DJI Mavic Mini review

DJI Mavic Mini Review
Review

Price when reviewed

£369

$399
Check current price

Our Verdict

The DJI Mavic Mini has a terrific feature set and it's available at a very attractive price. Furthermore, it's very easy to fly so it makes a great first drone. However, its compact size makes it an attractive option for more experienced flyers who want a craft that they can take anywhere. Of course, the added bonus is that at 249g, it doesn't need to be registered.

For

  • Below the 250g registration limit
  • Stable flight
  • Good quality camera

Against

  • Features paired back
  • Camera Limited to 2.7k
  • Small size makes it difficult to see at a distance

In a shrewd move from DJI, the Mavic Mini has arrived circumnavigating the new 250g drone registration weight limit.

Everything about the drone, from the flip-out arms to the branding, is definitively Mavic and will provid those who want a quality imaging drone at a reasonable price, without the need to pay the UK drone taxes.

Price & Availability

The DJI Mavic Mini price tag sits at £369 / $399 at the time of writing this review.

You can also purchase the DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo, priced $499/ £459, which includes two extra batteries, a two-way charging hub and a 360-degree propellor guard. The extra batteries will offer you an additional 90 minutes of flight time.

You can purchase it from DJI.com or from retailers such as B&H Photo Video and Adorama in the US or from Wex Photo Video and Park Cameras.

Does the DJI Mavic Mini comply with new UK drone laws?

As of the 30th of November 2019, all UK drone users need to register. If they fail to do so they’ll receive a fine and possibly something more.

There is however one caveat, if the drone weighs less than 250g then no registration is needed, at least for the moment.

The issue is that most drone users are responsible and those who are not, are unlikely to be bothered about any type of registration anyway.

I checked Amazon today, and I can still buy a relatively large drone for less than £100; there’s no alert or warning that I have to have a licence to fly the thing.

Even worse, asking around, friends who brought small drones like the DJI Spark for their kids last Christmas are unaware of this new drone registration.

So it looks like little Johnny and Elouise are spending Christmas this year down the local nick – at least it’ll be quiet.

DJI is as ever on top of the situation and has launched the UK-law-friendly Mavic Mini. This weighs in at 249g, so is just a gram under the weight limit which means that no registration is needed.

Knowing DJI, they’ll also issue an App update which will ground all DJI drones until the owner’s update and confirm their registration, which is a good thing.

This Christmas then, I’d throw the weighty 300g Spark in the bin and buy a DJI Mavic Mini. But is it any good? Of course it is; it’s from DJI.

DJI Mavic Mini Review
Features

Weight isn’t usually the big feature of a new drone, although maybe it should be!

At 249g the DJI Mavic Mini is one, if not the lightest, drone of its type on the market. Even beating the compact Spark.

That weight is partnered by the compact size. Folded it measures 140x82x57mm, so easily slots into a backpack pocket.

Flip the arms out in the usual Mavic way and the size increases to 160x202x55mm, so still small. Flip out the props and it increases further to 245x290x55mm. You don’t really need to flip out the props starting the drone up will do this for you, but it’s worth checking they’re not caught.

For the actual physicalities of the drone that’s pretty much it, it looks like a DJI Mavic with a lightweight bodyshell and the obvious exclusion of some sensors on the front and side.

It’s obvious where the weight savings have been made, props are screwed in saving on weight quick-release mechanisms. Battery flaps are moulded clips rather than anything fancy but this pairing back leaves you with a very slick and clean looking drone.

Alongside the drone is the controller, this is much the same as the other Mavic Drones with two control sticks and connection to your mobile phone. Again simplicity is key but there are direct record buttons etc which is a nice touch as ever.

Moving on to the flight features and there are three modes; Position Mode (P), Sport Mode (S) and CineSmooth Mode (C).

Position Mode is the one to start with and enables the flight controller to do it’s thing and essentially utilises GPS and sensors to keep the drone rock steady in flight.

In Position mode the max ascent speed is 2m/s, descent speed is 8m/s and max speed is 1.8m/s, so a nice steady pace.

Switch to Sports mode and everything speeds up, to 4m.s ascent, 3m/s descent and a very respectable 13m/s max speed.

The final mode CineSmooth, this smooths out the controls and slows the flight controller down to an ascent speed of 1.5m/s, descent to 1m/s and max speed of just 4m/s. This gives you accurate control over the drone when filming.

The max height that the Mavic Mini can fly is 3000m, this is way above the legal limit and would make the drone impossible to see anyway.

An intelligent battery is included and this gives a stated flight duration by DJI of 30 mins in ideal conditions.

Inside and helping the Mavic Mini with accurate flight is GPS and GLONASS.

On the front of the drone is the small camera which is mounted on a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. This does an amazing job of smoothing out the footage.

Inside the camera is a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 12-million effective pixels.

The lens offers an 83º field of view with an aperture of f/2.8 and shooting range of 1m to infinity.

Although the camera is slightly limited compared to that of the very similar OSMO Pocket camera, you can still shoot 2.7K video at 25/30fps and 1080p at 25/30/50/60fps.

This footage is captured at 40mb/s not too bad, but quite a bit below DJI’s other imaging devices that feature in Mavic drones, OSMO Pocket and of course the Action.

There’s also quite a bit of scope for the sensitivity adjustment with an auto-range of between 100-3200. In Stills mode, you have the option to manually adjust the range between 100 and 1600 ISO.

DJI Mavic Mini Review
Build Quality

DJI has set the standard when it comes to drone build quality, from their cheapest Spark drone through to the professional models.

The Mavic Mini is a testament to DJI design engineers skill with material and feature choices that essentially blast many of the other models in the range out of the skies.

A lightweight plastic body shrouds the electronics, and although it feels marginally less robust than the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom, it’s still one up on the compact Spark.

What’s even more impressive is that despite the weight loss, the features and imaging potential are still at the forefront.

Unfolding the arms and flipping out the small props shows that DJI know their material choices and while light, it doesn’t feel at all flimsy or even plasticy.

Everything has the usual firm and robust feel, as you flip down the battery hatch you can see where those weight savings have been made with full plastic construction and metal only being used where it’s essential.

Features like quick-release props have been foregone in the quest for weight saving, so if you do unfortunately snap a blade, you’ll need to be a little more hands-on with the repair.

This is no big issue with each blade being individually screwed into the rotor of the motor and easily swappable in less than a minute.

Preparing for first flight with the Mavic Mini

DJI take staying within the law as well as safety very seriously. As I’ve learnt over the years before heading out, make sure that the drone, handset and App are all updated with the latest firmware.

DJI has a feature which means that unless everything is running on the latest version, then you’ll be grounded. This wouldn’t be an issue if the downloads for those firmware and software updates were small, but some can be quite weighty.

Ensuring that the battery is all fully charged, App is updated along with the handset and drone I’m ready to head out.

Unpacking the small Drone takes seconds, flip and unfold the arms and the drone itself is prepared. Before switch on you need to attach your phone to the handset.

The controller is again made from high-quality plastic, with the two control sticks needing to be bolted in before use. There’s also a cable that needs to be used to connect the phone and controller to enable the livestream and control from the App.

There are several cables in the box dependent on the type of phone you have, and I must admit fitting this through the controller and into the base of the phone was a bit of a challenge. The cable is only just long enough.

This may have something to do with my choice of phone, which is a Huawei P30 Pro, just at the limit of what will fit within the controller’s arms.

After a few minutes, I had everything connected, loaded the App, powered on the controller and then the drone.

After flipping through the Apps screens, I was ready for the first flight.

As ever before flying and using the App you need to log in with your DJI account, again something to run through in the comfort of your own home rather than in the field.

On the front of the drone is a small protective shield that protects the small camera; this needs to be removed before flight.

On the home screen of the App there’s a simple launch button, tap this, confirm, and the props spin and the Mavic Mini launches to 1m above the ground.

As default, the drone on test was set in the Position mode, which enables those new to flight to get the hang of the drone and its control before unleashing the full power.

Video and stills can be controlled through the App, or there are a couple of direct controls on the handset, which makes things easy.

All video and stills settings can be accessed through the App, and the quality options are easily accessible and adjustable.

The first flight proved that while some of the features such as object avoidance have been stripped from the Mavic Mini, it’s still a very competent drone.

DJI Mavic Mini Review
Performance

Again as with previous Mavic drones, the stability of flight is the first thing that stands out. It’s almost as if there’s a pole holding the drone steady in the air, there’s no drift or wandering.

A slight tap of the control stick in any direction and the Mavic Mini instantly responds, and the automatic break tilts the small drone to once again holt its movement.

Once I’d familiarised myself with the controls, it was time to unleash the full power and see what the drone was capable of in Sports Mode.

Speed and agility are precisely what I would expect from DJI, it was fast, responsive, and as ever great fun to fly. But, let’s not forget that this is a Mavic, not a Spark and it’s been designed for imaging.

On the front is that small Osmo style camera and when I looked at the OSMO earlier in the year, I was impressed by the quality from such a small camera.

While the camera looks the same, there are some differences, the main one being that the maximum resolution is only 2.7k rather than 4k, which is a shame.

The field of view is also different at 83º rather than 80º, not that you’d be able to tell, but this is tuned to aerial imaging rather than ground-based work.

While it appears the sensor is the same, the processor must have had to have been reduced to hit that 249g target, and as you read down the spec’s list, you do start to see a few other differences.

The max video bitrate is just 40mb/s rather than the impressive 100mb/s. What this means is that if you’re flying through trees or close to the ground, some of that detail just isn’t there.

High above the ground, this isn’t that noticeable unless you had visuals from the two side-by-side.

Likewise, you can compare the exquisite quality of the Mavic2 Pro or Zoom against the Mavic Mini; they are in a different class.

However, while the quality might not match that of the two Mavic 2 drones, the quality is still good and enables you to capture outstanding video footage.

What is nice to see are all the preprogrammed flight modes such as Dronie, Rocket, Circle and Helix. The visual effect of these is impressive and enables you to capture shots that would otherwise be almost impossible unless in the hands of a skilled operator.

The more you use the Mavic Mini, the more you see where the features have been paired back, video resolution, simplified flight modes, no object avoidance etc, but this is still a solid option.

Stills quality as with the video is also good, enabling you to capture those aerial shots that can only be caught with a drone. Here again, however, is another issue.

On other Mavic drone, you can add filters to ensure the right shutter speed, polarization etc. It may be possible to add filters, but by doing so, you’ll bust through that 250g weight limit which means that you’ll need to register.

Of course, DJI has thought of this and there is a smaller capacity Intelligent Flight Battery which weighs in at 50g less. More than enough to compensate for the weight of a filter, that’s very clever.

There is another small issue. This Drone is small and light coloured, that means that unless you have super sight once it’s more than a couple of hundred meters away, it becomes a speck.

By the rules of the drone code, the Drone must always be insight, here with the DJI Mavic Mini it may be a speck, but with no lights on the base, it’s easy to lose orientation at a significant distance.

DJI Mavic Mini Review
Verdict

The compact Mavic Mini has a great deal to offer all levels of drone pilot. Primarily its small compact size and weight mean that it fits easily into your kit bag alongside the rest of your kit.

It may not have the visual quality of the more substantial and more weighty Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom, but it will always be with you when you need it to shoot stunning aerial shots.

However, the pro and amateur photographer is not where this drone is aimed. This is for all those just starting out and who want to capture stunning shots without needing to worry about breaking the law and going through the drone registration.

You will, of course still need to adhere to the drone code, but it opens up a wealth of opportunity for families and others looking for something fun.

The small camera, despite its limitations, is still an excellent access point for those looking to use a drone for filming and stills photography.

The usual DJI flight controller is as solid as ever, enabling almost anyone to fly with no prior experience. The built-in flight modes add an extra level of creativity, allowing you to get amazing sequences without hours of practice.

DJI has been savvy with the feature set of the Mavic Mini, it offers enough for anyone to get a great deal of enjoyment out of this small drone and what’s more, it’s a fantastic price.

As a package, the DJI Mavic Mini is excellent for anyone starting out with aerial photography. For those wanting more, I would advise spending more for the full 4K and visual stills quality of either the Zoom or Pro.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
DJI Mavic Mini
Author Rating
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