Still, if you’re only in it for the aerial camera, there’s plenty to love. All the automated shot modes of the previous model—Dronie, Circle, Helix, and Rocket—are still there, along with a new one called Boomerang. As the name suggests, the Mini 2 does a flyby and then circles back around.
The new 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor is capable of 12-megapixel images and video up to 4K at 30 frames per second, both of which look great. There’s also now support for DJI’s smart panorama modes like sphere, a 180-degree view, and wide-angle, and my favorite feature, Trimmed Download. It lets you split clips before transferring them to your phone for editing. I don’t use the DJI Fly app for editing very often, but when I do it’s almost always for short clips I want to share quickly. Trimmed Download is perfect for that, saving time and storage space on your phone.
Along with the better camera, the Mini 2 includes OcuSync 2.0, DJI’s improved video transmitting technology. OcuSync is DJI’s marketing name for a smart automatic-frequency-switching tool. It means you get better video quality over greater distances. The Mini 2 can transmit very clear video from up to around 6 miles, according to DJI. Suffice to say you can fly the Mini 2 well beyond visual range—which, friendly reminder, you should never do—and still get a video feed.
The controller is unchanged from the previous model, and it’s still my favorite DJI controller. It’s simple, light, and has always just worked for me. There’s a big ol’ Return to Home button that’s great for newcomers, and the trigger buttons make it easy to take photos and start recording video without ever looking down to see where your fingers are.
The question to answer here is, should you get this or the more expensive Mavic Air? There are three compelling features to the Air, for beginners especially. The big one is obstacle avoidance—the Mini 2 has none. This might be the biggest reason to spend extra money on the Air. The Mini 2 also lacks DJI’s ActiveTrack and Point of Interest automated flight modes, which really do help you capture better video with less fuss. The larger camera sensor in the Air also means you can get sharper 48-megapixel images and 4K video at 60 frames per second.
That said, if you have some experience flying, don’t need the higher-quality sensor, and just want a highly portable, really-fun-to-fly drone, the Mini 2 is my top pick.