This diminutive “ship” weighing less than 0.55 pounds will be the first drone many individuals will ever pilot (Yes, this drone weighs just over half a pound and I did call a drone a ship, shoutout to the great Jon McBride). In 1990, I played EA sports games on my brother’s brand-new Playstation, and in 2020, 26 years after the PS1 was introduced, Sony unveiled the Playstation 5. DJI introduced the Phantom in January 2013, and in less than nine years, with the release of the Mini 3 Pro, the firm has reached its “PlayStation 5” moment.
In comparison to Sony’s Playstation gaming system, DJI has developed its drone technology and products three times faster, in my opinion. Taking this introduction back to the drone review, if your first flight is with the Mini 3 Pro, it is comparable to beginning your video gaming adventure with a PlayStation 5; you may not have a clear understanding of where everything began. Regardless of which drone you begin flying with, you will undoubtedly like flying the Mini 3 Pro.
1. Mini 3 Pro
The Mini 3 Pro is compact and powerful, requiring a minimal footprint for takeoff and landing, making it ideal for enthusiasts and professionals working in confined spaces. Throughout this analysis, I will examine some of the features that make the Mini 3 Pro the greatest prosumer drone currently available for purchase, pound for pound. DJI has greatly enhanced the Mini 2 by adding obstacle sensors, improved camera specifications, a redesigned body, extended flying time, and connectivity with the DJI RC smart remote.
DJI is once again setting the bar by developing a drone that can fly for over 40 minutes with the updated “Plus” battery, promising up to 47 minutes of flying time and 40 minutes of hover duration in windless conditions. Notably, the Mini 3 Pro comes with a regular battery that gives around 32 minutes of flight time.
Currently, you may be wondering, “How can a drone have two distinct flight periods if the payload does not change?” The simple answer is that the battery casing for both the “regular” and the “plus” is identical, but the Li-ion cells placed within the casings are distinct. The plus battery contains larger (40,5 grams heavier) cells, which provide an improved capacity for longer flying times.
When installed for flight, the “plus” model batteries will place your drone’s weight over 250 grams and beyond the “Category 1” class, allowing the pilot to fly over people and moving vehicles in a transient manner, never hovering and/or loitering over people or cars (See 14 CFR 107.39 FAR for regulations regarding operations over human beings). While flying the Mini 3 Pro for “Category 1” activities, you must always install the “standard” battery and prop guards.
The Mini 3 Pro is available with the DJI RC, the RC N1, or without a remote.
DJI’s most recent remote controller, the DJI RC, is compatible with the Mini 3 Pro and the Mavic 3 drones. According to DJI marketing, the DJI RC utilizes the most recent OccuSync 3.0 technology, which allows transmission ranges of up to 7.5 miles. In testing, we determined that the range of the DJI RC with the Mini 3 Pro at 400 AGL in a suburban environment was little under one mile. We were able to complete many commercial jobs before deciding to recharge the DJI RC battery, which took approximately 90 minutes. Even while holding the remote control in direct sunlight, the DJI RC’s 700 nit screen brightness made it easy to view details. The DJI RC is an exceptional remote controller that we strongly advise purchasing alongside the Mini 3 Pro.
The RC N1 requires the pilot to use their cell phone as a screen in order to utilize the FPV camera and take photo/video data with the drone. The N1 remote is comfortable and appropriate for amateur pilots. Consider acquiring the Mini 3 Pro with the DJI RC if you intend to use your drone professionally.
Perhaps you already possess a DJI Mavic 3, Air 2, or Air 2S that came with the RC N1 controller. As the RC N1 can be used with many drones at different times, you might purchase the Mini 3 Pro without a remote controller. The RC N1 never pairs with or controls more than one drone at a time.
Flying Whenever I fly a new DJI aircraft or handle a freshly released remote, I’m tempted to get involved in design/manufacturing, but I recall that I don’t have the money to fund even the best ideas. The Mini 3 Pro’s unboxing inspired the “Master Builder” spirit like no other drone before.
DJI has transformed the “Mavic Mini” from a toy to a professional aircraft in just a few years by making minor modifications to the aircraft and remote. To test the effectiveness of the newly integrated obstacle detection and avoidance technology, I first flew the Mini 3 Pro directly toward several obstructions. With “bypass” mode engaged, the aircraft was deftly negotiating narrow spaces and avoiding obstacles. I was immediately amazed. The six(6) ocular sensors give unparalleled spatial awareness and obstacle avoidance.
4. Mapping & 3D models
Photos captured with the Mini 3 Pro can be converted into high-resolution 2D maps and 3D models using the photogrammetry program you now employ; however, you will need to manually capture the photographs since the Mini 3 does not integrate with any autonomous photo capture softwares. SkyeBrowse, DroneDeploy, and/or Pix4D are unlikely to incorporate the Mini 3 Pro into their respective applications.
The 1/1.3″ CMOS sensor enables the Mini 3 Pro to produce high-resolution maps and/or models at altitudes below 200 feet above ground level (AGL). Nine Ten Drones did manually capture a series of photographs which we processed into a map and 3D model.
It is crucial to note that the Mini 3 Pro camera uses an electronic (“rolling”) shutter, meaning that when the CMOS sensor is turned “On”, the sensor scans line by line consecutively, resulting in a rolling shutter distortion that may affect the map/model quality. My opinion from years of mapping with both mechanical and electronic shutters, the impact is small unless you are mapping and modeling for high accuracy surveying objectives.
Buy the Mini 3 Pro if you are searching for a recreational drone, if you want to add aerial photos to your real estate services, if you need to clear a room for law enforcement purposes, if you want to inspect infrastructure/construction projects, and so much more. For less than $1,500, you can acquire a fully-equipped Mini 3 Pro drone with all the features that, when used wisely, are certain to deliver a great return on investment.
I strongly suggest purchasing the DJI RC Pro, which has a built-in screen that eliminates the need to fumble with your cell phone when flying with the N1 remote controller. Buy the fly more kit or additional batteries to stay in the air longer, allowing you to capture more family moments/memories or deliver an enhanced commercial service to prospective clients.