DJI to launch DJI Mavic Mini, smallest, lightest, and cheapest new drone at US$399 on 11th November

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Original article from Techradar.

31st October 2019 – The new DJI Mavic Mini drone is launching on November 11, but the drone game ain’t what it used to be. Drone laws have been tightened in response to London’s Gatwick airport having been brought to its knees by some rogue ones. Meanwhile, the competition is fiercer than ever, thanks to the imperfect, but great value of Parrot’s Anafi, delivering 4K capture at under $800 / £630, and DJI still nailing the premium space with its Mavic-series.

That said, the Anafi weighs over 300g, and drones weighing in at over 250g need to be registered aviation authorities, like the FAA in the US and Civil Aviation Authority in the UK. What’s a drone manufacturer to do? Launch a 249g drone of course; meet the new featherweight favorite, the DJI Mavic Mini.CLOSE

Unlike the pricier Anafi, the Mavic Mini features three-axis mechanical stabilization (the Anafi’s third axis is EIS) and includes handy features like a hot-swappable microSD card slot. It also promises better battery life, with a quoted flight time of 30 minutes, which is class-leading. We’re still testing that out for ourselves. 

All its specs don’t read quite so dreamily though; the Mavic Mini’s video caps out at 2.7K resolution with a frame rate of 30fps, which will leave some videographers – in need of 4K footage – cold. It also lacks the incredibly handy object avoidance its larger siblings feature – so there are some clear, albeit unsurprising compromises here. After a few days testing it out, however, we can’t help but be, for the most part, smitten with this compact, capable quadcopter.

DJI Mavic Mini release date and price

The official DJI Mavic Mini release date is November 11, but you can pre-order it right now in two versions: either the base package (drone, battery, controller), or with the Fly More Combo, which also includes a two-way charging hub that can double up as a power bank, a 360-degree propellor guard, and two extra batteries. 

The base drone costs $399 / £369 / AU$599 while the Fly More Combo is $499/ £459 / AU$799. If you ask us, the Fly More Combo is worth the extra cost for the additional batteries alone, offering you around 90 minutes of flight time. For new drone fliers or indoor pilots, the safety guards are also priceless.

Design

Like most of today’s best drones, the Mavic Mini is collapsable, with arms that unfurl to transform it from a ladybug into a crane fly in a couple of maneuvers. The drone’s front houses that stabilized camera shielded by a camera guard, while on the back is an exposed hot-swappable microSD card slot and micro USB port for charging. Above these is the battery flap, and at the base is a button.

The big thing here is its weight: the Mavic Mini is just 249g. As mentioned, the drone is purposely under the 250g, so it doesn’t have to be registered with government aviation agencies, at least not in the US, UK, Australia (check your local laws).

What’s interesting is that the battery is about 100g, so it takes up a good portion of the weight – ejecting it from the body of the drone makes it feel as if it lost half its weight. That’s how lightweight things have gotten.

While there aren’t any obstacle avoidance sensors on the Mavic Mini’s sides, front or back, there are a couple at the base, along with a battery meter and light so you can keep tabs on your drone in the air. 

The Mini’s Fly More kit also features safety guards, and as we mentioned, we’d absolutely recommend you use these when possible. The arms are relatively slender, and a 1.8-meter drop left one fractured but still fully functional – something that would have been prevented had the guards been affixed.

As for the aesthetic, it’s got DJI’s ethos written all over it; the color scheme is grey and dark grey, there’s an insectile flair to its design and its front is loaded up with a set of ‘eyes’, nuzzled under a flat, beveled, angry-looking top-side.

Controller

Like the DJI Mini itself, its controller unfurls, creating a phone-holding, joystick-toting, antenna wielding hunk of plastic. There’s a micro USB on the left for charging and connecting to your phone, with Lightning, micro USB, and USB-C phone connectors in the Mini’s box.