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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2: which drone is better?


DJI in early December announced the DJI Mini 3, which is a stripped-down version of the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone. With it, DJI has presented what might be a sweet spot drone of sorts: it’s got newer, spiffier features than what the Mini 2 can offer, but it’s not as fancy (nor as expensive) as the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

Unsurprisingly, the price is also in the middle of the two. The DJI Mini 2 drone still holds the title of Drone Girl’s pick for the best drone under $500. That’s only because the DJI Mini 3 just barely does not qualify for the sub-$500 drone category, given it costs $559 (though you can get it for just $469 if you already have a controller that you’ve recycled from another DJI drone).

It’d still a lot cheaper than the $759 DJI Mini 3 Pro, given the DJI Mini 3 has stripped out a lot of the Pro’s features. I’ve got a whole post comparing the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro. But for budget-minded pilots, the more relevant question is more likely comparing the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2, as both drones hover in the $500 price point realm.

So when it comes down to the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2, which drone is better? In a matchup between the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2, it really comes down to price. More specifically, are the better specs on the Mini 3really worth the higher price?

The DJI Mini 3 typically starts at $559 (or just $469 if you don’t need the controller). Meanwhile, the DJI Mini 2 costs just $449, including the controller. That’s about 20% savings to opt for the DJI Mini 2 vs. Mini 3. That sort of discount might be tough to pass up, but this guide can help you better weigh the pros and cons of cost savings versus lesser specs.

Here’s a comparison of the DJI Mini 2 vs. Mini 3 (as well as a column for the pricier Mini 3 Pro), followed by a breakdown of what each offers so you can decide the best drone for your budget:

DJI Mini 2 DJI Mini 3 DJI Mini 3 Pro
Starting price (price includes lowest-price controller) $449 $559 $759
Takeoff Weight < 249 g < 249 g < 249 g
Dimensions Folded (without propellers): 138×81×58 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (without propellers): 159×203×56 mm (L×W×H)
Folded (without propellers): 148×90×62 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (with propellers): 251×362×72 mm (L×W×H)
Folded (without propellers): 148×90×62 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (with propellers): 251×362×72 mm (L×W×H)
Max Flight Time 31 minutes 38 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery)
51 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus *)
34 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery)
47 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus *)
Max Wind Speed Resistance 10.7 m/s (Level 5) 10.7 m/s (Level 5) 10.7 m/s (Level 5)
Global Navigation Satellite System GPS + GLONASS + Galileo GPS + GLONASS + Galileo GPS + Galileo + BeiDou
Image Sensor 1/2.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP 1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP 1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP
ISO Range Video: 100-3200
Photo: 100-3200
Video: 100-3200
Photo: 100-3200
Video: 100-6400
Photo: 100-6400
Max Image Size 4000×3000 4000×3000 8064×6048 (48 MP)
Max Video Bitrate 100 Mbps 100 Mbps 150 Mbps
Sensing Type Downward vision system Downward vision system Forward, Backward and Downward vision system
Video Transmission System OcuSync 2.0 DJI O2 DJI O3

Purchase the DJI Mini 3 starting at just $469 (no controller) or $559 with controller now from:

Purchase the DJI Mini 2 starting at just $449 now from:

So what do all these things mean in actuality? Here’s a deeper dive into the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2 drones:

DJI Mini 3 drone
The new DJI Mini 3 drone. Photo courtesy of DJI.

DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro camera

While the camera specs on the DJI Mini 3 are very similar to the DJI Mini 3 Pro, there are some differences. The most noticeable is sensor size. The Mini 2 offers a slightly smaller 1/2.3-inch CMOS versus the Mini 3’s 1/1.3-inch CMOS.

If image quality is super important to you, it’ll be worth getting the newer DJI Mini 3 (or even considering upgrading to the DJI Mini 3 Pro). Though, if you’re primarily just posting videos and photos to social media where they’ll be viewed on small screens, and image quality might get compressed anyway depending on the website, then you likely won’t notice a difference. In that case, save your money and stick to the Mini 2.

Other than that, most other specs are pretty comparable. The ISO range of 100-3200 is the same, as are the 12 MP photos and videos at 4K: 3840×[email protected]/25/30 fps. They also have the same 100 Mbps max video bitrate. For fancier specs like 150 Mbps bitrate, D-Cinelike color, higher ISO and 48 MP photos, you’ll need to upgrade to the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro shooting modes

The Mini 3 and Mini 3 Pro both offer the standard QuickShots, which are automated flight paths that correspond with cinematography techniques. Rather than you having to precise fly backwards and spiral in a perfect circle to get that cinematic look, press a button and the drone does it for you.

The QuickShots modes available on both drones are:

  • Dronie: Aircraft flies back and up with the camera locked on the subject.
  • Helix: Aircraft flies up and spirals around the subject.
  • Rocket: Aircraft flies up with the camera facing down.
  • Circle: Aircraft circles around the subject.
  • Boomerang: Aircraft flies around the subject in an oval path, ascending as it flies away and descending as it returns.

In this regard, the two drones are exactly the same.

The DJI Mini 2 is marginally smaller than the Mini 3.

Differences in the aircraft itself

The DJI Mini 2 aircraft is slightly smaller than the Mini 3, though only by a few millimeters. If size is incredibly important to you down to the millimeter, then here’s one situation where the Mini 2 wins. And for globetrotters who jet set by carrying all their stuff in one bag, then those few millimeters may make a difference.

The aircraft weight is the same though, at 249 grams.

If flight time is important to you, definitely upgrade to the Mini 3 over the Mini 2. Max flight time is only 31 minutes versus 38 minutes with a standard battery on the DJI Mini 3. That’s 23% more flight time on the Mini 3. And, you can get even more flight time when you operate it with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, which can get you an incredible 51 minutes of flight time. That’s 64% more flying time.

In the long run, that extended flight time can cut down on you having to buy and deal with spare batteries, and can just make your flights more enjoyable when you’re not worried about battery life.

Hovering time is also longer on the Mini 3, as is max flight distance. You can send the Mini 3 along 25 km on the Intelligent Flight battery, versus just 16 km on the Mini 2.

Though, neither drone offers the enormously helpful forward, backward, and downward vision system that serve as obstacle avoidance systems. For that, you’ll need to upgrade to DJI’s more-expensive drones.

The Mini 2 uses the older OcuSync 2.0 transmission, while the Mini 3 has O2 transmission.

DJI Mini 3 drone
The DJI Mini 3 Pro is better on almost every level — but it’s also $260 more expensive than the DJI Mini 3.

How to decide between the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 2

It’s hard to definitely say which is better between the DJI Mini 3 and the older Mini 2 drone. If price is not an object, then — aside from slightly smaller size of the Mini 2 — the DJI Mini 3 is better on every level.

The camera is higher-quality and the flight time is far longer. But you’re also going to pay over $100 more for it. You have to do some calculations to determine how much you value that price difference, but this might help…

You should opt for the Mini 3 over the new Mini 2 if:

  • Money is a low-to-no object ($1100 savings isn’t a significant impact on your budget).
  • You need the highest-quality prints.
  • Long flight times are of high importance

But if you’re on a budget, you’re mostly taking drone videos for fun and planning to post on outlets like social media, and you only fly for less than 20 at a time anyway (and/or you’re willing to tote around extra batteries), then the DJI Mini 2 is an excellent avenue to get your hands on a DJI drone for less than $500.

Purchase the DJI Mini 2 starting at just $449 now from:

Purchase the DJI Mini 3 starting at just $469 (no controller) or $559 with controller now from:

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