Mini Drones: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Mini drone

With the myriad of features, functions, and accessories out there for drones, here we make a case for keeping things small, portable, and user-friendly. Welcome to the world of mini drones.

What is a mini drone exactly?  

Mini drones are generally small enough to fit in your hand but are not to be confused with toy drones. Their compact bodies and controllers do not mean that they are technologically compromised as they retain the camera quality and features usually associated with larger drones. Towards the smaller end of the scale, nano drones are amongst the smallest drones out there, but with size reduction comes compromise on features and quality.

Why buy a mini drone?  

Small drones are the perfect way for novices to build their piloting skills. The ease of handling and practical flight time provides beginners with great practice sessions. This small size also means that they can be flown indoors and perform those delicate maneuvers that aren’t possible with larger aircraft, such as whizzing down narrow corridors.

The breadth of quality in smaller drones on the market are many and varied, covering everything from nano FPV drones, mini RC drones, small selfie drones, and compact foldable drones. Generally, the smaller you go, the more the compromise will be on flight time, camera quality, and stability, while those at the top end of the market share similar features and the camera qualities of bigger drones.

Mini drones are mostly used for:

  • Fun
  • Racing
  • FPV
  • Selfies
  • Practice
  • Recording

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that’s it’s tough to choose the right mini/nano/small drone since there are so many options out there and information on them is surprisingly sparse.

So, to make things easier, we’ve pared down what we think are the top 3 mini/nano/small drones on the market.

Mavic Mini

battery
Speed
transmission distance
camera

Max Flight Time
30 min


Max Wind Speed Resistance               8m/s (Scale 4)


Max Transmission Distance
4 km


Effective Pixels
12 MP 


  • Mavic Mini

The smallest, lightest, and most portable drone from the DJI Mavic series was introduced to the market in 2019. Mavic Mini is an easy-to-fly mini drone that is suitable for everyday adventures. Packed with impressive features, Mavic Mini makes shots look like they came from a professional Hollywood set. Let’s take a look at some of the Everday FlyCam’s best features.

The first thing you will notice is how incredibly lightweight Mavic Mini is, weighing underneath 250 grams. The mini drone also features a foldable, portable design that ensures it is perfect for any adventure. The lightweight design also places it in the lowest and safest weight class of drones, making Mavic Mini a perfect travel companion.

In terms of camera performance, Mavic Mini can take 12MP aerial photos and 2.7K Quad HD videos. The mini drone also comes equipped with a 3-axis gimbal, providing effortlessly-smooth stabilization.

Thanks to its lightweight design, Mavic Mini offers an impressive 30 minutes of flight time, which is longer than other mini drones on the market. The Everyday FlyCam also comes packed with impressive features that make flying easy and fun. The new DJI Fly app has Creator Templates that make stunning social media videos in just a few taps. Users with no flying and video editing experience will also enjoy Flight Tutorial, which helps you get started with Mavic Mini quickly and safely.

Whether you are conquering the sky or whizzing around indoors, the 360° Propeller Guard protects the propellers and improves flight safety. A downward vision sensor also keeps the Mavic Mini hovering precisely. And when you are flying in narrow spaces, CineSmooth lets you slow down Mavic Mini for more stable footage.

Capturing complex shots are now easier than ever with QuickShots. All you need to do is select your preferred preset motion, and Mavic Mini will automatically generate a video that is perfect for sharing on social media.

Mavic Mini is an exceptional addition to the mini drone market, offering both beginners and experienced users a portable drone that is packed with impressive features. Go discover the joy of flying today!

Related:

Tello


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With its 720p 30fps video recording, multiple flying modes, impressive flight time, and extremely easy to use app, the Tello certainly punches above its weight. This tiny drone comfortably fits in your palm and only weights 80 g. It has a range of 100 m, uses two antennas for the best possible signal, and has a maximum flight time of 13 minutes.

Flying the Tello is child’s play thanks to the controller app, making it one of the best nano drones for beginners. Adding the Gamevice controller or the Game Sir T1 controller to the mix makes the Tello even more of a joy to fly, especially for those delicate indoor maneuvers, lending it a tactile edge.

Fun flying modes include Throw & Go, 8D Flips, and Bounce Mode, which make Tello the perfect drone for both kids and adults alike. VR headset compatibility also makes it the ideal mini FPV drone.

Compared to other nano drones, Tello's 5 MP camera and HD video shooting with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) provide excellent results for such a small package. The EZ Shots feature records short videos with Circle, 360, and Up & Away shots, creating truly unique footage.

Tello has been developed to be programmable with Scratch, the MIT-developed coding system that allows kids and teens to learn the basics of programming intuitively. Tello is also super safe, with auto takeoff & landing, low battery protection, failsafe protection, and a vision positioning system, making it perfect for younger novice users.

Mavic Air

battery
32 MP Sphere Panoramas
4k camera
3-Directional Environment Sensing

Max Flight Time
21 min


32 MP Sphere
Panoramas


3-Axis Gimbal &
4K Camera


3 Directions of 
Environment 
Sensing


  • Mavic Air

Having an excellent balance between size, performance, and price, the Mavic Air is foldable and compact enough to be taken anywhere. Weighing a mere 430 g with a winning flight time of 21 minutes offers excellent battery efficiency. Sport Mode gives the drone a max speed of over 42 mph (68 kph) and can (when pushed) achieve a whopping 6.2 mi (10km) flight distance.

With regards to footage quality in the small drone class, the Mavic Air steals the show. Its 4K camera can record video at up to 100Mbps and deliver quality footage found only on bigger drones while the 3-axis gimbal always maintains stability. It also introduces features that are just not available on other small drones, including epic 32 MP sphere panoramas, slow motion at 120fps, and HDR photos that will knock your socks off! More than that, all can be stored directly on the 8 GB internal storage.

The new intuitive SmartCapture function offers another option to let the drone follow you while you're shooting videos. The Mavic Air also boasts intelligent flight and shooting modes including QuickShots such as Asteroid and Boomerang and Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems (APAS) to help you further safely get your epic shots.

FPV flying can be done thanks to compatibility with the DJI Goggles. The powerful FlightAutonomy 2.0 sensor system improves flight safety by using information from the surrounding environment to enhance flight performance and actively avoid obstacles.

Q&A  

Are mini drones for you?

Which mini drone is best for me?

How can I master flying drones?

The world of mini drones can be intimidating, but it needn’t be with DJI.

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