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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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


DJI last week announced the DJI Mini 3, which is a stripped-down version of the DJI Mini 3 Pro drone at a price tag that’s more than 30% cheaper. So which of the two types of Mini 3 drones is better? In a matchup between the DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro, it really comes down to price. More specifically, are the better specs on the Mini 3 Pro really worth the higher price?

The DJI Mini 3 Pro typically starts at $759 (or just $669 if you don’t need the controller). Meanwhile, the DJI Mini 3 costs just $559 (and an even-cheaper $469 if you just want the drone only, no controller). That’s about 26% savings to opt for the non-Pro version. 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 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro and a breakdown of what each offers so you can decide the best drone for your budget:

DJI Mini 3 DJI Mini 3 Pro
Takeoff Weight < 249 g < 249 g
Dimensions 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 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)
Global Navigation Satellite System GPS + GLONASS + Galileo GPS + Galileo + BeiDou
Image Sensor 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: 100-6400
Photo: 100-6400
Max Image Size 4000×3000 8064×6048 (48 MP)
Max Video Bitrate 100 Mbps 150 Mbps
Sensing Type Downward vision system Forward, Backward and Downward vision system
Video Transmission System DJI O2 DJI O3

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

Purchase the DJI Mini 3 Pro starting at just $669 (no controller) or $759 with controller now from:

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

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. Among the things they have in common are:

  • 4K/30fps in HDR
  • 1/1.3-inch CMOS sensor
  • f/1.7 aperture
  • Dual native ISO and chip-level HDR technology
  • True Vertical Shooting

So what’s better about the Pro version? The Pro has 48 MP Effective Pixels as opposed to 12MP on the cheaper one. Additionally, you can push ISO on the Pro as high as 6400 on the Pro, vs 3200. That means you’ll be able to shoot in darker scenarios but with less graininess. If you’re frequently filming at sunrise or sunset (or in even greater darkness), stick with the Pro.

You’ll also want the Pro if you need to create large prints or others have ultra-high resolution imagery. The cheaper version offers a max image size of just 4000×3000, vs 8064×6048 with the Pro. If you created art for work, you want the Pro (or one of DJI’s other camera drones). For folks who mostly just post their work on social media, the Mini 3 is sufficient.

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.

However, the Mini 3 lacks the more-elevated Focus Track Suite and other advanced filming features like MasterShots and Hyperlapse. QuickShots are likely sufficient for the casual drone videographer, but someone regularly filming videos might want the extra features that the Pro offers.

DJI Mini 3 vs. Mini 3 Pro drone
There are some subtle differences in the external appearance.

Differences in the aircraft itself

The aircraft mostly looks similar, but to the naked eye, the most noticeable difference will be the sensors. The DJI Mini 3 only has a Downward vision system, while the Pro version has a Forward, Backward and Downward vision system. You’ll likely immediately notice that in the appearance of the two drones.

If money is no object, you should pay for the Pro version almost purely for those vision systems. These are what effectively make your drone crash-proof. If your drone senses a tree in front of it (and you’ve got Forward sensors), it’ll simply hover (even if you try to push it forward). This can be a huge saving grace in terms of crashes.

There’s another big difference that won’t be noticeable on the surface: the transmission. The Mini 3 uses the older O2 transmission, while the Mini 3 Pro has O3 transmission. The new and improved DJI O3 Video Transmission System uses aupgraded dual antennas to bring FHD video transmission at distances of up to 12 km (FCC compliant and with no obstructions). That’s also the same transmission system used in the DJI Mavic Air 2S.

There is one area where the Mini 3 actually outperforms the Mini 3 Pro (cost aside) and that’s flight time. Because there’s less tech inside the Mini 3, it’s able to fly longer, offering up to 38 minutes of battery life (51 minutes with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus) versus just 34 minutes on the Pro (or 47 minutes with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus).

DJI Mini 3 Pro
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 Pro vs. Mini 3

It’s hard to say which is better between the DJI Mini 3 Pro and the new, stripped-down Mini 3 drone. If price is not an object, then — aside from slightly longer flight times on the Mini 3 — the DJI Mini 3 Pro is better on every level.

The camera is higher-quality, it offers smarter flight modes, and it’s safer. But you’re also going to pay $200 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 Pro over the new Mini 3 if:

  • Money is a low-to-no object ($200 savings isn’t a significant impact on your budget).
  • You need the highest-quality prints.
  • You’re doing a lot of videography (like using this drone to make films).
  • Safety/crash reduction is of ultra-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’re willing to accept the risks of minimal obstacle sensors (and you’re confident you can fly without crashing, even without them), then the DJI Mini 3 is an excellent avenue to get your hands on a DJI drone for less than $500.

Purchase the DJI Mini 3 Pro starting at just $669 (no controller) or $759 with controller now from:

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

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