Updated: Apr 20
The Mini 3 Pro has now appeared in a major video leak
Image Credit Dji
The DJI Mini 3 is the likely successor of the DJI Mini 2, which is currently the drone king's entry-level drone. And with a new video leak giving us our first clear glimpse of the redesigned flying camera, it looks like the Mini 3 is pretty close to take-off.
The leaked video (below) provides a closer look at the drone that we first saw in retail packaging in early March. And it shows that the DJI Mini 3 Pro will likely fix most of the Mini 2's predecessors, thanks to the inclusion of front-facing obstacle avoidance sensors, a larger battery and redesigned gimbal with a new camera.
Last year, we saw the arrival of the DJI Mini SE, a cheaper model that's based on the older DJI Mavic Mini. And with fresh competition from the likes of the Autel Evo Nano, it seems likely that DJI could be planning a new higher-end compact drone.
Since the Mini 2 arrived, DJI has improved its proprietary Ocysync wireless transmission tech – and we think improvements in processor power and camera sensor tech should mean the Mini 3 (or Mini 3 Pro, perhaps) can handle higher-frame rate video capture. The combination of those factors, and the rumored addition of obstacle-avoidance sensors, could prove very popular indeed.
In this DJI Mini 3 round-up we’ll take a look at some of the latest leaks and rumors for the compact drone to help draw a rough picture of what you can expect from this drone. We'll then dig a little deeper at some of the features we want to see in the DJI Mini 3.
DJI Mini 3 Pro release date and price
Twitter account DealsDrone published what it claimed to be a DJI release calendar back in December 2021 – and this suggested that the Mini 3 will be announced in April 2022.
This is around 18 months after the DJI Mini 2, an entirely reasonable window and a slightly longer one than the 13-month gap between the original Mini and Mini 2.
We’re seeing a lot of slightly longer generational gaps at the moment thanks to delays caused by the chip shortage and backlogs in global shipping. Pumping the breaks a little has probably never seemed more sensible for tech companies.
Pricing is a little trickier predict, given rumors about a DJI Mini 3 Pro with a controller. If DJI is planning to launch a standard Mini 3 model we'd expect it to cost in the region of $499-$549/ £479-499 / AU$699. This would create solid separations between it and the $299 DJI Mini SE, the $799 Mavic Air 2 and $999 Air 2S.
But a DJI Mini 3 Pro, with a new DJI RC controller, would naturally be a lot pricier. In that scenario, we'd expect the drone to effectively replace the Mavic Air 2 as DJI's mid-range consumer offering.
DJI Mini 3 Pro: rumored specs and features
The DJI Mini 3 Pro appeared in its first major video leak on April 2, in the form of a video published by @DealsDrone on Twitter. This video shows the same drone that we first saw in retail packaging on March 1.
It appears to confirm a few key details about the Mini 3 Pro, including the fact that there will indeed be a 'Pro' model for the first time in the Mini series. On the underside of the drone is confirmation that it'll weigh in at 249g (which means it won't need to be registered in some territories). There's also the inclusion of front-facing obstacle avoidance sensors.
The short video also shows a redesigned three-axis gimbal, which will likely let you shoot vertical video for social media. Inside this gimbal is a new camera module, which has a bright f/1.7 aperture and a 24mm focal length. The markings don't reveal the camera's sensor size, but this has been rumored to be a 1/1.3in CMOS chip (up from 1/2.3 inch on the Mini 2).
The other big improvement shown in the leaked Mini 3 Pro video is the apparent inclusion of a 2,453mAh battery, which has around 10% more capacity than the one in the Mini 2. This means we should see a flight time in the region of 35 minutes, a small improvement over the 31 minutes of its predecessor.
(Image credit: @DealsDrone)
This video leak for the DJI Mini 3 Pro follows one on March 1 that appeared to show the drone's retail packaging. The credibility of the image shared by regular DJI leaker was initially open to question, with the photo accompanied by a comment that they "regard this pic as joking".
But appeared to backtrack on that statement in a more recent tweet about a newer leak, and it now seems that packaging was indeed genuine.
The arrival of a DJI Mini 3 Pro, with a new RC controller, would certainly be an unusual break from the series' traditions. The Mini series has traditionally been DJI's entry-level option, not a 'Pro' series, and the its controllers have always been reserved for higher-end models like the recent DJI Mavic 3.
But as noted by DJI commentator Jasper Ellens, there are also reasons to believe that the image isn't Photoshopped. For example, the drone's arms are hinged at opposite ends to the current Mini design, and there are also air vents that look similar to those seen on the Mavic 3.
This unusual design has also been given more credibility by a leak on March 15 on the Chinese video-sharing site BiliBili , picked up by @DealsDrone, which revealed what appears to be the body framework for DJI's upcoming mini drone.
This reveals some large brackets for the drone's rotating front arms, which differ from the ones on the DJI Mini 2. It's thought that this design change could help the Mini 3 support larger props, which would be mean better wind resistance.
Another intriguing aspect of the leaked video is an apparently redesigned gimbal support. Whereas the DJI Mini 2's gimbal hangs down freely from the front of the drone, the Mini 3's seems to held in place in both sides. This could help the drone support a vertical video mode, which has been rumored, but may also mean a different form of stabilization from its predecessors.
As a concept, a DJI Mini 3 Pro would also make sense in the context of the company's recent launches and current lineup. The DJI Air 2S, for example, effectively recycled the DJI Mavic 2 Pro's sensor and components into a smaller design. And now the DJI Mavic Air 2 is reaching two years old, it seems possible that DJI would do the same thing in order to create a higher-end Mini option. Particularly now the DJI Mini SE exists as its affordable, budget model.
This new design would also allow DJI to fix one of the biggest criticisms of the DJI Mini 2 – its lack of obstacle-avoidance sensors. The leaked image shows a mini drone with at least two, front-facing sensors that are similar to those on the Mavic Air 2. That would be a big addition to the Mini series, as beginner pilots are the ones who particularly need the safety net of obstacle avoidance.
This leak prompted @Dealsdrone, which has previously proven to be a reliable source of DJI leaks, to make what it called a "DJI Mini 3 specs guess" (below) on March 6. This isn't based on any leaks, but some informed guesswork – still, the projected inclusion of a 1//1.3in sensor, three-direction obstacle avoidance, ActiveTrack and Ocusync 3.0 transmission all seem reasonable, if the image is to be believed.
These speculations do also match an earlier post about the DJI Mini 3 from which included musings on the possible changes coming in the new model. They suggested that we’ll see improved aerodynamics, larger propellors, a single-chip SoC (System on a Chip) processor, larger camera sensor, longer battery life and better obstacle-detection sensors. All of these seem believable enough, but they don’t amount to more than a set of scrap paper notes on what one drone user thinks will happen.
However, we can say, almost categorically, that the DJI Mini 3 will weigh less than 250g. This in turn suggests that we won’t see any dramatic changes in the drone’s size, even if it does get additional features like obstacle avoidance.
Sure, it may have slightly slanted rotor arms as suggested on Twitter, but low weight and easy fold-up portability are still defining factors. The specific sub-250g weight category is crucial because above that weight drones typically fall into another legal category in some territories.
The DJI Mini 3's external design is unlikely to change radically from the DJI MIni 2 (above). (Image credit: DJI)
In the US, for example, drones under 250g don’t have to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. You can simply use them, subject to the slew of rules that apply to any drone pilot.
The DJI Mini 3 is not going to be a middle-ground drone in terms of size and weight, sitting between the Mini SE and the larger Air 2S models. It will be similar to the DJI Mini SE in this respect, if not in price.
Still, this new drone is likely to be used as a vehicle to highlight one of the big and exciting changes coming to the DJI drone ecosystem. DJI has changed its SDK, software development kit, to give third-party developers access to more of the core hardware features.
This will let developers patch in software modes missing from the drone’s base abilities. The Mini 2 will benefit from this too, but there's a chance it could be sold in as a “feature” at the Mini 3’s launch. Here are some of the features we hope, and expect, to see.
DJI Mini 3: 6 things we want to see
(Image credit: Future)
1. 4K/60p video capture
The DJI Mini 2 can shoot 4K video, but only at 30 frames per second. A frame-rate upgrade to 4K/60p is the obvious route to more useful video capture in a small, reasonably affordable drone.
This is not just about being able to upload footage at 60 frames per second, but also having the flexibility to slow down footage to half-speed in post production when working at 30 frames per second.
Plenty of camera sensors of the size and resolution the Mini 3 are likely to have offer support for this rate of video – it should certainly be achievable.
2. A larger camera sensor
There's a chance the DJI Mini 3 may squeeze in a larger camera sensor than its current 1/2.3in chip. This would let the drone achieve better results at, for example, sunset or sunrise. Both are great times to capture striking drone footage, packed with interesting color and dramatic light paths.
Greater dynamic range would be the main benefit of a larger sensor, letting DJI retain highlight detail without crushing the shadows into black. We’re not entirely sure the DJI Mini 3 definitely needs a larger sensor for this generation, though.
While some rivals have larger sensors than the Mini 2, that camera still beats almost all with superior processing, which includes better color tone and superior handling of the shadows.
However, considering how good the 1-inch sensor Air 2S’s video looks, we’re not going to say no to a larger sensor.
(Image credit: DJI)
3. Ocusync 3.0
DJI has introduced Ocusync 3.0 since the Mini 2 arrived. This is the company’s wireless transmission standard, which relays the live feed from the drone’s camera to your phone or remote control.
Ocysync 3.0 uses double the number of antennas, which will no doubt be something of an engineering headache in such a small drone. However, it would reduce latency and improve the bit-rate and frame-rate of the live view, offer better reliability when controlling the drone from far away, and increase maximum range.
This would also help put even more distance between the 'full fat' Mini drone and the Mini SE, which uses standard Wi-Fi transmission rather than Ocusync.
4. Obstacle avoidance sensors
Squeezing in a couple of antennas is one conundrum for DJI’s hardware engineers. But there’s a bigger problem to crack – one of the primary compromises of these small drones is a lack of obstacle sensors.
The Mini 2 and Mini SE only have a pair of sensors on their underside, to look out for objects below the drone. These sensors use either optical hardware, effectively a pair of eyes that uses parallax to create a depth map of the world, or infrared sensors, where the time it takes for the signal to bounce off an object and return to the drone is used to calculate the distance from obstacles.
Optical techniques work great during the day, infrared can take up the slack in lower light. But while the Mini 3 is not going to have 360-degree object detection — there just isn’t room in the budget, be that the monetary budget, the size or weight. But it may have a secondary set of obstacle sensors on the front, as the first leak suggests. For comparison, the DJI Air 2S has front, rear, upward and downward sensor hardware.
Another set of obstacle sensors is a pretty important factor in making DJI’s improved third-party app support more useful. Adding tracking and programmed movement modes is one of the top avenues for these apps, and to do that successfully, a drone needs to be able to navigate around safely. Additional sensors should allow for a 'follow me' feature, perhaps provided by DJI itself rather than via third-party apps like Litchi.
5. Faster charging
Faster battery charging is unlikely to be a huge vote-winner for those who'd buy the Mini 3 Fly More pack, which includes extra batteries. However, if you’re after a quality drone for casual use, quick charging would be a great addition to the base DJI Mini 3.
The Mini 2 currently has moderately fast 18W charging, powered by Qualcomm Quickcharge 2.0. As the DJI Mini 3 will have a USB-C connector, it would be good to see these drones switch to USB-PD. The “PD” part stands for power delivery, which is another charging standard.
While other charging standards can go far beyond 18W, USB-PD is a simple route that could easily see DJI upgrade to around the 30W mark, for battery recharging in under an hour.
(Image credit: Future)
6. Improved flight time
proved flight time
Increased flight time is one of the most-requested improvements for the DJI Mini 3. You can point to rivals like the Hubsan Zino Mini SE, which has a 45-minute run time, as reasons why this series’ 30-31 minute longevity now doesn't really cut it.
We have real doubts as to whether a Husban-matching 50% improvement is likely, though. In the three models in this series, the Mavic Mini, Mini 2 and Mini SE, there’s a deviation of one minute in the claimed flight times.
We’re already asking DJI to fit in more obstacle sensors with no increase in overall weight, and elements like the Mini series’ great little gimbal stabilizer don’t come for free, in weight terms. Even squeezing out a few more minutes from a new DJI Mini 3 would be quite impressive. A flight time of 33-35 minutes seems more likely than the 40-plus some speculators hope for.
Disappointed? Take this as demonstrative of DJI’s dedication to offering good standards across the board, in areas like flight stability and the smoothness of recorded footage, rather than feeling the need to match rivals that aren’t quite as strong in other core areas. As always, we’ll be happy to be proved wrong.
Article by: techradar
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