The new DJI Mini 3 drone sacrifices obstacle avoidance for a $260 price drop vs the Mini 3 Pro

Dec 10, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The new DJI Mini 3 drone sacrifices obstacle avoidance for a $260 price drop vs the Mini 3 Pro

Dec 10, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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DJI has announced the new DJI Mini 3 drone. You might be feeling a little deja vu, like DJI already announced this, but no. This is a cut-down version of the DJI Mini 3 Pro, released back in May 2022. What makes the new DJI Mini 3 non-Pro different? Well, essentially, it’s the lack of obstacle avoidance.

It might seem silly to remove the feature that beginners arguably need the most in a drone specifically targeted towards beginners. But this loss of obstacle avoidance does come with a very significant drop in cost, too, with the basic RC-N1 controller package starting at $559 instead of the $759 for the same package with the Mini 3 Pro.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48_kEK9iFKU&ab_channel=DJI

The DJI Mini 3, like the DJI Mini 3 Pro, is a <250g targeted towards beginners or those who don’t want to have to deal with the potential legal hassles of flying larger drones. Being primarily a beginner drone, though, one of the biggest selling points of the DJI Mini 3 Pro was its obstacle avoidance. While they weren’t the first company to release a <250g with obstacle avoidance – Autel already had their Evo Nano (review here) for that – it was the first <250g drone with obstacle avoidance from DJI.

But that new feature with the Mini 3 Pro came at quite a hefty price increase over the DJI Mini 2. This is why we now have the non-pro version DJI Mini 3, which is basically just a Mini 3 Pro without obstacle avoidance, and without such a big cost – probably the only real complaint about the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

Removal of obstacle avoidance comes with a couple of nice advantages, though. For a start, there’s a massive price difference. The DJI Mini 3 Pro with the RC-N1 controller costs $759. The new Mini 3 with the RC-N1 controller costs $559, bringing it down a little below the DJI Mini 2 Fly More Combo kit. The Fly More Combo kit for the DJI Mini 3 is $718, which is still quite a bit more than the DJI Mini 2 but much less than the $948 of DJI Mini 3 Pro Fly More Combo Kit.

The other advantage is that it actually has a slightly longer maximum flight time at 38 minutes vs the 34 minutes of the DJI Mini 3 Pro. Four minutes doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it does represent almost a 12% increase in maximum flight time. Obviously, this will depend on various factors like the wind and your flying style, but it means you get to stay up in the air a little longer between swapping out batteries.

The lack of obstacle avoidance is going to be an issue for many would-be drone pilots because beginners arguably need the most help when it comes to active crash prevention. But if you’re only ever learning how to fly out in the middle of nowhere with no obstacles, then that’s not really an issue. Whether or not that’s important to you or if it’s worth the extra $200ish cost of the Mini 3 Pro over the non-Pro is up to you to decide.

Personally, I think this looks like a great low-budget option if you’re careful. It gives you everything else the Mini 3 Pro has at a price that’s low enough that it’s not that much more than the Mini 2 – which is now finally marked as obsolete at a number of retailers.

The DJI Mini 3 is available to buy now starting at $559 for the basic drone with the RC-N1 remote controller, up to $858 for the Fly More Combo with the DJI RC Remote.

Which is more valuable to you? Obstacle avoidance or saving $200?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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