DJI Mini 2 overview: Similar compact dimension, extra confidence when flying

“Don’t be fooled by its small size, the DJI Mini 2 is safe to fly and offers 4K video recording.”

  • Proper 4K video recording

  • Manages windy conditions

  • Stable connection with OcuSync 2.0

  • Ridiculously compact size

  • An obstacle avoidance sensor is missing

  • Terrible performance in low light

I thought DJI was through with the announcements for the year. After the launch of the DJI Mavic Air 2 and Pocket 2, it seemed unlikely that we would hear anything else from the drone maker in 2020, but it turns out that there is one final exciting product for consumers before the holidays. And yes, it’s a different drone!

Drones are usually not updated annually, so the announcement of the DJI Mini 2 is surprising. The lightweight drone continues to fly under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar due to its weight of 249 grams, making it ideal for beginners as no registration is required. More importantly, however, it fixes some of the shortcomings of the predecessor right away.

More freedom of movement with 4K video

At a time when 4K video recording is standard on smartphones and cameras, it was a disappointment to see the Mavic Mini peaking at 2.7K resolution last year. Well, that’s the first point on the list that is addressed by the Mini 2, which has proper 4K video recording. While the frame rate at 4K is 30 frames per second (FPS), DJI has increased the bit rate from 40 Mbit / s on the Mavic Mini to 100 Mbit / s on the Mini 2.

John Velasco / Digital Trends

What is that supposed to mean? I’m particularly happy with the extra resolution as it gives me extra headroom for post – like cropping and cropping a scene when I export it in 1080p. For those who watch videos and clips on 4K screens, the 4K resolution means there is no need to upscale this time around.

Details are plentiful and clear as expected, but best results are achieved during the day and afternoon when there is ample light. Colors have an even, neutral tone – never too saturated to work in the post. However, performance crumbles as the sun goes down and often appears dim, dark and unusable unless the scene contains strong light sources. This is partly because nothing changes on the sensor, a 12-megapixel 1 / 2.3-inch sensor that sits on a 3-axis gimbal.

DJI Mini 2 in the air

The dynamic range performance isn’t up to the level I got with the Mavic Air 2, but some tweaks in the post can highlight details that are otherwise lost in the shadows. Photographers will appreciate the Mini 2’s performance when it comes to still image capture, but just like video, it has issues with low light and low dynamics.

OcuSync 2.0 offers security

If you’ve ever piloted the Mavic Mini, you know how prone to interference video transmission can be. It’s annoying for sure, but also scary if it takes longer. Fortunately, the DJI Mini 2 alleviates concerns thanks to DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology. The controller is an exact facsimile of the Mavic Air 2. It’s bigger, but I like the way my smartphone is held on top of the controller – as opposed to the floor on the Mavic Mini’s controller.

The connectivity between the drone and the controller offers more reliability.

With OcuSync 2.0, the connectivity between drone and controller becomes more reliable. In fact, live video rarely stuttered during my flights. And while I managed to increase the distance from my location to over 1,000 feet, DJI says it is capable of a range of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). There’s nothing worse than latency issues when piloting a drone. Therefore, it ensures that OcuSync 2.0 gives me more responsive controls on the Mini 2.

DJI Mini 2 OcySync 2.0 controllerJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

One of my biggest concerns about flying the Mavic Mini is reducing its range further as it may interfere with video transmission. With the Mini 2 there is none of that here.

Fly against the wind

Flying in windy conditions is always risky, but it’s deeper when you’re dealing with a lightweight drone like the Mavic Mini. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped flying due to windy conditions. There are also several videos online of owners responding and floating away from their location due to high winds. Although I’m still cautious, the DJI Mini 2 can handle the wind a lot better.

On the first day of the Mini 2’s flight, winds were blowing at 17 miles per hour on the Jersey Shore. Fortunately, DJI upgraded the engines in the Mini 2 to better withstand wind speeds of up to 40 km / h. I have always canceled flights with the Mavic Mini in the past when the wind hit 12 mph. In the air, it’s clear that the Mini 2 worked hard to maintain stability, and while it looked like it was rattling around, the video footage stayed buttery smooth.

DJI Mini 2 in the airJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

To really test its performance, I decided to see how it handles flying against the wind. Terrifyingly, it went like a champion – even in normal mode. Switching to sport mode increases performance, making it easy to break through the wind. Its top speed still reaches a top speed of 22 km / h, but accelerating from a floating position shows that the engines are more powerful.

Are you concerned that these upgraded engines will give you a shorter flight time? You don’t need to worry as the battery life has been increased to 31 minutes, which is a minute better than its predecessor. Unfortunately the Mini 2 uses a different type of battery so you cannot use existing packs of the Mavic Mini.

Some things that could be better

I must confess that I was spoiled by the Mavic Air 2, especially the enhanced HDR recording, 4K 60 FPS recording, 8K Hyperlapse and Asteroid Quickshot mode. To be fair, the Mini 2 offers some nice footage that controls the drone autonomously for me – like drone, boomerang, and circle quickshot modes. The only area that the Mini 2 still lacks a lot is avoiding obstacles. The Mavic Air 2 has various sensors on its body to detect obstacles so it can stop in mid-flight and try to avoid them. You don’t get any of this with the Mini 2, which means I need to know my surroundings at all times – plus the line of sight distance required.

It’s the ideal starter drone.

There is also no automatic tracking mode that would allow the Mini 2 to follow me. As a result, manual piloting with the controller is still the main method for capturing footage. It’s not a terrible thing, but if you were pampered by the Mavic Air 2’s Active Track 3.0 system, I wouldn’t mind following me while cycling around a lake without the fear of it colliding with something.

There have also been a couple of times the DJI Fly app crashed on me while flying the drone. I suspect it’s because it’s not final software, but luckily I restarted it and got back to where I left off.

DJI Mini 2 Fly More ComboJohn Velasco / Digital Trends

Our opinion

There are many reasons to choose the DJI Mini 2, especially if you are a first-time drone pilot or an enthusiast. At $ 449, this is an easy recommendation over the $ 400 Mavic Mini. I would recommend buying the $ 599 Fly More Combo instead as it has some extras that make it a sound package.

Not only does it come with three batteries, a charging station, and extra propellers, but I prefer it over the Fly More Combo that included last year’s Mavic Mini as it comes with a suitable carry case (including a shoulder strap) and propeller protection wraps around the drone.

Is the Mini 2 perfect? Not exactly, but it’s still an amazing tiny drone that doesn’t require FAA registration due to its weight of 249 grams. The addition of 4K footage makes it a competent gamer in space, but what really makes this offering superior to its predecessor is the confidence in flying – thanks to OcuSync 2.0 and the improved motors. Flying with confidence is always a good thing and the Mini 2 reassures me of this with its responsiveness.

How long it will take?

The same all-plastic construction can still be seen here, which certainly makes it feel a bit fragile. I don’t expect it to handle crashes that well, so flying carefully is essential. You should also pack it extra carefully as it will feel fragile.

You can buy a DJI Care Refresh with the Mini 2 from a cos. Due to water damage and collisions, up to two replacement devices will be made available within a year.

Is there a better alternative?

For this price? Not really. But when you’re ready to spend more that DJI Mavic Air 2 is the all-round drone for all levels thanks to its safety functions, excellent photo / video performance and advanced tracking system. But you pay almost double that at $ 799 to pick it up.

Should you buy it?

Yes. It’s an absolute steal considering how easy it is to pilot, plus the 4K video recording, cinematic quickshot options, and compact size. In contrast to before, OcuSync 2.0 and its improved motors make me more confident when flying. It is the ideal starter drone for those who want to improve their game beyond flying for fun.

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