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We tested the DJI Mavic Mini, pocket drone

The Mavic Mini is aimed at neophytes or those looking for a simple and effective device. DJI

Itwo or three years ago, when sales of recreational drones soared, all professionals agreed that the real family product, one that would win the support of a very large audience, had yet to be invented. The standard profile of this flying camera made sense: a very light quadcopter and ultra simple to use for the least dissuasive price possible – we talked about 250 to 300 euros. Something to go beyond the age-old clientele of technophiles andearly adopters. After a parenthesis of more than a year without any real novelty, DJI puts forward a proposal which ticks several boxes of these specifications.

From 399 euros. The new Mavic-Mini is very easy to fly, quite efficient and its price, if it is not yet democratic (399 euros), is two or three times lower than the rest of the Mavic range. A 499-euro version including a bag, propeller guards (not very practical) and additional batteries is also available. In the meantime, the recreational drone market has suffered a brutal crash that inevitably raises the question of whether the Chinese company has missed its hour.

The threshold of 250 grams. This late arrival does not detract from the virtues of the little Mavic Mini. Pocket drone, literally (140 × 82 × 57 mm in the folded position), it can be transported in a case and evolves in the air with disconcerting ease thanks to the quality of the GPS link. Its flight is as precise as that of a larger device and its autonomy (30 minutes in principle but twenty in real life) is undoubtedly a little better considering its mass limited to 249 grams. This weight is not the simple result of the manufacturer's efforts but the answer to an essential constraint: not to exceed 250 grams. In most legislations (United States, United Kingdom and soon Europe as a whole) no registration, no electronic signature, no particular patent is required below this threshold.

Simple and intuitive. Lightweight, handy and usable without any particular procedure (except, of course, compliance with the rules prohibiting flying in urban areas or near prohibited places), we appropriate the Mavic Mini without difficulty. Switching on the drone and the remote control – in which you insert your smartphone, the screen of which is used for the flow of images in return – respond to the DJI ritual (a short press then a long press on the switch). The removable handles, to take up less space once the device is folded, are precise. We manipulate the one on the left to go up / down and perform a rotation while the one on the right allows us to go forward or backward and from left to right. The quadcopter can move up to two kilometers from the pilot.

Selfie, spin and circular flight. Several control modes are popular, one very fast and another, which tempers the movements to make neat videos. You can also use preprogrammed figures (selfie, spin, circular flight). The light weight of this aircraft allows it to be very discreet when it flies but its compactness also requires a certain vigilance because it quickly disappears from direct vision. The application that DJI has specially developed for the Mavic Mini has been simplified and is full of tutorials and explanations that neophytes will appreciate. From this point of view, the educational effort is to be welcomed, even if the presentation is sometimes slightly lazy.

Folded up, the Mavic Mini fits in your hand.
Folded up, the Mavic Mini fits in your hand. DJI

Compromises, of course. Inevitably, the Mavic Mini was the subject of several compromises to lighten its weight and its price but also not to overshadow the rest of the Mavic range (from 850 to more than 1,200 euros). The hull was not treated to a material as good as that of the Mavic 2 and the videos are not captured in 4K but in 2.7K (12 MP for photos). Likewise, it is not possible to organize automatic tracking of a mobile “target” (character or vehicle, for example), to rely on DJI's obstacle avoidance system or to use gestural control, like some of the firm's other models. In practice, however, photos and videos taken under good conditions are of excellent quality. Unless you are looking for professional quality, the performance of the Mavic Mini camera does the job and even more.

Women first. The benefits of this entry-level drone, which targets a population that has remained far from the aeronautical imagination – many men, and even more women – bring us back to the preliminary question: does the Mavic Mini arrive as the riflemen? By going upmarket (and in price) with semi-professional models, the world number one has taken note of the saturation of the leisure market. With the Mavic Mini, which will suit beginners but also those who do not run behind the state of the art, DJI is probably coming too late. This little drone is not a breakthrough model – it will be necessary to wait for largely autonomous quadcopters – but it will give or give back to some people the desire to play with a relatively accessible flying camera.

The remote control is designed to insert a smartphone.
The remote control is designed to insert a smartphone. DJI

In short :

We liked …

  • Ease of handling
  • The price-performance ratio
  • Compactness and light weight
  • The simplified application and its tutorials

We liked less …

  • Lack of target tracking and obstacle avoidance
  • The hull, a little low end

The Mavic Mini is for you if:

  • You need a flying camera, not a complicated drone
  • You consider that techno must come to you and not the opposite

The Mavic Mini can do nothing for you if:

  • You are still waiting for the drone that does everything, all alone
  • … and cheaper

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