DJI's Mavic Mini Wants to Be the Drone for Everyone

DJI just announced the latest member of its Mavic line, and it is tiny. The foldable Mavic Mini is roughly the size of three smartphones stacked on top of each other and weighs just 249 grams. That’s just light enough to mean you don’t have to register a Mavic Mini with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Those drone regulations kick in for aircraft 250 grams and up, and if you’re thinking DJI is being a little sneaky, you’d be correct.

At a recent press event in Brooklyn, DJI described the Mavic Mini as “your everyday flying camera.” Since it slides right under the line that requires FAA registration, the new bite-sized Mavic wants to be the drone for everyone. It comes with a new camera that records 2.7K video, which is about 40 percent higher resolution than full HD but not quite as much as 4K. The camera also takes 12-megapixel stills and promises decent stability thanks to its tiny three-axis gimbal. Also exciting is the Mavic Mini’s 30-minute flight time. The drone also has a 2.5-mile range, downward-sensing vision system, a newly designed remote control, and stable hovering thanks to GPS.

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If you wrap all these specs together, you get a very small drone that can do a lot of the things that much larger drones can do. In fact, in many ways, the Mavic Mini can do a lot of the same things that the early DJI Phantom models could, except it can also fit in your pocket. DJI also designed a new stripped-down app designed to make the Mavic Mini is extra easy to fly. The app is also full of tutorials as well as a flight simulator.

What the Mavic Mini is missing, however, is obstacle avoidance technology. This could be a big deal for novice pilots who tend to crash their new drones into trees and fences and buildings. The lack of obstacle avoidance on the Mavic Mini also makes DJI’s old beginner drone, the Spark, look a little more attractive. That aircraft weighs 300 grams and costs $500, but it does have some obstacle avoidance tech built-in. That said, the Mavic Mini has a better camera and gimbal setup than the Spark. It’s also more portable and, again, does not need to be registered with the FAA.

Preorders for the Mavic Mini begin October 30 starting at $400. That will get you the Mavic Mini, one battery, extra propellers, and necessary tools and wires. For $500, you can get the Fly More combo which includes everything in the basic package as well as 360-degree propellor cages, a two-way charging hub, three total batteries, even more extra propellers, and a carrying case. Everything starts shipping November 11, just in time for the holiday drone gifting season.

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Adam Clark Estes

Senior editor at Gizmodo.

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