DJI Mavic Mini: Their easiest drone to fly and crash

17th December 2019 5:03 PM
UPDATED 18th December 8:49 AM
Premium Content Subscriber only

DJI Mavic Mini is one of the easiest drones on the market to fly - and crash.

With a weight of just 249 grams, as expected it struggles in a windy environment - though looking at your vision afterwards, it's hard to spot it as the gimbal camera stabilisation is so good.

Given it has a price tag of under $600, and a stack of features, it's without a doubt the best one on the market to get into the super fun world of droning.

Some of the best features include:
•             A flight time of more than 25 minutes
•             Great 2.7K video at 30 frames per second
•             A stabilised three axis gimbal camera that manages smooth video
•             Super simple app which is well designed for beginners

The Mavic Mini is a big step up from DJI's early entry level Spark drone which had a much shorter flight time of about 15 minutes per battery.

But DJI has had to make some sacrifices in getting the weight of the drone under 250 grams.

The obstacle avoidance system has been slashed to include only sensors underneath to help it with landing.

This means you are more likely to fly your new drone into a tree or a power pole.

DJI Mavic Mini put to the test: DJI Mavic Mini put to the test flying over Pt Cartwright on the Sunshine Coast.
DJI Mavic Mini put to the test: DJI Mavic Mini put to the test flying over Pt Cartwright on the Sunshine Coast.

In our testing, we crashed the drone once - after sending it up in what were variable winds. After a gust of wind it, it was hurled backwards so to avoid hitting a tree we brought it down quickly onto a garden bed. No damage done but it was a
heart in your mouth moment.

We also flew it off a mountain top. Again the wind was pretty light but a gust meant it came a little too close the mountain side before we were able to steer it out of harm's way.

Given its size, it's definitely a drone you want to test out flying in a large unoccupied park with few obstacles to get a feel for what it can - and can't do.

We were given the full combo kit to test out which came with three batteries and a 360 degree propeller guard which is useful for beginners.

While lasting up to 30 minutes each, the batteries took quite a while to charge - about two hours each. The remote control takes about the same time, giving it power for up to  2.5 hours.

The DJI Fly mobile app had some teething problems in its early beta days but we found it to work well.

After connecting the remote control with our phone, connecting the drone and updating the firmware we were ready to fly.

We calibrated the compass, as you should do frequently, checked our home point was set, and then took off by just holding the launch button in the DJI Fly mobile app on our phone.

Once in the air, the quality of the video streaming back to our phone looked great and we were able to monitor the height and distance away from us from the screen.

An aerial view of Pt Cartwright on the Sunshine Coast shot by the DJI Mavic Mini drone
An aerial view of Pt Cartwright on the Sunshine Coast shot by the DJI Mavic Mini drone

The Civil Aviation Authority guidelines for drone use state that you should keep the drone in your sight at all times so you really shouldn't be flying the Mavic Mini for kilometres away from you. Being so small, it is easily lost in the air.

DJI says it can stream video back from up to 4km away - but I wouldn't recommend it.

You do have a return to home button, which is reassuring, though it doesn't always guarantee a safe return. We were flying off a beach when winds came up again and so hit return to home.

The wind was too strong for the drone to fly back automatically so we had to override the return and up the speed to bring it back.

Fortunately, it was not that far away.

There are a number of flying modes for the DJI Mavic Mini, including the faster sport mode, which is fun for low speed passes over a vacant field, to the smoother cinematic mode.


The beauty of the ocean is captured well by the DJI Mavic Mini.
The beauty of the ocean is captured well by the DJI Mavic Mini.


The Mavic Mini also features DJI's great QuickShot modes where you select a target and then the drone flys around it or above it to record a short video to share Modes include:

  • Rocket - Mavic Mini flies straight up into the air with the camera pointing downward focused on your subject. You can set a height limit of 13, 20, 27, 33 or 40 metres.
  • Circle - Mavic Mini will circle around your subject at a constant altitude and distance.
  • Dronie - Mavic Mini flies backward and upward, with the camera focused on your subject.
  • Helix - Mavic Mini flies upward and away, spiralling around your subject.
DJI Mavic Mini quick shot mode: DJI Mavic Mini quick shot mode
DJI Mavic Mini quick shot mode: DJI Mavic Mini quick shot mode

 Trying to do any of the above manually shows what a great addition they are to an entry level drone.

The Mavic Mini's battery gives you plenty of warning when it is time to head home. We overrode it while testing on a field and managed to get down to 0 minutes left with the drone still flying but only a small distance off the grass.

The return to home relies on GPS and there were a few times when we could not get a GPS signal. That's when it's really advisable to keep the drone on a very short leash and ensure you bring it down quickly.

The super lightweight DJI Mavic Mini
The super lightweight DJI Mavic Mini

For newbies, DJI produce some great tutorials on learning to fly your drone along with safety tips via the Flight Academy.

The Geo Zones also highlight areas where safety or security may become an issue such as flying near airports or sensitive locations.

It's also a really good idea to visit CASA's website which has all the rules on flying a drone.

While the sub 250 gram weight is designed to get around overseas markets where drones have to be registered once they are over a certain weight, DJI and CASA make it clear that most of the same rules apply for flying a light weight drone.

You still need to keep away from people, private property, fly safely and keep well away from airports and other flight areas.

DJI Mavic Mini has a full range of accessories.
DJI Mavic Mini has a full range of accessories.

 The Mavic Mini standard version costs $599 which includes the Mavic Mini drone, remote controller, one battery, extra propellers and all necessary tools and cables.

The Mavic Mini Fly More Combo, which also includes a 360° Propeller Cage, Two-Way charging Hub, two extra batteries, three sets of extra propellers and a carrying case, sells for $799 AUD.

For an extra $59 AUD, DJI Care Refresh offers comprehensive coverage as well as up to two replacement units within one year.  

Would I buy one? Definitely. Just make sure you practice lots in an empty field before trying something more difficult. And if it's really windy, bring it down as soon as you can.