DJI Mini 2 SE: the best drone under $400

So you want a drone but your budget is $500? I can do you one better, recommending the best drone under $400. That title goes to the DJI Mini 2 SE, which DJI announced today.

The drone comes just two months after DJI announced its DJI Mini 3 drone, which is a stripped down version of the DJI Mini 3 Pro. The DJI Mini 3 drone costs $559, or an even-cheaper $469 for just the drone, no controller.

But that only fits into the “drones under $500 threshold” if you opt out of the controller (which is unlikely for newbies to the drone world, which is largely who it’s targeted at. It’s definitely not under the $400 threshold. And so for folks seeking a drone that costs less than $400, here it finally is: the DJI Mini 2 SE.

The DJI Mini 2 SE takes many of the features that were revolutionary when the DJI Mini 2 launched in November 2021. That includes a 1/2.3” CMOS and 12 MP photos. It’s also far cheaper. While the Mini 2 is $449, the DJI Mini 2 SE costs just $369.

And perhaps most importantly for folks is the fact that it weighs 249 grams. Drones under 250 grams are a big deal because many types of federal drone regulations do not apply to drones of that size (in the U.S., drones under 250 grams do not need to be registered with the FAA for recreational operations and do not need to be Remote ID compliant).

Consider it the most portable and, shall we say, “regulation-friendly” drone you’ll find out there. It’s perfectly suited for beginners, people who are on an ultra-tight budget, or perhaps even experienced pilots who want a spare drone as a backup or for situations like travel, where they want something less bulky to back that they likely won’t need to register or get licensed.

Here are some of the standout specs of the DJI Mini 2 SE:

  • Weighs less than 249 grams.
  • DJI O2 Transmission technology: This delivers a maximum video transmission range of 10 km with minimal interference.
  • 31 minute maximum flight time
  • One-tap takeoff and landing, hovering, and return to home
  • Level 5 wind resistance (can handle wind speeds of 10.7 m/s while still hovering and keeping images stable)

Most folks are getting a drone for the camera, and here’s what you need to know about the camera on the DJI Mini 2 SE:

  • 3-axis gimbal: This is crucial to that silky-smooth aesthetic that looks just like a bird’s eye when flying. Some drones achieve the same look by digital stabilization, but the physical gimbal is generally seen as better.
  • 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor: Folks seeking the absolute highest-quality photos might want a larger sensor, but this delivers impeccable image quality for smaller prints or images posted to social media.
  • 12MP photos: Similarly speaking, 12MP is sufficient for social media. Though, if you really want something bigger, many relatively low-cost DJI drones offer up to 48 MP.
  • 2.7K HD video: This is the lowest video resolution you’ll find among DJI drones. It’s totally fine for folks looking to take Instagram videos, but this is not a drone for serious cinematography.
  • 4X digital zoom: Transition between shots of varying distance and composition when shooting HD videos. 

That set, this drone is super smart and can fly in cinema-quality flight paths, enabling the drone to shoot that perfectly straight panorama so you don’t need to develop the flying skills to do it yourself.

And it all costs just $369. If you opt for the Fly More Combo, which includes additional accessories or backup equipment including bonus batteries, propellers and a carrying case, you’ll pay $519. Here’s a glimpse at what you get with the DJI Mini 2 SE Fly More Combo:

DJI Mini 2 SE Fly More Combo

The big downfall? This little drone is not available yet. The DJI Mini 2 SE will not be available until March 22, 2023.

Upon purchasing the drone, you also have the option to purchase DJI Care Refresh, which is DJI’s extended warranty plan.

How the DJI Mini 2 SE compares against other drones

So should you wait and get the DJI Mini 2 SE? Or are other DJI drones better anyway?

The DJI Mini 2 SE is most closely related to the DJI Mini 2, but also shares a lot of similarities with the DJI Mini 3 and DJI Mini 3 Pro. All four drones have a very similar frame/body, and all weigh less than 250 grams. The Mini 3 and 3 Pro have far better cameras with a larger sensor, as well as other benefits like longer flight time.

Here’s how all four drones compare:

DJI Mini 2 SEDJI Mini 2DJI Mini 3DJI Mini 3 Pro
Starting price (price includes lowest-price controller)$369$449$559$759
Takeoff Weight< 249 g< 249 g< 249 g< 249 g
DimensionsFolded (without propellers): 138×81×58 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (without propellers): 159×203×56 mm (L×W×H)
Folded (without propellers): 138×81×58 mm (L×W×H)
Unfolded (without propellers): 159×203×56 mm (L×W×H)
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 Time31 minutes31 minutes38 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 Resistance10.7 m/s (Level 5)10.7 m/s (Level 5)10.7 m/s (Level 5)10.7 m/s (Level 5)
Image Sensor1/2.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP1/2.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 12 MP1/1.3-inch CMOS, Effective Pixels: 48 MP
Video2.7K HD4K HD4K HDR4K HDR
Video Transmission SystemDJI O2 TransmissionOcuSync 2.0DJI O2DJI O3

If money is no object but you prioritize a high-quality, compact drone, then certainly you’ll want to get the DJI Mini 3 Pro. But at twice the cost of the DJI Mini 2 SE, is it worth it?

The most notable difference between the DJI Mini 2 SE and all the rest is that 2.7K video, a pretty serious downgrade from 4K video. If you film videos often, you’ll likely want at least the DJI Mini 2. But plenty of folks only care about aerial photos and don’t take videos. In that case, you might as well save the $80 and just get the DJI Mini 2 SE versus the DJI Mini 2.

If you’re seeking the compare the DJI Mini 3 versus Mini 2, I’ve got a deeper dive here. It’s with the DJI Mini 3 and 3 Pro that we start to see the bigger sensor. The Pro version has far more megapixels and better transmission. Weigh what specs are worthwhile to you. But if price is most important, then the DJI Mini 2 SE is a winner.

And if you’re seeking the best drone under $400, then there’s none better than the DJI Mini 2 SE.

DJI has been rolling out a steady stream of budget-friendly drones lately

The DJI Mini 2 SE is the best drone under $400, but DJI has been leading a trend lately where it sells similar (or almost identical) versions of its existing products, save for a few, small reductions in technology. Last month, we got the DJI Mic Single Transmitter, which is the same as the old, 2 transmitter Mic aside from that one missing transmitter.

Then — as mentioned above — there’s the DJI Mini 3 (which launched in December 2022) is a cheaper version of the older DJI Mini 3 Pro. And in November 2022, DJI launched the Mavic 3 Classic, which is a cheaper version of the Mavic 3.

Though it’s not available until March 22, 2023, you can pre-order the DJI Mini 2 SE starting at just $369 now from:

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