DJI Mavic drone without phone controller

How to fly a DJI Mavic drone without a phone

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about flying the DJI Mavic drone without phone use. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I have a Mavic Mini. Is there a controller that works with this one that does not require a cell phone?

A cell phone is not required to fly DJI Mavic Mini drones (or any other Mavic drone), and neither is a tablet.

To fly most DJI Mavic drones without a smartphone, you basically have three options: 1. Fly with just the controller, though you’ll lose a lot of functionality, 2. Fly with a tablet instead of a smartphone, or 3. Fly with the DJI Smart Controller (though it is compatible with most DJI Mavic drones, it’s not compatible with the DJI Mavic Mini or the Mini 2).

Mavic Mini controller
Most people fly with a phone connected to their DJI Mavic drones to use the features of DJI’s app, but it’s not necessary. Image courtesy of DJI.

Here’s what you need to know about flying a DJI Mavic drone without phone use:

1. Fly your DJI Mavic Mini with just the controller

You don’t actually need a smartphone to operate your DJI Mavic Mini. As long as you take off using the included Mavic Mini controller, it’ll take off just fine.

But here’s the thing: we don’t recommend this option. You’ll almost certainly have a lesser experience, as you won’t be able to make use of the DJI Fly app. That means you won’t have access to the intelligent flight modes and live video feed.

The DJI Fly app is absolutely awesome in allowing you to have a better flying experience. Among the things you can do with the DJI Fly app:

Better control your flight: With parameters like signal strength, flying mode, altitude, distance, and battery level, easily visible during flight, you’ll always have access to the latest information.

Adjust camera settings: The DJI Fly app allows you to easily adjust camera parameters with a single tap, quickly switch between shooting modes, and adjust the gimbal angle on the screen.

Quickly edit post-flight: Shooting, editing, and sharing can all be done in-app, and you can export or delete footage directly in the app.

The DJI Fly app requires either iOS 11.0 or above, or Android 6.0 or above.

2. Fly your DJI Mavic drone with a tablet instead

If you’re specifically opposed to using a smartphone with your Mavic Mini but are not necessarily opposed to all external devices, consider a tablet, such as an iPad. The Mavic Mini remote controller can be used with an iPad. That way you can still use the aforementioned DJI Fly app.

However, keep in mind that the app firmware is not yet optimized for iPads, so don’t be alarmed if you spot some minor issues. Though, DJI says it is “currently working to optimize this device for use.”

Also, it’s worth noting that the included cable may not be long enough to connect to your iPad. In this case, consider a Micro USB OTG cable, which can be purchased from the DJI Online Store.

DJI Smart Controller
The DJI Smart Controller eliminates the need for connecting your own smartphone. Though, it’s not compatible with the DJI Mavic Mini.

3. Upgrade to the DJI Smart Controller (though not compatible with Mavic Mini)

One of DJI’s best accessories as of late is the DJI Smart Controller, making it so you no longer need a smartphone or tablet to control your DJI drone, but you can still get the live video feed and adjust all possible settings.

DJI launched its Smart Controller in 2019, which has a built-in 5.5” screen and an ultra-bright display with an output of 1000 cd/m2, twice the brightness of standard smart phones. Essentially, the new DJI Smart Controller will perform the same functions that the DJI Go app on your phone or tablet used to do — but way better.

Unfortunately, it is only compatible with the Mavic Air 2, Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Enterprise Series, Phantom 4 Pro V2.0. Alas, it won’t provide any use for Mavic Mini pilots. Another big drawback (even if the Smart Controller is compatible with your drone): the price tag. While the DJI Smart Controller is undeniably awesome, it also comes with a steep, $750 price tag.

4 Comments

  • RUDY VERAS says:

    I have a mavic air 2, and an android device I have not been able to fly my dji because of some bs. Now I think that for the price I paid a smart controller should come with each dji drone. So that there is no need for all the other stuff. Unless you could use android as well. Now for the price I think up I should fix it now.

  • chris raffard says:

    UPDATE!: the DJI Mavic Mini 2 is now compatible with the DJI smart controller, as per the newest firmware update v.01.03.0000

  • PennyW says:

    You can also fly the Mavic Air without a phone or the controller.
    Start the Mavic Air, clicking the flashing light in the back twice and you will hear the beep twice.
    Now you can control the drone with your palm. No controller or phone.
    Palm wave up to lift the drone, peace sign snaps a picture, draw a frame and video starts (and stop with the same gesture again)!
    Palms together facing the drone will bring it closer whole moving them apart pushes the drone back, it will follow you as well.

  • Ken Linder says:

    FYI the word “wifi” only has one meaning. If a tech isn’t covered by the 802.11 standard then it isn’t wifi. Your router usually has wifi as one way to connect to it. It might be able to connect to a cell network too. Your cordless phone uses a different form of radio communication. Your cell phone uses the cell network (2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, 5G) and probably *can* use wifi as well. They are not interchangeable things. Stop using the word “wifi” as it is a generic term. It is a highly specific term. This habit is about as accurate as calling a carrot a sequoia.

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