The DJI Mavic Mini is DJI’s tiniest drone yet, weighing in at 249 grams.
Yes, that’s less than 250 grams. That means, the new Mavic Mini won’t fall under the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration, if you’re flying for hobby purchases. The FAA currently only requires drones flying for hobby purchases weighing 250 grams or more to be registered, which means you won’t have to register your Mavic Mini. Canada also requires drones 250 grams or more to be registered.
250 grams is the same as 0.55 lbs, or, in the FAA’s words, the equivalent of two sticks of butter. (Keep in mind that all drones flying for commercial purposes must be registered.)
What’s more: this drone is clearly designed to exempt it from regulations. DJI is also releasing an 199-gram version specific for Japan’s customers, as that complies with Japan’s regulations on micro-UAVs.
The smartphone-size is clearly the wow factor on this drone. Otherwise, the specs, like the camera and other safety features are pretty expected, with the camera a step down from DJI’s existing models (of course it’s impressive that they can pack it all into such a tiny drone). The Mavic Mini drone is clearly designed for drone newbies, likely not photographers or other professionals.
That makes the Mavic Mini is DJI’s smallest (official) drone yet. DJI has somewhat claimed the 80 gram Tello drone, though it’s officially made by Ryze Technology, just based on DJI equipment. That drone, which costs less than $100, is focused on teaching kids the basics of programming.
How the DJI Mavic Mini stacks up in size to other DJI drones:
|Takeoff Weight||Diagonal Distance|
|DJI Mavic Mini||249 grams||213 mm|
|DJI Spark||300 grams||170 mm|
|DJI Mavic Air||430 grams||213 mm|
|DJI Mavic Pro||734 grams||335 mm|
|DJI Phantom 4 Advanced||1,368 grams||350 mm (propellers excluded)|
The Mavic Mini is available well ahead of the holiday season. It’s on sale now for just $399, and is expected to ship 10-15 business days after payment confirmation. It’s also available for pre-order now on B&H Photo, shipping on Nov. 11.
And it’s so tiny, it could even be a stocking stuffer (though given the decent price tag, let’s hope Santa thinks you’ve been super nice this year).
That’s good news for DJI to capitalize on holiday seasons. The Mavic Air missed the 2017 holiday season frenzy, instead launching in January 2018 for $799. And it looks like DJI is expecting that orders for this drone could get crazy. Currently, each customer can only purchase one unit from DJI’s site.
The Mavic Mini has 30 minutes of flight time.
Flying the Mavic Mini: safe for newbies and kids
There’s more to the Mavic Mini than just it’s uber-small size. While it was designed to be exempt from regulations, DJI is clearly still keeping safety top of mind: in a way self-regulating and policing themselves.
The drone has its own remote controller, so unlike many other small drones on the market, you won’t need to rely on a smartphone to fly it. (Of course, you can use your smartphone, which fits in the remote controller clamp, to integrate with DJI’s app, which we recommend).
In fact, you can only operate Mavic Mini by using the remote controller.
Flight modes: It comes with a variety of flight modes, but one mode called S mode, sets the maximize flight speed at just 13 m/s.
No obstacle avoidance: Likely to both cut back on cost and on weight, this drone doesn’t have obstacle avoidance, a feature that has quickly become the norm in DJI’s most recent drones.
Other safety features: While there’s no obstacle avoidance, the Mavic Mini does have a 360° Propeller Guard to fully protect the propellers, something you see in many existing toy drones today. It also still has the Return to Home function, available in DJI’s current lineup of drones.
Mavic Mini camera
The Mavic Mini is targeted at drone newbies, not professionals, so the camera is lesser quality than what you’ll find on DJI’s drones. There’s still a 3-axis gimbal, so you can expect silky smooth footage.
But instead of the 4K camera you’ll find on most DJI drones, it’s a 2.7K camera. The Mavic Mini is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with up to 12 million effective pixels.
There is no auto tracking, and no internal storage (I love this feature on the Mavic Air), so you’ll need to always have your MicroSD card with you.
What the Mavic Mini’s small size (and no need to register it) means for the drone industry
DJI’s new, teeny drone could make waves throughout the industry. Drone registration, while controversial, has been a way for industry experts to gather data on the industry’s growth. With a $5 registration fee, it was a small revenue driver for the FAA. And perhaps most importantly (in my opinion, at least), it was a way to exchange contact information with the FAA, so they can provide you with relevant news and safety information.
But now, with potentially thousands of DJI Mavic Mini’s under Christmas trees this year, that information is gone. But instead, it could be a whole new crop of drone pilots. Many people, and even some Drone Girl readers, in fact, have expressed hesitation to purchase a drone over registration requirements. It’s not uncommon for people to tell me they want a drone, but have avoided it because they don’t want to accidentally break a law. With this, DJI has new customers, and the drone industry potentially has many new pilots. That’s a good thing in my view: the Mavic Mini is clearly a starter drone anyway, and could inspire someone to take on a more serious career in drones and move into the commercial side of things.
And yes, the Mavic Mini also means that DJI’s huge market share is likely about to get bigger than ever.
DJI has been vocal in political conversations around drone safety requirements, having funded studies and participated in government committees around safety standards.
One “scientific report from DJI concluded that drones weighing up to 2.2 kilograms can be safely flown with the lowest risk to people, far higher than the FAA’s 250 gram threshold used for registration purposes,” a 2017 news release from DJI stated.
But for DJI, building a drone under the current threshold standard has turned out to be far simpler than getting the FAA to raise its standards to drones weighing more than a pound.
The Mavic Mini is the first DJI product launch in more than a year that’s a brand new drone (not an update or refresh to an existing model). Most of DJI’s launches in recent months have been ground based cameras, such as the Osmo Pocket which was released during the 2018 holiday season and the Osmo Action, a small action camera released earlier this year and designed to compete directly with the GoPro Hero. Though, last summer, DJI improved upon its original Mavic with a major update, the Mavic 2, that included options for telephoto lenses and a Hasselblad camera.
The Mavic Mini is also smaller than another newly released by DJI competitor Yuneec, the Mantis G. That drone resembles the Mavic line in form, but weighs in at 505 grams.
The Mavic Mini is on sale now for just $399 through DJI’s site, as well as for $399 on B&H Photo.
There’s also a $499 Fly More Combo edition available, which includes accessories the stock Mavic Mini doesn’t have, such as a 360° propeller guard, 2-way charging hub, 18W USB charger, and a carrying case.
Will you be ordering one? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!