May 23, 2022

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S: which is better?

DJI Mini 3 Pro vs Mavic Air 2 and Air 2S: which is better?

The DJI Mini 3 Pro launched this week to much fanfare. It offers not just the most-desired specs, including sub-250 gram takeoff weight, 4K/60fps video, tri-directional obstacle sensing and 34 minutes of flight time — but it offers all that for a reasonably low price point of just $759 (or $669 if you forego the controller, assuming you have one from a previous model you’ve upgraded from).

While the DJI Mini 3 Pro lives under the DJI Mini line of drones, it hardly resembles the Mini line. The DJI Mini and DJI Mini 2 drones have traditionally been entry-level drones, designed for newbie drone pilots given their stripped features at a low price point (the DJI Mini 2 usually goes for $449).

The only major spec that the DJI Mini 3 Pro has in common with its DJI Mini predecessors is the truly Mini size. Mini drones all weigh under 250 grams. And since many countries only regulate drones weighing 250 grams or higher, that makes these drones exempt from many types of regulations or restrictions. In the U.S., it makes them exempt from the registration requirement.

Instead, the new DJI Mini 3 Pro is actually far closer to the DJI Air 2 and DJI Air 2S almost every metric. The Mini 3 Pro is the only one in the Mini lineup thus far to include obstacle avoidance, which you’ll find in the Air 2 and Air 2S drones.

It also offers far higher video quality than the Mini drones, instead more aligning with the Air 2 and Air 2S. And yes, its price point also better aligns with the Air 2 and Air 2S drones.

Related read: DJI Mini 3 Pro is here: everything you need to know

Given how the DJI Mini 3 Pro most closely mirrors the DJI Air 2 and DJI Air 2S drones, which one is better for you? And if you already have an Air 2 or Air 2S, is it worth adding a DJI Mini 3 Pro to your collection as well?

Here’s what you need to know in terms of comparing the DJI Mini 3 Pro vs the DJI Air 2 and the DJI Air 2S:

DJI Air 2DJI Air 2SDJI Mini 3 Pro
Starting Price$799$999$759
Takeoff Weight570 grams595 gramsSub-249 grams
Max Photo Resolution48 MP 8000×6000 pixel20 MP; 2.4μm Pixel Size48 MP
Video Resolution4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps5.4K: 5472×3078 @ 24/25/30 fps
4K Ultra HD: 3840×2160 @ 24/25/30/48/50/60 fps
4K HDR up to 30 ps
Sensor1/2″ CMOS1″ CMOS1/1.3″ CMOS
Aperturef/2.8f/2.8f/1.7
Obstacle AvoidanceAdvanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) 3.0Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS 4.0)Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS 4.0)
Max Flight Time34 minutes31 minutes34 minutes
Transmission SystemOcuSync 2.0O3O3

So with those specs in mind, which drone should you get? If you don’t have any drones right now, here’s my analysis of these three, and my guidance of which one to get:

Who the DJI Mavic Air 2 is best for

If I’m being honest, the answer is no one, probably. Most of its main specs mirror that of the Mini 2. Or, they’re similar, but the tradeoffs feel negligible (e.g. 1/2″ CMOS versus 1/1.3″ CMOS, and f/2.8 versus f/1.7).

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the DJI Mavic Air 2 when it launched back in 2020. It was a photographer’s dream, given its large 1/2″ camera sensor, pre-programmed flight modes, sensors to assist in obstacle avoidance and still relatively small size.

But the Mini 3 Pro is smaller and yes, the Air 2 is small, but even the slight difference when you’re packing for a trip can be significant. And while I don’t find registering your drone to be a big deal, there could be rules in other countries that make it burdensome to fly a drone weighing over 250 grams versus under. The Mini 3 Pro removes that burden so you can fly your drone internationally with less headache. And now, the Mini 3 Pro takes most of the great tech specs and puts them in a smaller (and cheaper) package.

And look, DJI knows the Mavic Air 2 is probably a thing of the past. While you can still purchase it from third-party retailers like Amazon, both the Air 2 and the Air 2 Combo are listed as out of stock on DJI’s own website — and it’s not clear it’ll ever be restocked.

Unless you can find the DJI Mavic Air 2 on a major sale from another retailer or used via a reseller for a deep discount, skip it.

Differences between the Air 2 and Air 2s.

Who the DJI Mavic Air 2S is best for

The Air 2S is best for someone who wants the highest quality camera including professional photographers like wedding photographers, but doesn’t have the budget for the DJI Mavic 3.

While some aspects of the Mini 3 Pro’s camera are better, such as a wider aperture, the DJI Mavic Air 2S generally still has a better camera than the DJI Mini 3 Pro. A larger sensor, for example, can be crucial for professional photographers, and the Air 2S entails a 1” sensor offering 20-megapixel photos and 5.4K video, with a larger pixel size of 2.4μm.

If you’re really serious about photography, you’re ultimately best off with the Mavic 3, which has a dual-camera system featuring Hasselblad. But that drone will cost you $2,199, which can be prohibitively expensive for many. The Air 2S offers a nice sweet spot of larger sensor and generally excellent camera similar to the Mavic 3, at a price point under $1,000 similar to the Mini 3 Pro.

Sally French, The Drone Girl, reviews the DJI Mini 3 Pro in May 2022.

Who the DJI Mini 3 Pro is best for

Most people! It’s definitely the best drone for me — and it might be the best drone for you, too!

I consider the Mini 3 Pro to be a culmination of all the best features that DJI has developed. Given its ultra-small size and light weight, it builds on the portability that wowed me in the Mini and Mini 2 drones. But those drones, while small, weren’t exactly mighty. The Mini 3 Pro is small and mighty, bringing in many of the most powerful specs found in the DJI Air and DJI Mavic series of drones including an excellent camera, sense and avoid tech and intelligent flight modes.

Read my full review of the DJI Mini 3 Pro here.

Sally French, The Drone Girl, reviews the DJI Mini 3 Pro in May 2022.

Is the DJI Mini 3 Pro worth upgrading your DJI Air/Air 2/Air 2S?

Other than small size (which might be important, especially if you’re in a country that regulates drones 250 grams or more), the DJI Mini 3 Pro realistically isn’t worth upgrading your Air 2S for. If you have an endless budget, then I say go for it, but you might be better off saving your money.

But it does feel superior to the earlier versions of the DJI Air and Air 2, given its improved camera and obstacle avoidance tech. It’s also far and away superior to earlier Mini drones, the DJI Mini and Mini 2. If you’re used to any of those drones, you’ll notice a dramatic difference when you touch the Mini 3 in terms of ease of flight, camera quality and safety. If you have the means, upgrading is justified.

And DJI has another offer to make upgrading even more enticing. DJI is offering the DJI Mini 3 to you at just $669 vs $759, assuming you’re willing to recycle your controller.

If you currently have a DJI Mavic Air 2, Air 2S or Mavic Mini 2, you likely already have a DJI RC-N1 controller. And with the Mini 3 Pro launch, DJI is offering a bundle that offers the drone without the remote controller. The DJI Mini 3 Pro kit sans remote controller costs just $669. That might make upgrading a bit more palatable — especially since you can give your controller a second life.

Sally French, The Drone Girl, reviews the DJI Mini 3 Pro in May 2022.

The bottom line

The DJI Mini 3 Pro is not necessarily the absolute best in every category, given how other more powerful drones like the Mavic 3 and Matrice line win on certain individual specs). But it is the best overall drone for most people, especially considering its relatively low price.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to travel and get incredible quality footage of your explorations to share on social media, there’s no better drone out there than the DJI Mini 3 Pro.

Purchase the DJI Mini 2 starting at just $669 (no controller) or $759 with controller now from:

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