The first generation Mavic Mini was a great drone in its time, packing DJI’s smart design and technology into a tiny body that falls just under the weight limit that would require registration in many countries. It was great for casual exploration, but a lack of features and a mediocre camera held it back from being useful for much else. The release of the Mini 2 (sans ‘Mavic’ branding) brought near feature parity with the higher-end models and a substantially better camera, but the image quality was still not quite up to the standards of pixel peepers. Now DJI is pushing beyond normal iterative upgrades with its latest model, the DJI Mini 3 Pro, pairing the tiny frame with a much more powerful camera and a new gimbal that rotates 90 degrees for vertical video.
The Mini 3 Pro looks exactly like a shrunken version of almost any other current consumer drone from DJI, excluding the FPV. It shares the same color scheme, with an off-white body and dark gray propellers. The familiar folding arms are there, but unlike most previous models, you don’t have to unfold them in a specific order. However, one thing common to the Mini family is the lack of spring-loaded mounts for the propellers. If they have to be replaced, you’ll have to use a screwdriver to remove a pair of screws on each set of propellers. Of course, this won’t be an issue if you can avoid hitting any trees or buildings.
Of course, the distinguishing feature of the Mini series is weight. Many governments and regulatory bodies require drones to be registered if they clock in at 250g or more. DJI has designed this model to slide in just under that threshold at 249g or less. Bear in mind that some countries may still require the pilot to carry a license to fly, even if the drone doesn’t require registration. Check the drone laws in your country (or destination countries) for details.
The Mini 3 Pro design is slightly more optimized for forward motion than its predecessor, but it generally flies like any recent Mavic drone. All of the drones in this family are very easy and pretty safe to fly, so there’s not much to it.
Moderate to high wind will push it around, as you’d expect with any drone. However, the lightweight body of the Mini 3 does make it a little more susceptible to big gusts. The built-in gimbal can compensate for any shake the wind introduces, but you may want a heavier drone if you need to hover perfectly in place. Suppose winds pick up after you’ve already taken off. In that case, the redesigned body and stronger motors on the Mini 3 seem to make it more capable of flying into headwinds compared to the previous Mini models.
One thing I found myself missing from the larger models is more substantial obstacle avoidance. The Mini 3 Pro has sensors for detecting obstructions to the front, bottom, and rear, the latter of which I didn’t find to be entirely reliable. These sensors have a decently wide peripheral view. However, there’s still a relatively large blind spot on the sides that won’t protect you, especially since most of them are disabled in intelligent flight modes, including lateral movement.
Flight times always stretch a little further with every generation, and that trend continues as the Mini 3 Pro climbs to 34 minutes in the air compared to the 31 minutes of the Mini 2. An extra three minutes may not seem like much, but once you factor in takeoff, landing, and time to frame a shot, that extra 10% is more like 15% or 20% additional time actually shooting.
For anybody that needs even more duration, DJI is also selling a ‘Flight Battery Plus’ that can last a whopping 47 minutes. However, this battery weighs more than the standard model, meaning the combined weight crosses the 250g threshold that allowed the drone to avoid registration.
During my time with the Mini 3 Pro using the standard battery, I could get up to about 27 minutes of usable flight while recording 4K video before I needed to bring it back in. After that, it takes about an hour to charge back to full. The ‘Plus’ battery wasn’t available to try out at the time of review.
Thanks to the new 12.1MP 1/1.3-inch sensor, which is capable of capturing 48MP photos, image quality is incredibly good for such a small and lightweight drone.
There is a small loss of sharpness towards the edges of the frame when shooting stills, which is typical of most consumer drones, and lateral chromatic aberrations can be visible along high-contrast subject edges, but this isn’t a major issue.
The Mini 3 Pro’s ISO handling is, without a doubt, excellent. There’s virtually no additional noise visible in raw files in any of the settings above ISO 100, all the way up to the maximum ISO 6400. Natural color reproduction is also maintained, which means you can confidently shoot at any ISO setting.
The Mini 3 Pro’s camera uses dual native ISO capturing technology, and the move has certainly paid off. When this ISO handling is combined with the fast f/1.7 aperture, the Mini 3 Pro is a low-light powerhouse.