When I flew the Mavic Air drone last year, I marveled at how DJI managed to make a drone so small yet so nimble and easy to fly, that delivered such good video – all at a reasonable price. With the Mavic Mini, DJI has improved on the Air in nearly every aspect. This newer $400 device is even smaller, yet is just as easy to fly, plus it can stay in the air even longer than its predecessor. While the Mavic Mini can’t shoot 4K video, the footage it captures is every bit as good, and should be more than enough for most casual fliers. It’s now my top pick for the best drone.
DJI Mavic Mini price and availability
The DJI Mavic Mini first shipped in November 2019, and is available in two configurations: The $399 Bundle offers the drone, a remote control, one battery, extra propellers and all necessary tools. The $499 Fly More combo includes the drone, controller, three batteries, a two-way charging hub, the propeller cage, three sets of extra propellers and a carrying case that’s the size of a lunch box.
DJI Mavic Mini design
DJI revolutionized drone design with the folding arms of the original Mavic Pro, which made it much easier to transport.
The Mavic Mini doesn't really break any ground in this regard — it's essentially a smaller version of the other Mavic drones. However, DJI was able to shave enough weight off the Mini to bring it down to 249 grams (or 8.8 ounces) — one gram shy of the weight that would require you to register the drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It's even lighter than the DJI Spark, the next-smallest drone in the company's lineup. Take that, Feds!
DJI did note that adding the propeller guard brings the Mini's weight above 250 grams, but whatever. The Mini is truly compact, though – more so than DJI's other drones: The device easily fits in the palm of my hand; you can stuff the Mini in a backpack and still have room for plenty of other stuff.
This doesn’t mean that you can fly the Mini anywhere you choose. You still have to follow the rules as any other drone operator does; you just don’t have to register the device with the FAA.
DJI Mavic Mini flight performance: So smooth, but watch out for wind
Because of its lighter weight, the Mavic Mini is more prone to being blown around than its larger, heavier siblings. While the flight software was very good about keeping the Mini in place, I did receive more strong wind warnings in the DJI app than I do with its other drones.
Still, the Mini Mavic was just as easy to fly, and remarkably stable. After lifting off, it would hover in place, waiting for my input on the controller. Gentle tugs on the joysticks was all that it took to get the drone to fly in any direction I wanted.
You have to be a bit more careful piloting the Mini than DJI’s other drones. The device has collision-avoidance sensors, but they’re only forward- and downward-facing. The Mavic 2 has sensors on all sides, while the Mavic Air has forward-, backward and downward facing sensors.
With a max speed of around 29 miles per hour, the Mini is a bit slower than the Air, which can reach speeds of 43 miles per hour. This drone also has a lower ceiling (1.9 miles vs. 3.1 miles), though it’s doubtful you’d take either one that high.
DJI Mavic Mini camera: Good enough
In the front of the Mini is a 3-axis, gimbal-mounted camera, which produces some very stable images and video. Its 1/2.3-inch sensor can take 12-megapixel images and video at resolutions up to 2.7K at 30 frames per second (fps).
That's lower than DJI's other Mavic drones (the Mavic Air, for example, can take 4K video at 30 fps and 1080p video at 120 fps, while its successor, the DJI Mavic Air 2, can take 4K video at 120 fps), so there are some trade-offs to be made at this price.
However, the overall quality of the videos and photos I took with the Mavic Mini were excellent for the price. In one video, the red leaves of a tree really popped against the green grass. In another video, when I flew the Mini above the treeline in New Jersey, I could easily make out the New York skyline in the background.
Mavic Mini battery life
One of the best features of the Mavic Mini is its estimated 30-minute battery life. That's the same flight time as the Mavic 2 Pro, which costs more than twice as much, and 10 minutes longer than the Mavic Air. This was largely borne out in my testing, though if you’re flying in stronger winds, you’ll find that battery life drops as the drone works harder to stay in position. However, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has slightly longer endurance, at 34 minutes.
The DJI Mavic Mini is another excellent addition to the company's drone lineup, and is a refinement of what a casual drone pilot wants. While the Mavic Mini has fewer features and a lower-resolution camera than DJI’s pricier drones, their absence won’t be missed by someone who wants to fly around a drone every so often. What will matter is the Mavic Mini’s $399 starting price, ease of use and its half-hour endurance, more than enough flight time for you to get your fix.