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DJI Mini 3 Pro Review: The Entry-Level Drone Finally Grows Up

DJI’s grasp on the drone market has yet to loosen, and with the availability of its latest drone, it simply means even more variety for consumers. The DJI Mini 3 Pro flys under the FAA’s 250 gram limit for registration, which means you can start flying it the moment you get it.

While its compact size continues to be a standout feature, it’s certainly growing up because it’s no longer just an entry-level drone for beginners. Instead, the DJI Mini 3 Pro gains several new features and enhancements that commercial pilots and enthusiasts crave in the best drones. With all of the upgrades, there’s also a higher price point attached that puts it in the same territory as its other premium drones.

DJI Mini 3 Pro with DJI RC-N1

  

Specifications

  • Size: 7.2 x 3.1 x 2.9-inches
  • Weight: 12.31 ounces
  • Lenses: Polarized
  • Water Resistance: IPX2 rating
  • Battery: 5.5 hours
  

Included in the Box

  • Bose Frames Tenor
  • Polarized lenses
  • Carry case
  • Charging cable
  • Cleaning cloth
  

Setup: Ditch the Smartphone

Unlike its predecessors, the DJI Mini 3 Pro has the option to work with the brand new DJI RC Controller that streamlines the process of getting it set up and flying. It’s an all-in-one solution that features an integrated touchscreen, which eliminates the hassle of fastening and connecting a smartphone with the traditional DJI RC-N1 Controller.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Hands On First Look Review

I really like this setup because it takes fewer steps to start flying. In fact, it took me as quick as a couple of minutes from turning on the drone to taking off — whereas, with the DJI RC-N1 Controller, I had to remove the case off my phone, fasten it into the phone grip, and then attach the cable.

  

Design: Still Just as Compact

Remarkably, the engineers have somehow retained the same sub-250-gram weight that has made the series notable among drone enthusiasts — while adding obstacle avoidance sensors, a new gimbal and an upgraded camera.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Hands On First Look Review

Aesthetically, it very much follows the same fold-up design I’ve seen with previous drones in the series, so there’s nothing terribly new here. When it’s folded up, the DJI Mini 3 Pro has a similar footprint to many of today’s flagship smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro. For those looking to travel light, there are few that can match the lightweight package and compact size of the Mini 3 Pro.

  

Controls: A Cinch to Pilot

Since I’ve flown many other drones, it was a cinch to pilot the DJI Mini 3 Pro. Thanks to DJI’s O3 transmission, controls are tight and responsive. It also helps that the live 1080p/30fps feed is clear and reliable.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Hands On First Look Review

It’s extremely fun flying the drone, especially if you’re an experienced pilot. I’ve been flying it in sport mode to achieve its fastest speeds, but then switching to cinema mode to dial back the speed for some precise and smooth pans. What’s new is the ability for the camera to tilt up, which is a first for any DJI drone I’ve flown and opens up some new shots that were impossible to achieve previously.

  

Camera: More Than Enough

The DJI Mini 3 Pro packs an upgraded 12.1-megapixel 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor capable of producing 48-megapixel stills, which is a slightly larger sensor than what’s on the previous DJI Mini 2. Even though there’s the option to capture 48MP stills, I didn’t notice any substantial improvements over the standard 12.1MP shots. In fact, I found dynamic range better with the latter.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Camera Sample

Despite that, I found it excellent at capturing photos and videos on bright, sunny days. There are a fair amount of sharp details in the shots I captured, but I wouldn’t recommend cropping them too much. What I really enjoy about the DJI Mini 3 Pro is that it has access to the same set of shooting modes found in more premium drones like the DJI Air 2S and Mavic 3. From epic panoramic shots, to how it stitches a small planet, you don’t need to be a pro to capture and make incredible shots.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Camera Sample

Another notable improvement is moving up to 4K at 60fps video capture versus the 30fps rate of its predecessor. It’s a nice treat for serious pilots that prefer the silky-smooth look of video captured at 60fps, but I personally have used it to slow down the footage when exporting at 24fps.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Camera Sample

Quality-wise, there are plenty of crisp details and accurate-looking colors, but you don’t want to be using it much once the sun sets because there’s just too much noise in the footage. Furthermore, the details become muddier looking. I tried capturing a few shots of the super flower blood moon eclipse not too long ago, but the sensor just couldn’t handle low light as well.

  

Safety: Fly Confidently

Finally, the DJI Mini 3 Pro asserts itself as one of the safest drones to fly now that it’s been outfitted with proper obstacle avoidance sensors. It effectively makes for the perfect starter drone because it will slow down and even stop if it detects it’s getting too close to something — thus preventing any collisions.

I put it to the test by using its ActiveTrack 4.0 feature to track me while I walked through a park. Whenever it came close to something, it would pause and then either move around or over the obstacle to continue following me. I was especially impressed by how it managed to navigate over and around a swing set.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Hands On First Look Review

Of course, the new ActiveTrack 4.0 tech now lets the DJI Mini 3 Pro track and follow subjects, which opens a new door to content ideas. It was something that was missing on all the previous models, so having it finally here was a big relief.

  

Battery: Surprisingly Good

Keeping to the same weight and size as its predecessors, I was also impressed by the DJI Mini 3 Pro’s battery life. It’s rated for upwards of 34 minutes of flight time, but I was able to consistently have it in the air for at least 28 minutes with mixed usage. That’s still better than the original Mavic Mini and even the Mini 2. If you need extra flight time, you can buy the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus to push it to 47 minutes, but it’ll push the takeoff weight over that 250-gram limit — so you would need to register it with the FAA.

  

Our Verdict

On one hand, I’m inclined to say it’s the best starter drone because of all the upgrades it’s packing, like the new camera sensor, longer battery life, tracking capabilities and safety features. However, these upgrades make it pricier than ever before with a starting price of $759.

DJI Mini 3 Pro Hands On First Look Review

That’s a lot and puts it very close to the same territory as DJI’s mid-range drone in the Air 2S. It’s also much more expensive than the previous DJI Mini 2 at $449. If safety is paramount, then you’ll appreciate what the DJI Mini 3 Pro offers, even though you’ll have to fork over more for it.

  

So Should You Buy it?

Yes. First-time pilots will fly in confidence with its obstacle avoidance, while enthusiasts will have access to more modes to make their videos more epic-looking.

Pros

  • Extremely easy to fly
  • Does a great job of avoiding obstacles
  • Excellent battery life
  • Still compact and lightweight

Cons

  • It’s more expensive now
  • Still not great at low light

DJI Mini 3 Pro with DJI RC

  

How Long Will It Last?

The all-plastic construction makes it feel hollow, but it’s still put together nicely. Trust me, I’m still blown away by everything this tiny drone can do. There’s a one-year warranty included with the purchase that covers defects, but you can opt to get DJI’s Care Refresh extended warranty that starts at $79 for a one-year plan and covers accidental damage.

  

What Are Some of the Alternatives?

When it comes to tiny drones, DJI has several to choose from, but there’s also an alternative from another drone maker you may not be familiar with.

DJI Mini SE

Save yourself a lot of money and check out the DJI Mini SE, which is the most affordable drone in DJI’s portfolio. It’s still incredibly lightweight and smooth to fly, but it doesn’t have tracking abilities and safety features to avoid obstacles.

DJI Mini SE

  

Autel Robotics EVO Nano Plus

Closely matching it in features and performance, the Autel Robotics EVO Nano Plus is a similar drone that weighs under 250 grams to avoid FAA registration. You’ll find an incredibly agile drone here because it has obstacle avoidance sensors and the ability to track subjects.

Autel Robotics EVO Nano Plus

  

DJI Air 2S

Serious drone pilots that want better-looking photos and videos will want to look at the DJI Air 2S. Sure, it’s a beefier drone, but it flies incredibly smooth and offers that balance that content creators crave when it comes to capturing cinematic videos.

DJI Air 2S, best tech in 2021.

  
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