The latest in the DJI Mavic series of foldable drones has just been released. Weighing in at exactly 249g, you won’t need to register this drone in many countries, where the threshold is 250g. In Japan, the Mavic Mini is only 199g to come in under their 200g legal limit for unregiestered drones. Some very detailed calculations there from the folks at DJI!
We’ve put together some thoughts on the new DJI drone – please note, we have not yet tried this drone out so this is not an official review from us. To find out about the drones we have tested, tried and recommend for classroom use, see our Stem Gear. (There’s a handy educational discount also!)
The DJI Mavic Mini is the third in the Mavic range. So, how does it stack up compared to the Mavic Air and Pro models that have come before it?
To shave off the grams, they’ve made some compromises, and there are no obstacle avoidance sensors in the Mini (a good excuse to get better at flying). It’s worth noting that propeller guards will put you just over the edge of that 250 grams.
The camera is ‘only’ 12MP (the same as an iPhone 11), compared to the 20MP of the Pro.
It’s comparable to the Mavic Air though, and with 50% more flight time than the Air, the Mini looks like a really good option. Having access to 30 minutes of flight time is certainly substantial! So will the Air disappear or evolve? Perhaps they’ll wait for consumer-driven natural selection.
Getting hold of it
If you can’t wait to get your hands on one of these small size drones (DJI’s pre-Christmas release is no coincidence), get in touch for pre-orders now because these are expected to start shipping in the next two weeks!
The model by itself is $599 or $799 for the fly more combo (extra batteries etc) and if you are an educational institution, we’ll give you a discount as well.
Who’s using the Mavic Mini?
It’s clear that this has been designed for consumers to use as a video recording tool. The marketing is aimed at people who want to create cinematic shots as a way of capturing experiences and memories and even suggests personalising the drone with the Mavic Mini DIY Creative Kit.
The DJI Fly app also allows you to edit short video clips into a variety of creator templates, perfect for those wanting to create a quick travel vlog.
Pros and cons
Drones becoming consumer-friendly are always going to have areas that need to be talked about. In this case, with such a new technology, we think it’s more of a wait-and-see.
The good: A wider understanding of GPS systems, normalizing drone usage, making drone usage a positive.
The wait-and-see: Safety issues, mapping capabilities.
Here’s why these things are important, starting with our personal area of importance – mapping capabilities.
By this we mean, will the mapping apps integrate the Mini into their systems? Honestly, we suspect not. The Air and the Spark have not been integrated so this might be the DJI business model pushing you to the higher end models for these types of features – the Pro or Phantom. Which does make a lot of sense. There’ll always be a way to hack it to make a map, but it’s not tidy – see how I did it here with the Spark.
Wider understanding of GPS systems
Putting drones, and the software associated with them, in the hands of many consumers means that the realm of GPS finally goes beyond Google Maps and in-car navigation systems. Our work heavily involves educating people on the importance of geospatial science, an area of STEM experiencing exponential growth. But also an area of STEM that is a little unsexy currently!
We often use Google Maps to help people who have never heard of geospatial science understand what it means. With more people knowingly or inadvertently getting into the backend of GPS systems, it’s going to become much easier for us to educate and get people interested in this area of science.
Normalising drone usage in a positive way
We’ve noticed that, even in the last 12 months, the number of positive drone stories is increasing. Drones need more good PR. Of course, they can be used for evil but so can a lot of technology that is arguably more harmful. Normalising drones means that people will start to understand them more and we can have more conversations about how to regulate and ethically use them.
With increased consumer usage comes increased safety issues. When we are using drones in the classroom, we say not to fly the microdrones over anyone’s head. While the blade of a microdrone might look fairly harmless when it’s stationary, it can definitely do damage when the engine is on. Combine that with a low battery when flying over someone and it’s just not a good idea.
DJI have included safety information on the DJI Fly app and geofencing is enabled on this drone, which helps prevent drones from flying near sensitive locations such as airports, prisons, nuclear power plants and high-profile events.
The techie stuff
For those of you out there who love a bit of tech, the Mavic Mini doesn’t disappoint with a snow-globe-esque charging dock and some sophisticated in-built moves, known as the dronie, circle, helix and rocket.
Fancy new accessories
- 360° Propeller Guard: Provides a 360° guard for added safety.
- Charging Base: Charge and display Mavic Mini with this unique, illuminated station.
- Propeller Holder: Travel easier with Mavic Mini with the propeller holder that locks the props into place.
- DIY Creative Kit: Personalize your Mavic Mini with custom stickers or draw your own design.
- Snap Adapter: Attach a toy building brick or a mini LED display to Mavic Mini to write custom messages.
- Mini Travel Bag: Bring Mavic Mini everywhere with the custom bag that fits Mavic Mini and the controller perfectly.
- Two Way Charging Hub: Charge up to three Mavic Mini batteries or use the charging hub as a power bank.
- Rocket – Mavic Mini flies straight up into the air with the camera pointing downward following your subject. Set a height limit of 40, 60, 80, 100, or 120 feet.
- Circle – Mavic Mini will circle around your subject at a constant altitude and distance.
- Dronie – Mavic Mini flies backward and upward, with the camera tracking your subject. Set a height limit of 40, 60, 80, 100, or 120 feet.
- Helix – Mavic Mini flies upward and away, spiraling around your subject. Set a height limit of 40, 60, 80, 100, or 120 feet.
We’ll be interested to see the consumer reaction to this early next year when a lot of lucky people end up with a Mavic Mini in their stockings. If you’re one of those people, let us know what you think of it. Tweet us @shemapsau or flick us an email at [email protected].