DJI has officially announced its newest drone, the Mini 3 Pro, and the name is no joke. It's the same size as the company's other "Mini" drones — weighing in at just 249 grams, or a little over half a pound, making it small enough that you don't have to register it in most regions — but it's decked out with more "Pro" features that make flying (and, y'know, avoiding trees and other obstacles) and capturing high-resolution photos and videos quite easy.
I've been testing the Mini 3 Pro for the better part of a week, and I must admit that it feels very similar to the Mavic Air 2, DJI's midrange drone that I reviewed nearly two years ago. The big difference, of course, is size; it's less than half the weight, with the Air 2 hitting the scales at 570 grams. Additionally, the Mini 3 Pro is slightly more affordable, and it comes with a few "quality-of-life" improvements that make flying the Mini 3 Pro a breeze.
Here's what I discovered after spending some time with DJI's newest drone.
The Mini 3 Pro is easy to fly.
For me, the best thing about the Mini 3 Pro is how easy it is to fly and capture truly cinematic content. The Mini 3 Pro has more object avoidance sensors than any previous "Mini" drone, which basically makes it nearly impossible to crash. It supports DJI's Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) technology, so if the drone detects that it's going to run into something, it slows down and automatically finds a safer path around obstacles during flight — without you, the pilot, having to do anything. And on top of that, it supports the latest version of DJI's FocusTrack tracking ability, so it'll keep the subject stays in the center of the frame when tracking them.
The Mini 3 Pro packs the best quality camera found in a "mini" drone.
The Mini 3 Pro boasts a camera with a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor and a f/1.7 aperture. This enables it to shoot 48-megapixel stills and video up to 4K at 60 fps (though 4K HDR maxes out at 30 fps). For context, the Mini 2 maxes out at 4K at 30 fps, can only shoot 12-megapixel stills — and, of course, lacks all the cool video capturing and object avoidance features listed above.
The real beauty of the Mini 3 Pro's camera system and advanced sensors is that it gives the drone almost unbelievable photo-and-video capturing abilities. You can simply select a subject and one of the several capturing maneuvers — which DJI calls "QuickShots" — and the drone will fly off, do a huge loop or spiral (or something else), and return with a super cinematic shot. It's as easy as pressing a few buttons.
Additionally, DJI gave the Mini 3 Pro a unique ability that it is calling "True Vertical Shooting." It allows the camera to turn 90 degrees, or flip vertically, so that it can capture content that's already fit for uploading to Instagram. No cropping or zooming required. A definite nice trick for those who are mainly going to use the Mini 3 Pro for social media purposes.
This DJI has a new, smartphone-independent remote control.
When I reviewed the Mavic Air 2 almost two years ago, I said its secret weapon was the DJI Fly app that made doing everything from flying to capturing content super-easy. And the Mini 3 Pro uses that exact same app — but DJI has taken things a step further by selling it with a fancy new remote control, which DJI calls the DJI RC, that comes with a 5.5-inch touchscreen display.
Not only does the new remote control work flawlessly, but it also doesn't require your smartphone, which was previously needed to be attached to the top of the controller so that you could use its display, at all. You can fly the Mini 3 Pro and keep your smartphone in your pocket.
Of course, this fancy new controller comes at a price. A pretty big price, in fact: The DJI Mini 3 Pro that comes with the DJI RC costs $909. If you're cool using the old remote that requires your smartphone, you can purchase the Mini 3 Pro for $150 less. (You can also purchase it without a controller for $669, but you should only do this if you already have a DJI controller.)
The Mini 3 Pro can fly longer than most drones.
Despite its diminutive size, the Mini 3 Pro has a flight time of roughly 34 minutes — exactly the same as the much-larger the Mavic Air 2, and great compared to most consumer drones. DJI made some design adjustments to extend this flight time, such has making the propellers ever-so-longer and making the body more aerodynamic.
The kicker, however, is that for the first time DJI is offering its drone with a larger battery, too. It's called the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, which costs an extra $95 but extends the flight time of the DJI Mini 3 Pro from 34 minutes to a whopping 47 minutes.
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is available for pre-order now.