved the QuickShot section of the app under the camera options to the right, rather than to the left under its own icon as before. Here you can choose between photos, video, and QuickShot. The submenu for each of these options will appear once you select it.

For photos, you’ll only see the self-explanatory options for ‘Single’ or ‘Timed Shot’, although in the main settings menu you’ll find options for the aspect ratio of the photo (4:3 or 16:9 ), toggles for on-screen histogram and overexposure warning, grid lines, and more. For video, you have the choice between FHD and 2.7K, and then a choice of frame rates: 25, 30, 50 and 60 for FHD versus 25 and 30 for 2.7K . No 24 frames per second format here, unfortunately for the most cinephiles.

The selection of QuickShots on the Mini is limited. You have access to Dronie, Rocket, Circle and Helix . There are no Asteroids or Boomerangs available here. The lack of ActiveTrack, DJI’s automatic people, animal, and vehicle tracking feature is quite disappointing. This feature seems to work when using Quickshots as you will need to select the subject to activate them. For reasons unknown to us, ActiveTrack has not been activated. The Mavic Mini cannot therefore follow you autonomously. This option appears to be built into the firmware and may become available in the future through a simple update.

Impressive battery life (considering the size)

The Mavic Mini can fly for a long time which is really a feat given the size of this mini drone!

DJI advertises up to 30 minutes per charge. It’s possible if you fly smoothly, but as always expect around 25 minutes in windy conditions, or go wild in Sport mode, etc.

A major flaw with the batteries in our opinion is that there is no way to see the charge level of the Mini’s batteries, unless they are inserted into the drone or the multi-charge dock (which is supplied with the “Fly more” kit).

The fact that it also has a stellar battery life is a big plus – especially if you opt for the Fly more pack. For a few extra bucks, you’ll get two spare batteries, the charger, a carrying case, and a bunch of other accessories. That’s about an hour and a half of extra flight time in a really easy to carry case.

Another advantage: when the batteries are in the charging caddy, it also serves as a portable power brick to charge your other gadgets.

Excellent Flying Experience

In terms of the in-flight experience, the Mavic Mini is incredibly fun to fly.

Novice pilots won’t be intimidated by the thought of handling this mini drone, while more experienced pilots will feel completely at ease and appreciate its light weight and extreme portability. Despite many years of flying many different drones, including racing drones, we too still get nervous when flying a new drone. Here the size of the drone makes the flying experience really simple and fun!

This is a big selling point in our opinion. The biggest frustration for any drone pilot is whether or not they can take their drone with them on the go. With the Mavic Mini, this problem disappears. It will never be a burden, and you can literally keep it with you in the pocket of your bag.

Its smaller size also means it’s less intimidating to passers-by and more discreet.

Despite its small dimensions, the Mavic Mini is extraordinarily stable in flight and very fast and agile when switching to Sport mode. We expected it to thrash about in the breeze, but its reliable GPS lock kept it still and held its position like a champ. We also didn’t have any issues with the quality of the video streamed to the phone.

However, compromises also have been made

At this price, DJI has necessarily made compromises!

Perhaps the most important missing feature is the obstacle avoidance system which can be a problem for beginners. The Mavic 2 Pro and the Air range drones are all equipped with sensors that detect obstacles, allowing you to fly safely. The Mavic Mini does not have one. This seems reasonable, however, given that the Mini costs over $1,100 less than the Mavic Pro 2 and $450 less than the Air 2!

The second notable compromise comes from the camera used. As with the Spark, there’s no 4K video available here, but the Mini does still record 2.7K/30 video (as well as FHD up to 60fps at 40Mbps). ), which allows you to take advantage of a high-resolution format that should be more than enough for most users. A notable difference compared to the Spark comes from the fact that on the Mavic Mini, it is possible to fold the arms of the drone. The Spark’s body is similar in size, but its fixed arms make it far less portable in comparison.

Wifi connection still poses some problems

Despite the small inconveniences, the application is easy to use.

Connect your phone to the controller, open the app and you’re almost ready to take off. The biggest issue in our opinion is that the connection with the drone is via WiFi , which doesn’t handle the video stream as well as DJI’s proprietary Ocusync technology.

Overall it gives decent results, but there were times when the stream stopped or skipped . This was a recurring problem with DJI wifi connections and is the reason why the company developed its Ocusync, which we greatly appreciate.

Remote Control

A related issue, which unfortunately isn’t unique to the Mavic Mini, but is exacerbated by its size. It is very easy to lose sight of the drone in the sky after glancing at the video feedback. Line-of-sight flight is important with this kind of small model.

You don’t need your phone at all to fly this drone, or even to take a video. It’s much easier, however, by relying on the video feed and using the on-screen buttons if you need to take action and maneuver around a specific object. Also, while there are buttons on the controller to quickly take a photo or start a video, you can’t change settings or access QuickShots, so make sure your phone is fully charged before you go. throw you.

The Mavic Mini does not offer the “Tripod” mode . 

This relatively basic feature found in other Mavics helps limit the speed of the drone, which, combined with its three-axis stabilized gimbal, is ideal for stable and truly cinematic shots.

Too bad, because the Mini could have really interested real estate professionals for indoor flights such as property visits. There isn’t really a specific reason why DJI retired this flight mode in our opinion, which is a slight disappointment. There is, however , a new “Cinesmooth” mode , which DJI says “extends the braking process”. It seems relatively limited, but according to our tests, this flight mode offers similarities with the Tripod mode. This seems to smooth out turns, braking and other sudden movements, leaving you with a much smoother and cinematic feel.

Cinesmooth Mode on the Mavic Mini 1

It’s also important to note that you need to change flight modes (Standard/Sport and Cinesmooth) in the app now without having access to a dedicated switch on the remote controller.

Fortunately here, the user experience at the application level to control the drone is really simplified. We’re inclined to say this is a good thing for beginners, as the DJI app can get overloaded at times. Here DJI may have pushed it a bit too hard though, as we find their new app almost too underdeveloped. It’s a good thing there are fewer options available on the screen, but vital information like battery life and GPS signal icons so small you can’t quite see them. Meaning you end up staring at the screen longer than you’d like.

A good quality camera for this price!

We’ve talked a lot about the drone so far, but for many pilots it’s just an aerial camera. Good news here, the Mavic Mini’s camera is really well made . It is of course not of the same level of quality as that found on the expensive Mavic 2 Pro. But you can expect it, it’s a smaller sensor after all (1/2.3 inch versus 1 inch) and recording at a lower bit rate (40 Mb/s versus 100). Video and photos, however, look really detailed, crisp, and with good colors.

The only real negative we found with the camera is that dynamic range seems to be lacking compared to more expensive Mavics. There is no bracketing or HDR available here.

There are also no manual exposure settings in the app. Here you will only have the possibility of compensating the exposure by having access to an EV type slider. The histogram and lines to help you frame are available in the application. We don’t expect as much flexibility here in terms of camera settings as on the Mavic Air, Zoom and Pro .

My Opinion

A drone that certainly makes some compromises compared to other drones in the Mavic range but which offers incredible value for money!

Let’s keep in mind that the Mavic Mini costs a third of the price of a Mavic 2 Pro and almost half the price of the Mavic Air. 

In this context, it’s a surprisingly powerful camera drone in our opinion and much more practical due to its impressive portability/autonomy combo.

Lightweight and ultra-portableLimited signal range and quality
Sleek Mavic designNo anti-collision sensors
Good wind resistanceNo subject tracking
Excellent autonomy
Good flight stability
Very powerful 2.7K camera considering the size and despite some restrictions.
Intelligent Flight Modes

My Ratings: 9 out of 10

There are certainly missing features compared to more high-end models and limitations that are primarily software and not really hardware.

DJI deliberately limits the functionality of the Mavic Mini so as not to cannibalize its higher-end products.

Technical characteristics: 8.5

Design and Handling: 8.5

Video and photo performance: 9

Flight performance: 8.5

Autonomy: 9

Should you buy it?

It’s also fun enough to fly and capable enough for future pilots who just want to know if they want to invest in a bigger, more capable drone in the future while getting their hands dirty.

But for the most part, we think it’s the ideal solution for anyone interested in aerial photography who doesn’t need all the benefits of a high-end drone.

If the Mavic Mini 2 were to come equipped with ActiveTrack, more advanced exposure settings and a rudimentary obstacle avoidance system, it should have no problem selling.

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