DJI’s New Mini 3 May Be Ideal for Recreational Fliers
DJI so thoroughly dominates the global drone market that it’s hard not to take notice of any new DJI product offering. And the new DJI Mini 3, which the company has billed as a stripped-down version of its popular DJI Mini 3 Pro, is no exception. The Mini 3 is about $200 cheaper and has almost the same functional capabilities as the Pro 3, but it’s somewhat easier to operate. In fact, some of Mini 3’s reduced functionality, such as its less powerful camera, which helps reduce the sales price, probably won’t be noticed by first-time drone buyers; they’ll be too busy just learning how to fly.
That said, one functional reduction could prove concerning: the Mini 3 lacks the advanced sense-and-avoid technology of the Pro3, so newcomers shouldn’t pretend to be daredevils just yet. Flying their drone too close to the objects and people they’re filming could easily result in collisions and crashes, and the need for costly repairs.
On the plus side – and it’s a big plus – the Mini 3 offers its users a much higher flight duration than the Pro 3 – 38 minutes non-stop with standard batteries, but as much as 52 minutes non-stop with “extended” batteries (which are available in the US but not in Europe). Critics note that these robust flight times assume near-perfect weather conditions – for example, no wind resistance. But even so, Mini 3 users should be able to fly continuously for 30-32 minutes, compared to just 20-23 minutes for the Pro 3. That’s no slight advantage, especially for newbies notorious for letting their drones get away from them.
And don’t worry, if you do lose track of your Mini 3, it possesses the same built-in return function as the Pro 3; if the battery runs dangerously low, the drone is programmed to return to its user automatically.
The Mini 3 also enjoys a special feature known as “Quick Shots” that should hold great appeal for social media users. With “QuickShots,” the user can shoot short postable videos without the need to pilot the craft or continually maneuver the camera. One type of shot, called “Dronie,” focuses on the subject in close up then pans away to reveal the larger background. In another pre-programmed shot, dubbed “Circle,” the camera moves 360 degrees around its subject.
Some critics complain that DJI’s Mini 3 isn’t a major advance over its Mini 2, which also targeted recreational fliers. In fact, the Mini 2 is $110 cheaper, without the remote controller; its sticker price (less than $450) might be somewhat easier for some first-time hobbyists to swallow. But the Mini 3’s upgrades are enough to justify a slightly more expensive product offering. And it comes just in time for Xmas.
Ultimately, the market will reveal whether DJI was right about the needs of the drone consumer. The company – which accounts for 76% of the global drone market, and grossed nearly $4 billion in 2021– usually is.