DJI Mini 3 sacrifices collision avoidance, gets $260 cheaper

DJI Mini 3 sacrifices collision avoidance, gets $260 cheaper

The new DJI Mini 3 photographed in flight against a gray background.

Image: DJI

The cost of everything from gas to groceries keeps rising, but DJI seems to be the only company tackling inflation head-on, by releasing more affordable versions of its most popular drones. It was first the DJI Mavic 3 Classic: a cheaper version without Mavic 3’s original telephoto lensand now it’s the DJI Mini 3, which sacrifice it The best feature of the Pro version: automatic obstacle avoidance.

When the DJI Mini 3 Pro arrived in May, earlier this year, was a testament to the years the company has spent honing its skills in building drones. Even with a foldable design that made the drone small enough to fit in a coat pocket when folded, it still included a camera with a 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor capable of capturing 4K video at 60 ips in portrait or landscape orientation, a wireless video transmission range of 12 kilometers, improved flight times and “three-way obstacle detection”.” This lesser feature uses forward, backward and downward pointing sensors to help the drone actively detect and avoid obstacles in its flight path. It also did all of this while weighing only 249 grams, allowing it to be used by amateur pilots for non-commercial recreational purposes without having to register the DJI Mini 3 Pro with the FAA.

The only big drawback of DJI Mini 3 Pro was its price of $669, which did not to understand his controller required. While an ideal drone for hobbyists who don’t want to go through the FAA registration process, the Mini 3 Pro was far from cheap, but that’s where the new DJI Mini 3 enters the scene, losing the “Pro” designation and around $260. on the price of the drone alone.

The new DJI Mini 3 in flight against a pastel pink and blue background.

The new DJI Mini 3 has an extra pair of support feet under the front propellers.
Image: DJI

Although the cosmetic differences between the DJI Mavic 3 and DJI Mavic 3 Classic the drones were almost unnoticeable, there are some notable differences between the new DJI Mini 3 and the original Pro version, including the conspicuous lack of optical sensors on the right above the gyrostabilized camera and an additional pair of support legs under the two forward propellers.

The folded DJI Mini 3 Pro sitting next to the folded DJI Mini 3.

The DJI Mini 3 Pro (left) against the new DJI Mini 3 (right).
Image: DJI

It still includes the same camera and sensor as the Pro version, plus the ability to capture 4K/60fps video with the camera in landscape mode or rotated 90 degrees, but the removal of “three-way obstacle detection” is quite a loss, because it was almost like having a little extra assurance that your drone would return safely, even to those who were far from qualified pilots. The Mini 3 also sees wireless video transmission ranges increased from 12 kilometers to 10 kilometers, a step down from the range offered by the Mavic Mini 2.

If there’s a silver lining to the loss of obstacle avoidance, in addition to a cheaper price, the DJI Mini 3 manages to get slightly longer flight times from its standard battery: up to at 38 minutes against 34 minutes on the pro. Users can also swap out the optional larger Smart Flight Battery Plus to increase maximum flight times up to 51 minutes, up from 47 minutes with the Pro, at the cost of pushing the drone’s weight beyond 250 grams, making it illegal to fly without FAA registration.

The DJI Mini 3 folded next to the DJI RC controller on a blue background.

Image: DJI

The new DJI Mini 3 will start at $409 when it becomes available early next year, but unless you’re already a DJI drone pilot with existing hardware, that price is moot. Beginners will instead have to shell out $499 for the Mini 3 that comes with the older DJI RC-N1 remote controller (requiring a smartphone to preview streaming video from the drone) or $639 for a bundle with the new DJI RC controller, which has its own integrated touch screen.

If you trust the controls, the cheapest entry point for the DJI Mini 3 is definitely tempting, but if you’ve never flown a drone before, you should seriously consider splurging on the DJI Mini 3 Pro, because its obstacle avoidance could one day save you from a very costly accident.

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