DJI has two different lines of drones that are generally considered consumer or something for a hobby photographer (or perhaps a professional photographer on a budget who doesn’t want all the bells and whistles of a Mavic). Those are the DJI Air and DJI Mini lines — and both lines got major new editions recently. In July 2023, we had the launch of the DJI Air 3. Shortly after, in September 2023, DJI launched the Mini 4 Pro. So now it begs the question between the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro, which drone is better?
The Air 3 has always had more impressive specs than the Mini line — but it’s unsurprisingly more expensive. However, with the launch of the Mini 4 Pro line, we saw some key specs that previously elevated the Air line over the Mini line arrive in the next generation of the DJI Mini 3 series.
Related read: Read our DJI Mini 4 Pro review here.
With that, the Mini 3 series becomes a far closer competitor to the Air 3 series. That, coupled with other potential benefits like small size, creates a fierce battle between the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro. So with that, here are the pros and cons of both to help you pick the right camera drone for you:
DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro: Comparing prices (winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro)
Starting at $759 versus $1,099 for the Air 3 (assuming you select the model with the basic controller), it’s clear which one wins out in price. You’ll save more than 30% (that’s $340) by opting for the Mini 4 Pro over the Air 3.
DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mini 4 Pro: key specs
The (mostly) better specs of the Air 3 can make it easy to justify the $340 higher price. So with that, here’s a comparison of the DJI Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro and a breakdown of what each offers you so you can decide the best drone for your budget:
|DJI Air 3||DJI Mini 4 Pro|
|Takeoff Weight||720 grams||< 249 g|
|DimensionsFolded without propellers (L×W×H)||207×100.5×91.1 mm||148×90×62 mm|
|Max Flight Time||46 minutes||34 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery) 45 minutes (with Intelligent Flight Battery Plus *)|
|Max Wind Speed Resistance||12 m/s||10.7 m/s|
|Global Navigation Satellite System||GPS + Galileo + BeiDou||GPS + Galileo + BeiDou|
|Onboard camera(s)||Two cameras (Wide-angle camera and Medium tele camera)||One camera|
|Image Sensor||1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP||1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP|
|ISO Range||Video: 100-6400Photo: 100-6400||Video: 100-6400Photo: 100-6400|
|Max Image Size||8064×6048 (48 MP)||8064×6048 (48 MP)|
|Max Video Bitrate||150 Mbps||150 Mbps|
|Sensing Type||Omnidirectional binocular vision system||Omnidirectional binocular vision system|
|Video Transmission System||DJI O4||DJI O4|
So what do all these specs actually mean? Here’s a deeper dive into the DJI Air 3 vs. DJI Mini 4 Pro drones:
Comparing cameras (winner: DJI Air 3)
If we’re comparing cameras, realize that we’re not comparing two cameras, but rather three. That’s because the DJI Air 3 comes with two built-in cameras (making it the first of the Air line to offer such a thing). The two cameras on the DJI Air 3 are:
- A 1/1.3-inch CMOS wide-angle camera
- 24mm format equivalent
- F1.7 aperture
- A 1/1.3-inch CMOS 3x medium tele camera (can achieve 3x optical zoom)
- 70mm format equivalent
- F2.8 aperture
The wide-angle cameras on both drones exhibit surprising similarities. While the Air 3 stands out as a top-tier camera drone, the DJI Mini 4 Pro incorporates its own 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera sensor. These technology features were previously exclusive to high-end cinematography drones.
Both drones boast active camera modes, including a vertical shooting mode specifically tailored for creating videos and images for platforms like TikTok or Instagram reels.
However, the Air drone outshines the Mini 3 Pro with its additional, secondary tele camera. This feature allows videographers to seamlessly switch between zoom and wide-angle shots during the same flight, eliminating the need to bring the drone down to change lenses–an inconvenience often encountered with high-end camera drones such as the DJI’s Inspire 3.
Nevertheless, the Mini 4 Pro does offer digital video capabilities, supporting up to 2x zoom in 4k, up to 3k in 2.7k, and up to 4x in full HD.
For serious photographers seeking an even more superior camera, the DJI Mavic 3 is better. This Mavic 3 excels in camera performance, notable in its aperture flexibility ranging from f/2.8 to f/11, a feature lacking in both the Air and Mini drones.
Air 3 vs. Mini 4 Pro: Comparing drone size (winner: DJI Mini 4 Pro)
While the Air 3 has a superior camera system, it’s considerably larger, which may not necessarily be an advantage.
DJI’s consumer drones have come a long way from the bulky days of the DJI Phantom line, transitioning to sleeker, more compact designs. The introduction of the DJI Mavic Pro in 2017 was revolutionary due to its innovative foldable arms, shrinking its size to that of a water bottle, though by today’s standards, it could even be perceived as a “large drone”
Notably, the Air 3 is heavier, tipping the scales at 720 grams, while the DJI Mini 4 Pro weighs less than half of that at under 249 grams.
The Mini 4’s compact size is better for pilots seeking to travel with their drone while minimizing luggage space, or simply those constantly on the move, needing to stow their drone in a backpack without it monopolizing space.
However, the weight of the DJI Mini 4 Pro being under 250 grams holds more significant implications — the government. Many countries categorize drones based on their weight, implementing varying regulations or restrictions on large drones Drones weighing under 249 grams often enjoy exemption from numerous forms of regulation, including the need for registration.
Smaller, lightweight drones, such as the DJI Mini 4 Pro, not only reduce the administrative burden on the pilot but also theoretically enhance safety in the event of a crash, with less force exerted upon impact.
Comparing aircraft strength: (winner: DJI Air 3…but just barely)
Before the Mini 4 launched, the Air line was the superior and more powerful drone. But now that the Mini 4 Pro is more powerful than any other Mini drone, it’s a fiercer fight.
Obstacle Sensing (tie): Both drones use omnidirectional obstacle sensing, offering awareness in all directions, thus eliminating blind spots. They also both utilize APAS 5.0 tech. This allows the drone to detect obstacles and then plan an alternate route around them. Both features are new to the Mini line since the launch of the Mini 4 Pro.
Video Transmission (tie): Both drones offer O4 video transmission, bringing a maximum transmission distance of 20 km (assuming low interference, such as flying at most beaches).
Battery life (barely DJI Air 3): Here’s where the DJI Air 3 (sort of) beats out the Mini 4 Pro. The DJI Air 3 offers up to 46 minutes of flight time. Meanwhile, the base version of the Mini 4 Pro offers 34 minutes of flight time. With the DJI Air 3, you get a nearly 50% increase in battery life.
The DJI Mini 4 Pro can come close to that 46 minute flight time, with a little extra help from one of the three batteries that come with the Mini 4 Pro. The “Intelligent Flight Battery Plus,” offers an additional 11 minutes of flight time (totaling 45 minutes of flight time).
Another downfall of the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus is that it is decently heavy (and heavier than the standard Mini 4 Pro battery). When using your Mini 4 Pro with the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, it’ll end up weighing more than 249 grams, which is otherwise one of the key reasons why people choose the Mini 4 Pro drone over the DJI Air 3.
Who is the DJI Mini 4 Pro best for?
There is no ‘one best’ drone. There’s simply the best drone for your situation.
So with that, the DJI Mini 4 Pro is best for a few types of people including:
- Entry-level drone pilots
- Frequent travelers
- Social media content creators
- Budget-conscious photographers
The Mini 4 Pro is great for new drone pilots, the size and omnidirectional sensing make it one of the safest drones on the market. It’s a dream for travelers, bloggers, outdoor adventure enthusiasts, and athletes who want a drone that they can throw in their bag, but won’t get in the way of whatever else they’re doing.
And with the price difference, that $340 savings might be a saving grace for the most price-sensitive drone pilots.
Who is the DJI Air 3 best for?
The DJI Mini 4 Pro is the perfect fit for the drone photographer prioritizing mobility. On the other hand, if you are a professional photographer seeking a more affordable alternative to the Mavic 3, then the DJI Air 3 presents an appealing option.
If having impressive camera specs are most important, (but size and portability aren’t a concern), then the DJI Air 3 is best.
Think of it this way: if you consider yourself an athlete, content creator, or traveler first (and a drone photographer second), get the Mini 4 Pro. If you consider yourself a drone photographer first and then the sports, excursions, and adventures come second to that, then get the DJI Air 3.
Between the DJI Mini 4 Pro versus Air 3 drones, which one would you rather have? Share your comment below!
Are you also considering the DJI Mini 3 Pro or Mini 3? Check out our guide to the DJI Mini 4 Pro vs. Mini 3 Pro vs. Mini 3!