DJI’s latest addition to its long list of products is the Mavic Mini. And, this is the perfect sweet-spot of convenience, speed, size, and affordability.
Being an avid traveler for the past six years, I have owned a lot of drones and disowned even more.
Most come loaded with features you would likely never use, making them too bulky to fly with ease. But as the Mavic Mini reached my doorstep, I was a bit surprised. When they mentioned ‘mini’ in the title, I didn’t think they’d take it this seriously!
I have always been apprehensive about the functional capacities of mini-drones, but this little beast challenged all my notions. Yet, how so? Let’s see what all the Mavic Mini has to offer, other than a compact size.
Hi, this is Dhia, a travel addict, a drone-flyer, a photographer, and a robotics engineer. Right now, as we speak, I am traveling the entire breadth of Vietnam, with the Mavic Mini by my side. So, let’s find out more about it without further delay!
Flying in the no-fly zone?
Along with the size, the unique selling point of the drone is also its weight, which is 249 grams. The odd number isn’t a random accident as drones weighing 250 grams or more need to go through the tough challenge of getting flying permits. This is my personal win-win, and I’m sure it’d be so for you too, since I find this issue of permits a complete bugger.
So, no more passing of online tests, handing 10 dollars every year, and sticking a label ID to your drone! And now, you can fly, fly, fly your Mavic Mini to your heart’s content!
The perfect size that a drone should have!
Like the elder members of the Mavic family (Mavic Air, Mavic 2 Zoom, etc.), the Mavic Mini is fully foldable, making way for superb portability, and can be carried in a small handbag. As it’s just 160 x 200 x 55 mm, it’s smaller than my iPhone 11. And when I extend the arms, its total length matches that of the Mavic Air. Isn’t that rad?
Furthermore, the combination of minuscule size and light weight not only makes the product compact, but it also helps the drone survive sudden crashes and falls. This compensates for one of its pitfalls, which I’ll be discussing shortly.
Owing to its lightweight structure and flexibility of the front arms, the Mavic Mini is known to survive accidents better than the older versions.
A top-notch camera
At one point in time, I held this staunch belief that mini-drones have the worst cameras. As a result, I avoided smaller drones at all costs, thinking that I won’t get any quality output despite investing a good deal!
But the Mavic Mini completely changed my mindset. The camera that it features shoots full HD (1080p) videos at about 60 frames per second, while the ultra-crisp 2.7k videos can be shot at 30 fps. Yes, I admit 4K is what we all desire, but trust me, 2.7K is not at all lagging behind in output, as most people use an average computer and phone configuration.
Also, 4K files are massive, running up to gigabytes for small clips, and unless you have got a very highly specced machine, you wouldn’t be able to make use of its maximum potential. Being a professional photographer and videographer, I’m not a sucker for specs, but value for money and a 2.7K camera seems like a good tradeoff for a drone within the range of USD 500.
Like the Mavic Air, the Mini comes with the complete series of Quickshot movements too. It includes the rocket, drone, circle, and helix, and I absolutely loved the final output of every move.
Now coming to the quality of still photographs, the 1/2.3” CMOS sensor-equipped camera provides Hollywood-styled output, and I’m really not joking about that! Dishing out 12 MP stills, the photos really dazzle in the right lighting conditions, while in low lights, they aren’t too shabby either.
Just three days back, the camera was put to all the difficult tests at the annual Lantern Festival in Hanoi. And, honestly, I am yet to get over its seamless performance in such low light!
Flight time and performance
I was skeptical over the flight time and performance of the drone again due to its lightweight. Most mini-drones get easily swayed by winds, but the Mavic Mini boasts of a 30-minute flying time on a single charge. It offers constant HD transmissions over a distance of 2.5 miles, standing firm in mid-air all the while. The transmission distance is considerably decent compared to other drones within this price range.
Furthermore, for better stability, control, and safety, the product comes with a GPS lock, which I found to be quite reliable. This fixed the drone in its current position as long as my fingers were off the controller. Speaking of which….
A worthy controller and significant updates
A physical controller is so much better than an app that forces you to control the drone from a mobile. And thank Heavens, they introduced it with the model rather than selling it separately! Coupled with agile movements and very convenient controls, they have also upgraded the DJI Controller App, DJI Fly. It has added important details to the safe-fly zones, along with offering greater support to the social media app of DJI called SkyPixel.
The controller also shows all the necessary details such as drone coordinates, flight duration, distance covered, remaining battery life, etc.
An intelligent battery pack and charger
Speaking of battery life, the drone also comes with a sweet little charger in the ‘Fly More’ combo, which can hold up to 3 batteries. Additionally, it also tells you which battery is charging the fastest.
This drone has proved its worth very recently when I didn’t want to miss even a single moment of the spectacular 3-hour long lantern festival. And, the intelligent charging really helped me by providing uninterrupted power supply.
So, what do the overall test-results look like?
One of the things that I always do while testing drones is to let the drone hover in mid-air until the battery runs out. This does two things for me- it lets me test the real flying time, and it’s also the best way to test the drone’s stability. And the Mavic Mini does pass these two tests remarkably.
While the flying time is actually 30 minutes with a fully-charged battery, its stability is top-notch too. Most cheap drones sway and swing when suspended in mid-air, but not this little one! It stayed right up there, bolted to the sky, as its position-holding capacity is exceptionally good.
Moreover, the flight stability and speed of the drone fared well too. On a windy day, it took off like a high-end drone and stayed pretty stout throughout the time. The video doesn’t suffer and tear at all, despite gusty winds, as the unique three-axis gimbal keeps the camera positioned rock-steady in its place.
What could have been better?
To make a genius little beast such as this, they had to deduct some crucial elements that DJI usually adds to its line of products. What they didn’t do away with are its superb controls and excellent flying performance. What they did, though, were:
All the previous models of DJI included this vital feature, which is essential, especially for amateur flyers. I, for one, greatly depend on the collision-detection feature so that it detects any potential obstacles like trees, power lines, or buildings. The Mavic Mini doesn’t have any of that, and you gotta be really careful to avoid colliding with such obstacles.
Although the lightweight structure prevents significant damage to the drone, it all depends on the intensity of the collision.
The Auto-Follow function
Another feature that they took away is the Auto-Follow function. The older generations, such as the Mavic Air, Mavic 2 Zoom, have this competitive feature where the drone would constantly refresh its home point according to your movement and start following you.
But that would require a better processor and a bigger cooling facility, all of which had to be sacrificed to bring out this impressive combination of size and weight.
- Great flying experience
- Doesn’t require a flying permit
- Extremely lightweight
- Steady during heavy winds
- No collision detection feature
- Lacks the auto-follow feature
So, I must say my Vietnam trip has been going pretty great with the Mavic Mini. If you’ve always wanted a high-end drone but didn’t want to splurge too much money on it, then this little bird is for you.
The icing on the cake is that you have the FAA flying permit by your side if you go for this drone!
And lastly, I hope I was able to answer all your queries today. Best wishes for all your precious journeys and beautiful snaps ahead!